Posted on Dec 03, 2007
John M Grau
Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 . . .
My last post in this series on BRT/CURT takes us up to how the organization is influencing the construction industry today. The speaker who kicked off the CURT National Conference in November talked about a global industry in crisis. He listed the challenges facing the construction industry, a worldwide shortage of skilled workers chief among them. One solution he offered was that owners don’t bid projects until they are know that all resources are available – including manpower. That may sound nice on paper, but who decides which projects go first?
IBEW President Ed Hill and Building and Construction Trades President Mark Ayers followed this presentation. They used their time to discuss what the organized trades are doing to staff the owners’ projects. Ed talked about NECA/IBEW recruitment and organizing efforts and highlighted the Construction Wireman/Construction Electrician category as one way we are addressing the manpower shortage issue.
The union effort stood in sharp contrast to a presentation from the non-union side, which basically had nothing new to offer. Both sides readily admit that we have a lot of work to do.
The conference wasn’t all about manpower. The newly developed ConcensusDocs construction contracts have created a buzz, along with an effort by the architects group to promote the newly revise AIA pattern documents. Building Information Modeling (BIM) and its growing use on construction projects was also discussed. BIM is a topic that NECA is closely following, and one that we plan to be increasingly involved with.
While at this year’s meeting, I thought back to my uneasy attendance at BRT construction conferences in the late 1980’s. I feel that we’ve come a long way. The group’s outward animosity towards unions is gone. Unions recognize that they have to meet the owners’ needs. Owners recognize that contractor associations play an important role in advancing the whole industry.
It’s not a perfect relationship, by any means. But we’ve moved beyond re-hashing the past, and we’re working on what we need to do now and in the future. It’s a much healthier relationship, and one that will reap better rewards for all of us.