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Regional Update
Laborers’ Increase Market Share In Residential Building

Residential construction accounts for about one-half of all construction dollars spent. Currently there are about 1 million construction laborers in the United States working on residential construction, which is almost entirely non-union, meaning abuses are rampant—from underpaying workers to flagrant safety violations. It’s in front of that backdrop that Laborers’ Local 477, with help from Illinois LECET, is embarking on a plan to build homes in central Illinois that are not only union built, but are also affordable to union members.

Working in conjunction with the Carpenters, Operating Engineers and Teamsters Locals in the Springfield area, ground has been broken on the first project, a 33-home “green” subdivision in Chatham called Spruce Estates. The unions are also offering the incentive of a mortgage-rate buy-down of up to one-half percent that should save buyers $25,000 to $30,000 on a home.

“You’re starting to see a lot of houses selling for $200,000 to $300,000, and there’s a lot of blue-collar working men and women having a hard time affording that,” said Local 477 Business Manager Brad Schaive. “We are putting people to work and going after a share of the residential construction market.”

Business partners in the endeavor include CXP Construction of Illinois and Aspen Real Estate.

New Highway 40/I-64 Project

Highway 40 in St. Louis City and County averages about 127,000 vehicles a year. Or at least it did until January 2 of this year, when employees of Gateway Constructors, a joint venture of highway contractors Millstone-Bangert, Fred Weber and Granite Construction closed down the highway.

The rebuilding of Highway 40 into what will become Interstate Highway 64 is the largest single dollar project ever undertaken by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), $535 million.

Dan Galvin, Public Information Manager for Gateway Constructors, explained that totally closing down the highway was the only way this project was going to get done in the timeframe and budget established by MoDOT. The construction workers and contractors don’t have to dodge traffic and develop traffic control plans since there are no vehicles on the road to contend with during the work. “Had MoDOT not shut down the highway completely,” said Galvin, “this project would have taken six years to complete this complex of work.”

Along with placing new pavement and adding a lane on the western portion of the project, Gateway Constructors is also tearing down and rebuilding 26 overpasses and bridges along the roadway. The access ramps on and off the roadway were one of the biggest bottlenecks to the flow of traffic on Highway 40/I-64. Those are all being reconfigured to increase the flow of traffic.

The major paving of the roadbed begins this summer. “When we begin to place concrete on the western section of roadway, we may get upwards of 300 to 400 feet of new concrete a day in place moving methodically down the deserted road,” said Galvin. This summer, he expects Gateway Constructors to have anywhere from 300 to 400 workers on the job site at any one time. Many of those workers will be Laborers from St. Louis Local 42.

“A skilled workforce is one of the keys to this project and any job this large,” said Dan Galvin. “These (St. Louis area) workers are quality workers. I am impressed with all the personnel on this job.”

Interstate 64 is scheduled to reopen December 31, 2009.

Indy’s Contractors Benefit From Infrastructure Investments, PLAs

Infrastructure is the good word in Indianapolis these days. With the construction of a new football stadium, a new state of the art airline terminal - and one of the largest parking garages in the country to service it - Indy’s contractors have been quite busy.

Lucas Oil Stadium, the new home of the Indianapolis Colts, is scheduled to open this year and features a retractable roof and a seating capacity of 65,000. At a cost of $700 million the stadium is being built under a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) and is part of a larger endeavor to stimulate central Indiana’s economy and move Indianapolis to the forefront of the nations’ convention and sports entertainment industries. Demolition of the Colts current home, the RCA Dome will make way for a $250 million expansion and upgrade of the Indianapolis Convention Center and an $80 million hotel complex.

Across the city to the southwest, in what used to be an empty field, a state-of–the-art 1.2 million square foot airline terminal is rising between Indianapolis Internationals’ two main runways. Also built under a PLA, the $500 million terminal is the heart of an entirely new airport, which has been in the works for decades and has included the building of a new air traffic control tower and the re-routing of I-70, both projects which employed many Union Laborers over the past few years.

Next to the new terminal, a new $150 million parking garage, one of the largest of it’s kind, is near completion. The 5-story garage will have enough space to park 5900 cars as well as 1200 rentals.

As Indianapolis transforms itself from one of the best-kept secrets in the Midwest to a world-class city, one thing is very clear, Indy’s civic leaders understand that using Project Labor Agreements ensures that their infrastructure is built by world-class labor – Union Labor.

Midwest Laborers’ Log Nearly 2 Million Pipeline Hours in 2007

As America’s energy demands increase, the need for efficient ways to move oil and natural gas across the country is expanding markets for Contractors and Trade Unions alike. With major projects such as the Rockies Express Pipeline (REX) winding it’s way across the Midwest, the demand for Laborers’ with pipeline experience has never been greater. According to the Laborers – Employers Benefit Plan Collection Trust (LEBPCT), total mainline pipeline man-hours processed in the Midwest Region for 2007 came in at just under 2 million.

The key to success is LIUNA’s continued commitment to training our members to meet the needs of our signatory contractors and the demands of the marketplace. Due to the changes in the National Pipeline Agreement, Laborers’ must have either 200 hours in the last 2 years or 400 hours in the last 4 years of pipeline work experience or have received training in the Laborers/AGC Pipeline Safety course to be eligible to be dispatched to a pipeline job.

One such project that LECET is tracking is the Keystone Pipeline, a 2,148 mile crude oil pipeline coming down from Canada. Approximately 1,379 miles of new pipeline will be constructed in the U.S., most of it traversing through South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas Oklahoma and Missouri. Keystone will have an initial capacity of 435,000 barrels a day from the Alberta oil fields to United State’s refineries in Wood River and Pataka, Illinois. Capacity will be expanded to 590,000 barrels per day in late 2010. A proposed 291 mile extension would take the pipeline to its southernmost hub in Cushing, Oklahoma. The cost of the pipeline is estimated at $1.7 Billion.

LIUNA Training Facilities, Local Union halls and most importantly our members across the Midwest Region are rising to the challenge. From Omaha to Evansville, record numbers of Laborers are signing up for courses to fulfill pipeline requirements. LIUNA members are ready to meet the demands of constructing new pipelines across the Midwest.