The DROPCLOTH Covers Everything


Volume 59, Number 1
Winter, 2004

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Outgoing Chicago PDCA/FCA President Keith Farnham (K&R/Christopher, Inc.,) officiated at Presidents Night to administer the Oath of Office to his successor, Marty Tew (J.M. Brennan & Company) and incoming Vice President Miles Beatty (Beatty Decorating Company), Secretary Norb Soltysiak (Leopardo Companies, Inc.), Treasurer Tom Tyrakowski (Am-Coat Painting, Inc.), and returning Board Members Terry Bobbe (TRB Decorating/Bobbe & Company) and Jeff Castles (Ascher Brothers Company, Inc.).

Chicago PDCA/FCA’s well-attended Christmas Luncheon on December 10th at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Oak Brook resulted in unanimous support for the proposed 2004-2005 slate of Officers and Directors. Marty Tew was elected to be the new President, while Miles Beatty, Norb Soltysiak, and Tom Tyrakowski received the offices of Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer, respectively. Terry Bobbe and Jeff Castles were returned to their chairs as Board Members.

Their official installation took place at PDCA/FCA President’s Night, held at the Rosewood Restaurant in Rosemont on January 30, 2004.

The Zinsser Company just mailed us their product sheet on a really nifty new product, an aerosol ceiling stain sealing paint. What’s different about it is the nozzle, which shoots straight up, so you don’t have to tilt the can sideways. You just hold the can vertically and press sideways on the nozzle, which is easier to do simpler than cocking your hand backwards and pressing down on the nozzle. The neutral white may serve as a finish coat on discolored ceiling tiles, but can be painted over with both latex and oil-based paints.

Here’s an observation for painters, from the great entertainer Danny Kaye (1913-1987). “Life is a great big canvas; throw all the paint on it you can!”

Edna Buchanan, a writer, observed that, “True friends are those who really know you, but love you anyway.”

There once was a fellow harboring a terrible secret that he simply couldn’t hold inside any he told all to his pastor. Seems that he worked in a paint store, where he had been stealing paint and supplies for years. “Well, how much did you take?” the pastor asked. “Enough to paint my own house...and enough to paint our son’s house...and enough to paint our three daughters’ houses, too,” the man admited. “This is very serious,” the cleric observed. “I shall have to think of a noble penance for you. Have you ever done a retreat?” The man though for a moment, then admitted, “No Father, I haven’t. But if you can tell me how to get there, I can get the paint!”

Here is a collection of little-known and seldom-needed facts to amaze your friends with:

  • Butterflies taste with their feet.
  • A duck’s quack does not echo, and no one really knows why.
  • A hurricane releases more energy in ten minutes that all of the world’s nuclear energy put together.
  • The main library at Purdue University sinks over an inch every year because the engineers who designed it forgot to take into account the weight of all the books that would occupy the building.
  • Ninety percent of all New York City cab drivers are recent immigrants.
  • On average, people fear spiders more than they fear death.
  • Elephants are the only animals who cannot jump.
  • It is possible to lead a cow upstairs, but not downstairs.
  • Women blink twice as much as men.
  • Only one person in two billion will live to be 116 or older.
  • Of the people who use personal ads for dating, 35% are already married.

Then there are those misnomers that contradict the obvious. For example, the Hundred Years War actually lasted 116 years...from 1337 to 1453. Panama hats are actually made in Ecuador. Cat gut comes from sheep and horses. In Russia, the October Revolution of 1917 is actually celebrated in November, as their old Julian calendar ran 13 days behind our Gregorian calendar. A camel’s hair brush is crafted from the fur of squirrels. The Canary Islands are actually named after the Latin term “Insularia Canaria,” meaning Island of Dogs. King George’s first name was really Albert, but when he took the British throne in 1936, he respected the wishes of Queen Victoria, that no future king would bear her husband’s name, Albert. The purple finch is actually a definite crimson shade. The Chinese Gooseberry actually grows in New Zealand. Thank goodness for the Thirty Years War, which actually lasted for 30 years...from 1618 to 1648. And thanks to Bob Ireland, Editor of the Illinois Council PDCA “Paint Profits” for sharing these little tidbits with us!

On October 7, 2003, a hallmark case filed by the City of Chicago against 11 paint manufacturers and a local trade association was dismissed in court. The City had alleged that the defendants knowingly created “a public nuisance” by creating and distributing lead-based paints. The dismissal by Judge Nancy J. Arnold came on the heels of 50 other similar unsuccessful suits filed across the land against the paint companies, many of which also relied upon the public nuisance argument. The legal action stemmed from lead-based paints which were once used on municipal and residential buildings throughout Chicago. The City’s legal tactic pursued the public nuisance claim rather than a direct product liability action, claiming that the defendants knew, or should have known that their products were hazardous to residents. It sought their financial support for lead remediation programs. The judge’s ruling observed that the action was, in fact, a disguised product liability claim, determining that the City of Chicago failed to prove that manufacturers directly or intentionally caused a public nuisance. Judge Arnold pointedly rejected the City’s effort to shift the responsibility for properly maintaining buildings from the owners of those buildings to the manufacturers. The case once again underscores the care that contractors must exercise when working on older properties where lead paint products applied long ago could be disturbed and thereby made more hazardous. As might be expected, the City of Chicago legal department has vowed to appeal....

