Prototype Works

The sidebar in the feature article on mass transit, "More Transit Industry Participants See a ‘Green’ Signal Ahead," incorrectly states that the photovoltaic panels on the new Stillwell Terminal in Coney Island "did not deliver" (ENR 8/8 p. 32). Moreover, the quotes attributed to me are misleading. The PV panels perform as intended, providing 150kW of clean renewable energy to the facility. While the cost of this prototype PV installation exceeds the value of power savings over the life of the facility, the elegant solar energy roof contributes to the overall success of this facility and is helping to rejuvenate Coney Island.

At MTA New York City Transit, we have found that a number of piloted green measures, such as recycled construction waste, natural lighting and natural ventilation, are economical and practical. We are formally incorporating these elements into our standards for use on all applicable projects. I believe that in the future, sustainability will be a natural part of all good designs.

Unions Should Do Better

I read with great interest the letters from Mr. Julnes, "Why Unions Fail," and Mr. Kratz, "Without a Union" (ENR 6/20 p. 5; ENR 7/18 p. 5). Even though I am a union mechanical contractor and a union member, I must say that I agree with Mr. Julnes.

As I see it, unions have two issues that affect them negatively. The first is that they work to set the price of labor cost to an excessive level in lieu of letting the cost float at "market price" as suggested by Mr. Julnes. If the consumer, at any level, can find a cheaper alternative at the same price, then we have overpriced our product.

Secondly, unions are working to stop the erosion of their already vastly shrinking market share through legislation and political lobbying instead of providing a better product through increased labor productivity, increased technology/training, and of course unmatched safety.

No one, union or nonunion, should have to work at a job that is not safe. Today we have the federal watchdog Occupational Safety and Health Administration and each state has a labor department of some sort to protect against this.

The real union vs. nonunion debate from the point of view of the people who use our construction services–the customer–is who provides a better labor product at the total lowest cost.