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Senator Brown proposes anti-wage theft legislation

CINCINNATI, OH – In the wake of Cincinnati becoming the first Ohio city to pass a wage theft ordinance, one of Ohio’s senators is trying to bring the momentum nationwide.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown introduced the Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act Wednesday. The legislation would give workers the right to receive full compensation for all of the work they perform, as well as the right to receive regular paystubs and final paychecks in a timely manner.

It would also provide workers with tools to recover stolen wages and make assistance available to enhance the enforcement of and compliance with wage and hour laws.

The bill was co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.; U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Wage theft occurs when employers refuse to pay workers money that they are owed by withholding pay, tips or overtime.

“When bosses don’t pay their workers what they’re owed, it robs them of money they earned for their hard work and hurts businesses that play by the rules,” Brown said in a news release.

“We must create a system where employers who steal wages are held accountable and workers have the tools they need to recover their wages when they’ve been cheated.”

A 2009 study by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) of nearly 4,500 low-wage workers found that more than 60 percent had been shorted by their employer each week, equivalent to $2,634 per year in unpaid wages. Analysts applying this study to Cincinnati estimate that low-wage workers here lose $52 million per year to wage theft.

Low-wage and immigrant workers are victims of wage theft when they are paid less than the minimum wage, are shorted hours, forced to work off the clock, are not paid overtime or not paid at all. These are pervasive practices across many industries.

Despite complaints about wage theft, Ohio has cut the number of state wage investigators from 15 to five since 2008.  The closest investigator to Hamilton County is located in Dayton, Ohio.

In early February, Cincinnati became the first city in Ohio to pass an ordinance to improve enforcement of existing wage laws.

City Council voted 7-2 for the ordinance. Under the measure, if the city or another agency determines a company has committed wage theft, city officials would be able to have the money returned and the company would be barred from doing business with the city.

During a news conference call Wednesday, Brown was joined by Brennan Grayson, director of the Interfaith Workers Center in Cincinnati, who helped organize support for Cincinnati’s recently-passed wage theft ordinance.

“Sen. Brown’s bill is the type of change we need to begin making things right, to begin restoring dignity to wage earners,” Grayson said.

Under the Ohio Democrat’s proposal, workers would recoup the full compensation that employers have taken from them, create a civil penalty of $2,000 when employers violate minimum wage and overtime protections and  increase the time that employees have to bring a claim for owed wages.

The bill also would make it easier for employees to take collective action to recover their stolen wages and remove the current requirement that employees affirmatively “opt-in” to engage in a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Last November, Brown introduced legislation to take action against employers that misclassify their workers to cheat them out of wages, benefits, and important workplace protections – one of the practices that contributes to wage theft. He has also introduced bills to raise the minimum wage, expand paid sick leave to all workers and support workers’ right to bargain with employers.

Source: Cincinnati.com

Carpenters assemble Valentine’s Day care packages for US Military

In preparation for the upcoming holiday, Local 200 of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) volunteered to assist in the assembly of Valentine’s Day care packages for military members.

Earlier this year, Brenda Bishop Young of Buckeye Military Families reached out to Local 200 regarding its third annual Operation Sharing Hearts project. The project focuses on assembling and sending 50 Valentine’s-themed care packages to service members who are deployed and stationed overseas.

In addition to presenting Buckeye Military Families with a $500 donation, five Local 200 members and their families were more than happy to assist with Operation Sharing Hearts and dedicated a Saturday and a total of 20 volunteer hours to the project. Assembled at the Local 200 office, eachcare package contained Valentine’s Day cards, candy, batteries, sports and auto magazines, toiletries and small Valentine’s Day cakes.

“I have to thank Local 200 for the use of their office – the facility was perfect for our event,” commented Bishop Young. “The help we received from their members was so awesome! They jumped in and made us feel right at home. I know this is a long-standing relationship we can look forward to in years to come.”

Michael Freeman, IKORCC Representative and Local 200 Recording Secretary and Political Advisor, commented, “We have four veterans in our Columbus office. Having served in the military, it makes me so proud to be involved with an organization that truly cares about our nation’s heroes – veterans and active duty alike. Being stationed away from family and friends can be very tough, and we know how much a small gesture like these care packages will be appreciated. They’re also a small token of our appreciation for everything our military does for our country.”

Buckeye Military Families is the Ohio chapter of Semper-Fi Sisters, which consists of individuals with a loved one who served or is currently serving in the military. Their mission is to support the families of those currently serving, the service member themselves and Ohio veterans.

Senator Brown Reintroduces Fair Playing Field Act

US Senator Brown (OH) appeared with Labor Secretary Tom Perez at a forum in Cleveland to meet with workers who have been victims of payroll fraud. They met with construction, package delivery and other workers who have been denied basic employment protections because they were misclassified as independent contractors or paid off the books.

“We should call this what it is: fraud,” said Sen. Brown. “This is unfair to workers, unfair to businesses that play by the rules, and it must stop.”

At the forum, Sen. Brown announced that he is reintroducing the Fair Playing Field Act. The bill seeks to amend the federal tax code. Previously, the Fair Playing Field Act was blocked in House and Senate committees.

