Over the past decade, community workforce agreements have emerged as one of the best vehicles for establishing strong job quality standards on publicly-funded or subsidized construction projects, and for outlining a plan to recruit and hire low-income workers onto those projects. A community workforce agreement consists of a project labor agreement that includes a targeted hire provision designed to get low-income workers into construction careers.
Community workforce agreements (CWAs) are powerful and effective tools for a number of reasons. Negotiating a CWA brings building trades unions and the trades council together with the project user/owner, the general contractor, and community organizations to jointly develop the terms of the project. These agreements set out the terms under which building trades unions agree not to go on strike or picket the job. Local governments have seen these agreements as a value-added for projects where the public investment must be safeguarded. They help prevent delays, maintain workplace safety, and ensure high-quality construction products, all of which help protect taxpayers’ investments when public money funds some or all of the project.
Local governments in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Cleveland and New York have pioneered efforts to negotiate and implement CWAs. Their experiences point to clear lessons for other cities, and show that CWAs can make construction projects better for government, workers, contractors and communities.
The Partnership for Working Families collaborated with the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO to develop a guide to CWAs. This guide provides basic information on CWAs, including a discussion of common components, an overview of best practices, and examples from across the country.