This spring, the New England Regional Council of Carpenters is welcoming Woburn, Mass.-based Force Corp. into the union family, ending an adversarial relationship.
Founded by Claudio Cicero da Silva and incorporated in 2012 in Massachusetts, Force Corp. had been New England’s largest open-shop framing contractor.
The union had sharply criticized the company’s record.
In February, Force Corp. agreed to pay $2.4 million in a settlement with the U.S. Dept. of Labor for wage and hour violations. On Feb. 24, the 20,000-member regional council, part of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, stated on its blog that Force Corp. and its sister company, National Framers LLC, had agreed to become union contractors.
Force Corp. was a union target. One regional council website noted the contractor’s troubles with federal safety and wage violations.
Council spokesman Bert Durand says, “Force’s decision to partner with the carpenters union sends a clear message to the industry. The union is serious about confronting and exposing payroll fraud. … Force has a lot of talented people and wants to operate legitimately … in the construction industry.”
In a statement released by the union, Force President Claudio da Silva said, “We can look forward to bidding in a level-playing-field environment and being able to provide the best union benefits and training to our employees.”
For decades, U.S. union contractors have faced strong market challenges from open-shop competitors. The Dept. of Labor reports that, in 2016, 13.9% of construction craft workers belonged to unions, up from 13.2% in the prior year.
Last summer, the Labor Dept. signed a consent judgment ordering Force Corp., the associated AB Construction Group Inc. and Force employers Juliano Fernandes and Anderson Dos Santos to pay $2.4 million, including $1.2 million in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to 478 employees. The Dept. of Labor also ordered Force Corp. to pay $262,900 in penalties for a variety of safety operations.
Federal safety agencies cited Fernandes and Force’s affiliated firms for more than 100 violations between 2007 and 2016, according to public records. Company officials declined to comment.