A membership organization of communications infrastructure contractors has sent a letter to President Joe Biden requesting a public comment period on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposed vaccine mandate.
NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association sent the letter to the president, who announced new COVID-19 vaccine mandates on Sept. 9 with the goal of ensuring 100 million unvaccinated Americans become vaccinated.
“The order requires employers with more than 100 employees to either mandate their employees be vaccinated or conduct weekly testing of unvaccinated employees,” a statement from NATE reads. “The president also ordered that all federal contractors working on federal property be vaccinated, with no option for testing.”
Under the temporary emergency standard, NATE said, OSHA will be allowed to enact a rule immediately if “workers are in grave danger due to exposure to toxic substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or to new hazards.” According to NATE, because of the emergency procedures under which the rule is being drafted, OSHA has stated that there will be no public comment period for the proposed rule.
“NATE surveyed our members to determine how contractors believe vaccine mandates would impact their respective small businesses, and it is clear that the association’s members have serious concerns about this pending rule,” said Todd Washam, NATE director of government relations and Wireless Industry Network. “We urge President Biden and OSHA to open a public comment period so the administration can hear directly from NATE’s small business members and gain a better understanding of how vaccine mandates would impact their workforce and the country’s ambitious 5G and broadband deployment goals.”
A membership organization of communications infrastructure contractors has revised and expanded a mentoring program to include all of its members. Previously conducted under the wing of the Women of NATE Committee, the mentoring program now includes all members of NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association.
“The mentorship program is designed to help all participants climb higher together and foster the exchange of ideas, expertise and camaraderie among all NATE members,” a statement from the organization reads. “From emerging professionals to industry veterans, participants can grow both professionally and personally by learning from each other’s perspectives, discussing professional issues and supporting their peers in the resolution of their challenges.”
Darrin Wagner, chairman of NATE’s Mentorship Subcommittee, said that in supporting a larger group of members, NATE would put a special focus on veterans as they return to civilian roles and face the challenges the transition can present.
Speaking of her mentorship experience and her mentor, Monica Vink, Lesley Liarikos, vice president and chief operating officer of Tower Systems South, said, “I am truly thankful and blessed to have Monica as my mentor. She has shared her stories and insights and always fills me with encouragement. She has helped me set priorities with my health and my family to find that balance.”
In addition, Liarikos said that she recommends the mentoring program for anyone interested in making a difference.
“It is a very rewarding feeling to be part of something that not only benefits you but has an impact on others as well,” she said.
Vink, Liarikos’ mentor, works as the marketing director for Legacy Telecommunications and belongs to the Women of NATE Committee. She said, “This experience with Lesley has been incredibly rewarding from all aspects. There are many times that I feel the roles of mentor and mentee are reversed as I’ve learned so much from her as well. To watch her growth personally and professionally and to encourage her in the journey is humbling. I’m filled with gratitude for the gifts of growth she has given me as well. I’m honored to be part of this journey with her and to watch my friend blossom as the leader she is.”
NATE members may submit applications for the mentoring program at https://natehome.com/member-services-login/member-resources/nate-mentorship-program. Wagner has offered to answer questions about the program; he may be reached at [email protected] or 985-788-1553.
Highlighting training it provided for more than 350 workers so far this year, a construction contractors’ membership organization publicized the achievement today and credited federal funding that allowed it to offer the training without charge.
NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association released a statement in which it said a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Susan Harwood Training Grant (SH-99035-SH0) for the 2020-2021 program year funded the training courses.
“NATE’s 2021 5G-small cell deployment training courses addressed fall prevention in the construction industry, with an emphasis on small cell deployment safety practices to keep workers safe while building and maintaining next generation wireless sites within high traffic areas near city roads and pedestrian pathways,” the statement reads. “The 2021 courses were taught at 13 different locations across the United States, including Bloomington, Minnesota; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Omaha, Nebraska; Anchorage, Alaska; Indianapolis; Salt Lake City; Tampa, Florida; Arlington, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; Bellevue, Washington; Denver; Portland, Maine; and Charleston, West Virginia.”
The organization said that its 2021 “5G-Small Cell Deployment Instructor Manual,” “Training PowerPoint” and “Student Workbook” resources are available for use by its members and other industry stakeholders on its website at these links:
“NATE’s 2021 5G-Small Cell Deployment Training Courses were a great success for hundreds of technicians and industry professionals,” said Kimberly Elliott, a NATE project manager. “Through these complimentary training sessions, NATE was able to contribute to our industry’s reputation of promoting safety first and safety always.”
