Construction Careers Creating Job Opportunity in Seattle

June 12, 2013 -- Partnership for Working Families

Construction careers programs can create real job opportunity for low-income residents. That was the message delivered by Partnership Deputy Director, Kathleen Mulligan-Hansel, at a workshop organized by the Seattle City Council May 22. 

Elected officials and community organizations are embracing construction careers as one solution to our jobs emergency.  Urban leaders across the country have created a pipeline for disadvantaged workers into good jobs through targeted local hire policies for publically funded construction projects. 

In Seattle, Puget Sound Sage—an affiliate of the Partnership for Working Families—and allies led by Got Green? have persuaded city officials to explore an ordinance that would apply targeted local hire requirements to all publically funded construction projects by the city. Under such an ordinance, contractors would work with community and labor organizations to ensure to projects provide apprenticeships and careers to the Seattleites who need them the most. 

As part of their deliberation, the Seattle City Council asked the Partnership to share its expertise on how other cities have developed and implemented targeted local hire policies.   At the May 22 workshop, Mulligan-Hansel pointed out that cities all across the country are finding innovative ways to develop construction careers models that serve local interests. In front of a packed room of 100 labor and community supporters, Kathleen shared the Partnership’s years of experience creating successful construction careers programs, with examples from Los Angles and Milwaukee.  She urged Councilmembers to create a targeted local hire policy, and surround it with the community based programming that that makes the policy effective. 

As the movement for constructions careers grows, the Partnership will continue bring together community, labor and government leaders to think of creative ways to use public investments to benefit the communities they serve.