President's Corner


January 2021 Light at the End of the Tunnel

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President-Business Manager James Sweeney Responds to Ironworkers’ Insults of Local 150 Staff and Members

Brothers and Sisters,

In recent days, a local Ironworkers union official has leveled profane and abusive personal attacks against Local 150 members, its staff and contractors for manning cranes behind Ironworkers’ picket lines, and the grotesque rhetoric being directed at a Local 150 staff member is simply inexcusable. Local 150 members and the public at large deserve to know the truth.

It has become more common in the last few years to see steel frame buildings going up with union crane companies and non-union ironworker employers. The Ironworkers’ “organizing” strategy on these projects has been to put up picket signs.  However, the only effect of the picket is to drive out the union crane company, which is quickly replaced by one of the very few non-union crane companies in our jurisdiction. 

When the leverage of the union crane is gone, the Ironworkers take down their pickets and take the rest of the day off.  Their strategy ends there. The job continues fully non-union, and the non-union crane company remains to finish the project.  Over the past several years, this has allowed the few non-union crane companies in our area to grow larger and stronger, and encouraged these general contractors to perform future projects with non-union cranes.   

The Ironworkers’ rat tactic makes our job harder, and they know it. As you know, we have been actively protesting several non-union crane companies that have benefitted from this practice.  We’ve met with the Ironworkers’ leaders to explain the flaws in their strategy and express our dissatisfaction with their practice of running good union contractors off a project and then leaving a full non-union project behind. The fact that their own elected officials are now attacking our members demands a response. 

I decided earlier this year that enough is enough. This problem is limited to projects requiring a crane less than 60 tons, on projects which are frequently managed by the same general contractor. 

Therefore, Local 150 has entered into project labor agreements with some of the general contractors who use non-union crane companies.  These project labor agreements guarantee our union crane companies the work, while ensuring the project won’t be disrupted by the shortsightedness of the Ironworkers.  This also prevents non-union contractors from getting new work, which is the simplest way to stop the growth of non-union contractors.   If a union crane company is behind an Ironworker picket line, it is because leaving would immediately result in a non-union crane and operator taking over and finishing the project. We’ve seen it play out too many times.  It seems like when the Ironworkers can’t steal our work for themselves, they’re content with giving it to the non-union rats. Again- enough is enough.

Local 150 members can rest assured that we are strategic and thoughtful in our efforts to protect our jurisdiction from non-union encroachment, and we have no patience for tactics from other unions which undermine our own efforts. Further, no member or contractor will endure attacks from another union for actions that are supported by the union. 

In Solidarity,
James M. Sweeney



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