Sunday, February 22, 2009

Women in Construction Week to be Celebrated Across the United States

National Association of Women in Construction will hold events March 1-7th
across honoring the contributions women make to the construction industry.

Fort Worth, TX (PRWEB) February 22, 2009 -- Women in Construction (WIC) Week will be celebrated March 1-7 by more than 100 chapters of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). NAWIC exists to enhance the success of women in the construction industry.

WIC Week provides a unified time for more than 5,500 NAWIC members to raise awareness of the opportunities the construction industry holds for potential employees and to highlight women as a visible, growing force in the industry.

Construction presents one of the few growing, well-paying careers in the United States that hires from high-school graduates to Ph.D.s

Women can build a career in the construction industry and advance by continuing their education. The emerging trend is women starting their own companies.

Our members reflect a cross section of industry segments and skill sets from business owners and executives to tradeswomen. The common link that shines through is passion for their chosen trade.

"Construction presents one of the few growing, well-paying careers in the United States that hires from high-school graduates to Ph.D.s," says Dede Hughes, NAWIC Executive Vice President. "Women can build a career in the construction industry and advance by continuing their education. The emerging trend is women starting their own companies."

A broad range of activities will be employed to spread NAWIC members' passion for working in construction. Award banquets, membership drives, community service projects and hands-on workshops will be conducted from coast to coast - all designed to promote construction and the value of women's contributions to the industry.

"Women have broken in to the construction industry and have gained depth and influence. In 2007, women accounted for nine percent of construction workers according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics with women-owned firms seeing a consistent gain year over year," said Julie Lyssy, NAWIC Marketing Director. "Our members reflect a cross section of industry segments and skill sets from business owners and executives to tradeswomen. The common link that shines through is passion for their chosen trade."

Anyone interested in participating in events with a local chapter is welcome to contact the NAWIC Office at (800) 552-3506 to get more information about events in your area.

About the National Association of Women in Construction

Founded in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1955, NAWIC is an international Association serving more than 5,500 members in approximately 160 chapters in the United States. NAWIC also has affiliates in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and United Kingdom. To learn more about NAWIC, visit the NAWIC Web site.

Women carpenters help Habitat for Humanity-Canada

Women carpenters help Habitat for Humanity
Updated: Tue Feb. 17 2009 16:27:41

Sixteen women from the Vermilion/YWCA Skills Training Centre are helping to build townhouses for Habitat for Humanity.

The women are all part of the Women Build Program. "Many of the women who come to us are single moms. And so for them to be able to break the cycle of poverty for them, and for their children, is huge. That's life changing," says Arlene Adamson, the director of YWCA of Calgary.

Construction on the eight-unit complex, at 1608 19 St. N.E., is well under way and the women are working on installing baseboards and other carpentry projects.

The women say that they are paying forward the help they received when they were in trouble.

"It warms my heart helping other people to get out of a place that I was in once, knowing that kids are going to have a roof over their heads is really fulfilling," says Jillian Ashley, a participant in the Vermilion/YWCA Skills Training Centre.

The Habitat for Humanity homes are expected to be completed by May or June.

The townhomes are close to schools, transit and shopping and will give eight families a hand up and allow them to become homeowners.

Habitat for Humanity uses donated labour, materials and professional services and that helps them to keep the costs down and provide a manageable mortgage for the families.

Habitat for Humanity Calgary was formed in 1988 and will celebrate the completion of their 100th house in 2009.

Over 4000 volunteers chip in on the affordable homeownership program every year.

For volunteer and donation information click on the Habitat for Humanity link.

Empire State Carpenters recruit Apprentices-Rochester

News from New York State Department of Labor

For more information contact: The Sponsor at 585-436-1110.

Carpenters Recruit Apprentices

ROCHESTER, NY (02/18/2009; 1207)(readMedia)-- The Empire State Carpenters Apprenticeship Committee, Region 4 (Rochester), will conduct recruitment for 30 carpenter apprentices from February 17, 2009 through January, 19, 2010, State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith announced today.

Applications will be available at the local, 21 Jet View Drive, Rochester, from 9 a.m. to noon, the third Tuesday of every month except holidays during the recruitment period. Applications can be filled out during times stated, only at JATC office. No applications will be accepted through the mail.

The committee requires that applicants:

Be at least 18 years old - proof must be available at the time of employment by a signed statement submitted at the time of application.
Have a high school diploma or equivalent by the State Education Department to be presented at the time of employment or indenture - proof must submitted at the time of application by a signed statement.
Have a reliable means of transportation to and from work and school - proof must submitted at the time of application by a signed statement.
By physically able to perform the work of a carpenter as required and determined by applicant personal statement.
Costs for medical examination, if required, are at the expense of the sponsor.
Pass a drug test provided by JATC given at the time of employment at the cost of the Apprenticeship Committee.
Pass a UBC qualifying math test and measurement computation test.
The list for recruitment will be used for commercial, heavy highway and residential carpentry.
Live within the geographical jurisdiction of Local 85 which includes counties of Monroe, Wayne, Livingston and Ontario (except for the townships of Phelps, Seneca and Geneva) and the townships of Portage, Castile, Perry, Warsaw, Gainsville and Pike of Wyoming County.
Each eligible applicant will have to participate in an interview.
For further information, applicants should contact the New York State Department of Labor office located nearest their home or the sponsor at 585-436-1110.

