The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Support the Cohen Amendment to H.R. 7: Construction Careers Demonstration Project

Advocacy Letter - 02/02/12

Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Recipient: U.S. House of Representatives

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 210 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States, we urge you to vote in favor of the Construction Careers Demonstration Project Amendment, as expected to be offered by Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) at the markup of the American Energy and Infrastructure Act of 2012 (H.R. 7). The proposed Amendment would help low-income people, minorities, women, veterans, and people with disabilities have better access to construction employment in the transportation sector; encourage hiring of these workers; and build more opportunities for quality apprenticeship training.

Jobs in the transportation sector—including construction, maintenance, and operation—can provide pathways to middle class careers for all workers, which is especially important for individuals in disadvantaged communities, who have been underrepresented in the construction transportation workforce.  By establishing a framework to lift up job standards in the construction industry and develop new recruitment and training standards that help new workers get into jobs, construction career programs benefit workers, communities, and the construction industry as a whole.

The Construction Careers Demonstration Project draws from existing successes as pioneered by states and cities, including California and Missouri, that have yielded proven best practices and positive outcomes for low-income workers and contractors. In Los Angeles, construction projects undertaken with construction careers programs have employed targeted residents for about 35% of all worker hours.[1] The Missouri Department of Transportation endeavored to hire low-income apprentices as 30% of the workforce on a $500 million highway project. Approximately 27% of the 300 workers hired have been women and minorities.[2]  Construction careers programs are gaining support because they create unique pathways into middle class careers for workers and address concerns about the long-term need for a highly-trained and qualified construction industry workforce.

We urge you to vote in favor of Representative Cohen’s Construction Careers Demonstration Project Amendment to H.R. 7. If you have any questions about this letter, or the position taken by The Leadership Conference, please feel free to contact Lexer Quamie, Counsel at (202) 466-3648 or quamie@civilrights.org or Nancy Zirkin at (202) 466-3311 or zirkin@civilrights.org. Thank you for your consideration.



Wade Henderson
President & CEO

Nancy Zirkin
Executive Vice President

[1] Owens-Wilson, Sebrina. “Constructing Buildings & Building Careers: How Local Governments in Los Angeles are Creating Real Career Pathways for Local Residents.” Partnership for Working Families, Nov. 2010.

[2] “The New I-64 Workforce Development Program.” Missouri Department of Transportation,  Jan. 2010.

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