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American Taxpayer Money Going To Chinese Companies For US Construction Projects

Like many people I do my best to try to buy American made products.  Sometimes it is difficult to do.  Even the replacement parts for my American made Chevy were made in China.  So like I said, I try.  I would also hope that our Government follows these same ideals.  This is not entirely the case though.  President Obama has tried to force more local jobs in Federally funded projects by requiring Project Labor Agreements.  These PLAs help by hiring local workers and use American made products.  Take for example a bridge reconstruction project.  These PLAs would be required to use American made steel.  Sadly this is not the case when it comes to state and local projects.

A short while back the State of California wanted to rebuild the Bay Bridge between Oakland and San Francisco.  The problem is that the Bay Bridge construction project is using Chinese steel.  ABC News did this story on the Bay Bridge Steel.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing’s ‘Should Be Made In America‘ website explains the problem:

The new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and dozens of other major infrastructure projects nationwide are being built with foreign steel and manufactured materials.

Scott Paul, AAM’s Executive Director explains:

That the U.S. needs to repair trillions of dollars in crumbling infrastructure over the next decade, including nearly $500 billion worth in California alone.

From Should Be Made In America.com

These are your taxes going to some other country for products that could have been made here.  Just imagine the boost to the economy if $500 Billion dollars were invested in California.  That money would help hire hundreds of workers.  It would also help the economy nation wide by using steel from the mills throughout the U.S. The Bay Bridge project has also faced extreme criticism and delays. Once again Scott Paul, AAM’s Executive Director explains:

“The problems with the Bay Bridge project could have been avoided if California officials had made it in America. Instead, the project is costing American jobs, undermining California’s environmental goals, and facing numerous delays.”

Many people have asked “Why is President Obama and the taxpayers stimulus money going to Chinese companies?”.  This drew so much attention that FactCheck.Org even responded to these claims.  There is a s simple answer.  He did not.  The State of California rejected the Federal Money.  By rejecting the Federal money the bridge repair would not be mandated to use a Project Labor Agreement or required to use American workers or products.

This is also bad for the taxpayers in California.  The Federal Government offered to pay for a majority of the Bay Bridge construction with stimulus money.  However the State of California declined to use that money.  Hundreds of millions of dollars the Federal Government set aside specifically for road repairs.  Instead the people of California paid for the entire project.  What about all the other projects that could have been done with California tax dollars if they would have used the Federal money to repair the Bay Bridge.  Instead the people of California had their state taxes raised to cover the cost of a project that their Federal taxes would have paid for.

The problems continue in other states.  In Michigan, they are working on plans to reconstruct the Detroit River Bridge.  Again they are planning to use Chinese made steel in the construction claiming a lack of American made steel available.  The AAM responded by saying:

“We are confident that U.S. and Canadian officials will do the right thing, and we will be watching as this project unfolds to continue to stress the importance of using quality, reliable steel from American and Canadian mills.”

Now we need to press the NH Legislature to ensure that the Memorial Bridge construction project is done with local NH workers and American made steel.  At the end of last year, Iron workers from New Hampshire were trying to bring attention to the outsourcing on the Memorial Bridge Project. They even posted this video, to help raise awareness.  Right now the NH Iron Workers are in talks with Archer Western (the project contract winner). So far Archer Western has agreed to hire a union subcontractor to install the rebar for the project.   They are also still in negotiations over the where structure’s steel will come from.

Be sure to keep watching the NH Labor News for updates on the Memorial Bridge project and our efforts to ensure local projects are done by local workers using American products.

Who is the AAM?
The Alliance for American Manufacturing (The AAM), a labor-business partnership that is committed to rebuilding our nation and strengthening our manufacturing base. It’s time to make your voice heard. Tell your leaders that you want your tax dollars to rebuild our nation, putting men and women to work here in America. The blueprint for the future should be Made in America.

“Our (the AAM Should Be Made In America) campaign is designed to spark changes in federal, state, and local procurement policies. We are engaging the American public with real and practical ideas about how taxpayer money should be spent on rebuilding our nation,” said Scott Paul, AAM’s Executive Director.

