The construction industry is booming, but sadly the quality of those jobs has eroded. Just 12.8 percent of workers building America’s buildings, homes, and highways are members of unions. Those with union representation average $26.56 per hour, 49 percent higher than those without it. For those without union protections, abuses ranging from wage theft to harassment to unsafe working conditions are on the rise. Immigrant workers are particularly vulnerable.
The construction sector offers prospects for raising wealth within communities of color, women-led households, veterans and returning citizens. The construction workforce has become more diverse thanks in large part to apprenticeship programs, run jointly by unions and contractors, which have recruited women and workers of color and invested billions in training a new generation of construction workers. Yet there is more work to be done. Women hold just 3.4 percent of construction jobs, racial minorities are underrepresented in higher paying occupations, and Latinx workers are overrepresented in terms of construction fatalities.
The Role Investors Can Play
Jobs with Justice Education Fund is advancing an initiative to encourage pension funds and foundation endowments use their real estate investments to create a more inclusive and equitable economy. We encourage them to adopt policies for their real estate and infrastructure investments that ensure construction workers receive living wages, secure health and retirement benefits, safe working conditions and adequate training AND that create real opportunities for those historically excluded from these good jobs.
HEAR from foundation leaders and investors on adopting principles on construction careers – Jobs with Justice Education Fund, Mission Investors Exchange, NoVo Foundation and Ford Foundation co-hosted a gathering in 2019 of leaders of foundations, investment funds and construction industry stakeholders at Ford Foundation’s New York City headquarters. Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, NoVo Foundation Executive Director Pamela Shifman, and Daryl Shore, Prudential Director of Inclusive Communities, Impact and Responsible Investments joined tradeswomen speakers in elevating the role foundations and other institutions can play in building access and equality in the sector.
READ Principles for Building Access and Equality– our guide to examining your real estate investments. This brief includes the principles investors should aim for meeting, questions to ask of investment fund managers, and sample language from others successfully using their real estate holdings to expand opportunities.
SEE how The North American Building Trades Unions (NABTU) is leading an effort to get the funds that manage pension assets of union workers to adopt Responsible Contractor Policies that assure good pay and benefits, safe work environments and strong training programs. Earlier this year, NABTU released its third report card on how fund managers were performing.
Best Practices in Promoting Access and Equality on Construction Projects
READ our Building Career Opportunities for Women and People of Color: Breakthroughs in Construction report and learn how strong state and city standards in building Minneapolis’s US Bank Stadium and the UMass Boston campus effectively expanded opportunities for women and people of color in construction.
LEARN How women are gaining jobs in construction trades and what more needs to be done. Click here for more.
LEARN how Workers Defense Project’s Better Builder Program is advancing quality construction careers in Texas. Click here for more.
WATCH this inspiring video created by the NoVo Foundation that features the tradeswomen that rebuilt their office space.
READ the agenda from the February 2019 event at the Ford Foundation in New York City. Click here for more.