Civic Action News

Davis-Bacon Act updates mean higher pay, expanded coverage, more worker protections on projects headed our way

The U.S. Labor Department has announced comprehensive updates to the Davis-Bacon Act that will raise pay for many construction workers (including millwrights), help ensure prevailing wages keep pace with actual wages, expand coverage to modern energy projects, beef up enforcement, and protect workers from retaliation.

Two laws expand protections for pregnant, nursing workers

Two new laws that expand protections for pregnant and nursing workers are now in effect. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations and the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act increases protections for those who need private lactation spaces.

Meetings with elected officials in Florida, Georgia produce results for SSMRC members

SSMRC leaders successfully advocated for our members on two fronts recently during meetings with a U.S. senator from Georgia and a Florida district secretary of transportation. “The bipartisan relationships we’ve built here in the South help us get a lot accomplished,” said Rick Halford, political director for the SSMRC.

Victory for Fair Pay, Benefits & Unionizing Rights!

During the Trump administration, the National Labor Relations Board tried to hurt our unions and members by claiming construction workers and others, like millwrights, who do irregular work are not employees but small businesses, or independent contractors.

Alabama exempts overtime pay from state taxes

Workers in Alabama will have a temporary reprieve from state income taxes on overtime pay in 2024 and part of 2025, thanks to a bill the governor signed into law June 9. The Southern States Millwrights supports this action, and the legislation had unanimous, bipartisan support.

Know your rights when working in hot temperatures

With the weather heating up, it's important to know your rights regarding working in hot temperatures. Let your supervisor, job steward or business agent know if you have any jobsite health and safety concerns, including those related to extreme heat.

We’re standing up to construction-industry tax fraud — here’s why and how

Tax fraud hurts everyone – workers, including our members, and their families, law-abiding contractors, communities, school children, veterans, and all taxpayers. That's why we unite with the UBC and other regional during Tax Fraud Days of Action every year.

Support labor-friendly nominee to continue Marty Walsh’s pro-union work as head of U.S. Labor Department

Marty Walsh, a former union member, has led the U.S. Labor Department with policies and initiatives for strengthening workers' rights, unions, and union apprenticeships. The nominee to be his successor is equally qualified and just as committed to defending working people's rights and holding corporations accountable under the law.

Solar-panel-manufacturing expansion creating union millwright work in Georgia

Union millwrights are already working on a $2.5 billion expansion announced yesterday of solar-panel manufacturing facilities in northwest Georgia. Those millwrights and others will be needed at the Dalton factory during the next year, and opportunities for SSMRC members to work at a similar factory in Cartersville, Georgia, are likely, said Robert Strickland, business agent for Millwright Local 1263, which covers Georgia and the Carolinas.

Halford to speak at Labor Spring in Arkansas

SSMRC Political Director Rick Halford will be among the speakers at an event aimed at highlighting ways unions and collective action by workers can alleviate the most pressing problems facing northwest Arkansas residents. The Northwest Arkansas Labor Council and the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville Education Association/Local 965 will host the Northwest Arkansas Labor Spring Teach-In...

SSMRC staff network with elected officials, contractors, manufacturers at automotive summit

SSMRC leaders networked with elected officials, contractors, and manufacturers at the 2023 Auto Focus Summit hosted by our training center in Charlotte, North Carolina, March 1-2. The Southern States Automotive Contractors Association, an organization the SSMRC was instrumental in creating, held the event.

SSMRC part of UBC Southern District Committee working to ensure our members benefit from historic federal investments in infrastructure, technology, clean-energy projects

The SSMRC is part of a committee that is working to make sure union members – and particularly our millwrights – gain substantial job opportunities through programs that will funnel billions of dollars into infrastructure, technology, and clean-energy projects during the next decade.

Tennessee bill would limit ways to form a union

A bill in the Tennessee Legislature would micro-manage how votes for union representation are conducted at private businesses. The bill would make a secret-ballot election the only option for forming a union for employees who work for an employer who has received economic incentives from the state of Tennessee.

Arkansas House passes bill paving way for child-labor exploitation, lower overall wages

The Arkansas House of Representatives approved a bill Feb. 22 that would eliminate work permits that require children under 16 to provide proof of age, job and work-schedule descriptions, and parental consent to the state Labor Department. The Arkansas Senate is expected to consider a companion bill next week.

Childcare costs crippling working-class families, barring access to trade careers

Childcare expenses account for 8% to 19% of family income per child and present barriers to employment for many parents, according to a new, county-level database of childcare prices the U.S. Labor Department released in January.

State of the Union Address emphasizes unions, working people

Political leaders are paying attention to union and worker issues. During the 2023 State of the Union Address, the president talked about unions, the creation of jobs with fair wages and benefits, and investing in the middle class. If you missed it, check out these highlights.

