Saturday, April 24, 2010

Labor Department includes Women in green jobs training initiatives report

Labor Department releases report on green jobs training initiatives


This Earth Day, the U.S. Department of Labor is turning green jobs into golden opportunities safely by working with its community, labor and industry partners to prepare the workforce for high growth fields while building a greener planet. The Labor Department today released a report to demonstrate the programs being supported to promote green job growth. Additionally, the department is launching a campaign called "Turning Green to Gold, Safely" to collect stories from the public about how contributions have been made to green job creation. Entries will be submitted online at over the next year and they will be featured in a best practices guide on Earth Day 2011.

"A changing job market and the evolving clean energy economy are creating new and exciting prospects for workers. At the U.S. Department of Labor, we will continue our efforts to ensure men and women across the nation have the tools they need to access these opportunities," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Turning green to gold — with a constant focus on safety — just makes sense. It means jobs that have livable wages, safe working conditions and worker protections."

Over the past year, the Department of Labor has launched a series of initiatives to support and promote green job creation. Highlights from today's report appear below. To view the full report, visit

Greening DOL Headquarters and Beyond — The Labor Department has signaled a challenge to "green" its buildings, including its nearly 2 million square foot headquarters, the Frances Perkins Building in Washington, D.C. The department's Job Corps programs and students are also greening the buildings on 123 Job Corps campuses nationwide.

Greening Recovery Act Funds — The Labor Department's Employment and Training Administration has awarded $490 million in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act-funded green jobs training and $227 million in health care and high growth grants, which included several grants related to clean energy.

Not Just Green, but Safe — The Labor Department's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, alongside its Employment and Training Administration, is leading a department-wide team to assist all of the agencies in coordinating their efforts to secure access to safe and sustainable green jobs for all workers.

Women and Green Jobs — In 2009, the department's Women's Bureau convened more than 30 roundtables across the country to discuss the role of women in green jobs and, as a result, developed nine green jobs training projects for women. The bureau has partnered with key groups to develop a "Women's Guide to Green Jobs" to be released this summer.

Vets and Green Jobs — In 2009, the department's Veterans Employment and Training Services issued the first training grants through its Veterans Workforce Investment Program designed to train and place veterans in green jobs and industries. The second competition of this type is now open.

Green Job Opportunities for People with Disabilities — The department's Office of Disability Employment Policy hosted a roundtable in December 2009 titled "Strategies for Including People with Disabilities in the Green Jobs Talent Pipeline." The roundtable united leaders to develop recommendations to ensure that people with disabilities have local green job opportunities.

Job Corps, Youth and Green — Building on Recovery Act funds for construction, rehabilitation, acquisition and operations, Job Corps has implemented "green" student training programs and commenced construction projects at more than 65 centers, helping to create and retain jobs. Job Corps is also conducting an Earth Day Every Day campaign from April 19 through 23 to raise environmental awareness among students nationwide.

Walsh gives boost to Woman Contractor who gives boost to Tradeswomen

Subcontractor gets boost to contractor

POSTED: Thursday, April 22, 2010 at 04:11 PM PT
BY: Justin Carinci
Tags: ,
Walsh Construction is helping build the skills of small contractor Great Kate Construction, letting Great Kate serve as general contractor on the Celilo Court Apartments renovation. The experience will allow Great Kate to bid million-dollar-plus projects as a general contractor.

Walsh Construction is helping build the skills of small contractor Great Kate Construction, letting it serve as general contractor on the Celilo Court Apartments renovation. The experience will allow Great Kate to bid million-dollar-plus projects as a general contractor. (Photo by Dan Carter/DJC)

Kathryn Merritt had remodeled enough homes that the Celilo Court Apartments project didn’t scare her. “I could do these buildings in my sleep,” she said.

However, Merritt, owner of Great Kate Construction, hadn’t counted on the paperwork and administrative hoops required in public contracting, “I’m going to print up my own MBA when this job’s done,” she said.

