The upcoming I-81 Viaduct and community grid project is an opportunity for The City of Syracuse to expand and grow. Millions of dollars will be coming into the city for this project which means employment for City residents. I-81 promises jobs that could revive our struggling city’s economy, regardless of the option chosen.
One of the main questions asked is, who will get these jobs? The Urban Jobs Task Force and Legal Services of CNY have noticed the extreme disparity in the local construction industry workforce along racial, gender and residential lines. The UJFT conducted a Racial Equity Impact Statement (REIS). The name of the report is Building Equity together in the Construction Trades.
Next step is, to get the information out.
Workers’ Center of CNY organizers sat with the Urban Jobs Task Force to figure out the best way to get the information out. It was decided to hold a dinner and invite community stakeholders, public officials, residents, and other community organizations. Countless days and hours passed as we sat together trying to figure it out. Who do we invite? How many people should attend? Where will the location be? What will go inside the information folder? Seating arrangements? And many more questions asked.
On March 14, 2019, we had the Building Equity Together event at the Downtown Marriott Syracuse. Over 100 people attended. Decka Dancil president of the UJTF hosted the event. Andrew Croom lawyer with Legal Services of CNY and one of the authors of the REIS Report gave the presentation. Croom outlined the History of Racial Discrimination in the city of Syracuse, The Current State of the Syracuse Workforce, Policies Addressing Equity on Construction Projects and the Trades Racial Diversity on Large Scale Municipal Projects in the Syracuse Area. We heard stories from workers who are directly affected. We learned about the struggles they went through with finding employment and being able to get construction training. We heard about their future hopes for gainful employment through the I-81 project.
At the end of the presentation, we did a call to action. We asked attendees to fill out commitment cards. Asking what commitments can they make today to ensure Racial Equity in the Construction Trade. Create a diligent and effective roundtable of Unions? Create a roundtable of Workforce developers, community stakeholders, and government officials around I-81 development. Using their platform for outreach and publicity in our community to further the mission.
We ended the night awarding Aggie Lane with the Building Equity Service Award.
The Urban Jobs Task Force is a collaboration of individuals and
organizations concerned about the lack of access to employment
opportunities in Syracuse and resulting in poverty faced by citizens. The UJTF advocates for job training, accessible apprenticeships, impactful legislation and community action that will lead to reduced poverty through good-paying jobs. Workers’ Center of CNY is a proud member of UJTF.
To read the full report go to:https://www.ujtf.org/reis