Union apprenticeships recruiting more diverse workforce than non-union programs, study reveals

The percentages of women and Black and Latino workers signing up for union-affiliated registered apprenticeships are significantly higher than the percentages of those workers joining non-union apprenticeships, according to a study by the independent Institute for Construction Economics Research.

American Rescue Plan program saves 350,000 union pensions from 60% cuts

President Biden announced on Dec. 8 the release of $36 billion to prevent drastic cuts to the pensions of more than 350,000 union workers and retirees. Funded by the American Rescue Plan’s Special Financial Assistance Program, this is the largest award of federal financial support for worker and retiree pension security.

SSMRC political director: Here’s what’s ahead with the 2022 mid-terms in the rear-view mirror

The 2022 mid-term elections are in the history books. If you voted, great! You have exercised your right. If you did not vote, there is 2024. If you’re not registered, you have time to fill out your registration card.

Congress boosts NLRB funding, easing crisis-level shortfall; Bill also expands worker protections

Congress has approved the first funding increase for the federal labor board since 2014, averting a budget crisis but falling short of what’s needed given a dramatic rise in unionization and unfair-labor-practice charges.

Your voice is needed TODAY to protect millwright wages!

One of the most common ways employers in the construction industry cheat workers, including millwrights, is by misclassifying them as independent contractors rather than employees. Your comment is needed TODAY in favor of a new U.S. Labor Department rule that would make it more difficult for contractors to misclassify workers.

Tell Congress: Fund the NLRB

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency that enforces U.S. labor law in relation to collective bargaining and unfair labor practices, is struggling to do its job due to a budget crisis that only Congress can correct.

Federal grants to assist states in delivering unemployment benefits

The U.S. Labor Department is distributing $260 million in grants to assist states in providing unemployment-insurance benefits to workers who have faced obstacles in accessing those services.

Labor Department ends duplicative apprenticeship program that aimed to weaken union apprenticeships

The Labor Department has announced a final rule that ends the Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program, adding it will direct its resources toward Registered Apprenticeships. (Union apprenticeships are registered apprenticeship programs.)

Tennessee members: Vote NO on Amendment 1

If you live in Tennessee, you have an opportunity to vote on a proposed amendment that would add a falsely named “right-to-work” clause to the state constitution. Amendment 1 is an attempt by greedy corporations to rewrite the Tennessee Constitution in a way that will suppress unions and harm working people in order to further inflate corporate profits.

Take CONTROL this Election

When union millwrights vote, we have POWER. We encourage our members to vote for candidates who support: good union jobs; access to free, ongoing training; fair wages and benefits; and protection of union pensions.

Council collaborating to fight falsely named ‘right-to-work’ amendment

SSMRC Political Director Rick Halford and A.J. Starling, secretary-treasurer of the Tennessee AFL-CIO, are working with the Tennessee Workers' Alliance to fight back against the falsely named "right-to-work" amendment that Tennessee voters will consider on Nov. 8.

Oklahoma candidates speak at SSMRC staff/delegate meeting

Several candidates running for office in Oklahoma spoke about labor issues during our September staff and delegate meeting in Oklahoma City. The candidates included Joy Hofmeister, who is running for governor, U.S. Senate candidates Kendra Horn and Madison Horn, and labor-commissioner candidate Leslie Osborn.

U.S. senator tours Georgia training center, holds labor round table

Just before Labor Day, Rev. Raphael Warnock, a U.S. senator from Georgia who is running for re-election, toured the Augusta millwright and carpenter training center and took part in a round-table discussion with union leaders.

In partnership with UBC, mayor declares Labor Week in Savannah, GA

The mayor of Savannah, Georgia, has declared the week of Labor Day to be Labor Week in that municipality. "I want to thank those who work hard in our community," Mayor Van Johnson said at an Aug. 25 event announcing Labor Week.

Happy Women’s Equality Day!

Women’s Equality Day is a day to celebrate and recognize the work of those who have - and continue to - advocate for positive change. Did you know the U.S. Department of Labor's Women's Bureau was founded three months before the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote?

At Kennedy King events, SSMRC staff discuss labor standards, work opportunities

While attending the Kennedy King Gala in Tampa, Florida, on Aug. 20, SSMRC staff networked with local and state elected officials and candidates to discuss ways to improve labor standards and to learn about upcoming projects that could provide work opportunities for our members.

Millwright leaders host Texas commissioner to tour and talk about illegal employment practices

Harris County, Texas, Commissioner Adrian Garcia visited the Houston training center Aug. 10. He toured the facility, met with apprentices, and discussed with SSMRC staff issues that are affecting union millwrights.

