Could an Apprenticeship Bill Affect Workers of Color?

Construction site in Manhattan (Photo by Jazz Guy, Creative Commons)

A bill recently introduced in the City Council, which requires apprenticeships for construction workers, would hurt employment prospects for open shop workers of color, says the New York Construction Alliance. A survey released Jan. 20 by the organization found that some 75 percent of the city’s open shop construction workers – open shop refers to having both union and non-union workers – are African American or Hispanic, reports Kings County Politics.

Brooklyn City Council Members Jumaane Williams (Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood) and Carlos Menchaca (Sunset Park, Red Hook) are among the prime sponsors of the bill that would mandate apprenticeships for construction projects over 10 stories tall. Since the apprenticeship requirement is a virtual union mandate, the legislation would exclude many of the open shop sector’s local, minority workers from new job opportunities.

The bill is part of a City Council legislative effort to improve the safety of construction workers.

NYCA is composed of open shop managers and contractors, a detail a representative of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York noted when calling into question the survey results. The spokesperson pointed to data from an Economic Policy Institute report regarding minority representation in unions.

What did the report find? Does it contradict the NYCA survey? Find out at Kings County Politics.

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