DPS agreement, executive order encourage contractors, unions to give Detroit residents priority in hiring for bond program

Steven Wasko at 313-873-4542
Kisha Verdusco at 313-873-4546

Detroit workers and students will have priority for job training and apprenticeship programs under an agreement that Detroit Public Schools has reached with 18 labor unions that will work on the district’s $500.5 million school renovation and construction bond program.

The district reached a new Project Labor Agreement with the Greater Detroit Building Trades Council and their member unions, the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and all contractors who will perform construction, demolition and renovation work for the bond program.

The district and the unions also have agreed to create a new construction institute, allowing DPS students to have job development and mentoring opportunities. The district will provide the buildings and cover all operational costs for the buildings, while the unions and contractors collectively will provide the instructors and curriculum. The goal is to ensure students leave the institute qualified enter the unions’ apprenticeship programs.

“This agreement is good for the district because it saves us millions of dollars, but it’s also good for students, unions and city workers seeking jobs and hoping to learn a trade,” said Robert Bobb, Detroit Public Schools’ Emergency Financial Manager. “Through this agreement, we will create apprenticeship programs to build a more qualified Detroit workforce, and we will guarantee that qualified Detroiters have a first shot at getting a job through the bond program, something we know city residents need in these tough economic times.”

The tenets of the agreement include:
– Wages – Union wages will be guaranteed for all trade workers on the bond issue.
– Cost savings – Unions are agreeing to concessions to enable the district to save approximately $3 million in labor costs so that the program can be implemented efficiently and in a cost effective manner.
– First Source Detroit labor force hiring – The district, through the bond program, will look to City residents to fill positions first.
– Apprenticeship – The agreement encourages an increase in the number of Detroit residents in approved apprenticeship programs by requiring three apprentice fairs to be held in Detroit in each year of the Program and by providing an assessment process for persons who may have trade skills but are not part of an apprentice program to become approved apprentices. It also establishes a priority enrollment list for Detroit residents.

Under the terms of the agreement, all contractors will agree to become a party to the Project Labor Agreement before performing any work. Non-union contractors can work on the program, but the employer has to abide by union wages, benefits and grievance procedures.

Bobb also issued an executive order that requires contractors with projects valued at $250,000 or more to include non-trade Detroit residents in their proposals. The order promotes the priority hiring of Detroit residents and ownership and contract dollar opportunities for Detroit-headquartered businesses.

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