A community’s built environment — its buildings, roads, bridges, water and sewer lines, recreational facilities are constructed over time. For most people this infrastructure is invisible, even as it evolves. We take things for granted and do not think about what our community was like before it was built. We tend to assume it has always been there and always will be. The truth is, of course, the Ohio Valley’s infrastructure was built over time by the hard labor of (mostly) men working on crews organized, directed and paid for by contractors. The larger and more significant the project, the greater the likelihood that it was built by a member of the Ohio Valley Construction Employers Council.
In the 1940’s, a group of contractors organized the Ohio Valley Builders Exchange, Inc. to fulfill a need for unified contractor representation in organized labor dealings. These men also recognized the value of promoting the common interests of those in the construction industry and the need to establish guidelines for quality and professionalism. Mr. Thomas Cerra served the OVCEC as its Executive Director for nearly fifty years prior to his retirement in March of 2017. Cerra and the OVCEC members are credited with revolutionizing the relationships between contractor and union labor. The OVCEC has played a significant role in shaping the landscape of our region. For more than seventy years we have been the voice of leadership for the advancement of quality construction in the Ohio Valley.
In the 1970’s, the council changed the name of the company to more accurately define what they did, and so it became the Ohio Valley Construction Employers Council, Inc. and collaborated to address the many problems facing the construction industry. The contractors united on an area, state and regional basis to combat unreasonable wage settlements and work stoppages. The purposes of the council focused on its ability to stabilize construction labor costs by coordinating bargaining policies of the participating members, to strive for the elimination of labor controversy through better understanding of common problems, to conduct research and make studies of special problems confronting the construction industry, disseminate information concerning construction industry wage rates, working conditions and to work toward the attainment of objectives in the collective bargaining which mutually benefits all members. The ultimate objective – to conduct labor relations with various building trades unions that bring about sound and reasonable terms and conditions for employment in the construction industry that is fair and equitable to both labor and management in the industry, its clients and to the public. Through collaboration Ohio Valley area as experienced a peaceful time for over forty-years without a labor strike.
The Ohio Valley Construction Employers Council and the Upper Ohio Valley Building & Construction Trades Council joined their resources and collective membership to create Project BEST, a realistic synergistic relationship for labor-management decisions in the late seventies. Their aggregate efforts are aimed at economic growth and increased job opportunities for the construction industry in the Upper Ohio Valley.
The principal activities of the OVCEC are supported by contributions made to the Construction Advancement Program (CAP). The Construction Advancement Program of the Ohio Valley Construction Employers Council, Inc. is created out of a recognition by employers of construction labor of the responsibility of collectively sharing in defraying the cost of conducting, administering, and servicing every phase of Labor/Management relations. The primary CAP function is to provide services which benefit all persons, management and labor alike, who earn their living in union construction working for any of the contributing firms. These services include activities in the fields of Accident Prevention, Education, Apprenticeship, Industry Relations, Legislation, Human Relations and Public Relations. Any building construction employer of bricklayers, carpenters, cement masons, glaziers, ironworkers, laborers, millwrights, operating engineers, painters, pile drivers, plasterers, plumbers and pipefitters, roofers, sheetmetal workers and teamsters, contributes to the CAP Fund according to the number of man-hours worked by these tradespeople. These fund contributions provide the capital with which the staff administers the programs as directed by the CAP Trustees.
One of the primary functions of the Association is to negotiate, service, and administer a total of fifteen separate collective bargaining agreements having jurisdiction in West Virginia, southeastern Ohio, and portions of western Pennsylvania, and to administrate and service these collective bargaining agreements which include the handling and processing of all grievances and jurisdictional disputes with competent labor relations assistance. The Ohio Valley Construction Employers Council Labor Relations Committee (LRC) maintains a constant liaison with the Upper Ohio Valley Building & Construction Trades Council.
Through its committees, the Association maintains a constant flow of communication not only to its members, but also to local, state and national officials regarding every phase and activity of the industry.
The future of our nation depends on the construction industry and the youth it trains today to meet the needs of tomorrow; therefore, the Council, through the efforts of its Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committees (labor and management), sanctioned by the U. S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship, promotes the training and employment of apprentices and retraining of journeymen. High schools and vocational teachers are acquainted with construction occupations available to high school graduates through formal presentations by the Council’s staff. OVCEC members also serve as Employer Trustees on various individual craft funds.
The construction industry is a worldwide industry, so the range of construction activities is vast. These activities include design and planning, construction and maintenance of a building throughout its lifecycle. These construction activities contribute to our society economically and socially. Our contractors and association members built the environment around you. Our members built the schools your children are educated in, the churches you worship in, your hospitals and homes. Buildings can improve the quality of our lives and enhance our communities. Construction projects provide jobs, inject both funds and new life into a community, and create the infrastructure critical to keeping the country moving forward.
Presently the OVCEC is the voice of construction in the Ohio Valley. The combination of OVCEC services, its administration of CAP programs and national affiliation with the Associated General Contractors of America, assures architects, construction users and developers that OVCEC contractors provide the best value for the construction dollar. The members of this organization are the fabric of this community, they’ve designed, built and maintain almost every building the eye can see. We’re proud of our history, our work and are eagerly looking forward to building the future of the Ohio Valley. The OVCEC is building upon a proud legacy creating opportunities for our members as our region strives forward.