Finally, a few imponderables. How important do you have to be to get assassinated rather than just murdered? What did cured ham actually have? If bread is square, how come they make the meat round? If a deaf person goes to court, do they still call it a hearing? And, last but not least, an old problem. Can you cry under water?



By Jay Weaver, Executive Director Of Industry Services,Finishing Contractors Association

Asbestos Bill -- Asbestos industry lobbyists are negotiating adjustments to claim payment schedules on S.B.1125, a bill which will create a multi-billion dollar trust fund for workers injured by exposure to asbestos. Under discussion are two-to-three-year payment schedules for some claimants. The business community expects the bill's current award amounts to increase before the measure goes before the Senate for a vote. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) suggested that some award levels could be increased to garner the support of Democrats and Labor.

Prevailing Wage Laws -- Denver Major John Hickenlooper testified in support of that city's prevailing wage law to a legislative committee that was planning on killing it (S.B.155), while New Jersey readopted the rules implementing the New Jersey Prevailing Wage Act with little change other than a tenfold increase in the limit on the administrative penalties that may be assessed for violations (up to $2,500 for a first offense/$5,000 for subsequent violations).

Two Differing Positions On Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) -- Massachusetts' Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) has proposed reforms that could save public construction costs, but he has refrained from relaxing the prevailing wage requirements and banning PLAs. On the other hand, in H.B.844, Missouri has proposed the Open Contracting Act, which would prohibit state and local governments from requiring Union labor on public works projects.

Workers Comp -- The Washington State Senate has approves a bill designed to cut Workers Compensation (WC) costs and trim benefits. S.B.5378 would change the basis for calculating WC insurance benefits by awarding injured workers a flat 65.5% of their wages as

(based upon the worker's most highly paid 12-month period in the previous two years). Other proposed WC bills include S.B.6395 (requiring workers to report injuries within 5 days) and S.B.6428 (giving the state DOL greater authority to penalize medical providers who abuse the system).

Building Trade Union Presidents Support Senator Kerry's Presidential Bid -- Leaders of the Unions affiliated with the BCTD, AFL-CIO, voted with no objections to support Senator Kerry's (D-MA) Presidential bid as the nominee to beat the current anti-labor, anti-worker Administration.

Canadian Worker Mobility -- Quebec and Ontario leaders have named negotiators on a construction labor mobility dispute to resolve the high-profile dispute between Ontario and Quebec over the cross-border mobility of some 5,000 construction workers. While this is viewed as a positive step, it seems unclear on how the two governments plan to resolve the dispute, since Quebec's labor is fully unionized, while Ontario's is not.

Health Costs and Pension Concerns -- The phenomenon of “hyperinflation” affecting the provision of health insurance benefits, along with the financial/legal strain on multiemployer pension plans, are central issues in construction bargaining in all regions of the country in 2004. The stepped-up enforcement of federal safety, prevailing wage, and immigration rules will run a close second.

For more detailed information, contact Jay Weaver, Executive Director, or visit:





DECEMBER 5, 2003

Forty-one PDCA/FCA Associate Members gathered at Basta Pasta on the Northwest Side of Chicago on December 5th to toast the end of one year and salute the beginning of another at their annual private luncheon. The sole item of business on their agenda was election of new Officers. Doug Lyjak (Sherwin-Williams) was elected President of the Associates Group, while Jim Gasparro (Benjamin Moore & Company) became Vice President, Diane Meyer (J.C. Licht Company) moved up to Secretary, and Ken Tatarelis (ICI Paints) joined the team as Treasurer.






Ralph Trallo and Tim Klotz (photo directly left, left and right, respectively) brought the comprehensive IUPAT Supervisory Training Program (“STP” for short) to Chicago in January, providing a three-day seminar at the JATC Apprentice Training Facility on the 8th, 9th, and 10th. The program is designed to strengthen the management skills of field supervisors by broadening their understanding of management responsibilities, and by providing the tools and techniques they need. By design an interactive program, the STP training is conducted on three progressive levels as an ongoing series of Labor-Management Cooperation Initiative training efforts. LMCI is jointly funded and managed by the Union Painting Contractors and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

Multi-Employer Pension Plan
Relief Legislation At Critical Stage

Much has been done by FCA, other contractor associations, and Unions to convince Congress to address the extraordinary losses which have been suffered in the stock market over the last three recognizing the effect which those losses have had on pension plans. Many plans were hit hard, but the effects have been felt more severely by contributing employers than any other group. Even though contractors around the country made 100%of their required contributions, many will still be faced with crippling IRS assessments and additional contribution requirements.