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.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Wyoming gender wage gap persists

Star-Tribune capital bureau
Saturday, February 14, 2009 2:06 AM MST

CHEYENNE -- Wyoming women continue to progress in getting higher education degrees.

Nevertheless, they still don't make as much money as men.

For example, women with bachelor's degrees can expect to earn less than men who have only high school diplomas.

This information comes from a report on the pay status of Wyoming women by the Wyoming Council for Women's Issues.

Regardless of the persisting disparity, the report said higher education still pays off for women. The more education she has, the higher the salary she can command.

Wyoming's ratio of women's to men's earnings of 63 percent has been among the widest gaps in the nation for at least the past five years.

The national average is 77.5 percent, according to the 2008 U.S. Census Bureau report.

Women's median earnings were less than men's in all 50 states, the status report said.

It found that Wyoming women trail men in representation in government.

Women also are more affected by the shortage of child care facilities in the state.

"Women need to run for elected office," Teresa De Groh, women's council chair, said Friday during a news conference in the Capitol Building rotunda.

The number of women in the 30-member Wyoming Senate decreased from four to one for a 3 percent representation. The Wyoming House lost two women, resulting in a decrease from 17 to 15 for a 25 percent representation.

Women do better at the local level. The majority of counties have at least 30 percent women in county elected offices.

But they hold only 11 percent of the county commissioner seats in the state.

Sixteen counties will have no women on county commissions this year, and 22 percent of the municipalities will have no women on their town councils.

Training women to work in nontraditional, male-dominated fields, meanwhile, is one way for them to earn a living wage.

The report said nearly 39,000 women now work in nontraditional careers, up about 1,000 from last year.

"But we need only so many heavy-equipment operators," said Sarah Gorin, chairwoman of the Equality State Policy Center.

Gorin's group was instrumental in initiating the wage gap study in 2003.

Women, she said, need health insurance through the expanded child health insurance program for children and working families.

A lot of women work part time by necessity or choice.

"If you're a part-time employee like most women, there's almost no chance you have access to health insurance because only 11 percent of part-time employees do," Gorin said.

These women cannot afford private insurance, which costs on average $12,000 a year with a high deductible.

If the only way a single parent can get health insurance is to work full time, then she encounters the shortage of child care, Gorin said.

A total of 40,293 children from birth to 12 years of age are potential users of child care services, according to an August 2008 report by the U.S. Census Bureau.

But current providers have only 17,565 spaces available, leaving 22,728 children with no child care services.

Another important issue, Gorin said, is the minimum wage.

The Legislature already killed a bill to increase the wage for tipped employees from $2.13 per hour to the federal minimum wage.

Most of these employees are women.

Opponents of the bill said employers are supposed to make up the difference if a server makes less from tips than the federal minimum wage but not all do so.

If they don't, the waitresses should file a complaint with the state, opponents of the bill said.

Gorin said the female employees believe they will lose their jobs if they complain.

"We're hoping we can initiate some personnel investigation action and enforcement actions to make some headway there," Gorin said.

Contact capital bureau reporter Joan Barron at 307-632-1244 or

Wyo gender wage gap persists

Friday, February 13, 2009

Women taking on high-profile roles at Cincinnati's Banks project

View slide show
Business Courier of Cincinnati - by Lucy May Senior Staff Reporter

In everything from design work to engineering to scheduling the construction itself, women are playing critical roles in building the Banks on Cincinnati’s riverfront.

Big-ticket local construction projects have for years employed women as laborers and women-owned firms as subcontractors. But industry insiders say they’re hard-pressed to recall a project with as many women in key roles on the development team itself as the nearly $1 billion Banks project.

“I find that encouraging because everybody brings kind of a fresh look at things, and that’s important to get the best solutions,” said John Deatrick, the Banks project executive who works for Hamilton County and the city of Cincinnati. “There’s a willingness to look beyond what’s typically been done.”

Among the women helping to create the Banks development is Patti Neal, a West Side native and Oak Hills High School graduate who is vice president of development at Carter. Carter is the Atlanta-based firm developing the Banks in partnership with the Dawson Co., also based in Atlanta. Laura Griffin, a development manager at Carter, has been helping craft a plan for the Banks since the firm first got involved in the project. And Tamara Kimble, vice president of strategic marketing and external affairs at Dawson, is point person for the project’s inclusion goals.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Women may exceed Men in the workforce due to the recession

Women to take to employment helm in the US
3 days ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Women in the United States may soon, for the first time, hold more jobs than men, if the economic crisis continues to eliminate jobs in male-dominated industries, according to experts.

With the Labor Department announcing on Friday that 3.6 million jobs have been lost in the United States since late 2007, women have come within a hair's breadth of becoming the most active segment of the population.

"Women are a total number of 66,701 million for December 2008 for a total of 134,591 million" jobs, Department spokeswoman Laura Kelter told AFP, "women are approaching 50 percent" of the working population.

Citing December 2008 figures, which do not include farm jobs, Kelter said 49.3 percent employees are women.

As the real estate bubble burst, construction and manufacturing jobs were the first to be shed, both sectors that are more likely to employ men.

