Why should politics matter to you?

American workers have felt a slow decline in their wages since the early 1980s, meaning wage increases have been slightly lower than the cost of living increase. This means less money for groceries, clothing, your children and the everyday essential you may need for raising a family or saving for retirement.

Union wages for the construction industry are no different, except unions have contracts that include wage increase, healthcare and retirement plans. With ongoing training programs for apprentices and journeymen this allows the workers to be more skilled than the nonunion workers. Productivity levels are higher, accidents are lower, and attitudes on job sites are more positive than ever before because of the investments in training by the members and their union. These union contracts are agreements between Labor and Contractors. The more highly skilled workers usually result in better wages, better working conditions and better benefits for their family.

On the other hand, payroll fraud is spreading rampant through the construction industry. This is where unscrupulous nonunion contractors choose to hire hourly workers and pay them cash or as independent contractors (1099s) by not withholding the employee’s state or federal tax deductions, FICA withholdings and Medicare deductions, leaving this responsibility on the workers to pay.

Learn more about payroll fraud

‘Hybrid’ police merit rules pass council

The council approved changes to Terre Haute’s “responsible bidder ordinance,” which proponents say would help ensure city public works projects use the best qualified workers and that contracts that bid are “using the same level playing field.”

The council first adopted a responsible bidder ordinance in 2010 Under the changes, bidders on city public works projects “shall provide evidence of participation in apprenticeship and training programs … which are approved by and registered with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship, or its successor organization.”

The changes would apply to any general contractor bidding on a city public works project, as well as subcontractors, he said.

The tougher language also should help ensure local bidders are awarded the contracts, Joe Bolk, business manager for Laborers Local 204, said previously.

While the changes mean contractors would have to have registered apprenticeship programs, the changes don’t require that union labor be used, advocates say.

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Kids Caring for the Community program awards funds to local elementary school

For the past four years, the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) has been partnering with local elementary schools to promote volunteerism and giving back to the community through its Kids Caring for the Community service program. Participating schools throughout Northwest Indiana complete service projects and are entered in a drawing to receive a monetary award as recognition for their community service.

Each year, Kids Caring for the Community awards $9,000 total to participating elementary schools in Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties. One winner from each county is chosen. There are four total Kids Caring for the Community sessions throughout the academic year, giving local elementary schools multiple opportunities to be selected as winners.

Local 1485 IKORCC Representative John Carr is proud to see the IKORCC families involved in the program. “Many students participating in the Kids Caring for the Community program are children of IKORCC members,” said Carr. “It is so rewarding to know the impact this program will make for many generations to come. When we teach our children to serve, we know the results will be far-reaching.”

LaPorte County schools that participated in Session 1 include Crichfield Elementary, Westville Elementary, Indian Trail Elementary, Kingsford Heights Elementary, Knapp Elementary and Rolling Prairie Elementary.

Last month, Crichfield Elementary was selected in a blind drawing of participating schools as the Session 1 winner for LaPorte County. As their service project, students collected pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House. The Ronald McDonald House supports families of children being treated for cancer and other serious illnesses or trauma while the child receives treatment at a nearby hospital or medical treatment center. To reach their goal of collecting 100 gallons of pop tabs this school year, students made posters and gave speeches about their service project.

Donna Biggs, Principal of Crichfield Elementary School, was thrilled to see the kids’ hard work being recognized. “Our student council and K Kids Club are very active in the community, and we love helping the students get excited about giving back.” Biggs said the school plans to use the awarded funds for a Buddy Bench for their playground, which is a place where students can go when they don’t have anyone to play with. The goal of the bench is to eliminate loneliness and encourage friendship on the playground. Additionally, Crichfield Elementary will be starting a Striders Club in the spring to promote more physical activity.

For more information, please contact John Carr, IKORCC Representative, at jcarr@ikorcc.com.

Who are my elected officials in Indiana?

The Indiana Secretary of State’s office provides a great website for you to check out your elected officials. You can enter address in top left corner, and narrow results on right hand side all the way to school district! With contact information provided, we encourage everyone to reach out to your elected officials regarding issues of concern.

Carpenters advocate for hands-on educational opportunities in schools

LEBANON, Ind. – Earlier this month, Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) training director, Todd Pancake, was a featured presenter at an Elevating Work & Learn in Indiana event at Lebanon High School. Pancake gave an overview of the IKORCC apprenticeship program.

“It was a great honor to be invited to speak at the event,” said Pancake. Among others, both Governor Mike Pence and Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann addressed attendees.

