As we reflect on the end of the year and look forward to the new one, it becomes clear that for us here at the Building Trades and our affiliated unions, it is an active period with many trends and changes—most of which have been positive, especially when we compare with the past few years.
During this year, many of the large infrastructure projects that have provided a lifeline to our members during the recession were completed or are winding down. Projects such as the Russell Cities Power Plant, the East Bay span of the Bay Bridge, the forth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel, and the FAA Tower of the Oakland Airport all became operational this year. Other large projects such as the Oakland Airport BART Connector Project and the Phase Two of the Highland Hospital are expected to be completed next year.
Of great concern, however, is that due to the House Republicans, the federal government is no longer funding seriously-needed infrastructure projects. This could have the effect of killing the momentum that our construction industry has experienced during the last two years, along with stifling our economic growth and jeopardizing the safety of our citizens.
Let’s hope that a new progressive Congress gets elected in 2014 so that we can ramp up again. Also, it is important to increase the local funding for infrastructure, and the passage of B1 (the infrastructure tax measure) in 2014 will also be essential to keep our members working for the many years ahead.
Although the private market really started to boom in 2013, especially with the rental housing market, much of that work is not going union. With the elimination of Redevelopment, many of these projects no longer rely on public funding contributions and as a result, no prevailing wages are required for these projects. As a result, the well-being and safety of the construction workers is being seriously compromised. During 2014 we must develop aggressive strategies to ensure that not only our members are getting this work, but that non-union workers are provided the sustainable wages and safety standards that every worker deserves.
We have continued to be aggressive on the PLA front. During 2013, we continued to sign traditional agreements with agencies such as those with Alameda County, AC Transit, and the City of Oakland. In addition, we are in negotiations or in discussions with the City of Hayward, the City of Alameda, the Oakland Unified School District, EBMUD, the City of San Leandro, and agreements with various private developers.
One of the highlights of 3013 was our “Labor” vs “Legislator” Soccer game that was a fundraiser for the Cypress Mandela Training Center. It was a game that pitted mainly Building Trades Reps and Organizers against Representatives from the State Assembly, Congress and Local offices. Although the score did not go Labor’s way, it was very successful and we are set for a re-match in 2014.
Finally, this printing of the Journeyman is the last of our regularly published edition. The newspaper that has been in print for decades now is no longer an economically viable means of communication to our membership and our partners.
In the new electronic age, communicating one’s message has become more efficient and effective and it is time that we join the 21st Century. Starting in December, we will have our new website up and running at btcalameda.org. We will continue to produce our monthly articles which we will send to our subscribers through e-mail alerts. We are very excited about the website given that I think we will be able to reach out to many more Building Trades members and partners.