The construction industry is booming, but sadly the quality of those jobs has eroded. Just 12.8 percent of workers building America’s buildings, homes, and highways are members of unions. Those with union representation average $26.56 per hour, 49 percent higher than those without it. For those without union protections, abuses ranging from wage theft to harassment to unsafe working conditions are on the rise. Immigrant workers are particularly vulnerable.
The construction sector offers prospects for raising wealth within communities of color, women-led households, veterans and returning citizens. The construction workforce has become more diverse thanks in large part to apprenticeship programs, run jointly by unions and contractors, which have recruited women and workers of color and invested billions in training a new generation of construction workers. Yet there is more work to be done. Women hold just 3.4 percent of construction jobs, racial minorities are underrepresented in higher paying occupations, and Latinx workers are overrepresented in terms of construction fatalities.
The Role Investors Can Play
Jobs with Justice Education Fund is advancing an initiative to encourage pension funds and foundation endowments use their real estate investments to create a more inclusive and equitable economy. We encourage them to adopt policies for their real estate and infrastructure investments that ensure construction workers receive living wages, secure health and retirement benefits, safe working conditions and adequate training AND that create real opportunities for those historically excluded from these good jobs.
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