Last month, when the manufacturing and construction sectors lost 207,000 and 111,000 jobs each, the health and private education sectors, which are dominated by women, created an average of 30,000 jobs each.

"Men have been hit much harder than women ... Although women have lost jobs, men have lost many more," economist Heather Boushey of the Center for American Progress said in an interview.

"There are fewer men at work in the US today than there have ever been at any point in time," she added, saying that only 69.2 percent of men now have a job, "lower than it has ever been."

In recent years, women have found job opportunities readily available in sectors like health and local government.

But women have also been hit by the economic downturn. Since the onset of the recession, unemployment has also grown for women, reaching 6.2 percent in January, up from 4.3 percent in December 2007.

Men have suffered a far greater setback, with unemployment growing by 3.2 points to reach 7.6 percent, up from 4.4 percent two years earlier.

That is a break with the past. In recessions prior to 1980, women's unemployment rose faster than that of men, Boushey noted, adding that this recession appears to continue a reverse trend that began in the 1980s.

"There has been only one other time since 1949 that men's unemployment has been this much higher that women's, in 1983 at the height of the high unemployment of the early 1980s recession," Boushey wrote in a report.

"If we don't pass the economic recovery package, we may see a very large job loss among women as cities and local governments lay off workers who are disproportionately women," she added, referring to the massive economic stimulus package currently working its way through Congress.

"As women increasingly take on the role of breadwinner, ensuring that they get a fair wage is taking on more urgency than ever before," said Boushey, noting that among full-time workers, women earn only 78 cents for every dollar a man earns.

Women to take to employment helm in the US

Monday, February 9, 2009

Construction trades are still a good bet, according to experts

The construction trades are still a good career bet for young people, experts say, despite the current downturn.

By Lynda V. Mapes

Seattle Times staff reporter

Construction Challenge judges Jeremy Abbott, left, Lily Iftner and Flo Hare grade a team's effort in the Manufacturing Design round.

Master Builders:
Puget Sound Skills Center:

Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center:

Construction Center of Excellence:

Seattle Central Community College:

Edmonds Community College:

Wage and employment information:

David Barber is only 18 but he knows himself well:

"I've tried working in stores, and the people make me mad. But give me a hammer or tell me to cut something and I'm happy. I'm the hands-on type."

He was right at home Saturday at a Construction Challenge event in Bellevue, where teams of students from middle and high schools put their problem-solving skills to the test.

They invented tools and structures, solved design puzzles and along the way learned about the building and construction industry as — despite its currently stalled state — a source of good-paying careers.

With only raw materials, a goal and their imaginations, the 61 students tackled hands-on challenges. In timed trials, they built inventions and structures from scratch, including even a cardboard-and-duct-tape Alaskan Way Viaduct — complete with vehicles.

Nationwide, more than 230 student teams competed in 15 regional qualifying rallies, including the one in Bellevue. The winners will advance to a final competition in Tennessee in May, to compete for cash prizes and scholarships.

Right now, layoffs in the construction trades go well beyond seasonal swings, state statistics show. In December 2007, 64 welders and cutters in King County were laid off, while this past December, 343 lost their jobs.

It was the same story with carpenters: 422 were laid off in December 2007, and 1,171 were collecting unemployment in December 2008.

But some experts are predicting that while construction is drying up now, by the time these kids are ready for a career, there will be jobs for them.

Between the federal stimulus package and the Sound Transit light-rail construction project approved by voters last fall, "There is business on the books," said Norward Brooks, executive dean of the Seattle Vocational Institute, a public, state-supported, work-force training school.

Plus, he said, "The construction industry has a lot of people who are old, and they are looking for replacements."

Ken Pierson, construction-technology instructor for the Puget Sound Skills Center in Burien, sees eight retirees for every new recruit to the construction trades. "There are great career possibilities, and women have an even better shot," he said. "We need every single graduate out there."

Ivars Graudins, manager of labor-market information for the state Department of Employment Security, sees a construction industry that is down but not out — and with this big advantage: "It pays a living wage without necessarily needing a four-year degree. "

Even apprentices in the building trades make $17 to $18 an hour on average, and journeymen with five years' experience can earn $30 an hour on average, Brooks said.

Construction has long been underrated as a career, some said. "These are well-paying jobs," said Cathy Feole, executive director of the Master Builders Career Connection.

"People think it's just hammer and nail and broom pusher, but there are so many jobs. And with more and more technology, there are more jobs for women."

Saturday's career-development program was sponsored by the nonprofit Association of Equipment Manufacturers and Destination ImagiNation.

Some students at the competition, at the Master Builders Association headquarters, already had their career path planned out.

"I wanted to be a marine biologist at first," said Michael Noelke, 11, of Fall City. "Then I was tending more into my baseball career. I think that's where I still am."

But then, he might move dirt, like his uncle. "I think I'd be more of a digger," Noelke said, "if I get to use one of those big trucks."

Lynda V. Mapes: 206-464-2736 or

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Make sure women share equally in the benefits of the stimulus package

Publish Date: 2/8/2009

Polis: Stimulus draft favors men

By Tony Kindelspire
Longmont Times-Call

LONGMONT — As Congress debates President Barack Obama’s stimulus package, some are concerned the jobs it aims to create will favor male-dominated professions.

