Saturday, January 30, 2010
2008 Study Revisted:Study reveals that Women and Minorities are least likely to benefit from construction jobs
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
EMPLOYMENT: 50/50 lacking in gender shares of burden, benefits
Published: January 23, 2010 11:56 pmStaff Reports
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
By the numbers, the women of Western New York cannot be called “equal” to men.
According to a new study by the University at Buffalo Regional Institute, from the time they’re teen-agers, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, women are tugged down a few rungs on the socioeconomic ladder.
Women are half the work force but comprise well less than half the leadership in workplaces: 4 percent in banking, 4 percent in computer companies, 5 percent in engineering, 10 percent in insurance, 11 percent in general contracting, 13 percent in law firms, and 14 percent of the 99 largest companies generally.
At work, women are over-represented in low-paying, gender-traditional occupations such as personal care and health care support — and represented barely or not at all in skilled trades such as carpentry and electrical work.
Three of the top 10 jobs for women generate median salaries of less than $30,000, while all of the top jobs for men generate more.
Even when they’re working in the same fields, women make less money than men. The wage gap ranges from about $9,000 less for office jobs to nearly $20,000 less in management.
Statistically, gender gaps start forming by the time girls go to middle school and follow women all the way to their twilight years.
Since women are half or more of the population, and also are the primary or sole caregivers to children, the costs to society can safely be described as staggering.
Also among UBRI’s findings in Western New York:
• About one in 11 girls ages 15 to 19 is afflicted with chlamydia or gonorrhea, triple the state average rate of these sexually transmitted diseases.
• In Erie and Niagara counties alone, in 2007, about 2,200 teenage girls became pregnant. National statistics indicate about 60 percent of girls who become mothers before they’re 18 won’t finish high school.
• Sixty-six percent of impoverished families are headed up by women. The women number about 17,000; and their 32,000 children are statistically less likely to succeed in grade school and beyond. One of the greatest challenges for single working moms is landing affordable, certified day care. In Erie County, the average cost is about $10,000 per child, per year; in Niagara County it’s about $8,000 per year.
• Between mid-2008 and mid-2009, 13 women from Erie and Niagara counties were murdered by their intimate partner. Intimate partner violence was inflicted on 5,400 women, costing an estimated $78 million in lost wages and productivity, medical costs, police and ambulance services, mental health and social services and property damage. Nationally, it’s believed one in every four women is abused, physically, sexually, emotionally or financially, by an intimate partner.
• Women are more than half of all working professionals but don’t advance toward the top of their fields at the same rate. About 36 percent are managers and 24 percent are top executives in both the public and private sectors. Women are twice as likely as men to work part-time due to family obligations; and Western New York employers have a mixed record of offering work-family “supports” such as flextime, compressed workweeks and health insurance for part-timers.
• Women live longer than men and thus are more susceptible to the physical, mental and financial issues of aging. Notably, Western New York has an oversupply of nursing home beds and, at the same time, shortages of assisted living and adult day care slots. Nursing home care costs about $100,000 per person, per year.
Training program in Muskegon guarantees paid jobs in energy efficient building techniques
January 26, 2010, 5:05AM
Photos by Darren Breen | The Muskegon Chronicle
MUSKEGON HEIGHTS - Talonda Sullivan, 34, of Muskegon Heights is a recently unemployed machinist who would like to be a skilled electrician to help support her three children.
Marquis Brewer, 20, recently transferred from Kalamazoo Valley Community College to Muskegon Community College and believes if he learns a construction trade, he can get a “good job” and help his mother.
Muskegon’s Jeff Ross, 48, was laid off from Resource Industries in October 2008 and hasn’t found work since.
Recently, the three students embarked on a new career training apprenticeship program they hope will open more doors of job opportunities. Unlike most other local training programs, it assures a paid spot in a two-year construction apprenticeship with HER COmpany, a unionized construction company, after completing the required nine weeks of training.
This is key, according to HER COmpany owner Phyllis Watson-Loudermill.
“The tool we want to give is the ability to sustain themselves. What we’re doing is providing the training ground,” she said. “We want to build a workforce.”
