Saturday, December 13, 2008

Construction Careers Recruitment Targets Women, Girls, and Highschoolers

Endowed fund set up to benefit Construction Careers Academy
Friday, December 12, 2008 - 10:18 AM CST
San Antonio Business Journal

Grant funds girls construction trades program
POSTED: 04:00 AM PST Thursday, December 11, 2008

ITA strives to increase female participation in construction trades
December 11, 2008
Industry Training Authority
Richard Gilbert
staff writer

Reaching out to young women interested in the skilled trades
Updated Wed. Nov. 26 2008 12:32 AM ET

Hands-on experience gives boost to construction careers
Two years of study on the part of AGC’s Workforce Development Committee resulted in a commitment to construction career academies (CCA) as a way to address the industry’s skilled worker shortage.

Turner Construction Completes D.C. School
Staff -- Construction, 10/27/2008
Turner Construction Company has completed the $63-million renovation of the Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School in Washington, D.C., transforming an abandoned historic school building into a state-of-the-art learning center with a special focus on the architecture, construction and engineering arts. The Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School is the only one of its kind in the United States and is the first District of Columbia Public School designed to receive a LEED for Schools Silver Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Last updated: 6:57 pm
December 8, 2008
Posted: 11:49 am
December 3, 2008

Building Blocks targets minorities and women.

"We were able to recruit quite a few people," Brown said. "People from different ethnic backgrounds. People already working in the construction industry, predominantly."

Marriott Developer Commits to Indianapolis' Minority Company Goals
updated: 11/20/2008 8:31:46 AM

Friday, December 12, 2008

Jobs plan has to include women

Jobs plan has to include women
Last updated December 11, 2008 4:19 p.m. PT

WASHINGTON -- Barack Obama has announced a plan to stimulate the economy by creating 2.5 million jobs over the next two years. He intends to use the opportunity to make good on two campaign promises -- to invest in road and bridge maintenance and school repair and to create jobs that reduce energy use and emissions that lead to global warming.

Obama compared his infrastructure plan to the Eisenhower-era construction of the Interstate system of highways. It brings back the Eisenhower era in a less appealing way as well: There are almost no women on this road to recovery.

Back before the feminist revolution brought women into the workplace in unprecedented numbers, that would have been more understandable. But today, women constitute about 46 percent of the labor force. And as the current downturn has worsened, their traditionally lower unemployment rate actually has risen just as fast as men's. A just economic stimulus plan must include jobs in such fields as social work and teaching, where large numbers of women work.

The bulk of the stimulus program will provide jobs for men, because building projects generate jobs in construction, where women make up only 9 percent of the work force.

It turns out that green jobs are almost entirely male as well, especially in the alternative-energy area. A broad study by the United States Conference of Mayors found that half the projected new jobs in any green area are in engineering, a field that is only 12 percent female, or in the heavily male professions of law and consulting; the rest are in such traditional male areas as manufacturing, agriculture and forestry. And like companies that build roads, alternative-energy firms also employ construction workers and engineers.

Fortunately, jobs for women can be created by concentrating on professions that build the most important infrastructure -- human capital. In 2007, women were 83 percent of social workers, 94 percent of child care workers, 74 percent of education, training and library workers (including 98 percent of preschool and kindergarten teachers and 92 percent of teachers' assistants).

Libraries are closing or cutting back everywhere, while demand for their services, including their Internet connections, has risen. Philadelphia's proposal last month to close 11 branches brought people into the street to protest.

Many of the jobs women do already are included in Obama's campaign promises. Women are teachers, and the campaign promised to provide support for families with children up to the age of 5, increase Head Start financing and quadruple the money spent on Early Head Start to include a quarter-million infants and toddlers. Special education, including arts education, is heavily female as well. Obama promised to increase financing for arts education and for the National Endowment for the Arts, which supports many school programs.

During the campaign, Obama also promised that the first part of his plan to combat urban poverty would be to replicate a nonprofit organization in New York called the Harlem Children's Zone in 20 cities across the country. The group, which works to improve the quality of life for children and families in the Harlem neighborhood, employs several hundred people in full- and part-time jobs. By making good on this promise, Obama could create thousands of jobs for women in social work, teaching and child care.

