The readers’ forum

Hire locals for construction projects


Over the last four years, Construction and Craft Workers’ Local Union 1652, a local Miami affiliate of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), launched a local workforce recruiting initiative called BUiLD 305 which gave Miami-Dade construction workers access to job opportunities on the Port of Miami Tunnel Project, which includes strong local participation.

Analysis by LiUNA revealed that an impressive majority of construction workers already on the Port of Miami Tunnel Project were residents of Miami-Dade County. As construction moves into the last phase, employment has grown steadily.

Growth has benefited local workers first, with more than 83 percent residing in Miami-Dade County. Every day, this project connects more skilled people from our community with work.

The Laborers Union collaborated with Bouygues Civil Works Florida, Miami Access Tunnel and South Florida Workforce Development to find the best qualified applicants from the thousands that were submitted at career fairs over the last few years.

Broad interest in this historic project attracted highly skilled construction workers, and on-the-job training provided a unique experience in heavy civil construction to residents seeking a new career.

We are proud of the progress we’ve made at the Port of Miami Tunnel Project. We need to build on our success and make sure that more projects in Miami-Dade County benefit the local community.

Remember when Genting, the Malaysian giant casino company came to Miami promising 30,000 local jobs? Well, they have reported in federal court that their economic model only works with foreign workers. They now claim that U.S. workers are too costly.

The announced $2 billion construction project on Biscayne Bay doesn’t include any commitment to hire local Miami-Dade workers. So much for local job creation!

Locally, the Miami-Dade School Board has a massive construction bond that so far awarded two contracts to a Broward County firm to build schools, one being built in Miami Gardens.

It is unclear how this firm will reach out to the community to hire a local and diverse workforce. So far, it seems to be a closed door for the local union construction workers.

Because of our involvement on the Port Tunnel, the project had the most successful record of diversity that mirrored the Miami-Dade population.

It will be interesting to look at the certified payrolls to verify how many local workers are paid with Miami-Dade tax dollars. No job fairs or recruitment have been scheduled to include people from Miami-Dade on these two school projects.

If all the new construction that is taking place all over South Florida, from Margaritaville in Hollywood to the Brickell City Centre, do not include a local workforce, then we all lose. Local projects should mean local jobs.

Tom Matthews, business manager and secretary treasurer, Local 1652

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