All The Latest News from NECA

Aug 20

Labor Relations Special Session Topic Announced; Education Focus

The topic for the Labor Relations special session at NECA 2014 Chicago has been set. It will be “Technology, Training and Addressing the Worker Shortage.”

The session will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, Sept 29. Leaders in the electrical construction industry, including IBEW President Ed Hill and Electrical Training Alliance Executive Director Mike Callanan, will join us to showcase our new state-of-the-art training and delivery systems.

They will discuss how we can use these assets to attract and train more qualified workers to meet the projected growth in our industry. The IBEW has made organizational changes to increase their emphasis on organizing and recruiting new apprentices, skilled electrical workers and contractors in emerging markets.

For more information on NECA 2014 Chicago visit »

Oct 14

Affordable Care Act Panel at Labor Relations Special Session

This year’s Labor Relations Special Session was especially timely with its panel discussion on The Impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on NECA Contractors.

“Let’s start with how we got into this mess,” said Marco Giamberardino, NECA executive director, government affairs. “This is legislation that has completely spiraled out of control because no one really knew what they were getting into. Now the Tea Party has used this to partially shutdown the federal government, and even the full faith and credit of the U.S. is on the line.”

Geary Higgins, NECA Vice President, Labor Relations, and Trustee of the NECA/IBEW Family Medical Care Plan, moderated the panel which included Tiffany Downs, Attorney at Law, FordHarrison LLP, and Travis Smith, President, Foster & Foster Actuaries.

“Bigger plans are going to be better very soon,” Smith commented, when asked about how the ACA with affect the Family Medical Care Plan. Smith outlined several compliance issues for local multiemployer health and welfare plans.

Downs addressed the moving-target of ACA reporting requirements. “One reason the Obama Administration delayed the plan for a year for businesses is that they couldn’t get the requirements to line up. However, multiemployer plans aren’t necessarily a part of that extension.” Downs gave a checklist that NECA contractors and local plan trustees can review to assess their burden and responsibilities.

Giamberardino offered what NECA is doing to attain relief and reform of the ACA. He mentioned NECA and IBEW’s joint letter to all Members of Congress about how the ACA was a direct threat to the tradition of healthcare insurance signatory contractors had offered their employees since WWII; the letter was cited in two separate Congressional hearings on the ACA in late summer. “The President promised us that if we liked our doctor, we would get to keep our doctor. Now we find out that’s not going to happen for all multiemployer plans. That’s not right, and we have to get it fixed.”

Oct 01

“Getting More” at Labor Relations General Session with Stuart Diamond

Negotiator-extraordinaire Stuart Diamond brought his “people first” philosophy to the 2012 Labor Relations General Session today, in a detailed discussion of the mistakes we make and how to adjust our approach to negotiating, from the mundane to the high-stakes.

“Negotiations aren’t between opposing sides or forces. They’re between people,” Diamond said. “When we start by recognizing everyone’s basic humanity, we start getting more.

“Start with three questions, and three statements when you negotiate: Are you happy? Because we’re not. Second, are you making money? Because we aren’t. Third, if you had this to do over, what would you do differently?”

Diamond’s presentation was based on the principles outlined in his bestseller “Getting More” and specific questions from NECA chapter managers about challenges they have faced during labor negotiations. He reiterated that negotiation never really stops with colleagues since communication and relationship management is integral to negotiations. “If you start 90 days out from when the contract expires, you’re already setting yourself up for failure,” he said.

Diamond has extensive experience assisting with conflict-resolution on vital international interests, and one of his observations from his time with U.S. forces in Afghanistan got the audience’s attention. “It’s an exercise I call Dreams and Fears,” he said. “When you know the other side’s dreams and fears – as people, not representatives of some kind of organization – you realize how much more you can help them, facilitating their sense of goodwill towards you. In Afghanistan, the local negotiators’ dreams – their needs – included laundry detergent and Gatorade. Meaning we can save American soldiers’ lives by learning where the roadside bombs are, what threats the Taliban is making, just with detergent and Gatorade. Ask what their needs are. And let them know you’re there to help meet their needs.”

From everything to calming a scared child to dealing with grudges, Diamond starts negotiations from the premise that everyone at the table is human, affected by human foibles and basic needs for respect and appreciation. Threats, manipulation and inflexible demands can’t be a part of successful negotiations, he said.

