I was amused to read the headline, "Trades Declare War on Nonunion Training," and the Building and Construction Trades Dept., AFL-CIO had "thrown down the gauntlet" for Associated Builders and Contractors (ENR 4/25 p. 10). It seems we have heard that old BCTD song and dance before.

In December 1967, during BCTD’s annual convention, it also declared "war" on ABC. That declaration of war helped launch an unprecedented period of growth for ABC. In fact, over the next eight years, ABC increased its membership from around 3,000 to 15,000 firms and added 55 new chapters. Today, ABC is 23,000 members strong in 79 chapters nationwide.

The latest BCTD report on ABC apprenticeship programs is filled with serious flaws. But make no mistake, the attack has nothing to do with improving construction training or bettering the industry. It is merely another desperate attempt by organized labor to reclaim industry market share that construction trade unions have lost through the past 35 years. BCTD wants to embed further an antiquated union apprenticeship model that does not meet the needs of the 21st Century construction industry. In fact, when it comes to innovation, it is still stuck in 1967. And there is probably some connection between that fact and the downward spiral that BCTD has experienced in the decades since.

The dearth of leadership at BCTD has resulted in its representing less than 15% of the construction industry work force. It is a shame that instead of focusing on putting its own house in order, and working in a collegial fashion with ABC and others to better the industry, BCTD continues to choose to squander BCTD member resources on these spurious, politically motivated attacks.

As we have told BCTD before, it would be far more productive to work collaboratively with industry and government agencies to develop a training model that reflects the industry’s needs today and tomorrow. In the meantime, ABC looks forward to continued growth and influence on behalf of its merit shop members and for the entire construction industry.