What does equity in job creation in the construction industry look like in practice?
President Biden’s recently issued an executive order to strengthen union jobs in construction by expanding the federal government’s use of collective bargaining agreements between unions and contractors on construction sites. The president promised that the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law would create good union jobs.
But good jobs for whom exactly? On February 24th, the Worker Institute at Cornell ILR, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, will host its first webinar in a series Equity in Focus: Job Creation for a Just Economy. The webinar will explore equity in job creation in the construction industry and will bring together researchers, policymakers, practitioners, union leaders, and advocates to discuss what is needed for a just economic recovery.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is leading a historic economic recovery. In order to build back an economy that is fair and inclusive, we must address deep and longstanding inequities that continue to hold back women and people of color," says Wendy Chun-Hoon, Director, Women's Bureau, Department of Labor. "Right now, we have a transformational opportunity to break our pattern of valuing women’s and men’s work differently. We should support women and people of color in their effort to gain access to the millions of good-paying jobs our country is about to create. Our webinar is designed to get people thinking about ways they can make that happen in their own communities."
Long-standing racial and gendered inequalities that are perpetuated in society are mirrored in the economy. Rules, regulations, policies, and normative practices have baked racial and gender inequality into the economy and labor markets. This has a disproportionate impact on women and people of color that is directly linked to inequities in opportunities and outcomes.
"It is critical that recovery actively reverses long-existent inequalities in job creation and access for women and people of color in the construction industry. The current crisis of inequality, made worse by the intersecting crisis of the pandemic and its impact on women and people of color, accelerated the need to envision job creation through the perspective of an equity lens," says Patricia Campos-Media, Executive Director of the Worker Institute.
What does equity in job creation in the construction industry look like in practice? With a much-welcomed focus on the important role unions play in setting high-quality wages and working conditions that strengthen the middle-class, how can unions ensure that equity is infused in their work too? These are some of the questions that will be asked at the webinar on February 24th, 2022.
"The Biden Administration’s call to arms, if you will, for investment in the infrastructure of the United States combined with a much-needed renewed focus on the important role unions play in delivering well-paid, high-quality jobs in construction and much more, is a great relief to the myriad of people who have worked tirelessly advocating for workers’ rights," says Anne Marie Brady, Senior Extension Associate - Director of Research for Worker Rights and Equity for the Worker Institute. "But none of this will matter if we forgot one key component to a just economic recovery: equity."