Willy Myers re-elected to lead Columbia Pacific BCTC

Willy Myers was re-elected executive secretary-treasurer of the Columbia Pacific Building and Construction Trades Council. The council represents approximately 20,000 construction workers employed by more than 2,000 signatory employers, representing 25 crafts.

To read the full article, click here.

Understanding and Accessing Union Apprenticeships

There is a lot of buzz these days about a skilled worker shortage.  Apprenticeships are often overlooked as a promising post-secondary option.  Many advisors and parents are unaware that most apprentices complete their training debt-free, while earning living wages, health care and contributing to a pension plan.  For students who have their eyes on a diploma, most apprenticeships are affiliated with a community college and apply toward an associates degree.

The sponsors of this workshop are invested in the future of our industries, in providing a qualified workforce for our industry, and in providing opportunities for training and living wages for the youth who will become our workforce.

We invite you to participate this year.  We welcome the opportunity to provide insight into the apprenticeship model as well as the hard and soft skills essential to our workforce.

To register, please contact Bridget Quinn at bquinn@nietc.org, Workforce Development Coordinator for the NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center in Portland.  You will be sent a link before the event so that you may select your breakout sessions on-line.  Please share this information with anyone who works with youth in respect to their post-secondary options.

OBTC Apprentice

If you want to create jobs and reduce traffic congestion – Vote No!

On behalf of the 25,000 highly skilled construction workers that make up the Oregon Building and Construction Trades Council, I ask that you vote no on this measure. A no vote will mean more jobs and less traffic congestion.

We agree with both the Westside Economic Alliance and Tigard Chamber of Commerce that this measure would significantly hamper Tigard’s ability to both bring in new industries and retain the businesses we have now. That is why we have come together to ask voters to join us in voting no on this measure.  Our elected leaders have spent years working to attract businesses to our community, work that has positioned Washington County as the economic hub of the state, and the work continues. A yes vote on this measure would throw a monkey wrench into an economic plan that, up to this point, has been incredibly successful.

The Pacific Highway/99W is one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the area, and many of our members routinely sit in traffic for over an hour on their way home. Sitting in traffic is a waste in so many ways. A yes vote will hurt the economy and lead to more traffic congestion. For people who commute to and from work, traffic congestion can make you late to work and late getting home, which means less time with our families and generally having less time to spend doing the things we love.

Even if you never plan to ride light rail, allowing others to do so will get them off our roads, thereby reducing traffic congestion and helping speed up your travels. Many businesses locate near access to light rail so their workers have safe and reliable transportation to and from work.

If reducing traffic congestion and increasing our region’s economic viability is important to you, then I encourage you to join our members in voting no this March.

Submitted on the behalf of John Mohlis, Secretary-Treasurer of the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council.

Understanding and Accessing Union Apprenticeships


State In-Service Day 10/10/14, 8am – 4pm
Register by 9/19/14

This 8-hour workshop will provide participants with the experience, understanding, and resource materials needed to encourage and support those students for whom admission into a union apprenticeship program would be a promising post-secondary option.

Experience the trades first-hand through fun and informative activities led by instructors from the trades. Become “the student’ during applied math and science lessons which will help incorporate real world scenarios into lesson plans. Take tours of local training centers, receive awareness training focused on the career opportunities in the trades, and learn about how students can qualify for and apply for apprenticeship.

Keynote speaker Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian will open the workshop with some words about the future of and opportunities for skilled labor in the region.

The deadline to register is September 19. Spaces filled quickly for the 2012 workshop. For more information or to register, email Bridget Quinn at bquinn@nietc.org.

Brought to you by Local Apprenticeship Training Centers (JATC’s) representing union Laborers, Cement Masons, Electricians, Plumbers and Steamfitters, Roofers and Waterproofers, Painters, and Sheet Metal Workers together with Oregon Tradeswomen (OTI), the Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI), and other great partners!


Labor Day 2013 – Putting Country First

By President Sean McGarvey

North America’s Building Trades Unions

Like many national holidays, Labor Day continues to suffer from neglect. Just as Memorial Day, has now suffered the misfortune of being reduced to merely signaling the start of summer, now Labor Day has become its seasonal bookend: Another empty three-day weekend, and an excuse for Back to School sales or a final summer barbecue. This loss of meaning, especially among our governing elite, represents a missed opportunity to re-energize our nation and reinforce the promise of America.

Granted, every working man and woman deserves a day off to relax, but in today’s economic and labor climate, Labor Day should be one of the most meaningful holidays of the year. American workers have suffered disproportionately over the course of the financial and economic crises that have wreaked havoc for the past six years. As a result, social and economic commentators everywhere are lamenting the death of the middle class and the end of the American Dream.

