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Construction Career Day at Murray State University

The lack of a student loan debt after graduating and the ability to earn while you learn has become increasingly attractive to graduating students. The IKORCC is using this opportunity to provide students with a wealth of knowledge on how to start their career in the trades with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. Last week, approximately 1,600 students from Western Kentucky attended the seventh annual Construction Career Day at Murray State University Cherry Expo Center. The students were able to experience interactive displays such as welding and masonry work. The variety of hands-on activities represented multiple career paths.

The IKORCC was r​epresented by Will Stewart, Business Representative based out of Local 357, and Sidney Nelson, Instructor based out of the Newburgh training facility. The students received instruction on the use of HILTI battery-operated screw-guns as well as information on the apprenticeship and the benefits of a career with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.

IKORCC Sponsors Kentucky Derby Festival

Last week Union Carpenters kicked off the Kentucky Derby Festival with a bang at Thunder Over Louisville, a day-long air show and firework display at nightfall over the Ohio River.

The event brought Kentucky carpenters together to educate visitors on becoming a Union Carpenter and the future opportunities in the field. Thunder Over Louisville brought thousands of spectators to the Kentucky and Indiana shorelines.

Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters EST Mark McGriff was proud to help cut the ribbon, kicking off the annual Derby Festival. The IKORCC sponsored The Grove for the week of festivities. The Grove has been a gathering spot for visitors of the Derby Festival. The space is lined with picnic tables made by Apprentices from Carpenters Local 175. It was a volunteer opportunity and their time was greatly appreciated!

Dan Sustin, Training Coordinator in Richfield, Ohio made IKORCC metal plaques for each of the picnic tables. The tables were a great addition to the space this year and we hope to see them in the many years to come!

In 1956 the festival started with one small event on the river, today the schedule is packed with nightly events and multiple local vendors. We were thrilled to be able to support the event and look forward to many other community events in the coming year.

Honoring Vets at KY Derby Festival

Saturday volunteers with the Indiana Kentucky Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters spent the day honoring our nation’s bravest at the Kentucky Derby Festival in Louisville. The festival gave free admission to vets and their families for their annual Military Appreciation Day & Tyler Farr county concert.

indiana kentucky ohio regional council of carpenters, carpenters union, training

Volunteers from the IKORCC spent the day educating people about our Helmets to Hardhats program, which helps vets get a job after returning home, often within six weeks. Helmets to Hardhats helps military service members successfully transition back into civilian life by offering them the means to secure a quality career in the construction industry. Our federally-approved apprenticeship program allows vets to use their Montgomery G.I. Bill benefits to supplement their income.

Based on vet’s military occupation code, we can help leverage training and work-related experience during their time in the service for possible advanced placement in our apprenticeship program. With an honorable discharge, veterans can be working on a job site as soon as six weeks!

One of our carpenters and his wife, who volunteered at the event, were thrilled to meet country star Tyler Farr just before his concert Saturday!

We’d like to thank all the brave men and women that serve our nation’s military. We’d also like to thank the many volunteers who spent the weekend helping our community.

Click here to learn more about our Helmets to Hardhats program.

Kentucky Carpenters Keep the Peace at Grayson Cemetery

Funerals are supposed to be a time for reflection and finding peace, however, in The Northeast Kentucky Veteran’s Cemetery pigeons were making that difficult for veteran’s families.

During funeral services, pigeons would fly in the cupola and make a lot of noise, an unwelcome occurrence during services. When their efforts didn’t work, cemetery staff turned to our carpenters for a speedy solution. Carpenters from Local 472 donated materials and worked with apprentices from Local 1650 to construct a frame to enclose the cupola and keep the pigeons away. The solution worked and the cemetery staff is now back to the business of honoring our nation’s vets. Great work Local 472 and 1650!

Kentucky Carpenter Jobs

 

Union members say lawmakers launching ‘attack on the working people’

BY JOHN CHEVES AND JACK BRAMMER
jcheves@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT

Angry labor union members on Saturday said they don’t know how they became public enemy No. 1 in Kentucky’s 2017 legislative session.

