In talks with LP Ciminelli executives last week, the members of the Contract Compliance Review Committee found much common ground in identifying barriers to entry for minority participation in the construction trades. LP Ciminelli and other construction contractors have been unable to meet minority hiring and contracting goals established in public agreements, a source of concern for leaders in the Black and Latino communities.
Both entities resolved to working together cooperatively on solutions, including lobbying the State for legislation that addresses the problem. Ciminelli executives have committed to attending the Committee’s meetings, chaired by BUILD President Charley Fisher, III and County Legislator Betty Jean Grant.
The Committee is inviting many high profile officials to its June 2nd meeting, including: Mayor Byron W. Brown; Kevin Schuler, LP Ciminelli senior vice president; Stephanie Pennington, LP Cinminelli Contract Compliance Officer; Paul Brown, Presdient of the Building Trade Unions; Jesse Burnett, County Contract Compliance Officer; and Willie Morris, BHMA Contract Compliance Officer.
“We are asking all who believe that Black and Brown people have been largely ignored in the revitalization and redevelopment of Buffalo when it comes to the jobs and training opportunities, please be at this very important meeting,” writes Grant. “We need to tell Mayor Byron Brown that he needs to develop the courage of Maynard Jackson of Atlanta, Georgia when he stood tall so many years ago, and told the rich white developers that nothing will happen in Atlanta unless African Americans are working aslongside them.”
She adds, “That’s what we need in Buffalo — elected officials who are not ashamed to stand up and fight for jobs for African American and Latino Citizens.”
Katrinna Martin-Bordeaux, the Chairperson of Young Black Democrats of Western New York and a member of the Contract Compliance Review Committee, is outlining what a community partnership with LP Ciminelli could look like. She shared with The Chronicle the outlines of a potential agreement between the parties:
Part A: LP Ciminelli must manage the Northland Corridor training center. The Cuomo Administration’s Buffalo Billion economic development project at the Northland Corridor includes a workforce training component. Of course, the state plans to provide funding for curriculum, programing, and placement services. Instead of another duplicative government program that is disconnected from the industries they purport to serve, let’s ask the leader of the region’s construction industry to manage the state-funded training program himself. Imagine the synergies that could be yielded if the industry leaders design and oversee training curriculum and programing.
Part B: LP Ciminelli executives must comprise half the board of The Outsource Center. Perhaps no other workforce training program on Buffalo’s East Side has earned the respect of Spencer Gaskin’s Outsource Center, already located near the Northland Corridor. With executives from LP Ciminelli providing governance support by comprising the organization’s Board of Directors, the organization can evolve into a full service workforce training and job placement service.
Part C: Lou Ciminelli must volunteer to serve as Chairman of a regional Taskforce. Hiring statistics in the construction trades show a staggering deficit on government funded construction projects. Correcting those disparities will require regional leadership that history demands of Ciminelli, whose stature is unmatched in the industry.
Part D: Lou Ciminelli must participate in lobbying for state legislation. Lou Ciminelli has political influence that marginalized communities lack. Ciminelli must commit wholeheartedly to the goal of equal access to opportunity in the industry.
Part E: LP Ciminelli must welcome the participation of a minority trade union. The firm’s influence in the industry sets the tone for the region. If LP Ciminelli were to welcome the use of a minority trades union to source a more diverse workforce it could create a viable avenue through which minorities can enter the trades.
“As horrific as the inequality is today, I think there is much opportunity for progress and collaboration,” Martin-Bordeaux says. “If he is willing to provide the leadership, I think Ciminelli could become a renowned figure in this city and state. We need that kind of civic leadership — especially today.”
“We may need to decrease the 100% union participation rate for government funded building projects, because the unions have not been proactive,” Martin-Bordeaux explains.
She adds, “We can train a million minority workers, but if they are not in the union they can’t work on any of these jobs; or if they’re in the union, they don’t get called for jobs.” Martin-Bordeaux imagines that state legislation may be necessary to make hiring more flexible, and suggests that up to 20% of the workforce on government projects may have to become non-union.
Martin-Bordeaux says that the Committee is very encouraged by the firm’s constructive posture, and eager to work together in cooperative way. Kevin Schuler and Stephanie Pennington from LP Ciminelli have confirmed their attendance at the meeting, to be held at the Merriweather Library on Thursday, June 2nd from 6pm to 8pm.