Association of Wall Ceiling and Carpentry Industries

WC&C

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Our Most Valuable Asset

Working closely with the signatories to our Collective Bargaining Agreements to assure a smooth transition from current to new accords that will carry us forward over the next few years is both satisfying and intensive.

I’ve pointed out before, that as a labor-intensive trade our union labor workforce is our most valuable asset and we have to treat it as such. Successful negotiations have to blend the needs of our workers with the profit-making capability of our contractors to survive in today’s competitive market. 

Survival is an ongoing process. We are being challenged constantly by the non-union sector and its advocates making it imperative that  we stay on top of our game in labor management, customer relationships and the advancement of the industry.

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Enduring the Pain of Change

As we begin the negotiating process with expiring Collective Bargaining Agreements, ie: New York City District Council of Carpenters and Local 1974 Tapers, the creative changes that will be explored to salvage what is left of a dwindling union market are paramount to our survival.  With a customer base that has the ability to construct projects with or without union labor, the time has come to make sweeping changes to compete with our non-signatory competition.

Proposed changes by both labor and management are sure to be met with resistance on both sides of the negotiation table. However, I believe it is in the best interest of all parties to break the mold that has been set for generations and implement changes required to salvage our market share. Should New York be successful in creating a new template for providing a competitive labor pool, it should be a win win for our industry along with the hard working men and women employed by dedicated signatory contractors.

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Forging Ahead

It’s been five years since the inception of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Association of Wall Ceiling & Carpentry Industries of New York and the New York City District Council of Carpenters.  That agreement took more than a year to negotiate and provided changes which had previously seemed impossible to achieve.  It was the beginning of full mobility and the two man job without the assignment of a Shop Steward.  It also introduced electronic time reporting and daily access to that information by employers and Journeymen Carpenters while providing a $14.13 per hour increase in wage and benefits over five years ($6.13 in the first ninety days), the first increase in more than two years.  This all took place while under the consent decree, the oversight of the Review Officer, supervision by the U.B.C., and what seemed like an ever changing District Council leadership.  This agreement expires on June 30, 2017.  It is time to negotiate a new agreement for the foreseeable future.

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BIM

Technology is quickly advancing in the construction industry. From using your smartphone at work to aerial drones mapping and surveying the job site, the construction industry is exploding into new realms with the technology of today. Technology advancements are like water rising at the shore. There rarely is a sudden shift you can point to, but every time you look, the tide keeps changing as should you. Adapt or die as I like to say.

Take BIM (Building Information Management) for example. Since gaining traction in our market over the last few years, BIM modeling was primarily used by mechanical and structural trades. In the design build concept of construction management, BIM plays a larger role with carpentry contractors than it has in the past by providing integrated engineered shop drawings for exterior and interior wall and ceiling design concepts.

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Moving Ahead

Dodge Data & Analytics, predicts that the construction sector is “moving into a more mature phase of expansion.” Their much-anticipated recently released 2017 Dodge Construction Outlook predicts the industry will see 5% growth next year. The forecast is for this period of growth to continue into 2018 before a cyclical slowdown emerges gradually in 2018 and 2019.

For the New York Construction Industry the annual forecast and analysis prepared by the New York Building Congress estimates that 2016 will mark the first time in City history that construction spending has passed the $40 billion mark and represents a 26 percent increase from 2015. Like the Dodge Outlook, The Building Congress anticipates the current building boom to continue through the next two years.

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Is It Over Yet?

As we wind down 2016, it has been a memorable year on many fronts. On the political side it has been a historic presidential election cycle. The first time in American politics the democrats elected a female candidate to run for president. The hard fought primary between Hilary and self-proclaimed socialist Bernie speaks volumes to the evolving demographics of American politics.

On the other hand, who could have predicted that THE Donald, as we call him here in New York, would steam roll sixteen well established, politically savvy opponents to win the republican nomination for president. As both candidates continue to fend off demons of their past, one thing is for sure. This year has been one hellish presidential election cycle.

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Rebuilding Through Education and Recruitment of Key People

Taking place every fall, AWCI's Industry Executives' Conference and Committee Meetings keep company owners and executives focused on trends impacting their business through informative speakers, networking and committee meetings.

