While IBEW Local 98 demagogue John Dougherty tries to gingerly step on the graves of 6 dead people in order to win some more protections for union contractors through City Council in a Facebook post that condenses down to “wouldn’t have happened if this was a union job”, AxisPhilly has taken a taken a closer look at the Trades themselves.
While Doc’s argument on the surface is of course correct,it doesn’t also imply that the Trades are accident-free, either. Nasty accidents on 100% union sites have happened in the past. Doc does further acknowledge a failure of oversight in L&I inspections didn’t keep the contractor in check. Well, wouldn’t that apply to all construction sites, not just closed-shop ones?
But let’s step back for a sec and take a look at the people who do work on union sites around our fair city. This is a long-established known thing about Philadelphia’s construction and engineering trades but has never really been put into numbers you can feel: the building trades in Philly is remarkably male, very white, and goes to bed at night in the suburbs.
Well, AxisPhilly has finally pinned some numbers on it:
In 2011 the trades made a public pledge with Mayor Michael Nutter: We will put more City residents on job sites, and more non-white/non-males as well. [WHYY] The fruits of that pledge are yet to be known. Morever, it seems that diversity on construction sites mostly has to do with non-union workers of Hispanic descent appearing on the scene in larger numbers, and the Laborers Union, the lowest-paid segment of the building trades which is predominantly where minorities are.
Like at the Oxford Mills site, which is literally behind Council President Darrel Clarke‘s house and has been protested by the trades.
For a little bit of background reading on this topic as to why this is so, I highly suggest two articles from PhillyMag. And I promise they’re not as horrible as that Being White in Philly piece they ran earlier this year:
The Last Union Town – Philadelphia Magazine
The Brothers Who Busted Philly Unions. For Good. – Philadelphia Magazine
While it surprises no one that Griffin Campbell construction was a non-union contractor, obviously not skilled enough to handle the jobs he took on; I don’t think this translates to an argument that only white suburban males are competent and capable of delivering quality construction work either.
And it’s completely idiotic, if not downright retarded, to point to the Basciano Collapse as a clarion call for Building Trades unionists to install a nebulous web of rules motivated to lock-in the Trades monopoly on contracts.
Let’s not use the victims of the building collapse as pawns in a Trades beef.