Allan B. Darr
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
It is both an honor and a pleasure to serve as your Business Manager. As most of you know, I previously represented you both in the field and in the legislature. Both of those activities were excellent training for the position I now hold. However, my membership of nearly thirty years in this great Local Union has taught me everything I need to know to serve you; not one of us is greater than all of us and when we stand together we can accomplish much.
Throughout the years I am sure you have noticed that my writing style follows my thoughts and believe me Brothers and Sisters, it hasn’t changed. I tend to wander around jumping from one subject to another as it enters my mind. Well, change does not come easy so don’t expect this column to be any different from the others. But, I will put in a few headings so you can at least identify when I change subjects.
A few of the Field Representatives have addressed the upcoming season of work. Well, I hope they agree with me that I am worried. The last several years in Washington our work have been provided by the private sector. While it has been a prosperous market, we need a balance of both the private and the public sector.
Without funding from both the state and federal government our work picture could look very bleak. An example of which I speak is the loss funding on the Sound Transit Project. The tunnel work on that project would have provided numerous jobs. It would have provided and opportunity to move our members from private work to public work. And, I am further worried about our rural areas where work has not followed the pace of the I-5 corridor. As the Loadline goes to print, the state legislature has not passed a transportation budget. The transportation issue is key to us so I hope the legislature takes it as serious as we do.
Our District Representatives and Field Representatives in Alaska will speak specifically to their respective Districts but let me note some general comments. It appears they will have a good season. All of the indicators that I have observed show a prosperous season.
Allow me to add a political note. The key to transportation projects in Alaska as well as the nation is one powerful House member, Congressman Don Young. He is Chairman of the House Transportation Committee. My Brothers and Sisters, holding that position is really a big deal. While he is a friend to all of organized labor in Alaska, he is particularly important to us because of our trade. He obtains the money because of his position and he then distributes it. *Politics is all about rewarding your friends and punishing your enemies. * I hope the Washington State delegation understands this axiom.
Since being sworn into office I have been extremely busy. I have participated in the various Trusts meeting both in Washington and Alaska. The homework that is needed for those meetings takes many hours so I hit the books when it looks as though I might have a free moment.
I traveled to California to attend a Western Conference meeting at which time I was able to speak with the Business Managers from other Local Unions. While the travel is time consuming it is important to be able to share and learn from those representing the numerous Locals who are affiliates of the Western Conference?
Several of us attended the National Building and Construction Trades Conference in Washington, D.C. I was able to speak to most of our Congressional Delegation. I feel comfortable in that setting even when I know the issues are controversial because of my experience in representing you in the Washington State Legislature. It has always been my thinking and respectfully so, that the legislature is a tool we need to get the job done. And, I do mean that in a respectful manner.
We talked with our congressional delegation about Project Labor Agreements, Federal Davis-Bacon, State Prevailing Wage Legislation, Occupational Safety Health Funding, Apprenticeship and Training Standards, and legislation to allow oil and gas exploration in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge. So you can see we had our plates full.
I have been attending the luncheons we arrange for the retired members of Local 302. It is such an enjoyable time for me. Our retired members have such a solid sense of history. Each on of us has a Brother Jack McDonald and Brother Russ Conlon story.
And I have to tell you at those luncheons there is a hell of a lot of dirt moved, roads and bridges built and memories shared. As you realize, those were not only tough times for unions but also tough times for families. And yet they stood together, stayed together, and won together. My prayers go out to each of them for the support they provided. And we will always remember those that have gone before us.
I will be visiting with our retired Alaska Brothers and Sisters in the middle of May as well as attending a Training Trust meeting. And speaking of Alaska, I traveled to the North Slope during February. Don Lowry, our field Representative on the Slope, arranged meetings at several of the camps. We also met our members in the field and in the shops as time allowed.
We drove from the Slope to Fairbanks and visited the pump stations on the way down. And I was able to attend the local union meetings in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau. Also, I was able to attend the AFL-CIO Alaska Legislature Conference. I took the opportunity to compare notes as to their legislative activities.