Unlike the proposal to rebuild roads and bridges, the Harlem Children's Zone program is urban, and thus really green. If cities become more inviting, more people will live in them -- and that means they will drive less, using less fuel. The average New Yorker's greenhouse gas footprint is only about 29 percent as large as that of the average American; the city is one of the greenest places in America.

Maybe it would be a better world if more women became engineers and construction workers, but programs encouraging women to pursue engineering have existed for decades without having much success. At the moment, teachers and child care workers still need to support themselves. Many are their families' sole support.

A public works program can provide needed economic stimulus and revive America's concern for public property. The current proposal is simply too narrow. Women represent almost half the work force -- not exactly a marginal special interest group. By adding a program for jobs in libraries, schools and children's programs, the new administration can create jobs for them, too.

Linda R. Hirshman is the author of "Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World." Copyright 2008 The New York Times.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Women's Studies Released 2008 Concerning Women In Construction

Road to GOOD Jobs Study
Released September 30, 2008

This year's study, Road to Good Jobs: Patterns of Employment in the Construction Industry, evaluates the construction workforce in the nation's 25 largest metro areas and shows that women and minorities are least likely to receive the benefit of construction jobs. The report, an expansion of last year’s first-ever such study, also notes that building public transit and maintaining highways would create more – and greener – jobs than building highways.

The 25 metropolitan areas, listed by population, are New York, NY, Los Angeles, CA, Chicago, IL, Philadelphia, PA, Dallas, Miami, Washington (DC), Houston, Detroit, Boston, Atlanta, San Francisco, Riverside (CA), Phoenix, Seattle, Minneapolis, San Diego, St. Louis, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Tampa, Denver, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Portland, OR.

From the Ground Up: Building Opportunities for Women in Construction
by Jennifer K. Brown and Francoise Jacobsohn
Legal Momentum, July 2008

In July 2008, Legal Momentum published From the Ground Up: Building Opportunities for Women in Construction, a report on our ground-breaking conference, Women re:BUILD NY, which brought leaders from all segments of the construction industry together with tradeswomen to focus on making equal opportunity a reality for women in the construction trades

Women Business Owners Blocked from Fair Access to Federal Contracts
Released January 21, 2008

The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce unifies the collective
strength of women to leverage our position as the most influential
economic force in America. With over 500,000 members, the USWCC
advances economic opportunities for women across America.

The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce delivers this report to
Congress with a great sense of urgency. For more than a decade the
federal government has not met the paltry five-percent goal for
contracting with women-owned small businesses (WOSB).

Even today, as women own nearly thirty percent of all firms in
America, the federal government lags behind in doing business with
women. Women lose between five and six billion dollars every year as
the federal government fails to meet the low five percent mark. And
the openly unsupportive attitude that is exhibited by the SBA only
serves to continue a sad tradition of failure within the government
contracting ranks.

I ask you to intercede on behalf of the millions of women business
owners – their families, their employees, and their communities – who
are being blocked from fair access to federal contracts. The SBA should
withdraw the most recent proposed rule and Congress should pass the
legislation completed by H.R. 1873 (Sec. 201) which raises the goal for
contracting with WOSB’s to a more appropriate eight-percent and H.R.
3867 (Sec. 301) which provides clear language for the implementation
of the women’s federal procurement program. This action would set
the stage for strong advances in the fair access to federal contracts by
women-owned small businesses.

Margot Dorfman, CEO
U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce

More links of interest:

The Working Poor Families Project

Center for Women and Work

Cleaning up Massachusetts: Searchable Web portals to track any government contract or subsidy are becoming standard practice

Cleaning up Massachusetts
By Deirdre Cummings
November 30, 2008

IN LIGHT of the simmering scandals about Massachusetts public officials and private money, the announcement of the Governor's Task Force on Public Integrity comes not a moment too soon. The Commonwealth can get a handle on its governance problems if it examines the issues comprehensively and offers new tools for transparency and accountability.

Transparency and accountability go hand in hand. A transparent government allows citizens, the media, and watchdog groups to hold government officials accountable. The ability to see how government uses the public purse checks corruption, bolsters public confidence in government, and promotes fiscal responsibility.

