In Rochester, PLAs and the ROAR Program Have Generated High Rates of Minority and Female Involvement
Part of the appeal of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) is that they mandate a certain percentage of contractors and apprentices be minorities in order to strengthen communities and the construction industry as a whole. In Rochester, ROAR (Reaching Occupational Achievement for Residents of Rochester), has been helping hundreds of families in the region by making these kinds of chances a reality.
Starting with voluntary goals that were met during construction of the Monroe County Crime Lab, minorities in Rochester began playing a larger role in the region’s construction. Now, with the Facilities Modernization Program at the Rochester School District under way, the area represents “opportunity on steroids,” according to the executive director of UNICON (Unions and Businesses United in Construction) Kenneth Warner:
The ROAR recruitment is just the beginning. The real work begins as candidates start apprenticeship training and compete for job opportunities. Labor unions provided preliminary training at their own expense as part of ROAR. Now, contractors have to do their part and hire the prospects.
Warner also calls for city government to do their part in helping ROAR reach its maximum success.
We need City Council to do their part for local residents by adopting the guidelines on projects they finance. We need private developers and major employers onboard as well.
There are 150 willing recruits left over from the ROAR program out there. But, to make this sustainable, we need to build on this and make sure that the training is completed, and the community demands that there be a place for these recruits to work.
Now it’s time for the rest of the community to step up and pick up where ROAR left off.
Rochester has had minority business goals for decades, but they included easy-to-lean-on waivers for builders and developers “unable” to find minority workers. This “out” often left minority contractors and construction workers without work. New initiatives ended the waiver system and, under recent Project Labor agreements, nearly 27 percent of Rochester construction workers will be minorities or women.