What is happening to the construction industry and our country?

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A Crandall in Brooksville, Florida

42 months ago

From the late 1890's thru 1960's this country did just that. We UNIONIZED this great land and doing so created a middle class. A land where the people had value and their labors were rewarded in the building of our society. In the early 1970's the world started to change and the wealthy realized it. A global market developed and goods of quality started to be produced in other nations. The wealthy in this nation knew they wanted to keep thier share of the pie. It started with the OIL Companies and refineries. Oil field workers had not been brought into the fold of UNIONIZATION properly. They for the most part, a work force forgotten by the middle class. But , their skills were diverse and just what the construction industry leaders and wealthy manufacturers needed to compete on the GLOBAL market financialy. So the assault on UNIONS began. Systematicaly DEUNIONIZING our land to meet the wealthy's pocket book has been done in several ways. Deregulation of standards and practices thru the Legistative branch of our Government. Lobbiest and bribery and campain contributions alike have contibuted to this result.Also the OFFSHORING of our manufaturing base by the same wealthy owners and investment firms. It was easy to mask their full intention thru the coruption expossed and demonization of UNIONS with it's connection to organized crime. The MOB has it's hands in the destruction of the UNIONS also thru backdoor deals cutting workers pay just to get their cut of the pie. The ression of the early 1970's was the key to this intial step to DEUNIONIZE. UNIONS took dramatic cuts in wages and workforce numbers. The foot hold by the wealthy owners was set. Next step was to tell the people of the world America cannot compete on our own land so Corporations are coming to YOU. Oil industry took care of the Construction UNIONS, OFFSHORING took care of the Manufacturing UNIONS, Insurance Co(wealthy investors) has crippled the Medical UNIONS, and the final DEUNIONIZING faction, the

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vic in Oakland, California

29 months ago

Fundamental reality check: you don't create an artificial middle class by overpaying working class labor. The US is now struggling because labor cost is too high when competing against foreign labor. In an effort to preserve their members' jobs, unions resist innovation and skill building relying instead on archaic inefficient labor structure (seniority anyone?) and bullying (strike) to impose their ways. I work in a environment where 8th grade educated labor with very little skills are paid in excess of $100K/year. American labor has to choose: Either become highly skilled and well paid to produce high end products (see Germany) or stay low skilled and cut pay to compete with other high volume manufacturing from Asia, India and Central America. Something's got to give.

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xnmmi in Lancaster, California

29 months ago

Absolutely, Vic. I am a former Teamster and was at the low end for what my co workers made in 2009. I cannot find any work that comes close to what I made and for Los Angeles County the $62,200 I made in '09 - the last full year I worked - is the lower end of the so called middle class for a family of 4. I did contract negotiations, and the sad part of the matter is, the cost of a union workforce goes up because the companies would rather pay the increase than change the way they do business when they have a union workforce. When that happens the only place for the union side to go is up when it comes to pay and pension - quick example - the last contract I was involved with, we wanted the company to make the loads safer on the trucks, they would not even consider our proposal on that issue alone - fine, then you will agree to higher weekly guarantee and an increase in pension contributions...the guys get a raise this December of 100/wk - 5200/yr for their guarantee - but the safety of the loads is still an issue.

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vic in Oakland, California

29 months ago

Employers come in all forms: the good, the bad and the ugly. But one thing they all have in common is managing cost of doing business. European workers have higher safety standards, training standards and compliance standards than in the US not because they have strong unions but because labor cost is about 50% lower than in the US. Once you factor in all these extras you get to about US labor cost. So US employers often do what they can to keep their safety, training and compliance costs as low as they can to stay competitivene in the global market. Paying off union seniority to keep the work going is an example.
Of course the issue is larger than that. European workers also don't have to worry about health care, school for the kids or retirement while in the US the attitude is "here's more money, now you deal with that".

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Cosmo

26 months ago

I've been in construction for 35 years now and times have very much changed. I remember a time you would get a job and be in the field in two to three hours, now it can take up to a couple of weeks with all the drug test and background checks. How much more does that add to the cost of labor when the company has already spent several hundred dollars before you are even working and drawing a wage ? Also I remember many of the new hirers would weed them self out and quit because the work was dangerous. Now days with all the extra safety involved most anybody can get on a construction job hence a lot more dead weight on the job site. I'm not knocking safety, yes the number of fatalities has gone down a whole lot which is a very good thing but I believe maximum safety was reached 10 years ago. Now all the added safety is costing more than it is helping.

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