“You are the least important part about the negotiation,” he said, smiling. “By putting the focus on other needs’, you’ll work your way to the results you want every time. It’s scalable, where success and cooperation lead to more success. It won’t be a home run every time. But it does work.”

Aug 29

Just Announced – Stuart Diamond Will Be Labor Relations General Session Speaker

Negotiator-extraordinaire Stuart Diamond impressed attendees at this year’s Labor Relations Conference so much that NECA has invited him to lead the special Labor Relations Generation Session in Las Vegas.

You’ll actually have two chances to hear Diamond on Monday, Oct. 1: his management workshop/consulting session, Getting More Every Day, from 8-9:50 a.m., and the General Session, starting at 10 a.m. Diamond will focus on the problems and prospects of emerging markets and international business challenges in an environment of change from his latest bestseller, Getting More.

Diamond’s Getting More presentation discusses how the business world is notoriously perceived as combative, dominated by an aggressive conflict model of negotiation. However, Diamond shows how moving from this combative model provides a massive advantage. Counter-intuitive to its core, his process focuses on finding and valuing the other party’s emotions and perceptions to create far more value. In this presentation, you’ll learn how to ask questions of the other party, glean the “pictures in their heads” and ultimately, persuade them. Armed with new persuasive power, you and your business will be more competitive than ever before.

Diamond is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author, Wharton Business School professor and president of the Global Strategy Group. In addition to advising corporate and government leaders in more than 40 countries on negotiation and cultural diversity, Diamond’s negotiation course at Wharton is consistently ranked as one of the school’s most popular. He has taught negotiation at Harvard Law School, from which he holds a law degree and is a former Associate Director of the Harvard Negotiation Project.

As president of Global Strategy Group, Diamond advises companies and governments on negotiating foreign investment and devising strategies, structures and marketing to compete effectively on an international scale – essentially the skills of planning and persuasion – for some of the world’s leading companies.

Diamond will sign copies of his latest book on negotiation, the New York Times bestseller Getting More, following the General Session.

Oct 24

Labor Relations General Session: Pension Plan Update

Today’s Labor Relations General Session was a departure from the traditional panel discussion. Rather, the session focused on the important, if somewhat hard to hear, news about multiemployer pension plans.

Randy DeFrehn, Executive Director of the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans, kicked off the session with a run-down of the legislative action NCCMP has pursued to protect local pension plans in the face of the economic downturn, including a freeze on plans’ “Zone” status, options for small plans to merge, “partitioning,” and some technical corrections.

“There’s a misconception that multiemployer plans’ benefits are too high,” DeFrehn said. “That’s not the case. Yes, some plans will have to make strategic decisions to cope with rising benefit costs to make these plans more stable. But Congress is trying to give us the breathing room to make those changes.”

Labor Relations Task Force Chair and NECA President-elect Dennis Quebe echoed DeFrehn’s comments. “When we look at our so-called ‘benefit burden,’ we want to ask ‘who’s to blame?’ To me, blame implies that at the time, someone knew there would be negative consequences.  But at the time, they were the right thing to do. I still think they’re the right thing to do. But we need to change how we do them. The impact will be significant, but not overwhelming.”

NEBF Executive Secretary/Treasurer Larry Bradley make a great report on the fiscal health of NEBF. “NEBF’s actuaries have certified our plan in the Green Zone since the law was passed in 2006, and I’m proud to report that even through the recession, we have remained in the Green Zone.  Our actuaries remain optimistic of the future health of the plan.

“What’s important to us are the people behind the plan – the lives we touch and the very real ways we can help them,” Bradley concluded. He also mentioned that NEBF’s website will soon have sample disclosure forms for contractors to use to meet the revised FASB reporting requirements for pension plan withdrawal liability, now based solely on publicly available plan information.

Aug 26

Labor Relations Special Session Announced!

NECA 2011 San Diego’s Labor Relations session is all about pension plan burden and liability.

Join us for an in depth presentation on the future of the Pension Protection Act (set to expire in 2014); actuarial considerations in the light of the recent Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB) efforts to impose more stringent reporting requirements on contractors; and an update from president-elect Dennis Quebe, chairman of NECA’s Labor Relations Task Force, on what NECA is doing to educate and prepare member contractors about the current and future state of local pension funds and potential options and actions that can be taken to remain competitive.

