Labor Union

Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO

Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, logo (link)
Website:

nabtu.org/

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

53-0025755

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(5)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $14,316,290
Expenses: $13,738,647
Assets: $11,082,202

Formation:

1908

President:

Sean McGarvey

Type:

Umbrella union organization

The division does business as North America’s Building Trades Unions; for more information on the connections of the BCTD, see the NABTU profile.

North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), also known as the Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD), is a department of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of International Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in charge of settling regional jurisdiction conflicts between trade unions in the construction industries. The organization primarily serves as an umbrella organization for 15 major AFL-CIO unions in the United States and Canada. The BCTD has councils in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. and the Virgin Islands, as well as 11 provinces and territories of Canada. [1]

NABTU has historically supported Democratic candidates by endorsements and donations through its PAC and the PACs of its constituent member unions. But in the 2016 election cycle, NABTU primarily supported Republican candidates despite formally endorsing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and contributing $5,000 to her campaign. [2] An email leak later showed that union leadership was divided on the presidential endorsement, with some affiliate union leaders supporting Republican candidate Donald Trump. [3]

Shortly after his election, President Trump met with NABTU president Sean McGarvey and other prominent union leaders. Based on his promises and decorum, union leadership became supporters of the Trump administration. Over the next two years, McGarvey would successfully lobby Trump to maintain prevailing wage regulations and to establish a special exclusion for the BCTD after Trump’s Department of Labor pushed for new deregulations on apprenticeship.

However, after changes in Trump’s advisers in 2019, the exclusion was revoked, prompting backlash from BCTD member unions and McGarvey. Nevertheless, McGarvey attended a presidential press conference in January 2020 and endorsed the president’s federal construction deregulation plan, and later the same month the NABTU joined President Trump’s Great American Economic Revival Industry Group to counteract the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After supporting primarily Republican candidates in the 2018 cycle, the BCTD’s financial support was split between the parties as of July 2020 and had not endorsed a presidential candidate. [4]

History

In 1903, the largest American building trades unions formed the Structural Building Trade Alliance as an organization to coordinate regional regulations between local unions to prevent competition. In 1908, the Alliance merged with the American Federation of Labor (AFL), one of the largest labor unions in America and one of the predecessors of the AFL-CIO union federation, to become the Building and Construction Trades Department. The BCTD would serve as a centralized arbitrator for conflicts between AFL members. [5]

The BCTD was a non-political organization until the 1930s when the Great Depression decimated the construction industry. To gain government support, the BCTD aggressively lobbied for the 1935 Wagner Act which gave a federally backed guarantee of compulsory monopoly bargaining to labor unions, gave federal protections to union activities, and granted unions far more leeway in influencing government policy. The BCTD, also known as North America’s Building Trades Unions or NABTU, has engaged in political candidate funding and lobbying ever since. [6]

Member Unions

The Building and Construction Trades Department/NABTU consists of 15 affiliate unions:[7]

The affiliate unions are all members of the AFL-CIO. The unions and their members are heavy donors to the Democratic Party. [8][9][10][11][12] Many of the unions and their local affiliates have been subject to corruption investigations over the previous decades, including the IBEW[13] and IBT. [14]

All affiliates have a seat on the BCTD’s governing board of presidents except for the CBTU. The IBT’s board seat is held by general president James Hoffa, son of former IBT leader and notoriously mob-tied Jimmy Hoffa. [15]

Leadership

Sean McGarvey

In 1981, Sean McGarvey began working in the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, a NABTU member union. He climbed the union’s ranks until he was elected secretary-treasurer of the BCTD in 2005. In 2012, he was unanimously elected the organization’s president. [16]

McGarvey sits on the boards of numerous international workforce organizations: The National Workforce Policy Advisory Board, the Gates Foundation Post-Secondary Value Commission, and the U.S. Council on Competitiveness. He is also a member of many energy-industry labor and advisory boards: the American Petroleum Institute, the American Chemistry Council, Southern Company Power and Gas, the Nuclear Power LMCC, and the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB). McGarvey’s charitable board positions include Helmets to Hardhats, the CPWR’s Center for Construction Research and Training, the National Coordinating Committee for Multi-Employer Plans, and the Diabetes Research Institute. [17]