Great Kate is general contractor for that 28-unit apartment complex overhaul in Northeast Portland, worth more than $1 million.

The project came from a unique arrangement between Walsh Constructionand Great Kate. Walsh won a contract with the Housing Authority of Portland to serve as construction manager-general contractor on five apartment complex remodel jobs.

For one of those, Celilo Court, Walsh turned the project over to Great Kate. It’s a vote of confidence, said Dan Snow, senior project manager for Walsh; he knows his company’s reputation with the housing authority is on the line.

“We’re ultimately responsible for everything on the project,” Snow said. “They know they can come back to us on anything.

“We hold (Great Kate) to pretty high standards - the same standards we’re held to,” he said.

Great Kate has done the type of work on the project - new floors, furnaces, water heaters, kitchens - many times. “It’s not a huge construction leap for her,” Snow said. “Administrative, yes. Construction-wise, it’s not too far out of her box.”

Walsh has twice worked with small contractors like Great Kate, helping them develop skills so they can grow from subcontractor to general contractor. When she’s done with Celilo Court, Merritt can bid as a general contractor on housing authority or other projects, which she plans to do.

Kathryn Merritt, owner of Great Kate Construction, discusses work at the Celilo Court Apartments project in Northeast Portland. Great Kate is the general contractor on the project, with oversight by Walsh Construction.

Kathryn Merritt, owner of Great Kate Construction, discusses work at the Celilo Court Apartments project in Northeast Portland. (Photo by Dan Carter/DJC)

That puts Walsh in the position of boosting companies that will compete against Walsh for projects. “That is a concern,” Snow said. “But giving smaller companies, target businesses, minority- and women-owned companies the opportunity to succeed … more than outweighs the risks of having them compete against us.”

For the Celilo Court project, Merritt considers herself as much of a mentor as a mentee. “Because we have work and other people don’t, we have a responsibility to share it,” she said.

Merritt hired out-of-work contractors and sought to make sure her subcontractors use a diverse workforce. She also pays special attention to apprentices, ensuring they have opportunities to grow.

Carrie Davis, an apprentice carpenter for the Celilo Court project, said female apprentices at other jobs get stuck doing cleanup or driving trucks. “I talk to my friends and they always say, ‘I’m the only woman on the job,’ ” Davis said.

“That’s never the case here.”

Merritt, who started working as a carpenter in 1979, still resists pigeonholing. She wants to do good work, period, and not just good work for a minority-, woman- and emerging-small-business firm.

“I don’t really want to be known as a really good MWESB contractor, just like I never wanted to be known as a really good female carpenter,” she said. “We don’t need that diminutive attached to what we do.”

Part of Merritt’s training goal is to encourage talented tradeswomen to be vocal. “I have to teach them to speak up and be assertive, to say ‘Hey! I’ve got the other end of something.’ ”

Another piece is making connections. “Who you know socially affects who you can get a job from,” Merritt said.

She first connected with Walsh by meeting one of the company’s carpenters on a Habitat for Humanity job. That led to a house remodel job, and eventually Celilo Court.

Doing good work and going through established channels isn’t always enough, Merritt said. Some contractors prequalify for agency lists, register as MWESB firms and still don’t get work.

“Some of these things aren’t as valuable as taking the project manager out for a beer,” she said.

Washington DOT to hold a roundtable for minority and women contractors on April 27, 2010

WSDOT and FHWA to hold a community roundtable for minority and women contractors

Date: Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Jackie Bayne, WSDOT Office of Equal Opportunity, 360-705-7084, or toll-free 1-888-259-9143

OLYMPIA – Minority and women-owned businesses that desire to work on state transportation construction projects are encouraged to join Washington State Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration officials, along with state lawmakers for a community roundtable in Shoreline.

The meeting will be held Tuesday, April 27, from 6 – 8 p.m. at the Shoreline City Hall Council Chambers, 17500 Midvale Avenue, Shoreline, WA.

