March 2013

Ironworkers Best Solution on the Jobsite

Our Iron Worker/IMPACT joint labor-management conference held in February was an unqualified success with a record attendance of participants, contractors and owners. The reasons were twofold. One, the economic recovery is real and has focused attention on the construction industry's problems of poor recruitment, declining skills and safety. Two, the contractors' and owners' interest, not only in the conference agenda, but also in how ironworkers are delivering greater value to their jobsites.

What they learned is what we have always staked our reputation and pride upon: We are their best solution.

Poor recruitment: We have repeatedly demonstrated our ability to recruit young men and women to our trade, if we have the work. Make the commitment to use us and we will fill the pipeline to provide skilled ironworkers for generations to come. With only 10,000 apprentices, our 129 training centers are under-utilized and can ramp up quickly. We have doubled that in the past and, by utilizing block training, we have the capacity to train both apprentices and journeymen in the even greater numbers needed by the industry in the coming years. We are their best solution.

Declining skills: Despite union labor's higher productivity, technological advances, modular construction and other innovations, overall construction industry productivity has declined over the past 25 years. Our commitment to training--over a billion dollars a year by building and construction trade unions--world-class curriculum and training materials and member accountability combine to deliver the best value to the owner. It is your performance on the job that is measured and continues to deliver projects on time and under budget. We are their best solution.

Safety: Statistics speak for themselves. When we see an industry rate of 27 fatalities for every 100,000 workers, it speaks loudly about the Iron Worker commitment to safety that reduced our tragedies to seven losses of life in 2012. Tragic incidents are costly in human and financial terms and your commitment to zero is their best solution.

Our value to owners and contractors does not begin when the project breaks ground; your activism within our communities, state legislatures and on Capitol Hill is an important asset in facilitating the creation of work. All projects must undergo approval from local communities and various governmental agencies. Whether funding comes from electing representatives who believe in the investment in infrastructure or the wise use of our pension assets, we also have a crucial role in determining what, where and how projects are built. We are and should be a powerful asset for our committed partners in the development of public and private projects. Once again, we are their best solution.

And why do I refer to us as "their best solution?" Because that is how governments, owners and contractors evaluate their procurement decisions and our performance. They seek partners who will provide the solution to their problems with their best interests in mind. Are we part of the problem or part of the solution? We can't be both. The better the solution we offer, the more valuable we become. The more valuable we become, the more we grow.

Thank you for helping to build our great union.