March 2013

Defending Our Trade

The Jurisdiction Department at the International office has seen a recent escalation in requests for information files regarding various types of work for a number of areas across the United States and Canada. This is a great indicator that work is now beginning to pick up from the recent economic downturn. As more and more projects kick-off, pre-job meetings are held by the contractors performing the work. Iron Worker business agents need to be equipped and ready to demonstrate at these pre-job meetings that any work assignments in question at a pre-job meeting are in fact Iron Worker jurisdiction. Formulation of local area jurisdiction files; pre-job meeting minutes, photo files, previous letters of assignment from contractors or steward's reports of similar work are excellent examples of the documentation necessary for their argument.

On numerous projects today, the work being done is sometimes utilizing new technologies or construction methods of a specialty nature. Specialty sometimes means it is a new process of doing work we have traditionally done in the past a different way. In some cases, it is a new process being added to existing plants or in a new facility never before seen.

Structural steel and the rebar for reinforced concrete are necessary for the majority of the construction of these projects and the Iron Workers foothold is very strong in these two areas. However, at the pre-job meeting or in a jurisdictional dispute, area or local documentation for any work is crucial to obtain a successful outcome.

Today, some trades are seeing construction markets they once dominated shrinking due to a shift in the way energy is now produced in the United States. As a shift to renewable Green Energy sources; wind, solar and hydroelectric occurs, new energy processes are becoming the focus. The Iron Workers have taken the initiative to train for these recent market expansions and have realized the benefits across the United States and Canada. In spite of our efforts, we are seeing other crafts contractors bidding on projects and doing work outside of their normal work scopes in order to remain busy, which provides a clear reason for the need of evidence files to have positive proof to support our jurisdictional claims.

Today, we are asking all local unions, in every region to step up their efforts to document ALL phases of any work we as ironworkers perform, both old and new. We sometimes take for granted what we all consider Iron Workers' work and must capture any and all proof of it when and where we can. Contractor's letters of assignment are some of the documentation we look to obtain. In a dispute, an arbitrator will look at the evidence collected and offered from that area as the determining factor in their decision. In a pre-job meeting having the documentation of having done the work locally on previous projects is clearly the key to avoiding any craft from successfully claiming our work in the first place.

Together we can assure a bright future for the Iron Workers when we all have strong evidence files on hand for ready access when any need arises.