Legislative Conference Focuses on Creating Building Trades Majorities

With enthusiasm, vigor and determination, 3,000 delegates and guests who attended the 2015 Legislative Conference of North America’s Building Trades Unions renewed their commitment to a bipartisan approach to politics that seeks to create “Building Trades Majorities” within federal, state and local governments.

The three-day conference was held in Washington, D.C., culminating with an annual “Building Trades Lobbying Day” on Capitol Hill to promote industry standards and job creation. This year marks the 60th anniversary of this conference and the 50th year delegates have gathered at the Washington Hilton.

In his keynote address to the conference, North America’s Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey reminded the delegates of the progress being made through a value-centric, strategic approach to organizing designed to build collaborative partnerships with businesses, industries, government agencies and community leaders.

“Our workforce development expertise is opening doors all across the nation,” says McGarvey. “Membership is up; man hours are up; contractor backlogs are up. In the past two years our membership rolls have increased by 148,000.”

But, McGarvey also cautioned the delegates that the progress being made across the board can be derailed without a renewed commitment to a strategic, bipartisan approach to politics and organizing.

“The single biggest thing that can, and will, derail the collective hopes and aspirations that we have for the union construction industry and the members we represent is for us to make the mistake of having our fortunes tethered to one side of the shifting winds of American politics, rather than focusing on building increased support for our issues and priorities, no matter the party affiliation,” says McGarvey.

McGarvey continues: “We, all of us, need to step back from getting trapped in the ‘Democratic vs. Republican’ horserace analysis that has become so central to the labor movement, as well as popular culture and the media. We can no longer allow that to dictate our attitudes and actions. We need to start playing our game. And that means cultivating and constructing what we call ‘Building Trades Majorities’ at all levels of government.”

Other speakers at the conference on the first day included Thomas F. Farrell, II, the chairman, president and CEO of Dominion Resources; U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, Georgia State House Minority Leader Stacy Abrams (D), and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

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