Like a growing number of states, Massachusetts should enlist new information technology tools to enhance transparency for public money. Eighteen states have established a new standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility. Searchable Web portals to track any government contract or subsidy are becoming standard practice, at least in other states. Public officials across the country increasingly know that their spending and fiscal decisions are open to public scrutiny.

The technological tools are something we take for granted in the private sector. Internet search engines have revolutionized the accessibility of information. We can track deliveries online, check cellphone minutes, and compare real estate, even summon - at the click of a mouse - satellite and street-level views of any address. But when it comes to tracking particular government expenditures online, we are left in the dark.

As legislation and executive orders around the country are lifting the electronic veil on where tax dollars go, a wide variety of benefits have been realized that extend beyond accountability and integrity. Residents in surveys endorse these systems and embrace them with increased civic engagement. The Missouri Accountability Portal received more than 6 million hits less than a year after its launch.

Transparency websites can also save money through unearthing inefficient operations, reducing costly manual information requests, and increasing the number of contractors bidding on public contracts. In Texas, the comptroller reports $2.3 million in savings from a more efficient government administration following the launch of its website.

Transparency budget portals allow states to track how well subsidies and tax incentives deliver results, allowing the state to better target expenditures. By tracking the performance of state subsidies, Minnesota and Illinois have recaptured money from projects that failed to deliver their promised results. More comprehensive tracking of procurement and contractors across agencies has even helped other states increase their use of minority- and women-owned businesses.

Massachusetts, consistently ranked as a top state for technology industries, and just named the top-ranked state in the New Economy Index by The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, should be a leader in this field. Instead, the Commonwealth is barely beginning to take advantage of the benefits of online transparency for government expenditures. While the state maintains a website that allows the search of some government contracts online, it lacks the kind of systematic, user-friendly systems being developed in other states.

With the Legislature's approval, the Governor's Task Force presents a unique opportunity for much-needed reform. The administration can implement upgrades as part of the three-year information technology overhaul it's already committed to and the Legislature has already funded as part of July's bond bill.

The stakes are high. Local and state lawmakers have been accused of taking money in exchange for political favors, and Massachusetts faces recurring budget shortfalls and a host of challenges that require major public investment. Controversies related to the Big Dig and subsidies for large corporations and development projects have sullied the public's trust. While soundly defeated, recent calls for a repeal of the state's income tax are a warning sign that Massachusetts citizens want answers.

In cleaning up the ethics mess, the Public Integrity Task force would do well to consider a phrase coined by Justice Louis Brandeis, in praise of public transparency and disclosure: "Sunlight is the best disinfectant."

Deirdre Cummings is the budget and legislative director for MASSPIRG, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public-interest watchdog group.

© Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper Company.

Minority Report: Construction Contract List Minority and Women-Owned Subcontractors Who Are Not Working On The Contract

A City Schools Construction Contract Lists Minority and Women-Owned Subcontractors Who Say They Did Not Agree to Work On The Project.

By Edward Ericson Jr.

Mildred "Meme" Thomas says she was surprised this summer to discover, through an internet search, that her landscaping company was a listed subcontractor on a multi-million dollar Baltimore City Public School contract.

Neither Thomas nor her company, Earthscape Design, had ever worked for the school system, she says. She had never even been contacted by the prime contractor for the project, Williams Scotsman.

Earthscape Design is a certified minority and woman-owned business enterprise. The federal government, states, and cities across the country have created a system of contract set-asides meant to counteract decades of race- and sex-based discrimination in business. In Maryland, these set-asides are expressed as minority-participation goals that prime contractors pledge to strive for. A complex system of checks and balances--including the requirement that prime contractors obtain signed affidavits from minority subcontractors agreeing to be part of a contract bid "team"--is meant to discourage cheating.

"We called Williams Scotsman and asked them where our affidavit was agreeing to work with them," Thomas says. "They sent a three-page letter saying they used the other companies."

Thomas gave City Paper a copy of Scotsman's fax, which included a Sept. 24 letter to her, a Jan., 2007 letter to a school-system official, and its "intended use list" of minority and women contractors. In its letter to her, Scotsman's associate counsel, Kathleen Keyser, says Scotsman didn't need landscaping services for the portable classrooms installed under the school contract, and that "Williams Scotsman met the [minority and women-owned business] requirements . . . by using other types of subcontractors."

