Skilled Construction Trades and Respected Contractors
Building Wisconsin Together ®
Welcome to Construction Business Group's Industry Updates. This monthly e-newsletter will help us communicate the important initiatives that we have underway and relevant updates on issues that impact Wisconsin's construction industry.  
Message from Executive Director Robb Kahl
Today, an analysis of Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) inspections at construction jobsites was issued by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Illinois Economic Policy Institute. The study found that, nationwide, unionized construction jobsites have 34% fewer health and safety violations than their nonunion counterparts. 

The study examined data on more than 37,000 OSHA inspections conducted in 2019 and found that union jobsites were 19% less likely to have health and safety violations and had an average of 34% fewer violations per inspection.  In Wisconsin, union jobsites were 33% less likely to have health and safety violations and had an average of 59% fewer violations per inspection.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 14% of the nation’s construction industry workers were represented by unions in 2019. Yet, the recent study found that union construction jobsites accounted for only 5% of all safety violations.

The authors of the study attributed the significantly better safety record of union construction jobsites to superior training and apprenticeship programs. Those of us in the construction industry have always known that apprenticeship programs and continued training for journey workers lead to safer jobsites. This new study, however, conclusively proves what we have long suspected.

Click here to read the entire study and learn more.
Building Wisconsin Together®

Record Breaking Numbers Attend Externship Day Fall 2021
Last held in November of 2019, the much-anticipated Externship Day returned to the Joseph J. Goetz Training Center in Coloma. This fall’s event, held over two days, was record breaking with close to over 1200 students, educators, and parents from over 90 school districts in attendance.
Developed as a day for Wisconsin’s youth to explore the Operating Engineer pathway, this was the largest turnout to date. As worker shortages make headline news across the country, attracting a future workforce is critical. Externship Day introduces a rewarding and exciting alternative to 4-year college to students who like working with their hands and making lasting contributions to their communities.
This free event, planned in the spring and fall, rotates attendees through tours of the training center and 400-acre site, hands-on time with the simulators and mini-excavators in the training arena, an overview of apprenticeship and direct conversations with contractors.
All attendees, including the 200+ volunteers and members, started their morning with an opening message from IUOE General Vice President, President/Business Manager Terry McGowan and Vice President, Training Director Dan Sperberg. Special guests present to recognize the importance of apprentice and construction in Wisconsin included: 

  • Department of Workforce Development Secretary Amy Pechacek
  • Senator Brad Pfaff
  • Representative Don Vurwink
  • Representative Katrina Shankland
Five contractors participated in an employer’s roundtable, sharing practical advice with the students on what makes a qualified candidate and how the opportunities for advancement are worth considering. Thank you for your partnership and commitment to joining us for important workforce development outreach events:

  • The Boldt Company– Ginelle Hussin
  • JP Cullen – Mark Ihlenfeldt
  • Integrity Grading & Excavating – Kyle Beld
  • Michels Corporation – Haily Joas
  • Walbec Group, Inc. – Dan Eckstrom & Dan Webster
Thank you!

An event of this magnitude would not have been possible if it were not for the amazing work of all the dedicated staff at the Training Center and the over 200 apprentices, members and retirees that helped – driving the buses, serving as tour guides, or helping with the simulators and mini-excavators. Special commendation to Kip Gutke who spent countless hours planning and organizing not only the logistics of the groups, setup, food, and buses, but also the outreach to all the volunteers. Truly the success of team effort by all!
Building Wisconsin Together®
From the News Stand
NLRB General Counsel's Office Issues Memorandum on COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard Bargaining Obligations
In a memo issued on November 10th, Acting Associate General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board Joan Sullivan, provided information to all field offices on the recent Department of Labor Emergency Temporary Standard to Protect Workers from Coronavirus (ETS).

The memo explains that although General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo does not offer advisory opinions and each case stands on its own facts, the General Counsel’s position is that employers covered by the National Labor Relations Act have decisional bargaining obligations regarding aspects of the ETS that affect terms and conditions of employment—to the extent the ETS provides employers with choices regarding implementation.

Although an employer is not obligated to bargain where a specific change in terms and conditions of employment is statutorily mandated, the employer may not act unilaterally when it has some discretion in implementing those requirements. To the extent elements of the ETS do not give covered employers discretion, leaving aside decisional bargaining obligations, the employer is nonetheless obligated to bargain about the effects of the decision.

“The ETS clearly affects terms and conditions of employment—including the potential to affect the continued employment of workers who become subject to it—and gives covered employers discretion in implementing certain of its requirements. In those circumstances, a decisional bargaining obligation is required. The employer also has an obligation to bargain over the effects of this policy,” said General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo. “While our country recovers from COVID-19, workers should know they have the right to a safe workplace and to have their voices heard.”
Infrastructure Bill Locks in 5 Years of Investment
Thanks to construction industry advocates and the hard work of our national affiliate -- the American Road & Transportation Builders Assn. -- the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) that passed the U.S. House of Representatives last Friday night 228-206 will bring at least an additional $1 billion to Wisconsin for transportation investment over the next five years.
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau this week published a summary of the bill that President Biden will sign next week with Congressional leaders. Based solely on existing highway formula programs that allocate funds by lane miles, population, traffic levels and other criteria, Wisconsin is projected to receive $1.069 billion in additional funding when compared to the last year of the FAST Act:
Not included in the chart above are several competitive discretionary grant programs (such as those focused on bridges, rural transportation, and nationally significant freight and highway projects) that would increase the state's bottom-line numbers if it submits successful applications.
Thanks to all who helped get this long-awaited infrastructure bill over the finish line!
Construction Business Group | 608-240-4170 |