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Trades Raise Money for Injured Apprentices; Aske Honored

Representatives from all the trades packed the big room at Mancini’s Char House in St. Paul Monday, Feb. 4, for the Apprenticeship Coordinators Association’s Injured Apprenticeship Fundraiser Dinner. Larry Gilbertson emceed the event, which included more than a few jokes, a raffle and a presentation honoring Brian Aske, the long-time apprenticeship coordinator. Now retired, Aske worked 21 years at the Operating Engineers Training Center starting in 1997 and counseled full-time there since 2006. “Brian did a lot to further all of the union trades and was a trend-setter reaching out to women and minorities,” Gilbertson said.

Aske began his career after completing the heavy equipment program at Central Lakes College. From there he became an apprentice and then a journey worker. “The biggest change in the business has been technology. The majority of the work at an excavation site is done now with GPS,” Aske said. “The safety training has excelled too the past 20 years – protecting the worker, the employer and the public.”

“I retired with a good pension and health benefits and the satisfaction of driving around town knowing ‘I built that’,” he added. “As far as the apprentices go, I see people I knew when they were apprentices working in the field now. Hopefully, they’ll retire with the same benefits and satisfaction I did.”

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Electricians Power Up Habitat for Humanity Home

Rice County Habitat for Humanity’s latest home project is located on Willow Street, one of the city’s main throughfares in Faribault, MN. But on one particular day in February, the residence stood out from neighbors’ homes because of all the cars parked in front. Thirty electricians from IBEW Local 110 descended to install wiring and control equipment through the entire house, from the basement through the upper floor and into the garage.  

The relationship between Local 110 and Rice County Habitat for Humanity dates back to 2000. The electricians started volunteering when Rice County Habitat for Humanity could only afford to develop one house a year. In 2019, they will be able to build four or five homes thanks to the volunteers of Local 110. “The work they do is incredible. Their work saves us between $12,000 to $18,000 per house,” explain Dana Norvold, executive director of Rice County Habitat for Humanity. “Everybody knows what to do, and they get it done fast. Plus, they’re a really nice community of people.”

Not only do the electricians donate their expertise, but they supply the parts and materials as well. And there’s never been a shortage of people who want to volunteer. According to Local 110’s Jeff Anderson, they’ve been able to combine the opportunity for electricians to sharpen their skills for residential housing with some fun. “We raffle off prizes and we have a catered lunch. With so much help, we get things done fast. I think those things have kept our people coming back,” he said.

Most of the work done by IBEW Local 110 electricians is industrial or commercial, so doing a single family home is a change of pace that helps keep their residential skills sharp. “At this time of year (winter), there’s not as much work so this helps us out. We give those who drive a distance a gas card in return for their help, too,” Anderson said. “In the summer when we’re busy, it’s more of a challenge to fit our work with Habitat in. But we always have enough people who want to do it.”

You can listen to the electricians hard at work here:

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Minnesota Nice on Minnesota Ice

Residents of Minnesota don’t fear winter. They embrace it. Such was the case on Saturday, Jan. 19, when 100 kids joined their parents to go fishing on Coon Lake as part of the Take Kids Ice Fishing Day, sponsored by local Building Trades unions and co-hosted by the nonprofit Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) Local 9. It was the first event of its kind by the Alliance, an organization whose mission statement reads simply “to unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage.”

Braving the frigid temperatures of a Minnesota winter — temperatures ranged from -14° in the morning to a “high” of -2°in the afternoon — was a new one for the Alliance. They do many kids fishing events all over the country, usually in the summer. Unions have found that it’s a great way to get kids out and give back to the community.  “When we talked to Dave (Morin, President of IUEC Local 9) about an opportunity to do an event, he said, ‘What about an ice fishing event?’” said Rob Stroede, Conservation Manager at USA. “I told him, ‘If you can get the volunteers, we’ll do it.’”

They got the volunteers and the kids. “We had more interest in the event than we anticipated,” Stroede elaborated. “We set out to preregister 100 kids. We had more than 100 in the first two weeks of the registration period.”

“We had about 30 volunteers to help us do this,” said Morin. “They came from all different unions, too.” The union volunteers drilled holes in a ice (with an average thickness of 15 inches), set up the portable fishing tents (called hub houses), and did other duties to soothe frozen nerves. For many people, kids and adults alike, fishing was a new experience. Union volunteers were there to mentor them through baiting hooks to finding the right depth, all in the pursuit of having the experience of catching a fish for the first time. IUEC Local 9 invested $2,500 sponsoring the event, which included prizes and a pulled pork lunch for the participants.

“A lot of kids just had fun being out here, being outside. Whatever the weather is, they’ll make the best of it…at least for a little while. It’s an opportunity for families to be together, to bond and to be outdoors,” said Stroede.

According to Randy Bast, a second year NEIEP Instructor at IUEC Local 9, union hospitality extended to two families from the Fort Worth, Texas-area who were in Minnesota over the weekend for their kid’s hockey tournament. “They saw one of the flyers for our event in a restaurant somewhere, so they came out with their sons to try ice fishing,” he said.

