North America’s Building Trades Unions Stand Ready, Able and Willing to Assist with Hurricane Harvey Clean-Up and Re-Build Efforts

September 1, 2017



Tom Owens



North America’s Building Trades Unions Stand Ready, Able and Willing to Assist with Hurricane Harvey Clean-Up and Re-Build Efforts


WASHINGTON, DC – The following statement was released today by North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) in the aftermath of the destruction incurred in Texas and Louisiana from Hurricane Harvey:

“Whenever a major natural or man-made disaster has struck the United States – including Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and the attacks on 9/11 – the men and women of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) have always responded in earnest, and we intend to do the same with regard to the tragedy that continues to unfold in Texas and Louisiana.

“Our members and our unions bring a unique and much-needed skillset to these types of situations, where a safe, highly trained and highly skilled construction craft workforce is invaluable to clean-up and re-building efforts.

“Further, as residents and whole communities begin the arduous process of re-building homes, buildings and critical infrastructure, our apprenticeship-readiness and formal apprenticeship education and training system has proven to be an asset not only in ensuring that enough skilled craft professionals are available to do this work, but also to provide life-altering career training opportunities for local residents.

“Our experiences with these types of disasters also offers a cautionary tale.  In the immediate aftermath of Katrina, NABTU assigned staff in both New Orleans and Gulfport, Mississippi to monitor and assess damage to our training systems and determine the necessary workforce requirements for the re-build effort.   Sadly, we encountered cities in shambles, limited housing, a broken workforce development system, community-based organizations that lacked adequate staff, and a multitude of unscrupulous contractors that descended upon these areas employing an exploited immigrant workforce who, in turn, became victims themselves of wage theft and unsafe living and working conditions.  Further, there was bid peddling on all levels, which made it nearly impossible for local contractors with ‘high road’ standards to remain competitive.

“A successful re-build in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey will require an understanding of these lessons learned.  To that end, NABTU looks forward to working with government officials to educate them on establishing and enforcing specific standards to ensure a successful clean-up and re-build process that works to the benefit of communities, businesses and residents, including, but not limited to:

  • Maintaining prevailing wage coverage;
  • Implementation of local hire provisions to ensure the development of a skilled local workforce;
  • Utilization of registered apprenticeship programs to ensure quality training and diversification of the workforce including communities of color, women and veterans;
  • Strict enforcement of labor and safety laws;
  • Establishment of apprenticeship-readiness programs with direct linkage with the registered apprenticeship systems in Texas and Louisiana; and
  • Preventing the import of easily exploited foreign guest workers

“NABTU stands ready, willing and able to put all of its resources and knowledge to work to ensure a safe and successful clean-up and re-build process in the areas affected by this catastrophic storm.”

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North America’s Building Trades Unions is an alliance of 14 national and international unions in the building and construction industry that collectively represent over 3 million skilled craft professionals in the United States and Canada. Each year, our unions and our signatory contractor partners invest over $1 billion in private sector money to fund and operate over 1,900 apprenticeship training and education facilities across North America that produce the safest, most highly trained and productive skilled craft workers found anywhere in the world.