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Council launches campaign to boost construction wages

May 15, 2001

Council launches campaign to boost construction wages



By SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Committee to raise construction workers' pay

Photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER

Staff Photographer

Dan Kuczinski, right, serving as the employee committee chairman, comments during a press conference Monday morning to promote a program to raise construction workers' pay. At the front table are Jon "Rosie" Rosenberger, employee committee, left, and Roger "Jack" Wilson Jr., construction user committee.

The Western Maryland Building and Construction Trades Council has begun a campaign to increase the salaries of construction workers in Washington County, the organization said Monday.

The campaign theme is "Don't be mistaken about what you're making," said Council President Terry L. Bowman.

Construction workers in Washington County make less than workers elsewhere in Maryland, and in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, according to figures provided by the Trades Council.

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The goal is to raise the income for all 3,470 construction workers in the county, not just for those in the unions, Bowman said.

The Western Maryland Building and Construction Trades Council, which was formed in 1981, consists of 14 craft unions in Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties.

All of the unions involved endorse the H2001 campaign, shorthand for Hagerstown 2001, said Bowman, who said he has been involved in unions for 31 years and worked in construction for 13 years as a mechanic.

The campaign is not just about making more money, said Bowman and others. It is also about reminding employers that because of council training, local workers are better trained and more efficient than others, said Dan Kuczinski, who heads up one of the campaign's committees.

During a news conference Monday, council members explained the campaign's intent and compared the wages of county workers to those elsewhere.

The annual wage for construction workers in Washington County in fiscal 2000, the most recent period for which figures are available, was $27,650, Bowman said.

The state average for construction workers salaries in Maryland in that same period was $31,560, while the average was $35,790 in Pennsylvania and $31,560 in West Virginia, he said.

The national average was $33,650, he said.

To bring salaries up to those figures, the average salaries of Washington County construction workers would have to increase by from 13 percent to 29 percent, he said.

As part of the campaign, Bowman said, he and others will meet with the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Council and the Washington County Commissioners.

During the 26-week initial phase of the campaign, the group will spend "in the six figures" on media advertising.

"We expect resistance," Bowman said.

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