SSMRC, Southern District staff help relaunch Arkansas Labor Caucus

SSMRC and UBC Southern District staff are helping to relaunch the Arkansas Labor Caucus. At a July 13 meeting, members of several labor unions met to elect officers, approve bylaws, and make a plan for recruiting members.

Staff help new DOL investigators ensure contractors pay prevailing wages

SSMRC and Central South Carpenters staff met with new U.S. Labor Department investigators in Oklahoma July 13 to explain millwright and carpenter jurisdictions (the types of work each craft performs) so the investigators can better ensure prevailing wages and benefits are paid to workers on federal projects.

SSMRC, CSCRC staff talk union issues with Oklahoma gubernatorial candidate

SSMRC and Central South Carpenters staff met with Oklahoma gubernatorial candidate Joy Hofmeister July 18 to discuss issues, including worker misclassification, that affect union members and the law-abiding contractors who employ them.

$1 Billion in Airport Funding to Benefit Union Millwrights and Contractors

In the next year, $1 billion in airport-terminal-improvement projects will begin at 85 airports across the country. Funding for the projects comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and represents the first year of a five-year program to invest $5 billion in terminals.

Updates proposed for Davis-Bacon prevailing-wage law

For the first time in 40 years, the U.S. Labor Department is proposing comprehensive updates to the Davis-Bacon Act. The changes would speed up prevailing wage updates, improve efficiency, and ensure prevailing-wage rates keep up with actual wages.

Full pension benefits saved for millions of union workers, retirees

Pensions are now secure for millions of union workers workers and retirees who were at risk of losing their benefits, the U.S. Labor Department announced July 6.

Union members receive much better pay, benefits, Congressional report shows

The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee has released a study showing that, compared to their non-union peers, union members earn 10.2% higher wages and are 18.3% more likely to have employer-sponsored health insurance.

Labor Department holding forums on worker misclassification

Employers and employees are invited to U.S. Labor Department online forums about worker misclassification. Employees who are misclassified as independent contractors are deprived of employer-provided health, retirement, and other benefits as well as Social-Security and Family-and-Medical-Leave-Act benefits.

Oklahoma cuts unemployment benefits period by 10 weeks

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law May 20 that reduces the time Oklahomans can receive unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 16 weeks beginning in January of next year.

SSMRC political director: Take into account new voting laws and make a plan to vote

Primaries are happening across the South; make a plan to get out to vote. Voting laws across some of the Southern states have changed. Here’s what you need to know.

Governors attack order requiring labor agreements on large federal projects

Governors of nine states in the SSMRC’s 11-state jurisdiction have signed a letter opposing an executive order issued in February that requires project labor agreements on large, federally funded construction projects.

SSMRC, UBC fighting tax fraud because it harms workers, law-abiding contractors, communities, taxpayers

Regional councils and locals that make up the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, our parent organization, participated in more than 200 events and initiatives across the United States and Canada during construction-industry Tax Fraud Days of Action, April 11-16, 2022.

Senator’s plan would raise taxes on 40% of Americans, end Social Security, Medicare

A proposal by a Republican U.S. senator from Florida would increase income taxes for the lowest-earning 40% of Americans and allow all federal legislation to "sunset" within five years, meaning programs including Social Security, Medicare, and more would end unless Congress reauthorized them.

Oklahoma, Louisiana consider cutting duration of unemployment benefits

Several state legislatures, including those in Oklahoma and Louisiana, are considering cuts to their unemployment-benefit programs that would reduce the number of weeks people can receive aid, lower weekly benefit amounts, or make work-search requirements tougher.

Georgia lawmakers approve program that would reward contractors for employing apprentices

Georgia contractors will soon be able to "sponsor" apprentices in U.S. Labor Department-registered apprenticeship programs for high-demand careers and receive a "contract completion award" of up to $10,000 for each apprentice who remains in their employment through program completion.

Federal task force releases recommendations for promoting worker organizing

The White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment has released a report with nearly 70 recommendations that promote worker organizing and collective bargaining.

NLRB attorney speeding to protect workers, unions

The National Labor Relations Board's new head lawyer has been working quickly to beef up legal protections for workers and unions and to increase penalties for violations of the National Labor Relations Act.

SSMRC members, staff attend Get Out To Vote Conference

Six members and staff of the SSMRC gained valuable information and tools to share by attending the 2022 Get Out To Vote Conference, held by our parent organization, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, at its International Training Center in Las Vegas.

Council staff participate in labor roundtable with vice president, DOL secretary

Two SSMRC staff members were among a small group of union leaders who met with the U.S. vice president and labor secretary in Durham, North Carolina, on March 2, sharing concerns about unfair competition from law-breaking contractors and about the need for government policies that support contractors who hire skilled workers and provide good wages and benefits.

