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Work site boards get bigger and bigger

(Graphic by Victoria Wanserski/The Daily Reporter)

(Graphic by Victoria Wanserski/The Daily Reporter)

By Sean Ryan

The 4-foot-by-4-foot display boards used to be big enough for all of the posters required on federal construction job sites.

But they are obsolete. And the bigger boards that replaced them may soon follow suit because the federal government is requiring a new National Labor Relations Act poster.

“It’s one thing you notice as you get a little grayer hair in the business,” said Mark LaLonde, president of LaLonde Construction Co. LLC, Milwaukee. “The boards just keep getting bigger.”

Federal and state agencies require contractors display posters near the entrance to each job site describing an alphabet soup of government regulations and agencies — OSHA, EEO, FMLA, USERRA and, with the new poster unveiled last week, NLRA.

The new 11-by-17-inch poster, one of about 15 required on federal project sites in Wisconsin, must be displayed by June 21.

Dan Zignego, controller for Waukesha-based Zignego Co. Inc., said he has been squeezing his posters onto 6-foot-by-3-foot boards. But the new required poster means he may have to chuck his boards for something bigger. He said the cost is minor: His crews can treat some plywood and cover it with plastic glass for $100.

“We’ll just make a bigger board, I guess,” he said.

Hoffman Construction Co.’s 4-foot-by-8-foot boards — which are full sheets of plywood — are getting crowded with the mandated posters, said Jim Hoffman, president of the Black River Falls-based company. On some jobs, he said, he must use more than one board. Hoffman and the other contractors said they follow the poster rules closely. Companies that fail to display mandated posters on government projects can have payment for work withheld, he said.

“We’ll figure something out,” he said of the new labor rights poster. “We’ll wrap it up in plastic and tack it up.”

Hoffman said that amid a growing display of mandated posters, the new poster might get little attention.

“What they’re after is the wages rates,” Hoffman said of workers. “That’s the only thing.”

Thad Steinke, organizer and business representative for the Operating Engineers Local 139, Pewaukee, said he wants workers to notice the new poster. The poster, as created by the U.S. Department of Labor, outlines workers’ rights to organize and join unions, and lists the prohibitions against unions and employers relating to organizing and labor disputes.

“I hate to have this bent into the situation or the position that this is another decision that is going to be glanced over as people pass by,” Steinke said. “And is it really important to have it out there? Yes, it is important.”

LaLonde said display boards were 4 feet by 4 feet when he started in the industry in the early 1990s. He said his crews put pride in building them right and have switched to a two-sided model that doubles his space for government notices.

“I try to get ahead of the times,” he said. “We did the 4-by-8s. If we start to fill up the 4-by-8s, we’ll just use the other sides.”

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