CISCO’s Annual Meeting Draws Record Numbers for its Pride in Construction Awards Program

CISCO’s Annual Meeting Draws Record Numbers for its Pride in Construction Awards Program

January 26, 2024

CISCO 2024 Annual Meeting

BURR RIDGE – Whether teaching, advising, or constructing, the recipients of CISCO’s 2024 Pride in Construction Awards Program shows that the process of an idea, along with passion, is a catalyst for pride and gratefulness.

This years’ program featured seven project winners, (you can read about each construction project HERE), and three individual awards for Educator, Public Body and Construction Advocate of the Year. CISCO Executive Director Dan Allen noted that these projects and individuals had a profound impact on others. “We are proud to recognize these projects, project teams and organizations for these prestigious awards,” Allen said.

“Clearly, all entries are winners as the quality of each of these projects was evident to our Board members, who had the difficult task of choosing in each category. Amidst challenges still felt from the COVID pandemic, such as supply chain issues, general contractors, subcontractors, and the men and women who construct these buildings collaborated to stay safe, stay on time and within budget to complete these outstanding projects,” he added.

Educator of the Year

Educator Rita Cárdenas knows college isn’t for everyone, and more importantly, that communities are not built behind a desk. That’s why Cárdenas has her students see first hand, the many opportunities a career in the Union construction trades offers.

CISCO 2024 Annual Meeting

Cárdenas work with the Union construction trades began at Benito Juarez high school in the Pilsen neighborhood. It was one of the first high schools in Illinois to partner with IBEW Local 134 through the Renewable Energy Fund. This partnership created a direct pipeline for high school students to obtain the preparation they needed, as part of their daily schedule and on the IBEW’s campus, for a pre-apprenticeship training program.

Now at Currie High School, Cárdenas said partnering with the building construction trades allowed her students to receive certification, real word experiences, and the opportunity to be part of the pipeline into the Union trades. Her students attended various construction trades fair giving her students the proper exposure to multiple experiences outside the classroom.

CISCO 2024 Annual Meeting

From left, CISCO Education-to-Careers Director Jamillah Muhammad with CISCO Educator of the Year Rita Cárdenas

“It can be nearly impossible for students to feel secure, adequate and confident when selecting their post-secondary path,” she explained, referring to it as the “imposter syndrome.” However, attending hands-on Union trade fairs allowed her students to feel confident they could perform the work.

No matter what her students choose to do, she reminds them to do it with love and passion. “That means to do what you love with intention, and you take time to make it right,” Cárdenas explained.

Looking towards the future, Cárdenas stressed the need to create more pipeline opportunities and better partnerships, which can lead to a pre-apprenticeships directly after high school. “I see Unions and high schools working together to create test prep courses in our classrooms, as well as continuing to open your doors for site visits, she said.”

Public Body of the Year

The Village of Tinley Park is respecting Labor and Unions by being the first to pass the Workers’ Rights Resolution and having one of the most comprehensive Responsible Bidding Ordnances in practice today, earning the village Platinum level RISE (Raising Infrastructure Standards of Excellence) certification from the Indiana-Illinois-Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting (III FFC). This recognition celebrates public bodies that go above and beyond in modernizing public construction practices.

“Labor management needs elected officials like Mayor Glotz who have a vision to protect workers and our signatory contractors,” Allen told the crowd. “He is quoted saying, “‘In our Village, I am pro-Labor and pro-business,'” he added.

Glotz is a proud member of the Countryside-based IUOE Local 150, and under his leadership, Tinley Park has secured numerous new developments, such as the Tinley Park Plaza shopping center, a Pete’s Fresh Market store and distribution center and a Loyola Medicine ambulatory care center.

CISCO 2024 Annual Meeting

From left, CISCO Board President Melanie Conklin, Village of Tinley Park Mayor Michael Glotz with CISCO’s Public Body of the Year award, and CISCO Board Member John Daniel.

This all helped Tinley Park being awarded the Platinum level RISE Certification, the only community in Illinois to achieve such an honor, and he was recently honored by the The Indiana, Illinois, Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting (III FCC) for this feat.

When Glotz decided to run for mayor, he said the previous administration was not pro Union. They were supporting the movement for when you get reclassifications – they thought it should not be prevailing wage. That really bothered me. I wanted to protect Labor I feel that people shouldn’t be having making a fair wage and live a good life,” Glotz explained.

Construction Advocate of the Year

Attorney Christina Wernick started her Union career with the Laborers more than 15 years ago as its fund counsel and attorney. Today, she’s partner at the employment law firm Laner Muchin. With seminars through the Plumbing Contractors Association of Greater Chicago (PCA), Wernick continues to better educate and prepare contractor leaders on bargaining committees.

During seminars for the PCA, CISCO Board Member and PCA Executive Director said the information Wernick provides is aimed to improve the bargaining process for both sides of the table. “She hit the target for our Union employees with precision, clarity and an abundance of tactical advice,” Peters explained.

CISCO 2024 Annual Meeting

From left, CISCO Board Member John Daniel; CISCO Board President Melanie Conklin; CISCO Construction Advocate of the Year Christina Wernick; CISCO Board Member and Laborers’ District Council Assistant Business Manager/Grievance Director Marty Flanagan and CISCO Board Member and Plumbing Contractors Association of Greater Chicago Executive Director SJ Peters.

As a Labor-Management cooperative, CISCO was founded for both sides to work together on common ground issues to advance the signatory construction industry.

And like CISCO, Wernick has proved herself an ideal example to cooperation, collaboration and synergy. “She’s ably educated both sides of the table to help us be our best – which benefits us all,” Peters added.