The final bill signed by the president will likely contain billions of dollars for infrastructure: transportation projects, schools and health-care facilities. The federal government will spend some of this money, and some will be funneled through state and local governments.

Proponents say the stimulus bill will create tens of thousands of new construction jobs, but as U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, points out, that industry is dominated by men. In a Jan. 15 letter, Polis urged the president to take steps to make sure women share equally in the benefits of the stimulus package.

“Absent efforts to increase worker diversity in infrastructure-related jobs — this could lead to a shift of hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth from women to men,” Polis, a first-term Congressman representing the 2nd Congressional District, wrote in his letter.

Polis said by phone early last week that a constituent in Boulder alerted him to the issue.

“While we all might have suspected, the numbers bore it out,” he said. “After assembling all the information, we found out that of all the infrastructure jobs, 93 percent go to men and 7 percent go to women.”

He said he wrote the letter for two reasons: to alert the president and his colleagues in Congress to the need to take action, and to point to training programs that would address the disparity.

Polis’ letter has drawn support from dozens of women and family-oriented nonprofits, who have sent letters of their own to the president and Congress urging them to add provisions to the final stimulus bill that will level the playing field.

“We believe that we need an economy that works for all of us, and we are encouraged by the discussion that is happening along those lines,” said Linda Meric, executive director of the Denver chapter of 9to5, the National Association of Working Women.

More women than ever are in the workplace, and more families than ever depend on that income, Meric said.

In 2007, women made up 48.7 percent of the labor force, up from 41.2 percent in 1980, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

During the same period, the number of households headed by a single female parent rose to 25 percent from 18 percent, and by 2007, more than 70 percent of children lived in either a dual-earner household or one led by a single, working parent.

The proposed stimulus bill does contain positives for women, Meric said. For example, she said, more money is slated for child care, health care, computerized medical records, and state and local governments.

“These areas employ more women, so job creation and job protection in those areas directly affects women,” she said.

The types of jobs the stimulus package provides are key, Meric said. Calling for “family-supporting” jobs, the letter 9to5 and the other groups signed calls for jobs that pay wages and benefits that will support a family and paid time off so workers can care for themselves and their families.

And given the increase in women in the work force and the fact that more of them are supporting families, the unemployment system needs to be modernized, she said.

“The workplace and the unemployment system haven’t changed to keep up with these changes,” Meric said. “We think that’s a very important piece of the economy.”

She said she supports Polis’ recommendations for diversifying the stimulus package and the work force. While it’s true that women are a small percentage of those working in construction, there are ways to get more women the training they need to do the jobs.

Polis calls for expanding the U.S. Department of Labor’s grant program that awards competitive grants to recruit, hire, train and retain women in apprenticeships and non-traditional occupations.

Polis also calls for enforcing existing rules regarding hiring women by federal construction contractors, and for providing incentives to privately held companies that employ women.

Meric said some of these measures won’t necessarily help in the short term, but they provide a way to begin diversifying the work force now.

“Those (measures) particularly provide an opportunity for us as a country to provide training for women and other underrepresented groups,” she said.

About a dozen other members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed Polis’ letter to the president, he said, including Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., who has been in Congress since 1974 and is now chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.

Tony Kindelspire can be reached at 303-684-5291 or

REBUTTLE: Hampton's record on minority purchasing isn't bad

February 8, 2009

David Squires undoubtedly raised a few eyebrows with his Feb. 5 column, "The business minority report shames Hampton." A close reading of the report reveals evidence for commending the city of Hampton as well.

First, consider the magnitude of the problem. The most dramatic statistic, in Squires' column as well as in earlier Daily Press articles, is that Hampton's population is comprised of 48 percent African- Americans, yet only 1.6 percent of purchases and procurements are awarded to minority-owned companies. The study actually compared the city's procurement award percentage to "the percentage of minority-owned businesses in the relevant market area," which for African-American owned businesses varied from 1 to 5 percent, depending on the type of firm. While some disparity was found, it was not anywhere near the magnitude indicated.

Second, consider the nature of the problem. The primary assumption has been that whatever disparity exists is a result of racial and gender discrimination. When the City Council established the Purchasing and Procurement Oversight Committee in 1989, its mission was to remove legal, financial and other barriers to small business while encouraging "greater, fairness and broader representation of the community." Some 15 years later, the disparity study was explicitly tailored to look for evidence of discrimination to provide a basis for the establishment of "a remedial race- conscious program." This perspective is further reflected by the report's opening 37-page summary of the evolution of affirmative action in procurement.

So over the years the focus has shifted from small businesses in general to minority and women-owned businesses in particular. Yet, only 6 percent of firms surveyed reported that discrimination was a factor in their experience with the procurement process, and those incidents occurred post- award and reflected mostly issues between prime contractors and their subs.

It also must be remembered that during much of the period of the study (FY 1999-2003) the mayor, city manager and key managers in the financial and procurement chain of command were all African-Americans, as was the City Council representative to the Purchasing and Procurement Oversight Committee. As the city leadership considers its response to the findings of the study, those individuals should be able to provide some additional insight into the policies that constrained them from fixing the problem when they were in the seats of power.

But all of the findings did not condemn the city. In fact, the city was commended by the consultants for a variety of actions ranging from the establishment of the Purchasing and Procurement Oversight Committee to extensive outreach efforts to the business community. Furthermore, although some disparities were noted, the percentage of dollars spent with minority businesses was generally higher than the level of spending by the commonwealth of Virginia. In other words, the city outperformed the state.