So how was the fishing? As one mother put it, “The fishing was cold, but the entertainment value was high.” One of the young fishermen had a different insight: “I think the fish were sleeping.”

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Minnesota State Prevailing Wage Certifications 2018-2019

Happy New Year  – This is Our Annual Review of Minnesota State Prevailing Wage Basics 

  1. Each year new prevailing wage rates are certified by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (MnDLI).  These are the wages to be paid on state-funded construction projects.
  2. All project contracts for state-funded projects should include prevailing wage rates.
  3. Rates are divided up into three classes of construction: Highway/Heavy, Commercial (Building), and Residential Construction. Residential rates are not published online and need to be requested from MnDLI.
  4. Highway /Heavy and Commercial rates can be checked online by clicking here.
  5. Unlike Federal rates, state rates are broken down by 208 different labor codes.
  6. The prevailing wage rate is the most frequently reported wage in the survey for a labor code.
  7. If a prevailing wage rate is a union rate, it will escalate with changes to the CBA.
  8. All unions are notified by MnDLI in July of each year to submit their updated CBAs.
  9. The current published rates are based on wage surveys submitted for work between April 2, 2017 and June 1, 2018.
  10. Once rates are certified you have 30 days to identify and contact MnDLI with requests for corrections. Email requests are sufficient and can be sent to Karen.Bugar@state.mn.us .
  11. Stay current with all the prevailing wage updates and survey deadlines by subscribing to receive email notifications.  Click here to subscribe to notifications.


Highway/Heavy Wage Rates 2018 – 2019

On November 14, 2018 Highway/Heavy wage rates were newly certified.   Two things unique about Highway/Heavy rates are:

  1. These rates are set for each of Minnesota’s 10 regions.
  2. The minimum project size is $25,000.

There were 19,656 employees reported for the 2018 survey as compared to 19,009 the previous year. The certified rates are based on the most frequently reported wage rates by region. These rates are usually published in late October or November and take effect until the next survey is collected and analyzed and new rates certified the following October or November.

Commercial Wage Rates 2018 – 2019

On December 17, 2018 Commercial wage rates were newly certified. These are certified by county and project size must be at least $2,500. These rates are generally certified in December and stay in effect until the next certification the following December.

This year there were 60,274 employees reported state-wide as compared to 56,023 the previous year.

Summary

  • It’s important to submit surveys in order to get an accurate picture of what is paid in each county or region for each labor code.
  • All interested parties should be familiar with the current wage rates and how to find them.
  • Check our website at fcfmn.org and go to Resources to find many useful Minnesota construction-related websites, including those related to prevailing wage.
  • Call Adam or Gary at 651-797-2726 if you have questions.
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Twin Cities IBEW EWMC Gives Back, 2018

Giving is the hallmark of the Christmas/Holiday Season. Union people don’t wait until Christmas to help their communities though; they do it year-round.

A case in point was the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) International Day of Service 2018 this November. A group of electricians representing the the IBEW’s Electrical Workers Minority Caucus (EWMC) took time on a Sat., Nov. 17, to help out two groups in the Twin Cities.

IBEW Local 110’s Mike Roberts, President of the group’s minority caucus in St. Paul, joined with fellow workers at Conway to not only fix the fixtures but do some painting as well. “I have been blessed. So, for me personally, I think I should give help others out,” Roberts said. Added Chico Marino, the Vice Chair of the Minority Caucus in St. Paul, “The IBEW’s Minority Caucus has been around for 45 years. It’s been a great way for us to become part of the communities where we live.”

In Minneapolis Local 292 installed brand new LED lighting in Little Earth’s gymnasium. “We picked Little Earth because we want to get a recruiting foothold in the Native American community by showing our support for them. We hope we can show them a profitable lifestyle in the trades as a profession is achievable for them,” explained JaCory Shipp, President of Local 292 Minority Caucus. 

“They fixed our gym, which is also our community room. It is the heart of our community at Little Earth. We play basketball in there, hold our Christmas parties in there — everything!” Jolene Jones, President of the Little Earth Residents Association, said. “We needed new lighting in there for a long time. Now, thanks to them, we’ve got it!”

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Tribal Nations & Minnesota Building Trades Partner to Develop Apprenticeship Readiness

Over the last year, six Tribal Nations and the Minnesota Building Trades have piloted a new apprenticeship readiness program to prepare tribal members to enter the union construction industry. The first class of 15 students graduated on June 15, 2018 and many have already been accepted into full-fledged apprenticeship programs.

This 12-week course introduces students to the work of 11 different construction trades, including carpentry, sheet metal, electrical, general construction labor, plumbing & pipefitting, roofing, masonry, bricklaying, heavy equipment operation, and ironwork. Students welcomed the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with multiple crafts, allowing them to explore and find the trade best suited to their interests.