Unmollified, Thomas tried to contact the seven other subcontractors listed by Williams Scotsman. None of the four she reached, she says, were even aware of the contract. (Of the other two, one was unreachable and the other out of business, she says).

So Thomas called the school system's fraud hotline. "We want to use this company as an example to the city and say 'Hey, we are aware of your illegal business,'" she says. "We're not gonna stand for this any more."

What's happened since has angered Thomas even more. "There has been no response" as of Nov. 19, she says.

School officials have made it clear that there is an investigation. At an Oct. 14 meeting, school board Chairman Brian Morris stopped another listed subcontractor, Chet Brown, from testifying about the matter during a public-comment session. "I know you don't think I am, but I am familiar with your case," Morris told Brown, according to a transcript. "What I don't want you to do is to prejudice this body, which may have to stand at some future point as a judge in your concern."

Tammy L. Turner, the school board's chief legal counsel, says her office's investigations division has been operating only since June of this year, and since then it has received 42 allegations of all kinds. The office's three investigators gather documents, interview witnesses, and report their findings to the accused's supervisor, she says.

Turner says whistleblowers like Thomas "should always think that all complaints are taken seriously and are being investigated thoroughly," adding that "some investigations may take longer" than others.

Thomas is not satisfied. To date, investigators have not even contacted her, she says. Turner's job is to defend the school board and school employees, and the board itself will sit in judgment of the case. "They're investigating themselves," Thomas says.

Brown, an electrician and co-founder of Brown-Tisdale, Inc., says he has not been contacted by investigators either, although he's willing to be patient. "What I want to do is, I want to give them the opportunity to make this right," he says.

Brown confirms that Scotsman did not work closely with him. "They had me listed [in their bid] as a WBE, which is a woman-owned business," he says. "I'm not a woman by no stretch of the imagination."

Brown says he hears about this kind of thing all the time, though he has seldom seen proof. "In this case we were fortunate that Ms. Thomas happened to trip up on it," he says.

The contract Thomas stumbled upon is called "AEPA IFB 002-PA Modular and Portable Classrooms." It began in 2006 as a $6 million contract to supply and set up portable classrooms on school grounds "as needed." The latest iteration is a $2 million contract extension.

With about 90 offices in North America, White Marsh-based Williams Scotsman is one of the country's largest suppliers of portable buildings. As part of its response to Thomas, it faxed her a January 2007, letter from company salesman to Mike Krupnik, the school system's contracts manager, which states that Scotsman "has contacted several MBE/WBE contractors whom we intend to use" on the $2 million contract extension.

The next page lists eight companies.

Of the six companies City Paper contacted, only Brown remembers any contact from Williams Scotsman. "The only thing I remember even remotely getting from Scotsman was an e-mail, and I didn't respond to the e-mail," he says.

Luis Campos, owner of Arriba Construction, which Scotsman listed as a minority subcontractor, says he has not heard from any investigators as of Nov. 6. "The people who were named were lucky enough to catch onto this," he says. "It's pretty strange."

Donald Koch, vice president of C.C. Johnson & Malhotra, says in his 10 years at the 30-year-old environmental and civil-engineering company, he has never done a Baltimore school contract. After Thomas told him his company was listed as an electrical subcontractor, Koch says he sent Williams Scotsman a message telling the company he knows what happened. "I said we know you listed us. Not real cool," Koch says, adding that Scotsman has not replied, and that he has not heard from school system investigators either.

Dena Jackson, vice president for operations at paving company H.A. Winchester Enterprises says roughly the same. She also has not been contacted by either Scotsman or school investigators.

Two of the remaining three companies--Accurate Plumbing, Inc. and Alpine Electric--appear to be out of business and could not be reached. The last one, landscaper A. Morton Thomas and Associates, Inc., confirmed that the contact person listed on Scotsman's bid had not worked there for several years.

Williams Scotsman did not return e-mails and telephone messages from City Paper.