This year, rather than offering up the usual homage to labor leaders of past eras upon whose legacies we sit, I wish to instead offer up a broader appeal on behalf of America’s working class, of which it can be accurately said that they are “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

On this Labor Day 2013, my appeal is for America’s governing elites to put aside their selfish and counterproductive political pursuits and get back to the notion of “putting country first.”

As noted above, six years after the onslaught of an unimaginable global economic disaster, America is still mired in economic uncertainty; high levels of unemployment; wage stagnation and unsustainable income inequality; and a dearth of any interest in getting our economy back on track.

The bottom 60% of working Americans are earning less now than they did 13 years ago. In fact, right now the percentage of Americans living below the poverty line has increased from 12.3 percent in 2006 to roughly 14 percent in 2013. To put that in numbers, today in America 35 million of our neighbors and fellow citizens are living below the poverty line.

Now, this naturally begs the overriding question that should be repeatedly asked of America’s governing elites; which is: How in the world is America supposed to prosper and thrive as a global economic leader if Middle Class America continue to get hammered and pushed into poverty in ever greater numbers?

The construction industry as a prime example.

It never ceases to amaze me that the most vociferous voices in the US Congress advocating for the repeal of federal Davis-Bacon Act prevailing wage requirements actually live in areas where the published prevailing wages for skilled craft workers are already at poverty levels. A couple of years ago, for example, Republican Senator Jim DeMint from South Carolina authored an amendment that would have prevented the application of the Davis-Bacon Act on any projects funded under the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act (aka “the stimulus” bill).

When we examined the prevailing wages in Greenville and Richland Counties in South Carolina, we were appalled at what we discovered. The wages for a carpenter were $7.96 and $7.23 an hour, respectively. An electrician in Greenville County could be expected to make $8.71 an hour, while a welder in Richland County could rely on a measly $7.63 an hour to feed his or her family. For elites like Jim DeMint, those wages are just too damn high! Does anyone really believe for a minute that Senator DeMint would risk the lives of his family, or the value of his property, with an $8 an hour electrician? Of course not. So we can only conclude that his machinations against the Davis-Bacon Act are wrapped up in nothing more than empty rhetoric designed solely to appease his conservative political supporters.

The point I am trying to make here is that we, as a nation, need to reverse the disturbing mindset that is taking root within the governing elite, many of whom reside in the top 1% in terms of wealth. Put simply, it’s a mentality that says, “I’ve got mine…screw everyone else.”

That is not a worldview that will ensure any sort of long-term economic success for our great nation.

Like the vast majority of Americans, I am disturbed by the fact that America’s governing elite no longer seems committed to putting country first. Not the President, not the Congress, not the Democratic Party, not the Republican Party, not the media, and not even groups like the Tea Party Movement.

Because to my mind’s eye, if any one of those particular individuals or entities maintained any sort of allegiance to putting country first, then they would, in my opinion, be first in line to attach their name to a concerted effort to repair and re-build our nation’s infrastructure. Because there is no other single endeavor that would have a greater impact on both our overall economic health and our employment picture – now and well into the future.

Yet, days, weeks and months go by with hardly a whisper about this issue from the White House, the Congress, either political party, or the tri-corner hat contingent.

I support President Obama. But, I also think he and his Administration need a healthy reminder about how he got elected in 2008. It was not because of his positions on healthcare reform, gay marriage, immigration, or race equality (each of which is an important issue, to be sure). No, Barack Obama was elected in 2008 for one simple reason: the financial crisis hit and the economy went over a cliff.

To my way of thinking, it should have been his priority, and it should continue to be his priority (as well as that of the U.S. Congress) to fix a broken Wall Street culture and resurrect the American economy so that it works for the vast majority of Americans who reside in the Middle.

Which brings me to the Tea Party.

I firmly believed that the Tea Party uprising was the fermentation of the anger that possessed millions of middle Americans who saw their retirement accounts, their homes and their jobs vanish because of the hubris exhibited by Wall Street banks. At the outset, I perceived that the Tea Party activists were hurting and angry over the fact that our governing elites were bailing out Wall Street, while doing little to nothing about creating a substantive and sustained economic recovery, which would include the implementation of a comprehensive infrastructure investment program.

Frankly, I am dismayed that today most of what we hear from the Tea Party entails discussion and outrage over issues like gun control, voter ID laws, Edward Snowden, NSA surveillance, Benghazi, and the IRS “scandal,” yet nary any substantive discussions involving the need for programs that will create good paying jobs and ensure economic recovery.

