About the Ohio State Building Trades Council

About the Ohio State Building Trades Council2019-01-24T11:18:37-05:00

The individual member affiliates of the Ohio State Building & Construction Trades Council are comprised of thousands of highly-trained and experienced workers, whose track record of producing quality work resonates throughout the state of Ohio.

As such, it’s the mission of the Ohio State BTC to provide members with the necessary education and training to better skills and maintain productive and safe working environments.

The Ohio State BTC provides leadership through direction and cooperation from 14 regional councils.

    State of the Union Highlights Need for Building Trades

    President Biden's 2023 State of the Union address highlighted a number of programs that are instrumental to the Building Trades and are putting our members to work:

    "The Inflation Reduction Act is also the most significant investment ever in climate change — ever. Lowering utility bills, creating American jobs, leading the world to a clean energy future.
    Inflation has fallen every month for the last six months, while take-home pay has gone up.
    Additionally, over the last two years, a record 10 million Americans applied to start new businesses. Ten million."

    "I’m so sick and tired of companies breaking the law by preventing workers from organizing. Pass the PRO Act! Because businesses have a right — workers have a right to form a union. And let’s guarantee all workers have a living wage.
    Let’s make sure working parents can afford to raise a family with sick days, paid family and medical leave, affordable childcare. That’s going to enable millions of more people to go and stay at work."

    "Outside of Columbus, Ohio, Intel is building semiconductor factories on a thousand acres — literally a field of dreams.
    It’s going to create 10,000 jobs, that one investment; 7,000 construction jobs; 3,000 jobs in those factories once they’re finished. They call them factors. Jobs paying an average of $130,000 a year, and many do not require a college degree.
    Jobs — because we worked together, these jobs where people don’t have to leave home to search for opportunity.
    And it’s just getting started.
    Think about the new homes, the small businesses, the big — the medium-sized businesses. So much more that’s going to be needed to support those three thou- — those 3,000 permanent jobs and the factories that are going to be built."

    "We came together and passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — the largest investment in infrastructure since President Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System.
    Folks, already we’ve funded over 20,000 projects, including major airports from Boston to Atlanta to Portland — projects that are going to put thousands of people to work rebuilding our highways, our bridges, our railroads, our tunnels, ports, airports, clean water, high-speed Internet all across America — urban, rural, Tribal.
    Projects like the Brent Spence Bridge in Kentucky over the Ohio River. Built 60 years ago. Badly in need of repairs. One of the nation’s most congested freight routes, carrying $2 billion worth of freight every single day across the Ohio River.
    And, folks, we’ve been talking about fixing it for decades, but we’re really finally going to get it done.
    I went there last month with Democrats and Republicans in — from both states — to deliver a commitment of $1.6 billion for this project.
    And while I was there, I met a young woman named Saria, who’s here tonight. I don’t know where Saria is. Is she up in the box? I don’t know. Saria, how are you?
    Well, Saria — for 30 years — for 30 years — I learned — she told me she’d been a proud member of the Iron workers Local 44, known as — — known as the “Cowboys in the Sky” — — the folks who built — who built Cincinnati’s skyline.
    Saria said she can’t wait to be 10 stories above the Ohio River building that new bridge. God bless her. That’s pride.
    And that’s what we’re also building — we’re building back pride."

    "Tonight, I’m also announcing new standards to require all construction materials used in federal infra- — infrastructure projects to be made in America. Made in America. I mean it. Lumber, glass, drywall, fiber-optic cable.
    And on my watch, American roads, bridges, and American highways are going to be made with American products as well."

    The Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council applauds President Biden and his work to reduce inflation, bring good jobs and manufacturing back to the United States, and improve our infrastructure. These provide more opportunities for Americans and will help strengthen our families and communities.

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    Ohio State Building Trades Looks Forward To Partnering With Intel On New Plants

    The Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council congratulates Governor Mike DeWine, his administration and Jobs Ohio for their months of hard work which resulted in today’s announcement from Intel that it will invest $20 billion to build two computer chip plants in Licking County - the largest single private sector investment in Ohio history. The Ohio State Building Trades’ skilled craftspeople have the training and experience required to construct and maintain these state-of-the-art facilities
    and we are excited about the opportunity to partner with Intel and the state of Ohio bring this project to fruition.

