Giving Workers the Recognition They Deserve
Arizona State Building & Construction Trades Council
This time last year, the building and construction trade unions were determining the best ways to keep our members safe and healthy during the start of a global pandemic, while upholding our responsibilities and commitments as an essential workforce. We did what we always do when faced with a challenge. We paused, assessed, created a plan, adjusted, and moved forward. Some projects were delayed or cancelled, and others have continued on schedule, largely due to the professionalism our members bring to every job site every day. While manhours decreased in the second half of 2020, I am happy to report that most of the AZBTC affiliate organizations are seeing an uptick in demand as delayed and new projects break ground. Many factors are at play such as the availability of effective COVID-19 vaccines, the incentives offered to businesses looking to expand operations in Arizona, and the investments in infrastructure and public projects by local, state and federal governments.
Today, we’re also seeing renewed respect for workers, especially essential workers, with calls for better pay and benefits, and safer working conditions. The federal Davis-Bacon Act requires that all workers – union and nonunion – be paid prevailing wages on federally funded projects. These wage protections ensure that not only are workers paid a wage that reflects their training, skills and experience, but also that the same wage is paid to workers who are doing the same job in the same geographic location. They also prevent contractors from underbidding on projects by artificially depressing wages, hiring unskilled workers, and producing shoddy construction which ends up costing taxpayers more in the end. The federal COVID relief and stimulus bills, and the potential infrastructure bill being drafted in Congress, will spur investments in federal public projects which means quality, prevailing wage jobs for our members. These projects are vital to Arizona’s economic recovery and serve to boost the middle class and working families who have suffered during the pandemic. Our national counterparts in the North American Building Trades Unions are working with elected officials and policy advisors to ensure that labor standards, including safety and prevailing wage standards, are incorporated into future legislation to protect workers and ensure accountability to taxpayers.
AZBTC affiliates and members know that prevailing wage policy is good for workers, taxpayers and the community. I ask that you join our brothers and sisters in Arizona and across the country and support efforts to strengthen and expand prevailing wage laws because Arizona workers have earned it and deserve it.