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Labor and management in the Construction Industry in Washtenaw County have a long history of working together developing programs for the betterment of our Industry.

In 1967 a group of representatives from the local Building Trades Unions and representatives of the local Construction Trade Associations formed a Joint Committee and began meeting to discuss the representation of the unionized Construction Industry, and its particular problems.

On April 2, 1968, in a joint statement issued by the Washtenaw County Building Trades Council AFL-CIO, representing the areas building trades unions, and the Washtenaw County Association of Contractors, representing plumbing, heating, mechanical contractors, general contractors, and homebuilders, it was announced that the Committee had established a more formal Labor-Management Committee. The Committee was the first of its kind in the area on an industry-wide level.

"The newly created Committee constitutes recognition by the industry of the public's interest in its labor-management relations" the Committee members pointed out in a News Release. The release continued: "This joint approach assumes that labor and management are ready, willing and able to cooperate in the attainment of their goals. Further, we share, in common, far more than the differences which divide us on specific issues at infrequent times."

"The Committee is evidence of the desire to facilitate and improve labor-management relationships by jointly working on mutual industry problems."

The News Release indicated the principal purpose of the Committee would be to study and make timely recommendations on industry and community related matters. It provided a communications link between groups on an industry-wide basis.


The newly formed organization, named the Labor-Management Joint Construction Board (JCB), began meeting on a monthly basis to discuss items of mutual concern.

Throughout the years the Board was successful in a number of activities:

Meeting with local, state, and national legislators to
work on the concerns of the organized industry;

Passage of local Prevailing Wage Ordinances;

Educating those involved in the Industry of the skilled workforce available through the resources of the Joint Construction Board, and,

Continued an ongoing dialogue with others in the construction community . . . owners and users, developers, contractors, architects, engineers, suppliers, and the media ... insuring that everyone concerned was aware of the highly professional contributions the organized segment of the Industry has made in the past (and is prepared to make in the future) for the betterment of the Washtenaw County area.

Along with the aforementioned activities, specific programs and projects the JCB worked on for the betterment of not only our industry, but for the Washtenaw County area included:


Labor and Management have always taken their social responsibilities seriously. They took steps to actively recruit, train, and employ area minorities prior to 1964 ... the year that President Johnson issued Executive Order 11246, which governed Equal Employment of Minorities on Federal Government projects.

The Affirmative Action Program for the Construction Industry was a model program used throughout the Country as an example of both segments of the Industry working together.
Since that time, there has been a continual growth in the number of minorities and women, both entering apprenticeship training, and graduating into the ranks of journeyworkers craftsmen in Washtenaw County.

Through outreach programs, including area junior and senior high school career day activities, and programs such as the local Student Homebuilding Programs, we actively participated in recruitment throughout the area. We were, and are, committed to providing a quality product to owners and users of construction, a respectable profit to the contractor and job security for the craftsman. We believe that the fulfillment of the concept of equal employment opportunity for minorities and women is an integral part of meeting that commitment. Joint past actions support this belief. Future actions will assure continuation of this segment of our commitment to excellence.


No organization can survive without the incursion of new blood. The most positive ways to direct people into the organized trades was to educate students of the advantages of our industry. Local home builders, contractors, and labor leaders believed the best way to do so was a Student Homebuilding Program. In 1968, they began selling the program. After contacting all local labor unions, contractors, and suppliers, obtaining their support, the leaders worked with local school boards for approval of the programs.

Their dream was realized in the 1970-71 School Year with the completion of the first student built house, this one in the Ann Arbor School District. To date, this program is completing its 33rd home and continues to be one of the most successful programs of its type. After the success of the Ann Arbor program, similar programs began in other parts of Washtenaw County. A number of our local tradespersons, supervisors and contractors were introduced to our Industry through the Student Homebuilding Programs.

Check out the Website at: www.aastudentbuilding.org


In 1984, it was announced that Domino's Pizza would be building their world headquarters in Washtenaw County. Their plan would mean millions of dollars in construction work, and hundreds of thousands of hours of work for the local building trades.

It was the feeling of all involved that the Construction Manager for the project believed that unionized construction was the desired approach. Even so, it was felt that something concrete should be offered to the owner to insure there would be no work stoppages, no lock-outs, and a highly productive work force.

With this charge, the prototype Memorandum of Understanding was agreed to. It later became the cornerstone of CUB. Through this document, the construction project provided steady work with no interruptions. It was promoted in the local media as showing Domino's commitment to the local Construction Industry. The promotion, by Domino's, informed the people of Washtenaw County what our organized industry represented.


