Beyond the Rhetoric
By Harry C. Alford
The National Black Chamber of Commerce and its kindred spirits have been fighting construction unions’ racist hiring and contracting tactics. They have co-opted our politicians, and civil rights organizations to the point that their Negro allies do the dirty racist work for them. One of the latest examples of this is Levi’s Stadium, home for the San Francisco 49ers, in Santa Clara, California.
The history of what went down during the planning and construction of this major project must not be forgotten by Black America.
Right now, there are new stadiums in the planning stages throughout this nation and we must not let any more Project Labor Agreements (“union only” hiring and contracting) take place. While the Levi’s Stadium was being built I recall a large sign posted at the project which read: “No Job Site Hiring: ALL HIRING DONE AT THE UNION HALL.”
Of course, that meant that if you were not in a construction union, you were not going to be hired. Also, if your company was not union, it would not receive any contracts. Since Black and minority owned businesses were 98% non-union (due to discrimination) there would be no recourse to the contracting blockage. Also, construction union employees almost exclusively live in rural areas outside our urban centers. While our cities are home to most Blacks, Hispanics and Asians, the white suburban areas are where the white union employees dwell while going to work in our neighborhoods.
Associated Building Contractors, ABC, is a partner organization with the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Together with other organizations of the same ilk we fought the good fight on this and other projects. The following blog is from ABC’s reporting on the horror of this infamous Project Labor Agreement:
“Construction of the San Francisco 49ers’ $1.2 billion Levi’s stadium, subject to a controversial government-mandated project labor agreement (PLA), has been plagued by two fatal jobsite accidents and a protest by a coalition of community groups and activists outraged by the lack of construction contracts awarded to minority businesses.
PLA advocates claim anti-competitive and costly PLA schemes promote safe jobsites and increase inclusion of minority contractors and minority construction workers from the local community.
Obviously, this PLA is not delivering on its promises.
“Yesterday, a worker from Vacaville, California -nearly 85 miles away from the Santa Clara jobsite -employed by Napa Reinforcing Steel was tragically killed while unloading a load of rebar, according to the San Francisco Chronicle (“Worker killed at 49ers stadium site in Santa Clara.” 10/14/13). In June, stadium construction was halted after an accident killed a unionized elevator mechanic from Sacramento (nearly 118 miles, or a two-hour commute from the stadium).”
“In September, a coalition of minority business groups and activists organized a protest at the 49ers’ home opener at Candlestick Park, according to an October 5, 2013 article in The San Francisco Bay View.
“The protest was organized in response to practices permitted by the San Francisco 49ers and the Santa Clara Stadium Authority and executed by Turner Construction and its joint venture partner Devcon Construction, to exclude Black and minority contractors from participation, intentionally and systematically, on the 1.3 billion dollar Levi’s Stadium project.
While the combined efforts of the (protesting) organizations have led to the awarding of over $25 million in contracts to Black and minority firms in recent months, the $25 million represents only 1.6 percent of the construction budget for the stadium project.
Construction on Levi’s Stadium began about one and a half years ago and until the National Sports Authority entered the picture, a process reminiscent of the proverbial ‘good old boys’ network was being employed by the 49ers and their development team to prevent Black and minority contractors and professional services providers from participating on the project.
There it is my brothers and sisters. This is how it went down! It is only the latest in this continuing “Horror Show” known as “construction unions Project Labor Agreements” on public funded stadiums across our nation. Keep in mind that California’s population is over 54% minority and they get away with these atrocities not only there, but throughout America – “Land of the Free.”
The time has come for us to rise and fight this modern – day horror, which we live daily. You wonder why we have such high unemployment levels – this is why!
Mr. Alford is the Co-Founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce ®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org Em-ail: [email protected]