To: Brian Grant
Region “E” Vice President Mason Contractors Association of America

From: David Joslin, MCAA State Chair and MC&MCA

Date:  December 15, 2019

Re: MINNESOTA CHAPTER UPDATE FOR 2019 Workforce Development Activities 

According to Doug Schroder, President of the Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Local Union 1 MN/ND the total bricklayer hours worked through November of 2019 totaled 2,417,373.  That is an increase of 1% for the same period in 2018.  John Slama is the Masonry Coordinator for the Minnesota/North Dakota Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Journeyman & Apprentice Training Center in New Hope, Minnesota. The facility offers Apprentice and Journeyman level classes, as well as, hosts workshops for architects, engineers, high school and college students, and community non-profit groups.  The BAC Outreach Programs serves high school youth including general student population and at-risk youth. The MC&MCA sponsors and participates in many of these activities.  According to Slama, there are 229 brick and tile apprentices active and registered with the Minnesota Department of Labor Apprenticeship Division. This includes all metro MN, NE, SE, and Outstate apprentices. The breakdown is as follows: 177 brick and PCC, pointer cleaner caulker, tile finisher, tile layer, and terrazzo finisher apprentices learning of the BAC training center in New Hope and an additional 52 apprentices training in outstate locations (Duluth & Rochester).  

Economic Conditions/Forecasts Based on bricklayer hours reported, masonry construction weakened in 2019. Minnesota’s commercial construction market remains strong. Our general contractors, as well as, our specialty contractor, report worked lined up into deep in 2020 and some beyond that date. Architectural firms continue to report full and busy schedules. Most eyes are on the election of November of 2020. Presidential elections normally influence the economy but 2020 is expected to be a very unusual year politically.  The Minnesota legislature will be back in session in February and is expected to consider a large bonding bill as one of its session priorities. The bill is expected to include dollars for public buildings, roads, bridges, and light rail transit lines—all good construction jobs. Local school bond referendums have been passing with a record $1.3 billion in new construction expected from the last elections. More local referendums are scheduled.  U

nion Relationships The MC&MCA’s working relationship with the building trades unions is strong and fulfilling for all parties. We are deep into the first year of a new three-year labor agreement. The benches are empty with everyone working and concrete and masonry contractors bidding jobs and getting work.  Included in the current three-year labor agreement with the bricklayers is a mandatory 15 cents per hour bricklayer hours worked by signatory contractors performing masonry work in the state. That amount will increase to 25 cents per hour worked on May 1. The money is collected by a third party and returned directly to the MC&MCA to advance the masonry industry in Minnesota and the region. Investments in programs and staff are being made to grow and win back lost masonry market share from other vertical building systems.  

Masonry Marketing Activities The MC&MCA continued its strong marketing efforts with the design community in 2019.  Marketing Director Jenae Goede, who brings 15 years of history and experience in marketing and construction background, leading the effort and programs with our members and our targeted audiences.  The MC&MCA hosted a “Masonry Street” project at the Minnesota AIA convention held in mid-November in Minneapolis. MC&MCA sponsored a base booth and organized 14 MC&MCA contractor and supplier companies to locate their booths on Masonry Street in the exhibit hall. This density of topic concentration allowed architects and other attendees to get the full effect of the masonry model in the commercial world from contractors and suppliers. The masonry industry treated the attendees to an “open house” on the second night of the convention with free beer and food! The concept was well received, and the event was very well attended.   The MC&MCA remains active in the structural masonry promotional effort working with the BAC bricklayer’s union, the IMI, Laborers, and LECET.  This effort targets structural masonry engineers and engineering firms.  MC&MCA Marketing Director Jenae Goede and Mark Swanson of IMI work together and retain the services of IMI structural consultant Sam Rubenzer. Union representatives serve on the MC&MCA Marketing Committee which meets monthly.  The MC&MCA once again (39 years in a row now) sponsored the Excellence in Concrete & Masonry Design and Construction Awards contest. MC&MCA contractor members entered close to 40 projects in 10 categories (six in masonry and four in concrete).  On site judging took place in September and was done by invited architects.  They enjoyed the experience of seeing firsthand some of the best masonry buildings and concrete projects in the state.  The 10 winners have been notified and have been encouraged to invite owners, architects, and company leaders to the awards banquet to be held in February 2020.  Our award dinner social features a guest speaker, leadership awards, and a silent auction.  MC&MCA and other industry organizations feel strongly that the marketing and promotional efforts need to occur during both a strong building market and during slow economic times.  

Worker Recruitment Efforts The MC&MCA, working with our union partners, are active in worker recruitment efforts including Construct Tomorrow and other forums and opportunities.  In November of 2018 the MC&MCA, in conjunction with the bricklayers, cement finishers, laborers, and operating engineers, hosted a concrete and masonry construction career fair for Tech Ed students in a local middle school. 72 seventh and eighth grade students were treated to ten “experience stations” of active hands in the mud learning. The teachers were younger apprentices from the training centers. The students watched high speed video of the building of the new Vikings stadium and the St. Croix River Bridge being built. They were treated to pizza and received take home gifts to remind them of their concrete and masonry day. We video-taped the event and are using the video to encourage additional students to get involved and get interested in the trades. MC&MCA contractor and supplier members contributed to the effort physically and financially.  On March 4 the MC&MCA and four unions will be performing the second act of the Concrete & Masonry Career Fair with the Maple Grove Middle School Grades 7-8 Tech Ed students. We are planning on over 100 students to “get dirty” with a day long hands on visit to the BAC training center in New Hope, MN (close bus trip from school) to see firsthand what bricklayers, cement masons, laborers, and operators/engineers do on the job and why they love their jobs. We will feature 10 “learning stations” and rotate groups of 10 student and one adult supervisor every 30 minutes so all the kids will get to sample and see all the action and ask all the questions. We will feed them a pizza lunch and provide them with take home information (for the parents) and memories/educational (for the kids). A new goal this year is to produce “how to” manual complete with a media stick. We will distribute these informational packets to our members and unions so that they can share the information and do local projects with school districts or classes.  

Competitors/Trends Our main competition continues to be precast wall systems. The battle ground continues around big box stores, commercial buildings, and now schools.  Our masonry promotional efforts in Minnesota of working with architects, engineers, developers, and owners is to educate and inform decision makers as to the long-term benefits of masonry products and quality workmanship.