Hundreds of workers in boots and heavy coats poured onto every public floor of the state Capitol to loudly protest final passage of three bills that they say will weaken unions and reduce construction workers’ wages.

“It’s an attack on the working people,” said Chris Kendall, 44, a member of Local 184 of the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union in Paducah.

“It’s almost like we’re the enemy somehow, that it’s the politicians against us,” Kendall said. “And all we’re trying to do is earn an honest day’s wage.”

Said Bruce Rowe, a Pike County truck driver who belongs to Local 14581 of United Steelworkers, “This will just be awful for our communities. Once you cut our pay, your tax base goes down, and we’ve got less money to spend at Wal-Mart and buying cars and getting groceries for our families and shoes for our kids.”

House Bill 1 will let workers avoid paying union dues even if they get the benefits of a union-negotiated workplace contract. House Bill 3 will repeal the prevailing wage, a minimum salary paid to construction workers on local government projects. And Senate Bill 6 will require workers to “opt in” to having union dues withheld from their paychecks.

Taken together, these bills will make life tougher for blue-collar workers in Kentucky, protesters said Saturday.

“These are just union-busting bills. They’re not going to improve the economy any. They just bust up the unions and make it harder for workers to be represented,” said Vernon Soder, 42, a member of Local 20 of the International Union of Elevator Contractors in Louisville.

The union workers said they already represent a small and shrinking part of the state’s labor pool. Union members made up 11 percent of the workforce in Kentucky in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Why would they want any more of our pie? Why do they need to break us up any more?” Kendall said. “There’s not even many union jobs available. You have to really want one to get one because they’re so competitive.”

Repealing the prevailing wage, which guarantees a base rate of $20 to $30 an hour for skilled construction workers depending on their job and location, will cut workers’ pay nearly in half, Kendall said.

“The prevailing wage is a minimum wage for skilled workers,” Kendall said. “If you do away with that, that’s gonna cut the pay of all your skilled workers, union and non-union, on public construction projects and private. It’ll just come down to where you have the illegals and other unskilled labor doing the work as cheaply as possible, and it won’t be half as good.”

“These are just union-busting bills. They’re not going to improve the economy any. They just bust up the unions and make it harder for workers to be represented,” said Vernon Soder, 42, a member of Local 20 of the International Union of Elevator Contractors in Louisville.

The union workers said they already represent a small and shrinking part of the state’s labor pool. Union members made up 11 percent of the workforce in Kentucky in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Why would they want any more of our pie? Why do they need to break us up any more?” Kendall said. “There’s not even many union jobs available. You have to really want one to get one because they’re so competitive.”

Repealing the prevailing wage, which guarantees a base rate of $20 to $30 an hour for skilled construction workers depending on their job and location, will cut workers’ pay nearly in half, Kendall said.

“The prevailing wage is a minimum wage for skilled workers,” Kendall said. “If you do away with that, that’s gonna cut the pay of all your skilled workers, union and non-union, on public construction projects and private. It’ll just come down to where you have the illegals and other unskilled labor doing the work as cheaply as possible, and it won’t be half as good.”

Bill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky AFL-CIO, said some union members who came to the Capitol in recent days to protest legislation are social conservatives who voted for Republican politicians. Now they’re watching a newly Republican-led legislature pass measures that will cut their paychecks, Londrigan said.

“Believe me, we’re well aware that many of our members went to the polls last November and voted the straight Republican ticket to elect Donald Trump, not thinking about who else they were putting into local and state office and how that was going to impact their families,” Londrigan said in an interview.

“So that’s why we’re bringing them up here now, so they can see the consequences of their actions,” Londrigan said. “And maybe the next time they will believe their unions when we tell them to vote for their own economic interests.”

Kentucky Republicans Pass Right-To-Work, Dropping The Hammer On Unions

By Dave Jamelson and Travis Waldron
01/07/2017 12:06 pm ET

Organized labor suffered its first major legislative setback due to the 2016 elections on Saturday, when Kentucky Republicans gave final approval to right-to-work legislation and repealed the state’s prevailing wage law. Both bills are expected to be signed into law by the governor, and will take effect immediately.