NH IronWorkers Local 7 Agent Shawn Cleary Responds To NH Union Leaders Attacks On PLAs

On Saturday the NH Union Leader posted a horrible editorial about the Manchester Jobs Corps Center dropping the Project Labor Agreement restriction on the project.  This now allows companies to come in and bid for the project using below standard wages and other cost cutting measures.  This usually means lower safety standards and lower quality of work.  This is what the Union Leader had to say:

 Job Corps delay ended: Another blow to labor/Dem axis | New Hampshire OPINION01“Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor dropped its requirement that the new Job Corps Center in Manchester be governed by a Project Labor Agreement (PLA). That is a rule that essentially requires the use of union labor on a construction project. About 80 percent of contractors are not unionized. PLAs force contractors to submit to union rules and pay scales, thus removing a big competitive advantage non-union contractors have over unionized rivals. The department required the PLA back in 2009. Several contractors sued, and the project has been held up ever since. 

Ironically, President Obama’s Feb. 6, 2009, executive order commanding that PLAs be considered for all federal construction projects of $25 million or more stated that the purpose of using PLAs was “to promote the efficient administration and completion of federal construction projects.””

Below is a response from Shawn Cleary, Business Agent for the
New Hampshire Iron Workers Local 7.

Another Blow to Labor! Now there’s something worth celebrating. It’s about time we turn complete control over to the employer. Thank you for pointing out the competitive advantage non-union contractors enjoy over unionized rivals. It just goes to show that when workers stand together, it makes the world an unfair place. 

Just a few years ago it was made crystal clear at the Berlin Federal Prison. Union contractors brought so much unnecessary baggage to the table that they couldn’t possibly compete. No one will believe this, but in some cases, the wages the workers demanded could support entire families. In contrast, the non-union general contractor was able to search the country to find which states’ workers would come to NH for the lowest pay. 

Had there been a PLA on that project, I don’t imagine the LOCAL unions would have put out the call to Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, Nebraska, Arizona, Kentucky, or Canada, like the non-union did. That’s just not how they work. Stupid unions, don’t they know the best way for a community to maximize their return on an investment in a project is to bring in as many out of state workers as possible, so they will spend their money at the local pizza shops and hotels? If the locals worked there, under union rules, while receiving good wages and benefits, what would that produce? A bunch of highfalutin construction workers, whose kids would grow up thinking labor had value. That’s what it would produce. Yup, anarchy! If that’s what you want, go work down in Massachusetts and don’t worry about having to work around a bunch of liberals. 
Thousands of UL readers are already down there working. I just hope they’re packing a lunch and keeping their mouths shut about how much more they can earn in a more union-friendly, I mean communist, state. If you’re a spectator of the ever-increasingly popular race to the bottom, than enjoy your place on the sidelines and make sure to have a cup of mud ready to throw in the workers’ faces as they run by. Remind them that the reason unions don’t work in NH has nothing to do with organizations like the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) trying to force them out, it is simply that people have decided that sticking together is nonsense.

Around here, workers negotiate one-on-one with contractors and do far better than they ever could if they spoke with one voice representing thousands. Solidarity, shmolidarity. If you miss this week’s race, don’t worry, they’ll be running next week and the week after too. You see, there is no finish line in a vicious circle. So celebrate another strike to decent wages, benefits, and self-sufficiency. While we’re at it, let’s launch a decibel threatening cheer for the ABC, the greatest union of construction company owners the country has ever seen, benefiting those who need it most, large construction company owners! Congratulations, on your latest victory against the “enemy,” the greedy parents and NH residents who envisioned their lot as union construction workers as a road to provide their families access to the finer things in life, like health care and retirement benefits.

Local 7 Want to ensure NH Workers are getting jobs on Bridge Repairs

Members of the Local 7 Ironworkers voice their concern over the construction of the Memorial Bridge. The Company who will most likely win the contract to repair the bridge has been know for hiring out of state and non-union workers. Ironworkers from Iowa have been protesting Walsh Construction for over a year now because they hired out of state and non-union workers to build the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery building. Our hope is that the NH Executive Council will ensure that the work goes to New Hampshire Ironworkers instead of out of state workers.

