The attitude toward unions varies in different regions of the U.S. This leaves unions and signatory contractors to work together to build market share.
Missouri-Kansas Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust (LECET) Executive Director Laura Wagner discussed the purpose of LECET, what the labor climate looks like in Missouri and Kansas, how the pandemic affects labor and more.
What is the MO-KAN LECET?
Wagner said she helps connect Laborers’ Local Unions and their signatory contractors with projects and other opportunities. They work to recruit new union members and advance the union construction industry.
States such as Missouri and Kansas are historically anti-union, meaning people like Wagner must work hard to change the mind of project owners about union contractors in order to increase market share.
For some project owners, the pandemic demonstrated union contractors are the better option. Union contractors proved to be better at protecting workers by providing personal protective equipment and advocating for better standards to protect their workforce.
Wagner said the training, which is funded by union contractors, is the best in the industry. While it has a high upfront cost, the training pays for itself over time. Knowing how to avoid hazards prevents costly injuries and reduces stop time in the long run.
Gaining market share
Wagner said there is work to be done in the form of organizing more shops and building market share. While many project owners are aware of the quality work performed by union members in Missouri and Kansas, some project owners unfortunately do not take advantage of it – sometimes to their detriment.
Laborers in the two states have proven their skills and value on the jobsite, according to Wagner. She added that one of the best ways to build market share is to demonstrate the union difference, as unions deliver better quality workers, who create safer jobsites.