MWL Construction Mentorship Program Hosts “Union vs. Non-Union” Panel

Ray McGuire, General Counsel for Building and Construction Trades Council; Joseph Ienuso, Executive Vice President for Columbia University Facilities; Lou Colletti, President & CEO of Building Trades Employee Association; Paul Viera, President of IDL Communications

From left: Ray McGuire, General Counsel for Building and Construction Trades Council; Joseph Ienuso, Executive Vice President for Columbia University Facilities; Lou Colletti, President & CEO of Building Trades Employee Association; Paul Viera, President of IDL Communications

 On Wednesday, October 3rd, the CAP/Columbia University minority-, women-, and locally-owned (MWL) Construction Trades Certificate Mentorship Program, helps MWL businesses build capacity and earn contracting opportunities at the University, hosted a "Union vs. Non-Union" panel discussion open to current and previous participants in the program. The panel, moderated by Joseph Ienuso, Executive Vice President for Columbia University Facilities, consisted of Lou Colletti, President & CEO of Building Trades Employee Association; Ray McGuire, General Counsel for Building and Construction Trades Council; Sharon Sinaswee, owner of Armada Building Services; and Paul Viera, President of IDL Communications. The audience, made up of over 40 - both union and nonunion - construction business owners, and panel of expert speakers discussed trends in the construction industry, project labor agreements, and upcoming legislation pertaining to both union and non-union firms. 

"As business owners in this industry, we must remain aware of legislation that can impact the MWL community," said Viera. "Participating in a PLA helped me determine that my company was ready to join a trades union. This decision helped my business grow substantially in recent years. Without knowledge of legislation in the industry, I would not have been able to participate in one."

The panel discussed the benefits and challenges of joining trade unions to help participants determine if union work was suitable for their companies.  The session also connected firms who wish to join trade unions with appropriate agencies that can help guide them throughout the process. "This great program at Columbia is preparing you for success in this difficult industry," said Colletti. "Many firms in the industry are not exposed to such invaluable resources. These companies have great opportunities to grow their businesses with the help of this program."

 Columbia offers construction opportunities for both union and non-union firms.  "Invest in your company and employees.  The work you leave behind is your business card. People will vouch for your work if they are pleased" said Ienuso.