Ironworkers News Archive

2018  |  2019

The Power of Partnerships - (6/18/2019)

The workforce is the backbone of the construction industry and matching the right skills with the proper amount of manpower to a project can be stressful. In a recent webinar with Tad Hoffmaster, Project Manager for ENERFAB and IWEA-Central PA Chairman, and Kerry Zettlemoyer, Business Manager for Ironworkers Local 404, participants learned how strong partnerships between contractors and the union workforce help deliver success. 

The demand for a strong workforce in the construction industry is on the rise. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, eighty percent of contractors nationwide experience a difficult time obtaining the manpower needed for a given project. One way to overcome this problem is to rely on the strong relationships in place between the workforce and the contractors. Great examples of these successful partnerships are found in the union construction arena.

Communication is at the heart of a powerful partnership. This is where signatory contractors and the union workforce shine. Years of building business, and America, has resulted in several proven benefits regarding working together versus in separate silos. These relationships extend into how the workforce is trained; jobs are manned; and jobsites maintain a productive environment. Communication also allows for both the workforce and contractor to anticipate a need. 

Unions produce a highly-skilled, safety-trained workforce. Their apprenticeship programs ensure that knowledge and experience are passed from one generation to the next. In addition to teaching skills that create the highly-trained craftsmen, these programs are nimble enough to integrate new technologies and work processes found on today’s jobsites. Signatory contractors and unions work together to ensure new processes and safety measures are incorporated into apprenticeship programs. According to Hoffmaster, he maintains regular interactions with Local 404 to confirm what he sees on the job site is included in the training programs. This open dialogue improves the training of a ready-to-work, workforce so that it is both productive and efficient. 

Mobilization is another way these two entities work together for the overall success. Contractors will work directly with the hiring halls to obtain the right skills and the proper manpower to get the job done. Keeping lines of communications open with business agents helps with forecasting manhours, and in the event local manpower is spoken for, all trade unions, including Ironworkers Local 404, have an international network to source from. This network allows contractors to focus on the job and the union to focus on workforce. For instance, there are nearly 700 Ironworkers in Local 404’s jurisdiction; however, that figure expands to over 120,000 in North America. 

Having a solid business relationship produces a host of benefits. A highly-skilled workforce leads to completed projects with minimal-to-no lost time or compensable rates. These productive and efficient jobsites provide savings on workers’ compensation, downtime, and absentee costs to the contractors. Additionally, working with unions also removes any costs needed to administer benefit programs for workers and offers savings to the overall project by incorporating qualified apprentices within crews. 

A union workforce is a business partner for signatory contractors that delivers measurable success to owners. Click to hear the entire webinar featuring Hoffmaster and Zettlemoyer.

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