Roughly 3,000 delegates and guests gathered at the Washington Hilton April 19-22 for the 60th annual North America’s Building Trades Unions Legislative Conference to advocate for good jobs and reinvestment in American infrastructure.
The delegates included more than 50 from local unions of the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council.
National Building Trades President Sean McGarvey encouraged leaders in his keynote speech to create “Building Trades majorities at all levels of government.
“We can still be solid and proud trade union leaders even when we are working both sides of the political aisle,” McGarvey said.
At the annual State Building and Construction Trades Council lunch held every year in Washington, President Robbie Hunter said that now is the time for action in California. “Over the next four years we can move big things in this state,” Hunter said.
“We have an absolutely brilliant governor in Jerry Brown. And when the Building Trades and the people in this room get legislation to him, with the support of the people we’ve gotten to Sacramento, he will give us a fair shake. But he will say, ‘Explain to me what this does to help working people. Explain to me what this will do to help the economy.’”
Create Good Local Jobs
Hunter praised the efforts of more than 100 union representatives at the lunch. “The individual Trades that get involved in city councils, who support and find good people. The school boards. Those who show up to county boards of supervisors and put good elected officials into Sacramento, that have been making political donations and walking the precincts. And above all, the Trades that worked hard for Governor Brown’s re-election.”
Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building Trades Council Executive Secretary Ron Miller said the Building Trades system works. “We want to bring people together, to create good local jobs through Project Labor Agreements,” Miller said. “And we share plenty with the Republican side of the aisle. Our members for the most part work for private contractors, and due to the skill level and training they bring, that helps make our contractors competitive, while they pay good wages and benefits.”
On April 22, Building Trades union leaders joined Miller to meet members of Congress and stress Building Trades goals.
Seeing the Trades in a New Light
Cement Masons Local 500 Business Manager Jaime Barton said that investing in apprenticeship is patriotic. “In the big scheme, we as Americans need to come together shoulder-to-shoulder and create solutions to the problems that impact us all. I know what apprenticeships have done for me, for my family and others, so I can sit down and have a conversation, and when I’m done, they’ll at least view the Trades in a new light.”
U.S. Congressman Xavier Becerra also spoke at the State Building Trades lunch. “We’ve got to make sure that everyone who works hard receives a prevailing wage for the efforts they’ve given, for the training they’ve gotten. That’s why Project Labor Agreements are so important.”
Loretta Sanchez, Representative from the 46th District in Orange County and Congresswoman since 1997, said she is proud of her union heritage. “I’m on labor’s side,” she said.
North America’s Building Trades Unions is an alliance of 14 Trades that collectively represent more than 3 million skilled craftsmen and women in the U.S. and Canada.
Attendees heard from prominent elected officials, business leaders and Trades partners. They took part in policy panels, walked an expo hall filled with union-related businesses and lobbied Capitol Hill for Building Trades priorities.
The union-staffed Hilton has hosted the conference yearly since opening in 1965 and just mounted a plaque to commemorate that relationship. The storied hotel is currently adding a new wing, so this year’s conference was also an active union construction site.