    Ohio has a strong history of building and manufacturing and this announcement proves that our great state continues to be an excellent place do business. Our central location, educational institutions, natural resources, great business climate, and, of course, our outstanding workforce make this an ideal location for Intel and the many related businesses which are sure to spin off from this project.

    This is also an exciting opportunity for our apprenticeship programs across the state to train the workers who will build and maintain this facility for generations to come. The building trades' world class apprenticeship programs provide the high level of training required to make Ohio the new frontier in high technology.

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    Building Trades Help Victims of Kentucky Tornadoes

    Building Trades unions in Paducah, Kentucky are collecting donations of high-need items for those hit hardest by tornados in Western Kentucky.

    Paducah Building & Construction Trades Council and Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 184 have provided the following information for Ohio Building Trades people to donate to support tornado recovery:

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    Thank You For An Outstanding 2021

    As we wrap up 2021, I want to thank the men and women who have continued to go to work on construction jobsites every day throughout the ongoing pandemic. Without your dedication, this could have been a doomed year for our city and state economies. I can say that Ohio is going strong, with cranes dotting the skylines and high demand for union construction workers. This is a testament to you, Ohio’s Building Tradespeople, and the work you do every day.

    This year, our Council marked its 55th anniversary. We convened our Constitutional Convention, and I thank our delegates for reelecting myself, President Mark Douglas, and our Executive Board to continue representing you at the state level.

    This year brought some fights that felt personal to me. As a plumber-pipefitter from Lima, Ohio, I’ve fought to support Lima and Toledo tradespeople as refinery owners outsource skilled Ohio construction maintenance turnarounds to unskilled out-of-state workers.

    One of my favorite books is Rust Belt Resistance: How a Small Community Took on Big Oil and Won. It tells the story of how Lima’s workers, with the support of their local leaders and the community, rose up in 1996 to stop BP from demolishing the Lima Refinery. Had BP closed the Lima Refinery in the late ‘90s, it would have destroyed one of Ohio’s last remaining industrial cities.

    “Nobody was defending us except ourselves,” outgoing Lima Mayor David Berger is quoted in the book about that fight with BP. Back then, as now, when we stand together in solidarity, we can protect our lives and livelihoods against corporate greed.

    As we look to a busy 2022, the Ohio Building Trades Council will continue to support the organizing, training, and business development happening every day in Ohio’s Regional Building Trades Councils, local unions, JATCs, and among our rank-and-file members. I wish you and your families a happy healthy holiday season and a prosperous new year.

    - Mike Knisley
    Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council

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    Ohio State Building Trades Supports HB 235

    On Oct. 26, Ohio Building Tradespeople and refinery officials testified in support of HB 235, the High Hazard Training Certification Act (HHTC). Passage of this legislation would improve the safe operation of petroleum refineries in Ohio. Refineries remain amongst the most dangerous facilities in our local communities and pose a great risk to the lives of workers who work in these facilities:


    To: Ohio House of Representatives – Commerce and Labor Committee

    From: Michael Knisley

    Date:   10/26/2021

    Re:                   HB 235 – High Hazard Training Certification Act

    Chairman Stein / Vice-Chair Johnson / Ranking Member Lepore-Hagan:

    My name is Mike Knisley. I’m a pipefitter by trade. I’ve worked in both the Lima and Oregon refineries. I’m a lifelong member of the Lima community. My home and property is located 7 miles downwind of the now Cenovus Oil Refinery in Lima, which is the largest oil refinery in Ohio.

    I’m also the Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council. We represent nearly 100,000 building and construction tradespeople—men and women that put on a hardhat and go to work at a construction jobsite here in Ohio every day.

    Our members and partner contractors believe in exceptional training; good wages; competitive benefits; and our goal is to ensure that our workers return home safely to their families each and every night. Ohio’s Building Trades members have the proper licensing, apprenticeship and safety training to build and maintain everything you can imagine, including Ohio’s major oil refineries. For the reasons that follow, I offer this testimony in support of House Bill 235.

    The safety provisions in House Bill 235, the High-Hazard Training Certification Act are critical to securing the safety of the construction workers who build and maintain Ohio’s oil refineries. In addition, House Bill 235 ensures the protection of public health and safety in the refinery communities where our tradespeople live and raise their families.

