Distribute this bulletin at your next union meeting. Download it HERE.
Finishing Solutions Network Makes Gains for the IUPAT
In March, Business Manager/Secretary-Treasurers and other IUPAT leaders were briefed on the Finishing Solutions Network (FSN) at the General President’s Advisory Committee (GPAC) meeting, and the initiative has made great strides since then. Formally launched in 2012, the FSN was created to find new opportunities for IUPAT contractors by matching them with general contractors and end users who are seeking professionals with qualified skills on their projects.
It’s been a productive year, so far. Companies such as Old Navy, PNC Bank, CVS, Publix Supermarkets and JCPenney have all hired IUPAT contractors throughout North America performing glazing, drywall, paint and flooring work. A lead contact was also developed with Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) which has created opportunities for us to re-paint U.S. naval vessels.
The FSN process to increase our market share is basic, yet effective: Representatives (we currently have four) develop new relationships with general contractors and end users; a discovery meeting is held; conditions of satisfaction are discussed (what do they need from us to consider their job a success); hand off the project for bid to what is referred to as a “perfect fit” contractor.
The efforts are complemented by an evolving advertising campaign via emails and postcards. Over 32,000 postcards and 4,000 emails have been sent thus far to convince potential new business that IUPAT employers and their employees are the best-trained workforce to hire on their project.
FSN is not only showing some success in earning new work for our members, it’s changing a lot of minds about union labor, as well. “You definitely enlightened and, in some cases, just reminded me of a lot of the benefits to stick with a union contractor over exploring our options with an open shop contractor,” a general contractor recently wrote in an email to FSN. “That meeting with you gave me a lot of valuable information that I was able to pass on to the owners that I am dealing with at the hotel and, as a result, we are about to award a $1.3 million contract to a union contractor.” The GC went on to say that other hotels they work with have also committed to hire union rather than an open shop based on the performance of IUPAT contractors.
How can you help? Steer your local contractors and end users to the FSN website –www.FinishingSolutionsNetwork.
Immigration Reform Progresses in Washington, DC
In June, a bipartisan immigration bill passed the United States Senate 68 to 32. The bill was authored by what has come to be known as “the gang of eight”: Sens. John McCain (R-Arizona), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) and Michael Bennet (D-Colorado).
While the future of immigration reform is now in the hands of the Republican controlled House of Representatives and is somewhat unclear, it’s important that everyone understands the way that the Senate immigration reform bill would affect the IUPAT if the House passes it as is.
Under the bill, illegal immigrants may apply to receive legalized status known as Registered Provisional Immigrant Status. In order to be eligible, an individual must have immigrated to the United States prior to Dec. 31, 2011, and maintained a continuous physical presence since then. The individual must also pay a $500 fine, however, those eligible for the DREAM Act — a bill that provides a path to citizenship to those brought illegally to the United States as children — would be exempt from the fine. The bill would allow those in registered provisional immigrant status to apply for a green card, or permanent residency, after 10 years.
The bill also creates temporary-worker programs for high-skilled and low-skilled workers, and a program to allow undocumented farm workers to obtain legal status. The legislation also replaces the H-2A program currently in effect with the W-Visa, a transitional work visa (meaning you can work as you await your eligibility to become a full citizen) for professions that do not require a bachelor’s degree. These visas would only be allowed to be used by employers who have paid the government to conduct a study of the local labor conditions.
If the unemployment rate in a county or municipality is low enough, and there are no resident American workers who are able or willing to do the work, then the employer is allowed to hire workers under the W-Visa program and must pay prevailing wage. There are different limits on the number of visas for the construction industry and all other qualifying professions within the W-Visa program.
The AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) reacted this way to the Senate legislation in a separate statement to the IUPAT. “We need a new immigration system that is founded on the economic reality facing our country; specifically the fact that the construction industry today has an unemployment rate that significantly exceeds the overall national unemployment rate.
“Fortunately, the bi-partisan Senate bill takes into account the unique circumstances of the construction industry and the bill that passed includes a limit on the number of newly proposed ‘W’ visas for low-skill workers that can be used for construction.”
This legislation aims to crack down on the overly prevalent underground economy. It, or similar legislation, has to pass through the House before the differences between the two can be rectified and the bill can be passed into law. More to come as the House takes this legislation into consideration.
IUPAT Prepares to Launch CORE
These days, it seems that the rights of working families are being attacked from all sides. Wage theft, the introduction of so called Right-to-Work laws and the assault on pension benefits, health care, student loans and rights in the workplace. Local activists are fighting for the middle class on every front through successful initiatives like AFL-CIO Working America. According to the AFL-CIO website, Working America was founded in 2003, and it is “the fastest-growing organization for working people who don’t have a union on the job. At 3 million strong and growing, Working America empowers people year-round to make a difference in their own communities.” The IUPAT is formally committed to be a part of efforts like Working America, and other labor and social justice groups, through what we call Community Organizing for Real Economics (CORE).
The mission of the CORE Committee is to grow membership and strengthen our district councils. It is imperative that we take more aggressive steps to address the needs of thousands of unorganized workers through effective community outreach, while fostering mutual support between the IUPAT and all workers. We oppose all forms of discrimination based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, religion or political views.
Organizing around social and economic justice, we will further partner with the AFL-CIO and its constituency groups and communities, faith-based organizations, community groups, and any other community or social organizations we can involve ourselves with to advance the goals and objectives of the IUPAT by raising the economic standards of all workers while strengthening the standing of our district councils within their communities to gain members, expand training opportunities for future members and protect the rights we as workers currently have on the job.
IUPAT leadership has invited representatives from several district councils to attend a CORE strategic meeting in October at the IUPAT campus. More information on this program after that meeting, if not sooner.
Connect via Your Mobile Phone
Remember, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades is building a new network of communication through our text messaging program. We circulate news about union and district council events, calls for political action and, perhaps most importantly, job alerts for our members. If you’re not already signed up, text IUPAT to 48728 to join today and ask your fellow union members in the field to do the same!