Region’s Union Building Trades Leaders Map Out Major Project Pipeline for 2024

STAFF REPORT – March 2024

TARRYTOWN—Attendees of the Hudson Valley Construction Industry Partnership convention late last month in Naples, FL attended a host of highly informative presentations and roundtable discussions on industry trends, safety and management initiatives, legislative priorities and economic and work flow prognostications.

One of the highlights of the convention that ran from Feb. 25-29 at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples, were presentations by leaders of the construction trades in the lower and mid-Hudson Valley regions. The key takeaway from the presentations by Jeff Loughlin, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Westchester and Putnam Counties (“Westchester-Putnam Building and Construction Trades Council”) and L. Todd Diorio, president of the Hudson Valley Building and Construction Trades Council, was that despite some economic headwinds, the pipeline of work in the region should keep the trades busy throughout this year.

The following are some of the highlights from Mr. Loughlin’s and Mr. Diorio’s presentations.

Westchester-Putnam Building and Construction Trades Council

Mr. Loughlin noted that in 2023 Building Trades President Eddie Doyle and Vice President Dario Boccarossa both retired from the Westchester -Putnam Building and Construction Trades Council. He noted that both men were pivotal in the Westchester Putnam labor movement and fought aggressively to protect workers’ rights and build better wages and lives for all tradesmen and women within the region.

During Mr. Doyle’s presidency, the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) exponentially increased on both private development and public works projects that secured work for tens of thousands of men and women members of organized labor.

More than $10 billion of projects have been completed under PLAs in virtually every sector of the economy in the building trades jurisdiction. These included transportation and infrastructure construction projects such as the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, major commercial developments, such as Ridge Hill Shopping Center in Yonkers, dozens of government buildings, such as the Federal Courthouse in White Plains, a host of senior housing facilities and medical centers along with education buildings for both public and private institutions—all built and completed under the PLA format.

Throughout his long career, Mr. Doyle also negotiated labor contracts throughout Westchester and Putnam counties with municipalities and hundreds of private employers. Given the many honors and awards he received from business, civic and charitable organizations—including an Industry Lifetime Achievement Award from the Construction Industry Council of Westchester & Hudson Valley, Inc.—Mr. Doyle is recognized as among the most influential and respected labor leaders in the region for more than half a century.

Mr. Boccarossa served as the Secretary Treasurer of the WPBTC for the last four decades and served with distinction. He was the Business Manager of Laborers Local 235 for 45 years where he modernized and solidified their funds. He is a 55-year member of his organization.

Mr. Loughlin related the building trades have updated their current PLAs with the cooperation of all its local affiliates, NYS Building Trades and National Trades organizations. The Westchester-Putnam Building Trades standardized its Municipal and Private PLA templates. In addition, its Municipal PLA was approved and adopted by Westchester and Putnam County governments, the City of Yonkers, White Plains and Village of Mount Kisco. In 2023 the WPBTC successfully negotiated more than 25 PLAs and is actively negotiating both public and private PLAs for 2024.

The WPBTC also engaged in partnerships to increase its membership and advance its initiatives in 2023. The council staged multiple joint events to help secure work for its quality and professional Union Contractors. It communicated on issues and lobbied with other associations to increase success and is working with the CIC/BCA and Northern BOCES to help recruit the industry’s next generation of professional  tradespeople.

The WPBTC has also held joint meetings to work with MGM, White Plains Hospital, Sarah Lawrence College and other area blue chip businesses to secure building work for both its members and contractors on their respective building projects. The council’s northern partner, the Construction Contractors Association, is active and contributes to labor events and helps with recruitment and policy.

Mr. Loughlin said that the building trades have a number of key goals for 2024, including:

  •  Continue to work on IDA Reform and level the playing field for its contractors.
  •  Coordinate a Labor Calendar on all its websites.
  •  Build upon its outstanding Political Action outreach and work to get more true Building Trades labor candidates elected.
  •  Continue to support its associations and add more professional contractors to its base and strengthen their common bonds.
  •  Identify a charity that both the associations and the Trades can have a positive impact and improve lives within their community.
  •  Continue sharing across all its media platforms to bring awareness that its contractors and tradespeople are the best in the business and that the trades promote equality and diversity across the board.

Hudson Valley Building and Construction Trades Council

Mr. Diorio noted the numerous partnerships the Hudson Valley Building Trades have with government and business organizations, including the Orange County Partnership; Mid-Hudson Pattern for Progress; the Hudson Valley Construction Industry Partnership; Contractor Associations that include the CCA, CIC, NECA, MCA, Fabricator & Erector, SMACNA and others; the Hudson Valley Building & Construction Labor Management Alliance, the Sullivan County Partnership, BOCES and the 17-Forward-86 Coalition. Many Building Trades officers and members serve on the boards of many of these organizations.

Mr. Diorio said the HVBCTC secured a number of state legislative wins in 2023, including the “Roadway Excavation Quality Assurance Act” that requires Prevailing Wages when a permit is issued to cut or open a public street and the Wage Theft Bill that elevates the crime of wage theft to a felony.

On the local level, the building trades secured stronger requirements, including apprenticeship thresholds on certain bridge construction projects (Local Law No. 5) in Ulster County. The law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2024. In addition, the HVBCTC is hoping to change this year the apprenticeship language in the City of Kingston back to regulations passed in 2022.

In terms of Project Labor Agreements, the building trades successfully negotiated revised PLA language with Ulster County. In addition, it finalized PLAs on the Orange County Medical Examiners project with Orange County Executive Neuhaus; Dutchess Stadium upgrades with  former County Executive Marc Molinaro; Dietz Stadium improvements with City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble; the Vails Gate Firehouse project with the Vails Gate Fire District; the O&W Station project with City of Middletown Mayor Joe Distefano; the Town of Newburgh Community Center project with Town of Newburgh Supervisor Gil Piaquadio and the Ulster County Operations Center with Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger.

Mr. Diorio added the growth industries in 2024 and beyond for the construction trades in the region include: Renewables (solar, battery and E.V.); Transmission (Clean Path); Infrastructure (Roads, Bridges, Etc.); Warehouses/ Distribution; School Construction, and a number of ongoing and planned projects at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

He completed his presentations by listing the significant work the building trades completed in 2023, jobs that the trades are currently working on and future work. Many of the past, present and future projects are being performed under Project Labor Agreements.

Florida Gathering

Leaders of the contracting community, organized labor and public officials gathered in Naples, FL for the annual Hudson Valley Construction Industry Partnership meeting last month.

Among the 175 guests were, from left, Christine and Chris McCracken with Nancy and Jim Smith of Advance Testing, and Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler and his wife, Christa. See more pictures, page 11.

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