    Let me tell you, the loss of even one worker causes tremendous devastation to their family, their workplace, and their community.

    There’s a lot at stake here. I don’t think it is too much to ask that there be a level of training that holds companies and workers accountable for safety in high-hazard oil refineries.

    The Ohio Building Trades lead our industry in safety on major construction projects. Our safety record in Ohio’s oil refineries represents the gold-standard in high-hazard construction maintenance:

    Lima and Toledo Building Tradespeople have worked 21 million maintenance workhours in Ohio’s oil refineries over the past 20 years without a single lost-time injury. With BP and Cenovus’ new outsourcing approach, these workers will be replaced by low-wage workers with reduced safety and skills training and zero institutional knowledge of Ohio’s complex high-risk oil refinery facilities.

    No matter how experienced or well trained in their skilled trade and safety precautions, our Ohio refinery workers are put at grave risk if they work alongside an unskilled worker during a plant turnaround or maintenance cycle.

    Since the early 1990s, OSHA has documented that petroleum refineries specifically pose acute risk of debilitating workplace accidents and worker fatalities. A skilled worker shortage, paired with lax safety and skills training requirements has led to a recent surge in serious OSHA safety violations in petroleum refineries. All it takes is one mistake for a refinery accident to impact an entire community like my hometown of Lima.

    The high barrier to entry in the petroleum-refining industry means that not just any business owner can open a refinery. Only established petroleum industry leaders have the expertise to own petroleum refineries. Similarly, our state must have reasonable and wise training standards for workers in Ohio’s oil refineries. You can’t allow unscrupulous contractors and subcontractors to bring in inexperienced, untrained people to work in Ohio’s refineries. Refinery construction is work that has zero margin for error. 

    Ohio’s Building Tradespeople must have a voice in policies that protect them in high-hazard facilities. We must have reasonable policies that protect Ohio communities from industrial accidents in high-risk refineries. As a tradesperson who has worked in our state’s oil refineries, I urge this body to protect Ohio workers and the public from catastrophic incidents by implementing the high-hazard training standards in House Bill 235.

    Thank you for your consideration of this very important proposal.


    Mike Knisley



    To: Ohio House of Representatives - Commerce and Labor Committee

    From: Scott Hayes

    Date: 10/26/2021

    RE: HB 235 - High Hazard Training Certification Act

    Chairman Stein / Vice-Chair Johnson / Ranking Member Lepore-Hagan:

    Chairman Stein, committee members, it is my pleasure to join you today to speak in favor of HB 235, a bill that ensures that work done in high-hazard environments is done safely and without impact to the communities in which our facilities operate.

    I’m Scott Hayes, Health, Safety, Environmental and Government Relations manager for the Toledo Refining Company. We are proud of our 130-year history of bringing high-quality and affordable products to the market place. A few points concerning HB 235 for your consideration:

    • It applies only to Ohio’s oil refineries per the bill’s definition of “High Hazard Facility” (specific NAICS code)
    • It applies only to construction workers (NOT direct refinery employees)
    • It creates 2 classifications of Journeyman construction workers; Class A & Class B.  This provides flexibility for covered facilities.
    • Class A Journeyman: Graduate of any state or DOL approved apprenticeship program + OSHA 30 safety certification
    • Class B Journeyman: Individual with 5 years industrial experience in his craft + OSHA 30 safety certification
    • Apprentices in any state or DOL approved apprenticeship training programs are included
    • As a health and safety professional with over 30 years of experience, I’ve observed that watering down safety requirements, including training and mentoring, inevitably leads to poor safety performance, poor productivity, rework and poor quality.
    • In an industry like ours, we have to be cognizant of our potential effect on the communities in which we operate.  Poor training can lead to catastrophic failures that could have profound effects to adjacent neighbors.  Therefore, only the most qualified, credentialed, and mentored employees are allowed onsite.
    • I have been at facilities when short-sighted efforts to save money by lessening requirements of labor have resulted in regretful consequences.  In my opinion, you get what you pay for, and paying more for high quality labor is always the better buy.
    • I believe that I can speak with some credibility on the issue, as the facility that I work for has just celebrated over 1,000,000 safe work hours and over a year without an OSHA recordable injury for employees and contractors alike- something that is rare, and something that we are quite proud of.  We credit this success to our high expectations and requirements for working.

