For members of the Cleveland Building Trades, 2018 was a busy year and affiliated members should expect 2019 to be nearly as busy.
According to Cleveland Building and Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary Dave Wondolowski, 2018 was a better year than his affiliated unions initially expected, as work hours were up in every Local union.
Wondolowski expects the work outlook for 2019 to be nearly as strong as it was in 2018.
“Commercial real estate is booming right now,” Wondolowski said. “Cleveland needs an additional 6,000 apartment units on top of what we have.”
Besides Phase II of the “The Q” Transformation Project, the region’s highly skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen will be busy working on a number of major projects including the Church + State apartment complex, the Euclid Grand apartment complex, Cuyahoga Community College labs project and Phase II of the MetroHealth Campus renovation.
In addition to those projects, there are numerous medium and small projects on the books as well.
One factor contributing to a strong 2019 forecast is the use of Project Labor Agreements. In the Cleveland jurisdiction, five significant projects are slated to be built under a PLA and more are anticipated to be signed throughout the year.
Another factor creating jobs for members of the building trades is union pension financing.
In 2018, Wondolowski worked to raise awareness about using union pension funds to finance projects. This work will pay off in 2019, as the Church + Street and Euclid Grand projects will use union pension financing, which will lead to the use of PLAs and the creation of union construction jobs.
“We are working with a few other developers who are showing greater interest in what we have to offer,” he said. “I think you’ll see a lot more of it. As interest rates increase, our marketable equity and debt becomes more appealing.”