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Mike Schechter
Mike Schechter

The POWER 30: Mike Schechter

Associated General Contractors of Minnesota

Associated General Contractors of Minnesota is a longstanding nonprofit in St. Paul with about 380 members consisting of general contractors and subcontractors. It was formed in 1919 as the first chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America. It has a five-year strategic plan to support its members through joint activities as well as legislative advocacy and training. Other concerns are adding staff and coping with technology.

As AGC’s general counsel, Mike Schechter has plates in the air for all the strategic plan covers, but safety training and labor relations are a big part of the job. Overseeing the safety program requires training, teaching and inspections on different levels of construction, but it has reduced accidents by about half, he said. “A lot of this work is dangerous and important work,” he said.

Members work mostly in heavy construction, highways and commercial buildings, and solar and wind energy.

His other title is labor relations director, and negotiations are an important part of Schechter’s work. AGC is involved in 30 to 40 bargaining agreements with seven unions with different locals. The organization is guided in part by its own “Labor Cabinet,” a group of large and small member contractors with significant experiences in labor negotiations and management to guide and develop AGC labor issues. It also provides negotiation services and dispute resolution.

AGC also provides form construction contracts which Schechter says have been called the “gold standard,” by Jim Cownie, deputy chief counsel at the Minnesota Department of Transportation. They are state-centered and affordable to members, Schechter said. Additionally, the form contracts provide another way to address legal and policy issues, he noted.

The organization also files amicus briefs and provides education on rules, regulations and ethics. “There’s no turning a blind eye” to a problem, Schechter said.