Volume 47, Issue 2 - February 2012

Issue@Hand
deb@glass.com; twitter:@keycomm

There aren’t many groups today that can boast a 50-percent increase in meeting attendance since last year. But then again, the annual North American Iron Workers/IMPACT (Ironworker Management Progressive Action Cooperative Trust) Labor Management Conference isn’t just any meeting and the ironworkers aren’t just any group of Vegas conventioneers.

One look at the conference agenda, and a visit to the first few sessions and it was evident how education and advancement of both the trade and those who practice it was a top level goal.

The three day event, held January 29-31 at the Paris Hotel in Vegas attracted 740 participants (up from approximately 500 the year before) including ironworkers and the contractors for whom they work.

Sunday’s activities included a visit to the Ironworker Training Facility shared by Las Vegas Locals 416 (Rebar) and 433 (Structural and Miscellaneous Metal) and a small trade show that highlighted the products and services the union had to offer. Chief among these was education.

“Many of the things IMPACT does are geared around education,” said Walter Wise, general president of the Ironworkers International. “To have us together with our signatory contractors is an outstanding learning opportunity for everyone.”

The opening session on Monday, January 30, began with the national anthem sung by Gary Russo, the signing ironworker. Russo has expanded from singer to author, debuting his book, Don’t Die With Your Song Unsung, and was a great favorite with the crowd.

Monday morning’s session included an educational update and the introduction of IMPACT’s new training director, Lee Worley. “The tools we used for training in the past have evolved,” he said. According to Worley, today’s training includes slide presentations, videos,

Monday morning’s session included an educational update and the introduction of IMPACT’s new training director, Lee Worley. “The tools we used for training in the past have evolved,” he said. According to Worley, today’s training includes slide presentations, videos, drawings, Internet links and much more.

“In the ‘old days’ you would learn the trade from apprenticeship manuals. Today, you learn electronically—and we can help track how that training is going electronically as well,” Worley said. Worley said that using programs such as “virtual jobsite” will help train more people better than ever before.

Worley was followed by veteran political reporter and columnist Charlie Cook who gave his take on the likely outcome of the 2012 Presidential election.

Shifts in perception were also discussed; attendees were asked about shifts in their region in attitudes toward union construction. Thirty-nine percent said they see no real change; 26 percent said things are a little better and 29 percent of those voting in the survey said things are a little worse.

Walter Bazan of the American Subcontractors Association (ASA) got one of the biggest rounds of applause when he called for an end to retention on jobs. ASA has been fighting the retainage issue for more than 20 years. Bazan and Wise also announced a new, closer working relationship between the union and the association and put a joint agreement detailing such in place.

General secretary Eric Dean gave an update to the membership during lunch. He emphasized newer Internet communication methods. “Social media is going to be very important to us in the future ... and for those [local business agents] that can’t or won’t get on board, we will find a way around that, but it is here to stay,” he said.

Dean also talked about the group’s efforts to collect and use better historical data when fighting jurisdictional disputes. “We were getting our tails kicked on jurisdictional disputes,” said Dean. “We were failing miserably in court. Our precedents and evidence were old. But we have worked hard to collect historical data and to track it across locals. We are starting to see things change.”

Dean also explained a series of key performance indicators (KPIs) that are kept for each local. In an impressive display of statistics, he showed historical data for each KPI that allowed it to measure success on an any basis as well. Two KPI awards were presented, one to Local 12 in Albany, N.Y., and the other to Local 700 in Windsor, Ontario.

2012 was also the year of the iPad for IMPACT Conference. The group gave away four at lunch and included a session on the basis of understanding iPads, iPhones and their applications as one of the afternoon break-outs.

By far the most interesting break-out for attendees in the glass industry was the one entitled “Transparency in the Glass Industry,” given by veteran USGlass magazine columnist Lyle R. Hill, managing director of Keytech North America.

It was billed as a no-holds barred session that told ironworkers the real pain issues between them and glazing subcontractors, and it did not disappoint.

Hill enumerated the frustrations of the glazing contractor—from workers who quit work early, to those companies that cheat on hours and employees. And he didn’t stop there.

“In my 40 years in business, I never had a worker involved in an accident who tested positive for drugs. But I have seen at least five serious accidents, two in which pedestrians were hurt, where alcohol was involved. We do a lot of drug testing, but isn’t our bigger problem alcohol? Shouldn’t something be done about that?” Hill asked the group as a number of heads bobbed in agreement.

Sessions also included a number of Town Hall meetings and topics such as “What the Hell is BIM?” with optional sessions as well.

The IMPACT will be back in at the Paris Hotel next year.

-Deb


USG
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