The ongoing program runs for a total of two years, and begins with a nine-week class at Muskegon Heights Workforce Development Center, 160 E. Barney. Pupils get a crash course in everything from math and computer skills to basic carpentry, under instructors from Muskegon Community College.
The emphasis is in the areas of ECAR, or Energy Conservation Apprenticeship Readiness, and RCAR, Road Construction Apprenticeship Readiness. Afterward, students are placed in on-the-job training with Watson-Loudermill’s company.
“Typically, there’s a low success rate after the completion of these programs because there are not employers willing to take a risk with the students,” said Watson-Loudermill.
To qualify for the program, screened applicants must:
• Be unemployed with a high school diploma or equivalent;
• Have a valid driver’s license;
• Agree to completing a medical physical in addition to random drug tests.
Students are predominantly the disenfranchised, minorities and women — groups which tend to be underrepresented in the construction trades in the Muskegon area, according to partner Gloria White Gardner, longtime community civil rights activist and owner of G.W. Gardner and Associates Consulting.
The program has great potential and is long overdue, she said.
|For More Information|
To inquire about the program, e-mail email@example.com.
“Urban core neighborhoods have become the areas of concentrated poverty and often residents turn to crime and drugs,” she said. “Although many young men have had classes during high school, none of this training has been enough to provide them with the skills needed to access on-the-job training to enter the work market with a certification; or enabled them to become journeymen with the unions.
“A cycle of hopelessness and feelings of disenfranchisement continues with another generation of young men and women who truly seek employment, yet find themselves without the education that would qualify them to work in our current construction trades arena.”
The apprenticeship is made possible through federal and state grants from the Michigan Department of Labor, Energy and Economic Growth and Michigan Works with partnerships with schools and other public and private entities.
ECAR is designated by the state to serve applicants from Muskegon Heights, which it deemed a “City of Promise.” RCAR is for eligible participants from both Muskegon and Muskegon Heights, said Judy Kell, interim manager at the county’s Department of Employment and Training.
Collaboration and partnership, according to Watson-Loudermill, were crucial to getting this off the ground.
The effort is a community effort and a natural fit for Muskegon Community College, said Tom O’Brien, director of MCC’s Lakeshore Business and Industrial Service Center.
“This involves city government, the educational system, and other parts of the community on so many levels, so this is a big deal,” said O’Brien. “We can do all the training we want, but if there’s no place to go for employment, the training won’t pay off, but that is what Phyllis is providing through her company.
“The construction trades are a little flat right now, but my projection is by the end of 2010, there will be a pretty good need for this area in the job market,” he said.
Other partners include Muskegon County, Muskegon/Oceana Consortium-Michigan Works, Muskegon Construction Company, WayPoint Academy, Muskegon Public Schools, the city of Muskegon, G.W. Gardner & Associates Consulting, Constructive Community Builders in Benton Harbor, local unions, and a male mentoring program called Iamgodsson (I am God’s son).
Kell said there is no other program in this field nor this area that offers a paid apprenticeship of this kind.
“It is important because it targets residents of both cities, minorities and women, to get in nontraditional fields and develop expertise in these areas,” Kell said.
Watson-Loudermill has envisioned this program for the past several years.
In 2003-04, she was involved in a similar effort. White Gardner and Trinity Village Nonprofit Housing Corporation sponsored a pre-apprenticeship program initiative for construction trades in which Watson’s company was a partner and collaborator for on-the-job training at several sites. The program was sponsored by Gary Post and Muskegon Construction Company, the Community Foundation for Muskegon County and the University of Miami.
Co-owner and partner Renee Rasberry, who also is co-owner of Rasberry Bail Bonding Agency in Grand Rapids and Muskegon, said she, Watson-Loudermill and White Gardner are willing to help all they can — from an encouraging word to a ride to resume help — to ensure success for the students.
“The whole idea is to share your gifts with someone else. That is the foundation of what we’re doing,” said Rasberry.
Ross, who is single with no children, is glad to leave machinist work and temporary jobs behind, though his company has called back some workers.
Some workers are being called back, but Ross had rather learn a new skill.
