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When it comes to construction jobs, we hear a lot about broken promises. In September 2007, for example, Washington City Paper‘s Joe Eaton reported on disappointing hiring numbers at Nationals Park.
By the end of June, District residents had worked only 23 percent of the highly paid journeyman hours at the site along the Anacostia River, according to a recent report.
Much of the money fleeing with workers to the suburbs was supposed to stay in the city: In 2006, Mayor Anthony A. Williams fashioned a “project labor agreement” with trade unions, the construction giant Clark/Hunt/Smoot (a joint venture of three construction groups formed for the job), and the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission. The agreement promised 50 percent of journeyman hours to local residents.
The problem, of course, was job training. There weren’t enough skilled D.C. residents to do the necessary jobs…or, as one source put it: “I don’t care who you are, I’m not putting you to work for $35 an hour if you don’t know a wire nut from a lock nut.” (Man, guess I’m out of a construction job.) Unfortunately, the article didn’t offer much in the way of solutions:
There is much hand-wringing over the stadium labor numbers, but some question whether the city ever took the agreement seriously. “I really think they knew it couldn’t get met,” Lozupone says about the resident worker goals. The bigger issue is getting the stadium built before Opening Day, he says. “Come April next year, nobody is going to give a rat’s ass. Everybody forgets it.”
And so it goes. Thankfully, it seems, people are actually paying attention to the demands for skilled labor in the city. Today’s Washington Business Journal reports that a construction training school in Southeast will now “finally received approval from the D.C. Department of Employment Services for federal work force funding, which should push its enrollment from dozens to hundreds.”
The city agency will refer almost all of Boston’s students and pay their tuition. Boston said more than 500 people have applied through the city so far. Mayor Adrian Fenty is expected to attend an Oct. 29 ceremony for a dozen of the early participants…He estimates the school could cost $35,000 a month to run, with tuition for most classes set at $8,500.
Final thought:$8,500. Yikes. These students better be devoted.