Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Building Trump's Infrastructure

Who they will be hiring:

"Trump’s infrastructure plans clash with his immigration agenda" by Beth Healy Globe Staff  November 16, 2016

If President-elect Donald Trump moves forward with plans to rebuild the country’s aging roads, bridges, airports, and transit systems, they may collide with another of his stated agenda items — curbing immigration.

With the US unemployment rate at 4.9 percent, many construction firms across the country are having trouble finding enough workers. In Massachusetts, the labor market is even tighter, with the jobless rate about as low as it gets, at 3.6 percent.

OMG, PLEASE!

“There would be severe labor shortages in dozens of industries if he were to go on a mass deportation spree,’’ Mark Erlich, executive secretary-treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, said of Trump.

Trump has said his administration will “prioritize the jobs, wages and security of the American people” and allow immigrants into the country based on their “likelihood of success.”

Over the weekend, he said he would seek to deport up to 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records. Later, he said, the administration would look harder at millions of other unauthorized foreign workers who are the country. If that resulted in huge numbers of deportations, the impact would be felt at restaurants and hotels in the Boston area, as well as by families who hire immigrants to care for their homes and children.

Those families would be the elite.

In construction, too — particularly in residential housing and apartment projects — Massachusetts builders rely on thousands of immigrant workers, many of whom are undocumented.

Yeah, lazy American citizens wouldn't want those jobs.

While such workers made up 5 percent of the total US workforce in 2014, they represented 13 percent of the construction industry, according to the Pew Research Center in Washington. That was second only to agriculture, at 17 percent.

I'm told the infrastructure spending “would be great for Massachusetts,’’ and I'm tired of reported “worker scarcity” being cited as public funding for big projects has been drying up.

Brian Turmail, spokesman for the Associated General Contractors, said “There’s been so much rhetoric over immigration,’’ Turmail said. “Like a lot of folks, we’re trying to parse through the rhetoric and get through to what President-elect Trump is proposing.”

In separate news interviews last weekend, Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan appeared to back away from Republican campaign promises to deport some 11 million undocumented workers. While construction workers could benefit short-term from higher wages if there are fewer immigrants competing for jobs, longer-term, Turmail said, there’s an immediate need in many areas for more construction workers.

“We have long championed allowing more people with construction skills to legally enter this country,’’ Turmail said. “We have championed a path to legal status. What that path is, we’re open to discussing.”

The group supports stronger border enforcement, he said, to protect employers from hiring undocumented workers.

“That’s a business risk that’s not worth whatever savings would come out of that,’’ Turmail said.

Erlich, the Massachusetts union official, is in the position of wanting to protect his members, and have the opportunity to organize immigrants who are here legally.

Undocumented workers can be subject to exploitation in construction. They often are often paid below-market wages, without benefits or insurance, and sometimes are subjected to greater safety risks.

And they are integral to Bo$ton's building boom.

“Employers want that labor because it’s cheaper,’’ often undercutting union wages, Erlich said....

So does Globe.

--more--"

I will be adding to this as more material surfaces.