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A Heartfelt “Thank You” Chairman’s Message

ABCMA Blog

thd photoIt has been a real honor to chair the Massachusetts Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors for the past two years.  Together, we were able to post some important achievements.

Two years ago, our association – and many of our member companies – was still reeling from the Great Recession.  Those impacts were apparent in ABCMA’s membership and its budget.

But two years later, fiscal stability has been restored we are back over 400 members.  Thanks to the good work of our membership team, headed by Ken Ledwak, Massachusetts is among the nation’s fastest-growing chapters.

Last year, improving communication with members was one of the main priorities that emerged from our chapter’s annual planning conference.  Led by Public Affairs Director Chuck Borstel, we went to work, hired a marketing consultant and overhauled our communications operation.  Today we have a significantly upgraded social media presence and the open rates on newsletters, Weekly Member News and other items have spiked.

But perhaps our biggest advance has been in government affairs.  After being locked out of the Patrick administration over the last eight years, we redoubled our efforts to work with legislators and statewide officials, and began to take a more proactive role instead of just trying to stop harmful initiatives.

That strategy has paid off.  We now have legislative champions in both parties, including committee chairs and members who appear to be headed for important leadership positions.  Those champions have introduced important legislation, such as a bill that would prevent housing authorities from giving no-bid contracts to unions, and helped us achieve victories like allowing those who have worked in process piping for four years or more to receive a newly required license without having to take an exam.

Perhaps the best example of our new status was the recent state elections.  Not only was Charlie Baker – the candidate whose policies most closely match our positions – get elected, but we are also developing a strong relationship with incoming Attorney General Maura Healey, whose office may have as much impact on our members and industry as the governor.

None of this could have been achieved without your support and I thank you for that.  I would also like to thank my fellow board members and the ABC staff.

We have accomplished much in the past two years, but there is far more to be done.  I have no doubt that we will continue to make progress under the leadership of incoming chair Brian Jurgens.  I know you will offer him the same support you have given me.  And for that, I offer my heart-felt thanks.

ABC MA Joins Industry Gas Tax Coalition

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construction-for-web-370x229At its September meeting, Associated Builders and Contractors of Massachusetts board of directors voted to join a coalition of more than 40 construction industry and other groups that is working to defeat a question on the November ballot that would end the recently adopted practice of indexing the commonwealth’s gas tax to inflation.  We decided to join the coalition because we believe the ballot question’s passage would have a devastating impact on the construction industry and on future public and private development in Massachusetts.

 

In 2009, Massachusetts passed an historic set of transportation reforms that included eliminating the Turnpike Authority, reforming MBTA pensions and health care, and ending the use of capital funds to pay for operating costs.  The clear message was that elected officials wanted to see reforms implemented before any new money was dedicated to transportation.

 

Once the reforms were put in place, a 2013 law increased revenues dedicated to transportation by about $600 million annually.  A number of measures were enacted to pay for the increased investment, including a three-cent hike in the gas tax (the first since 1991) and indexing the tax to the Consumer Price Index.

 

Increased transportation investment provided a huge boost to the construction industry at a time when private investment was scarce and the industry was struggling.  It also spurred private investments that would not otherwise have been made.

 

Indexing the gas tax to inflation is a critical piece of the finance plan that ensures a stable, revenue source for enhanced transportation investments that will keep pace with the cost of doing business.  Eliminating the provision would reduce those investments by around $1 billion over the next decade.

 

The ABC board recognizes that with the rise of hybrid vehicles and federal laws that will require improved fuel efficiency, the gas tax is not a permanent solution to Massachusetts’ transportation funding needs.  We believe it is important that we, together with our partners, work toward a more permanent solution that funds infrastructure investments through the state budget, not taxes.  But that solution will take time.  In the interim, we believe that ensuring a reasonable level of transportation investment is critical to our industry and the commonwealth.

 

The coalition has hired a firm to run the ballot campaign and anticipates it will need to raise $3 million to be successful.  ABCMA will match member contributions to the effort up to $10,000. If you plan to make a contribution to the campaign, please let us know so we can match it.  Thank you for your membership and support for our efforts.

Chairman’s Message: Working Safely May Get Old, But so do Those Who Practice it

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thd photoMay is a big month for the Gould Construction Institute, Associated Builders and Contractors of Massachusetts’ training affiliate, which is fully licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The reason May is so important is because of the Gould’s biggest annual event, the Safety Training and Evaluation Process (STEP) awards ceremony and dinner, when the merit shop industry takes a couple of hours to recognize member companies and their employees for dedicating themselves to jobsite safety and continually improving their safety performance.

The ninth annual STEP awards event was held Thursday, May 15th at 6 p.m. at Montvale Plaza in Stoneham.  Over 200 people attended this event, reinforcing the value of safety to our member companies and their employees.

Lots of companies say safety is a priority, but STEP gives you the tools to make safety a reality.  The process was developed by contractors for contractors and it’s been proving its value for over two decades.