“I’m not interested in going back. I don’t want to make $8.50 an hour at this point in my life,” he said. Ross said he is ready to try something new.
“We just have to see where it goes from here,” he said. “I’m ready for the last career of my life, I hope.”
The new college, tentatively named the College for Working Families, will seek to “expand job opportunities for its members by providing education and retraining in a way that’s affordable and accessible,” the founders said.
The college will be the first and only accredited degree-granting online institution devoted exclusively to educating union members. It plans to begin offering courses this fall, including ones on criminal justice, education, business and allied health sciences.
“We’re working on a survey to send out to the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s members to find out what they’d be interested in,” said William Scheuerman, president of the National Labor College, a 41-year-old college for union members based in Silver Spring, Md.
Mr. Scheuerman said the online college would charge about $200 a credit, competitive with community colleges and far cheaper than most four-year colleges and for-profit schools.
He said the labor college selected the Princeton Review and its Penn Foster subsidiary as partners because of their expertise in distance learning.
In 1890, Penn Foster, based in Scranton, Pa., first provided mail correspondence safety courses to coal miners. Penn Foster now provides online courses to 220,000 students, and a large part of its operations are unionized.
Michael Perik, president of the Princeton Review, said the College for Working Families would emphasize remedial learning and retention far more than for-profit online colleges do.
“We enter this venture with the strong belief that not enough attention has been paid to student remediation and retention,” Mr. Perik said. “If you’re a 30-year-old worker who is going back to school, you might have to relearn a number of high-school-type programs. If you’re going to succeed in an allied health care job, you might need to relearn some of your middle-school mathematics to succeed.”
He said the A.F.L.-C.I.O. wanted to focus on student retention.
“If you have a two-year program and can keep students through the first six months, the difference in terms of their likelihood to succeed is exponential,” Mr. Perik said.
Mr. Scheuerman said workers whose labor unions were not in the A.F.L.-C.I.O., like members of the Teamsters and service employees’ unions, could also take courses in the new college. They would probably have to pay a premium above what A.F.L.-C.I.O. members pay, he said.
Mr. Scheuerman said the online college would first offer bachelor’s degrees and would ultimately offer associate’s and master’s degrees.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Union Members Summary
- Union Membership Technical Note
- Table 1. Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by selected characteristics
- Table 2. Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by union affiliation and selected characteristics
- Table 3. Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by occupation and industry
- Table 4. Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by union affiliation, occupation, and industry
- Table 5. Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by state
- Access to historical data for the tables of the Union Membership News Release
- HTML version of the entire news release
Minority firms benefit from CityCenter experience
Fri, Jan 22, 2010 (3 a.m.)
Minority- and women-owned construction companies are sad to see work winding down at CityCenter, but they haven’t forgotten the benefits they reaped from the project and hope to build on that in the future.
About 200 firms helped build CityCenter, gaining more than $700 million in construction and design contracts over the past five years. It was part of a diversity initiative by MGM Mirage and Perini Building Co., general contractor of CityCenter, to ensure minority-owned firms had a chance to bid on the project.
Many companies took advantage of the opportunity to grow their companies, gain valuable experience and position themselves for major construction projects down the road.
Among them is Las Vegas-based A-1 Concrete Cutting & Demolition, which has done $10 million worth of concrete-cutting and drilling work in addition to excavation and rock removal at CityCenter.
A-1 has operated in Las Vegas for 23 years and has worked for MGM Mirage on projects such as MGM Grand and Bellagio. MGM’s mandate that minority-owned firms participate has been a big plus for A-1, owner Joe Montero said.
“Without this program, we would not have had the (ability) to meet other contractors,” Montero said. “They would do what they normally did, which was use somebody they are used to working with.”
Before CityCenter construction started, A-1 had about 50 to 60 workers. At the height of construction, it had as many as 120. As it winds down work at Crystals, the retail center, it has 42 employees.
Montero also said his company is returning to its roots and trying to do more retrofitting. When hotels don’t have money to build, they remodel rooms instead, he said. “It’s not as lucrative, but it works,” he added.
“Life goes on. There will be other things. We are reaching out to do more government work. That seems to be where the money is.”
