Portland City Council mandates diversity in public construction

Though Commissioner Chloe Eudaly (left) was out for the vote, all five members of Portland’s City Council are in support of a new policy that enlists unions in efforts to get more women and minorities in construction.

Portland City Council voted 4-0 Nov. 8 to adopt several ordinances to increase participation of women and minorities as workers and contractors on public construction projects. City projects over $25 million will operate largely union under what amounts to a project labor agreement; those between $10 to $25 million would try to meet the same targets but without a formal role for unions. City managers will report back later on the success rate of the two approaches.

Meanwhile, a new fund will set aside 1 percent of hard construction costs to fund pre-apprenticeship training programs to prepare women and minorities for construction trades, and technical assistance for women- and minority-owned businesses.

“This is a living, breathing document that can be adjusted to meet our needs,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler introducing the ordinances.

“I appreciate the leadership you’ve shown to get us to where we need to be today,” said Columbia Pacific Building Trades  Council Executive Secretary-treasurer Willy Myers. “We’ve gone way past window dressing to actually having a policy that works.”

The City of Portland has hundreds of millions of capital projects in the pipeline, including wastewater treatment plant updates and a new filtration plant.

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