When I would engage with my peers around the country with my involvement with AWCI, some of the fiercest conversations I’ve had were with non-signatory contractors. Some of whom I developed a personal relationship, as we discussed common interests in our industry. A question I was often asked was, “Why are you a union contractor?”
My answer was simple. Island Acoustics was founded in 1969 with the founding partners having a rich history in carpentry and plastering working as union tradesmen, spending the last 40 plus years developing relationships with signatory pro union general contractors and construction managers. Being a union contractor was a no brainer. As a union carpentry contractor we had the ability to out-perform our open shop competition utilizing skilled labor to produce a quality product at a competitive price that worked for the owners, developers and institutions we worked for. As our industry and market has evolved, that is unfortunately no longer the case. The value union contractors have enjoyed has been severely diminished do to the simple economics between union and open shop contracting. We need to find a way re-gain our competitive advantage.
Owners, developers and institutions along with our customers are finding it more cost effective to utilize open shop contractors to stay competitive in our market. Now is the time for labor and management to come together with bold initiatives to avoid extinction. If the bald eagle can make a comeback, so can union contractors.
I look forward to seeing everyone at the upcoming AWCI Industry Executives’ Conference and Committee Meetings this fall in Tucson, Arizona. I would like to suggest taking some time out to attend some of the education sessions. The sessions, “Retaining the Right People,” “Building Your Talent Pool for Future Growth” and “Recession-Proofing Your Company,” are essentials for all industry professionals. For more information or to register for the event please go online to www.awci.org/iec. Have a safe and enjoyable summer!
— Mike Weber