We’re working to level the playing field for law-abiding contractors

The political arms of the Southern States Millwrights and our parent organization, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, are working to stop illegal labor practices that give unscrupulous contractors and facility owners an unfair advantage when competing against law-abiding companies. These illegal labor practices include worker misclassification, tax fraud, workers’ compensation fraud, and more. One issue […]

Georgia bill would help protect workers from misclassification, loss of benefits

A bill in the Georgia House of Representatives would change the definition of "employment" to include "services performed by an individual for wages" unless the individual is free from control or direction over the performance of such services.

Re-vote begins at Alabama Amazon warehouse

Workers at a Bessemer, Alabama, Amazon warehouse are voting for a second time in less than a year on whether to join a union. If they vote in favor this time, the Bessemer facility will be the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the United States.

President signs executive order requiring labor agreements on large federal construction projects

President Joe Biden signed an executive order Feb. 4 requiring project labor agreements on federal construction projects that cost more than $35 million. Project labor agreements are collective bargaining agreements between building trade unions and contractors that determine wages, employment conditions, and dispute-resolution processes.

Southeast Carpenters help pass law clamping down on contractor non-payment of workers’ compensation premiums

A law enacted in Tennessee last year with the help of the Southeast Carpenters Regional Council will make it tougher for unethical contractors to get away with not paying workers' compensation insurance premiums.

OLMS rescinds Trump administration rule that unjustly burdened unions

The Office of Labor-Management Standards has rescinded a Trump-administration rule that imposed unjustified and burdensome paperwork requirements on labor unions.

NBC Nightly News: Unpaid construction workers go hungry while others profit

Focusing on a case that began in Iowa with the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters giving aid to six construction workers who were starving, NBC Nightly News broadcast a special segment on wage theft in the construction industry.

Council EST and political director discuss labor issues with Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams

In a meeting with Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams on Jan. 31, SSMRC leaders discussed labor issues including visa-program abuses, project labor agreements, and tax and workers' compensation fraud by unscrupulous contractors.

See county-level information on projects the American Rescue Plan Act is funding

A provision of the American Rescue Plan Act allocated $65.1 billion to every county in the United States. According to the National Association of Counties, this funding is providing "direct, flexible aid."

U.S. Congress considering legislation that would reduce costs for working families, invest in union apprenticeships and rural communities

Efforts continue in the U.S. Congress to pass Build Back Better legislation that would assist working families with child- and elder-care costs, reduce health-care costs, housing, and education costs, and invest in union apprenticeships, rural communities, and union-built clean-energy projects including wind-turbine installation.

Study reveals so-called ‘right-to-work’ states have worse economic, health, social, civic outcomes

During an eight-year period of national economic expansion following the recession of 2008, the 27 U.S. states with so-called “right-to-work” laws experienced slower economic growth, lower wages, higher consumer debt, worse health outcomes, and lower levels of civic participation than states without those laws, according to a study released last year.

Study shows 39% of construction families need public assistance, costing tax payers $28 billion per year

A report the University of California Berkeley Labor Center released in January reveals that 39% of construction worker families nationwide are forced to enroll in one or more safety-net programs to make ends meet.

Council staff meet with Alabama politicians, industry leaders

Three SSMRC representatives discussed the benefits of our workforce with Alabama political and industry leaders during the Manufacture Alabama Annual Legislative Reception and Dinner held in Montgomery on Jan. 11.

What the proposed Tennessee Right-to-Work Amendment would mean for working families and who would really benefit

In November of this year, members who live in Tennessee will have the opportunity to vote on a proposed amendment – Amendment No. 1 – that would add a falsely named “right-to-work” clause to the state constitution.

U.S. Senate debates voting-rights legislation

The U.S. Senate is debating two bills that would establish rules regarding voting and elections. Supporters say the legislation – the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act – would make it easier for hard-working American citizens to vote while strengthening election security and limiting corporate influence on elections.

U.S. Supreme Court blocks OSHA vaccine mandate

On Jan. 13, the Supreme Court of the United States blocked a mandate from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that would have required all employers with 100 or more employees to require those employees to either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or to be tested weekly and wear masks at work.

Labor Department launches Apprenticeship Ambassador Program

The video above announcing the Apprenticeship Ambassador Program features UBC member Jovan Johnson and Barbara Hampton, president and CEO of SSMRC partnering contractor Siemens USA.

U.S. Labor Department proposes ending Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program

The Labor Department is seeking comment on a proposed rule that would eliminate the Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program started under the Trump administration so the department can direct its resources toward Registered Apprenticeships (union apprenticeship programs are "registered apprenticeships").

Growing labor movement gains victories at Amazon, Starbucks

During the past month, the National Labor Relations Board ordered a new union election at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, and, for the first time, workers at a Starbucks store voted to unionize.