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So Far, Veterans Home Project Missing the Marks on Apprenticeships & Minorities

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

The Holyoke Veterans Home project is missing the hiring goals for apprentices and minorities, reported the general contractor, joint-venture Commodore-Walsh in a report to the Access, Inclusion and Diversity Committee.


WIth more than 14,000 work hours logged, only 855 were completed by apprentices. That's 5.96% of a 20% goal. Minority workers performed 1,827 hours of work, or 12.74% of the 15.3% goal.

You may recall the state Legislature overrode Governor Baker's veto and slapped a union-only project labor agreement on the project. To win the support of minority activists, the Legislature agreed to create a committee to monitor hiring on the project. Most minority- and women-owned contractors are merit shop. And with 85% of the construction workforce employed by merit shops, it's safe to say most minority and female construction workers are also non-union. Nonetheless, the Legislature bowed to union pressure and locked out merit shops, including minorities and women.


Merit shops do their level best to meet hiring goals. It can be difficult because merit shops have a stable, reliable and loyal workforce. They don't rely on the temporary hiring-agency model that is customary for union contractors. Merit shops are not going to fire current employees to hire new workers in order to meet a goal. They are responsible employers.


However, conventional wisdom would suggest the unions would throw every minority, woman, veteran and apprentice at this project to far exceed the goals. In reality, so far, they are barely meeting two goals and missing two. With their own apprenticeship programs, it's remarkable the unions are so woefully below the apprenticeship hours. Especially since more apprentices means more journeymen, thanks to the arbitrary ratios that require many seasoned union workers per job for each trainee.


There are years of work remaining on this job, so the numbers will change. With public scrutiny, the unions might even figure out how to meet the numbers. But left to their own devices. remember, unions miss the hiring goals as we saw on Polar Park in Worcester.



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