Grants

In 2017, the Building and Construction Trades Department disbursed $270,000 to charitable nonprofits, most of which promote construction employment. [18] The BCTD’s largest donation was for $150,000 to the National Alliance for Fair Contracting, an advocacy group for union set-asides in construction projects. The BTCD also gave $20,000 to the Foundation for Fair Contract. Both organizations advocate for the federal enforcement of so-called “prevailing wage” laws to force local governments to pay union-rate wages to contractor employees rather than allow competitive bidding. Two affiliate unions of the BCTD sit on the National Alliance’s board: the Laborers’ International Union of North America and the International Union of Operating Engineers. [19]

Also in 2017, the BCTD donated to numerous organizations with which BCTD president Sean McGarvey has personal connections. The BCTD gave $10,000 to the President and Fellows of Harvard University, of which McGarvey is an alumnus. The BCTD gave $10,000 to the Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment, and Veterans Employment, which recruits military veterans into union labor. McGarvey is a member of the board of the organization’s Helmets to Hardhats program. [20] The BCTD gave $10,000 to the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, of which McGarvey is also a board member. [21][22]

The BCTD donated $20,000 to the American Ireland Fund, a charity which utilizes a network of Irish individuals internationally[23] to support causes like food distribution and elderly care. [24] In the 2020 election cycle, the BCTD’s PAC would give $2,500 to the Irish American Democrats. [25] McGarvey, who is of Irish ancestry, was put in Irish America’s Hall of Fame in 2020 for his promotion of diversity in the building trades. [26]

The BCTD also makes an annual donation of $20,000 to Southern Company – North America’s Building Trades Union, a 501(c)(6) trade league partnership between the BCTD and Southern Company, an American gas and electric utilities holding company. [27] McGarvey is a member for Southern Company’s board. [28]

In addition, in 2017, the BCTD gave $5,000 to the Peggy Browning Fund, which encourages law students to practice labor law, and $5,000 to the National Association of Minority Contractors-Washington DC Metropolitan Area Contractors (NAMC-WMAC). [29]

Political Contributions

The Building and Construction Trades Department contributes to political campaigns through its PAC, the North America’s Building Trades Unions Political Education Fund. [30] Historically, the PAC has given between $190,000 and just over $600,000 to primarily Democratic Candidates each election cycle. However, in 2016 and 2018, the PAC favored Republicans. [31]

As of July 2020, the PAC had given $174,700 to political candidates, almost exactly equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. All recipients were House of Representatives candidates with the exception of U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN). [32] The PAC has also given tens of thousands of dollars to other PACs. PAC donations include $1,000 to the Congressional Black Caucus PAC and $2,500 to Irish American Democrats. [33]

The PAC has not donated to any 2020 presidential candidate, but in 2016, it gave $5,000 to Hillary Clinton despite giving 78% of its funds to Republican candidates that cycle. [34]

While the PAC receives most of its funding from the BCTD, a minority of funds comes from its labor union affiliates. In the 2020 election cycle, the PAC received $5,000 from the Painters & Allies Trade Union, $2,500 from the Laborers’ Union, $2,250 from the Operating Engineers Union, and $1,000 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union. [35]

Relationship with Trump Administration

Support

In January 2017, shortly after the inauguration of President Trump, NABTU president McGarvey and a group of prominent union leaders met with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and other top political advisors. In a press conference afterward, McGarvey described the encounter as “probably the most incredible meeting of our entire careers.” McGarvey praised President Trump’s plans on trade, infrastructure, energy policy, and the construction industry, and thanked Trump for the “respect” shown to America’s labor unions, especially since President Barack Obama had never held a comparable meeting with labor leaders. McGarvey promised that the unions present at the meeting would use their power to support Trump’s policy goals in the future, even declaring, “we have a common bond with the president. We come from the same industry.” [36][37]

