Tag Archives: projects

Wisconsin Senate, Walker go after collective bargaining agreements

The state Senate has passed a Republican bill that would limit union influence on bids for public projects. The bill, which passed 19-13 on party lines this week, prohibits state and local governments from requiring contractors bidding on their projects to enter into collective bargaining agreements called project labor agreements.

Sen. Leah Vukmir, who sponsored the measure, says it gives non-union firms the chance to bid on more projects.

But Democrats say it’s the latest iteration of Republican attacks on unions.

Both sides acknowledged few places in Wisconsin currently use project labor agreements, which can establish rules controlling work on a project upfront, such as setting work hours or requiring workers to join a union.

But union leaders and Democrats say PLAs can keep especially complex projects on schedule and ensure safe working conditions. They say local governments should get to decide whether to require PLAs or not.

“For a party that likes to talk about local control, this flies in its face,” Democratic Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling told Republicans. She said it invites non-union, out-of-state companies to steal work from Wisconsin companies.

Vukmir, who is from Brookfield, said her intent is to level the playing field, not tilt it. “What this piece of legislation does is establish neutrality, it establishes fairness,” Vukmir said.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a news release following the vote that the measure helps guarantee taxpayer dollars are being used efficiently.

Republicans rejected amendments from Democratic senators that would have required subcontractors to prioritize hiring veterans and give preference to minority and female-owned businesses.

More than 20 other states have passed similar legislation. The bill’s language is a variation of a sample policy provided by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit that pushes free market legislation.

The Assembly is expected to vote on the bill in March. If both the Senate and Assembly pass it, it would then go to Gov. Scott Walker who can sign it into law.

Walker’s budget proposal released Wednesday included prohibiting units of government from requiring PLAs on bids for public projects.


Designers seek to catalyze city against racism

The twin problems of segregation and racial inequality have plagued Milwaukee for so long that even people who care about them seem to have given up hope that the situation will ever improve. Worse, most people in the city — particularly white people — have become so accustomed to the city’s racist landscape that it’s grown invisible to them, says Ken Hanson, CEO of Hanson Dodge Creative.

But Hanson has not given up hope, and he believes that raising awareness will spur positive change. At Milwaukee City Hall on July 15, he joined with others, including Mayor Tom Barrett, to launch the Greater Together Challenge. An innovative competition, the challenge’s goal is to generate ideas that will bring visibility to the city’s racial divide, as well as ideas to bridge it.

The concept originated as a way to mark the 100th anniversary of AIGA Wisconsin. The state’s largest association of design professionals, AIGA Wisconsin has a membership of more than 250,000. Designers, artists, musicians and filmmakers will play a major role in gearing up for the challenge and helping to present the winning ideas.

“We are leveraging the power of design to elevate the work of organizations such as the NAACP, the ACLU, Centro Hispano and our teachers’ union, which have spent generations raising their voices around issues of race and fairness,” said Chris Klein, AIGA Wisconsin’s president, in a press statement. “Many of us are new to these battles, but we want to offer our skills and be helpful in any way we can.” 

“A visible, united effort like the Greater Together Challenge could be the catalyst for change our city needs,” said James Hall, president of the Milwaukee branch of the NAACP, also in a press release.

Partners in the challenge include scores of civic and public advocacy nonprofits, schools, unions, media outlets, churches and other groups. NEWaukee — a “social architecture firm that inspires a collision of all Milwaukee has to offer” — will be integral during the four-month awareness campaign preceding the contest. So will filmmakers, such as MIAD graduate Xavier Ruffin, and musicians.

Hanson said the challenge is not designed to stir debate, but rather “to take the debate out of it and work on solutions.”

“I’m trying to build a campaign that’s attractive and hopeful and seductive. A lot of us feel good when we can just talk to each other about these things,” he added.

Performers will write songs about segregation that will be played on local radio stations, including project partner 88Nine Radio Milwaukee. Mike Benign, who leads the popular Wisconsin band The Mike Benign Compulsion, is writing a song about Father Groppi, a Milwaukee Roman Catholic priest who became a leader in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

“A lot of people are good people in their daily lives, but they compartmentalize,” Hanson said. “They don’t want to deal with black people. But they don’t even think that they don’t want to deal with black people. Are people sitting down to dinner and talking about segregation? I want to make it so that happens.”

