Progress in Portland; Creating Jobs for Those Left Behind

Carpenters show up at Portland City Hall to fight for diversity on Portland construction sites

For over a decade, the NW Carpenters have been working towards increasing diversity within the industry. We realized our union did not reflect the community we served.

Seven years ago, we began to press publicly-funded projects to adopt a Community Benefits Agreement–or CBA’s for short. CBA’s require employers to focus on hiring more women and people of color and set the standards for apprenticeship utilization. 

After the first two projects to adopt this agreement were wildly successful, we began to push the CBA to cover more publicly-funded projects across Portland. Then, in 2018, the Portland Metro Workforce Development Board released a market study showing the disparity of minority representation in the construction industry. The report cited what we already knew–that by bringing in a more diverse workforce, it would lead to a stronger supply of skilled workers and address the economic inequality felt by women and minorities. 

Realizing we had more work to do, C2P2 was founded. The Construction Careers Pathways Project is a workgroup formed of 16 different public agencies, organized labor, contractors, and pre-apprenticeship programs. The goal of C2P2 is to create a framework to diversify the workforce across the board. For over a year, the group continues to work to establish clear paths addressing this issue within the construction industry.

In late 2019, the Metro Council adopted “Resolution No. 19-5038,” a C2P2 guide on public projects. Any projects over $5 million are now subject to the full provisions of the plan, meaning:

  • A minimum of 20% total hours performed in each trade by apprentices in a state registered program
  • A minimum of 14% of the total project hours will be performed by women
  • A minimum of 25% of total work hours will be performed by people of color

Reducing the Gap for Minorities and Women in the Trades

Carpenters sit in on a meeting with City Council about Community Benefit Agreements on public works

The Portland area is expected to add nearly 9,000 new jobs in construction-related fields by 2026. It is estimated that 3,400 positions will be created for minority workers, meaning $185 million in earned wages. For women, this means 1,900 jobs and equates to $103 million in earned wages.

Portland Metro adopting C2P2 is a huge step forward. It is monumental to see such a large group of organizations working together to give communities who have typically lacked representation within these fields a stronger voice. And, as the saying goes: A rising tide lifts all ships.

Did You Know?

Apprenticeships help business.

Apprentices are great for business: helps recruit and develop a highly skilled work force; improves productivity and the bottom line; provides opportunities for tax credits and employee tuition benefits in some states; reduces turnover costs and increases employee retention; and creates industry-driven, flexible training solutions for local and national needs. Learn More


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