The Baltimore/DC-Metro Building Trades Unions, a council of 28 construction trade unions representing more than 30,000 workers, today joined state officials, women- and minority-owned business owners, Veterans enrolled in union apprenticeship training programs, and others to show support for Governor Wes Moore’s signing of an executive order setting a number of important standards, including authorizing the use of project labor agreements (PLAs) which will help ensure women, minorities, and Veterans have an opportunity to benefit from infrastructure investments.
“Today was a big day for workers. Strong unions raise standards for all workers – union and non-union alike. Gov. Moore today signed an executive order that will level the playing field in so many ways. Underserved communities – women, Veterans, persons of color, and others – will have better access to world-class union apprenticeship training and excellent careers in the building trades,” said Baltimore/DC-Metro Building Trades Unions President Greg Akerman. “And this isn’t just about workers – it’s about contractors. Too often, we see small contractors losing bids for jobs for which they’re perfectly suited. So when we talk about leveling the playing field, it’s important to remember our MBEs, for example, deserve a seat at the table. And that’s what PLAs provide. With PLAs, every party wins – workers, contractors, and taxpayers. From apprentices and journeypersons to contractors and state agencies, Marylanders will benefit from the expansion of PLAs.”
This week has been a busy one for Baltimore, as Charm City made headlines for historic investments being made in transportation and construction. Today, the energy in the room was apparent; loud cheers came from union members throughout the audience as Gov. Moore talked about projects being completed with union hands and disadvantaged communities having access to jobs and contracts.
“I come from a union family. Unions built Baltimore. Unions built Maryland. And we must honor that legacy in everything we do,” said Gov. Moore. “This executive order will help ensure that as we benefit from millions of dollars in new federal investments, those projects will be built by union hands. This is Maryland’s time to lead. And we will do it together.”
In the greater Baltimore/Washington, DC region, the Building Trades Unions invest tens of millions of dollars each year on apprenticeship and apprenticeship-readiness programs. The money for this training is raised through contributions by union members and signatory contractors.
“As a Veteran and a first-year apprentice with the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), I really feel like I’m on the right path. I’m providing for myself and my five children, and I’m learning a trade I love,” said Dante Todd, an Army Veteran and apprentice with IUOE Local 37. “I am so proud to be a part of the trades – it’s more than a job, it’s family. Better yet, this is earn-as-you-learn training. I won’t be saddled with debt upon graduating from my apprenticeship. When Gov. Moore talked about Maryland serving as a model for how the rest of the nation can use PLAs, I felt so proud. Being born and raised in East Baltimore, this is very personal for me.”
By encouraging public and private investments in the construction industry that will provide continued and increased access to career training and employment, the Baltimore/DC-Metro Building Trades Unions and its proven apprenticeship training model provides value to the industry, while strengthening the communities in which union members live and work.
“This executive order could be a real game-changer. At the end of the day, it’s all about progress – empowering historically underserved communities and growing opportunities for hardworking people ready to get to work,” said Stephanie Sweet, owner and co-founder of Bethel Electric. “Being signatory to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is vital to my company’s success. The union provides the best men and women for any job – and that’s why Bethel’s customers tend to come back. I’m a strong believer that we can all do well. Success for workers, as well as contractors – the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Maryland’s future is looking bright, and today’s event was evidence of that.”
A council of 28 construction trade unions in the greater Baltimore/Washington, DC/Northern Virginia region, the Baltimore/DC-Metro Building Trades Unions represents tens of thousands of skilled craft professionals in the building and construction industry. Its mission is to work with industry, government, and community leaders to raise industry standards and provide opportunity.