With each spring comes opportunities for workers in the construction industry. However, in nearly every major American metropolitan area, these perennial employment and business opportunities blossom for suburban workers but largely die on the vine for so-called minorities and inner city dwellers.
On publicly funded projects, extreme disparate employment outcomes in the construction and building and trade industries can be greatly mitigated if local governmental and labor leaders agree to implement and enforce reasonable and well defined standards.
For starters, in communities where racial hiring disparities exist, official construction employment standards for residents should be examined, invigorated or instituted.
At a minimum, local construction standards should be instituted and/or enforced to create greater employment parity for local community residents.
Construction employment plans can be used by local jurisdictions to ensure all public projects meet certain standards on a craft-by-craft basis. Typically, such standards might include components like these:
- At least 50 percent of the total employee worker hours in each trade must be by bona fide community residents.
- At least 25 percent of the total employee worker hours in each trade must be by minorities.
- At least 10 percent of the total employee worker hours in each trade must be by women.
- Moreover, the term employee” should apprentices and other on-the-job training positions.
In addition, on each project covered by a local government’s policy, contractors should be required to designate individuals to serve as compliance officers.
Also, each general contractor should be required to mandate each sub-contractor establish at least one qualified person to ensure policy compliance.
Furthermore, prior to the start of large public funded construction projects, each general contractor and each subcontractor selected should be required to meet with appropriate representatives of the construction trade unions, local government and awarding agency to calculate the estimated employment requirements for each construction activity.
Unions also have a critical role to play.
For example, whenever union qualified workers are recommended, referrals should align with local government standards.
Everyone involved in public funded projects must embrace inclusion of community residents on local construction projects.
The current paradigm of filling inner city construction jobs with people who do not live in those communities is unwise, unjust and unsustainable.