Wayne R. Frazier, president of the Maryland Washington Minority Contractors Association, suggests that governments hire more compliance officers to monitor these contracts, or at least use a computer program that notifies all the subcontractors whenever the prime gets paid for a job. That, he says, would cut way down on these kinds of cases.

"If the [prime contractors] know that there's no compliance taking place, they will do whatever they can to get away from it," Frazier says. "They look at this program as a nuisance. I can understand that, from their perspective. But the law is the law. It's taxpayers' money."

Even if Thomas' allegation is proved, remedies appear to be lacking. "There are no laws in place that would ban these contractors from . . . coming back to the city," says Frazier. "I think it's a shame--we can have inclusion goals in place, and no remedies for those who cheat. It goes on all the time."

Email Edward Ericson Jr.

Arena project near targets for minority, women participation

Wednesday, December 10, 2008
By Amy McConnell Schaarsmith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As construction work on the new arena continues on schedule, representatives of the Penguins and the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority say they have come close to reaching targets on minority hiring of contractors.

With targets of 25 percent minority-owned and 10 percent women-owned businesses for contractors at the site, project planners have been able to hire minority-owned businesses for an average of 24 percent of construction work and women-owned businesses for an average of 6.26 percent of that work.

In some trade areas, however, participation by minority- and women-owned businesses falls far short of the targets.

Meeting the targets is not always easy because of a scarcity of qualified, bonded businesses in some trade areas, said Clarence Curry, who monitors how well the authority is meeting its targets for minority participation.

The size of the contracts -- sometimes topping $30 million -- is keeping many minority- and women-owned businesses from a chance to bid on them.

"There are not a lot of minority-owned companies experienced with contracts of that size, but it's a chicken and egg situation," Mr. Curry said. "Past discrimination has limited their opportunities, so since they couldn't get the work, they're not experienced enough to get it now."

At the site, demolition is finished and retaining and foundation walls have been completed on the south side of the construction zone, according to developers. The first crane will arrive next week to begin building walls atop the foundation walls, while retaining and foundation walls are built on the north side of the site.

By the end of April, developers say they expect the arena's roof to be built and upper decks of seating to be under construction.

Meanwhile, developers say the deadline is Dec. 16 for bids to finish the building's interior with carpeting, window treatments and other furnishings. And the deadline is Dec. 19 for bids to build the arena's parking garage. The garage contract will be awarded in late January and construction should begin in April, according to developers.

Amy McConnell Schaarsmith can be reached at or 412-263-1122.
First published on December 10, 2008 at 12:00 am

The Empire State Carpenters Apprenticeship Committee, Local 281 (Elmira), are recruiting apprentices

Women and minorities are encouraged to submit applications for apprenticeship programs.

News from New York State Department of Labor
For more information contact: The Sponsor at 607-739-4685.

Carpenters Recruit Apprentices

ELMIRA, NY (12/08/2008; 0000)(readMedia)-- The Empire State Carpenters Apprenticeship Committee, Local 281 (Elmira), will conduct recruitment from December 10, 2008 through November 18, 2009 for ten carpenter apprentices, State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith announced today.

Applications will be available at the local, 181 Industrial Park Road, Horseheads, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the second and third Wednesday of each month during the recruitment period.

The committee requires that applicants:

Be at least 18 years old.
Have a high school or general equivalency diploma -- transcript of courses and grades must be provided after acceptance for the program.
When indentured, provide a notarized affidavit attesting to their physical ability to do the work which includes being able to lift 50 pounds, work at heights off scaffolding, work in extreme heat and cold and other trade specific conditions.
Have reliable transportation to and from various job sites in south central New York.
Pass a drug test, at the committee's expense, at the time of employment.
Be able and willing to attend related instructions for four one-week periods at an Empire State Carpenters Regional Training Facility.
Take a math and measurement computation test at time of application.
For further information, applicants should contact the New York State Department of Labor office located nearest their home or the local at 607-739-4685.

Apprentice programs registered with the Department of Labor must meet standards established by the Commissioner. Under state law, sponsors of programs cannot discriminate against applicants because of race, creed, color, national origin, age, sex, disability or marital status. Women and minorities are encouraged to submit applications for apprenticeship programs. Sponsors of programs are required to adopt affirmative action plans for the recruitment of women and minorities.

