Rox meeting addresses jobs at Ferdinand site

Sandra Larson | 11/1/2011, 7:58 p.m.

Local workers seeking jobs jammed a recent Dudley Vision Advisory Task Force meeting to hear about the schedule and construction job opportunities for the Ferdinand project. They came away with a job forecast, but few guarantees and no immediate prospects for the $115 million project slated to start in spring of 2012.

Joe Mulligan, deputy director of capital construction at the city’s Property and Construction Management Department (PCM), presented a timeline of construction activity and associated trades for each phase of the Ferdinand project.

In 2012, the early stages of the project include temporary and permanent stabilization of the historic facade, site preparation and foundation work. During that time there will likely be demand for laborers, ironworkers, welders, carpenters and operators.

The major construction at the Ferdinand site is scheduled to start in early 2013 and last well into 2014. Retail build-out also gets underway in 2014, along with sidewalk, landscaping, security, telephone and IT tasks. During 2013-14, trades in demand will include not only laborers and carpenters, but plumbers, electricians, masons, metal and sheet metal workers, painters and specialists in HVAC, flooring, glazing, tile and sprinklers.

When Mulligan moved on to talk about actually getting jobs, the meeting heated up some. He mentioned that a walk-in application trailer would be on the site. This had been a successful feature of the Area B-2 Police Station project, he said. But when he asked who in the room had worked on that project, no hands went up.

“It doesn’t work!” shouted one attendee.

“It’s not perfect, but it works,” argued Mulligan. “You have to come with a skill set.”

During the question and answer period, the man who had shouted out said he has 30 years of experience in a trade, has licenses and OSHA card and the like -— but still didn’t get hired. “They tell me to be proactive. But after I call a few times, they start saying, what are you bothering me for?” he complained.

Mulligan called on Clyde Thomas to address the question. Thomas was the community liaison who gave out applications at the walk-in trailer on the B-2 site.

“We give them the applications we have. But we can’t force them,” Thomas said. This generated more frustration in the room. Some called loudly that the city should stop working with contractors that won’t hire local minority workers.

Brooke Woodson, director of the city’s Small and Local Business Enterprise (SLBE) Office, affirmed the city’s commitment to minority and local hiring.

“The city does take these goals seriously,” he said. “We do enforce them. It doesn’t mean everyone gets a job all the time, but we’re doing all that we can to effectuate that.

“One of the things I heard before the B-2 project was, ‘It’s too late now. The contracts have been given out,’ ” he continued. “We want you to inform you earlier this time. We’re here to move forward.”

The last presenter was Roxbury Resource Center Director Alan Gentle. He spoke briefly about the Center’s career resource library, career workshops, and monthly industry briefings and job fairs. The Boston Housing Authority will be there Nov. 14 recruiting for pre-apprenticeship programs, he noted.