Jason Fincke, Executive Director
Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania, Inc.
When the Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania was established 10 years ago, it was done with three primary purposes: to improve market share of local union construction, to provide a forum for labor and management to come together on a regular basis, and to assist in recruiting skilled men and women for rewarding careers as union craftsmen and craftswomen.
Improving market share is difficult to measure. Listen to talk shows or read conservative publications and one would get the impression that union construction is failing, as membership in organized labor represents between 12-13% of the nation’s wage and salary workers. Talk to industry experts like Jeff Burd, publisher of BreakingGround magazine, however, and he’ll tell you that union construction is on the rise, at least in western Pennsylvania.
Ten years ago, according to Mr. Burd, union contractors could only be found on about 45% of local commercial projects, accounting for approximately 40% of construction dollars spent. Today, union contractors are used on more than 60% of local projects, accounting for some 70 to 75% of construction dollars. So while there is still work to be done in increasing market share, union construction in the commercial market has become the workforce of choice by area owners and developers.
As to providing a forum for discussion between labor and management, the Builders Guild Board meets monthly for a sometimes lively, but always informative discussion of various topics. Seven representatives each from labor and management, including Mike Dunleavy, Business Manager/Financial Secretary of IBEW Local 5 and Al Johnson, Executive Secretary of the National Electrical Contractors Association – Western Pennsylvania Chapter, have the opportunity to bring any issue to the table that’s on their minds.
In terms of recruitment, three years ago one of the primary concerns of local industry and community leaders was whether union building trades would have the human resources necessary to successfully build such projects as the Rivers Casino, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh UPMC, Consol Energy Center and many other prominent construction projects that were then on the drawing boards.
Through an aggressive outreach program and by partnering with dozens of local community groups and organizations, that concern has not only been addressed, but put to rest. Over the past year alone, the Builders Guild has conducted or participated in more than 60 community meetings, workshops and trade fairs to attract and education local men and women about the opportunities available in the building trades and the procedures for applying to any of the 17 union training centers in western Pennsylvania.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania is proud of its accomplishments in helping maintain a locally strong, safe and cohesive building and construction trades industry. While issues remain that can divide labor and management, the Builders Guild provides a much needed forum where union industry leaders can come together to provide the best value in construction services.
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A R C H I V E S
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