Next challenge for KCI: balancing union, minority construction hiring

Plans for the new single terminal at Kansas City International Airport have rekindled tensions between two groups with a long and unhappy history: construction trade unions and the city’s minority community.

Labor is pushing Edgemoor, the Maryland-based developer selected by the city to lead the $1 billion project, for an agreement to use only unionized workers on the job.

The company maintains that such a pact would make it impossible to meet its pledge to the city of a 35 percent participation rate at the site for minority and women-owned firms.

City data appears to support Edgemoor’s position that a carve-out is essential. Only about half of the city’s approximately 640 certified minority and women-owned businesses are unionized.

“We do not believe the project would be successful in meeting (hiring) goals if it were designated all union,” the city’s human resources director, Phillip Yelder, told a City Council committee late last year. “We believe there must be an inclusion for all contractors to be able to participate.”

Minority construction contractors have been invited to meet with union leaders, Edgemoor and the companies that will be building the terminal to explore how more of them can be brought into a labor agreement. The meetings are scheduled for 3 pm. Tuesday and Thursday at the Minority Contractors Association offices.

Read more: Kansas City Star

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