STEP works for small contractors, large ones, and everyone in between by providing an organized 20-point guide to developing and analyzing safety and loss prevention programs.  It incorporates both OSHA-required safety data and self-assessments to provide a comprehensive view of a company’s entire safety program.

And ABC has data to prove that STEP works.  In 2009, STEP participants beat the national averages compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in a number of areas.  Contractors with strong safety records have the advantage when it comes to both bidding for work and negotiating insurance rates.

Don’t wait until someone at your company is injured before getting your employees the proper training.  The Gould is always available to assist you with your training and educational needs. Check them out today at www.gwgci.org.  And while you’re online, don’t forget to go towww.abc.org/stepapp to apply to participate in STEP.

40 ABC Companies Honored by the Gould Construction Institute for Stellar Safety Performance

ABCMA Blog

DSC_0964The Gould Construction Institute (GCI) honored 40 ABC-member companies for their outstanding safety performance and presented nine students with certificates marking the successful completion of their programs at GCI’s 10th annual Safety and Education Night on May 15th at the MontvalePlaza in Stoneham.

Prior to the reception and dinner, Tim Irving of OSHA led a safety seminar.

Thirty-five ABC member companies who train with the Gould were also recognized at the event, as were Gould’s instructors.

Ivan Quinchia, the chair of Gould’s Board of Directors, announced that this year’s Safety and Education Night set a record with about 240 attendees and exceeded sponsorship goals.  He also noted that GCI enrolled more than 630 students during the last school year.

Below are the member companies recognized for their safety performance, listed by the level of their award:

Bronze 

Brennan Interiors Contractors, Inc.

Silver

Alares, LLC

Breen & Sullivan Mechanical Services, Inc.

DECCO, Inc.

Electrical Dynamics, Inc.

Exterior Designs, Inc.

C. E. Floyd Company, Inc.

W.T. Kenney Company, Inc.

J. Lawrence Hall Company

Medford Wellington Service Company, Inc

Methuen Construction Company, Inc.

Metro Walls, Inc.

N.E.L. Corporation

NorthStar Construction Services Corporation

The RELCO Companies

Shawnlee Construction, LLC

C. White Marine, Inc.

Gold

Bowdoin Construction Corporation

Callahan, Inc.

CTA Construction Company, Inc.

Dellbrook Construction, LLC

Elm Electrical, Inc.

Interstate Electrical Services Corporation

LakeHVAC

Rivers Electrical Corporation

R&R Window Contractors, Inc.

Platinum

Cutler Associates, Inc.

Erland Construciton, Inc.

Florence Electric

MJM Masonry, Inc.

The Middlesex Corporation

North Shore Mechanical Contractors, Inc

Pilgrim Interiors, Inc.

Piping Systems, Inc.

Tocco Corporation

R.H. White Construction Company

Windover Construction, LLC

Diamond

J.M. Coull, Inc.

Kaplan Construction

Notch Mechanical Constructors

Five students received electrical trade certificates.  Christian DeJesus is from Electrical Dynamics Inc.  Four others – Michael Grzejka, Alex Jennings, David Mover and Louis LaMarca – are from Interstate Electrical Services Corporation.

Three more students received pipefitting trade certificates.  They were David Byors from E. Amanti & Sons and Connor Bilodeau and Kyle Wyatt from Notch Mechanical Constructors.

Also from Notch is Chris Harris, who received his plumbing trade certificate.

 

Member Spotlight: Kaplan Construction Completes Child Care Center for Bright Horizons

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Bright-Horizons-Brookline_Shelly-Harrison-PhotogOver the course of four months and following a complete demolition of the building interior, Kaplan renovated an existing office building located at 138 Harvard Street in Brookline into a new early education and preschool that can accommodate up to 113 children ranging from infants to pre-kindergarten. In addition to the classrooms organized by age group, Kaplan created an interior playroom with a climbing wall as well as a staff lounge, kitchen area, and office space for employees.

The original building was constructed on stilts to provide parking underneath. Kaplan converted 75 percent of the parking lot into green space and a playground with rubber matting. A concrete tricycle path with bridges and tunnels was incorporated into the play area, recognizing Bright Horizons commitment to teaching children about the importance of leading an active lifestyle.

A perimeter fence was installed along Harvard Street and Auburn Street, and low interior fences were constructed to separate the different age groups.

A new roof and mechanical systems were installed and a 140-foot long ramp was constructed to provide an evacuation route from the center to the exterior.

Kaplan worked with the architecture firms StudioMLA of Brookline and Davis Square Architects of Somerville to complete this project for Bright Horizons.

ABC’s MAP Reaching New Milestones

ABCMA Blog

ABC MA’s Merit Apprenticeship Program (MAP) continues to grow and reach new milestones.  The program now has more than 200 registered apprentices, over 20 percent of whom are minorities.

And MAP is not resting on its laurels.  ABC MA Director of Workforce Development John Rich recently presented before the Northeast Vocational-Technical School Advisory Board and he is constantly beating the bushes to sign up new apprentices and companies.

