Combining Forces: DPR Helps Gather Firms, Unions, Government to Advance Workforce Development.

DPR helped to assemble a coalition of contractors and labor unions representing more than $50 billion in revenue and more than two million workers in the skilled trades. Together, the group engaged with the U.S. Department of Labor to help support workforce development programs as well as comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to legal status for undocumented workers in the construction trades.

The coalition met with U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh in September after first signing their names to a letter along with the rest of the consortium in support of these goals.

Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh
The coalition, which DPR Construction helped to lead, met with U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh in September 2021. Courtesy of Ronda Churchill Photography

“What we’ve found is we have a lot of common ground among our businesses and unions,” said DPR’s George Pfeffer. “Our industry is, historically, very fragmented. If we want to make meaningful change and attract the next generation of workers in the trades, it’s going to take a unified approach.”

The meeting, held at the United Brotherhood of Carpenters International Training Center in Las Vegas, NV, offered robust discussion around what the consortium feels is needed, how the Dept. of Labor can support those ends and the challenges that need to be addressed.

There are a number of programs that successfully bring people into the trades,” said UBC General President Douglas J. McCarron. “From existing high school programs to those that help divert youth from homelessness or the criminal justice system, there are great opportunities. The key question is how do we help scale them so they can grow?”

The Secretary noted that the Dept. of Labor has billions of dollars in grant money available to groups like this, but that many need support in just applying for the grants.

DPR is focusing on building the craft workforce.
DPR is focusing on building the craft workforce, including expanding recruiting methods to attract a more diverse group of talented people. Courtesy of Congregation Media

Seeing this group together is a great start,” said Secretary Walsh. “Labor and business should not wait for local governments to take action. Instead, we should work together to lead and support these programs themselves in the markets where they are needed.”

Conversations are continuing as coalition members work to identify programs that may want to pursue grants and then, determining how to best support that process. More collaboration with the Dept. of Labor is likely.

In attendance at the meeting were representatives from many coalition members including leaders from APi Group, DPR Construction, FMI, Gilbane Building Company, Granite Construction, McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. and Southland Industries as well as union leaders from the Carpenters and Ironworkers.