Alarm raised over bridge project jobs | SeacoastOnline.com: “PORTSMOUTH — An official from the N.H. Iron Workers union said Thursday he has “serious concerns” that the contractor for the Memorial Bridge won’t hire state residents for the job.

But the project manager for bridge construction said local people need not worry.

“Our intention is to offer positions to local workers,” said Stephen Delgrosso of Walsh Construction & Archer Western Contractors.

Shawn Cleary, business agent for the New Hampshire office of Iron Workers Local No. 7 in Manchester, said Walsh & Archer Western has a history of hiring out-of-state workers in “low union-density states” such as New Hampshire.

“I wonder if they’re going to do that here,” he said.

Archer Western Contractors is a wholly owned subsidiary of Walsh Construction, which has its closest office to the Seacoast in Canton, Mass.”

Job Fair for biomass plant attracts over 200..

Job Fair for biomass plant attracts over 200 | Berlin Daily Sun:
Union officials Thursday night promised local workers will be hired to work on the Burgess BioPower biomass plant.
“We put local people to work. We’re absolutely going to do that here,” said Shawn Cleary, business agent for Ironworkers Local 7.
Cleary told the crowd of over 200 that attended the job fair for Burgess BioPower that there would be more local hiring for the biomass construction than occurred during construction of the federal prison which was not a union job.
“We’re going to put you guys to work,” he promised.
In opening remarks, Mayor Paul Grenier said the general contractor on the project, Babcock and Wilcox, has signed a project labor agreement with N.H. Building Trades Council that requires the contractor and subcontractors to use the NHBTC to hire workers for the project.
“This project will be union,” Grenier said.
Locals represented at the job fair included Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 131 headquartered in Hooksett, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 104 of Barrington, Ironworkers Local 7 of Manchester, Painters District Council Local 35 in Lee, Millwright Local 1891 in Manchester, Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 3 in Portsmouth, Carpenters Local 118 of Raymond, Laborers Local Union 668 of Hooksett, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 490 of Concord.
Joe Casey, president of NHBTC, said it is anticipated that over 400 people will work on the project over the course of the two year construction period. He said at the peak of the construction there will be as many as 350 people employed.
Casey said most hiring will be done next spring. He said there will be limited work on the project through the winter.
“Next spring is when the project should take off,” he said.
Contractors and subcontractors on the project will go through the union locals to hire workers. The locals will maintain a referral list of workers to call when staffing is needed. Those on the list the longest will be called first.
Casey explained that the project will require skilled workers and the locals are looking to recruit members now in anticipation of next year. He said there are two paths for local people interested in working on the biomass construction.
Casey said those with skills can apply to join the union that represents their occupation. He said there are different requirements for each local but all require some level of training. Some trades people, like electricians and plumbers, must be licensed by the state.

Local 7 Ironworks celebrate Vetrans in Topping Out Helmets to Hardhats Ceremony.

This is a message from Shawn Cleary BA for the Iron Workers, Local 7. I have also included a short Video of Shawn presenting an award to two of the apprentices who helped to build the Service Credit Union as part of the Helmets to Hardhats program.

Helmets to Hardhats places quality men and women from the Armed Forces into promising building and construction careers through organizations like the Iron Workers Union.

Acceptance into the building and construction trades is the first step to a great future. Careers in the building trades enable current and former military members to earn while they learn and get rewarded for hard work. Being a member in the building and construction trades entitles qualified candidates to competitive salaries with consistent raises, pension plans, excellent medical benefits and flexibility when it comes to taking time off.

Most candidates will enter an apprenticeship program where they learn a trade through on-the-job training, supplemented by classroom instruction at state-of-the-art training facilities. Through the Iron Workers Local 7 Apprentice Training Program there is no charge for the training and apprentices are  paid for the time they are working. An apprentice’s pay increases periodically over the course of the program and as the apprentice becomes more skilled. Many apprenticeship programs, including the Iron Workers have arrangements allowing individuals to obtain college credit for classroom work. Upon graduation, apprentices become  journeymen — a craftsperson recognized for his or her knowledge and ability in the selected trade.

Shawn Cleary

Business Agent/Industry Analyst

Iron Workers Local 7

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