The Labor Relations Special General Session at NECA 2011 San Diego will be presented Monday, October 24, 10:00-11:30 a.m. at the San Diego Convention and Exposition Center. It’s open to everyone who is registered for the full Convention.  Early registration ends Monday, September 5!

Aug 24

Just Announced! Labor Relations General Session Will Focus on Market Recovery Initiatives

There are many changes coming this year for labor relations. The IBEW has embarked on a nationwide campaign to recover the work that the unionized electrical construction industry is currently not doing. Monday’s general session program at NECA 2010 Boston is about illuminating those changes to make you, the NECA/IBEW contractor, more competitive in today’s marketplace.

The program will open with a roundtable discussion including NECA President Rex Ferry, NECA CEO John M. Grau and IBEW President Ed Hill on the competitive issues and changes that are taking place in our industry. The discussion will be followed by a presentation featuring four NECA members from around the country who have successfully put these new “market recovery” programs to work. Don’t miss it!

Sep 14

Working Together: Local LMCCs in the Spotlight at Labor Relations Special Session

Today’s special session on labor relations focused on the good work being done by local Labor Management Cooperation Committees around the country, and the role LMCCs have in raising market share and recruiting new talent to the industry.

Labor Relations Special General Session PanelEDIT
Rex Ferry, NECA President, John Negro, NECA Vice President, District 7, and Geary Higgins, NECA Vice President, Labor Relations, opened the session with reports on NECA’s work to improve and promote positive labor relations on the national level. NECA and the IBEW have held two joint NLMCC retreats this year, focusing on where the industry is, and where it needs to go.

“[IBEW International President] Ed Hill gets it,” Ferry said. “Together we’ve been able to create programs like the Code of Excellence and agreements to recapture small work. However, he’s not going to force anything on his members. So we have to work at the local level to make any real impact.”

To discuss those local efforts, chapter managers and contractors from the four NECA regions each described the own LMCC activities.

Jeff Collins and Dan Neal described the community outreach programs the Western Ohio LMCC has sponsored and the how they have united labor and management outside of work in service projects. “You have to include everyone,” Neal remarked. Neal also advised getting professional public relations help on communication projects. He reports that the area has seen a 12 percent increase in market share.

Dan Schaeffer and Doug Martin portrayed the St. Louis LMCC, the Electrical Connection, as the public face of the industry. The organization’s +5 homeowners protection plan led to greater involvement in community building and service projects, at the mayor’s request. “Such projects helped erase negative impressions that people had about union contractors,” Martin said.

Gary Neil and Chase Pendergraft explained the importance of both doing good work and then telling people about the good work you’ve done. Pendergraft played a radio ad that the East Tennessee LMCC produced that named the NECA member contractors who had worked in the community’s Habitat for Humanity program and how they could be trusted to do work for home and building owners, too.

Jeff Zuniga and Don Campbell reported that  Northern California LMCC efforts on meeting very specific local, regional and statewide needs. “We reach out to local school districts with information,” Campbell said. “We are the best and first resource for electrical construction information, and we do whatever it takes to things right for the client.”

Q&A followed the brief presentations, with many NECA members praised the high level of organization and collaboration the profiled LMCCs activities demonstrated.

A download of the special session slides will be available on NECA’s website following NECA 2009 Seattle.

Aug 05

Making Your Local LMCC Work For You: Special Labor Relations Special Session at NECA 2009 Seattle

Local Labor Management Cooperation Committee (LMCC) language is in virtually every NECA-IBEW collective bargaining agreement, but is it effective? Local LMCCs are intended to improve communications, to solve problems, to sponsor local programs, to engage in public education, to explore new joint approaches to issues that involve NECA and IBEW members and the community and the electrical construction industry.

This Labor Relations Special Session will demonstrate what can be done through a local LMCC to build your relationship with the IBEW and to create positive marketplace reaction for your chapter and individual businesses.

The Labor Relations Special Session will be Monday, Sept. 14 at 10 a.m. at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. Make your plans to be there!

Oct 07

NECA NewsCast “Live from Chicago” – Day 4

Jennifer Brice, NECA NewsCast host, brings us an exclusive peak into the Labor Relations focused general session. On stage were IBEW International President, Ed Hill and NECA’s VP of Labor Relations, Geary Higgins – together they highlighted the future of the NECA/IBEW working relationship. Also in the spotlight of this broadcast were NECA’s general sessions, green alley and the International Lunch hosted by ELECTRI International.