NATE’s library of Harwood Grant Training Course Resources, including “Rigger Awareness Training,” “Advanced Rigging Principles Training,” “Wireless Rooftop Deployment Training” and “2021 5G-Small Cell Deployment Training” can be viewed at https://natehome.com/safety-education/susan-harwood-grant-courses.
To illustrate the negative effect to safety and work quality that pricing pressures have, as imposed on contractor firms by top wireless carrier, turf vendor and tower owner customers, a contractor trade association yesterday launched a whiteboard animation video.
NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association said that take-it-or-leave-it matrix pricing exerts pressure on its member contractors that imperils 5G deployment, skilled labor workforces and industry safety.
According to NATE, some of these small businesses have had to close their doors at a time when there is already a shortage of qualified contractors required to, as NATE put it, “ensure that America wins the race to 5G.”
The video highlights problems associated with the below-market matrix pricing used by the industry’s Tier One customers, pricing that NATE said is not based upon the true material, equipment and manpower costs, in addition to the ever-increasing administrative and technical needs that professional contractors require to be compensated for to remain sustainable.
The whiteboard also points out the additional cost contractors must absorb, such as warehousing, long payment terms, burdens associated with the shifting of liability and not being able to mark up any additional materials.
The video also emphasizes that, in an already taxed workforce environment, tower technicians must be compensated for their skillsets and knowledge or they will seek other professional opportunities. To watch the video, visit here.
“The whiteboard video’s key points are not anecdotal, but are truly representative of the concerns of every one of our more than 500 contractor members in the United States,” said NATE President and CEO Todd Schlekeway.
“This video is designed to educate our member contractors’ top customers of the concerns that should be addressed if we want to remain a vibrant industry capable of keeping America connected,” he said. “NATE anticipates also sharing the video with stakeholders from government agencies and congress to demonstrate the challenges contractor small businesses are dealing with in our industry that are compromising the nation’s ability to develop the workforce, deploy 5G and close the digital divide. The Association remains ready and willing to engage in the constructive dialogue necessary between the wireless carrier, turf vendor and vertical realtor executives and their teams to address the problems that affect the entire wireless industry ecosystem.”
Delivering the keynote address at the South Wireless Summit, held in Nashville on June 28, Schlekeway addressed the worker shortages and increased pricing pressures his members are experiencing. He started his keynote — titled “View from the Front Lines of Deployment!” — by asking and then frankly answering the biggest question facing about the business: “Is wireless contracting becoming untenable? Unfortunately, yes.”
Schlekeway’s thesis is basic: Downward pricing pressure from carriers and others at the top of the chain is making wireless contracting unprofitable.
“Customers at the top of the chain have shifted all responsibility for the safety and vetting of contractors to third parties with an ever-rising bar,” Shlekeway said in is keynote address. “This costs the contractor as they ‘up’ their game to meet the vetting demands. Furthermore, contracts are presented as take-it-or-leave-it and are grossly one-sided.”
NATE said that it encourages industry stakeholders to share the video with colleagues and contacts and post it on respective social media platforms using the hashtag #WirelessContractingSolutions. The NATE website is www.natehome.com.
To provide feedback to members, industry stakeholders and manufacturers about performance testing of wire rope safety climb system components under different conditions, NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association published a relevant white paper on Sept. 28. The 15-page paper, “2021 Safety Equipment Manufacturers Committee (SEMC) Wire Rope Safety Sleeve Testing Report II,” gives the test details.
The Safety Equipment Manufacturers Committee verified the accuracy of the results of forty-five indoor drop tests conducted in a climate-controlled environment at the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) over the course of three days. In publishing the results, NATE said that it wanted improve safety by increasing awareness and by improving testing methods. The testing used new equipment attached to an antenna supporting structure designed to the ANSI/TIA-222 (H) Standard.
NATE has made the white paper available to the its members and others here.
The chairman of the SEMC, Jeremy Buckles, said that the release of the testing report results is intended to educate employers, employees and companies, and enhance safety in the communications infrastructure industry. “SEMC looks forward to continue to fulfill our mission of advancing our industry’s worker protection efforts through future testing initiatives and research,” he said.
Among companies and organizations participating in the testing and the white paper development were 3M, Allfasteners USA, Crown Castle, Deuer Development, GME Supply, MillerCo, NATE, PerfectVision and Sabre Industries. Additional participants included SBA Communications, Skylotec North America, Trylon TSF, Tuf-Tug, USA Telecom, Insurance Services and UDRI.
Visit www.natehome.com to learn more about NATE.