Wernick said she had a seamless transition going from Labor to Management side. “What I learned on the Labor side is that while technical compliance, the collective bargaining agreement and compliance with the law are important – it’s the relationships that we’ve cultivated between Union and management that are truly the backbone of our industry,” Wernick explained.

Projects of the Year Awards

The CISCO Board of Directors chose a top project in six categories, which illustrate the joint commitment, training, and professionalism you can expect of Union contractors and the skilled Union workforce on every project.

When considering submissions, criteria is based on:
– Quality of construction
– Design
– Impact on the community
– Safety record

Project of the Year Feature – New Construction – Chicago (Above $20M)
Chicago Park District Administrative Headquarters, Fieldhouse and Site Development

CISCO 2024 Annual Meeting

The general contractor was Paschen ALL Joint Venture; the client was the Chicago Park District.

This project included the construction of the Park District’s 80,000 square-foot new building – including administrative offices, a community fieldhouse, athletic fields, and other recreational space.

This project faced several construction challenges. The 2-story, circular building is actually two structures bisected through the middle by a courtyard/walkway, and connected by three bridges on the 2nd floor.


Project of the Year Feature – New Construction – Suburbs (Above $20M)
Lincoln Elementary School

The general contractor was International Contractors, Inc.; the client was Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205.

CISCO 2024 Annual Meeting

District 205 in Elmhurst wanted to replace its 106-year-old Lincoln Elementary School in time for the 2022 school year. This new, modernized building provides future-ready learning spaces – to drive student success. This LEED silver certification school is 80,000 square-foot and 2 stories and involved 64,000-man hours. The inside the school is partitioned into “neighborhoods.” Each given its own identifying personality.

Safety was huge and was discussed at weekly subcontractor meetings by both the superintendent and project manager, resulting in ZERO safety incidents.


New Construction – Chicago/Suburbs (Below $20M)
Rusu-McCartin Boys & Girls Club of Chicago

The general contractor was BEAR Construction; the client was Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago.

CISCO 2024 Annual Meeting

The Rusu-McCartin Boys and Girls Club of Chicago was built with community in mind. It was constructed on a shared campus that includes a first responders training Academy, and several minority-owned businesses. This was done with the needs of the Austin neighborhood in mind. As part of resident hiring requirements, more than 10,000 labor hours, (or just under 20 percent of the total project hours) were performed by residence of the Austin neighborhood and adjacent City wards.

BEAR work closely with its trade partners, ensuring this project was delivered within an aggressive schedule and tight budget constraints. There were ZERO recordable incidents with more than 50,000 labor hours worked. All materials used in this project focused on resiliency to ensuring the building would have limited maintenance and repair cost for at least 60 years.

Canal Street Plaza Reconstruction

The general contractors were F.H. Paschen; S.N. Nielsen & Associates LLC; the client was Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).

CISCO 2024 Annual Meeting

Active community participation was insured through subcontractors and workforce, which comprise 42 percent city of Chicago residents. The owners M/WBE diversity goals were met with 12 percent of the contract cost going to women-owned businesses; and 26 percent going to minority-owned businesses.

Not many buildings have a busy expressway running through them and active commuter rail lines just below, but for Chicago’s Old Post Office, they’re some of its most iconic features. Numerous additions and structural changes in its 100+-year history meant the building and adjacent Van Buren/Canal Street viaducts needed repairs, but the unique structure-on-structure design required an innovative construction approach.

Congress Line – Track Improvements – Phase One

CISCO 2024 Annual Meeting

The general contractor was Kiewit Infrastructure Co.; the client was the Chicago Transit Authority.

This $105 million rehabilitation project was the first phase of the CTA’s Forest Park branch rebuild, a multiyear, multiphase investment to make service, faster, safer, more reliable, and more accessible for all blue line riders. Work was planned on an aggressive timeline to minimize impacts to CTA ridership. Work was awarded with conditions that all work be completed within a 61-day complete blue line shut down, and re-opened to the public prior to the Chicago marathon.

CTA set a workforce participation goal of 10 percent workforce innovation and opportunity act (WIOA), which Kiewit achieved. Kiewit employed about 100 of its own craft, and the project employed more than 500, including subcontracted craft. Working more than 150,000 craft hours through the extended line, the project maintained a very good safety record with only one subcontractor recordable, and one contractor recordable.

The Row Fulton Market

General contractor was LR Contracting; the client was Related Midwest.

CISCO 2024 Annual Meeting

The Row Fulton Market is a:
– 43-story
– 500-foot tall
– 550,000 square foot luxury multifamily skyscraper in Fulton Market

It includes 300 apartment residences on floors 2-43. The top 2 floors are reserved for six expansive 3- and 4-bedroom penthouse residences. The apartments feature spacious convertible, 1- 2- and 3-bedroom floor plans.

The Row was a groundbreaking project in many respects. An effective partnership enabled this project to break ground in diversity and equity.

Special Mention honor
Walsh Academy & Career Tech High School as the Community Partner Award

The general contractor was Wight Construction; the client was Maryville.

CISCO 2024 Annual Meeting

Opened in fall of this year, Walsh Sr. Academy and Career Tech High School focuses on preparing special education students to enter high demand, high-paying jobs in the trades for a successful future. Walsh Academy curriculum offers CTE instruction. It develops strong partnerships with contractors, Union organizations, including CISCO, and school districts to create internship and job opportunities for the students in their communities.

The Walsh Academy building was completely gutted from roof to foundation. There wasn’t a single square inch that wasn’t touched by renovation. Upon 1st tour of the building, there was mold, debris, and vandalism EVERYWHERE. Included were multiple classrooms, shop classes, all new mechanicals, elevator, and modifications for small engines.

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