DIVERSITY – Our Greatest Strength!

Brothers & Sisters in the Building Trades,

We had not planned on addressing racial issues in the upcoming issue of Union Builder however with the recent incident that took place at the high profile FC Cincinnati job site as well as the opportunity for all of us to learn from it and grow as one human race; we feel it is absolutely mandatory that we do.

For those of you who have not heard, there were multiple incidents at the jobsite that included at the very least defacing property in one instance as well as the use of racist language in another incident that is unacceptable anywhere and especially on any jobsite. We could argue all day long whether the intent of these incidents were racially motivated or if the incidents were just insensitive in their intent but the fact of the matter is that we need to understand that if our words or actions cause another person to feel belittled, threatened or uncomfortable then we need to check ourselves.

The FC Cincinnati job site is one of the few jobs in recent memory that we were successful in securing a community benefits agreement on. The community benefit agreement allowed for an almost entirely union built project, over 70% so far as well as an opportunity for the labor community to show why working union is the best avenue to the middle class for all working men and women and their families. Incidents such as those that took place do nothing but cast a negative light on the entire unionized construction industry regardless of which trade was at fault. Racism in any form, whether it is overt, covert, implied or otherwise will never be acceptable and we as the building trades need to be the conduit for its eradication once and for all.

Several Building Trades leaders including Bill Froehle (392), Rick Fischer (212), Larry Thompson (265), Dave Baker (44), Brian Wear (18) and Jeff King (18) met with Turner Construction Vice President Dave Spaulding to discuss the FC Cincinnati jobsite and Turners policies moving forward on their jobsites nationwide.

Turner Construction has made it crystal clear that any defacing of property on their jobsites will result in craft workers being banned from all Turner jobsites up to and including possible lifetime bans depending on the infraction. For those of you who enjoy being porta-let poets we want you to understand that it will not be tolerated as well. In many areas of the country workers are required to sign in prior to using the “facilities” and there is a monitor who disinfects the area after each use (Covid-19). If there is graffiti found the worker who caused the damage is removed from the jobsite. Turner does not want to implement monitors here locally however they do not want to deal with childish behavior and criminal damaging either. We would venture to say that every construction manager and contractor we work for would echo this sentiment as well.

As leaders in the Building Trades we are asking each and every member to take an active part in creating an environment on every job site that allows for every worker to be free from harassment of any kind. Our forefathers and foremothers gave us all of the tools and the intellect to be able to do this and just like the physical tools of the trade that we use every day the proper care and respect of those tools will determine our success. We are all proud construction workers in our respective trades and the examples we set today will be emulated by the men and women who pick up the “tools of the trades “tomorrow.

If not us, who? If not now, when?

As leaders of the Building Trades we are asking all of our members, including us to do their part.

In Solidarity,

The Greater Cincinnati Building Trades

Executive Secretary

Frederick E. Lampe

President

Mark Hamant

Vice President

Terry Burke

Financial Secretary

Brian Wear

Trustee

Justin Phillips

Trustee

Jarrod Tiemeier

Trustee

Jason Parr

Conductor

Rick Fischer

Sergeant-At-Arms

Rodney Toole

A Rising River…

Diversity has been an issue for the labor movement since its earliest days. Yes, perhaps in our history, Labor may have reflected certain unfortunate trends that were pervasive in the society as a whole, but more recently the labor movement is a unifying voice for equality, social justice and bringing diverse people together in common cause. Unions provide a forum for people of all communities to have a stronger, more unified voice — to help bring about positive change.

The American workforce overall is becoming increasingly diverse, and here in Greater Cincinnati, we’re no different. We recognize that it is more important than ever that labor not just be more inclusive, but be leaders in diversity and inclusion — for our good and the good of all working families. A diverse and inclusive labor movement is essential to connecting with and representing the workforce of the future, where women workers, workers of color, LGBT workers are not only our future but soon to be the majority.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020, the traditional white worker force will make up a decreasing percentage of the overall workforce while African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans are an increasing share. In addition, Women, who made up 48% of the workforce in 2012, will have a greater rate of growth than their male colleagues.

Thanks to research from the Pew Research Center, we know that this growing diversity in the overall workforce equates to positives gains for Labor in groups that are (1) more likely to hold a positive view of organized labor and are (2) more likely to become union members based on

  • African Americans, currently 11.7% of the workforce, constitute 14% of union membership nationally, and 69% of African Americans overall hold a very positive view toward unions compared with 51% for the population as a whole, making them nearly 20% more likely to join unions.
  • As with African Americans, Latinos hold a very positive view of unions, with 58% of Latinos expressing a positive view and they represent 14% of union members, up from 6% in 1983.
  • Due to a steady and significant growth in women membership in unions, 45% of union members are women, compared with 33% just 30 years ago. The Pew research found that women, too, hold positive views of unions (55% positive), making for even greater growth in that segment of the labor movement.
  • Finally, while still the lowest overall at 4.2%, over 60% of people under 30 years of age have very positive views of unions.

Current and ongoing efforts by unions to address issues of diversity, both in their roles as workplace representatives as well as within the structure and culture of their own organizations, reflect the best traditions of the past, illustrate an exciting and exhilarating willingness by many today to value, and respect the diversity of their memberships. It is Labor’s strength through numbers that leads the way with its position that fair  wages, seniority, due process and other negotiated provisions of employment apply equally to all represented members, and not just a small but powerful few. Labor is leading the way in the active pursuit of building stronger community ties across historical divides. Labor Unions are value-based organizations that believe deeply in worker dignity, safety, respect, fairness and ensuring that worker’ voices are at the table and part of decision-making. As we say, “Stronger Together!” Now we are walking the talk, and we are indeed stronger together.

Yours in Solidarity!

Bill Froehle, President

Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council