New Building Trades’ mission statement calls for ‘Partnering for Prosperity’

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JEFF ABOUSSIE
JEFF ABOUSSIE

The St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council launches into 2013 with a dramatic call to partnership between all factions of labor, management and political leadership designed to move Missouri aggressively into a future of providing jobs and a stable economy.

In a far-ranging by-lined article that first appeared several weeks ago in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Aboussie outlined the little-known, or publically recognized facts about how involved the building trades union are, and have been, in promoting the St. Louis and Missouri economy.

And as importantly, his call to action was, in effect, a new Mission Statement for the St. Louis building trades, putting into words the actions of the council’s affiliates over the past decade.

Speaking directly to the business and political communities, Aboussie states candidly:

We can stand separately under political flags and not move an inch in hopes of returning to a bygone era when competing globally wasn’t an issue. Or we can unite and move forward to better compete globally. We’re looking for partners in prosperity. Interested?”

“This can be considered the enhanced Mission Statement of the new St. Louis Building Trades Council,” Aboussie told the Labor Tribune. “In today’s world, we recognize our companies as partners in moving our industry forward. We either work together or we fail together. We are determined not to fail.

“Our unions have the skilled talented workers, the ability to build it better, faster and the willingness to see change not as a problem, but a challenge we readily accept.

“Union trades provide quality construction and for the consumer, that’s a huge savings in the long run. When you couple that with our proven track record of building on time and on or under budget, we make this community THE place to build and grow. That means not only jobs for our members, but follow-on jobs for the entire community as companies locate and expand in our region,” Aboussie stressed.

Read Aboussie’s challenging commentary on below.

Building Trades cite accomplishments in growing local, state economy as example of how cooperation can work for everyone, everywhere

By JEFF ABOUSSIE

Executive Secretary-Treasurer

St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council

On Oct. 9, construction labor and management united to energize regional investment with the ground breaking of the $42 million Cortona at Forest Park Apartments. In preceding months, labor and management invested more than $35 million in three new training centers and upgraded training programs to prepare our construction workforce for the future.

Meanwhile, to foster a more prosperous Missouri, construction labor quietly advanced partnerships with business and economic development leaders statewide.

In coming months, we will see if the nation’s polarized leadership can emulate our collaborative effort to invest in a better tomorrow.

Elections come and go, with the business of the country seemingly secondary to shortsighted score settling and advancing selfish agendas. If the nation is going to dig out of the hole it’s in, intransigence on labor-management collaboration must end.

PARTNERING FOR PROSPERITY

The St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO, is actively looking to team with leaders — regardless of political party — committed to partnering in prosperity for all. Here’s what we bring to the table:

• One of our ongoing commitments — at no taxpayer expense — is to advance the incredible value in skill and safety found in our homegrown construction workforce. And yet, in an era of commoditization, forces of self-interest annually align against construction labor in Missouri seeking to eliminate a critical support of a highly trained workforce — prevailing wage.

• This year, the University of Missouri-Kansas City issued its second benchmark study of prevailing wage. It examined 150,482 construction projects from 2003 to 2010 in prevailing wage and non-prevailing wage states.

It found that prevailing wage states built $23.22 a square foot cheaper than non-prevailing wage states.

Why? Because prevailing wage supports a workforce trained to deliver projects more proficiently. Commoditizing only degrades the know-how needed to build faster and better. It is self-defeating if its aim is to lower construction costs.

• Next year, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 will unveil a $12 million training center that will nurture the highly specialized skills needed to build health care facilities, data centers, manufacturing plants and complex infrastructure.

• Painters and Allied Trades District Council No. 2 just opened a new $3.5 million training center in Chesterfield where the finishing trades are upgrading skills for commercial, industrial and residential work.

• The new $22 million St. Louis training center of Sheet Workers Local 36 is a learning laboratory of advanced building systems that is considered a prototype in the U.S.

• IBEW Local 1 and its NECA (National Electrical Contractors Association) contracting partners are teaching the new skills needed to support renewable energy, including the reliable infrastructure needed for electric vehicle charging stations.

Beyond these initiatives, the trades invest another $30 million annually in training — and, to repeat, at zero taxpayer expense.

UNION PENSION FUNDS AT WORK HERE

As we continue to endure the tight credit that leaves construction mired in 30 percent unemployment, we are tapping our resources to help fund economic development.

Over the past 25 years, national real estate investment trusts have invested more than $600 million in union pension funds to launch local projects.

The Cortona apartments is just the latest investment by AFL-CIO Building and Investment Trust.

In the past year:

• A sister fund, AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust, launched Park Pacific, The Laurel and Council Tower Senior Apartments in St. Louis as well as Parkway Lakeside Apartments in O’Fallon, Ill.

• Shaw Park Plaza in Clayton, West 70 Commerce Center in St. Charles and distribution projects at Gateway Commerce Center in Madison County, IL were funded by Multi-Employer Property Trust.

All of these assets express the job-generating creativity of uniting thoughtful development ideas with our skilled union workforce.

UNIONS WORKING STATEWIDE AS WELL

Statewide, you will find construction labor elbow-to-elbow with corporate leaders, working to attract new business to Missouri.

We are active in the Missouri Economic Development Council, the Hawthorn Foundation, the Missouri Energy Initiative, the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, PRIDE Labor-Management and others.

Repairing our crumbling infrastructure is a key priority for us in 2013, including improvements to Missouri’s roads, bridges and rail needs for mass transit. We are also highly interested in expanding the Cortex Corridor in St. Louis.

These priorities and more have labor joined at the hip with forward-thinking business and civic leaders.

PARTNERS NEEDED

We can stand separately under political flags and not move an inch in hopes of returning to a bygone era when competing globally wasn’t an issue. Or we can unite and move forward to better compete globally. We’re looking for partners in prosperity. Interested?

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