Throughout the years, the JCB continued its history of cooperation. As labor and management we worked together to bring: construction projects to the area; wage moratoriums during difficult times; increased awareness of safety problems -- including one of the first position papers regarding substance abuse on jobsites; supported individuals for local boards and committees to help regulate the industry; supported pro-growth legislators for election; and worked to better our area through community service projects.

Even with the progress of the organization and the continued market share that the unionized industry had, it was felt that to continue to serve the owners and users of our product, more was necessary. We wanted to insure that when owners who had construction needs began to develop their project, they would think only of unionized contractors when ready to build.

Years of Continued and New Progress

The Labor-Management Joint Construction Board felt the necessity to reorganize to better address the problems of the unionized Construction Industry.

At a meeting in April, 1986 the JCB voted to change not only the name of the organization, but to expand its purpose. With a unanimous vote the newly named "Construction Unity Board" reorganized -- continuing with its original directive of working on mutual problems, but- increasing its programs to better serve the owners and users.

To facilitate this "Renewed Commitment" an Executive Committee of four management and four labor officials was elected from the CUB membership. The Executive Committee Members began working on the documents that would be the benchmark of the CUB program.

The Board began working together to effectively communicate with all area users of construction in terms of who we are. The program continued to be housed at the offices of the Plumbing & Mechanical Contractors Association of Washtenaw County, and administered by their staff under the direction of the CUB Executive Committee.

To effectively communicate the commitment of the organization, it was important to develop a program that would be presented to owners at the earliest possible time. It was felt that with input from the client, the program would accomplish more. The Executive Committee would continue to work on upgrading CUB after the presentation.


At the core of CUB is the commitment by all parties to put the owner's need for a smooth managed project as the top priority. On a CUB project, unions and contractors have agreed to a specific Memorandum of Understanding which outlines principles for improving quality, safety, and productivity on every CUB project.

They view the CUB Memorandum as a binding commitment to deliver a project without work stoppages. CUB is an alliance of construction professionals and skilled trades that have made a commitment to provide a project done in a timely, safe manner that achieves the quality and cost effectiveness owners want and deserve.


With the Memorandum of Understanding agreed to by all parties a presentation was made to owners. Owners and users from throughout the State attended the event which included presentations from: Michigan's Speaker of the House, the Executive Director of the Business Roundtable, and the President of the Michigan Construction User's Council, along with members of the CUB Executive Committee.

The announcement of a no-work stoppage pact brought high praise from all in attendance. It was noted that owners need to look at the big picture: one which shows that union construction workers are the most productive employees available. CUB offers this to owners, along with projects done in a timely, safe manner that achieve the quality they want in the most cost effective way.

The CUB Executive Committee continued solidifying the programs discussed at the owners meeting.


The next activity of the Executive Committee was to determine what would distinguish a project as a CUB job. The first answer was obvious -- it would be a project with a signed Memorandum of Understanding.

Even with the promises of no work stoppages it was important to offer the client something more. After reviewing, at great length, the Business Roundtable's Construction Industry Cost Effectiveness (CICE) program, the Executive Committee adopted, in concept, the principles of CICE, including, but not limited to:

Higher Quality and Productivity

Limited Absenteeism

Job Completion on Schedule

Improved Cost Effectiveness

Improved Construction Safety

CUB subscribed to the very premise the Business Roundtable's report was written to address. CUB agreed that more construction for the money was a practical and available concept.

A CUB project would be a means to achieve these results.


CUB recognized that alcoholism, drug dependence and other medical behavioral conditions are highly complex illnesses which, under most circumstances, can be successfully treated.

It felt that it was the responsibility of the industry to follow procedures assuring that no employee with illnesses will jeopardize the job security and safety of others. CUB supported a substance abuse detention and assistance program for construction projects.

A Statement, then a Substance Abuse Agreement, was jointly adopted emphasizing the need to address the problem, one of the first in the Country.


Labor and management are united to supply the most qualified and responsible workers for their construction jobsites, the various Building Trades members of CUB have developed Joint Apprenticeship Programs. These are programs registered with the State of Michigan and the Federal Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training.

These Jointly administered programs are committed to train knowledgeable, experienced, responsible craftsmen with the capability of performing all functions of their respective trades.

The craft programs operated in Washtenaw County are some of the best in the United States. It takes commitment and resources to develop programs like ours that include:

On-the-job training that contributes to the safe completion of a construction project, and,

Classroom programs that concentrate on related training in the classroom to supplement on-the-job training.

