May 2011

New Signatory Contractor Helps Boost Market Share, Membership in N.Y.
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The twin goals of increasing market share while netting more man-hours for New York electricians were reached this spring when a nonunion contractor signed a unique agreement with two local unions in the Empire State.

C.M. Richey Electrical became the state's newest signatory contractor employing IBEW members of both New York Local 3 and Long Island Local 25. The shop's nearly 50 formerly unrepresented electricians joined the IBEW fold as part of the union's recovery agreement as the locals go after smaller, previously-overlooked projects.

"This has been a very long time coming," said Gene Parrington, Local 25 business agent/organizer who, along with other union leaders, has been promoting the IBEW to CMR management since the late '90s. "It's unbelievable that we were able to sign this company. It's helped us out quite a bit. We're organizing the work, the members, the whole ball of wax. The jobs picture has been slow for a number of years, so them coming to us with work is huge."

CMR boasts solid market share in the smaller works arena—performing construction jobs for national chains like CVS, McDonald's, Staples and many more. Company owner Chris Richey saw potential in the Local 25's implementation of the recovery agreement strategy, which he told IBEW leaders could be an invaluable tool for his continued business success.

Richey was also eager to tackle bigger jobs that had historically been within the locals' jurisdictions. CMR and its employees will now get the chance to work on previously out-of-reach projects at giant retailers like Lowe's and Home Depot, as well as grand-scale endeavors at shopping malls and power plants. Local leaders say that will spell increased revenue, boosted man-hours and more hiring.

"The company will likely go from its current size to as many as 100 as we approach summer," Parrington said. "And management wants to hit up these new projects, which they could never do without us coming in. This is clearly a win-win for our locals and for CMR."

Since 1996, Local 25's entire business office has worked to bring CMR under the union banner. That's meant a marathon effort from the local's organizing committee, salts, stewards and rank-and-file members.

Parrington and Local 3 organizer Ray West combined forces over the last seven years when CMR began establishing itself in Local 3's jurisdiction. Innumerable phone calls, strategy meetings and conversations with CMR management bore fruit last December when Richey reached out to Parrington, who said "we've been in constant contact since."

After the New Year, talks became increasingly serious and additional local leaders—including Local 25 Business Manager Kevin Harvey and Local 3 Business Manager Christopher Erikson and Assistant Business Manager Ray Melville—became more active in the campaign.

Harvey, Parrington and Richey met to discuss the construction electrician/construction wireman agreement, "and after that, it was a firestorm," Parrington said. Business managers and organizers from both local unions shared tips and strategies about how to best work an agreement with CMR—which for now includes portability within respective jurisdictions of the two locals. This interim relief expires at the end of the current NECA agreements.

CMR employees' work will be divided between Local 3's jurisdiction—which includes the five boroughs of New York City and Westchester County, as well as Fairfield County in Connecticut—and that of Local 25 on Long Island. Local 3 initiated 22 new CW/CEs and the rest are new CW/CE members of Local 25. Some new members of the locals will be going into the apprenticeship program.

"It is anticipated the signing of CMR will broaden work opportunity for Local 3 members with CMR's customer base, including Home Goods stores, Staples stores, McDonalds, Burger King, CVS and Walgreens, and other national chains with whom CMR has been providing construction services," said Local 3 Business Manager Christopher Erikson. "We look forward to a long relationship as the representative of CMR's work force and growing that group with IBEW members of both Local 3 and 25."

The agreement has already been a boon to longtime members, as well as those recently brought into the IBEW fold.

Ten-year Local 25 member Rob Petrocelli will work his first job for CMR soon. He offered thanks to the organizing team for signing the contractor: "I was running out of benefits and had little money, so this was a godsend."

Jim Volpe, a veteran electrician with CMR, will see his company's job prospects expand even further with its new IBEW membership. "The guys from the hall are great," he said. "We are really working well together."

Local 25 Business Manager Harvey said "it's tremendous to have gotten this deal completed."

"The company did more than 100,000 man-hours last year in the small works area, which will open new doors for us," Harvey said. "I feel like we have an excellent relationship with owner Chris Richey and there's a lot of trust between us. I'm excited about moving ahead and am looking forward to a long and prosperous relationship."

Nearly 50 longtime employees of new signatory contractor C.M. Richey are now IBEW members, working in jurisdictions of New York Local 3 and Long Island Local 25.