Electric TV’s Latest Video Highlights Pro-Union Labor in Wisconsin

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Prominent Pro-Union Milwaukee Urban Developer is Subject of Latest Web Video

Electric TV
"Building union is the only way to build projects of this nature," ... "You need the workforce that has the skills to build a project like this. (It is) a very technical, difficult building to build."

Rick Barrett, founder of Barrett Visionary Development has come to happily embrace union contractors in his latest development projects. This pro-union attitude is the highlight of Electric TV’s latest video release. Barrett heads one of the leading urban development firms in Wisconsin, a state whose governor has made no secret of his stance on labor unions. In 2011, despite massive, pro-union citizen protests, Governor Scott Walker rammed through anti-union legislation that ended the rights of state workers (including peace officers and educators) to engage in collective bargaining. Over the past few years, aided by highly funded ad campaigns (paid for largely by out-of-state anti-labor interest groups), attitudes in this once progressive state, as well as former manufacturing regions in Indiana and Ohio, have turned against organized labor, and unions have come under heavy fire.

Some pro-union workers express concern that this same mentality helps to drive America's manufacturing base overseas, where workers are paid less and environmental regulations are more lax.

In light of these trends, there are some signs that not all is lost for union contractors. This is the theme of ElectricTV.net's latest informational video, which focuses on Barrett and his construction development company. In the video, Barrett announces that he hires construction unions for his projects, and understands how "bottom line" thinking, which insists everything should be done as cheaply as possible, represents a "false economy." The video also addresses the idea that paying less today to get a job done a little cheaper can result in big expenses later down the road. When it came to one of his recent projects -- the 30-story, mixed use Moderne Building in downtown Milwaukee -- he found that employing workers from Milwaukee unions might have cost more per hour during construction – but they got the job done faster, and they got it done right the first time.

Now calling himself a "union developer," Barrett says he relies on the skills of NECA-affiliated contractors. “Building union is the only way to build projects of this nature,” Barrett said. "You need the workforce that has the skills to build a project like this. (It is) a very technical, difficult building to build."

Tony Tiedemann, vice president of NECA member Uihlein (E-line) Electric, told ElectricTV.net that the company designed the electrical systems "very aggressively, (while) coming up with different dynamic solutions that would ultimately lower out risk from an installation, increase the quality...and shorten (the construction) schedule."

Matt Rinka, lead architect on the project, is also pro-union jobs. He added that he and the design team were "...really impressed with the dedication (from) every one from the electricians to the HVAC guys and crews on concrete...to making sure it was done correctly." A project manager acknowledged that IBEW electricians, "tend to be the most sophisticated and high performing electrical contractors."

Ultimately, the video serves to demonstrate that the Construction Unions of Wisconsin uphold the highest quality standards in their work, which translates into lower costs for everyone – and the folks at ElectricTV.net are pleased for the opportunity to spread the word.

ABOUT ELECTRIC TV: ElectricTV.net is a website promoted and maintained by the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). In addition to providing readily accessible information on the future of electrical energy through educational video presentations, ElectricTV.net also promotes the work of NECA and the IBEW.

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Dominic Giarratano
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