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St. Louis Building Trades Push for Diversity Standards on Defense Dept Project

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In a recent op-ed for St. Louis Today, the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council’s Jeff Aboussie laid out the argument for diversifying the construction sector through the new headquarters of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). The project, which might be located in North St. Louis, would allow the region to retain 3,100 employees.  If certain goals are set, Aboussie argues, those seeking to begin careers in construction could benefit mightily:  

We believe there are additional opportunities to make lasting, positive change; change that will help the NGA, the federal government and its priority initiatives to invest in urban areas and the region’s workforce, which would greatly benefit from an increase in minority training and hiring.

That is why the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council of St. Louis, AFL-CIO, and our affiliates are proposing a very ambitious set of workforce goals for work on this project, including:

• For minority and female workers, at least 37 percent of all labor hours.

• For women, at least 7 percent of all labor hours.

• For city residents, at least 23 percent of all labor hours.

• An expansion of our Building Union Diversity (BUD) program, which provides opportunities for minorities and women, as well as existing journeymen, to become apprentices with participating unions so that they can learn the skills needed to be employable for the rest of their lives. City residents and people living in designated Promise Zones within the region will receive priority status.

We believe that these goals will help address some of the issues and challenges raised by the Ferguson Commission, the East-West Gateway Council of Governments’ report on racial disparities, the Office of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and the Governor’s Office of Equal Opportunity.

It has been estimated that the construction phase of the NGA West headquarters would create as many as 1,350 construction jobs.  The project would also allow pre-apprenticeship programs like BUD, which has been successful out of the gate, to place graduates into positions on the worksite.  BUD has placed 85 percent of its graduates into apprenticeships and jobs, providing opportunities for those who may not have considered the trades prior.


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