NMA agreements are so widespread across the country that there is even an NMA policy committee that manages the process. Since 1971, more than 1.6 billion hours of work have been worked under the NMA, amounting to $260 billion. More than 3,300 signatory contractors employed workers under the agreement. Simply put, the plans of the national maintenance contract bring union members into Work – in many workplaces, en masse. Of course, some facets of the agreement, such as drug and alcohol testing, are not popular with some of our members. They are not necessarily popular in other workplaces, but they quickly become a fact of life in pre-job tests. Since their inception in 1971, NMA agreements have generally been used for large industrial construction projects, although they are increasingly applicable to large commercial jobs. In Michigan, companies such as General Motors, Ford, Daimler-Chrysler and DTE Energy are major users of NMAs. Our employees and contractors, who work within the framework of the NMAs, have been able to establish a huge balance sheet with the owners. Our quality workforce has made a good reputation for our employers and this favourable reputation has led owners to constantly look for union contractors.
The owners have advanced the NMA process, and you will get an idea of their priorities if you look at the contract. For the owners, it`s all business. They do not want workers in their projects under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They want workers who have participated in a coordinated safety program and are certified in specialized areas such as welding. A good record prevents owners from entering our competition, which includes workers employed by non-union contractors and temporary employment agencies, or even internal „construction workers“ represented by unded unions. Contractors and contractors want to know the price they pay for their staff, the days off they will receive and the amount they will pay for overtime. They want to ensure that their construction project will not be interrupted by an expensive work stoppage. They want work schedules and work rules to be clearly defined. As with any other agreement between work and management, parts of the national maintenance contract are not well part of the workers. On the other hand, I would expect that owners and contractors who require the use of NMAs for their projects would not appreciate certain sections either. The National Maintenance Contract is a 19-page document that is used across the country and outlines common concerns and requirements for the work contracts in which they are used.
The general conditions require good safety practices at all stages of the order, no interruption of the owner`s work, on-time performance, inexpensive and quality craftsmanship, flexibility of productivity, trained and available staff and a problem-solving process on the job site. Many construction workers have the wrong impression that if union members are not hired to do the job, it cannot be done. Just look at one of Sunbelt`s cities in the right-to-work states to find non-union workers, this is the norm rather than the exception. The national maintenance contract is not perfect – but at the end of the day, I think it`s important to spread the word from time to time, that construction projects using an NMA put our employees to work consistently, look for owners and contractors, and that our contractors move forward a few steps forward with union-free competition. This comes to me because I participated last month in the Regional Industrial Maintenance Conference 2003, an event sponsored by the Great Lakes Construction Alliance.