The community roundtable is an opportunity for minority and women contractors to voice concerns and discuss barriers to participating on WSDOT construction projects. The goal of the roundtable is to bring all parties together to find solutions.

Topics that will be covered during the roundtable include:

  • Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) goals
  • Barriers to participation
  • DBE support services program
  • U.S. Department of Transportation’s bonding assistance program
  • WSDOT’s DBE plan
  • Upcoming projects
  • DBE certification

Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) is a program intended to increase the opportunities for minority and women-owned small businesses to participate in federally-funded projects. WSDOT provides training and business support services to help DBEs become successful in doing business with the agency.

The roundtable is free of charge, however space is limited and reservations are required by Friday, April 23. To reserve a spot, call toll-free 1-888-259-9143 or e-mail

# # #

Canada's Construction Sector Council hosts symposium to discuss lack of women in trades

The Canadian construction industry is taking steps to address the longstanding shortage of women in the industry as it grapples with an ongoing labour shortage.

An initial step in that campaign was the first-ever industry-sponsored symposium addressing barriers to women in the industry and possible solutions.

“What we were looking at was to position this issue as a leadership challenge,” said Rosemary Sparks, senior director of planning and development with the Construction Sector Council (CSC).

“Clearly, it stands to reason that leadership has a role to play because we are talking about a cultural change.”

About 50 people from a wide cross-section of industry — including women’s groups, trades women, business, labour, construction associations, government and owners — participated in the one-day event in Toronto.

“The idea of the symposium is when people leave the room and they go back to their place of work, they look at how they can make a change in their environment,” said Sparks.

The Canadian construction industry is taking steps to expand the domestic labour pool by improving access to industry careers for older workers, Aboriginal people, immigrants and women.

“The symposium was unique, because this time it was initiated by industry,” said George Gritziotis, executive director of the Construction Sector Council (CSC).

“The industry was saying we have to take a look at the systematic issues that need to be addressed. We talk a lot about women in the construction industry, but the reality is that the number of women on tools and in professional occupations has not changed dramatically.”

According to a report produced by the CSC, which also focused on the state of women in construction, the numbers of women in the construction industry and their participation rate has not grown much over time.

The number of women in registered trades apprenticeships in Canada more than tripled (from 12,480 to 38,070) between 1996 and 2007.

But while the total number of women registering in trades apprenticeship has gone up, they still represent a very small — albeit growing — percentage of total apprentices.

The failure of education to target girls for careers in construction was cited as a key reason why women’s participation in construction is not increasing more significantly.

Hard physical labour, working outside, the cyclical nature of work, the hours, travel and discrimination against women also discourages girls and women from choosing construction careers, experts say.

Another reason there are not more women in the construction trades is the high rate of turnover among female workers.

The CSC is using its report and the symposium as the foundation for producing a strategy that will identify and document industry’s best practices in recruitment, apprenticeship training and education, hiring/employment, and the workplace.

One possible recommendation is to increase pre-apprenticeship programming to prepare more women to enter the trades and expose them to construction workplaces before career training.

This would involve work-hardening experiences to prepare women to be more fully equipped to succeed in gender-segregated construction workplaces.

At another level, there is a need to provide employment placement services, ongoing supports and mentoring from women in the construction trades.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

EQUAL PAY DAY 2010 - Study Finds Women Earn Less Than Men For The Same Occupation

On Equal Pay Day, Study Finds Women Earn Less Than Men - Whether They Do the Same or Different Jobs
Whether they work in the same occupations as men or work in different occupations, women's median earnings are lower than men's, according to a new analysis by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR). Using the most recent data for full-time workers released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics the study finds that there are only four occupations, out of the 108 occupations with enough men and women to estimate earnings for both groups, where women earn more than men. In the 104 others, women's median earnings are less.

