Organizing Ready Mix and Construction

“The work can't be moved, and contractors face a deadline.”

 Darryl Connell

President, Local 200

Milwaukee

July 2006. When we came into local union office two-and-a-half years ago, ready mix and construction were being neglected.  Since construction work can’t be moved, and contractors face deadlines, construction can and should be a Teamster stronghold. So we put together a strategic plan to organize in construction, and have stuck with it.

To be effective, we knew we’d need solidarity among the building trades unions. We improved our working relationship with the building and construction trade council and the various unions. It’s a two-way street. We’ve gotten support and we’ve extended it, too, in terms of area standards picketing to protect good union jobs in Milwaukee. This gives us the right to picket a job site if companies are paying workers less than the union standards of the Milwaukee area.

Our campaign expanded to the point where we needed to pull a good ready mix steward onto the union staff, at first on a temporary basis, and later as a fulltime business rep.

Our campaign started in 2004 and expanded in 2005 and 2006. We started in ready mix and have now moved into drywall distributors and waste dumpsters. We’ve organized two new ready mix companies and one drywall company, as well as two new dump truck and heavy haul companies.

In late June, we signed a first-ever master ready mix agreement covering 11 employers. It was just ratified during the IBT Convention period. We also, for the first time, started an education and training fund in that agreement.

We’ve added some 40 new Teamster jobs, and got other Teamsters more work, so they work longer in the year. Our members see the positive results. They’re making a better annual wage and also getting more pension credits. It helps strengthen the Central States Fund, too.

We have a strategy to organize, and it’s starting to pay off for Local 200 and for construction workers in the Milwaukee area.

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