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Painting Pro Times, the source for paint professionals!

For a variety of reasons, things may be somewhat combative or at least not always harmonious between union and merit labor. It is important to realize that the paint and coating application life is better off if we awake to seek and share common ground. Labor dues or not, moats do not help us in the long run. After all, we are “Brothers of the Brush” (the old byline from the Scottish Federation of Master Decorators). When you think about it, the owners/developers are mostly controlling whether or not a project and/or property has signatory labor or not.

America needs union labor! And paint professionals need effective training curriculums that churn out, as well as foster craftsmanship and career opportunity. Look around and notice that outside of organized labor, system wide, consistent and quality skilled education programs and the physical learning facilities that house training are far and few between. There may be sprinkles here and there, but no other group does a better job of training paint professionals coast to coast than the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT).

Just as associations bring together competitors to accomplish big pictures tasks that are outmatched for individuals, it would be better if paint professionals put the down the swords. The idea of pooling resources and conquering industry challenges for all paint professionals is long overdue. Working together for the betterment of the greater group is where the focus must be and remain. Professional craftsmanship needs promotion. We must introduce, showcase the art and science aspects of our craft and engage young people to become paint professionals.

Inadvertently or not, we have seemingly skipped many of the millennial generation. Too long, professionals have been rowing alone or joining teams that are divisive; separated into segments, like commercial, industrial or residential. Many small businesses grind it out as individuals worrying about next week or month, but fail to watch the horizon. There is a demographic tsunami of gray and white heads hanging up the brush that will be catastrophic, a skilled labor wipeout. The time is now; we must align; bring together the different paint and coating application aspects to preserve craftsmanship and carve a proactive, brilliant path for tomorrow.

It seems like it would be a lot more fun to visualize a better future. Maybe we purposefully work towards making good things happen? How about building a bigger boat and manning the oars together? We should be able to cruise faster and further, plus think of the all the war stories that may be shared while we keep a smooth rowing rhythmn.

In the News, reportedly, Axalta has opened the world’s largest coatings and color facility in Philadelphia. “Axalta’s Global Innovation Center will become the central hub for our global research, product development, and technology initiatives where we develop and deliver the most innovative coatings products in the world,” said Robert Bryant, Interim Chief Executive Officer.

The Finishing Contractors of America (FCA), the national association of union owned painting companies and other signatory trades, has filed a lawsuit against the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT). Apparently, the filing seems to involve a dispute regarding Labor Management Cooperation Initiative (LMCI). It is PPT’s understanding that the FCA’s owners contribute a fixed amount of “cents per hour” per IUPAT worker to fund LMCI.

Seemingly, a portion of that allotment funds the FCA staff and expenses. Each union company contributes a percentage of hourly wage from individual employees to fund training programs, to foster good relations between management and labor and to support the FCA. In addition, there is a LMCI board that decides how the funds are spent. The LMCI reserves hold approximately $12 million. Apparently, the dispute centers around the IUPAT wanting more board positions (more control of the funds). Also, it appears that the union group would rather that FCA itself not be funded by LMCI contributions.

Looking at it from afar, PPT sees room for improvement on both sides. Although the union has developed the best training and has quality learning centers, the delivery and curriculum is need of modernization. In the long term, the owners may benefit if the FCA were to be enormously more proactive with the promotion of the trade, craftsmanship and developing the idea of specialty career paths. Of course, the two need to be in agreement for any significant improvement to gain traction. Here at PPT, we are optimistic that both sides will work together.

On a brighter subject, we are featuring a video News item: Paint Cans, which is well worth the nearly 3 minute watch. To say the least, there are many different types; maybe we should change it to “paint cans galore”.

It looks like it is ladder party time this coming March…that is if you will join in the celebration of ladder safety. According to the American Ladder Institute (ALI), “Every Step Matters…From Step Stools to Extension Ladders, make sure you’re putting the right foot forward. ALI believes ladder accidents are preventable and encourages paint professionals to focus on better safety planning and training.

The final News item is a “wow that is really cool” development. The video clip, New Construction Capable Robot, demonstrates that technology advances fast. If we graphed the progression, it would a steady climb with a sudden peak and then repeated…often. Although we are years away, we may live to work alongside a project robot.

In Improve Billing & Collections, the article refers to different levels of management, which may not be typical in many paint professionals’ offices. However, the message is right on when advising to develop key indicators for cash flow and to identify issues early. The strategies are relevant for any small business…especially if a project involves a schedule of values.

What to Do Before OSHA Comes Knocking; it is important to note the word “before” in the title. It is a short, informative read. Learn the six reasons OSHA may show up and the four tips to help prepare yourself to answer the inspection knock.

Although there are many successful small businesses, there is plenty of room for more. The question should not be about struggling or dealing with continuous issues and strife. Small or big, business should create dynamic, innovative work environments. We have a great piece; Positive Work Cultures are More Productive, which talks about becoming a breakthrough organization. The author references a few big businesses (like Southwest Airlines), though any small business with effective ownership/leadership has breakthrough potential.

Make sure you are good…then go to great!

Thanks for reading!

Mark Casale, Editor


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