The inaugural Painters and Allied Trades LMCI Finishing Industries Forum (FIF) was held in 2004. It brought together International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) union leaders and employers to discuss the challenges we face in our industries and to work together to find solutions to those challenges. Back in 2004, the economy was finally recovering from the market crash after September 11th, and experts were predicting an upcoming construction boom. So, the agenda of that first FIF concentrated on how the IUPAT union and its employers could best prepare to bid, win and man the jobs that were on their way.

Obviously, since then, times have changed. Through the down economic years, the LMCI adapted the agenda of FIF to meet current needs of its member contractors and union leaders. It is that ability to modify itself that has made this a signature event for the LMCI, the IUPAT and the Finishing Contractors Association (FCA).

Today, as the market shows signs of making a slow, but hopefully steady recovery in 2011, the LMCI has shifted its focus from purely market survival to initiating market recovery in this year's FIF. The union and management leadership of LMCI believes that now is the time to make certain that both labor and management are ready to man the jobs that will surely return.

The 2010 LMCI Finishing Industries Forum (FIF) held December 1-3, 2010, in Las Vegas, announced the theme of 'It's Now or Never!' The event's record-setting crowd of nearly 500 IUPAT contractors and union leaders rose to the challenge that week. A new feature of this year’s event was craft-specific workshops paneled by industry leaders in both labor and management. They were modeled on a wildly successful workshop that was held last year.

"In 2009, we held a workshop that specifically addressed our market share in the floor covering installation industry, and it was enormously popular," said Kevin LaRue, LMCI administrator. "Since that workshop, we've put together a marketing plan, trained our members in new marketing techniques and have made plans to build our workforce (membership) when the tide of the economy takes a positive turn.

"Based on that substantial success, we've put together workshops for this year that cover industrial painting, commercial painting, drywall finishing, glazing and sign/display and tradeshow," LaRue said. "The plan of the union and the FCA is to put the same kind of marketing initiatives that we used for Floor Covering to work for the rest of our core trades."

Sean McGarvey, secretary treasurer of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department, applauded LMCI's goals in this FIF when he spoke during the first morning of the event. "Believe it or not, we will get back to the point where there is a manpower shortage, and we're going to get our opportunities to work in places where we haven't worked in the last 30 or 40 years," said McGarvey. "When we get that work, we'll need to perform. You'll need to perform as a contractor, and we'll need to perform as crafts people. And if we do, we'll get the next project and the next project after that. As long as we perform, we'll grow."

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