Dorsey Hager, Executive Secretary-Treasurer for the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council was featured on the Aug. 4 episode of America’s Work Force Union Podcast.
Hager started by talking with host Ed “Flash” Ferenc about the North Market Tower Project and the frustrations that came with it.
The project has been discussed for the past six years and due to material costs going up and inflation, the project is estimated to be over $400 million when completed.
Due to the rising cost, the Columbus City Council voted to provide $66 million of taxpayer funding to keep this project on task.
“The problem with this is there is no worker protection tied to it,” Hager explained.
Only 24 percent of contracts awarded on the project went to union bidders, he said.
“This is a huge issue for the building trades,” Hager said. “We want everyone on the job to be associated with a union working under a collective bargaining agreement so they can make good wages and benefits.”
Hager went on to explain that hiring out-of-town contractors can be hurtful to the community. Out-of-state workers will earn wages in Columbus and will take that money back to where they live and they won’t be reinvesting back into this community.
All the projects in Central Ohio that are done under a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) currently under construction or just concluded totals up to $28 billion.
When a project is done under a PLA it guarantees everyone who works on the project makes fair wages and benefits and makes enough money where they can retire with good healthcare and a good pension.
Between 500 and 700 jobs are estimated to be created for this project. Another big frustration for Hager is these jobs won’t go to Building Futures students.
“We’re not going to recruit people who are already underrepresented and struggling to overcome barriers that are keeping them out of the direct path to the middle class and give them all this training and then place them in a job where they don’t have the basic human dignity of healthcare,” Hager said.
Hager says the C/COBCTC has had workshops in the past to educate the public on the importance of worker protection and they will continue to educate so this never happens again.
“Am I sad that an out-of-state contractor is going to be bringing out-of-state workers into the heart of our city? 100 percent, but I am more sad that our students that we were out recruiting for this great program are not going to have any opportunity to work on a project like this,” Hager said.
Then, Hager discussed the National Maintenance Agreement (NMA) that the new Cirba Recycling Plant will be built under.
A National Maintenance Agreement is similar to a Project Labor Agreement but is signed at the national level.
Hager says more and more projects are popping up in Central Ohio that may require a National Maintenance Agreement.
Then Hager ended his segment on the podcast discussing the outreach events the C/COBCTC does at the Ohio State Fair. All the trades are represented so people can learn more and do some hands-on work to get a feel for each trade and see if it is something they could do for a career.
“It’s a great opportunity for a lot of folks to walk by and see all that we’re doing and the opportunities we’re providing the members of our community to get to the building trades,” Hager said.