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Regarding Joe Eaton’s article (“Think Locally, Hire Regionally,” 9/14), on behalf of Laborers’ Local 657, we welcome the challenge of placing D.C. residents on D.C.’s construction sites. It is the morally right thing to do, and it is what my union stands for. Laborers’ Local 657 is a construction union with hundreds of members who are D.C. residents, most of whom are African-American.
Despite Mr. Eaton’s contention, there is much to praise on the stadium project. The stadium project far exceeds any other construction site in placing D.C. residents to work. This project provides good paying union jobs with benefits with the added advantage that all of those currently employed are entitled to additional union job referrals and free job training. These residents will stay gainfully employed after the completion of the stadium.
Look at the numbers: 90 percent of apprentices are D.C. residents, over half of all new hires are D.C. residents, and close to a quarter of journeyman hours are worked by D.C. residents. No other construction site in the District comes close to matching these numbers. Many projects have less than 10 percent D.C. residents. Mr. Eaton merely had to cross the street from the stadium to the numerous other construction sites in the area to discover this.
The stadium project, in fact, has gone a long way in correcting a social wrong in our city—the lack of D.C. residents on our construction sites. This progress occurred because the local government and local building trade unions collaborated to make it happen.
The project must be viewed as a steppingstone to correct this social wrong. Imagine more project labor agreements like the stadium. It would mean more and more D.C. residents partaking in the American dream. Perhaps in a few years D.C.’s workers will finally receive their equal share of D.C.’s construction boom. I know the Laborers’ are determined to make that happen.
Anthony W. Frederick Sr.