Elevating Work & Learn in Indiana targets residents in Indiana in an effort to educate them on potential career opportunities. It encourages schools, businesses and educators to create and identify opportunities to expose individuals seeking employment to viable work environments.

During his presentation, Pancake discussed the model of the IKORCC apprenticeship as a great example of a “work and learn” environment that fuels the pipeline for “high-wage, high-demand” careers in the construction industry.

“Our apprenticeship program,” said Pancake, “has so much to offer in terms of being a great model of how to marry classroom training with real on-the-job experiences. We are thrilled to share with others what we are doing.”

Fourth year carpenter apprentice, Kraig Bergman, shared the value the apprenticeship program has had on his ongoing career.

“We are so grateful for the opportunity to increase work and learn opportunities throughout the state for future generations through our partnerships with the Indiana Career Council and Works Councils,” said IKORCC member and Indiana Region 6 Works Council member Tim Conley.

For more detailed information, please contact Tim Conley at tconley@ikorcc.com

Carpenters Union Hosts Food Drive for Local Pantry Just in Time for Thanksgiving

LA PORTE, Ind.- Last month, Carpenters from the The Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) Local 1485 donated food, toiletries and other essentials to the Center Township Food Pantry & Resource Center. The Resource Center is coordinated by LaPorte’s trustee Lisa Pierzakowski.

Volunteers from We Stand joined Local 1485 for the food drive. We Stand is an organization consisting of spouses and companions of Local 1485 carpenters who develop different ways to give back to the community. “Resource centers do a lot of good for their communities as do local carpenters. We realize you have to build up the entire community not just certain sectors,” said We Stand Representative Angela Carr. “This resource center wants to improve the economic situation by putting local citizens to work, which drives us to help them more.”

We Stand members and Local 1485 Carpenters reached out to local grocery stores to promote and set up drop off sites for people to donate food and toiletry items for the pantry. In mid-September, they hosted the weekend-long food drive at La Porte Al’s Supermarket locations and the La Porte Savings Bank.

They also reached out to their locals members who contributed items at their bi-monthly meetings. In addition to the items and food donated, Local 1485 and We Stand presented the food panty with a check for $1,000. Carr added, “Holidays can be especially difficult for some families, so we were excited to take part in this food drive.”
For more information, please contact John Carr jcarr@ikorcc.com

Local Carpenters Volunteer in Home Construction for Wounded Soldier

ANDERSON, Ind. – Over the past year, Homes for Hoosier Heroes and various local trades, including carpenters, millwrights and floor coverers of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) have been working on building a handicap- accessible home for former Army infantryman Timothy Frank Senkowski.

Senkowski was severely injured by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, resulting in the loss of both of his legs.

Last month, Tim Thieme of Floor Coverers Local 364 was contacted by Chuck Gowan and Mike Brooks, pipe fitters who are involved in the project. Gowan and Brooks were in need of contractors wiling to lay flooring in Senkowski’s home. Thieme quickly agreed to help and reached out to Superior Carpet Installers of Indianapolis, who without hesitation jumped on board.

All of the underlayment was generously donated by Southland Flooring Supply. The vinyl plank and carpet was provided by Mohawk for a minuscule charge.

Local 364 floor coverers who volunteered for the project include Adam Williams (Floor Covering Instructor), Marty Brinson and Kelsey Biggs of Superior Carpet Installers, Wes Simpson and Chris Rainer of Blakley’s Flooring.

“As we were working on his home, Senkowski stopped by to visit. Every single installer walked over to him and shook his hand, thanking him for his service,” commented Thieme. “Knowing that we’re giving back to someone who has dedicated his entire life for our country and our freedom makes it all worthwhile.”

“Sacrifice…that’s what it’s all about. Whether it’s by donating a few hours to help a brother out or spending a weekend to positively impact the lives of our nation’s heroes,” commented Wes Simpson of Local 364. “The brotherhood of unions and veterans will always be there on the front lines to fight for what’s right. I was honored to help someone who sacrificed it all for our freedom.”

For more information, please contact Tim Thieme at tthieme@ikorcc.com

Highland Town Council Supports Local Workers

HIGHLAND, Ind. – The Highland Town Council recently passed a responsible bidder ordinance ensuring all contractors bidding on public works projects provide their employees with healthcare and pension. Additionally, contractor employees will be required to have participated in an approved apprenticeship program.

