Sunday, March 29, 2009

Stimulus Could Favor White Males

WASHINGTON -- Nonunion contractors and minority and female workers fear that they could lose out on major construction projects funded by the economic stimulus package because President Barack Obama has issued a directive on contracting that favors union labor. An executive order that Obama signed "encourages executive agencies to consider requiring the use of project labor agreements (PLAs)" on federal construction projects of $25 million or more.

Because white males dominate the membership of the skilled construction trade unions, however, jobs for minorities and women could be hard to come by on large stimulus-bill projects unless the Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) set goals for their inclusion.

Last year, according to Department of Labor statistics, blacks and women made up only about 11% of the nation's working construction laborers and sheet-metal workers, and about 8% of pipe layers, brick masons and carpenters. Just 3% of structural iron and steelworkers were African-American or female.

"In an environment where jobs are already scarce, the promise of infrastructure jobs is supposed to be a promise for all," said Catherine Singley, a policy analyst for the National Council of La Raza. "If you're giving preference to unionized workers, you're definitely leaving out Latinos, who generally do not belong to unions. And you're exacerbating the disparities they already face in accessing high-quality jobs."

Thanks to Jeff at FMPOLITICS.


At 3/29/2009 3:37 PM, Blogger OpenMindedRepublican said...

Further proof that you just can't please everyone.

At 3/29/2009 4:01 PM, Blogger Milton Recht said...

FDR's Great Depression programs and policies also favored white males over women and minorities, but in the 1930s, it was the norm. If you copy a 75-year-old solution to a current problem, you also copy the good and bad of its social context.

At 3/29/2009 4:23 PM, Blogger save_the_rustbelt said...

Partial information is dangerous.

Most laborer locals are heavily populated by African-Americans, a left over from the days when blacks could not get into other unions. (I am from a union family and an alumni of the Laborers). The laborers is still an entry point, many operating engineers started as laborers.

Women still comprise a small percentage of all the trades, that is certainly true. But as far as I can tell women also comprise a very small percentage of non-union trade workers.

Hispanics tend to either work in the south or the southwest, and both regions are heavily non-union, so they may get the work anyway.

The devil is in the oft-overlooked details.

At 3/29/2009 4:54 PM, Blogger Thomas Coolberth said...

I heard quadriplegics and the blind also will not benefit from the construction boom.

Also, this is obvious bias toward people who show up to work.

At 3/31/2009 7:02 PM, Anonymous Jim Glass said...

It certainly favors Washington DC far more than any other area, per capita:

1) Washington DC ... $1,089
2) Alaska ................. 834
3) Wyoming .............. 751
- -
26) Pennsylvania ........ 488


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