The occupation where women have the highest earnings compared with men is 'dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers' (the female/male earnings ratio is 111.1 percent, based on median weekly earnings in 2009 that were $400 for women, $360 for men), an occupation that ranks among the ten lowest paid occupations for men, with average earnings for both men and women well below median earnings for all workers.

The pay gap is widest for 'physicians and surgeons,' an occupation that ranks among the Ten Highest Paid Occupations for both men and women; the female/male earnings ratio is 64.2 percent, based on median weekly earnings of $1,182 for women, and $1,914 for men).

The data show strong occupational segregation - women working in occupations primarily done by women, and men in occupations primarily done by men. The share of men and women who worked in 'traditional occupations' (where their sex accounts for at least 75% of workers) fell slightly in 2009- but still characterizes the jobs of four of ten women, and over four of ten men; the change since 2008 is likely due to the recession; job losses were particularly severe in predominantly male sectors like construction. Compared with men, women are slightly more likely to work in nontraditional occupations (where the other gender are at least 75 percent of the workforce) - 5.5 percent of women compared with 4.5 percent of men. Typically occupations where women are in the minority have higher average earnings than occupations with a high share of women.

Historical data on occupational segregation since 1972, based on the Index of Dissimilarity, shows that until the mid 1990s, occupations became more integrated. Yet since the mid 1990s there has been no further progress. We are still as unlikely to see female carpenters, and mechanical engineers or male Pre-school and kindergarten teachers, as we were 25 years ago.

A Note on the Calculation of the Wage Gap
The weekly gender wage gap in 2009 was 19.8 percent (reflecting a female/male earnings ratio of 80.2 percent, based on median full-time weekly earnings of $657 for women, and $819 for men). This is marginally lower than the weekly gender wage gap in 2008 of 20.1 percent (or earnings ratio of 79.9 percent). (The annual earnings gap for 2008 was 22.9 in 2008; annual data for 2009 are not yet available).

View the Fact Sheet here:
IWPR Media Citations on Equal Pay Day
In recognition of Equal Pay Day, national media outlets use IWPR's research to spotlight the gender wage gap and wage gap by occupation. Here are a couple of samples:
by Allanlyn Censky
"CEO, pharmacist and lawyer are among the 10 most lucrative job titles for women, according to the study released Tuesday by the Institute for Women's Policy Research. But while women in those positions earned median pay topping $100,000 a year, that was just about 75% of what men with the same job titles earned."
TIME Magazine online
by Laura Fitzpatrick
"Skeptics who deem the 77% estimate too optimistic also note that the figure only counts women working full-time (35 hours a week or more, for the full year) and doesn't account for the fact that women are far more likely to take time off to start a family or work part-time while rearing one. Over a period of 15 years, according to a 2004 study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR), a full 52% of women in the prime earning age range of 26 to 59 go through at least one full calendar year earning nothing at all, compared to just 16% of men."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A new report finds union construction jobs benefits workers, their families, and entire communities

The Socio-Economic Impacts of
Construction Unionization
in Massachusetts
Maria Figueroa, Cornell ILR
Jeff Grabelsky, Cornell ILR
March 2010

Study: Union Construction Jobs Help Economy

by James Parks, Apr 15, 2010

A new study shows union construction jobs not only provide workers with a good middle-class income, but the benefits extend to the communities and states where they live.

The report, “The Socio-Economic Impacts of Construction Unionization in Massachusetts,” by Maria Figueroa and Jeff Grabelsky of Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, found the earnings of union construction workers in Massachusetts added $4.6 billion overall to the Bay State economy in 2007.

Says Mary Vogel, executive director of The Construction Institute, which released the study:

This study confirms what we already knew to be true-unionization in the construction industry not only creates middle class career opportunities in the building trades for Massachusetts residents, but results in significant economic benefits for the Commonwealth and the local communities in which our members live and work.