Former carpenter becomes key part of Scott Construction management team

December 9, 2008
Carrol Watamaniuk accepts her Outstanding Women in Construction Award during the 20th annual VRCA Awards of Excellence gala.

Project Management
Former carpenter becomes key part of Scott Construction management team
Brian Martin

No matter how you slice it, it is a very long jump from running a local movie house to being the senior project manager during construction of an entire university.

Nonetheless it is a jump Carrol Watamaniuk made.

In November, she was honoured as the Outstanding Woman in Construction at the 20th annual Awards of Excellence put on by the Vancouver Regional Construction Association.

Recipients of the award are selected by the Canadian Construction Women’s Association.

As Watamaniuk tells it, in 1989 she had an epiphany in the middle of the night.

She woke up. A voice in her head told her she should become a carpenter. At the time she and her partner, the father of her two children, were running all the independent movie houses in Vancouver.

She is nothing if not determined. Not having a clue how to become a carpenter, she simply looked in the telephone book under the “Cs”. The only thing she found was the Carpenters’ Union so she went off to meet them. They directed her to the B.C. Institute of Technology.

There she was quickly enrolled in an entry-level trades program.

She discovered that not only was she good at carpentry, but she also loved it.

“How many jobs are there where you get to work with your body and your brain at the same time?” she asked.

Before long, Watamaniuk was a member of the union and working on a high rise residential project in New Westminster.

At the same time she continued taking courses at BCIT and concentrated on things such as blue print reading.

“When I was at BCIT there were not any women, which was a shock to me,” she said.

“I had no idea that women didn’t do that back at that time. The first five or 10 years, I didn’t see any other women.”

She didn’t, however, let that bother her nor has she experienced any type of harassment.

“I just kept my blinkers on and concentrated on my work,” she said. “It’s a gender neutral job as far as I am concerned.”

Eventually Watamaniuk had a parting with the Carpenters’ Union.

She took a construction management course at Douglas College.

“They had an issue with that,” she said.

In typical fashion she holds no hard feelings towards them.

But, she said, she had her plans and she intended to follow them.

As is typical for a journeyperson, construction took her to many different locations.

In addition to straight construction work she did a stint as an instructor for the Southern Interior Construction Association in Kelowna and then went on to teach for about a year at Okanagan University College in the same city.

Eventually life led her to Whistler and Squamish.

She got busy building her own home in Squamish with the idea of selling it.

Not long after that Scott Construction offered her the job of superintendent on the $53 million Quest University project at Squamish.

It was the chance of a lifetime.

“Without a word of a lie, I woke up every day wanting to go to work,” she said.

In contrast to her early days in the industry, on the Quest no less than five members of the Scott project team were women.

Among the most rewarding parts of her job, she said is looking at a site and envisioning what will be built there.

That and the personalities she deals with keep life interesting.

“There’s never a dull day,” she said. “To work with all these personalities and to see them succeed – it’s a huge pat on the back, which I can give to myself.”

Watamaniuk isn’t the only award-winner in her family.

Only days before she was honoured as Construction Woman of the Year, the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series.

Her 24-year-old son, Scott Mathieson, is a pitcher for the team.

All in all, it was quite a week in a family that seems to specialize in setting goals – and reaching them.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

MnDOT improves minority hiring record

The Minnesota Department of Transportation says so-called Disadvantaged Business Enterprises - women and minority-owned firms - did bridge work totaling fourteen percent of the price tag. MnDOT's goal was 10 percent. (MPR Photo/Dan Olson)

View full slideshow (4 total images)
MnDOT improves minority hiring record
by Dan Olson, Minnesota Public Radio
December 8, 2008

Women and minority owned companies had a bigger than expected pay day from the 35W bridge project.

St. Paul, Minn. — The Minnesota Department of Transportation says the hiring of so-called Disadvantaged Business Enterprises - women and minority owned firms - exceeded the agency's goal.

This is in sharp contrast to MnDOT's performance from years past when hiring fell far short of goals.

Hope Jensen, MnDOT's director of the office of Civil Rights said the bridge price tag is $233 million, and nearly $33 million of bridge construction money went to subcontracting companies owned by women and minorities.

