After 11 long months of testimony, e-mails, phone calls, letters and meetings, the Santa Fe City Council voted to repeal the Community Workforce Agreement (CWA) Ordinance, which was passed in February 2012.
The CWA would have required any company bidding a project more than $500,000 in the city of Santa Fe to sign a collective bargaining agreement and essentially become unionized for the duration of the project. Objections came strong and steady from the construction industry (less than 6 percent of the construction industry in New Mexico is currently unionized).
Advocates of the CWA promised higher wages, a safer workplace, on-time projects and training. However, testimony throughout this 11-month process proved that these allocations are not reserved for union companies alone.
Opponents, including NUCA of NM, argued that both union and non-union construction companies must pay prevailing wages, adhere to strict safety standards, and penalties may be assessed for projects that exceed time expectations outside of agreed upon change orders.
Santa Fe Mayor David Coss weighed in on the issue in a late February editorial in the Santa Fe New Mexican: “With respect to the stated intentions of the CWA [bringing projects in on time and on budget, providing worker safety and ensuring prevailing wage payment], no evidence was presented that the city of Santa Fe previously failed to meet these goals.”
The taxpayers would have lost out too if this ordinance had not been repealed since the Santa Fe Economic Development Department estimated that the CWA would have cost an additional $3 to $5 million in its first few years alone. There were no projects run under the CWA and no projects will be subject to it either. The repeal ordinance vote passed with a 5-3 vote after hours of public testimony.
“The continuing and relentless effort put forth by NUCA of NM members to oppose the use of Community Workforce Agreements on Public Works Projects, while at the same time educating the community and city councilors about the effects to their city, workforce and budget were the undeniable influential components that led to the full repeal of this city ordinance,” said NUCA of NM Executive Director Jane Jernigan.
“A job well done!”
A Big Thank You!
Over the course of 11 months, many NUCA of New Mexico members came out in force to oppose the ordinance — writing letters, sending e-mails and making phone calls. But there were quite a few NUCA of NM members who attended the meetings and testified during public comment. The association extends many thanks for everyone who weighed in on this effort. A special thank you goes out to the companies and their representatives who testified and stood up for the industry, their companies and NUCA of NM!
Kari Biernacki, AUI Inc.
Steve Moore, RMCI Inc.
Rex Davis, RMCI Inc.
Clay Blair, RMCI Inc.
Dale Armstrong, TLC Plumbing & Utility
Matt Lehman, TLC Plumbing & Utility
Burr Dickinson, TLC Plumbing & Utility
End of Hoe-Pac Ban In Sight, NUCA PA Hopes
The expression “nothing good ever comes easy,” comes to mind when NUCA PA Executive Director Brenda Reigle talks about the ongoing battle the association has been fighting with PennDOT since it banned the use of hoe-pac attachments in 2009. However, thanks to the diligence and determination of Reigle and several key contractor members, NUCA PA is finally seeing the issue move in the right direction.
On March 7, a contingency of NUCA PA members met with PennDOT Deputy Secretary Scott Christie, as well as representatives from municipalities, manufacturers and utility companies to discuss the hoe-pac ban. After a lengthy discussion, the group agreed that NUCA PA and PennDOT would participate in a pilot program/study to develop standards for using hoe-pacs in Highway Occupancy Areas. The group agreed that PennDOT would give final approval to the standards.
NUCA PA is working on the specifications that will be used during the study and hopes to start the study this month, once both parties agree to the study parameters. Although it has been a long process, NUCA PA is finally seeing some progress in removing the PennDOT hoe-pac ban.
Attention NUCA Members:
Has your chapter been involved in an event or activity that makes you proud and want to share it with other industry leaders? Then, let us hear about it! We know you do a lot for your community and the underground utility industry as a whole. From fundraisers and volunteering to educational scholarships and employee certifications, weíd like to share your story in the pages of Utility Contractor.
Send the topic and your chapter name to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703.358.9300. Voice your pride in what your association does. Itís important, and other industry leaders should know about it.