So, this issue has been formally recognized for at least two decades, and a number of remedies have been put in place. Yet, the situation has proved intractable. When significant effort is spent trying to solve a problem and it won't go away, then it is time to try something different, like shifting the focus back to small businesses in general.

The study offered other states, such as North and South Carolina and Florida, as procurement systems to emulate. As a Dillon Rule state, Virginia's procurement policies drive the city's procedures to a great extent, and there may well be opportunities for improvement at the state level. With that end in mind, good ideas need to be harvested from the more successful jurisdictions and championed as part of the city's legislative agenda.

A close and critical look also needs to be taken at Hampton's internal procurement policies and processes. Indications are that there are still nondiscrimination-related "legal, financial and other barriers" to doing business with the city that have discouraged a broad range of companies, especially small businesses.

I have even more insight to offer but learned at a young age that things given away for free are rarely valued. I look forward to responding to the request for proposal.

Sapp, who was a member of the Hampton City Council from 2004 to 2008, is director of management services at REMSA, a minority woman-owned firm in Hampton. He may be contacted at,0,2321389.story

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Study seeks to boost participation of women in construction -Canada

February 6, 2009

Construction Sector Council

Study seeks to boost participation of women in construction


staff writer

The Ottawa-based Construction Sector Council is undertaking a study aimed in part at identifying strategies to boost women’s participation in the construction trades.

While initiatives have been undertaken over the years, primarily focused on raising women’s awareness of non-traditional careers, the council says there has not been an appreciable increase in the percentage of women working on the tools.

Data indicates that women account for only three per cent of those in the construction trades.

“We know that the overall number of women employed in the construction industry has increased,” says Rosemary Sparks, the council’s senior director of planning and development.

“But the percentage of women in the trades hasn’t really changed. We are trying to find out why that is.”

Previously, the council conducted research on participation of immigrants and Aboriginals in construction.

The study on the state of women’s participation is expected to be completed this spring.

The study will look at women as one solution to the skill shortages identified in the council’s Construction Looking Forward scenarios.

Sparks said the objectives are to gain insight into such areas as: whether barriers to women’s participation have changed; what initiatives have proven successful; what constitutes realistic benchmarks; and what needs to be done.

Study components include interviews with industry stakeholders and focus groups with women in construction.

“We are looking for people who have something to contribute to this topic,” Sparks said.

As part of the process, the council is contacting key trade associations for feedback and to arrange interviews with companies. While outreach also is being made to labour organizations, the majority of the interviews will be with employers.

“We will be seeking their views on what kind of support they think is needed to encourage women to enter the industry and perhaps more importantly, stay in the industry,” Sparks said.

The Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada has sent a questionnaire to its members as part of the study. Questions include:

•Has your company introduced any recruitment or retention practices to increase women’s participation in the trades and/or construction management ranks?

•What do you think labour needs to do to recruit and retain women?

•What do you think the industry needs to do to recruit and retain women in management occupations?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Building Industry Urges Congress to Support Economic Stimulus

Economic recovery must include policies focused on building construction. That's the message building industry representatives sent in a letter to Congressional leaders today. The letter represents 28 building industry organizations and the National Institute of Building Sciences. The organizations foresee that federal investment in our nation's buildings will invigorate the building design and construction industries and put Americans back to work almost immediately. The letter urges Congress to support programs that will renovate federal buildings, modernize schools and create more affordable housing. To read the letter and view a complete list of the 28 building industry organizations, visit

Washington, DC (PRWEB) February 5, 2009 -- Economic recovery must include policies focused on building construction. That's the message building industry representatives sent in a letter to Congressional leaders today.

The building design and construction industries are responsible for nearly ten percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product and employ more than seven million Americans. One million of those jobs have disappeared in the past two years, according to the Architecture Billings Index put out monthly by the American Institute of Architects.

The letter, sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader John Boehner, represents 28 building industry organizations and the National Institute of Building Sciences. The organizations foresee that federal investment in our nation's buildings will invigorate the building design and construction industries and put Americans back to work almost immediately. The letter urges Congress to support programs that will renovate federal buildings, modernize schools and create more affordable housing.

The industry organizations promote a national economic stimulus program that will set up measurements and standards of performance to prioritize how projects are identified and funded. The organizations recommend looking at long-term benefits as well as immediate economic impact; considering high performance buildings that are designed for sustainability, energy efficiency, safety, security, resiliency, productivity and functionality; and building with the needs of future generations--those living 40 to 80 years from now--in mind.

To read the letter and view a complete list of the 28 building industry organizations, visit

The National Institute of Building Sciences, authorized by public law 93-383 in 1974, is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that brings together representatives of government, the professions, industry, labor and consumer interests to identify and resolve building process and facility performance problems. The Institute serves as an authoritative source of advice for both the private and public sectors with respect to the use of building science and technology.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Minority Report: Hampton, VA...Shameful!

The business minority report shames Hampton
David Squires | Urban Affairs
February 5, 2009

Leaders in and around Hampton seem very cautious — defensive even — in discussing a recent revelation that the city does only 1.6 percent in purchases and procurements with minority-owned companies and only 2.39 percent with women-owned companies.

