Partnering for Prosperity; Construction; Labor and Management Cooperation Is a Good Example for Nation's Leadership

By Aboussie, Jeff | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), December 14, 2012 | Go to article overview
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Partnering for Prosperity; Construction; Labor and Management Cooperation Is a Good Example for Nation's Leadership


Aboussie, Jeff, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


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. 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 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.

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