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Are labor unions trying to infiltrate the surveying and mapping market?

Posted By John "JB" Byrd, Thursday, November 7, 2013

In recent months, we have seen evidence of increased activity on the part of a national labor union, and its locals, affecting the geospatial community generally and survey crews in particular.

The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) is attempting to influence survey firms/survey crews or labor policy affecting surveying and survey crews.  Earlier this year, the IUOE convinced the U.S. Department of Labor to reverse 50+ years of federal policy and define members of survey crews as "laborers and mechanics”, subjecting them to the "prevailing wage” provisions of the controversial Davis-Bacon Act.  Soon thereafter, the Department of Labor began to create a union-sponsored "apprenticeship” program occupation of rodman/chainman. The Operating Engineers then succeeded in getting a state department of transportation (DoT) to impose a statewide prevailing wage mandate for survey crews on all its projects.  Finally, there has been an attempt to impose "project labor agreements” (PLA) on firms employing survey crews on state transportation projects.

A Spatially Speaking Blog post earlier this year explained the issue. MAPPS filed a letter with Congress for a hearing on Davis-Bacon, opposing the Labor Department ruling.

We have been asked by the Committee on Education and Workforce of the U.S. House of Representatives to compile other instances of union activities in our field.  This will be helpful to the committee’s oversight and investigation of these activities.

Davis-Bacon and union organization of surveying and mapping firms is unnecessary.  As NSPS Executive Director Curtis W. Sumner, LS, said in his testimony before Congress, employees in the surveying and mapping field are well compensated and in high demand.  The administrative burden and recordkeeping that will be imposed on small businesses in the field will be exorbitant. There is no evidence that workers in the geospatial workforce need union representation. 

If you have had any recent experience with the IUOE or any other union making an inquiry, initiating an activity, or otherwise increasing its presence in the surveying, mapping and geospatial field, please provide details to John "JB” Byrd, MAPPS Government Affairs Manager or leave your experience below in our comments section.

Thank you in advance for your input.

In an economy where you are counting every dollar, it is good to know you can count on MAPPS.


Tags:  Congress  Davis-Bacon  Geospatial  Labor  Mapping  NSPS  Surveying  Unions 

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