The population in the city of Hampton is 48 percent African-American. Besides that, Hampton has a nationwide reputation as a Mecca for the black middle class. As one associate said to me after finding out I'd moved here nearly five years ago: "Hampton is not the South." But 1.6 percent in purchases and services in such a diverse city — those numbers scream deep South.

People just expect much better from Hampton.

Such numbers lend weight to old-line civil rights warriors such as Rudy Langford, who says one should expect no better from Hampton's leadership, whom Langford characterizes as a bunch of "lightweights." And that's just the polite version of what Langford says.

A slight pass can be given to new council members such as George Wallace and Mayor Molly Joseph Ward, who are fresh in their seats and who have vowed to improve the numbers. While he was city manager, Wallace tried to bring some of his concerns to light, he and other insiders say. As a council member, he now has a vote and can do something about it.

Wallace can also be given praise for helping to bring the data to light by pushing the disparity study in Hampton that helped to crunch the numbers.

Apparently, Hampton is one of the few — if not the lone — city in Virginia to provide such a study. Why now? "Because it wasn't anybody's priority," Wallace said.

Councilwoman Angela Leary, on the council since 2004 questioned the validity of the numbers, saying she is "having a hard time reconciling" the figures.

Paige Washington, a councilman since 1996, understands the figures all too well.

Washington said the city's problems with being equitable to minority vendors stems from the 1970s when a Virginia Supreme Court ruling struck down minority set aside programs, which earmarked certain funds for minority and female contractors.

"It just became very frustrating, and some black businesses just gave up," Washington said.

In other cities, solid leadership and creative thinking have boosted numbers.

Tony Leverette, business development director for the Northern Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council, based in Cleveland, said: "If an organization has committed themselves to minority business development, the equity doesn't start until they show some type of increase year over year."

Wallace said Hampton is working on policies to bring about such increases.

He and others also point out that the city of Hampton has done other types of business with minority-owned companies. For instance, a public-private partnership led to the building of the $13.5-million Boo Williams Sportsplex, which will be a lasting legacy for former mayor turned council member Ross A. Kearney II.

Hampton University President William R. Harvey points out that the city also donated 51/2 acres of land for the university's Proton Therapy Institute, a cancer treatment center. The city also laid out $60,000 a year for the past three years — and $50,000 for each of the three previous years — for a business incubator at HU, he said.

The incubator will help nourish some of the types of businesses that will eventually be able to do business with the city, and Harvey said it is his plans for HU to forge a long-term partnership with the city.

But with HU just a stone's throw away from City Hall, and with Harvey building hotels and other businesses all across Hampton Roads, why hasn't HU and the city of Hampton been doing more business all along? Did you know that Harvey and HU are in the hotel business? The university has financed the Hilton Garden Inn in Virginia Beach and the Marriott at City Center in Newport News.

Harvey praised Hampton for identifying its problem. " ... they are the only city to put their money where their mouth is," Harvey said, explaining that some other Hampton Roads cities had not yet decided to fund a disparity study.

"I think the mayor and the city manager and city council pretty much have their eye on the ball."

Well, if that's the case, maybe Hampton's city leaders won't miss that giant football staring them straight in the face.

New NFL Hall of Fame inductee Bruce Smith and Virginia Hall of Fame inductee William Fuller have put forth a proposal to develop land at Buckroe Beach, one of the few locations they were allowed to swim in as kids. Fuller and Smith, both Norfolk natives who are African-American, say their parents also have fond members of coming to Buckroe during the days of segregation.

Now they have a multi-phase plan to bring housing, vibrancy and jobs to that area of Hampton — and they are a gift-wrapped opportunity to show that Hampton is not "the South." For some, this might be somewhat of a Hail Mary.

Now let's sit back and watch as Hampton drops this ball.

David Squires can be reached at 247-4639, by e-mail at or via blog at,0,2667413.column

New IL Governor wants Illinois lawmakers to vote for billions of dollars worth of construction spending by April 3

8-cent gas tax could finance state construction
By Dan Carden | Daily Herald StaffContact writer

SPRINGFIELD - Gov. Pat Quinn said Wednesday he wants Illinois lawmakers to vote for billions of dollars worth of construction spending by April 3 - a tab some say should be covered by a hike in the state's gas tax.

The governor would not say how much money Illinois should spend on road, bridge and school building, or how the state would pay for it. But some lawmakers are making the case that gas taxes should be raised 8 cents a gallon to possibly finance $7 billion worth of construction.

The state's gas tax is currently 19 cents per gallon, but Illinois drivers also pay federal tax, state sales tax and local gas taxes that vary depending on where they fill up. It adds up to an average of more than 50 cents per gallon in taxes.

McHenry County Republican state Rep. Mike Tryon said the Illinois gas tax is already unfair with the sales tax tacked on. Even higher taxes could be detrimental to transportation businesses and commuters suffering from the economic downturn.

"I think it's a very difficult decision to make when you're one of the states that has the highest gas tax in the country," Tryon said. "I think people need to think about the damage that's going to do."

State Rep. Tim Schmitz, a Batavia Republican, was similarly hesitant.

"Four dollar a gallon gasoline is still stuck in my mind. Because it's knocked down to a buck 95 today all of sudden everyone says, 'this isn't that bad.' Well it is that bad. It's a very volatile commodity," Schmitz said.

