America the beautiful, land of opportunity. We all cherish that thought, but how do you right-size (especially a union or a government) when economies change and there is a paradigm shift?
It’s not easy, and it only happens as the competitive marketplace ultimately dictates. That’s our system and that will always be our system.
In the Big Apple, there has been a big blow to what had been the long-standing mission of the Building Trades Employers Association (BTEA). What was known for years as the New York Plan is no longer in place and starting January 1st, general contractors that still belong to the BTEA are allowed to take open-shop pricing as well union pricing.
Essentially, general contractors will be eating at two subcontractor buffet lines.
All New York City-area construction not built under a project labor agreement (PLA) may be built under lower rates. Large New York buildings will start to be built open shop; we’re going from a blue to a red state here.
An open-shop contractor from Idaho could come in and start working here while we are still bound by the old contracts.
Will there be fights in the streets over who performs the work as the skyscrapers rise?
Will the opportunist-protestors at Zuccotti Park join the fray?
As union contractors, with the business proposition changing, what will our world look like?
Our big city wage-benefit systems are out of whack and need to be right-sized. I recently spoke to the training group at the Philadelphia carpenters' union and I was so impressed with the facility and their leadership.
With New York carpenters getting around $100/hr., will they become like Detroit autoworkers?
And how is it that a Philadelphia carpenter is $40 cheaper than the New York City carpenter?
He/she is certainly as capable at certain tasks within a closer range of value! I say protect the wage and make sure the benefit can keep the pension intact with health care, but nothing else. Anything more and the system can’t afford it anymore (remember the paradigm shift?).
We still have the best workforce, but it’s just too darn expensive. To an Owner, for whom we really all work, we and our workers are just another piece of data on a spreadsheet.