As businesses have begun opening back up, we have been subjected to increasing hand-wringing from business owners, particularly restaurants and similar service-based workplaces, who insist they are facing a labor shortage. The argument, according to some, is that unemployment benefits are too generous and are discouraging work, leaving employers unable to hire workers. Thankfully, these stories are being rebutted by workers, journalists, and analysts armed with a combination of personal experience and hard data. As expert after expert picks apart the flaws in employers’ arguments, though, it has become clear that what employers are worried about isn’t a labor shortage at all: It’s a power shift.
A research-driven look at Black Americans at work reveals profound inequities. Companies that redouble efforts to address this will improve their culture for all employees.
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McDonald’s Corp. said it is tying 15% of executives’ bonuses to meeting targets including diversity and inclusion and began disclosing data on the racial makeup of its workforce, major steps by one of the largest U.S. companies to better reflect the population.
Construction trades apprenticeship preparatory program
The Building Strong Communities Program an apprenticeship preparatory program that prepares adults and high school graduates for careers in the construction industry. This program offers graduates the opportunity to gain real experience and exposure with Union trades and contractors.
For program information and how to apply, visit buildingstrong.org or call Aaron Koski at 612-349-7158.
As part of Southwest LRT’s commitment to creating a diverse workforce, we are partnering with 10 Minnesota Building and Construction trade unions and Twin Cities R!SE to create the Building Strong Communities program, with support from the Metropolitan Council.
Building Strong Communities is an apprenticeship preparatory program that will prepare students for a career in the construction industry. This program offers individuals the opportunity to receive union-endorsed training, exposure, and a “foot in the door” to an apprenticeship and the start of a career in the trades. The end goal is gainful employment with a building trade union.
“The workforce is changing, and the community is building together to add people of color to the building trades,” said Vince Fuller, workforce development coordinator with the Met Council. “We are collaborating with 10 trades that are coming together to build their union bases with apprentices and then moving the apprentices into journeymen status.” Upon being accepted into the program, students will participate in an accelerated curriculum which includes construction industry overviews, union-developed coursework, job interviews with participating unions, and hands- on exposure at union training centers.
It is at one of these hands-on trainings that we find Building Strong Communities student Jorge Chica. Chica’s father participated in a similar training program and Chica became interested in a career in construction, which brought him to Building Strong Communities. “I have been doing a lot of studying and waiting for opportunities,” Chica said. “Hopefully I can get employed at my number one or number two unions.”
Building Strong Communities students may eventually find themselves working on the Southwest LRT project. The 14.5-mile line is Minnesota’s largest ever construction project and is estimated to have 7,500 workers with a $350 million payroll. Southwest LRT takes diversity in the workforce seriously; the Minnesota Human Rights department has set labor participation goals for Southwest LRT at 20% for women and 32% for people of color. The 32% goal includes women and men who are people of color. Southwest LRT and the prime contractor for the project, Lunda-McCrossan Joint Venture, are committed to meet those goals. Building Strong Communities is an effort to meet those goals as well as increase labor force participation into the future.
Jorge Chica is thinking a little more short term with an eye towards employment with the Electricians or Operating Engineers. “I’ve been studying, and I took the test for the Operating Engineers and I did really well, so that shows my hard work is paying off. So hopefully when I take the electrician tests I will kill it, which I think I will.”
For more information on the Building Strong Communities program visit; the Building Strong Communities Website.