This training is why CUB contractors deliver consistent, high quality work.


At a time when the number of skilled construction workers is falling steadily behind the demand, the existing, skilled CUB workforce, and our advanced training, mean a CUB project will always have the best possible, productive workforce.


A safe work site, in which all practical steps are taken to prevent injury, including education on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse is of vital importance. Safety is paramount to safe-guard human life. CUB contractors have a commitment to safety education and safety program on their jobsites. These programs, typically, allow them to enjoy lower Worker's Compensation Modification Rates - resulting in lower labor costs and lower project costs.


The CUB Memorandum pledges the parties to no work stoppages. This leaves open the question of how disputes will be settled in the event that they arise on a CUB job. Reliance on the existing mechanisms such as the National Labor Relations Board, or Joint Board for the Settlement of Jurisdictional Disputes will be utilized. There will be no work stoppages, or slow downs during the settlement of a dispute.

If there is a dispute, other than jurisdictional, a Disputes Board has been established and agreed to by all parties. Again, if for any reason a dispute arises, there will be no work stoppages or slow downs.


The Executive Committee is in the process of completing Mid- and Post-Job Evaluation procedures. This will include evaluations by all parties to the project: owner, designer, prime contractor, subcontractor, and craftsman.

In doing so, this will enable, in particular, the owner to give the type of input into our process to make this and future jobs more productive and run more cost efficient. The evaluation process will also enable CUB to make additions to our program assisting our ability to supply the best quality construction project.


It is imperative, for the success of our program to continue, to educate the owners and users of construction that the organized construction industry delivers the most cost effective results. That is the bottom line -- smart people look at the big picture and we must show that union construction workers and union employing contractors are the most capable people on the job.

Construction reports are reviewed daily. When new projects and/or new developers or owners are considering our area they are contacted. In reviewing the progress of our organization throughout the years, and presenting the benefits of a CUB job, we feel confident we will continue to have the majority of construction in ~Washtenaw County done by union employing contractors. The success of our program is exemplified by the decision of the developers of the Wal-Mart Shopping Center in Washtenaw County to build the project totally with union labor. For an organization known for building their stores with non-union contractors, there is no better example of the benefits of CUB.


Every CUB local and CUB contractor has made a commitment to look for and encourage the development of innovative construction practices and techniques that can increase productivity, quality and safety. Numerous CUB members were instrumental in the formation of the Construction Innovation Forum and the organized Construction Industry works to promote the work being done through this organization.


Along with our work locally, CUB participates as an active member of LOC (Labor-Owner-Contractor) Summit of Southeastern Michigan, a statewide organization working for the betterment of the organized construction industry. We know we are not alone in our commitment to serve owners and users. A Summit of all statewide programs enables us to exchange ideas, and utilize the collective knowledge of all organizations.


Of equal importance to the education of our clients is the necessity to reinforce to our employees how vital their productivity and cooperation is to maintaining the good working relationship that encourage the use of our product.

They are the first line of defense against the non-union industry. With their continued commitment and hard work, the jobs of tomorrow will be there. They will be there because the owners will continue to receive the very best product.


Along with the need to better educate owners and users is the need to enlighten the general public of the benefits from our Industry. CUB becomes involved in various community service activities, including:

Burton Towers Renovation - Through the efforts of CUB members, the University Musical Society (UMS) offices, housed at Burton Towers at the University of Michigan, were completely renovated, free of charge, when it was determined it was desperately needed and impossible for the UMS to do the project on their own.

Christmas Giving Program - During the holiday season CUB adopted 20 families who were currently on welfare. The organization purchased food, clothing and gifts for the families at Christmas.

Christmas In April - Christmas In April is a national program dedicated to keeping low-income, elderly and disabled homeowners living in warmth, safety, independence, dignity and decency through home repair and rehabilitation using volunteer services. Lead by the Plumbing and Mechanical Industry and the Electrical Industry, the unionized Construction Industry donated time, materials and expertise to renovate homes during the program on an Annual basis.

All of these programs are of vital importance in making the community aware of our organization and the advantages we provide for the area.

2001 - OUR 35th YEAR

In 2001 CUB begins its 35th year. New programs are being developed to insure our continued progress:

  • In giving our clients the most cost effective product available at the quality level they deserve,
  • In having the safest jobsites possible,
  • Insuring a substance abuse free project,
  • In replenishing our ranks with enthusiastic apprentices to continue our traditions,
  • In helping our workers reach their potential as tradesmen,
  • In helping our foremen and supervisors achieve their potential to administer problem free work-sites

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