In this four-part series we will shed some knowledge on where the “81” project could be a catalyst for growing our black business community and the community as a whole.
Part 1: Project Labor Agreement (PLA) Part 2: Construction Training Component Part 3: minority participation Part 4: why minority contractors must be at the PLA negotiating table
By Stanley M. Dean
Introduction: The two major schools of thought on this “81” project / Surge / Blue Print are housing and job opportunities. The not-for-profit community along with government has hijacked both of these issues from our business community and are trying to become the spokespersons for how we are going to move forward living and working.
Nowhere is there a mention or organizational outcry from black business. Especially those businesses that may / should participate in this Blueprint. The strength of any community lies in the power of Black Business as we / they build communities, hire workers and fight politically for whatever is necessary to move our community forward. We don’t want to duplicate what was done in the past. We cannot send in negotiators armed with information but lack knowledge. We have the opportunity to bring our community back to life. We can no longer fall for the banana in the tailpipe.
Our community thrived when people were employed. Crouse Hinds, Carrier, General Motors, General Electric, Chrysler, Crucible Steel ect. Black businesses thrived Hinds Electric, Pete Anderson Electric, Joe Bryant, the Torrences, hundreds of Black businesses including nightclubs and grocery stores. Black businesses hire black people. Black business should determine how we are going to fit and create opportunities for jobs during this economic surge in CNY.
I represent native Black Syracusans going back to the Blizzard of 1966, the questionable death of Jeremiah Mitchell and the attack on the black students integrating Henninger High School. We, the Black business community in Syracuse NY must present a sophisticated approach toward participating in this economic surge and creating jobs for those in need. In this four-part series we will shed some knowledge on how the “81” project could be a catalyst for growing our black business community and the community as a whole.
In past Administrations there were initiatives that were well intended; however we did not gain economically. As far back as Mayor Tom Young’s Administration when we had well over 100 active minority contractors. At that time, it was determined that the largest obstacle for the African American contractor was having the capacity to handle the construction opportunities, in simple terms Capacity Development. Over 30 years ago this was an actual concern. However, despite having a staffed Office of Minority Affairs and a Mayor’s Minority Affairs Advisory Council all we can point to from that era is the Jerry Rescue Monument and the introduction of Juneteenth the Syracuse Community.
As progressive as Mayor Tom Young was, he had to deal with the Supreme Court’s Richmond Decision; City of Richmond v. J. A. Croson Co., 488 U.S. 469 (1989) a decision that declared any mandated goals for Minority participation on public construction projects were unenforceable, unless the municipality was able to show proof that a pattern of discrimination existed. And that municipality had to conduct a study proving that pattern of discrimination. Mayor Young approved of the study that confirmed, if there were mandates to comply with goals the project indicated minority participation in their statistics. When researchers compared Onondaga County projects, which at the time had no MWBE Ordinance to city of Syracuse projects, the disparities were glaring. If that study weren’t conducted, there would be no ordinance mandating participation of minorities and women on city of Syracuse publicly funded construction projects.
In the decades following the study, Onondaga County has included in their contract documents; goals that are now set for both MWBE construction contracts and Employment opportunities on publicly funded projects. To help facilitate this Onondaga County recently created the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and appointed Monica Williams as Chief Diversity Officer.
This assessment will be broken down into a series of 4 articles that will address this situation. We are about to embark on one of the most transformative periods in Syracuse history, reminiscent of the combined efforts of the construction of Interstate 81 and the destruction of the city’s ninth and fifteenth Wards.
Project Labor Agreement (PLA). Yes, the PLA. (Refer to President Obama’s Executive Order 13502 2009). Projects with over $25 million dollars in federal funds are encouraged to agree to a Project Labor Agreement. We will focus on the affect and impact that a PLA has on the Minority Construction Business Community and how this is the first step towards participation in this development.
Construction Training Component, typically, created to train local residents to work on Construction projects and have the opportunity to be accepted into a local craft labor union, provided they pass the entrance exam and or meet job experience requirements.
Minority participation portion of a current Project Labor Agreement (Syracuse City School Renovation). Using it as a template, emphasis will be placed on why it will be most beneficial for this portion to be a separate contract.
Minority Contractor Seat at the table, minority contractors must be at the PLA negotiating table as a stakeholder in this Blue Print for Central New York.
About the author
Stanley M. Dean
- S. Labor Relations / LeMoyne College, Syracuse NY
- Former Lobbyist specializing in Project Labor Agreements for
Associated Builders & Contractors Empire State
- Executive Director: Empire State Association of Minority Contractors
- Managing Partner for Vantagem Technology LLC signatory to Bricklayers Local #2
- Retired member of Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 267