SCHOOL PROJECT Official defends hiring

An obstacle is that many minority and resident workers are not union members.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Youngstown city schools administrator leading an effort to have city residents and minorities hired to work on the district's $200 million school construction project said there is progress.
"We're doing a good job of getting Youngstown city schools residents on the job. We're doing a good job of getting minorities on the job," said Al Curry, the district's equal employment opportunity officer for the construction project.
He said 11 percent of the 170 people working on the construction of the new Taft and Harding elementary schools are minorities and 32 percent are residents, according to a quarterly report prepared at the end of March.
Both schools are slated to open in the fall and are the first schools to be built in the project to construct or renovate 15 schools with funding assistance from the Ohio School Facilities Commission.
Goals for hiring
The district has set hiring goals asking all contractors on the construction projects to make a "good-faith effort" to hire 20 percent minorities, 20 percent women and 50 percent district residents.
Last week, City Councilman Clarence Boles, D-6th, who sat on the school board until January, said the lack of progress is unacceptable and that members of the minority community will picket construction sites, with the goal of halting construction, if the situation does not improve by June 21.
Curry said construction began one year ago and that the district is making good progress considering that time frame.
He acknowledged that little progress is being made in getting women on the jobs. Only one worker -- a civil engineer employed by a company conducting soil testing -- is a woman.
He also said the district has a list of about 200 people ready to go to work; roughly 90 percent are minorities and most are district residents.
Union matters
However, Curry said, the prospect of getting the workers on job sites "doesn't look good."
Because the best bids on projects have come from union contractors, workers must be in a union to obtain a job. Those on the list are not in unions, Curry said.
Complicating the problem has been that unions open apprenticeship training programs to new members for only one to two weeks per year, Curry said, and local minorities have not been able to get into such programs in a timely fashion.

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