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Building trades ‘barn raising’ in Pasco feeds the hungry

PASCO (April 23, 2013) — In February 2012, the Central Washington Building and Construction Trades Council (CWBCTC) was approached by Second Harvest, a network of 250 neighborhood food banks and meal centers throughout Eastern Washington and North Idaho. The non-profit organization, which provides 1.7 million pounds of donated food each month to help feed hungry people, needed a new regional distribution center to replace their old dilapidated warehouse. And they needed help.

They got it. Big time.


The CWBCTC’s affiliated unions committed to organizing construction of a new warehouse and volunteering 100% of the labor. The trades unions’ signatory contractors also stepped up to supply tools, discounts and donations of materials. And the entire community quickly rallied around the project with fundraisers and other commitments to help.

In May 2012, construction began on a new 14,000 square-foot warehouse and a huge force of building trades members were there to participate in every scope of work needed to get the foundation completed, slabs poured and site utilities installed. (See construction site photos.) By mid-June, the project was ready for the Ironworkers, who built the entire structure in one weekend.

“It was like an old-fashioned community barn raising,” said CWBCTC Vice President William Smith. “Construction continued through the summer, mostly on Fridays and Saturdays since most of the members worked during the week. Every single affiliated union participated. We also had several pre-apprenticeship programs from the Columbia Basin Job Corps work alongside our journey-level workers in their respective trades.”


By the end of September 2012, the project was complete and Second Harvest had a brand new regional warehouse that was three times the size of its old facility. The project included over 10,000 hours of donated time by more than 300 rank-and-file members of the CWBCTC unions, plus the assistance of 20-plus signatory contractors. These in-kind contributions accounted for more than half the cost of the $2.9 million facility. Second Harvest has raised much of the money to cover the remainder of the cost, but is still fundraising to pay for the rest. (Donate here.)

Second Harvest CEO Jason Clark said the larger distribution center will make it possible to feed more hungry people in the Mid-Columbia area.

“The hunger issue has grown dramatically in the last several years,” Clark said. “We are seeing more and more people in line at the neighborhood food bank level and our response has to be with more food, to help those families who are living on the edge of the economy right now.”

The new facility includes 4,000 square feet of commercial cold storage and a 2,200-square-foot Volunteer Center, which provides safe and climate-controlled space within the warehouse for those who donate their time to sort and pack food and work on other projects.

Now the CWBCTC unions are working with Second Harvest to support a state grant for an additional 26,000-square-foot expansion, for which they have a letter of intent to perform that work under a Project Labor Agreement.

TAKE A STAND! The Senate Capital Budget includes a $3 million grant, matching the millions in labor and materials donated so far. Second Harvest needs your support for the final push. As the Legislature reconciles the Senate and House budgets, please call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and leave a message for your Representatives and Senator urging them to “keep the Second Harvest project in Pasco in the final capital budget.” Get more information here.

The unions that participated in the Second Harvest project were:

  • Ironworkers Local 14
  • Sprinkler Fitters Local 669
  • Electrical Workers Local 112
  • Laborers Local 348
  • Machinists Local 1951
  • Sheet Metal Workers Local 55
  • Operating Engineers Local 370
  • Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 598
  • Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 478
  • Boilermakers Local 242
  • Painters Local 427
  • Heat & Frost Workers Local 82
  • Columbia Basin Job Corps Center  (Cement Finishers, Painters, Carpenters, Plasterers)

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