The New New York Bridge, Part 1
By Steve Perez, LMCT Coordinator
Currently there are approximately 200 reinforcing ironworkers (hundreds of thousands man-hours) working on the New New York Bridge which is the replacement for the Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge. They are a composite crew comprised of Local 46 and Local 417 (Newburgh) members, with each of the locals supplying half the manpower. All of them receive Local 46 wages and fringes, as it is the higher of the two. None of this would have been possible if it were not for the signing of a project labor agreement (PLA) before the start of construction in October 2013.
From the beginning, one of the chief goals of this project (in addition to replacing a prime example of crumbling infrastructure) was to create jobs in upstate New York. Unfortunately, the New York State Thruway Authority had plans to use nonunion workers from Schenectady and Buffalo to bend and fabricate all the rebar necessary to build the bridge. That option was totally unacceptable to our elected officials at Local 46, so they devised a strategy to make sure all the work was done by union labor.
The first step was to assemble a team of respected and powerful labor leaders. Among them were Walter Wise, General President of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers, James Cahill, President of the New York State Building Trades and Edward Doyle, President of the Westchester Building Trades. Then, working in conjunction with them, Business Manager, Terry Moore and Business Agent, John Coffey continued to apply pressure to the NYS Thruway Authority. In addition, Political Action Director, John Skinner worked tirelessly to rally local politicians and garner their support for our campaign.
The culmination of these concerted efforts, spearheaded by Local 46, was a series of negotiations and finally a meeting with Governor Andrew Cuomo. The Governor, when faced with the firm resolve and united front for which the building trades are famous, agreed to a PLA in which Locals 46 & 417 would bend, fabricate and install all rebar on the bridge.
The campaign to win and keep all the work associated with this project union is a prime example of what we in the labor movement can accomplish when we stick together. Everyone, from the president of our International, to the apprentices on the bridge, have rolled up their sleeves to get this job done, and to make the building of the New New York Bridge a successful and profitable endeavor.
We will post Part Two of this series the week of November 9th, 2015. In the meantime, go HERE to see a slideshow of our members hard at work. Pictures by Steve Perez.
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- On October 31, 2015
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