Skilled Construction Trades and Respected Contractors
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Welcome to Construction Business Group's Industry Updates. This monthly e-newsletter will help us communicate the important initiatives that we have underway and relevant updates on issues that impact Wisconsin's construction industry.
Message from Executive Director
Recently, the United States Department of Labor (U.S. DOL) issued a notice of proposed rule making concerning Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs ("IRAP"). IRAP derived from a 2017 Executive Order by President Trump that was intended to expand worker training. While the goal sounds laudable, the impact of IRAPs on the existing construction industry apprenticeship programs would be devastating.
Registered apprenticeship programs, like the trades in Wisconsin have, are the optimum way to prepare people for a career in the construction industry. Current registered programs go through a rigorous review process by the U.S. DOL or a state agency and have strict oversight. IRAPs do not require the same quality of instruction, pay scales, or journeyman graduation rates as current apprenticeship programs. If IRAPs enter the construction industry, they will undercut every quality apprenticeship program in the United States, resulting in more work for untrained, unsafe, lower wage apprentices.
Most trade unions have organized grassroots efforts for individual members to inform the U.S. DOL and their local Congressman that the construction industry must be exempt from the IRAP administrative rules. Construction Business Group wanted the U.S. DOL and the Wisconsin Congressional delegation to know that union employers, not just the trades, oppose IRAP use in the construction industry. CBG organized seven contractor associations and joint labor management organizations in the submission of a joint letter opposing use of IRAPs in the construction industry.
Cindy Buchko, General Counsel for CBG and Local 139 Health Benefit Fund was recognized by the Daily Reporter at the August 22nd Women in Construction awards program. Cindy was selected for her professional commitment to the industry, concern with protecting the rights of construction workers, and industry recognition for successful leadership.
WisDOT's Bureau of State Highway Programs recently released PRELIMINARY construction quantities for the state fiscal year that began July 1.
One Important Caveat: These quantities do not reflect all of the program increases included in the 2019-21 budget signed by Gov. Evers on July 3. For example, State Highway Rehabilitation funding increased $311.7 million and WisDOT has indicated it plans to spend $195 million to complete the north leg of the Zoo Interchange.
The Department is continuing to add projects to the FY 2020 program. Official FY 2020 quantities will be released at the Oct. 17 WTBA Fall Meeting at the Sheraton Hotel in Madison.
Governor Evers Calls on President Trump to End Trade War
On August 12, Governor Evers sent a letter to President Trump in which he urged him to "stop this unnecessary trade war between the United States and our international partners, including China."
Since taking office, President Trump has sought to negotiate as well as renegotiate trade agreements with other nations. He contends many of the existing deals are not mutually beneficial and there is plenty of objective data and information to support his claim.
With that said, we agree with the Governor that the escalating trade dispute between the United States and China is having a disproportionately adverse impact on the state's agricultural and manufacturing economy. Hopefully, the next round of bilateral trade talks scheduled for September will lead to a new, and improved, trade deal with China.
In the interim, we urge the Governor to reach out to Wisconsin's Congressional Delegation to help secure congressional approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement.
FEMA Conducting Preliminary Damage Assessment
At the request of the Governor, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is currently conducting Preliminary Damage Assessment for 19 Wisconsin counties and tribes hit hard by severe storms, flooding, straight line winds and tornadoes. This assessment will help determine the extent to which federal aid will be available to partially offset the recovery costs.
Teams comprised of officials with FEMA and Wisconsin Emergency Management are working with local, tribal and state officials in viewing public infrastructure damage in Barron, Clark, Forest, La Crosse, Langlade, Marinette, Menominee, Monroe, Oconto, Oneida, Outagamie, Polk, Portage, Rusk, Vernon, Waupaca, and Wood counties. In addition, FEMA will assess damage on tribal lands of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin.
Local damage assessments show more than $14 million in damage to public infrastructure. Most of the costs are for emergency protective measures, debris removal and damage to electrical equipment owned by municipal and rural electric cooperatives.
FEMA will not be assessing damage to individual homes or businesses because much of the reported damage is either covered by insurance or would not qualify for federal disaster assistance.
DeLauro reintroduces wage protection legislation
Saturday, July 13, 2019
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) on July 11 reintroduced the Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act, legislation that would crack down on employers who unfairly withhold wages from their employees, according to a press release from DeLauro's office.
The bill would give workers the right to receive full compensation for all of the work they perform, as well as the right to receive regular paystubs and final paychecks in a timely manner. It would also provide workers with improved tools to recover their stolen wages in court and make assistance available to build community partnerships that enhance the enforcement of and improve compliance with wage and hour laws, the release said.
Illinois lawmakers consider bill to make general contractors responsible for other's unpaid wages
By Cole Lauterbach
The Center Square | Jul 19, 2019
Illinois lawmakers are considering sending Gov. J.B. Pritzker legislation that would put general contractors on the hook for any wages a subcontractor failed to pay workers.
The House passed the legislation this spring. Should Pritzker sign the bill into law, any general contractor who hires a subcontractor that doesn't properly pay employees could be sued for those wages.
Sponsoring Senator Laura Fine, D-Glenview, said wage theft has become common
"Wage theft could range anything to not paying workers for hours they work to not paying the legal minimum wage," she said.
Gov. Whitmer Signs Executive Directive to Put Michigan Jobs First
Posted: 9:39 PM, Jul 29, 2019
By: FOX 47 News
LANSING, Mich. - Today Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the Michigan Jobs First executive directive at Lecom Utility Contractors in Roseville to revamp the State's purchasing policies to ensure that the State awards contracts to companies that create good-paying jobs in Michigan and are good stewards of the state. Currently, only 70 percent of state contracts are awarded to in-state businesses.
"Michigan is home to the hardest working people and best businesses in the world, and our state should work to ensure that more of our Michigan tax dollars support Michigan workers and businesses at every opportunity," Whitmer said. "We want Michigan to be a home for opportunity for everyone, which begins with supporting businesses that provide fair wages and good benefits. This executive directive will strengthen our commitment to these priorities and bring the greatest possible benefit to Michigan's businesses, workers, and families."
Cuomo signs bill making it illegal to threaten employees over immigration status (NY)
by Peter Katz
Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the weekend signed into law a bill that makes it illegal for an employer in New York state to retaliate against a worker by contacting federal immigration authorities or threatening to do so. The measure also extends the protection to threats or actions against an employee's family or household members. The provision takes effect 19 days from the bill's signing.
The idea for specifying that protections also cover threats regarding immigration status was proposed by the office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James and the legislation was sponsored by state Sen. Jessica Ramos of Queens and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo of the Bronx.