Jensen said the value of the contracts exceeds the agency's goal.

Civil engineer Susan Rani
"We had a 10 percent goal. We are currently coming in at about 14 percent," she said.
Federal dollars accounted for a large portion of the bridge funding. Federal rules require that state agencies and the prime contractors they hire make a good faith effort to direct up to 10 percent of federal dollars to women and minority owned businesses or DBE's.

Jensen said Flatiron Manson, the prime bridge contractor, hired a total of 20 DBE's. Contracts ranged from a few thousand dollars for hauling services to $11 million for steel erection among other work performed.

"Everything from a janitorial contractor to excavating. We had quite a few design folks that did quite a bit of work over several million dollars worth of work," she said.

Minneapolis-based Rani Engineering did surveying and civil engineering design work worth $750,000. Founder and president Susan Rani said she and the other women and minority owned firms performed on a par with any other contractor on the bridge project.

Working on the bridge
"I think we've been given a chance to show that if a contractor can value the DBE's experience. . . We can add value to the final product and to the taxpayers of Minnesota," she says.

Rani is Asian American. She received a civil engineering degree from the University of Minnesota. Rani said she put herself through college on a work study program which included selling popcorn at Gopher football games at the old Memorial Stadium.

Rani said she started her company 15 years ago with start-up money raised by maxing out two personal credit cards.

Rani Engineering employs 17, and Susan Rani said about 2/3 of their work is based on their certification as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise.

Rani said she still meets people who assume she's in business because she gets preferential treatment as a woman and a minority business owner rather than as a competitive bidder.

"'Oh you guys must be getting all these contracts because you're female and minority,' to which I told him that if we were that lucky, shouldn't there be more firms out there?" she said.
Lawsuits by white business owners have forced the federal and state governments to rewrite DBE rules.

The new rules do not set a quota or promise that women and minority owned companies will get a slice of federal contracting dollars.

MnDOT's office of Civil Rights director Hope Jensen said there are examples of prime contractors being given additional leeway if they can't find qualified women and minority owned firms.

"If the price is not competitive, if they don't have the equipment or if they don't have the capacity then we will look at that and see if we believe it was a legitimate and reasonable reason," she says.

MnDOT working with the 35W bridge project's prime contractor, Flatiron Manson, also points to partial success in another hiring category.

MnDOT hiring specialist Ashanti Payne said the goal was to have 11 percent of the bridge construction workers be people of color and six percent would be women.

"Flatiron achieved 14.7 percent minority employment...and they were about 3.4 percent for women employment," he said.

The numbers are welcome news for MnDOT. On several high profile projects in recent years, including the rebuilding of a stretch of 494 and construction of the Hiawatha light rail line, the agency fell well below women and minority hiring goals.

A study by outside consultants three years ago showed Minnesota had enough qualified women and people of color for the agency to do much better.

As a result MnDot for 2009 has set a higher goal. The agency will encourage contractors to direct up to 15 percent of the value of contracts awarded to them to businesses owned by women and minorities.

Carpenter's Local 281 (Binghamton,NY), is conducting recruitment through Oct 21, 2009

Carpenters' union seeks apprentices
December 2, 2008

BINGHAMTON The Empire State Carpenters Apprenticeship Committee, Local 281, is conducting recruitment through Oct. 21, 2009 for 10 apprentices

Applications are available from 8 a.m. to noon on the second and third Wednesday of each month at the local at 23 Market St., Binghamton.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a high school or general equivalency diploma, a signed affidavit stating they are physically able to do the work and a reliable means of transportation. Applicants must also pass a drug test, be able and willing to attend instructions for four one-week periods, and take a math and measurement computation test.

For more information, contact the state's Department of Labor or the local at (607) 729-0224.
-- Debbie Swartz

Hard Hatted Women hopes to snag jobs from Obama construction program

Hard Hatted Women hopes to snag jobs from Obama construction program
by Alison Grant/Plain Dealer Reporter
Saturday December 06, 2008, 4:03 PM

John Kuntz/The Plain Dealer

Carpenter Rocky Hwasta, president of Allied Cleveland Tradeswomen, works Friday at the construction site of the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Justice Center in Cleveland.The poor economy and a loss of private donations are battering Hard Hatted Women, an organization that promotes women in high-wage, blue-collar careers.

