Blacks in Philadelphia Strive to Diversify Construction Trades – WHY
After several years of seeing Philadelphia fail to significantly diversify the city’s burgeoning construction and building trades, black workers want change.
More than 50 construction unions have made their home in the greater Philadelphia area, but only one, Laborers District Council Local 332, has a predominantly black membership.
“Are we still talking about inclusion? I’ve been away from the set for 17 years, it’s sad, ”said Randy Jubilee, an entrepreneur turned business owner of Jubilee HVAC Group, on Tuesday at a roundtable organized by the West Philadelphia Promised Zone and the City’s Economic Opportunities Committee. “If we’re really about it, make it happen. Introducing the residency requirement for apprenticeships as before, you increase the tax base, you stop the violence and you provide more job opportunities, because if we are to be realistic, quotas don’t work.
Robert Paul is a sheet metal worker with 49 years of experience. After decades of frustration, he stopped waiting for the city to help diversify trades and became a union recruiter.
“Everyone wants to talk about it, make a lot of noise and make it this big, long fight,” Paul said. “Well, I don’t want to hear that.”
He focuses on recruiting at his church, Piney Grove Baptist Church, and offers help to anyone who needs help passing aptitude tests. He even brought seven young members he recruits from his church to the panel.
“We are doing it,” he said. “We are taking 12 weeks to teach you the seven parts of this test. And once you get through it, you still have to come back and we get you ready for the interview part. I want the people of this union to be like me.