Current Legislative Proposal:
Section 5 of a manager's amendment to H.R. 3108 proposes a 3-year suspension in amortization of investment losses with no interest accruing on the suspended amortization payments. Unless a particular plan is at least 75% funded (based upon current liability), any plan amendments increasing benefits would not be allowed during the 3-year suspension unless they are fully recovered by contribution increases or otherwise de minimis.

The suspension would apply to investment losses reflected in the charges to the funding standard account for plan years beginning after June 30, 2002, and before July 1, 2006.

Congresses' Misconception:
Congress appears poised to grant relief for single employer (company) plans, while multiemployer plan relief faces an uphill battle. Many members of Congress still perceive multiemployer plan relief as a "union bailout." We know that this is not the case at all, for it is an employer's issue.

Contractors are now faced with severe financial penalties, even though they made all required contributions to their plans in good faith, simply because ERISA's own rules prevented plan trustees from taking prudent financial action to mitigate the effects of plan losses.

Talk To Your Members of Congress:
It could well help fellow contractors across the land if you took a few moments to call and/or write to your Congressman about this issue. Please emphasize the following essential points:

...that the multiemployer proposal is not a union bailout or a special deal or really even a permanent change. It is a measure that would provide employers with short-term relief,

...that the proposal is a one-time adjustment covering a recent period which experienced unprecedented market losses, and

...that it simply eases the employers' financial burden and potential penalties imposed by ERISA rules, rules that did not foresee such an extended period of severe investment losses.

Multi-Employer Pension Plan
Relief Legislation Status Update:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) sent the Senate-approved version of the Pension Funding Rate Replacement and relief bill to conference with the House. He appointed the following five conferees: Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee; Senator Max Baucus (D-MT); Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA); and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Majority Whip. It appears that the bill will experience significant opposition in both the House and within the current Administration. Therefore, contractors and management trustees must continue efforts to convince elected representatives in both the House and the White House that short-term, multiemployer pension funding relief as proposed in H.R. 3108 is sorely needed.



JANUARY 16, 2004

Eighty-one Apprentices graduated at the Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committee Graduation Dinner, held on January 16th at the Rosewood Restaurant in Rosemont. Speakers included (clockwise, from left) Ray Price (General Vice President, IUPAT), Jerry Harms (Business Manager and Secretary-Treasurer of Painters’ District Council No. 14), and John Spiros (Business Agent for Painters’ District Council No. 14 and JATC Trustee). Retiring JATC Trustee Erich Waelter received a special recognition plaque from JATC Committee Chairman Jeff Castles, while Apprentice Training Program Coordinator Gary Ellinger presented prestigious Apprentice of the Year honors to Brian Featherstone. Above, the JATC Committee (left to right, John Spiros, Robert Schultz, Jeff Castles, Gary Ellinger, Jeff Hester, and Fred Wenzel) congratulated Apprentice of the Year Brian Featherstone.


Associate Board Member and Past President Ralph Stewart (PPG) extends his personal appreciation to both the Contractors and Associate Members for generously sponsoring his son, Peter, in the Edwin Deicke Home Walk-A-Thon, which was held on Sunday, September 28th at the Lombard Lagoon.

Peter lives at the group home; he successfuly completed six half-mile laps in the Walk-A-Thon to raise $300.00 each from his Chicago PDCA/FCA Contractor and Associate Sponsors.

Because the Deicke Home -- a group home for some twenty developmentally-disabled adults -- receives no state funding, it must rely upon donations and fundraisers for financial support.

Partipants in last Fall’s Walk-A-Thon completed a total of 315 laps and raised over $6,000.00.

In the photo above right, Peter Stewart is on the far right, with his brother, Jeffrey, both of whom were Walk-A-Thon participants. In the photo above left, Peter is holding the sign on the far right, while his roommate, Jeff, holds it on the left. They both got to meet the Mayor of Lombard, Bill Mueller, who appears in the middle of the big picture. Donations for the Deicke Home may be forwarded to the West Suburban Association for the Retarded, Inc., 1005 East Division Street, Lombard, IL 60148-3108 (Phone: 630/629-5212, Fax: 630/629-5263, E-Mail: volunteers are always needed!



Mark Your Calendar...
It’s Not Too Early
To Reserve Your Foursome!


Call 630/393-1313 today to save your place at the great PDCA/FCA Annual Golf Outing, planned to be held once again at Indian Lakes Resort in Bloomingdale.

June 4, 2004
7:00 A.M. Registration
8:00 A.M. Shotgun Start



CISCO (Construction Industry Service Corporation) Executive Director Rich Blackwell welcomed Esther Lopez, Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Labor, to the CISCO Annual Meeting held on January 9th at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Schaumburg. She spoke on Prevailing Wage issues and state enforcement.