The question needs to be asked: What, exactly, has the Tea Party movement accomplished? From what I can tell, it has only succeeded in being overrun with wannabe “kingmakers” whose primary mission has been to spread nonsense among poor, under-educated conservatives, such as the 1/3 of all registered Louisiana GOP voters who indicated in a recent survey that they believe Barack Obama was responsible for the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina…in 2005!!!

So, here we are on Labor Day 2013 and we find ourselves on the doorstep of another trillion dollar military adventure in the Middle East, while our governing elites simultaneously dismantle our public educational system; erode the ability of our first responders to protect us; continue their efforts to remove any trace of unions in America; ignore the pressing needs of our national infrastructure; and turn their backs as our economy and the quality of life for millions and millions of Middle Class working Americans continues to deteriorate.

The poet Archibald MacLeish used to say that the essence of America – in fact, the greatness of America – was in its promises. But today, as New York Times columnist Bob Herbert observed in 2011, “When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the Earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely.”

Labor Day commemorates one of the great ethical victories of American society, and not one in a hundred Americans know it. Sure, Labor Day marks the end of summer, and a time for retail store sales, and the last chance to get away to the beach or to the lake. But, few of us think about the real meaning of the word “labor” in the name, and how it is meant to honor the men and women who, despite the best efforts on the part of the forces of greed, political influence, wealth and privilege, continue to seek only a small measure of safety, consideration, fairness and justice.

I wish you a blessed Labor Day weekend. May you enjoy the time with family and friends, but also take the time to remember that Labor Day – especially Labor Day 2013 – is a time to both honor the economic and social achievements and contributions of American workers to the strength, well-being and prosperity of our great nation, but to also dedicate ourselves towards ensuring that our governing elites reinstate a firm commitment to putting “country first.”

For if we cannot endeavor to come together to do that on Labor Day, when will we?

Construction workers subdue Portland bank robbery suspect

Excellent craftsmanship and help in the community. We are there for our neighbors. Thank you to Brad Hanson and the unnamed Roofers Local 49 member for keeping a watchful eye and helping to protect our community.

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Oregon Building Trades Council Launches Social Media Arm During Annual Convention


Oregon Building Trades Council Launches Social Media Arm During Annual Convention

August 15, 2013 – On Thursday, the Oregon Building Trades Council kicked off its fifty-second annual convention by launching both Twitter (@OregonTrades) and Instagram accounts, adding to their rapidly expanding online presence – bringing Oregon’s construction unions entirely into the social media age.

The two new social media accounts come in addition to the Council’s already active YouTube channel and Facebook page. The Council will be live-tweeting pictures and videos of the convention featuring speeches by U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, Secretary of State Kate Brown, and Treasurer Ted Wheeler, among many other prominent speakers, using the hashtag #OBTC.

“Just a few years ago, many of us thought that social media platforms like Twitter were something for kids to play with. After all, construction workers are not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Instagram,” said Executive Secretary John Mohlis.

The Council believes the modern uses of social media are directly aligned with those of construction workers and the labor movement. The cornerstone of the labor movement was born in a state of inclusion and transparency. The full repertoire of social media platforms not only accomplishes these goals, but provides new opportunities to communicate with members, contractors, the press, and general public.

“All of our members pay dues on every check they receive. It is critical for us to show them how this money is spent and how the leadership they empower advocate on their behalf,” said Mohlis.

About the Oregon Building Trades Council

The Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council represents more than 25,000 construction workers in 29 member unions and six District Councils. The Council was formed in 1940 to bring the needs of unions from all building-related trades together in an effort to protect the welfare of workers and learn from one another. Through their partnerships with management and state-of-the-art apprenticeship centers, the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council has developed the best-trained, most highly skilled construction workforce in the world, right here in Oregon – all without using a dime of public money.

Oregon Building Trades Council’s Online Presence

Website: www.oregonbuildingtrades.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/oregonbuildingtrades

Twitter: www.twitter.com/oregontrades

YouTube: www.youtube.com/oregonbuildingtrades

Instagram: www.instagram.com/oregontrades

The Convention is Next Week


The convention is next week. Our tentative schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, August 14
11am – Golfers meet at River’s Edge Golf Course
Noon – Golf Tournament Begins
6pm – Bricklayers & Ironworkers Hospitality Suite (Rooms 158-159)

Thursday, August 15
7-8:30am Registration (Long House B/C –Salal Room)
7am Executive Board Breakfast (Dining Room)
8:30am – 4pm Convention Convenes (Long House B/C)
6pm – PAC/WEST Hospitality Suite (Rooms 158-159)

Friday, August 16
7am Council Secretary-Treasurer & President Breakfast (Dining Room)
8:15am – 1pm Convention Reconvenes (Long House B/C)