A major problem across the country now is that many talented people left our industry during and after the 2008 recession. And while that difficulty didn’t impact our members in New York City so much as in other locales, it has caused setbacks here. The downturn caused many contractors to react by letting go a significant portion of their talent pool. As a result, some of the best talent chose to leave the industry leaving us with severe gaps in key positions.

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Tides are Changing

The natural EBB and flow of tides has a calming effect on human nature.  Tides are predictable yet ignoring their importance can have a devastating effect on society and businesses alike.  When a storm like super storm Sandy blows through your neighborhood, you have witnessed first-hand how changing tides can have a catastrophic effect on your ability to survive.

From a business point of view, institutions that drive our industry operate in the new paradigm of the natural EBB and flow of business cycles.  A banking facility requires a steady stream of strong financial data to assess risk in providing the capital required to manage cash flow in an industry with archaic payment terms and conditions.  Insurance companies demand a boat load of policy and procedures to help mitigate risk.  State, County and Federal agencies impose a prequalification and requalification process that requires a MBA, CPA and law degree to comply with.  As you navigate your business through this new paradigm, avoiding the peaks and valleys and maintaining a steady course can only enhance your chances to succeed.

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New Technology

               New innovations are being made every day in our industry, making once tedious parts of our profession more manageable and time efficient. The Grabber PanelMax Board Milling Machine is a perfect example of this. Designed to fabricate and accurately cut dry wall and other materials, the PanelMaxx is easing one of the more laborious parts of the job. With the use of relief cuts, this machine is eliminating the need for additional material by doing the job accurately the first time. Instead of waiting for the framing to be done on a job before making cuts to the sheetrock, the PanelMax is allowing you to prefabricate everything while the framing is still being completed, cutting back dramatically on the time it takes to complete a project. Portable and user friendly, it clearly has a definite future in the construction industry.

               Being aware of the latest cutting edge technology on the market is advantageous to everyone, allowing you to be ahead of the game and thus making you more desirable as a contractor.  Make sure you take advantage of these advancements by educating yourself. Take classes offered at places such as the NYC District Council of Carpenters Labor Technical College. Being ahead of the game will only benefit you in the end.  John DeLollis

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The Devil is in the Details

Construction is a high risk activity with many personal injuries and property losses or damage arising out of construction work. In construction contracts, the owner normally requires the general contractor to show proof of various types of insurance, including a commercial general liability (“CGL”) policy, and for a general contractor to require its subcontractors to carry a CGL policy to protect against liability for personal injury and property damage. 

Insurance requirements that are generally unique to construction contracts include Surety Bonds, CIP (Controlled Insurance Program), Higher Limits and Extended Coverage or Additional Insured.  The surety bonds related to public work contracts include: Bid Bond, Performance Bond and Payment Bonds and Completion Bonds. Collectively, they are referred to as Contract Bonds.  The CIP concept should provide for cost savings to the owner due to purchasing economies of scale, cash flow advantages from controlling premium payments, potential for dividend returns and potential for savings due to coordinated loss control. The recommended minimum limit for general liability is $5 million per occurrence. (Click below to "read more").
Don't forget to mark your calendars for the AWCI Convention and Intex Expo from April 15 through April 19th in New Orleans, Louisiana.  For more information and to register for this event please go online to www.awci.org/convention.  I look forward to see you all there.  -- Mike Weber

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Policies Gone Wild

It is human nature to identify the path of least resistance, settle into your comfort zone and manage and endure the obstacles, challenges and beauty life has to offer personally and professionally. The magnitude of change in our market and industry in recent years is staggering. Since the great recession of 2008, the new paradigm of doing business is suffocating our ability to thrive. Federal, state, city and village compliance regulations requires lawyers, bankers and insurance specialists to fulfill bureaucratic requirements. Simply put, “Adapt or die”.

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Looking Up?

Negotiations have been completed on all fronts. Empire State Carpenters, D.C. 9 and Local 1974 Drywall Finishers, Local 46 Lathers and Local 66 Laborers have been in effect for some time and the kinks have been worked out and things are running smoothly. New York City Carpenters....not so much. This new agreement is not just a modification of the previous CBA but in some aspects we have invented a new wheel. Mobility and one and two man jobs without a Shop Steward which we have so long coveted has arrived with a monumental add on in the form of electronic monitoring for reporting time, as part of the anti corruption measure that both sides have agreed is essential to the success of this program. Read More

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