Construction union head eyes labor pact for Northwestern Mutual project
(AP) A construction company CEO and his son were believed to be aboard a jet that slammed into a hangar and burst into flames after landing at a Southern California airport, in what fire officials described as an unsurvivable accident, an official with the firm said Monday. Mark Benjamin and his son, Luke Benjamin, were apparently on the twin-engine Cessna Citation that crashed Sunday evening, Morley Construction Vice President Charles Muttillo told The Associated Press. Luke Benjamin was a senior project manager at Santa Monica-based Morley Construction, Muttillo said. Investigators awaited the arrival of a crane at Santa Monica Municipal Airport, but they did not expect to find any survivors on the flight from Idaho, officials said. “This was an unsurvivable crash,” Santa Monica Fire Department Capt. John Nevandro said Sunday night at a media briefing.
“It is clear that the industry continues to face a tough operating environment with impediments such as tight credit conditions and a lack of public sector building activity continuing to weigh on overall activity,” Ms. Toth said. The improved construction environment comes as other parts of Australia’s A$1.5 trillion (US$1.41 trillion) economy shows signs of responding to record low interest rates. Recent retail, housing and manufacturing data have pointed to a recovery in those sectors–sectors targeted by the central bank with a series of eight interest rate cuts since late 2011 to offset the mining slowdown. Last week, the central bank left the benchmark cash rate at a record low 2.5% citing improvements in some parts of the economy. Increasingly, economists believe there will be no further cuts in rates.
Australian September construction activity rises
Northwestern Mutual is in the early phases of its $450 million downtown development, which culminates with construction of a 32-story tower likely starting in September 2014, said Thomas DaArcy , senior managing director of Hines , the Houston-based company the insurance and financial services company hired to lead the development. 4 issue. The development is expected to create 1,000 construction jobs, and Northwestern Mutual has committed to hiring local builders and workers for a significant portion of the work. Balistreri said that, once contractors are selected to lead the coming phases of the project, he wants to negotiate a PLA for the job. The PLA would not require union-only workers or contractors, he said, but would set a union wage. Balistreri said heas had preliminary talks with Northwestern Mutual, but nothing formal regarding a PLA. Similar agreements were in place for the construction of the Wisconsin Center, for example.
Housing rebound lifts construction sector to three-year high
“New South Wales and Queensland are picking up – that is off a fairly low base – and they have got a reasonable way to go to recover the kind of construction numbers that are more typical of those markets,” she said. “There was a big housing boom in Victoria two years ago and we’re still seeing numbers come down off that.” Ms Toth says the three main factors driving the residential building bounce are the record low official cash rate of 2.5 per cent, the lower Australian dollar and certainty brought by the end of the federal election campaign. “We saw the same pattern this month with the performance of manufacturing industry, which actually clicked just above 50 points in September, and in services we also saw that index move closer to stabilisation,” she said. But Bank of America Merrill Lynch Australia chief economist Saul Eslake says the positive signs are more likely linked to rising confidence than stronger economic fundamentals. “It’s too soon to tell whether that apparently election-linked rebound in business confidence will be sustained,” Mr Eslake said. “If it is, it could certainly lead to a very welcome upturn in business investment outside of the mining sector.” The news should give the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) hope that its rate cuts are lifting construction, and not just home prices. But Mr Eslake says the recovery in housing demand has been disproportionately driven by investors this time, and that will concern the RBA because new property construction generates the most jobs and has flow-on benefits to retailers.