A groundbreaking Student and Community Workforce Agreement (SCWA), passed unanimously by the Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors, was signed by key community stakeholders last week.
Signatories included SPS Board President Zachary DeWolf, SPS Superintendent Denise Juneau, Seattle Building & Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary Monty Anderson, and Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle Program Manager Amesha Lawton.
The SCWA is among the first in the nation to build a construction training and employment program that has students, former students and student families at its center, and it is the second Community Workforce Agreement approved by a school district in Washington state.
“This agreement is groundbreaking. It is the first in Washington state, and likely nationally, to place racial equity as well as students, former students, and student families at the center of a construction labor agreement–this is but one way we can operationalize our commitment to becoming an anti-racist institution,” said SPS Board President Zachary DeWolf, who was instrumental in moving the agreement forward. “I thank all of the leaders involved in building this exciting partnership that will have an impact today and seven generations into the future.”
Key agreement highlights include:
• The SCWA will create priority training and employment for SPS construction projects at or above $5 million.
• The agreement will prioritize career, training and employment for Seattle and community members including former SPS students who are ready to seek careers in construction and wage earners who have SPS students in their households.
• It will also prioritize Black, Indigenous and all People of Color, Women, and residents within an Economically Distressed Zip Code.
“The path toward equity in career development and construction contracting has been a long one, but we are so pleased with this exciting new partnership, which will foster equity and opportunity, and support the community. The Urban League looks forward to being part of this tremendous progress,” said Michelle Merriweather, President and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, one of the training partners that will help implement the program.
The SCWA was approved after years of advocacy and research, including a six-month research and deliberation process by a task force established by the SPS school board in June 2019. The task force included a diverse range of community experts and leaders from the construction industry, union organizations and training and education organizations.
“I’m thrilled to see this legacy agreement come to fruition. Community Workforce Agreements increase opportunity and transformational access to construction careers,” said Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal. “There is also a strong business case for CWAs for their benefit to increasing the predictability and worker pipeline for the construction industry. They are a smart business decision for school districts, and a big win for students and communities.”
SPS will implement the SCWA working with construction industry contractors to prepare them for this new framework. The district will also conduct outreach to women and minority business firms to ensure they have access to the work and opportunities. A new pre-apprenticeship program aligned with the school district’s Construction Skills program will be established starting in the 2021-22 academic year. The district will also undertake and partner on marketing efforts to engage parents, families, students and the community about these bidding, job and career opportunities in construction.