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Community Workforce Provisions in Project Labor Agreements: A Tool for Building Middle-Class Careers

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[Excerpt] Project Labor Agreements are comprehensive contracts between a construction client and a consortium of unions. They have been used in the construction industry for over 60 years to achieve uniform labor standards, stability and high quality for large construction projects, and are currently evolving to address broader social and community issues. Community Workforce Agreements are PLAs that contain social investment or targeted hiring provisions to create employment and career path opportunities for individuals from low income communities. Pioneering examples of CWAs included the Los Angeles Community College District PLA (signed in April of 2001), providing for 30 percent of local resident workforce (20 percent of which should be individuals from economically disadvantaged and at-risk populations); and the Port of Oakland (California) PLA (implemented from 2001 to 2008), setting goals for employment of disadvantaged populations and utilization of minority-owned businesses. The first agreements on the West Coast were developed in response to communities’ demands for increased opportunities in the construction industry. To address these demands Building Trades Councils began negotiating PLAs with local hiring provisions. Other successfully implemented CWAs in the West include the Los Angeles Unified School District PLA (2003) and the City of Los Angeles Public Works construction projects (2006). Studies by the Partnership for Working Families and by UCLA found that these CWAs resulted in increased employment and retention of local workers, middle-class career paths and poverty reduction in Los Angeles communities, and that they currently constitute “the basis on which the city can monitor and assess the number of local residents working on its projects.” This report profiles the wide range of PLA/CWA provisions that have been designed and implemented during the last 15 years to establish goals and structures that assist in the creation of new standards and the implementation of new and existing laws and regulations related to the labor and employment rights of low income communities, women, and minorities.

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project labor agreements; labor; community workforce agreements


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Required Publisher Statement: © Cornell University. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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