Rep. John Bradley, a Marion Democrat, is sponsoring the gas tax increase, saying people who use the roads should pay for them. House Speaker Michael Madigan supports Bradley's plan.

"We can't get the infrastructure improvements we need without paying the cost, and we can't always expect someone else to shoulder that cost," Bradley said. "If we're going to do things in government we have to have a way to pay for it."

State Sen. Kirk Dillard said he's got an open mind when it comes to raising funds to fix the state's "crumbling roads." But the Hinsdale Republican wants an exchange. He'd support raising the motor fuel tax and phasing out the state sales tax on gas.

The sales tax "goes mostly to welfare and none goes to roads, bridges and mass transit," Dillard said. The motor fuel tax is directed into transportation spending and would be a more appropriate source of construction funding, he explained.

Quinn wouldn't commit to, or rule out, a gas hike.

"I think we need to have a fair way, an understandable and clear way, and a swift way, to make sure we pay for the bonds," Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, told reporters after a closed-door meeting with Republican lawmakers.

Those Republicans have made construction spending a priority in recent years.

Apparently off the table is former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's idea of leasing the Illinois Lottery to finance a nearly $34 billion construction spending spree. Quinn said of the lottery deal, "I'm not excited about that one."

Illinois can also get an extra $6 billion from the federal government for transportation projects if the legislature approves matching funds.

"We don't want to be the pothole capital of the United States," Quinn said.

The most recent construction spending plan - Illinois FIRST - was approved in 1999 and spent $12 billion over five years largely on roads, schools and public transit. Blagojevich and legislative leaders could never work out how to pay for a new capital plan or what to spend the money on.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wage Gap Widens Again for Women- Canada

Wage gap widens again

More effort needed to make the wage gap disappear.
Dateline: Tuesday, February 03, 2009
by Elsie Hambrook for the Moncton Times and Transcript

New figures released this month showed that the difference between the average wages of women and men — the pay gap — had worsened for the second year in a row in New Brunswick. No media covered the report, but some of us heard about it.

In 2008, New Brunswick women working full- or part-time earned on average $16.46 per hour and men, $19.16 per hour. That's a difference of over 14 percent. The previous year, women were closer to men's average earnings — a difference of 12.6 percent, and the year before that, better still, 12 percent.

As the Canadian Labour Congress awareness campaign put it last fall: "Hurry! 30 percent off Women's Labour — When They're Equal, the Savings Will be Gone!" and in fine print, "Valid for most workplaces without a union."

The Canadian picture is similar and also worsened in 2008. Canadian women earned 84 percent of what men earned, $19.43 per hour compared to $23.18 for men.

The pay gap has fluctuated a lot in the past, improving and worsening, but generally it has been improving since 1997, when there was a 20 percent difference in the average hourly earnings of New Brunswick male and female workers.

Converting the earnings to hourly pay is the fairer method of comparing women's and men's relative earnings. Sometimes another measure is used, comparing the annual salaries of full-time workers.

That measure is even more depressing: the gap now hovers around 25 percent. Decades ago, in the 1970s, it hovered around 35 percent. In 2006, women working full-time all year in New Brunswick earned 75 percent of men's average earnings.

Whatever way you measure it, why is there still such a difference, especially since women have as much education as men?

Margaret Mead had part of the answer. The famous anthropologist noted in her travels studying societies around the world, "There are villages in which men fish and women weave, and ones in which women fish and men weave. But in either village, the work done by men is valued higher than the work done by women."

That's what pay equity is about — correcting that traditional bias against whatever is "women's work." New Brunswick does not have pay equity, but there are interesting signs of movement to end the "women discount".

As the Canadian Labour Congress awareness campaign put it last fall: "Hurry! 30 percent off Women's Labour — When They're Equal, the Savings Will be Gone!" and in fine print, "Valid for most workplaces without a union."

Unionized women earned about 97 percent of unionized men's earnings in New Brunswick in 2008 — $22.41 per hour compared to $23.22 per hour. Non-unionized women earned on average 80 percent of non-unionized men's average earnings in New Brunswick in 2008: $13.98 compared to $17.50 per hour.

The current New Brunswick government's platform includes extending pay equity to the private sector through legislation. We should see action on that promise soon, given that there is an election next year. The provincial government said in last fall's throne speech that it is going ahead with a pay equity law applying to all of the public sector — including hospitals and schools.

It is also heartening to know that three occupations that are especially low paid and female-dominated, today as ever — workers in child care centres, transition houses and home support services — are receiving early attention, with unbiased job evaluations under way and, we presume, salary adjustments in the near future.

Pay equity is only part of the explanation. There are a variety of factors usually blamed for the persistent gap between women's and men's earnings.

One factor is the segregation of women and men in the workplace. Women have certainly entered law and medicine and a few other areas, but men have certainly not crossed over to many non-traditional occupations and women are even losing ground in some sciences, engineering and trades. The great majority of women are still found in teaching, health, sales, clerical or service occupations, a smaller range than where men are found.

And when governments adopt big-budget economic rescue packages, as is happening now, regard must be paid to whether spending will increase inequality or else we can only fear that the pay gap will worsen again in the future. When we need to spend to get out of a recession, there are many ways of doing it.

