International Union President James Boland, Secretary-Treasurer Henry Kramer, and Executive Vice Presidents Gerard Scarano and Tim Driscoll were re-elected by acclamation to a second five-year term on Monday afternoon, September 14th.
Preceding the nominations of IU officers, a Partial Report of the Constitution and Laws Committee recommending approval of Resolution 28, reducing the Executive Board from five to four members, was unanimously approved.
With an eye to the future, delegates enthusiastically affirmed the Union’s present leadership and ongoing commitment to growth in changing times.
James Boland, President
Noted for his “leadership, advocacy, and trade union principles,” President Boland was nominated for the office by Dave Jackson, President of Local 3 CA, Boland’s home Local. Seconding the nomination was Carlos Aquin, President of Local 13, NV, who praised Boland’s “inspiration to Union members and leaders.”
Henry F. Kramer, Secretary-Treasurer
A third-generation bricklayer, Henry Kramer (Local 74 IL) was nominated by James Allen, President of ADC 1 of IL, for his “integrity and fight to keep the BAC strong for another 150 years.” Kramer’s nomination was seconded by Ted Champ, President of Local 4 IN/KY.
Executive Vice Presidents
In nominating Gerard Scarano (Local 5 NJ) for the office of Executive Vice President, BAC Northeast Regional Director Al Catalano noted Scarano’s renowned “hard work and looking out for Union members like family.” The nomination was seconded by Richard Tolson, Director of the New Jersey Administrative District Council.
Tim Driscoll was nominated to his second term as Executive Vice President by Chuck Raso, President of Local 3 MA/ME/NH/RI “for his impeccable reputation” and exhaustive knowledge of the masonry industry and the allied crafts. His nomination was seconded by Scott Garvin, President of Local 1 MD/VA/DC.
Speakers Carry A Message of Change
“Build. Adapt. Change” intoned BAC President James Boland on the opening day of the BAC 150 Convention. Assembled delegates joined with him chanting “Build. Adapt. Change!” and the ballroom resounded like a rock concert.
President Boland took the energy and ran with it. Again he sounded the theme of “Build. Adapt. Change,” telling the crowd, “It’s time to grow and time to build! We need to seize the opportunity to change the priorities and economy of North America.”
Boland advocated for a BAC “that seamlessly integrates the latest technologies.” As robotics become more viable and profitable, he said, “we need to be there with the technical knowledge to man those robots.” And as prefabrication is used more in building, “BAC needs to be there running the fab shops.”
He asked the question, “Who will continue to build America and our Union?” and provided the answer: “a diverse workforce in our apprenticeship programs, on the job, and in our Union leadership.” He advocated concerted outreach, “to Latinos, African-Americans, women, and millennials.” For people who don’t have roots in construction, BAC needs to help them put down roots. “It’s up to us to make it happen.”
Boland explained that young people want unions and they want a voice at work. He said BAC can provide them with what they need and want. “We can show the way. As we celebrate our first 150 years,” he concluded, “we’re not here to look back, we’re here to build the future.”
Trumka Says, ‘Go Big’
Special guest speaker, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, whose address preceded President Boland’s, did his best, and succeeded at raising the energy level of the Key Ballroom to new heights.
“Richard Trumka speaks truth to power,” Boland said. “He’s the voice of the American worker, a leader with coal dust in his veins!” And Trumka didn’t disappoint.
Trumka began with some very real truths about BAC and its role both in Union history and at the forefront of today’s labor movement. “Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers have been lifting up the lives of working people for 150 years!” he said. He repeated the words “Build. Adapt. Change” and said to delegates, “You live the theme of this Convention every day.”
He cited an “epidemic of racism that divides workers from each other,” and serves only to disempower organized labor. Trumka defined unions as a force that “moves toward justice and shared prosperity.” Unions, he said, are at the vanguard of a “better life for every American.”
He defined the problem of income inequality and said, “What’s needed is an economy that works for all of us. Collective bargaining is our priority and it’s on the rise. We need to create an economy that actually works.” The crowd was with him and he knew it.
Economies, he explained, don’t just happen like the weather. Political forces have been setting the agenda by undermining unions and collective bargaining for the last 30 years.
“America should have the best infrastructure in the world!” he told the crowd. “We have the most skilled and dedicated workers right here in this organization.” Everyone in the room agreed. “Unions need to go big!” he shouted, arms raised. “We’re activists, we’re trade unionists!” and people were up out of their seats, right there with him.
Edwards Says, ‘I’m Standing With You’
“I’m on fire for working people!” began U. S. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), and went on to assert that America’s representatives in Congress need to deliver a sustainable economy for working people that benefits the middle class.
As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, she knows what she’s talking about. She explained that U.S. workers don’t want everything, “we just want our cut!” Rep. Edwards didn’t mince words. “Working people,” she said, “are tired of waiting for our share.”
A Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland, Edwards wants to create jobs by investing in infrastructure and by building schools, homes, and office buildings. She said she’s a “foot soldier in the fight for working people,” and the BAC crowd welcomed her with open arms. “When I’m standing with you,” she ended, “I never stand alone!”
Heritage on Display
Among the most unique artifacts of the many items assembled for the Heritage on Display exhibit featuring historical trowel trades tools and Union memorabilia, is a level roughly as old as BAC itself. Loaned by Local 1 MN/ND, the level is estimated to have been made sometime in the mid- to late 19th century by the Hall & Knapp Company, which was based in New Britain, Connecticut, and later merged with the A. Stanley Company in 1857.
Used by John Meyer, a stonecutter and great-grandfather of Local 1 MN/ND retiree, John Stemper, the level was used in construction of the Minnesota State Capitol building in 1905. Constructed of white Georgia marble and built by Union stone masons, the building’s design was based on St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Masons like John Meyer worked eight-hour days, six days a week, and earned $.40 per hour while on the project.
Says BAC Secretary-Treasurer Henry Kramer, who helped curate the exhibit, “Our thanks to Local 1 MN/ND for sharing such an extraordinary artifact with our Convention delegates and guests.”