Even though the work is nearly finished, many companies that were lured to Las Vegas by CityCenter will continue to have a presence in the city. Dallas-based Azteca Steel parlayed setting up shop in Las Vegas to work on CityCenter to other construction projects.
The general contractor and steel company that built the pedestrian crossing over Harmon Avenue and metal railing and other ornamental metal work at CityCenter has also worked at Planet Hollywood and other casinos and at Queensridge. It will be wrapping up its $30 million in work at CityCenter by the end of the month.
“It has been a great opportunity for us, and now we are established in Las Vegas and looking at other projects,” said Dave Rodney, manager of the Las Vegas office of Azteca, a Hispanic-owned firm. “Without this work, we probably would not have come to Las Vegas. It gave us a chance to establish ourselves. The volume is going to be way down, but our intention is to stay and have enough work for a small crew here.”
Even without minority status, Montero said his firm would have survived because his company didn’t always have that distinction. When MGM went to its diversity program, Montero said he was looking into transferring the business to his wife, but learned that he qualified as a Hispanic since his father was born in Portugal.
“I didn’t even know I was a minority until someone told me,” said Montero, who employs a lot of Hispanic workers and supervisors.
“I really appreciate the efforts of MGM for the opportunity for us to grow. I think small companies need that.”
Rodney said the diversity program helps companies such as his get in the door, but they need to be competitive to get the job.
MGM launched its diversity program in 2000. It required that any construction and design project of more than $1,000 have bids from minority- and women-owned firms.
Phyllis James, a senior vice president, deputy general counsel and chief diversity officer at MGM Mirage, said there are no set-asides or quotas for the firms but only an opportunity to bid.
“What we have found out is that when you open the doors to opportunity, you find people who you didn’t know about before who are qualified to do your work,” James said. “It has opened the doors to the talent that exists.”
That in turn has benefited MGM Mirage because it brings competition to projects and additional skill sets that are needed, an important element for a large project such as CityCenter, James said.
Many of the firms have grown and prospered because of that opportunity and developed the expertise to do other big jobs, James said. It even enabled many to increase their bonding capacity to work large jobs.
“We don’t have any control over what they do later on, but part of our philosophy has been and in particular with CityCenter is that when you give people an opportunity to work on a challenging project like that, it enhances their skill set and makes them able to compete for other jobs, whether it is a casino company down the street. They might not have had that competitiveness if they hadn’t worked on a project like CityCenter.”
Union adds training to better partner with industry
Monday, January 18, 2010
The U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce is proud to honor the growth and achievements of women-owned contractors and lay the foundation for greater success and opportunity for the future.
The dramatic rise of American women in business is an economic movement that will be part of the proud history of United States entrepreneurialism for decades to come. As women’s businesses have grown, we have pushed the envelope seeking bigger and bigger market opportunities – including state and federal contracting. In FY2008, the federal government spent over $9B with women-owned small businesses – the largest single market opportunity for women-owned firms in the United States.
Over the last decade, women-owned firms have fought hard to gain significant advances in the federal marketplace working with federal agencies, prime contractors, and resource providers to secure opportunities and the tools and resources necessary to be successful.
To celebrate the powerful economic accomplishments of women-owned firms, and to shine the light every year on the impact of women contractors within the single largest market opportunity in America, the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce will hold an annual celebration of “National Women Contractors’ Week” in Washington, DC with concurrent celebrations across the United States.
This year's Washington, DC celebration will include full day opportunity spotlights with the U.S. Army and the Dept. of Health and Human Services, awards, reports, one-on-one meetings with federal agency and prime contractor representatives, and an opportunity for attendees to meet with their Congressional representatives to promote the furtherance of opportunities for women-owned small business contractors.
National Women Contractors' Week (March 15 - 19, 2010)
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Jeanne Gang brings feminine touch to Chicago's muscled skyline.
Aqua, the undulating, 82-story structure, brings a fresh approach to skyscraper design.
