Housing Complex

History Shows It’s Possible to Employ D.C. Residents When You Have To

As a follow up to yesterday's protest over Clark Construction's low local hiring numbers at St. Elizabeths, let's take a look back.

Once upon a time, there was a project called the Nationals Stadium. It was very heavily funded by the city, and Mayor Anthony Williams set ambitious targets for hiring of D.C. residents, as did a project labor agreement with local construction unions. At the end of the project, those targets hadn't quite been met, but the results were still impressive: According to Clark's own report, 50.5 percent of new hires and 85 percent of new apprentices were D.C. residents. By another metric, D.C. residents accounted for 35 percent of all hours worked.

It's true that the ballpark project was smaller, worth $611 million to a total of $3.4 billion for the new Department of Homeland Security Headquarters. So far though, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton reports that 1,268,286 hours have been worked at St. Elizabeths, compared to 2,171,872 over the course of ballpark construction, so it's hard to argue that the pool of qualified D.C. labor can have already dried up. Back then, there was also a development bonanza in the region; the ballpark was hardly a construction worker's only option.

The difference between the two projects? In the ballpark scenario, a local entity was paying the bills, and unions had huge sway, both of which create more solid pipelines for D.C. residents to job opportunities. Again, construction projects shouldn't be the sole focus of addressing unemployment—jobs are jobs, after all, and as far as the feds are concerned, a Marylander deserves work just as much as a Washingtonian. But the General Services Administration has said it will try to hire locally, and past experience suggests it's totally possible to do so.

Image by pgmark via Wikimedia Commons.

  • D_rez

    How many residents (numbers, not percentages) were employed, and in what positions?
    Clark/Smoot should have those numbers.

  • Hillman

    Worst kept secret in DC during the Nats stadium construction was the extra costs associated with having to concentrate so much on hiring DC residents. Having to deal with people showing up drunk, with no work ethic or 'soft skills' as DC politicians like to sugar coat it, to the huge turnover and learning curve.

    The Feds are less likely to pay that cost.

    Particularly when it isn't built into their budget.

    Plus, the Nats stadium didn't have security concerns. A lot of DC residents that would apply for these jobs wouldn't pass a security screening, which will be necessary for much of what goes on at St E's, particularly in the latter phases.

  • Pingback: » REPORT: Washington Nationals Park Achieved Impressive Local Hire and Apprenticeship Figures

  • http://TheTruthAboutPLAs.com TheTruthAboutPLAs

    I would argue that the presence of a government-mandated PLA has had little impact on the hiring of DC residents on federal projects in the District.

    Take a look at this analysis and data from Del. EHN:
    http://thetruthaboutplas.com/2013/03/11/data-busts-myth-that-project-labor-agreements-result-in-increased-local-hiring/

    Pointing to the Nationals Baseball Stadium as proofa PLA can deliver on local hiring promises for DC residents is a bit of a stretch.

    Take a look at page 10 and 11 of Clark/Hunt/Smoot JV's report linked in the above article.

    The PLA on the Nationals Stadium wasn't the smashing success PLA advocates claim. It missed major local hiring goals and the DC government, the Clark/Hunt/Smoot JV and unions monitoring the PLA have failed to produce a final report on the local hire numbers, indicating they have something to hide.

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