By passing the ordinance all five Highland Town Councilmen — Konnie Kuiper, Mark Herak, Dan Vassar, Steve Wagner and Bernie Zemen — have ensured that building projects in Highland will be completed by local, professional tradespeople. Councilman Dan Vassar commented, “The Town Council has a track record of supporting the union tradespeople in our community, and we will continue to do that with the responsible bidder ordinance in place. Passing this ordinance is really a great investment for Highland. It’s creating jobs for the skilled workers in our community, and as locals whose families live and work here, these workers will be reinvesting in our economy.”

Most recently, under the new agreement, local tradesmen, including carpenters and millwrights of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC), were hired to complete the carpentry work in the new public safety facility being built in Highland.

Vassar added, “By hiring professional tradespeople for the new public safety facility, we know the quality of the work will exceed expectations.”

“As a resident of Highland, I want to thank the Highland Town Council for their commitment to the working people of our community,” said Jim Slagle of the IKORCC. “The town council recognizes that skilled local trades hold the highest standards and that we complete projects professionally, efficiently and in a timely manner. We are proud of the work we do, and we’re very grateful to live and work in such a great town.”

For more information, please contact Jim Slagle at jslagle@ikorcc.com.

Carpenter Apprentices Volunteer for Chesterton Building Trades Program

CHESTERTON, Ind. – The Chesterton High School Building Trades program called upon apprentices at the IKORCC (Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters) Training Center in Hobart to assist with Chesterton High School’s (CHS) annual charity project.

For the past three years, in preparation for Homecoming weekend, students in the CHS Building Trades program have built playhouses to replace traditional homecoming floats. The playhouses are decorated by students at the annual CHS block party during the week leading up to Homecoming weekend and are displayed at half time during the Homecoming football game.

This year, the Building Trades students were working at capacity on another project, so instructor Jeff Larson contacted the Carpenters Training Center in Hobart to enlist their help.

“It’s really an honor to have been brought in on this project,” commented Dale Newlin, IKORCC/JATF Area Coordinator. “What a huge compliment it is that the Building Trades instructor trusted our apprentices to build the playhouses for such a wonderful cause.”

16 Carpenter apprentices eagerly offered to volunteer, spending five total days building five playhouses. Thanks to generous sponsors, including Strack & Van Til, Construction Advancement Foundation, Dr. Brian McGue DDS, Trout Glass & Mirror and Metropolitan Steel, all materials needed to construct the playhouses were provided.

The student-led project is spearheaded by the CHS student government, which met over the course of a couple months to decide on decorations for the playhouses. Each graduating class, in addition to the Chesterton Community House, sponsors a playhouse and gets to choose which charity the proceeds from their playhouse will benefit.

After Homecoming weekend, the playhouses will be auctioned off on Ebay for a seven-day local auction, and 100% of the funds raised will go to local charities, including Porter County Animal Shelter (Class of 2016), Parents as Teachers (Class of 2017), Dunebrook (Class of 2018), Family House (Class of 2019) and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Porter County (Chesterton Community House).

“We really appreciate the Carpenters Union’s support. It’s so important that we continue to offer our students the opportunity to participate in this event, and we couldn’t have done it this year without their help,” commented Robert Blumenthal, CHS Assistant Principal. “It’s so inspiring to know the group of apprentices put in volunteer hours for our students to give back to the community. They went above and beyond our expectations, and we are so grateful.”

For more information, please contact Dale Newlin at dnewlin@ikorcc.com.



Berey Bros. Supports Local Contractors

HAMMOND, Ind. – Longtime union supporter Berey Bros. recently remodeled its interior by using a local area-standard contractor through the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC). Berey Bros. has been selling American-made safety footwear in Northwest Indiana for the past 68 years.

As a family-owned and operated business, Berey Bros. sees immense value in giving back to their community. “Berey Bros. has always shown respect to our community’s workers in any way they can. They have offered discounts to the unions in our area, and they hire local contractors,” commented Jim Slagle of the IKORCC. “We always appreciate it when businesses hire local workers. It’s good for our community’s economy, and in return, we, along with our families, will support them. It’s really a win-win.”

The carpenters on the job worked hard to efficiently get the remodel completed without disrupting store business. “All of the workers on the job were truly great people who enjoyed what they were doing,” commented Richard Koharchik of Berey Bros. “They went above and beyond in making sure that we never had to close our store or open late, even if it meant starting at 6am or earlier so we could open on time.”

Berey Bros. is open seven days a week. Click here for a complete list of store hours.

For more information about this project, please contact Jim Slagle at jslagle@ikorcc.com.