I sincerely appreciate the warmth and support I receive from my Brothers and Sisters in Alaska.
As I mentioned, I have been on the road a lot but it is a great opportunity to speak with the members. As of this time, I have not had time to visit the jobs to see many of you. I hope to get to the field at the first opportunity.
Brother Hank Scott, our Field Representative in Districts Five and Six, treated me with warmth, courtesy and a huge hot dog while attending both the Yakima and Wenatchee meetings. Herb Miller, Director of Organizing for Local 302 will be working with Hank to organize some of the contractors in that area. I told Hank organizing in that area is a priority and we will fulfill that commitment.
As you know, I stay close to the political landscape because every gain we make can be taken away through legislation. Unlike Alaska, the Republicans in Washington State don’t believe in cooperation. We have a shot at changing the 49-49 tie in the house. We can pick up a seat and take the majority if we work hard and we start now.
Brian Sullivan is running against a first term legislator (recently appointed) I the 21st Legislative District. The legislator filling the seat, Joe Marine, is no friend of labor. We need to swap him out for a labor vote. Brian will vote for our interests and we need to work hard to get him elected. I will provide the needed information to those of you who live in the 21st District. Electing Brian will give us a one seat majority, and a chance to control the House and move our agenda.
I will provide information on the legislative session if and when it completes its work. Hell may freeze over before that happens. They are still in session as of this writing and it is my opinion that they are just taking up space. I don’t mean to be disrespectful but it should not be that hard to do the right thing. And, let me just say, I don’t believe it was an earthquake that did the Capitol damage. I believe it was all of that hot air under one roof. The building could no longer contain it and the dome was blown off center.
With respect to Congress, well, now that they are through investigating each other they might turn to doing the peoples work. Not our work, their people work-the Bush crowd.
*The shrub (not developed enough to be a bush) was not in office but even a few days when he attacked the Trades. * He rescinded the use of Project Labor Agreement, only to have 33 of his Republicans sign a letter requesting a repeal of the decision. Those 33 Republicans were led by Congressman Don Young. The use of the PLA’s can now be decided by each agency as to their use and project.
The list goes on and the damage becomes more visible as the days of the Bush administration progress. He is living up to promises-attack organized labor on all fronts. And when the shrub does not want his fingerprints on the legislation or rule, he hands it to his right-to-work partner, the darling of ABC, Dick Cheney.
As to the tax cuts the shrub has proposed, there is nothing in it for us. The philosophy is to shift the burden. I like to say it this way: if the top won’t pay it and the bottom can’t pay it then the middle has to pay it. That’s us.
The shrub wants money by lowering the pay standards on construction project supported by federal dollars so the employers can pocket higher profits. Further, we will see our federal tax dollars go to lawbreaking corporate contractors so outlaw companies don’t suffer the consequences of their behavior. As I see it, his message is clear: the President will accommodate his Big Business and wealthy campaign contributors using every means at his disposal to weaken the power of organized labor and those we represent.
*His record is clear. We know he was selected, not elected. * Our work is cut out for us on all fronts.
Allow me to end my report with a few observations and my sense of where we ought to be going as a union. Let me note that I am bringing my Alaska staff to our office on June 21 and 22. At that time both Washington and Alaska staff will be meeting in a planning session to chart our course.
I will be bringing in an outside facilitator to lead our discussions. Out of that meeting will come a direction for the short term and long term.
Having said that, it is my belief that we can survive only if we organize and get 100% of our market. Secondly, we need to continue to concentrate on our Apprenticeship and Training. With the most qualified and productive members, will we be able to demand higher wages at the time of negotiations. And through organizing our market, we will not have to compete with the non-union because we will not have non-union in the market.
We have the right mix of talent both in Washington and Alaska. We have dedicated people that want nothing more than to represent you and I must say they do it well.
So, we will huddle up for a couple of days, shed the “I”, put on the “we” and put together a plan for leading this local. What a great opportunity for all of the staff and Local 302. I am excited and I will report the results to you.
Thank you so very much for the opportunity to work for you and with you. Remember what I said when I began this report: Not one of us is stronger that all of us, stand up and stand together.