North America’s Building Trades Unions Hold 70th Convention: NABTU charts its course for the next five years

WASHINGTON, DC – August 20, 2020 – This week, North America’s Building Trades Unions convened its 70th Constitutional Convention. For over a century, NABTU has hosted this quinquennial Convention to amend the constitution, elect leadership and plan for the next five years. Given the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, NABTU conducted this year’s Convention virtually for the first time in its history.

In his keynote, President Sean McGarvey gave an overview of what was accomplished over the last five years. He spoke about the growth of apprenticeship readiness programs and diverse recruitment initiatives creating ladders of opportunities for women, communities of color, indigenous peoples, veterans and the formerly incarcerated. He recognized the great work done to build strategic relationships with end-users in the financial, energy, power and petrochemical sectors, which “have proven that strong labor-management partnerships are an effective tool to enable the private sector to invest alongside and provide capital to federal, state, and local governments for investment in public and private infrastructure with strong labor standards and access of opportunity to our world-class training system.”

He praised the launch of the Capital Strategies program and the “real progress being made in organizing well over half a trillion dollars of members’ deferred wages to support not only secure retirements, but good jobs before retirement.” In addition to leveraging responsible contractor policies to improve standards within the private sector, he highlighted how Capital Strategies also has established “responsible contractor policies with many state pension funds who want respect for workers, good, safe jobs and reputable contractors for their hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure investments.” He outlined that “the goal over the next five years is to have three trillion dollars of private and public sector investments under our responsible contractor policies,” and he underscored, “that’s why we’re always looking for opportunities to build new relationships in industries that bring value to our current members and future members like our forthcoming partnership being announced in two weeks with the American Investment Council on the National Labor Cooperation Committee.”

Acknowledging the harsh impact on both nations from major elections and wild political and legislative swings, McGarvey pointed out how NABTU, as is their purpose, has “stayed laser-like focused on maintaining and growing the economic position of the membership.” When speaking about NABTU’s future, he called out the “grave injustice of systemic racism in North America” and emphasized that NABTU will continue to do its part “standing up for decency, justice, and dignity for all.”

During the Convention’s election, President McGarvey and Secretary-Treasurer Brent Booker were unanimously re-elected to lead and advance the interests of over 3 million members throughout the United States and Canada. In addition to the officers’ election, the Convention passed resolutions to continue growing opportunities for future members, providing them with a skill set and vested interest in union construction not just for a lifetime but for generations to come.

After the election, McGarvey and Booker humbly thanked the countless people who helped them get where they are today. McGarvey spoke about how the building trades not only “changed his life,” but how he is still “fascinated by the talent, strength, and humbleness of these craftspeople”, and he promised not to let down the building trades members.  Booker commended “the depth of solidarity, talent and duty found within the building trades unions.” Both praised the Governing Board, Councils and members for their support and committed that NABTU will continue its tradition of working with all kinds of groups and organizations who identify young men and women for their entrance into the trades and a lifelong career in unionized construction.

For more information on the resolutions passed, the President’s report, the keynote and acceptance speeches, please contact Rob Severn at