Get Into Politics or Get Out of Business

The Voice of the Merit Shop is ABC’s Mission

Every time a presidential election happens, our economy turns into a major point of interest. Among the essential signals of the United States economic climate is the construction market, which in turn causes political figures to have a wide range of pledges to triumph office. However, just how much do state policies truly impact the building business? According to ABC SEMI President and CEO, Keith Ledbetter, the building and construction sector typically gets thrown all-around just like a political soccer ball to try to aid political figures in looking more attractive as well as answer challenges.

“The Associated Builders and Contractors are the voice of construction,” said Ledbetter. “For the past 50 years, we advocated exclusively for free and open construction markets where companies win work based on the MERIT of their experience and capabilities, not due simply to labor affiliation. ABC is not anti-union; rather we are pro-choice. Owners should be free to choose and hire whichever company offers the best value. Every project which uses public tax dollars should maximize competitive bidding rather than reducing it based solely upon labor affiliation.”

Did you know that over 86% of the construction industry is merit shop?

Statistics show that less than 14% of all construction is performed by union contractors. Merit shop is not union vs. non-union. It’s simply a way of doing business, built on free enterprise. ABC of Michigan President Jimmy Greene believes those numbers speak for themselves and prove that merit shop works for everyone.

“Everyone is evaluated, judged, awarded, and rewarded according to the ‘merit’ of his/her work,” said Greene. “It is this belief in quality-based results that governs the organization and members of Associated Builders and Contractors. You have the right to talk to your employees about what it means to be a merit shop contractor in the construction industry. That is why it is everyone’s job to build and sustain relationships with lawmakers to defend and advance federal, state, and local merit shop policies impacting ABC membership and the construction industry.”

When ABC was founded in 1950 by seven contractors in Baltimore, it was with the sole purpose of political advocacy in mind. These companies (two union and five merit shop) wanted the right to work together on projects regardless of their union or non-union affiliation. It was from that free enterprise thinking that ABC came to political prominence in the late 1960s where they worked hard to level the playing field for their members and work to ensure they could compete and win work. It was a time of tight labor markets, war-induced inflation, and successful union demands for higher wages. Many big businesses found that they were forced to work with unions or miss out on large, lucrative projects.

“It is a fight that we continue to battle to this day,” said former ABC Michigan Chairman Robert Clancy of Robert Clancy Contracting. “We have made strides in Michigan to improve the construction climate with the repeal of Prevailing Wage and establishing Michigan as a Right to Work state, but these gains continue to be challenged and we as an association must be vigilant to ensure our hard work is not undone.”

There are a number of areas where public policy impact ABC members and create challenges and actual obstacles to competing and winning business in the construction industry:

  • Project Planning Plus Development is impacted by public policy in mostly large-scale jobs where the need of authorization from the local government is required to go forward. When the local government chooses to alter zoning policies over a specific parcel of land, then that brings a task to a stop. Simply by a similar token, in case the federal government is not going to consent to modify housing code rules to aid a building business acquire task management ongoing, subsequently that job will not carry on.
  • Security Rules. Local, state, as well as federal safety rules can be political vehicles which impact the building and construction industry. This covers all safety concerns within the construction, the building itself, and real estate where the project is going to be built. This also includes the use of equipment from large to small tools.
  • Economic Aspects. A roundabout approach that politics influences the building industry is by means of political adjustments that lead to the country-wide or worldwide overall economy to change. The building and construction business is incredibly vulnerable to variations in the economic climate, and these imbalances can be due to political selections.

Whenever politicians would like to try to “kick start” our economy, they will create regulations that devote in general public works building and construction plans. Yet when people in politics create devastating economical faults, the building market generally senses the end results harder compared to some other organization sector.

“ABC members stand up for their belief that projects should be awarded based on merit,” said Clancy. “Yet regulatory tactics and backroom political deals continue to threaten non-union construction businesses. ABC is our ally so that no contractor has to deal with its problems alone, whether it’s recruiting and training craft professionals, improving safety performance, advancing local competition legislation, or educating other business owners that merit shop contractors are the preferred source of construction services.”