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Guide to the Building Trades Employers Association Records WAG.196

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Gail Malmgreen and Douglas Pickard

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on June 28, 2018
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Historical/Biographical Note

The Building Trades Employers Association (NYC) traces its origins to the Building Trades Club, which began meeting in 1888. The organization gradually changed in nature from a social club to a more business-oriented model, and adopted its current name in 1903. The aims of the organization were to coordinate the response of employers in the building trades to union demands and labor unrest, and to establish a joint arbitration plan for the industry. Initially more than 2,000 contractors and 33 craft associations responded to the call to form the BTEA. Strong union opposition to centralized arbitration of disputes was eventually overcome, and the unions agreed to curtailment of their business agents' powers and the prohibition of sympathy strikes and unofficial local strikes. After a number of conflicts, and the temporary expulsion of several unions, the situation stabilized; by 1922 agreements were commonly bargained under the auspices of the BTEA and, on the unions' behalf, the newly formed Building Trades Council. A unique feature of New York City's arbitration arrangements in the industry is the fact that final determinations in juridictional disputes are made by the BTEA.

After the building booms of the 1950s and 1960s, the construction industry in New York has experienced frequent periods of contraction and structural change. The prevalence of specialized work (such as renovation) typically handled by small contracts, and the inroads of non-union contractors have posed a challenge to the establishied structure of labor-management arrangements established by the BTEA and BTC.