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

Local Carpenters walk in city’s annual Welcome Santa Holiday Parade

Source:ohio.com

A relentless drizzle and temperatures in the low 40s weren’t enough to knock the Christmas spirit out of about 3,000 parade-goers Saturday morning in downtown Akron.

Spectators lined both sides of Main Street, three or four deep in some places, as more than 75 units slogged through the rain in the city’s annual Welcome Santa Holiday Parade.

Although the event is a longstanding local tradition, there was nothing remotely provincial about it. Among the spectators was a woman from Cleveland Heights who said she makes the trip often because nothing in Cleveland matches up.

“We come here because it’s a very nice family occasion for the Christmas holidays,” said Kathie Demetz. “We have a lot of nice Christmas activities in Cleveland, but we don’t have a nice parade like this.”

She was sitting in a folding chair between her grandchildren, Sammy Grace, 4, and Bear Grace, 2. All three wore Santa caps. Bear wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as the other two, occasionally nodding off in his stroller.

Older kids along the route scampered around in the rain, fishing candy out of puddles.

Parade announcer Jasen Sokol of WAKR (1590-AM) noted early on that the day coincided with the big Ohio State-Michigan football game. His call of “O-H” elicited a boisterous “I-O” response from those near the main stage, located in front of KeyBank, directly across from Lock 3.

Someone else suggested adding a cheer for another hometown favorite. “What about the Zips?” yelled out a woman across the street.

Sokol immediately jumped onboard, pointing out that the University of Akron is bowl-bound after Friday’s win over archival Kent State. The enthusiastic Zip fan also was an out-of-towner — the mother of redshirt freshman Hayden Grover, a long snapper from upstate New York.

Grover’s mother, Kim, and father, Jeff, made the 5½-hour drive not only to watch Friday’s game but also to watch their son sing with Nuance, UA’s all-male a capella group, which took the stage at the close of the parade.

The Grovers have become huge fans of the school and the city.

“We’re thrilled,” said Jeff. “Coach [Terry] Bowden’s done a great job. We’ve fallen in love with the city of Akron and the whole Akron community. It’s been an overall positive experience for our son here.”

Nuance performed briefly before hiking across the street with Santa. Yes, Santa arrived on schedule despite the absence of snow.

Although no reindeer were visible, the hourlong parade included horses and dogs and elves, oh my.

The units spanned the spectrum, from unicyclists to police and fire to private contractors to classic automobiles to public officials to dancers and marching bands of all ages.

Carpenters Union Builds Santa’s Sleigh for Holiday Parade

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Earlier this month, Carpenters from the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) Local 435 Member Action Committee (MAC) volunteered to build Santa’s sleigh for the Light Up Lorain Waterfront Winterfest parade.

To kick off the Christmas season, Light Up Lorain Waterfront Winterfest is an annual two- day celebration held in Lorain that includes a lighting ceremony at Veterans Park, visits with Santa at Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen and an annual parade on Broadway and West Erie Avenue. This year, the celebration will be held on Nov. 28 and 29.

Director of the Lorain Port Authority Stephen W. Bansek was thrilled to accept the donation of the Santa sleigh that was designed, constructed and painted by the Carpenters Union. “We could not be happier for their help. Our community looks forward to the fest every year. We are thankful for all who made this possible, specifically Local 435 carpenters, John Muriello and Loren Haskins.”

Upon completion of the sleigh, Santa and Mrs. Claus visited Muriello and Haskins to inspect their work. Luckily, they passed with flying colors and were told the craftsmanship and kind heartedness of the IKORCC volunteers should make carpenters proud from all over. All four sides of the sleigh will proudly display an IKORCC “carpenters making a difference” sign.

IKORCC Representative Kevin Ennis said, “Having the opportunity to give back to the community and knowing how excited the kids will be to see Santa on his sleigh will make this year’s parade even more special to us.”

For more information, please contact Kevin Ennis kennis@ikorcc.com.

INSTALL Contractor Featured in Case Study

TOLEDO, Ohio – Earlier this year, American Flooring & Interiors (AF&I) was featured in a case study showcasing their rising position in the industry. The case study touted AF&I’s 2014 number one ranking from Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) as the fastest growing company in the construction industry and the number 11 fastest growing company overall. The companies chosen annually represent innovative, diverse companies that produce jobs in their local communities and generate over half of their revenues from regional, national and international sales.

As part of their impressive credentials, AF&I has received a special certification with the International Standards & Training Alliance (INSTALL) flooring program. INSTALL has certified AF&I as an INSTALL Warranty Contractor. Contractors like AF&I must reach elevated standards in exemplary installation performance history, demonstrate and maintain good business standards and bonding credentials, and all of their journeyperson installers are required to be INSTALL certified. The INSTALL Warranty is the only free, extended, additional, third-party installation warranty in the floor covering industry.

AF&I owner Gary Johnson attributes the company’s success to investing in skilled, professional people and providing them with comprehensive INSTALL training and certification. Local floor coverers working for the AF&I are members of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC), a regional council of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC).