Which leads to another part of the reason behind the pay gap. Though most women are in the labour force — even most mothers and most lone mothers — society has not changed enough to accommodate family life. So women interrupt their careers more often than men, sometimes because of sexual harassment, discrimination against childbearing women, lack of access to child care services, violence and unequal division of labour in the home. More women work part-time and legislation surrounding part-time work make it easy to exploit.

To finish on a positive note, we also learned this month that in 2008, female Community College graduates of the previous year, who were working full-time, earned on average 13 percent less than male graduates in New Brunswick, an improvement over the previous year when the gap was 20 percent.

A similar survey of 2005 graduates had found a pay gap of more than 14 percent and in 1997, female graduates of the previous year were earning 19.5 percent less than male graduates.

Elsie Hambrook is the new Chairperson of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women. Her column on women's issues will appear in the Times & Transcript every Thursday. She may be reached via e-mail at the eddress below.

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Are women on the ROAD to recovery?

Stimulus package sexist?
Story Updated: Feb 3, 2009 at 8:54 PM MST
By Callie Zanandrie

BOISE - A stimulus plan is supposed to rev-up our economy, but is there enough pink in the plan?

President Barack Obama wants his stimulus package to pay for infrastructure and road improvements.

But, will those new jobs put any women on the road to recovery?

The bulk of the stimulus program will generate jobs in construction.

I found, nationally women make up only nine percent of the work force.

Idaho has submitted a plan for a little more than 800 million dollars in federal stimulus money for projects the transportation department says are ready to go right now.

ITD said every million dollars equals 20 new jobs.

But, it turns out construction jobs are almost entirely go to men.

The Idaho Labor Department said in 2007 women were outnumbered.

More than 43,000 men held jobs in construction compared to about 8,000 women.

One woman in the industry says the opportunities are there gals just need to take them.

"With all the federal funding that's involved we have programs that encourage females to work, minority programs or training programs, the opportunity is there, there's no question, but perhaps the word isn't out that's where we need to work harder," said Jayme Coonce, and ITD Highway Engineer.

The head of Boise state's Economic Department.

Don Holley said the construction jobs may only be temporary and down the road better highways will mean a stronger economy overall.

Women also outnumber men in many fields Idaho's Labor Department said out of the 73,000 health care and social services jobs in the state, the vast majority are held by women.

Women also make up more than half of restaurant, hotel and retail jobs.

See Video

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Introducing FASHION for women in construction: Doe Work Wear

Gear shift
Woman's clothing line stands up to work, style needs

February 3, 2009

You've never seen a runway show like this before. At its next meeting on Feb. 11, National Association of Women in Construction introduces the Chicago-based Doe Work Wear Corp.

Lauren Bartkowski created D.W.W., a fashion line for female laborers. The Oak Forest resident worked for Walsh Construction through college. And though she worked in the office, she said she tired of wearing oversized, bland-colored work wear.

Oak Forest resident Lauren Bartkowski shows off the clothing she designed for her new line of women’s clothing, Doe Work Wear.(Joseph P. Meier/SouthtownStar)
Doe Work Wear, a fashion line created by Oak Forest resident Lauren Bartkowski, was featured in the Chicago Is…Red Hot 2008 Fashion Show last fall at Northerly Island in Chicago.

See the Doe Work Wear line
Ladies, join women from around the area for a special one-night-only show of D.W.W. clothing, beginning with dinner at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 11 at Nickobee's, 10301 Southwest Highway, Chicago Ridge. The cost is $35. There will be a raffle for clothing and gift certificates.
Reservations are due to Julie Tiu by Feb. 7. Information and registration is with Tiu at (224) 616-1257 or

"I was always getting free hoodies and jackets from companies," Bartkowski said. "Even when I'd order the women's stuff in small sizes, they were always too big. I ended up giving the stuff away."

When she went out with friends after work, Bartkowski said she always "looked frumpier" than women who had come from offices, wearing slacks and high heels.

Armed with a business degree and a lifelong desire to be a fashion designer, in 2006 she began organizing her thoughts and creating a business model. Then she started designing.

"I don't want it to be over-the-top feminine," she said. "It looks rugged and feminine at the same time."

D.W.W. products offer a design that incorporates functionality, safety and style for female laborers. The company said its products will stand up to the most demanding labor tasks, yet are designed for the female body.

These women can toss their oversized and uncomfortable menswear. D.W.W.'s collection comes in feminine silhouettes and colors, with simple patchwork and piping details. It's just enough to be feminine, but not enough to interfere with the physical labor these women do every day.

"The fit is unmistakably female. The fabrics are outdoor fabrics – twills, cargo canvas, heavy deck material – but we've done them in lighter colors like pistachio and lighter gray, with pink and purple linings and contrast colors."

Though the line is made for women in the construction, industrial and blue collar trades, the clothes are also great for home project "do-it-yourselfers" and even die-hard gardeners.

Bartkowski is also an owner of a specialty contracting company, Bartkowski & McDonald Firestopping Services. She said the intention of the line reaches past style and function.

"It's important to me that whatever careers women choose, even if it's unconventional, that they know people are out there to support them," she said. "The main message is: We have to stick together."

Carole Sharwarko can be reached at or (708) 633-6872.,020309style.article

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