The problem with the construction industry in New York is not the labor shortage
“The accusation that a labor shortage is causing the drop in recruitment numbers for unlicensed programs” is just smoke and mirrors. Such programs present themselves as accredited apprenticeships that strive to address the “labor shortage” by connecting promising workers to seemingly stable career paths and secure jobs. But this is far from reality.
Recent accusations in the press from executives of Building Skills, an unlicensed construction training program, claimed that an unrequited labor shortage was plaguing the construction industry. While they are busy pointing fingers, they fail to solve the real problem that arises: the fraudulent and deceptive practices of unorganized and unlicensed apprenticeships like theirs.
A labor shortage is a sad reality for many industries as our country works towards recovery, but it is not the reason some in our industry are struggling to fill vacancies. In fact, in the New York City District Council Carpenters Union alone, nearly 2,000 carpenters are available and ready to work. Our training center has successfully recruited up to 400 apprentices over the past two years during the pandemic and we continue to attract five skilled trades to our union each month. Even though our city was battling COVID-19, our union maintained 70% of jobs for the city’s Project Work Agreements (PLA) and private development.
With the enactment of the Law on Infrastructure Investments and Jobs, a better future for the construction industry is on the horizon. In New York City, the bill will create thousands of well-paying jobs for decades to come, and union carpenters and construction workers are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work.
Clearly, the accusation that the labor shortage is to blame for the drop in hires from unlicensed programs is just smoke and mirrors. Such programs present themselves as accredited apprenticeships that strive to address the “labor shortage” by connecting promising workers to seemingly stable career paths and secure jobs in the construction industry. . But this is far from reality and a complete sham. Instead, workers are suffering at the hands of these often developer-backed organizations.
They poach vulnerable members of the community, mostly low-income people, migrant workers and people of color, and pawn them off to multi-millionaire private developers in New York City for cheap labor. According to internal surveys from our union, some non-accredited program participants struggle to earn more than a minimum wage, making them more vulnerable to wage theft, a practice employed by unscrupulous contractors who refuse to pay workers. workers get the hard-earned wages they deserve.
Not only do they fail to provide graduates with the economic stability they claim they can achieve through their deceptive learning, but they also put them in life-threatening situations. Do not hesitate, the construction trades are dangerous and quality and accredited vocational training is a necessity. Training programs and apprenticeships are the lifeblood of the construction industry, but this predatory practice takes us back to the mid-19th century and that is certainly not how we move our industry forward.
The New York City District Council of Carpenters Training Center prides itself on maintaining high safety standards and rigorous training that keeps our members safe and kept informed while on the job. Registered with the New York State Department of Labor, our training center takes care of our apprentices even after the program by orienting them towards a union career where they can earn a salary and benefits to support them. family.
The numbers don’t lie, unaccredited programs make a weak attempt to mask their operation by blaming a labor shortage at a time when the construction industry is returning better than ever. Until they can provide the statistics behind their ridiculous claims, we must stop them from manipulating and preying on vulnerable New Yorkers who truly have a vision to give their families better lives.
The construction industry is the backbone of New York City. When bad actors blatantly lie so they can easily steal workers’ mouths and place construction workers on dangerous sites, our entire city suffers. I implore our leaders to renounce bogus programs claiming to be apprenticeships and support the efforts of the NYC District Council of Carpenters to ensure that every construction worker receives the pay, benefits and training they deserve.
Joseph Geiger is the Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New York City District Council of Carpenters.