The group is bracing to lose as much as $225,000 in funding next year, chopping 40 percent off its 2008 budget of $550,000. It's cutting employees and has no money for pre-apprenticeship training.

But Hard Hatted Women is hardly laying down the tool belt.

The Cleveland organization is expanding a pilot project to consult on diversity and sexual-harassment at construction sites. A partnership with the Ohio Department of Transportation helps place skilled tradeswomen in highway construction jobs. And the non-profit group has snagged a coveted federal grant.

Now it's watching for an even bigger prize to emerge -- a New Deal-style, explosion of public construction work proposed by President-elect Barack Obama.

"That's where we want to connect the dots," Executive Director Terri Burgess Sandu said. "How do we get women and girls into those jobs?"

Obama has outlined a plan to rebuild roads and bridges and modernize schools while developing alternative energy sources and more efficient cars. The economic recovery plan aims to create 2.5 million jobs by January 2011.

It's important for women to get a foothold in such federal enterprises from the outset, Sandu said. When construction gets an infusion of public dollars, the mechanism for women and minorities to get in on the action has to be in place at the beginning -- when terms of the work are nailed down, studies show.

Elaine Bernard, executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School, said any massive undertaking will face the stubborn question of how many women are in the pipeline. Traditionally, it has been few. Women represent about 3 percent of the workers on construction sites nationwide.

"Women in the trades will be hired like anybody else," Bernard said. "The issue is who's coming into the skilled trades?"

Sandu said Hard Hatted Women is slashing expenses so it can survive and continue helping women into non-traditional occupations.

It's laying off three of five staff members and moved out of a restored mansion on Superior Avenue to plainer digs a mile away in the one-time hall of Laborers Local 860 on Prospect Avenue. The move will save about $80,000 in rent over five years.

The budget cuts are meant to make the group viable without foundation support, even though Sandu will submit grant proposals as usual.

"It's not a desperate plea, 'Please give us money or we'll close,' " she said. "We really want to be able to say that we're on ethical and fiscally responsible ground and anything that our foundation partners can give will allow us to build more."

Hard Hatted Women had several tumultuous years after founding Director Kathy Augustine was ousted amid claims that the group's finances were in disarray and it was losing focus as a champion of tradeswomen.

The group on its Web site describes the discord as the growing pains of a grassroots collective evolving into a more mainstream, professional organization.

Hard Hatted Women has hung onto outside support even as other donors have faded away.
In 2007, it was one of three groups nationwide to win a two-year Department of Labor grant -- $300,000 -- for a "women in non-traditional occupations" program.

This year, it was one of 21 new recipients of United Way funding in Greater Cleveland. It was awarded $60,000 annually for three years to support training of low-income women.

"They have encountered some bumps along the way," said United Way Executive Vice President Bill Plato. "But they have a generally good track record."

Carpenters Local 747 (Syracuse, NY), Recruit Apprentices

Carpenters Recruit Apprentices

SYRACUSE, NY (12/09/2008; 0000)(readMedia)-- The Empire State Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, Carpenters Local 747 (Syracuse), will conduct recruitment from December 11, 2008 through November 5, 2009 for ten carpenter apprentices, State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith announced today.

Applications will be available at the Carpenters Local 747 JATC School, 3195 Vickery Road, N. Syracuse, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., the first Thursday of each month during the recruitment period.

The committees require that applicants:

Be at least 18 years old.

Have a high school or general equivalency diploma.

Sign an affidavit stating they are physically able to do the work.

Sign an affidavit stating they have reliable transportation to and from work and apprentice school.

If a veteran, present a copy of their DD 214 after acceptance for the program.

For further information, applicants should contact the New York State Department of Labor office located nearest their home or the local at 315-455-6463.

Apprentice programs registered with the Department of Labor must meet standards established by the Commissioner. Under state law, sponsors of programs cannot discriminate against applicants because of race, creed, color, national origin, age, sex, disability or marital status. Women and minorities are encouraged to submit applications for apprenticeship programs. Sponsors of programs are required to adopt affirmative action plans for the recruitment of women and minorities.

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