McGarvey later told the New York Times that Trump had expressed interest in directing hundreds of billions of dollars toward public construction projects. These plans would eventually culminate in a $2 trillion infrastructure proposal that would not be passed. [38][39]

McGarvey continued to support the Trump administration throughout much of his term. In April 2017, McGarvey publicly praised Trump as “the very definition of an American success story.” Trump had initially considered repealing the Davis-Bacon Act, which mandates that the federal government must pay contracted labor at union-level wage rates, but under the advisement of McGarvey and others, Trump backed off the proposal. [40]

In February 2019, McGarvey was appointed to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’s Workforce Policy Advisory Board, a task force formed via an executive order to establish a national labor policy direction. [41]

Apprenticeship Regulations

In June 2017, Trump issued an executive order easing the regulatory burden on apprenticeships to open up job training opportunities in new industries. The order removed the union-level wage mandate which forced companies to pay apprentices at localized “prevailing” wage rates. [42]

Privately, McGarvey made a deal with then-Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to exclude NABTU’s apprenticeship program from the new deregulations. A union official told Acosta that the deregulation would allow NABTU competitors to undercut the union-rate wages offered by NABTU’s existing apprenticeship programs, thereby giving the competition an edge in lowering costs and securing contract bids. After the exclusion deal was made, McGarvey even joined Trump’s newly created labor board to formulate new apprenticeship rules and ensure the construction industry’s protection. [43]

In January 2019, Michael Mulvaney became Acting White House Chief of Staff. Known as an opponent of labor unions and supporter of deregulation, Mulvaney forced Acosta’s chief-of-staff to resign after allegations of mistreating subordinates. In July, Acosta resigned a few days after Mulvaney advised President Trump to fire Acosta due to the plea deal he had struck with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in 2008 while a federal prosecutor. Before leaving office, Acosta advised Ivanka Trump to encourage President Trump to maintain the apprentice deregulation exclusion policy for the construction industry. [44]

In June, the Labor Department issued a proposed rule which would entrench its apprenticeship deregulations with no industry or organization exclusions. The announcement was extremely unpopular among NABTU leadership; Politico reported that the Trump administration and BCTD were “on the brink of war” and that Trump alienating midwestern union voters could cost him the 2020 presidential election. [45]

In November 2019, McGarvey wrote an op-ed in Real Clear Policy criticizing the deregulations, arguing that they constituted “an obvious step backward” for not providing explicit protections against discrimination, exploitive wages, or standardized oversight. [46]

2020 Elections

Despite the conflict over apprenticeship regulations, the BCTD has been broadly supportive of the Trump administration in 2020. In January, McGarvey attended a Trump press conference where the president announced the One Federal Decision policy, an attempt to systematically streamline the federal approval process on construction and infrastructure projects. McGarvey voiced his endorsement for the plan at the conference. Later, Trump criticized the alleged corruption that allowed Hunter Biden to attain high-paying no-work jobs in the construction industry, and Trump asked McGarvey if he would like to have Hunter Biden’s job. McGarvey replied, “Uh, I’m not sure, Mr. President.” [47]

On January 14, Trump announced the creation of the Great American Economic Revival Industry Group, a collection of some of the largest companies and labor unions which form an advisory council to the president to recommend policies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. McGarvey was chosen as the representative of the BCTD as one of the Construction/Labor/Workforce member organizations. [48]

