Unions go after construction trade group

In response to the report, Geoff Burr, ABC’s vice president of federal affairs, said the trade group was “flattered” by the document.
 
“ABC is focused on getting the construction industry back to work. While we are flattered by the unions’ fascination with us, it appears they have once again taken their eye off the ball,” Burr said.
 

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The report said that ABC’s membership amounts to only 1 percent of the total number of U.S. licensed or registered construction contractors.
 
“ABC is more of an astro-turf, ideological and political organization than one with deep ‘grassroots’ membership support among builders and contractors,” the report said.
 
The report was authored by Thomas Kriger, a professor of labor studies at the National Labor College, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO.
 
“In contrast with most construction trade associations, ABC devotes considerable resources to far-right ideological advocacy,” the report said. It notes that the trade group has lobbied against the Employee Free Choice Act, which would have made union organizing easier, and other labor regulations.
 
The paper argued that building trade unions have been more effective in training high-skilled workers, while non-union contractors that are advocated for by ABC have been responsible for low wages and minimal training in the construction industry.
 
ABC has been an anti-union lobbying force on Capitol Hill, advocating for several measures that would ban prevailing wages on public works projects under the Davis-Bacon Act as well as project labor agreements (PLAs), which establishes collective bargaining rights for a construction project.
 
“PLAs are the very best tool to insure that public investments that are kept within the local economy and benefit local workers, local taxpayers and local communities,” said Terry O'Sullivan, president of the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA).
 
One amendment to the defense authorization bill that banned PLAs passed earlier this month in the House. O’Sullivan said ABC is lobbying for a similar measure to be attached to the military construction and veterans affairs spending bill, which was on the House floor schedule for Thursday.
 
The amendment to the defense authorization bill that banned PLAs narrowly passed the House in a 211-209 vote, with eight Democrats absent from the vote. Sean McGarvey, president of the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, said he expects both Democrats and Republicans to show up for votes.
 
“Just like any public employee, they need to show up for work. So we expect them to show up for work and we expect them to vote in the appropriate way,” McGarvey said, noting PLAs have bipartisan support. “We expect everybody that gets paid by the federal taxpayer to show up and work.”
 
ABC is also a member of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace. The coalition is a party to several lawsuits against the National Labor Relations Board. One such legal challenge led to a federal judge ruling against the agency’s rule that would speed up union elections earlier this month.

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