Thursday, April 09, 2009
6635: Diversity Stimulus Plan.
From The Miami Herald. If Madison Avenue ever asks for bailout money, the industry will be in big trouble.
Diversity sought in economic-stimulus construction jobs
President Barack Obama is asked to issue an executive order to encourage the hiring of minorities, women and low-income residents for federal projects.
By Tony Pugh
WASHINGTON—A group of 50 advocacy organizations has asked President Barack Obama to issue an executive order that encourages the hiring and training of minorities, women and low-income residents to work on federal construction projects, particularly those funded by the economic stimulus package.
“There is concern that without active steps to promote these goals, too few of these construction jobs will reach” these groups, according to a proposal written by the National Employment Law Project and the Partnership for Working Families.
The proposal is modeled on state and local programs around the country that require contractors on federally funded projects to hire and place some disadvantaged and underrepresented workers in apprentice training programs.
McClatchy first reported last month that minorities and women might miss out on jobs on large construction projects funded by the stimulus package because of regulations that could steer most of the work to unionized labor.
An executive order that Obama signed in February “encourage (s) executive agencies to consider requiring the use of project labor agreements” on federal construction projects of $25 million or more. PLAs are collective bargaining agreements with labor unions that set the terms and conditions of employment on large construction projects.
Unless the agreements set goals for including underrepresented groups, however, jobs and training opportunities for minorities and women could be hard to come by because white men dominate the membership of skilled construction-trade unions. Regulations to implement Obama’s executive order on PLAs will be announced in May.
The new proposal, which is backed by groups such as the Center for Community Change, the Center for Law and Social Policy and the National Women’s Law Center, among others, calls for a presidential order that would require federal agencies to issue guidelines “encouraging states and cities to use targeted hiring and apprenticeship utilization requirements on all federally funded construction projects.”
The proposal also calls for the U.S. Department of Labor to fund “comprehensive pre-apprenticeship training to support such initiatives and to investigate options for helping more small, minority and women-owned businesses participate in the apprenticeship training system.”
For many years, women and minorities trying to join construction unions faced discrimination, ethnic and family nepotism and little access to union apprenticeship programs. While things have improved, many experts say that more needs to be done to diversify the industry.