COLONIE: Building a better future

With construction on the Interstate 87, Watervliet-Shaker Road overpass in the background, county, religious and local union leaders met on Thursday, Aug. 30, in an effort to steer federal transportation money toward minority and women's work programs in the Capital District.

Holding a report detailing construction employment numbers, members of county social services, local unions and members of A Regional Initiative Supporting Empowerment, ARISE, pointed out trends in the area that show low numbers of minorities and women at work in the construction trade.

Although Albany County has participated in programs such as the Capital District Worker Center, a program to help place low-wage workers in the booming construction trades, advocates say much work needs to be done in neighboring Schenectady and Rennselaer counties.

The group is calling on state and county leaders to make use of millions in federal transportation funds doled out for dozens of regional projects throughout the year to aid in workforce development.

The Roads to Jobs: Patterns of Employment in the Construction Industry, a study conducted by The Transportation Equity Network (TEN), surveyed 18 metropolitan areas in the United States. The report outlined year 2000 populations figures, hourly construction wages, living wages for two adults and living wages for those with children. Among the study areas were Syracuse, Buffalo and Albany.

The Albany figures incorporated Albany, Schenectady and Rennselaer counties.

ARISE advocates pointed out that despite past efforts to steer low-wage women and minorities towards construction jobs, only 3 percent of the construction workforce were women, and minorities made up only 8 percent of the total figure.

ARISE hopes to work with local unions and religious groups to boost those numbers and tap into the more than $987 million in transportation projects in the area, and the more than 8,000 construction and support positions that will be made available.

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