In the spring of 2005, Mayor Bloomberg created the Commission for Construction Opportunity to open up New York’s construction sector to women, non-whites, and other minorities who have traditionally been underrepresented in—or excluded from—one of the city’s last thriving blue-collar industries.
The following fall, the Buildings and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York pledged to reserve 15 percent of apprenticeship slots for high school graduates, 10 percent for women, and 5 percent for “economically disadvantaged” workers and to increase the quota by 1 percent annually until 2010. Meanwhile, the city promised to kick in extra resources to create a vocational high school in the various construction trades.
A few years later, the Commission is on the right track (most notably in terms of increasing women’s presence in one the oldest boys clubs in New York), according to a report published Wednesday by the policy think-tank Center for an Urban Future. But the Commission has failed to hit many of its targets, and critics point out that increasing minority access to entry-level construction jobs and boosting their membership in construction trade unions does not necessarily guarantee minority access to decent, well-paying jobs in the predominantly white sector.
The report urges the Bloomberg administration to match the quantitative commitments the Building and Construction Trades Council has made by, among other things, pledging to enforce equal-opportunity and wage laws; to crack down on so-called underground construction; and to make sure that women and minorties earn “comparable rates.”