Shake It Up

As a management representative and negotiator for 200 union-affiliated contracting firms, I welcome the carpenters' Douglas McCarrron's efforts to shake up the status quo of construction labor unions in the U. S. (ENR 3/18 p. 10). For far too long, unions have sought political solutions to their problems rather than concentrating on modern marketing, operational and financial strategies. The marketing of union affiliation cannot be based on "mom, apple pie and the American Way" anymore.

Like any visionary executive, McCarron focuses on business development, market share, client satisfaction, consolidation and return-on-investment. This is simply complementary capitalism, mixing management strategy and union resources. "Union Yes!" is a hollow slogan when not backed up by value-added relationships and profit-centered thinking. McCarron, Terence O'Sullivan of the laborers and most of the BCTD Heavy and Highway Division clearly get it.

A new generation of contractors and union representatives see that old school politics and self-interest must give way to modern-day economics and performance criteria. McCarron and those who espouse a progressive view have a unique opportunity to change the construction labor-management dynamic forever. For many years, this industry has waited for labor leaders who could serve as true strategic partners who will address both contractor and union member needs on a strategic and pro-active basis. Perhaps the wait is over.

Executive Director
Engineering and Utility Contractors Association
San Ramon, Calif.

Differing Opinions

I respectfully take strong exception to your editorial regarding Tadao Ando's proposed memorial to the World Trade Center site in New York City (ENR 3/11 p. 48). Ando is well respected not only in Japan and the U.S., but throughout the world as a visionary and master at creating architecture that fills the soul with inspiration and feeling.

Your editorial, however, lacks all feeling. What is the definition of "crackpot" and "inappropriate?" Any proposal for a memorial on a site such as this, especially from the recipient of the American Institute of Architects' 2002 Gold Medal, deserves thoughtful consideration. Your comments ignore the talent and inspiration of a designer respected throughout the world.

I just read your editorial, "architect is Off the Mark," and was compelled to voice my support for your position on this important and sensitive subject. As a member of the construction community my entire career, I applaud your taking issue with this "construction project" that has the potential of influencing New York, if not the world, for generations.

There is no question that this great city and its people have been dealt a devastating blow and two of the world's greatest buildings no longer exist. But out of this must come a deep commitment, by all people, that acts like this are simply unacceptable and will be addressed in no uncertain terms.

There is nothing to apologize for and everything to live for. The thousands of men and women of the construction industry who continue to give their all are proof that we will succeed. What needs to be built is something that signifies our loss, shows our efforts and states our unified resolve to eliminate such evil.

Plainview, N.Y.