January 2013

The Opportunities in a New Year

As we begin the New Year, I take the occasion to reflect upon the year that was and the year that is to come, and resolve to find the means to better our union and accomplish our goals.

During 2012, your efforts helped increase the safety of our jobsites and significantly reduce the number of tragic fatalities from an average of 17 deaths per year to the loss of seven brothers in 2012.While zero is the only acceptable number, you have shown that when we look out for each other, taking the responsibility to return everyone home safe, we can and will reach zero fatalities.

Union ironworkers were instrumental in returning President Barack Obama to the White House for a second term and increasing the number of labor-friendly representatives to the House and Senate. But 2012 also will be remembered for the intense attack on workers' rights waged in states and provinces throughout our two nations. These attacks provide a vivid reminder that our enemies will use every opportunity to destroy our liberties and freedoms if we do not remain vigilant and active.

The economy showed signs of life as work increased and we appear to have weathered the worst construction depression in our lifetime. New apprenticeship classes were filled as we now turn to seize the opportunities of 2013.

For union ironworkers, 2013 should afford us a sense of optimism and opportunity. Leading economic indicators point to steady and continued growth in the construction industry as many sectors of our economy--oil, gas, power generation, automotive, pharmaceutical and manufacturing--anticipate growth over the next ten years.That growth translates into tremendous opportunity for union ironworkers. It is why your union and IMPACT have taken great efforts to build relationships within these industries to ensure they understand and recognize the value you and union contractors bring to their projects. With concerns about shortages of skilled labor, owners must decide who best can deliver their projects safely, on time, and within budget. Our non-union competition has demonstrated their lack of commitment to the future of the construction industry by failing to provide for training and depressing wages, moves that eroded the industry's ability to recruit competent individuals. Do owners place their multi-billion dollar projects in the same hands creating the problem over the last 30 years or turn to the only organizations whose commitment, infrastructure, and capacity is available to fill their needs--the building trades' unions? We are their best solution, their best business decision, but we must deliver and we will!

No path forward is without obstacles, but I am confident in our future and the opportunities this year will offer. The Iron Workers are often considered the Marines of the building trades and, just like those proud fighting men and women, we will persevere, adapt, and overcome.

Thank you for helping to build our great union.