While many employers are pushing down wages and benefits, the authors found that union construction wages are helping hold up standards. For example, Massachusetts union construction workers earn an average of $13 more per hour than nonunion workers. When benefits are included, they average $28.35 more per hour than their nonunion counterparts. Those wages generate countless benefits for the Massachusetts economy, resulting in more than $2 billion in additional income for building trades’ members and a total income gain of $1.74 billion for all Massachusetts families.

With state economies across the country in a tailspin, union construction wages helped boost Massachusetts’ economy. At the same time, nonunion construction workers added to the state’s social and economic costs. Nonunion construction workers have mostly inadequate or virtually non-existent health care coverage, which shifts the cost of their care to taxpayers.

Writing in Daily Kos, The Electrical Worker says:

Anti-union groups, like Associated Builders and Contractors, routinely denounce union labor for its higher wages, but the study finds that nonunion labor isn’t necessarily cost-effective.

He quotes the study:

There are economic and social costs associated with the lower quality of the training provided to nonunion workers, and the consequent higher number of occupational injuries they endure….Labor cost savings, however, can translate into costs being shifted onto taxpayers and society as a whole, when employers fail to pay appropriate levels of payroll taxes and workers’ compensation premiums.

The study also found:

  • Employers often deliberately misclassify nonunion construction employees to pay them lower wages, which results in millions lost in state income and payroll taxes.
  • Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) records for the Massachusetts construction industry reveal that 88 percent of the violations between 2004 and 2009 were committed by nonunion contractors.

To read the full report, click here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

How much of this public money is going to put women and people of color to work? -MnDOT

Making MnDOT hire more women, people of color

April 15, 2010

Earlier this month, the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced asummer road construction season containing 283 projects worth $1.3 billion in state funding.

So, how much of that public money is going to put people to work who are women or from communities of color?

According to MnDOT, the state transportation agency was not able last year to meet even its own modest goal of making sure 8.75 percent of its contracts went to people who weren't white males.

Instead, it ended up sharing that public funding with contractors whose workforce contained only 6.59 percent nonwhite employees.

Enter SF 2585 from Sen. Linda Higgins, DFL-Minneapolis, and HF 3099 from Rep. Bobby Joe Champion, DFL-Minneapolis.

In their original form, these bills would have required the Transportation Commissioner to include in every bid contract a goal for hiring contractors and workers who meet federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise definitions, and require contract bidders to note on their bids what percentage of their workforce comes from that pool of talent.

If they don't meet the goal, or can't show why they deserve a waiver, MnDOT wouldn't be able to give them the contract. Even if they receive a waiver, a contractor who gets the contract but doesn't meet the goal would be penalized financially.

"We are committed to getting MnDOT to attain their goals of hiring construction companies owned by women and people of color," Higgins said at a recent hearing on the bill. "Some contractors have exceeded those goals. Others can't manage to get their workforces to look like the people of this state."

However, in these tight budget times, the bill would have potentially cost more tax dollars to enforce. So in a Senate Finance Committee hearing this week, Higgins agreed to water down the bill to let a collaborative of volunteers working with MnDOT to improve its hiring of minority and women contractors and employees figure it out and report back to the Legislature next year.

The modified bill is headed for a floor vote in the Senate. An undiluted House bill has yet to come before the House Finance Committee for approval.

Lawrence Schumacher's picture
Lawrence Schumacher

Lawrence Schumacher ( is a freelance journalist with 12+ years covering Minnesota communities, government, politics and elections.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Carpenters get college credit for apprentice work


Carpenters get credit for apprentice work

Monday, April 12th 2010, 4:43 PM

Alex Johnson doesn't crumble working under often brutal conditions, erecting walls, joining girders and welding steel as a carpenter.

But his first day of college terrified him.

"I was scared as hell," said the 33-year-old Bronx resident. "I didn't think I could do it."

Johnson enrolled last September in a special two-year-old program organized through the New York City District Council of Carpenters that helps members earn associate's and bachelor's degrees.

