Developers Harassed By Unions on Privately Funded Projects

There is a situation unfolding in Philadelphia right now that should be a cause of concern for any potential Developers.  The building trade unions are making a project being built with no public dollars, a nightmare.  It is the usual players because they maintain the status quo so well.  Pat Gillespie, who recently praised the Mayor for signing a project labor agreement that has yet to be implemented, has been on the scene for years.  In fact, one never hears of his position never being up for election.  He has been President of the Building Trades Council for years and will retire with the crown.  Fred Cozenza, who sits on an Economic Inclusion Committee at the University of Pennsylvania, shows his true colors on picket lines.  The real players, the guys picketing the job site at 12th & Wood Streets, are non-minority trades persons that probably do not live in the city.

The statistics published by the Developers based on their workforce participation to date are encouraging.  Over 50% of the workforce are minority residents.  These numbers are unheard of on union only projects.  These statistics alone should call for more support from elected officials to leave these Developers alone.  Minorities comprise the majority of the Laborer's local.  They are usually the first trades persons to enter the site and the first to leave en masse.  The finish trades are where minorities begin to fall off and it has been this way for years.  The unions have allowed various training programs to crop up.  The Lucien E. Blackwell Apprenticeship program and the the Diversity Apprenticeship program were designed to increase participation by minorities and women on projects covered by Davis Bacon regulations.  When work slows down, it seems like it is aways slow in spite of numerous construction projects currently underway, minorities and women are the first to be let go.

The Mayor's Advisory Commission on Construction Industry Diversity was formed by Michael Nutter to increase participation by minorities and women on city assisted projects.  It was an All Star Commission with many of the bright minds in the city offering ideas for cracking this current old boys network.  After the recommendations of the Commission were published, including quarterly reports since 2009, there have been no reports or no proposed course of action for situations like this one occurring now.  The unions will never publish membership information.  The city could have had ammunition to back up a path for change.

The Daily News reported that the Mayor was elected with no union backing.  The Carpenter's did in fact write him a check before his re-election was officially announced.  This donation has effectively bought his silence on this issue.  His administration will tout jobs at a groundbreaking but will stay far away from actual implementation during construction.  There are curb cuts being made throughout the city right now to meet ADA requirements.  Who's monitoring these projects for workforce participation?  These Developers are forging on and have purchased another building on South Broad Street.  Will Congressman Bob Brady help to call off the union thugs?  He helped mediate the SEPTA dispute.  Will some other elected official, besides Jim Kinney calling for an investigation of the Developers, help the flow of free enterprise?  We shall see.

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