Aqua, a new 82-story hotel and residential tower in Chicago by architect Jeanne Gang, is the tallest building ever designed by a female-led architecture firm. (Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing)
January 17, 2010
We join the event, held to celebrate the completion of its 76-floor steel frame, just as developer Bruce Ratner is ceding the podium to Frank Gehry, the Beekman's 80-year-old architect. Gehry pauses for effect. He looks out at the assembled crowd. He jabs a finger up at the tower. He says two words:
At the risk of sounding foolish for trying to parse the triumphantly brief statements of the world's great architects: Really? I mean, couldn't you argue that during the recent boom years the easy credit that Ratner and his fellow developers came to rely on was to the skyline what the little blue pill is to, um, blood flow? That pouring 903 Gehry-designed apartments into an already saturated real-estate market is the sort of development folly or feat of architectural daring -- depending on your point of view -- possible only with the financing equivalent of a pharmacological boost?
Of course, that's not what Gehry, who understandably cares far more about architectural than economic symbolism, was getting at. What he meant was something more direct, and old-fashioned, about sex, swagger and verticality, particularly since the Beekman is roughly twice as tall as any of his previously realized designs and because there were moments after the credit markets seized up when it looked as though it might have to be cut down to a much more modest size.
Which brings us back to Chicago, where the $308-million, 82-story Aqua is another of the high-design towers that just managed to slip through the tightening noose of the faltering market. Located just north of Millennium Park and finished in the last weeks of 2009, it was designed by Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang's 45-year-old founder. That makes it the tallest building in the world by a female-led architecture firm.
In other words: No testosterone!
OK, maybe some testosterone in the ranks of the engineers and construction workers who helped design and build the tower. That much was clear when Gang and I rode the construction elevator to Aqua's top-floor penthouse, stopping every few floors to pick up a new crew of tile-cutters or plumbers. It was like a mobile male locker room in there.
Still, the final design of the tower, which contains still-unfilled hotel space on its lower floors and apartments and condominiums above, very legibly carries Gang's signature. And that signature is a memorable one: Aqua in the end is not as jaw-dropping on the whole as it looks from certain angles -- and in certain photographs -- but the building, with its undulating concrete-and-glass skin, does suggest a fresh direction for skyscraper design.
Balconies on each floor extend from the tower's concrete core, but instead of following the rectangular shape of the interior floor plan they pursue a rich variety of curves. The balconies create what Gang calls "an inhabited facade" and give the building, as its name suggests, a liquid personality. The effect is particularly dramatic if you stand at the base of the tower and look up: From that angle the facade resembles the rolling surface of the ocean.
Aqua's balconies are both a dramatic formal flourish and, in classic Midwestern fashion, solidly practical: They extend the apartments' usable space as well as their views -- and help provide shade -- while allowing the tower to have repeating, cost-effective floor plates. The same problem-solving skills are on view at the multilevel base of the tower, which sits atop the the old Illinois Central rail yard.
A feminine touch
How much of Aqua's substantial appeal, if any, has to do with Gang's gender? Certainly its shape is animated by characteristics that -- at the risk of slipping into stereotype -- we associate with femininity and even the female form. But then so does Gehry's Beekman Tower, which appears loosely draped in a fabric-like skin. Perhaps more to the point, Aqua seems impatient with the rigidly geometric and overly muscled shapes that surround it in the Chicago skyline as well as with the race to achieve height at the expense of architectural expression.
Aqua's debut also comes at a moment when the profession is opening up positions of prominence and leadership for more women than ever before. Many of the top architecture schools in the country are now overseen by female deans, including Jennifer Wolch at UC Berkeley and Monica Ponce de Leon at the University of Michigan. This month, Sarah Whiting, formerly at Princeton, became the dean at Rice University's School of Architecture.
In Rome, meanwhile, the completion late last year of Zaha Hadid's MAXXI Contemporary Art Museum -- along with monographs on Hadid published by Taschen and Rizzoli -- has put the world's most influential female architect back squarely in the spotlight. The list of women at the top of prominent firms with impressive track records of built work grows longer by the year. It includes Elizabeth Diller, Kazuyo Sejima, Annabelle Selldorf, Winka Dubbeldam, Marsha Maytum, Billie Tsien, Carol Ross Barney and Marion Weiss, to name just a few. In Southern California the list is headed by Barbara Bestor, Jennifer Luce, Brenda Levin, Julie Eizenberg, Elizabeth Moule, Sharon Johnston and Jennifer Siegal.
