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Letter: No shortage of skilled labor for homebuilding

Published: Friday, Aug. 15, 2014 11:30 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Aug. 15, 2014 11:36 p.m. CST

To the Editor:

The National Association of Home Builders published a study in July claiming that “shortages of labor and subcontractors have become substantially more widespread.” This assertion came as a shock to the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters and its nearly 40,000 members who are ready and willing to work right now.

Shortages of qualified tradespeople were unheard of before 2008 when the homebuilding market was flourishing. In 2012, when the housing market began to improve, many residential builders chose to end their partnership with skilled craftsmen. Instead, they began to use cheaper, lower-skilled subcontractors who can provide cut-rate bids because they pay their employees the lowest possible wages with little or no health insurance or other benefits.

The assertion that a shortage of workers is the cause of delays in construction or renovation would be laughable if it was not so offensive. In a desperate attempt to recoup their losses after the 2008 economic downturn, these homebuilders have turned to the less skilled and less experienced workers because they can get them for less money. This has not translated into less expensive homes, but, as stock prices show, healthy profits for the homebuilders.

If these groups really want to resolve the issue of slowed construction and renovation, they simply need to renew their partnership with skilled craftsmen, who have the experience and expertise to safely build cost-effective homes in a timely manner.

So when the NAHB cries out for skilled craftsmen, please remind them that members of the Carpenters Union are here, ready to meet the demands of the residential industry and deliver quality homes, on time, every time.

Frank Libby

President, Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters

Chicago

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