Early leaders of local and national Building and Construction Trades Unions, recognizing their mutual interest and needs, formed the Building Trades Department of the AFL-CIO and Local Building Trades Councils. The Atlanta and North Georgia Building and Construction Trades Council (NGBCTC) was founded in 1905 as Atlanta Structural Trades Alliance (ASTA). The Alliance and its local members were engaged in early battles for safe jobs and the 40 hour work week. In 1908, the ASTA became the Atlanta Building and Construction Trades Council. In 1974, the Macon Building Trades Council merged with Atlanta to form the North Georgia Building and Construction Trades Council.
The Council has been at the fore front of the fight to preserve and protect the Davis Bacon Act (DBA). Through our efforts several legal precedents that protect the Act have been established. This Council led and won the fight that stopped the government from allowing private developers to enforce and monitor the DBA on their own project. The Council is currently involved in helping defend the City of Atlanta’s prevailing wage law from a legal challenge by the ABC, AGC and IEC.
Often we don’t realize the results of our efforts until years after they are undertaken. The Building Trades Council waged a long hard fought battle over the non-union construction of Georgia Power’s “Yellow Dirt” Plant. Though we never turned the Yellow Dirt job, Georgia Power Company chose to use union crafts to construct four (4) coal fired units at Plant Scherer and two (2) nuclear units at Plant Vogtle. One of Georgia Power Company’s now retired VP’s said if the Building Trades had fought the ABC the way we fought GPC, there would be no non-union construction in Atlanta.
During the mid 80’s, the Building Trades Council conducted Project Phoenix, a multi faceted campaign directed at construction users, contractors and the public. The name was chosen because of a November, 1992, Atlanta newspaper article with big headlines that screamed, “Building Trades Barely Hanging On” and because Phoenix is Atlanta’s symbol of rebirth. During the short period of time the program operated, the dollar volume of work awarded to Union General Contractors increased by 14%, two targeted non-union contractors went from doing a total of 14 jobs to 0 jobs in the Atlanta area and one went out of business. The program was successful in increasing the visibility of the trade unions before the public and the politicians. Unfortunately funding and staffing for the project ended before the full impact was made.
Though it was someone else’s leadership that made it a national program, the Sheet Metal Workers International Union’s “Youth to Youth” Program was born as a result of one of the Building Trades Council’s educational programs.
The Building Trades Council was very active in the effort to promote the use of Union Labor by the Atlanta Olympics. Our efforts led to a Memorandum of Understanding for the Olympic Stadium Construction that protected the wage and benefit standards we have established and made it easier for union contractors to be competitive in the bid process. Our efforts also helped our brothers and sisters in other union’s to get major portions of the Olympic related work.