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Industry News

Six-Union MAC Group Formally Approves "Jurisdictional Warranty," Resolution Rules

Among its stated objectives, the MAC unions are committed to "marketing the skills of our crafts," "fostering cooperative efforts" among the affiliates, "maintaining craft unionism with common sense cooperative job practices," performing "quality work," and "maintaining a level of productivity" that results in completion of a project on or ahead of schedule and within budget.

MAC unions have pledged not to strike, picket, or interfere on any of its members job sites where the warranty has been implemented.

MAC affiliates said in the preamble to the new group's constitution that it is "in the interest of all concerned to eliminate the repugnant practice of double breasting by contractors. We must make double breasting an expensive, obsolete practice by improving the way we work with contractors and owners/clients."

MAC principals also decided to name Thomas Panconi as the group's executive director. Monthly dues for MAC affiliates are $5,000.

Hite Sees No Turning Back
"It's now down on paper in black and white and there's no turning back," said Bill Hite, president of MAC and the United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters. "We are serious about providing a framework that demonstrates to any customer our skilled craftsmen and women will complete their job on time, on or under budget, while providing a pleasant construction experience," Hite said.

The six MAC unions are: the United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters; the Sheet Metal Workers; the Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers; and the International Union of Elevator Constructors.

Resolving Work Assignment Disputes
Unions in MAC recognize that assignment of work is "the sole responsibility of the contractor that directly hires the craft workers" and is responsible for the work.

On each project using MAC procedures, the contractor will conduct a pre-job meeting to present intended work assignments.

If a contractor makes an assignment that is "contrary to an established local area assignment" that has been agreed to in writing by MAC local unions, the assignment will be changed to reflect local practice under certain conditions.

A disagreement over a work assignment may be submitted for resolution by Thomas Pagan, the MAC permanent arbitrator, who must schedule a hearing within three working days. Each party will have 30 minutes to make its case and 15 minutes for rebuttal. After the hearing is completed, there will be an opportunity for a mediated settlement lasting no more than two hours.

If mediation is unsuccessful, the will shall make a final and binding decision using the criteria under Article V, Section 8 of the national Plan for the Settlement of Jurisdictional Disputes. That decision must be in writing no more than three working days following completion of the hearing. There is no mention of a further appeal to the national plan although the six unions are stipulated to the national plan.

Resolving Work Stoppage Disputes
The new MAC procedures provide for particularly rapid resolution of an infraction of the no-strike provision of the warranty culminating in final and binding arbitration by Pagan. Once a contractor or owner covered by the MAC warranty invokes this process, a single hearing will be held within 24 hours. A verbal ruling will be issued within three hours after the hearing is completed. A written opinion may be issued within 15 days of the hearing but compliance with and enforcement of the ruling begins with the issuing of the verbal award, according to the MAC procedures.

If the arbitrator determines that a violation has occurred, the party found in violation must pay liquidated damages of $50,000 for each shift on which the craft has not returned to work.

An employee represented by the unions who is disciplined for an infraction of the warranty will be ineligible for rehire on the same MAC project for a period of not less than 90 days.

"Our MAC councils on the local level 'get it' where satisfying the customer is concerned, and we aim to make these types of problems a rarity," Hite said. "But if a dispute happens, we now have a mechanism in place to solve it quickly, hopefully away from the owner, and to move on.?

Industry Now Has Three Plans
With approval of the MAC plan, the construction industry now has three jurisdictional dispute settlement plans. Late last year, the National Construction Alliance approved a jurisdictional dispute settlement procedures that make no reference to the national plan.

The Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, has taken a hard line on the settlement of jurisdictional disputes, stating that it will not approve a project labor agreement that does not stipulate the parties to the national plan.

Jurisdiction has become the principle unresolved issue in negotiation of a project agreement to rebuild and upgrade the Hetch Hetchy water distribution system for the San Francisco Public Utility Commission. Basic trade unions in northern California and their international unions that are NCA members adamantly oppose stipulation to the national plan. The next bargaining session is scheduled for Jan. 31.

SF PUC commissioners have been told to expect a completed agreement for the project when they next meet on Feb. 13.

One negotiator in the Hetch Hetchy talks said the MAC procedures may provide an opportunity for breaking up the logjam over jurisdiction. "How can BCTD turn us down when their own people have done this?" he said. "We're going to play this to the hilt," he said of the MAC procedures.

 

02/13/2007