Loose Lips

Looking for a Construction Job? Tell Eleanor

If you're D.C. resident looking for a construction job on a federal project and feel like you've been given short shrift, head on over to the Rayburn House Office Building tonight at 6 p.m. and tell Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton about it. Or at least listen to her talk about it.

Norton is hosting a roundtable that includes contractors on large federal projects like the GSA headquarters and the Smithsonian African American Museum of History and Culture. There will also be District residents who work on those projects there to discuss "their experiences getting work on these federal construction projects, the work they are currently doing on those sites, and other questions that can help guide other residents looking for similar work," per a release from Norton's office.

"We are interested in finding ways to get our residents and small businesses hired, rather than criticism that is not remedy-oriented," Norton says in a statement. " It is unacceptable for D.C. residents and small businesses to be sitting on the sidelines as federal dollars meant to provide jobs flow to construction projects in their home town."

But the problem, according to the Rev. George C. Gilbert, Jr., who heads the advocacy group D.C. Jobs or Else, is that Norton isn't letting those residents who can't find jobs on federal projects talk about why they haven't been able to land those jobs.

"She's not hearing anyone from the unemployment side of the table," he says, adding that Norton is only likely to hear the "company line" from workers who speak tonight. He says that he's accompanied qualified job as they apply for work on the museum and seen those applicants "ignored, turned away, or misled about job application procedures."

A spokesman for Norton did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gilbert has organized a rally before tonight's roundtable to protest Norton's decision to exclude those workers' testimonies. It's at 5:30 p.m. at the park by South Capitol Street and C Street SW.

Update: A statement from Norton's spokesman:

“We welcome actions by residents that help us hold federal contractors accountable. This evening’s roundtable hearing is an important accountability tool, and we have invited contractors and public officials whom we will hold accountable, as well as D.C. residents on the job, whose experience can help us in guiding other residents in finding similar work. This evening’s hearing is devoted to a half-dozen downtown federal construction sites in progress, and to the Smithsonian African American Museum of History and Culture, which is in its start-up phase.”

Photo by Darrow Mongtomery

  • name

    More government theater by everyone's loving grandmother, EHN.

    If governing was nothing but complaining and holding hearings, she'd be reelected every year.

    Oh wait....

  • WARD4NDC

    I can't stand this do nothing loud mouth woman and I wish she would retire from office. Eleanor get no respect in Congress by many of her colleagues. She's seen as an angry black woman.

  • WARD4NDC

    Correction:

    Eleanor get no respect in Congress from many of her colleagues.

  • ThisIsAJoke

    If anyone actually believes that she cares about DC residents being hired for jobs in DC then think again.

    Eleanor, start with the DC Government if you dare! Find out why those dunce HR professionals in DC government are still playing the NEPOTISM GAME. Vince Gray is done so they need not pander to ole yeller's wishes on who he wants hired or who his friends want hired. Why isn't residency preference being taken seriously for highly qualified applicants?

  • Sally

    Who's more effective: Eleanor or one of the shadow senators?

  • Dan Lucas

    Dear Loose Lips:

    What is a real shame is that qualified construction workers exist in DC. Laborers' Local 657 has hundreds of DC natives ready and willing to go to work but because they are union members they don't get hired. It's the same old thing going on: squeeze the bottom so the top makes more money and with our tax dollars too!

  • Justine

    Maybe the construction jobs in D.C. are going to illegal alien Central Americans and Mexicans.

  • Real talk

    Dear Dan Lucas,

    Why should an organization with a limited budget pay more for the same qualified non-union labor? Just because you pay union dues doesn't mean you're qualified, it just means you complain first when a non-union (read: cheaper) shop wins a bid.

    Be more competitive.

    Kind regards,
    A buyer who will always award best value

  • Sancho

    Mi otra latino brethren will get these jobs more so than not because we are not afraid to work. Mi amigos que viven in DC tend to like to sit around in the park and harrass women as they walk by instead of working.

  • Ward-8

    Dog gone haters, my child is one of the sucess stories from Elenor's DC only job fair,the most over looked and least said is that a majority of the DC residents yelling about getting a job lack qualification for the jobs they are applying for and a lot of them feels they are owed the job and make no effort to get qualification, enough said!

  • OhReally

    @Ward-8 - I suppose you are qualified with all of those glaring comma splices in your writing. Get real! Hopefully your "qualified" child doesn't have your same problems that are commonly seen in students taking remedial courses.

    Consider this: Eleanor is not qualified to do her elected job, but her unqualified azz keeps being elected by fools such as yourself.

    I can tell you are the old blood in DC that will keep putting excuse tags on stupidity.

  • Ward-8

    I feel that it's a shame that experience people that were born and raised here in Washington, DC, that are qualified do the work applying and then you see other non DC residents working. Some of these project were first introduced in 2009 and they still have not setup a system for the hiring of DC residents. We are not asking for anything, we just need you to do whats right for the residents. How can you rebuild our city and not have the DC Residents best interest at heart. DC JOBS OR ELSE. I understand that everybody may not want to work but their are some that do.

  • Ward-8

    I feel that it's a shame that experience people that were born and raised here in Washington, DC, that are qualified to do the work applying and then you see other non DC residents working. Some of these project were first introduced in 2009 and they still have not setup a system for the hiring of DC residents. We are not asking for anything, we just need you to do whats right for the residents. How can you rebuild our city and not have the DC Residents best interest at heart. DC JOBS OR ELSE. I understand that everybody may not want to work but their are some that do.

  • Webster Tarpley

    I know for a fact that the work going on in DC is staffed in large part by illegal immigrants.
    The company I work for uses illegals (hired through a 3rd party)rather than hire locals and Clark Construction is complicit in covering up this fact.
    So very sad that here in the nations capital the problem of illegal immigrants taking jobs from citizens is as bad or worse than anywhere in the country.
    Sad, but not suprizing........

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