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Delegate Meeting Letter

23 Jun 2022

We have been very busy with contract negotiations the past few months. Some of you may remember that last year Painters Local 802 in Madison accepted a one-year rollover of their contract with a fifty cent increase, which we were fortunate to be able to negotiate for because the contractors were insisting on a freeze until the very last moment. Since then, Adam Gifford, 802 member Ray Lavalee and I have been in negotiations for a new contract for 802. After many months, 10 to be exact, we had an offer to bring it back to the members of 802 and it was passed. This is a four-year economic offer of $2.00, $2.00, $1.60, $1.60. We have worked very hard to bring a legitimate offer back to 802.We were also working on contracts for Painters Local 1011 in the UP, the Glaziers employed at H.J. Martin and Omni Glass in Northern Wisconsin. We have done the best we can to negotiate the best contract we can for every one of our members. The members of PPG will be voted on a contract memorandum that will increase wages and go a long way toward eliminating the second tier at the plant. Good job to the Executive Board of 579.

May was a busy month for the rest of our locals as well because it was allocation month. The last several years we have been able to get benefit costs under control and beat the cost of medical inflation by taking a hands-on approach to our benefit management and really engage in ways to not only save money but also still provide good health and retirement benefits for our members. We do expect modest increases in health care costs this year however, mostly due to the lag in costs because of COVID. Most of the members however should still see at least a dollar on their check. Staying on the subject of benefits, we have been working with the International to set up information sessions for our members to review the changes to the IU Pension Plan. I have also been very busy dealing with a couple of delinquent contractors and getting the health benefits they owe to our members paid. The DC7-wide Defined Contribution (401K plan I have talked about in the past) is moving forward again and will be ready to begin operations and taking contributions by January of 2023. The Executive Board members of Local 579 and I have been working to get the payroll mess created by PPG resolved.

One thing that is helping with contract negotiations is the amount of work that is on the books right now and projected to be coming up in the next three years. At the Legislative Conference in Washington DC that I attended along with several DC7 staff and members, we learned about all the work that will be awarded throughout each state because of the almost two trillion-dollar Infrastructure Bill passed by Congress last year. We invited each elected congressperson or senator to meet with us while we were in DC to review what was coming back to WI. Unfortunately, several either did not respond or refused our request to meet with them. However, the ones we did meet with, specifically DC7 member Mark Pocan and Senator Baldwin, were very helpful in providing good information about the amounts of money coming back to WI and where it is going. As I said previously, I am trying to be as inclusive as possible and provide opportunities for our members to attend many of these conferences and events when they come up. I think it is a real eye opener to see the work that we do behind the scenes for our members. While the work picture is strong in the coming months it is still a little slow right now for all our areas. This is mainly due to the weather challenges and inability to get needed materials on job sites that are pushing projects behind. When it breaks however, we will be extremely busy and need new members both experienced and apprentice to help us fill the expected manpower needs. I have asked each Business Rep to work with our Director of Servicing, Training Director and Director of Organizing to come up with a plan to address the manpower concerns we have.

In March, I attended the spring GPAC meetings with all the other Business Managers and our IUPAT leadership. One of the items they stressed the most was the amount of upcoming work, and the manpower needs we will be having across the country. This, along with organizing, are the top priorities for our union right now. We are participating in campaigns against PPG to stop the lowering of the wages in the painting trade and looking at organizing opportunities with PPG at other plants in the country. DC7 organizing is going strong. In March we held our organizer boot camp. We had 22 members participate and 18 completed the 2-and-a-half-day grueling course. We are fortunate in DC7 to have so many talented members that have so much to offer the organization. Each one was qualified and would make an immediate impact to benefit the organization. However, we had funding for 2 positions from the IU and I am happy to announce that Local 781 Industrial Painter Johntay Young was offered a position as an organizer. I am still working though the other candidates to decide on the second organizer. DC7 did sign a new contractor in March, Tuffskin LLC, a specialty contractor that I began talking with last December. They work in the specialized marble protection industry and typically perform work in Casinos, government buildings and hotels. They are a contractor with local 770 and have five employees. I would like to welcome them to DC7 and thank them for choosing us. In the Madison area, we are starting to see some real results with our Industry Advancement Fund and have been able to target a specific segment of the Madison paint market along with a few nonunion paint contractors. I am also working on campaigns with Milwaukee paint contractors trying to win work at Milwaukee Sewer District.

On the training side last month, we held a Glazing Summit where we were able to not only showcase our facility but hold an educational event for architects and general contractors to discuss the importance of the AGMT Glazing Certification. It was a very successful event and great job to all of the staff who helped to put it on. Especially Brian Baumgartner, Jenni Neduzak, Andy Buck, Dean Wanty and the guys from 770 who helped to set up the show. We have held several events here in Big Bend and the Fitchburg Centers over the last few weeks including a Women in Construction event and staff from Governor Evers’ administration. In March, we held another round of AGMT testing for our Glaziers Certification, and again our members proved why they are the best in the industry. DC7 leads the IUPAT in the number of certified glaziers, and the general president told me that it is because of DC7 that the program is as far as it is. Congrats to all of our team who made this possible. The 2022 STAR Event/Family Picnic is June 25th and look forward to spending the day with your families.

I would also like to mention that the IU has really taken notice of the work being done by DC7 in all of our departments. When I met with General President Williams at GPAC he congratulated DC7 as being a council that other councils need to look to for success. I think that is proven by all of the grants we have been awarded this year, which includes not only our organizing grant but a grant for an industry salesperson that will work alongside DC7 staff and contractors to secure more work in our industrial markets. That along with appointments by the general president to attend several conferences and audit the IU with Jessica Anders shows that DC7 is really doing something good and headed in the right direction. An example of this is a couple of weeks ago 579 member Greyson Brown was asked by the IU to present a statement at the PPG shareholders meeting to discuss wage disparity between the PPG CEO and the workers.

For the good of the union, I want to recognize Local 770 member Roger McNabb who has been so critical to the show floor industry and is always here if we need help with a volunteer activity. Roger recently received bad news about his health, and I want him to know that he is in our thoughts. I want to congratulate DC7 Government Affairs Director Andy Buck on his recent reelection as a Winnebago County board Supervisor. Great job Andy! You ran an awesome campaign. On a sad note, I would like a moment of silence to recognize Local 770 member Augie Santiago, a 25-year plus member who recently passed away at work of a heart attack. Augie was a young guy, only 53.

Until next time, have a safe and healthy summer.


Jeff Mehrhoff