    Thank you for your consideration of this important safety legislation.

    Scott Hayes

    Toledo Refining Company

    To: Ohio House of Representatives - Commerce and Labor Committee

    From: Brad Wendel

    Date: 10/26/2021

    RE: HB 235 - High Hazard Training Certification Act

    Chairman Stein / Vice-Chair Johnson / Ranking Member Lepore-Hagan:

    My name is Brad Wendel. I’m a plumber-pipefitter and lifelong member of Local 776 in Lima. I was elected Business Manager to represent the pipefitters who go to work every day in Lima’s refinery and chemical plants. Lima tradespeople have a long history in our community. Lima remains one of Ohio’s strongest industrial towns because of our local construction workforce.

    Lima Building Tradespeople have built and maintained the Lima refinery since the early 1900s. Now, the new owner Cenovus is outsourcing 3,000 local, skilled construction jobs to out-of-state, unskilled labor.

    When a company like Cenovus comes in and finds a cheaper construction option, they push local workers – with their exceptional safety and specialized skills training - to the side. Apprentices in the Plumber-Pipefitters joint labor-management training program do 246 hours a year in the classroom for their apprenticeship - in the field they get 2,000 hours. We provide regular training upgrades on the industrial and refining facilities where we do most of our work.

    The local tradespeople we send to the Lima refinery know each unit, they know lock-out/tag-out, confined spaces. It’s all dangerous stuff. If you walk into that refinery without having drilled on these protocols, it can be deadly. You can’t just walk in off the street or even from an out-of-state refinery and know the place. Experience matters.

    That’s why there’s so much concern from people in Lima about the new workers who’ve come into our town. Cenovus contractors are posting hiring ads all over the internet because they don’t have enough construction workers to complete the turnaround. You can be working at Pizza Hut one day and go find a job as a non-union pipefitter the next day - that’s the real dangerous part.

    At Plumbers and Pipefitters 776, we invest about $750,000 each year into training our Apprentices. There is no “Second Place” to a joint labor-management apprenticeship as far as high-hazard facility training and safety training goes. As far as cut-rate contractors go, they offer nothing by comparison.

    The firemen and police officers and business owners and home owners and parents who send their kids to school down the street from the refinery - they are absolutely right to worry with Cenovus bringing in unskilled people to replace local Building Tradespeople on the refinery maintenance turnaround. The work they’re doing today can affect our community for years to come.

    I always worry about safety. The Lima Refinery operators, the USW workers, these are people we work with day in and day out. They’re like brothers and sisters to us. We want to see everyone in Lima come home from work safe.

    Lima Building Tradespeople and 776 pipefitters have been maintaining that refinery since 1906. And it shows. Our guys know the Lima refinery. This is their community. They care what happens. We know that working at the Lima refinery, the wrong thing going wrong will devastate the people you care about. It could flatten Lima for miles.

    An unskilled worker comes to the Lima Refinery from out of town, they’re just there for a paycheck and per diem. They don’t care what the area looks like when they're done.

    Talk with our Lima and Shawnee Township public safety officials. They don’t want to get the 911 calls after an explosion or a chemical leak at that refinery.

    Local construction workers are invested in this refinery’s safety and success. That’s what’s putting food on our tables. In the last 15 years, we’ve rebuilt several Lima refinery units solely with Lima Building Trades labor. Our construction quality and safety - the condition of that facility – that’s a big reason why Cenovus bought the Lima Refinery from Husky in 2020.

    I’m not a pro-regulations kind of guy. Lima Tradespeople are partners to our end-clients and contractors. We want them to stay in business and to earn the revenue they need - we help them with that. But we must require adequate safety. We won’t put Lima lives on the line because some Canadian executives want to save a quick buck on safety and skilled labor.

    Just read a few of the refinery accident reports from Texas. House Bill 235 can literally save Ohio lives. Safety should be our biggest priority in high-hazard facilities. Lima Building Tradespeople don't cut corners on safety or skills training in any instance - especially in an oil refinery in our backyard.

    Thank you for considering this urgent safety legislation.

    Brad Wendel

    Business Manager

    Plumbers and Pipefitters LU776







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