In this issue: Hillary Clinton – ‘I will be your constant ally’ The Evolution of Construction Delivery BAC Craft Awards Honor Locals/ADCs and Signatory Contractors Speakers Address the Benefits of Unions Heritage on Display

Hillary Clinton – ‘I will be your constant ally’

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton joined delegates on Tuesday by phone from the campaign trail. Responding to BAC’s recent endorsement of her candidacy, the former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State called to say, “I am proud and thrilled to receive BAC’s endorsement. I am going to treasure it and put it to work on behalf of our nation’s working people.”

Citing attacks on organized labor by Republican Party candidates, Clinton vowed, “I will be your constant ally and fighter in Washington and across North America” and “to do everything I can do to defend the prevailing wage, defend project labor agreements, to set the standard in the construction industry.” She added, “I want to congratulate Jim [Boland] on his re-election and I hope you have a terrific 150-year anniversary of your great union and a really successful convention.”

In welcoming her to the program, President James Boland emphasized the hostile political climate and anti-union rhetoric and described Secretary Clinton as “a champion of working people, a friend of labor, and the next President of the United States.”

The portion of this website pertaining BAC’s endorsement of Senator Hillary Clinton is paid for by the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Political Action Committee and is not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

The Evolution of Construction Delivery

Adapting to the new construction delivery landscape means we must first familiarize ourselves with new techniques, tools, and materials in development or in the field. Two of these technologies – BIM (Building Information Modeling) and co-robotics – were a major focus at today’s general and afternoon workshop sessions.

“The Evolution of Construction Delivery” industry panel, moderated by President James Boland, IMI President Joan Calambokidis, and ICE President Mike Schmerbeck, highlighted the opportunities that these technologies offer BAC members and contractors as well as the challenges. Expert panelists included Richard Garber of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Mike Silver of the University at Buffalo, and Mike Clay of DPR Construction.

From left, BAC President Boland, ICE President Mike Schmerbeck, IMI President Joan Calambokidis, Richard Garber of NJIT, Mike Silver of University at Buffalo and Mike Clay of DPR Construction.
From left, BAC President Boland, ICE President Mike Schmerbeck, IMI President Joan Calambokidis, Richard Garber of NJIT, Mike Silver of University at Buffalo and Mike Clay of DPR Construction.

While these technologies may bear up-front costs and require training, both offer the potential to open up opportunities to bid on large, complex projects, strengthen our connections to the design community, attract younger members from the ‘Google Generation,’ increase productivity, and extend members’ working careers.

According to Michael Clay, the goal of co-robotics is to partner workers with advanced tools “in the same way that we no longer raise buckets on pulleys.” Craftworkers gain enhanced ability to perform their jobs so they‘ll have longer careers and retire in good health.

As President Boland said, “…we must be proactive and ready ourselves for this evolution by making changes in how we train and operate, and BAC and IMI are leading the way by working with industry researchers… The first letters of Build. Adapt. Change. spell BAC, and those who embrace it will build BAC’s future.”

The Tuesday afternoon workshop titled “New Masonry Technology” featured IMI Director of Industry Development Mark Swanson and Scott Peters and Chris Raddell of Construction Robotics. The session, which is also offered Wednesday morning, is designed to help delegates gain a deeper understanding of the impact of these technologies on construction delivery and the prospects to increase our market share.

BAC Craft Awards Honor Locals/ADCs and Signatory Contractors

The BAC Craft Awards program salutes Locals/ADCs and their industry partners for excellence in the trowel trades and for Union and community service. Check out videos of the 2015 winners on BAC’s YouTube channel or simply tap on “Videos” section on the BAC Convention app.


Speakers Address the Benefits of Unions

Jordan Barab, OSHA Dep. Assistant Secretary, US DOL
Jordan Barab, OSHA Dep. Assistant Secretary, US DOL

Protecting the health and safety of workers is the bedrock of trade unionism, according to Jordan Barab, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S. Department of Labor. Speaking at the Tuesday morning general session of BAC 150, Barab said, “We can’t rely on luck to protect workers in the United States.”

He stressed the importance of having OSHA officials on the job and out in the field. Barab noted that the fight against exposure to silica dust has been going on since 1938. “We can’t wait any longer,” he said. Silica dust exposure is responsible not only for silicosis, an incurable and sometimes fatal lung disease, but it puts workers at risk for lung cancer, COPD, and kidney disease.

He thanked members who have been exposed to silica for testifying at public hearings in March 2014 on OSHA’s proposed crystalline silica rule. “We’ve got your back,” he told BAC members. “Thank you for standing up and speaking out.” To loud applause, he promised that OSHA “will issue a final silica standard” by the end of the Obama administration. “Workers have a fundamental right to safety and health in the workplace.”

Choosing Union Made

Every day we make choices about whether to support union labor. “It may be something as basic as where we shop or which wireless carrier we choose,” says Leslie Tolf, President of the AFL-CIO’s Union Privilege.

The collective buying power of unions connects BAC and other union members to Union Plus, a discount program that offers savings on products and services. Union credit cards, veterans home-buying grants, union-made auto discounts, and student debt grants are only a few of more than 40 benefits available.

“Unions fight for out best interests,” said Tolf, “and we can use that power both on the job and off the job as consumers.”

Bob Blakely of Canada’s Building Trades Unions
Bob Blakely of Canada’s Building Trades Unions

Choosing Labor’s Future

“To be a doctor you need an MD, to be a laywer you need a JD, to be an apprentice you need a J-O-B,” said Bob Blakely, Canadian Operating Officer, Canada’s Building Trades Union. “In the 21st century, trained people will get the work.”

Blakely emphasized that the choices we make now as trade unionists will reap benefits tomorrow. “As baby boomers retire,” he explained, “Canada will lose 25 percent of its workforce by 2016.” He advocated diversity in recruiting and training to bring union numbers up and fill the gap. “Some of our best men will be women,” he said.

Heritage on Display

Lewis Lifting Pins
Lewis Lifting Pins

Lewis lifting pins, used by stone masons to lift large stones into place, are more reliable and easier to use than straps, and have a long history. The pins in our Convention exhibit are from Illinois, donated by BAC Secretary-Treasurer Henry Kramer, and were used during the construction of the famous Tivoli Theater in Chicago, the first movie theater to feature talking pictures.

These clever devices rely on basic principles of physics. A stone mason drills carefully at an angle into the top of a stone block and inserts the pins. The pins are chained together at a higher point, and from that point the block is lifted. The stone is held to the pins by friction, and the holes are drilled in a way that prevents the stone from cracking. When the stone is lowered into place, the pins slide out easily.

Lewis pins have been used since antiquity – the Romans used them, and they may even have been used earlier in construction.