Throughout the summer, the Zeidler Center for Public Discussion will organize small-group dialogues across Milwaukee to brainstorm ideas and help shape proposals for the challenge. A professionally trained facilitator will guide each group in discussions about segregation and economic inequality.

The ideas submitted for the challenge can take virtually any form, from a school curriculum to a work of public art. Hanson said at least 100 proposals must be submitted in order for the challenge to be viable. The deadline for submissions to be filed online at www.greatertogether.me is Sept. 7.

A panel of advocates, scholars, civic leaders and other representatives from the Greater Together Coalition will select 10 ideas as finalists on Sept. 14. The creators of those ideas will be paired with a design team to help make their presentation as compelling and effective as possible.

On Oct. 7, each finalist will have 6 minutes to present his or her idea to the panel. The winner, who will be announced the next day, will receive a grant of $5,000 to aid in the implementation of the idea.

Following the challenge, the Greater Together Foundation will be created to continue focusing on key social justice issues and to raise funds for other submitted ideas that organizers feel merit support.

On the web…

To enter or to learn more about the Greater Together Challenge and Milwaukee’s segregation crisis, visit http://www.greatertogether.me.

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NARI’s home tour is a great way to explore design ideas for spring remodeling projects

If you’re considering a spring home remodeling project, the Milwaukee/NARI Tour of Remodeled Homes offers a great venue for exploring ideas, says group spokesman Dave Amoroso.

Thirteen projects were selected for this year’s tour, which features an entire home makeover as well as a variety of bathroom and kitchen re-dos. Visitors can get a sense of new trends in flooring, cabinetry and appliances as well as the chance to compare what different contractors are able to accomplish on varying budgets, Amoroso says.

“Consumers get an opportunity to see contractors’ work up close,” he explains. Many participating contractors list the paint colors, flooring, carpeting, appliances and other items and finishes they’ve used in the projects, so visitors can take away not just general ideas, but also specifics, he adds.

The homes included in this year’s tour are all in suburban areas, particularly Wauwatosa, which is close to the city of Milwaukee and has a quaint, European-style village at its center. Most of the remodeled homes are 25-40 years old, and new residents wanted to update the houses to reflect their personalities and lifestyles, Amoroso explains.

Patrons who visit at least six of the project locations will be eligible to register to win a house full of faucets from the Kohler Co., worth a total of more than $1,000. 

To participate in the tour, simply show up at any of the projects, pay the entrance fee there and gain access to the entire tour.

The contractors and projects featured include:

  • Allen Kitchen & Bath: Kitchen and powder room remodel, 2012 Forest St., Wauwatosa
  • Bartelt. The Remodeling Source: First-floor remodel, N63 W29790 Woodfield Court, Hartland
  • Callen Construction: Kitchen remodel, 13120 Wrayburn Road, Elm Grove
  • Design Group Three: Kitchen remodel, 12865 W. Greenbriar Lane, New Berlin
  • Dimension Design: Master bath remodel,18970 Brookridge Drive, Brookfield
  • S.J. Janis Company: Kitchen remodel, 2139 N. 81st St., Wauwatosa
  • Joseph Douglas Homes and Remodeling: Whole house remodel, 2485 Lionel Court, Brookfield
  • Kowalske Kitchen & Bath: Kitchen remodel, 1248 Highpoint Lane, Waukesha
  • Owner-assisted remodeling: Kitchen remodel, 2445 N. 64th St., Wauwatosa
  • Pekel Construction & Remodeling: Family room and mudroom entry with a seasonal open-air portico, 7907 Mary Ellen Place, Wauwatosa
  • Refined Renovations: Kitchen and bathroom remodel, 20835 Saxon Court, Brookfield
  • Wade Design & Construction: Master bath and kitchen remodel, 4110 W. Manor Circle, Mequon
  • Jim Wirtz’s Woodworks: Kitchen remodel, 1822 N. 72nd St., Wauwatosa

On view

The 14th annual Milwaukee/NARI Tour of Remodeled Homes takes place 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. on May 18–19. Admission is $4 in advance, and $7 at the door of the projects. Bring two, non-perishable food items to the door of the first project you visit and receive a $2 discount. The food will be donated to the Salvation Army of Milwaukee County. Advance tickets are on sale through May 17 at the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council office, 11815 W. Dearbourn Ave., Wauwatosa. For more, call 414-771-4071 or visit www.milwaukeenari.org.