MAP gives companies the opportunity to augment their hiring process and find qualified candidates from the program’s nine labor pools located across Massachusetts and in southern New Hampshire. The program can free human resource personnel or owners from much of the bureaucratic maze of paperwork, thus allowing them to focus on other important responsibilities.

MAP also provides member companies with the opportunity to bid on virtually any public sector prevailing wage job – be it federal, state, local or out-of-state – because the program is registered with the Department of Workforce Development’s Division of Apprentice Standards.

For more information on MAP, contact John Rich at (781) 273-0123 or john@abcma.org.

 

 

Regulators at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Have Reissued a Proposed Rule on Ambush Elections

ABCMA Blog

Last month the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reissued the so-called ambush election rule that would curtail the ability of non-union employers and employees to oppose union organizing drives.

A nearly identical rule was issued in 2011 but struck down the following year because a federal judge ruled that the NLRB didn’t have a quorum.  Only two of the board’s five seats were filled at the time.  Now back at full strength, the NLRB approved the rule on a 3-2 vote.

In addition to reducing the period of a standard union election process from 42 days to as little as 10 days, the rule would:

  • Require employers to file a formal Statement of Position within seven days or forfeit the right to pursue any issues.
  • Force targeted no-union employers to turn over employee information such as home addresses, e-mail addresses, home phone numbers and cell phone numbers to the union to facilitate contact.
  • Eliminate the required 25-day waiting period prior to the holding of an election.
  • Allow workers at a given site to cast ballots even if their eligibility is contested, deferring any legal action until after the election.
  • Eliminate an employer’s automatic right to a post-election NLRB review of contested issues.

In effect, where a union would have months and even years to build support at a given work site before approaching the NLRB to supervise an election, an employer would have at most a few weeks to offer any responses. This rule change would especially hurt small businesses, which typically do not employ a labor issues counsel.

ABC’s MAP Can Help Offset Labor Demands for the Upcoming Construction Season

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Though it seems like spring will never arrive this year, it inevitably does and that means the seasonal “bump” in construction projects is just around the corner.  With new work comes the need for more workers, and that’s where the Merit Apprenticeship Program (MAP) can help.

MAP, like its member companies, is gearing up for the increase in labor demand.  Each spring we bring in new candidates such as vocational school graduates and veterans to replenish our regional labor pools.  We also send “to the minors,” those candidates who have not responded to job requests or are not reachable due to changes in phone or email addresses.

Don’t worry if you are trying to build up a backlog of work before you request new employee candidates; MAP candidates are available all year round.  MAP can also help to keep you in compliance if you’re working on jobs in which it’s important to hire minorities, women or residents of a specific city.

For more information on MAP, how to join or how to access our labor pools please go to our website: www.meritapprentice.orgor call ABC MA at 781-273-0123 or email john@abcma.org

Member Spotlight: Metro Walls Working on New Residence Hall at St. Anselm College

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Metro Walls_StAnselm Project February 2014Metro Walls has started its work on developing the new residence hall at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, N.H. The 43,000 square foot residence hall is scheduled to be completed this summer and open to students for the fall 2014 semester.

Metro Walls is responsible for the construction of the exterior wall framing and the hanging and taping of all the drywall in the three-story residence which will house approximately 150 beds in single, double and triple rooms.

 ”Even though the snow kept falling we were able to complete the exterior shell on time, without delay, and the exterior framing and sheathing is now complete. This will be beautiful building when it’s done,” said Metro Walls President, Mike Dion

According to St Anselm College, the new residence hall will be an innovative living learning community that extends the college’s efforts to integrate academic and residential life.The residence hall is designed by Lavallee Brensinger Architects in Manchester, N.H.

About Metro Walls

Metro Walls is a full service commercial framing and drywall company based in Manchester, N.H. They specialize in detail, commitment to their customers and safety on and off the jobsite. Their work spans across New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Legislative Alert: ABC Members Action Required on the Expansion of the BCEC

ABCMA Blog

bcecHouse Bill 3695, which would expand the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC), has received a favorable recommendation from the state legislature’s Committee on State Administration and will next go to the floor of the House of Representatives.  The problem is that the bill includes a project labor agreement (PLA) that would require everyone who works on the project to go through union hiring halls.

Thanks to ABC’s hard work, it has become very rare for the legislature to approve PLAs in recent years, but this bill is particularly difficult because the original 1997 legislation to build the BCEC included a PLA.  Please contact your state representative and let him or her know that it’s not fair to essentially exclude 80 percent of the Commonwealth’s construction workforce from working on this massive project.  Let them know that as long as there is a PLA on this job, open shop firms will NOT be able to use their own employees as they normally do – instead they would have to go to the union for workers. This would be like telling the Red Sox that they have to go the Yankees for all of their players.

If you need further information or who your state representative is please contact Chuck Borstel at chuck@abcma.org , thank you.