Students take classes in Tribeca at the State University of New York 's Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies, a program that focuses on educating trade workers.

Carpenters always have been able to attend the school. But now apprenticeship classes taken at the Council of Carpenters Labor Technical College count for as much as 32 college credits, so most students matriculate with half of their degree already completed.

"The incentive of the 32 credits was huge," said Johnson, a carpenter for the past 11 years. "In my eyes, it would be stupid for me not to do it. If I'm giving it to you on a silver platter and you don't take it, that's dumb."

Mike Merrill, the dean of the Van Arsdale Center, said it was high time that technical colleges received college accreditation.

"Wage earners are disadvantaged in that their apprenticeship programs don't usually count for college credit," said Merrill. "Dancers and painters, for instance, their work is recognized. I don't see the difference, except in ideology."

The carpenters union is getting each of its apprenticeship programs evaluated for college credit by the National Program on Noncollegiate Sponsored Instruction, a state-run group that accredits educational programs conducted by noncollegiate organizations.

The millwrighting, cabinetmaking, and building and construction carpentry programs have been approved. College credit will soon be considered for dockbuilders, piledrivers, and timbermen.

The carpenters union is making a concentrated push to educate more of its members.

"The union movement needs college-educated leaders at all levels, including the rank-and-file. It cannot effectively represent or be advocates for the interest of working people and their families without confident, articulate, well-educated leaders who know who they are, what they believe in, and what they have to do to secure their fair share," union promotional material states.

So far, 30 students have enrolled in the program, and the first is set to graduate with a bachelor's degree in June.
At the Van Arsdale campus, carpenters take a range of general education courses, including several that focus specifically on the history of the labor movement.

"You go to college not to leave the union, but to lead it," Merrill said.
Like all other college students, one of the greatest burdens for carpenters is financial.

Classes at SUNY cost $207 per credit, so tuition will set back students at least $6,600. The carpenters union currently does not offer scholarships.
Johnson made it through his first day of school, and now says the associate's degree he's pursuing is just the first step of his college education. After he graduates, he is interested in construction management or becoming a union organizer.

"When I'm done, I'm going to continue to go to school," he said. "I'm going to go all the way. Maybe Ph.D. Go for it. Why the hell not?

"My biggest mistake was putting a limit on myself."

Friday, April 2, 2010

DOL announces nearly $4 billion in 2010 for WIA and WPA allotments

News Release

ETA News Release: [03/31/2010]
Contact Name: Lina Garcia or Mike Trupo
Phone Number: (202) 693-4661 or x3414
Release Number: 10-407-NAT

US Department of Labor announces nearly $4 billion in 2010 Workforce Investment Act and Wagner-Peyser Act allotments

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today announced 2010 allotments to states and outlying areas under the Workforce Investment Act and Wagner-Peyser Act. The nearly $4 billion in funds will be used to help Americans get back to work through high quality employment and training services, which are delivered largely through the department's national network of One-Stop Career Centers.

"These funds, and the employment and training services that they support, are a cornerstone of our nationwide effort to prepare America's workers for good jobs — the kind that spur the economy and pay family-supporting wages," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "As they seek out careers in promising local industries, workers need access to high quality training and employment services. I am pleased that this funding will help support those efforts."

Americans can access services provided through this funding via One-Stop Career Centers. To find a local center, visit or call 877-348-0502 or TTY 877-348-0501. Online resources to support job searches, career exploration and planning for education and training can be found at

A chart reflecting funding amounts by state and outlying area follows this news release. Questions from the public regarding these allotments and planning requirements may be directed to the appropriate regional office of the Labor Department's Employment and Training Administration. A list of contacts is available at

Guidance to states on the use of these funds and the breakdown of funding for each of the three Workforce Investment Act programs (youth, dislocated workers and adults) is available at

For information on the range of Department of Labor employment and training programs, visit

WIA Youth, Adults and Dislocated Workers
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