Several dates are approaching that have special meaning for BAC members and their families.
On Labor Day (Labour Day in Canada), BAC- and union-sponsored events pay tribute to those who struggled and fought for the rights we enjoy today – joining a union, and the all-important right to bargain collectively for fair wages, decent benefits and safe working conditions. This issue of the Journal celebrates those rights and the many ways they impact our lives. We see it in the faces of the proud members featured in “Local Compass” (page 18) as they are honored for their Union service – some for more than seven decades. We see it in the article on U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis’ salute to a century of apprenticeship and training programs (page 8) and our own outstanding BAC/IMI system, the lifeblood of our Union, which is sustained through collective bargaining.
For those who have lost patience with hyper-partisan legislators that have held our jobs and our economy hostage, maybe it takes imagining an environment without any bargaining rights to more fully appreciate what we have, and the elected officials who share our commitment to those rights. In his editorial, “IMAGINE” (page 14), Local 3 MA/ME/NH/RI President Chuck Raso walks us through a world devoid of collective bargaining, and it’s not pretty. Having fought for, and won these rights is an incredible achievement. But our work is far from over. Defending them through the choices we make on Election Day is one of the most significant actions any union member can take.
Equally important is protecting the gains we’ve achieved at the bargaining table. We saw that in the courage and solidarity of Local 1 Missouri Business Manager Don Brown, his fellow officers and the Local 1 bricklayers, stonemasons and pointers-cleaners-caulkers, whose 50-day strike finally ended on July 21st. Refusing to cave in to contractor demands that attempted to use the economic downturn to exact untenable concessions in wages, safety provisions and the integrity of the eight-hour day, Local 1 stood strong, continued to negotiate in good faith and after compromises by both sides, members have a new contract that honors rather than erodes past advancements. [For more details, visit the IU’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/IUBAC.]
Fortunately, such impasses are the exception, and the prevailing labor-management climate in the BAC trades remains generally positive. We see this in the collaboration of BAC signatory contractors and Local/ADC leaders serving on BAC’s six Craft Committees (page 5). Their recent discussions on craft-specific safety issues and potential areas for further safety research will help ensure safer jobsites for BAC members.
This September will also mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a time to remember and reflect on the thousands of innocent people who died, including scores of first responders – many of them union members – who rushed into the Towers to save others. In addition, the observance will call to mind the legions of workers who helped in the recovery and clean-up effort, at considerable peril to their own health, and of course, the men and women of our Armed Services who are willing to sacrifice all to defend our freedom.
BAC members, American and Canadian, are fortunate to live in free societies. We are fortunate to have the right to join a union and bargain collectively. Such freedoms bear responsibilities but they are worth remembering and defending not just on special holidays or anniversaries, but every day.
We encourage you to share a special story about a job you worked on or what being a BAC member means to you or to your family. Be sure to include a photograph. Please send by mail or email to:
620 F Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20004