We’re All in This Together
I am more than a bit concerned that in little more than 90 days enforcement will begin on OSHA’s crystalline silica rule, one of the most sweeping regulations we have seen in decades. For its part, NUCA, as part of the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, filed suit opposing OSHA’s final rule because it is overly burdensome and infeasible for many construction companies. The attorneys continue to ask the Trump administration to delay enforcement.
My advice is to make sure your company is in compliance by June 23. If you need compliance information, members should go to www.nuca.com and listen to the webinar produced by the coalition’s attorneys. It has a lot of information you need to know.
The sweeping silica standard is just one of many issues that pose a continuing threat to our industry. We are facing a critical shortage of skilled workers. States all over the country, including my own, are re-working one-call laws that are often arbitrary, don’t address contractor concerns or costs and impose significant penalties on contractors regardless of liability. Not to mention, the Gold Shovel Standard “pay-to-play” requirements are outrageous and could eventually end up in court.
NUCA will not stand by and let these threats continue without a fight. Our new three-year strategic plan has workforce development as a top priority — including a NUCA University where contractors and their employees can learn the skills critical to keeping business profitable.
Our Workplace Development Task Force is exploring the many ways to increase skilled labor. We have established a One-Call Task Force charged with gathering and sharing new changes in state laws, developing and providing strategies to ensure contractors are heard on this issue and not forced to take all the liability.
The utility construction industry is under attack from every angle. We, as an industry, must unite and put up a ferocious fight to be sure we don’t get completely screwed. If you are not a NUCA member, join now. We need your help. The stronger we are, the more we can influence policy. We need those of you who are members to get involved and help. The issues I have laid out are not flies buzzing around your head you can swat away. They are alligators waiting to take you down when you least expect it.
In the words of one of our greatest presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, “Every man owes part of his time and money to the business or industry to which he is engaged. No man has a moral right to withhold his support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his sphere.”
While it may seem as if I think the sky is falling, several good things have happened in the last year. NUCA won an enormous class-action lawsuit against AT&T from which hundreds of our members were eligible for payouts. We saw the passage of the WIIN Act, which will free up significant money for water and wastewater infrastructure projects. NUCA’s membership continues to grow, as have our chapters — we have chartered NUCA of Eastern Washington & Northern Idaho, NUCA Texas and NUCA of the Greater Kansas City Region. We are targeting several areas of the country where interest is high, so stay tuned.
Internally, NUCA hired a new COO, Chris Barrett, who has been instrumental in taking the organization to the next level by improving efficiency and making the best use of our resources. She will continue to work to improve the quality of services NUCA provides to our chapters and members.
Looking ahead, I will step out of the Chairmanship but will continue to put significant time and energy into bringing trenchless contractors back to NUCA, giving them a forum to meet and determine what benefits and services NUCA can provide.
By the time you read this, Kara Habrock will be the new top dog at NUCA. Kara is a smart, no-nonsense woman who is clear on her vision and that of the leadership. I expect she will be an outstanding NUCA Chairperson.
I would like to personally thank the entire NUCA organization and membership who have been a constant source of support. It has been a pleasure to form new relationships across the country, some of which will likely last a lifetime. You have been an excellent reminder that my job as Chairman is to ensure NUCA is meeting the many needs of its members.