Still, I'd wager that every one of those women -- not to mention the really skilled ones who continue to operate without much credit or exposure at firms run by men -- would tell you the field remains far short of real gender equity. According to 2009 statistics, women make up 41% of architecture students in the U.S. at the graduate and undergraduate level but just 17% of architecture-firm partners.
When Hadid won the Pritzker Prize, the field's top honor, in 2004, she became the only woman to do so, and she is still dogged by the faintly sexist charge that she has a diva-like impatience with slights big and small. (Have you ever seen Rem Koolhaas inconvenienced? Or Jacques Herzog? Please.)
The most obvious blunder in Pritzker history is widely agreed to be the 1991 decision to give Robert Venturi the prize without also honoring his wife and professional partner, Denise Scott Brown. In that vein it's probably fair to to point out that Mark Schendel, managing principal at Studio Gang and Gang's husband, has played a significant role in the firm's success, which includes an acclaimed community center on the south side of Chicago and a recent appearance on a high-powered short list for the Taipei Pop Music Center.
Two years ago, architect Robert A.M. Stern, the dean of the architecture school at Yale, was asked in a video interview for a website called Big Think why there aren't more women in architecture. After seeming to sense that he was moving along the edge of a rhetorical precipice ("Oh, my God," he stammered, "I'm gonna, this is complicated"), he composed himself -- and proceeded to leap right into the chasm anyway.
"Women come to critical points in their career where they embark upon motherhood," said Stern, 70. "And architecture is a totally time-consuming . . . business. Plus the global reach of architecture today, demanding unbelievable amounts of travel, national and international travel, has added to the complication. And so women . . . get torn between their desire to have a family and be with their family, and pursue their profession."
Stern's response raises obvious questions: Don't children have fathers? Aren't family responsibilities capable of taking time from men as well as women? But the really striking thing about the clip, for me, is simply the degree to which Stern seemed unprepared for the question, even a bit unnerved by it.
Against that backdrop, Aqua stands out as a welcome provocation. As Gehry's one-liner suggests, skyscrapers and phallic symbolism are never far apart. Aqua doesn't shrink from that history -- at 82 stories it stands out in a city of very tall towers -- but also gives it a memorable twist, updating the scalloped concrete forms of Bertrand Goldberg's nearby 1964 Marina City complex for the age of fluid, digitally enabled design. It's only when you back away from Aqua and consider it from a distance of three or four blocks that its effect begins to fade. From that perspective the negative space created on the parts of the facade without balconies leaves the tower looking somewhat patchy.
Still, the building's significance is based on more than form. It suggests a changing of the guard in architecture that has as much to do with generation as gender.
One of Aqua's real strengths is that it comfortably employs computer-aided design tools without turning them into a fetish. Gehry's firm uses highly sophisticated computer modeling, but it does so to help turn his very personal and often intentionally crude form-making into buildings.
The architects a generation younger than Gehry, on the other hand, have tended to exploit digital technology fully and sometimes overzealously: Their streamlined volumes are so smooth that they seem to admit none of the imperfection that Gehry exploits so successfully in his best work.
Many of the architects one generation younger still -- those now in their 30s, 40s and early 50s -- seem to have quite productively split the difference between those poles, between crumpled and blobby forms. Their most ambitious talents -- including Gang, L.A.'s Michael Maltzan and the New York firms SHoP and Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis -- are keen to use the computer but also are clear-eyed about its limits and about the need to keep architecture from turning into a digital echo chamber hermetically sealed from the culture at large. Firms of Gang's generation are also experimenting with a range of female leadership, including offices run by individual women, by husband-and-wife teams and by groups of partners of both sexes.
This emerging group possesses a flexible outlook on issues starting with but not limited to gender. In that sense Aqua is not just a rich piece of architectural invention and a milestone for female designers but an encouraging sign of where architecture in the widest sense of the term is headed.