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Construction industry leaders tackle big issues at "State of the Union"

December 4 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than 120 construction industry leaders, from 22 states, gathered for the “State of the Union… Construction Industry 2008” on Dec. 3.

“Significant national economic challenges and industry hurdles promise to test our resilience next year,” TAUC CEO Steve Lindauer said. “TAUC’s State of the Union gives union contractors the tools they need to weather the coming economic storm together.”

Government regulation, safety standards, effects of the economy on the industry and resolving intra-industry conflict were topics discussed openly among industrial owners, union contractors and labor representatives, reflecting a tripartite determination to enhance and advance union construction.

Noah Connell, acting director of OSHA’s construction directorate, explained the agency’s proposed crane and derricks rule, which is currently open for public comment.

Randy DeFrehn, executive director of the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans, advised contractors on the effects of the current national economy on pension plans.

William Margaretta, president of the New Jersey State Safety Council, explained how the true cost of accidents often far exceeds internal estimates, because there are a number of cost factors that are often overlooked.

John McNerney, director of government relations for the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, presented a legislative affairs update to TAUC members.

Three contractors served on a panel discussion, “Can We TAUC Back?,” addressing the issue of jurisdiction. Al Black, vice president and chief executive officer of Construction & Turnaround Services, Gary Bohn, operations manager of Kiewit Industrial Company, and Nicholas Theisen, director of labor relations at LG Constructors, Inc., each expressed frustration over costly jurisdictional disputes among the building trades, indicating they remain problematic for contractors at the local level.

Building and Construction Trades Department President Mark Ayers addressed the forum with a call to action, urging the union construction industry serve society by being a “vivid example of excellence.”

“State of the Union… Construction Industry 2008” was held at the Washington Court Hotel, a union-staffed establishment, in Washington, D.C.

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