Is Your CUPP Full?
In January 2019, SWRCC launched a sweeping, council-wide effort, the Carpenters Union Participation Program, aka CUPP. CUPP builds upon 2018’s Local restructuring by geography and is aimed at bolstering volunteer work in members’ own communities. “We are 50,000 members strong,” Executive Secretary-Treasurer Dan Langford said. “Full participation by all of our brothers and sisters means carpenter volunteer work will generate millions of hours in manpower in our own backyards,” he continued.
“Full participation by all of our brothers and sisters means carpenter volunteer work will generate millions of hours in manpower in our own backyards,” said Langford.
CUPP leverages the current committee structure of the council to encourage members to use their creativity and focus resources, as they work to show their communities the “Union Difference.” CUPP is aimed at measurable changes: an impact neighbors, developers, elected officials, and other decision-makers can see. The more visible Union carpenters are as the fabric of the community, the more likely the community and officials are to realize that Union carpenters deserve to work close to home for fair wages and benefits.
“Ultimately, more involvement helps build a stronger Union and will grow market share,” Langford said. The Council is aiming for 100% participation with CUPP and members have already begun to lay a strong foundation. At the close of the Vision 20/20 program, more than 10,000 members attended meetings and pledged their time and talents to one of seven CUPP committees: Education, Mentor, Political Action, Social Media, Training, Volunteer, and Workers. Communities are already starting to see what a difference having Union carpenters closer to home can make.
On August 6, 2018, the Holy Fire sparked in Cleveland National Forest. In less than a day, the wildfire had burned through over 4,000 acres, threatening Orange and Riverside County communities. As first responders raced to contain the fire and evacuate families, Local 909 and 951 carpenters were there in support of brave emergency personnel and in service to their communities. The Locals’ Volunteer committees gathered food, water, and toiletries for firefighters and displaced families. Though severe drought conditions fed the blaze for over a month, the valiant actions of firefighters and support from the community resulted in minimal losses. There were no fatalities from the fire and damage was limited to 18 structures. You can be sure Union carpenters will be ready to do their part to make sure the community recovers fully.
For more than a year, Colorado carpenters have been locked in a battle for the well-being of Colorado families and to ensure safe working conditions for all of Colorado’s construction industry workers. What was once thought to be a case of a few bad apples had been revealed as an entire underground network of fraudulent contractors and seedy labor brokers, feeding off vulnerable workers and their communities. Construction industry tax fraud costs Colorado an estimated $750 million in lost tax revenue annually. Contractors have misclassified their employees as independent contractors to avoid paying them fair wages and payroll taxes. In some cases, this underground economy nearly drove upstanding contractors out of the industry entirely. Last summer, Southwest Regional Council began notifying Denver’s City Council about the growing issue, but their calls for intervention were ignored.
Local 555’s Political Action and Volunteer committees began the Criminal Colorado Campaign, an organized effort to educate the community on what was at stake. Carpenters from all over the southwest poured into Colorado to stand with their brothers and sisters as they fought for the state’s workers and families, but it was the brotherhood’s committees putting in overtime and standing together at town halls that forced the powers-that-be into action. The persistence of Local 555’s carpenters was rewarded when Governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order forming the construction industry Payroll Fraud Task Force. Thanks to the efforts of carpenters and the community, Colorado has taken the first step towards creating a future where profits aren’t prioritized over people.
Carpenters often use their skills to build on a grand scale. Projects like the Las Vegas Raiders stadium and the Luxor Hotel become monuments to craftsmanship and instill a deep sense of pride in the brothers and sisters who contribute to them. Sometimes, though, the most gratifying projects are much smaller in scale but have rewards that exceed any dollar amount. There’s nothing better for a union carpenter than when they can use their skills to directly benefit their communities and make life a bit easier for those in need. Local 1977 carpenters practiced this tradition when they stopped by Ayden’s Army of Angels Childhood Cancer & Sickle Cell Foundation this summer. Lindsey Licari started the foundation in honor of her son Ayden after he passed away from health complications due to his long fight with cancer. The organization serves families who are battling cancer by collecting food, goods, and finances to aid them in their fight. For its service to the community, Local 1977 Volunteer committee remodeled.
As an organization, Habitat for Humanity helps change the lives of those in need by building and improving the places they call home. It’s an honorable cause, and one to which Local 1912 carpenters were more than happy to contribute their skills. This year, while most were at home enjoying the long Labor Day weekend, Local 1912’s carpenters were hard at work using their talents to build new units for Central Arizona families. The carpenters were able to complete a project that will help Habitat for Humanity change dozens of lives for the better. Just a typical day’s work for a union carpenter.
This year, carpenters in the Land of Enchantment helped bring their community closer by holding their first annual Solidarity Day. There was food, games, and prizes for all to enjoy. Local 1319’s Sisters in the Brotherhood, along with the Volunteer committee, used their talents to build crafts and auctioned off their wares to raise money for the community’s emergency personnel. Carpenters brought out their families and neighbors along with law enforcement officials to celebrate the unity of New Mexico’s communities. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and Congressional Candidate Deb Haaland stopped by to show their support for building Union Strong communities, not just through hammers and nails, but also with smiles and shared memories.
“By being more visible and engaged, we’re not just building communities and highways, we’re building our brand,” said EST Langford. “This will lead to a larger market share, more steady work, better, contracts through collective bargaining, and solidify our place at the table.”
Local 801’s carpenters aren’t just building communities in Utah, they’re also doing their best to make sure no one in their community goes without food. Over the past several months, Local 801 has donated hundreds of pounds of food to the Utah Food Bank. In their first food drive effort, the Volunteer committee was able to collect over 300 pounds of food. The response from carpenters and the community was so outstanding, the Local decided to make collecting food a regular part of its meeting agendas. Carpenters are encouraged to bring food donations when they come to meetings, pay dues, or just stop by the Local. Professional union carpenters take care of the communities where they live and work. With the combined efforts of 801’s committees, Utah’s union carpenters are a part of something bigger than themselves.
GET READY, CUPP IS COMING JANUARY 1
The first CUPP committee meetings will begin in November, with more details continuing to roll out in the coming months, until the campaign’s official kickoff in January. Members should check Local Union meeting schedules to find out how they can show their communities the Union Difference and help the Union grow stronger.