Citing such factors as employer preference, industry practice, and efficiency of operations, the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that Iron Workers
Citing such factors as employer preference, industry practice, and efficiency of operations, the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that Iron Workers Local 112-represented employees of Illinois highway contractor Freesen Inc. are entitled to erect prestressed girders for much of the remaining bridge work on a major upgrade of Interstate 74. The project began in August 2004 and runs through Peoria and East Peoria. The bridge work involves setting of precast girders Û supplied by Prestress Engineering Corp., Blackstone, Ill. Û on either stiff grout masonry, fabric pad, or steel bearing bases. The Labor Board decision settles a jurisdictional dispute arising from a complaint by the Mid-Central Illinois Regional Council of Carpenters, which sought assignment of all bridge erection work, regardless of bearing type, to its members. Following a series of exchanges between the employer and Carpenters and Iron Workers representatives, NLRB officials determined that disputed work was confined to erection of girders on steel bearings.
A signatory Associated General Contractors of Illinois member, Freesen is bound to a series of collective-bargaining agreements with Iron Workers, Carpenters, and Laborers unions. In February 2005, company CEO James Buhlig acknowledged that contracts with both the Iron Workers Local Union 112 and the Laborers’ 165 covered the girder erection work and proposed that a composite crew of Carpenters, Iron Workers and Laborers perform the job. Carpenters agents balked, filing the Labor Board complaint and suit in federal court.
Freesen staff ultimately argued that erection of girders on steel bearings work would run more efficiently and economically with a crew of five Iron Workers. A Carpenters crew would have required six or seven workers, the contractor contends, owing to the need for two Iron Workers specifically trained to adjust steel bearings and set anchor bolts on the beams. NLRB’s decision follows a late 2004 dispute between bricklayers and allied craft workers unions in Chicago and bridge, structural and reinforcing iron workers locals in Forest Park, Ill., over precast erection work assignment for a Chicago Midway Airport parking structure.