A win for good construction jobs

April 4, 2018

Last night, the San Jose City Council passed a groundbreaking set of policies to raise job quality and create career opportunities in construction, Silicon Valley’s second-fastest growing industry.

These policies will help San Jose’s construction workers support their families, and provide a pathway into the skilled construction trades for underrepresented communities, by:

  • Setting standards for fair wages, hiring local workers, and creating career opportunities on private developments that receive taxpayer subsidies.
  • Strengthening worker protections and expanding access to middle-class construction careers on public works projects.

While Silicon Valley is best known for programmers and software engineers, the tech boom has also spurred demand for construction. More than 32,000 people in Santa Clara County work in construction, but the industry is split between high-road contractors that invest in their workforce, and low-road contractors that exploit workers and have widespread safety violations.

In 2016, our study found San Jose’s public construction projects fell short in providing career opportunities to our diverse local communities.

Last month, we exposed how the two-tiered character of San Jose’s construction industry has driven tens of thousands into working poverty — and contributed to occupational segregation through major race and gender disparities in pay and representation.

San Jose is now one of the first cities in California to help level this playing field by establishing workforce and hiring standards on private developments receiving public subsides. The win also builds on the community workforce policies we’ve won at VTA and the County of Santa Clara.