AF&I is joined by seven other IKORCC INSTALL Contractors and 23 US and Canadian INSTALL Contractors that have achieved this distinction from over 400 INSTALL Contractors across the US and Canada.

INSTALL is a North American alliance of flooring mills, manufacturers, consultants and contractors who work together to ensure superior flooring installations.

For more information, please contact Ray Laraby at rlaraby@ikorcc.com.

Local 351 Builds Wheelchair Ramp for Local Family

Earlier this month, Local 351 Member Action Committee (MAC) of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) volunteered time and skills to build a wheelchair ramp for a local family in need.

Lois Aay, a retired secretary of Local 50, Plumbers and Pipefiitters, needed a ramp for her husband Willy who lost his leg as a result of diabetes. Without a ramp attached to their home, Lois was left hauling snowmobile ramps to their front door any time Willy had to go somewhere. It was extremely tough for Lois to move the ramps to and from their front door, and the Local 351 MAC was eager to help the family.

Local 351 MAC worked closely with the Aays to design and draw blueprints of the ramp, and eight total members volunteered an entire day to build a wheelchair ramp for easy access in and out of the house. In addition, the carpenters built a deck area for Willy to be able to go outside and enjoy the sun and fresh air.

“When we found out that Willy and Lois needed a ramp at their house, we didn’t hesitate to offer a helping hand,” said Dan Morey of the IKORCC. “On the day of the project, the weather wasn’t on our side, but our MAC members pushed through the steady rain to complete the ramp. We knew Willy had an upcoming doctors appointment, and we didn’t want Lois to have to use heavy snowmobile ramps again. We are really happy to have made a difference in their lives.”

“Willy and I would like to give a standing ovation to Local 351 for coming to our home and building a wonderful and useful ramp and deck,” commented Lois Aays. “Being only 4’11”, it has helped me so much with getting Willy to doctor appointments by myself. The volunteers were amazing, and they were a true union – wonderful volunteers and dedicated men who will never be forgotten by our family.”

Local 351 MAC members who worked on the project include Luciana Briones, Rodney Dean, Lee Daher, Dan Morey, Jim Powers, Mike Sager, Anthony Santellana and Dave Schertz.

For more information, please contact Dan Morey at dmorey@ikorcc.com.

Local 200 Participates in Pickerington Labor Day Parade

PICKERINGTON, Ohio – On Labor Day, Carpenters Local 200 of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) participated in the 67th annual Pickerington Labor Day Parade, sponsored by the Pickerington Lions Club, for the second consecutive year.

Representing Local 200, 25 total members, apprentices, retirees, family members and friends handed out candy and frisbees at the parade. Participants in the parade included Troy Woodyard, Kevin McConahan, Nate Hall, Doug Soma, Nate Davis, Mike Mask, Mark Moen, Debbie Ziaden, Mike Freeman, James Van New Kirk, and spouses, daughters and grandchildren of Local 200.

“This is our second time participating in the parade, and we foresee this as an annual tradition for Local 200 and our families,” commented Mike Freeman, IKORCC Representative. “We love having the chance to show our support for our community, especially on Labor Day, while representing everything the IKORCC stands for: fair jobs with fair benefits, a living wage that can support our families, a safe and secure work environment, supporting our communities and producing the highest quality and maintaining the highest standards of work in everything we do.”

Following the parade, the Lions Club held its annual fish fry with all proceeds going to optical research and blindness prevention. “The money we raise through our parade and fish fry stays local,” commented Cherie Koch, Pickerington Labor Day Parade Chair of 15 years. “Having the Carpenters in the parade helped us draw in more spectators, which ultimately generated more money we can put to good use in our community.”

The Pickerington Labor Day Parade is one of the largest spectated parades in Central Ohio. This year marked the city’s 200 year anniversary.

For more information, please contact Mike Freeman at mfreeman@ikorcc.com.

Local 351 Participates in Labor Day Festivities

TOLEDO, Ohio – To celebrate Labor Day, Carpenters Local 351 of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) participated in Toledo’s annual Labor Day parade and Laborfest.

Held in downtown Toledo, the two-hour parade kicked off at 9am. Before the parade, Local 351 members met at KeyBank to volunteer their services to build the parade reviewing stand scaffolding used by politicians and dignitaries to view the parade as the Grand Marshall announces the participating unions. This year’s parade theme was “Built to Last/Made in America,” and all local unions in the parade wore matching shirts to show unity and solidarity.

Following the parade, Local 351 joined with other local unions at the Laborfest picnic held at the Lucas County Fairgrounds. Attendees enjoyed games, food and a classic car show, and Local 351 placed second in the tug-of-war contest. Proceeds from the Laborfest were directed toward Special Olympics, and $10,000 was donated to the organization.

“We love participating in the parade each year, and we always look forward to spending time with our families and other local unions at Laborfest,” commented Dan Morey of the IKORCC. “The Laborfest committee designates donations to a different nonprofit each year, and this year, the committee chose Special Olympics. This was especially meaningful to one of our members whose child participates in Special Olympics, and we are happy to support such an amazing charity!”

For more information, please contact Dan Morey at dmorey@ikorcc.com.