References

  1. “Select a Council.” NABTU. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://nabtu.org/about-nabtu/official-directory/. ^
  2. “Contributions to Federal Candidates, 2016 Cycle.” Open Secrets. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.php?cmte=C00003160&cycle=2016. ^
  3. Kulligren, Ian. “Construction workers prepare to battle former ally Trump.” Politico. August 16, 2019. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/08/16/trump-jobs-construction-workers-1653450. ^
  4. Kulligren, Ian. “Construction workers prepare to battle former ally Trump.” Politico. August 16, 2019. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/08/16/trump-jobs-construction-workers-1653450. ^
  5. “The Building & Construction Trades Department History.” BAC Local 7. Accessed July 21, 2020. http://www.baclocal7.org/history.aspx?zone=history&pID=1632. ^
  6. “The Building & Construction Trades Department History.” BAC Local 7. Accessed July 21, 2020. http://www.baclocal7.org/history.aspx?zone=history&pID=1632. ^
  7. “Affiliates.” NABTU. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://nabtu.org/about-nabtu/affiliates/. ^
  8. “International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.” Open Secrets. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary?id=D000000069. ^
  9. “Teamsters Union.” Open Secrets. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/totals?id=D000000066. ^
  10. “Laborers Union.” Open Secrets. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/totals?id=D000000074. ^
  11. “Bricklayers Union.” Open Secrets. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2.php?cycle=2018&strID=C00003632. ^
  12. “International Union of Elevator Constructors.” Open Secrets. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2.php?cycle=2018&strID=C00383950. ^
  13. Horowitz, Carl. “Hawaii IBEW Boss, Family Members Indicted for $1.4M in Thefts.” National Legal and Policy Center. September 18, 2019. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://nlpc.org/2019/09/18/hawaii-ibew-boss-family-members-indicted-for-1-4m-in-thefts/. ^
  14. Higgins, Sean. “Charges recommended against fourth top Teamsters official.” Washington Examiner. November 22, 2016. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/charges-recommended-against-fourth-top-teamster-official. ^
  15. “Governing Board of Presidents.” NABTU. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://nabtu.org/about-nabtu/board-of-presidents/. ^
  16. “Leadership.” NABTU. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://nabtu.org/leadership/. ^
  17. “Leadership.” NABTU. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://nabtu.org/leadership/. ^
  18. “Southern Company – North America’s Building Trades Union Form 990.” ProPublica. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/476757796/2016_08_EO%2F47-6757796_990EO_201512. ^
  19. “About Us.” NAFC. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://faircontracting.org/about-us/. ^
  20. “Veterans.” Powering America. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://powering-america.org/careers/veterans/#:~:text=Helmets%20to%20Hardhats%20is%20administered,%2C%20employers%20associations%2C%20and%20unions.. ^
  21. “Leadership.” NABTU. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://nabtu.org/leadership/. ^
  22. “Southern Company – North America’s Building Trades Union Form 990.” ProPublica. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/476757796/2016_08_EO%2F47-6757796_990EO_201512. ^
  23. “About Us.” The Ireland Funds. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://irelandfunds.org/about-us/. ^
  24. “Grants.” The Ireland Funds. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://irelandfunds.org/grants/. ^
  25. PAC to PAC/Party, 2020 Cycle.” Open Secrets. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pac2pac.php?cmte=C00003160&cycle=2020. ^
  26. “Hall of Fame: Sean McGarvey: Promoting Diversity in the Building Trades.” Irish America. April 2020. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://irishamerica.com/2020/03/hall-of-fame-labor-leader-promoting-diversity-sean-mcgarvey/. ^
  27. “Building and Construction Trades Department AFL-CIO Form 990.” ProPublica. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://apps.irs.gov/pub/epostcard/cor/530025755_201806_990O_2019081616577690.pdf. ^
  28. “Leadership.” NABTU. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://nabtu.org/leadership/. ^
  29. “Southern Company – North America’s Building Trades Union Form 990.” ProPublica. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/476757796/2016_08_EO%2F47-6757796_990EO_201512. ^
  30. “Building and Construction Trades Department AFL-CIO Form 990.” ProPublica. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://apps.irs.gov/pub/epostcard/cor/530025755_201806_990O_2019081616577690.pdf. ^
