Masonry Contractors in Contract Dispute with California Bricklayers

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Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers call for a strike against members of the contractors association.

On July 14, 2005, the Northern California Masonry Contractors Association sent a letter to the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) Local 3 Union announcing they are cutting off contract negotiations and would lock out all member employees of BAC Local 3 if BAC engaged in a strike against any contractor association member.

Since the contractors were not willing to continue to negotiate, BAC decided to call a strike against members of the contractors association on July 14, 2005, in an effort to get them to return to negotiations.

BAC Local 3 Bricklayers of Northern California have been working without a contract since July 1, 2005. Contract negotiations began May 25, 2005 with the Masonry Contractors Association and the process has faced a few delays. Some of the delays included documents that contained omissions without notation and a misquote of the Industrial Wage Order 16-2001.

Due to an incident on June 9, 2005 the negotiations were further delayed. The incident was severe enough to cause the Alameda County Superior Court to issue an injunction. The Ralph Civil Rights Act, Civil Code section 51.7 "provides that all persons within this state have the right to be free from violence committed against themselves or their property because of their … position in a labor dispute."

A presentation by BAC Local 3 was eventually made on June 15, 2005, which included forecasts on economics and employment for the brick and construction industry of California. The projections indicate there will be approximately $60 billion in construction and 1,000 new bricklayers needed. Data sources included: the California Five Year Infrastructure Plan, published by the California Department of Finance; Project Labor Agreement data compiled from Construction and Building Trade Councils; various articles and publications that substantiate a surge in construction growth, such as a study from the University of the Pacific and various realty advisor groups; California E.D.D.; Labor Market Information Division; BLS; Construction Labor Research Council; Consumer Price Index (CPI) information; and a report from the California Budget Project on the cost of living in California.

The third party administrator of the BAC Health and Welfare trust fund reported the average monthly retiree benefit received by the bricklayers retiree is almost equal to the monthly contribution they have to pay for health insurance.

BAC Local 3 also presented the advantages of being a BAC Local 3 contractor. BAC Local 3 established a website ( with a section that promotes the contractors; purchased radio advertising to promote the trade, increase recruiting, and increase brand awareness; used direct mail to promote the contractors to general contractors, developers, architects and engineering firms; distributed publications that emphasize safer building practices using masonry; enhanced recruitment efforts through the Helmets to Hardhats program; participated in a television sponsorship on the history of bricks through the History Channel.

In July 2004 the bricklayers took a $1.50 per hour pay cut to fund their health and welfare benefit. BAC is asking for a raise to recover that pay cut and to cover future increases in health and welfare. Additionally, BAC is seeking an increase to cover the cost of living increase, such as gas and housing and a subsidy for the retiree's health and welfare.

As of today, the contractors association has not made a logical argument for their refusal to grant the bricklayers the requested increase in compensation.

Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers represent approximately 3,000 Bricklayers/Stonemasons, Tile Layers and Finishers, Pointer Cleaner Caulkers, Marble Setters and Finishers, Terrazzo Mechanics and Finishers, and Refractory Bricklayers who work various aspects of the industry in the Northern 46 counties of California.

"We are some of the hardest workers society has to offer. Due to the skyrocketing cost of health care, housing, childcare, and gas, we are becoming part of the working poor," James C. Bresnahan, President BAC Local 3. "We deserve better."

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