The program also incorporated tribal customs and cultural learning appropriate for the tribes involved, which included: the White Earth, Leech Lake, Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, and Mille Lacs Annishinabe reservations and the Upper Sioux Dakota community. The program hired to Five Skies, LLC out of Black RiverFalls, Wisconsin, to serve the role of understanding each tribal partner’s needs.

Other partners include the Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development, which provided grant funding, private contractor donations, and in-kind donations from the Building Trades unions.

While this first class was a pilot program, everyone involved is optimistic about the future of the program.  Click here to read more about this program.

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A Concrete Christmas at the Local 633 Apprenticeship School

New Brighton, Minn. (Dec. 1, 2018) — It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas — especially at the Local 633 JATC (Joint Apprenticeship Training Center) where future cement masons and plasterers are honing their skills in New Brighton. For the seventh consecutive year, the apprentices of Cement Masons, Plasterers & Shophands Local 633 have built a Christmas exhibit replicating areas of a small city in their warehouse-sized work area . Last year’s exhibit featured an ice skating rink and a gigantic statue of the Stanley Cup in one corner along with a replica of the Vince Lombardi Trophy in the other to salute Super Bowl LII — all done with colored concrete. This year’s exhibit features a small house built by the plasterers of Local 265, a mini golf course and a roundabout built by the cements masons of Local 633. All of the structures are tinted and toned with the colors and shades of the Holiday Season.

Not only does the exhibit show the artistic nature of what can be done with concrete and plaster, but it has an educational function as well. The apprentices get practical hands on training by doing it. “We are trying to replicate everything MnDOT will prescribe as paving work you’d see in the metro area such as the four types of curbs — B curb, D curb, S curb and V curb — plus the water drains. This year we decided to put a golf putting green in the B curb!” explained Brian Farmer, Apprenticeship Coordinator of Local 633 Journeyman and Apprentice JATC Training Center. “Everything we are doing here has a real world application.”

The exhibit will be open to the public for two days, Monday Dec. 3 and Tuesday Dec. 4, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Anyone who wants to come is asked to bring or drop-off a non-perishable food item (such as canned soup and vegetables, pasta, etc.) for Food Group, a local food shelf, from New Hope.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE RELATED VIDEO

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Ironworkers and the Bentleyville Christmas Tree

Volunteer Ironworkers from Local 512 Set Up Bentleyville Christmas Tree in Duluth

On Saturday, October 13, 2018, volunteers from Iron Workers Local 512 participated in setting up the iron frame for the 128-foot tall Bentleyville Christmas tree in Duluth’s Bayfront Festival Park. Since 2010, volunteers from Local 512 have erected and taken down the massive Christmas tree – the dazzling centerpiece of the Bentleyville “Tour of Lights” holiday event.

The Christmas tree is not only assembled by volunteers from Local 512 – a process that involves moving three separate forty-foot long sections a quarter of a mile to Bayfront Park – it was also fabricated by volunteers from Local 512. In August of 2010, Nathan Bentley, Founder and Executive Director of Bentleyville, asked members of Local 512 if they could help in crafting an iron-framed Christmas tree for Bentleyville. “We were initially told that the tree would be only 12 feet high,” said Brian Nelson, Apprentice Coordinator for Iron Workers #512 JAC. Soon thereafter, however, Local 512 learned that the tree would actually be ten times taller and would need to be completed by mid-October in order to be installed on time. Despite this tall order, Apprentices, Journeymen, and Retirees all came together to work on the fabrication of the tree. By mid-October of 2010 the large iron structure was completed, installed, and ready to awe visitors.

Since 2010, over 100 members of Local 512 have volunteered in helping to set up and take down the temporary Christmas tree. “Every year, as early as June or July, we get a lot of members asking about the tree and wanting to be a part of the team that sets it up and takes it down,” said Nelson. The spirit of volunteerism, generosity, and community engagement at Local 512, however, extends all year-round beyond just the holiday season. “We have built bike racks for the city of Superior; canoe and kayak racks for Duluth and Superior – we’re always doing as much volunteer work as we can,” said Nelson. With the installation of this year’s Bentleyville Christmas tree already complete, members of Local 512 have shown yet again their commitment to community service.

This year’s 15th Annual Bentleyville “Tour of Lights” event runs from November 17th until December 26th at Duluth’s Bayfront Festival Park. For event information, including hours of operation and parking, visit www.bentleyvilleusa.org.

Use the gallery below to view pictures of the Bentleyville tree being setup.

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An Examination of Minnesota’s Prevailing Wage Law

This is a prevailing wage study completed in May 2018 that examines the effects of Minnesota’s Prevailing Wage Law on costs, training, and economic development.  The study was authored by Frank Manzo IV, M.P.P. from the Midwest Economic Policy Institute and Kevin Duncan, Ph.D, BCG Economics, LLC and Professor of Economics, Colorado State University-Pueblo

Click here to read the complete study.

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