  31. “Party Split by Cycle.” Open Secrets. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2.php?cycle=2020&strID=C00003160. ^
  32. “Contributions to Federal Candidates, 2020 Cycle.” Open Secrets. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.php?cycle=2020&cmte=C00003160. ^
  33. PAC to PAC/Party, 2020 Cycle.” Open Secrets. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pac2pac.php?cmte=C00003160&cycle=2020. ^
  34. “Contributions to Federal Candidates, 2016 Cycle.” Open Secrets. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.php?cmte=C00003160&cycle=2016. ^
  35. PAC to PAC/Party, 2020 Cycle.” Open Secrets. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pac2pac.php?cmte=C00003160&cycle=2020. ^
  36. “Union Leader on White House Meeting.” C-Span. January 23, 2017. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.c-span.org/video/?422483-101/union-leader-white-house-meeting. ^
  37. Scheiber, Noam. “Union Leaders Meet with Trump, Construction on their Minds.” New York Times. January 23, 2017. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/23/business/economy/labor-leaders-trump-.html?_r=0%20https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/23/business/economy/labor-leaders-trump-.html?_r=0. ^
  38. “Union Leader on White House Meeting.” C-Span. January 23, 2017. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.c-span.org/video/?422483-101/union-leader-white-house-meeting. ^
  39. Scheiber, Noam. “Union Leaders Meet with Trump, Construction on their Minds.” New York Times. January 23, 2017. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/23/business/economy/labor-leaders-trump-.html?_r=0%20https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/23/business/economy/labor-leaders-trump-.html?_r=0. ^
  40. Kulligren, Ian. “Construction workers prepare to battle former ally Trump.” Politico. August 16, 2019. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/08/16/trump-jobs-construction-workers-1653450. ^
  41. “NABTU President Sean McGarvey Named to U.S. Commerce Department Workforce Policy Advisory Board.” NABTU. February 13, 2019. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://nabtu.org/press_releases/workforcepolicyadvisoryboardappointment/. ^
  42. “NABTU President Sean McGarvey Named to U.S. Commerce Department Workforce Policy Advisory Board.” NABTU. February 13, 2019. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://nabtu.org/press_releases/workforcepolicyadvisoryboardappointment/. ^
  43. Kulligren, Ian. “Construction workers prepare to battle former ally Trump.” Politico. August 16, 2019. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/08/16/trump-jobs-construction-workers-1653450. ^
  44. Kulligren, Ian. “Construction workers prepare to battle former ally Trump.” Politico. August 16, 2019. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/08/16/trump-jobs-construction-workers-1653450. ^
  45. Kulligren, Ian. “Construction workers prepare to battle former ally Trump.” Politico. August 16, 2019. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/08/16/trump-jobs-construction-workers-1653450. ^
  46. McGarvey, Sean. “An Overlooked Ticket to the Middle Class is Being Threatened.” Real Clear Policy. November 27, 2019. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.realclearpolicy.com/articles/2019/11/27/an_overlooked_ticket_to_the_middle_class_is_being_threatened_111319.html. ^
  47. “Remarks by President Trump on Proposed Environmental Policy Regulations.” White House. January 9, 2020. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-proposed-national-environmental-policy-act-regulations/. ^
  48. “President Donald J. Trump Announces Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups.” White House January 14, 2020. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-announces-great-american-economic-revival-industry-groups/. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Sean McGarvey
    President
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: May 1, 1956

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Jun Form 990 $14,316,290 $13,738,647 $11,082,202 $623,112 N $0 $13,414,326 $86,473 $912,925 PDF
    2016 Jun Form 990 $13,370,331 $13,276,299 $9,971,023 $416,696 N $0 $12,336,080 $74,817 $973,889
    2015 Jun Form 990 $12,563,414 $12,037,944 $10,428,078 $445,410 N $0 $11,799,891 $26,158 $940,216 PDF
    2014 Jun Form 990 $10,771,617 $10,343,237 $9,739,438 $527,739 N $0 $10,150,913 $28,601 $965,188 PDF
    2013 Jun Form 990 $10,372,173 $10,608,999 $9,340,665 $870,466 N $0 $9,631,919 $11,882 $892,356 PDF
    2012 Jun Form 990 $10,678,401 $10,268,113 $9,684,652 $422,140 N $0 $9,996,056 $61,537 $841,830 PDF
    2011 Jun Form 990 $10,710,572 $10,236,214 $9,239,508 $387,284 N $0 $8,832,985 $57,730 $898,942 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO

    815 16TH ST NW SUITE 600
    WASHINGTON, DC 20006-4101