Local people should work on local projects because it puts money in their pockets and boosts the local economy.
It puts money in local and state tax coffers for vital services such as education, public works and social services.
And it brings them pride to see what they built in their community and fosters a desire to give back.
Modeled after Milwaukee’s Residents Preference Program, Allentown is promoting the hiring of city residents as part of a contractor’s or developer’s workforce on certain projects financed publicly or privately. This is essential for upcoming Allentown projects.
This year, the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters started a committee to increase the recruitment of people of color and women in its union.
This committee develops solutions to increase minority demographics, engages in community involvement and coalition building and showcases the union’s commitment to working people.
Members of the committee conduct frequent outreach activities with minority organizations in the area.
This summer, they will participate in several events in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, including the Sabor Latin Festival, Multi-Cultural Fest, Puerto Rican Flag Raising and Festival and the Amigo Festival.
The union also is actively involved in local community and charitable activities, including:
Community partnership with Roosevelt Elementary School in Allentown, which has 70 percent minority student enrollment. Through this partnership, the union educates students about a career as a carpenter and helps them to design and fabricate “buddy benches.” These benches can be used by students who feel isolated or are being bullied at school.
In January, 20 carpenter apprentices devoted their time and expertise to install new carpeting and ceiling tiles at the Church on the Mall in Plymouth Meeting. The church is a popular congregation area for community residents and houses The Rachel Way, a gluten- and dairy-free food pantry which feeds about 300 families a month.
Last July, volunteer carpenters helped to assemble the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall and 13 benches for visitors at Penndel Memorial Field in Penndel. The wall, which is three-fifths the scale of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., is 6 feet tall and 300 feet wide.
The union frequently makes presentations to local high school and vocational/technical school students.
In January, members met with 90 students at the Executive Education Academy Charter School in Allentown, a school with 80 percent minority student enrollment.
This winter, members also spoke with students at Freedom and Liberty high schools in Bethlehem, and with students at Allen and Dieruff high schools in Allentown.
The union also communicates frequently with area school boards, workforce investment boards, elected officials and minority organizations to spread the word about how local residents can join the union.
Kevin Lott is a council representative with the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters’ Local 167, which is based in Allentown and represents the counties of Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.