By Emily Langner
In episode 9 of HP’s Build Better Podcast, Anastasia welcomed Mike McDonagh, CEO of the Associated Subcontractors of Massachusetts (ASM), for an update on the state of the construction industry in 2019. McDonagh is responsible for overseeing ASM’s programs and services and serving the needs of subcontractors through legislative and regulatory advocacy efforts, education and events, member benefit programs, and other activities.
ASM is different from other construction trade organizations in that it is made up of both union and non-union members, residing both in and out of Massachusetts. With around 300 members in close to 40 different trade categories, ASM’s mission to “protect and advance the interests of all subcontractors and promote professionalism in public and private construction through education, communication and advocacy” requires keeping up with standards and policies that are frequently changing, and representing and advocating for subcontractors at the state level.
One topic on the minds of most everyone in the industry is the shortage of qualified workers. ASM is currently supporting pending legislation that, McDonagh says, “would create a new task force on the state level that would look for ways to fund the creation of more technical schools and to promote those.” The bill would also create a deputy commissioner-level position at the department of education in Massachusetts, who would be tasked with creating more opportunities for young students to attend vocational/technical schools.” McDonagh says, “It’s a good thing that the construction industry is booming. We hope it stays that way.” The new legislation would be “a step in the right direction,” he adds.
In addition to representing the interests of subcontractors and industry professionals by speaking for or against new and proposed legislation, ASM also holds regular sessions on safety, educating members on everything from fall protection to proper scissor lift operation to, more recently, ways to address the opioid epidemic that affects so many in the industry.
McDonagh recently participated in Building Trades for Recovery Week, put on by ASM’s partner organization, the Building Trades Employers’ Association, and ASM also held a forum “to bring the absolute tools or key takeaways that employers need when they’re addressing or dealing with this very important issue.” He feels an important part of addressing the crisis is for employers to be educated on the health insurance plans and benefits available to their employees, and the resources they provide for those dealing with pain or injuries. In addition, he says, employers should have Narcan on site and know how to use it.
McDonagh emphasizes the troubling statistic of approximately 500 opioid-related deaths each year in the construction industry, as compared to 25 deaths a year as a result of accidents. He says, “As an industry we need to come together and do as much as we can to make sure that trend is reversed,” and adds, “We have to do more.”
Emily Langner is the associate editor for High-Profile Monthly.