Kentucky is the last holdout in the South without an anti-union right-to-work law on the books. For decades, labor unions and Democrats fended off such measures, which diminish union membership and weaken the labor movement. But when Republicans captured the state House in November, they paved the way for passage of the legislation. The law will apply to all new labor contracts, but will not affect current agreements.

Unions and Democrats mounted a last-ditch effort to stop the legislation this week, holding protests at the state capitol building in Frankfort saying the bills would drive down wages. But Republicans now have overwhelming control of both the state Senate and the House. Kentucky’s governor, Matt Bevin, is a Republican who won office in 2015.

“They’re cutting workers’ pay,” Bill Finn, state director of the Kentucky State Building and Construction Trades Council, told The Huffington Post this week. “People voted for a change in this election, but they didn’t vote for this. They didn’t vote for pay cuts.”

Right-to-work laws forbid contracts that require all workers in a particular bargaining unit to pay fees to a union. Under U.S. labor law, a union must represent all employees in a unionized workplace, even those who may not want representation. Unions argue it’s only fair that all workers share the costs of bargaining and maintaining the union contract.

By allowing individual workers to opt out of paying union fees while benefiting from representation ― an arrangement unions call “free riding” ― right-to-work laws can drive down membership and weaken unions financially and politically. The conservatives who push right-to-work laws argue that they assure workers’ individual freedoms by not compelling anyone to support a union.

Labor leaders were equally troubled by the legislature’s move to gut the state’s prevailing wage law. Such laws require that employers pay certain minimum wages on work funded by public money. Backers of the laws say they help make sure companies accepting taxpayer dollars don’t drive down wages and working conditions. Opponents argue they inflate the cost of public works projects.

The repeal means prevailing wages will no longer apply to construction workers building schools and government buildings.

Charlie Essex, the financial secretary for Local 369 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Louisville, called the measure “an attack on union people.” He estimated that the prevailing wage law applied to more than 30 percent of union construction work in Kentucky.

Backed by business lobbies, Republican lawmakers around the country have been aggressive in pushing right-to-work bills and prevailing wage repeals in recent years. When Democrats lose control of a statehouse chamber or the governor’s mansion, they are often powerless to stop them.

Long confined to the South and West, right-to-work proponents have recently made inroads elsewhere in the country, including even the industrial Midwest. Since 2012, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and West Virginia have all gone right-to-work. Kentucky will be the 27th such state, making it more the norm than the exception around the country.

Class representative addresses crowd at graduation banquet

Jerome Stanford completed the apprenticeship program with hundreds of others from Indiana and Kentucky and were honored with a completion ceremony in December 2015. As the selected speaker to represent the graudation class, Jerome addressed the members and guests that night.

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

Who are my legislators in Kentucky?

The Kentucky Legislative Research Commision provides a map to reveal the elected officials in your area. You can use the search by address at the top or select your location. By clicking on his/her bio page, you can find contact information including phone, email and mailing adress. We encourage everyone to reach out to your elected officials regarding issues of concern.

Prevailing Wage Controls Costs

A study of 3 states – including Kentucky – found no meaningful cost difference on school construction comparing states with and without prevailing wage.*

Why do the costs not go up with prevailing wage?

  • Labor only makes up 21% of total building construction costs in Kentucky. Reducing wages doesn’t produce any savings without paying workers illegally below minimum wage. However, productivity does drive the cost of construction. Skilled workers on prevailing wage jobs are 15% more productive than less-skilled workers.
  • Kentucky taxpayers get better project quality and self-sustaining jobs at no additional cost to the taxpayer. Lowering local standards for construction wages attracts a lower skilled, out-of-area workforce which results in large productivity losses, costly errors on the construction project, inefficient use of expensive materials and fewer jobs for Kentuckians.

*Kentucky’s Prevailing Wage Law, Phillips, P., 2014.