Sometimes Tocci’s work requires more than building a building.
Managing community, labor, government, and public or private lender relations often have a project role. The role is certainly secondary to the construction effort but successful management of tangential relationships and obligations can make a difference in stakeholder and project partner satisfaction with our performance. 3 Journal Square is the recipient of two provisional tax relief programs. We have a fairly significant role in assuring that the owners (Hartz and their partners) actually earn or retain the benefits of these programs. If we fail in satisfying these obligations the awarding entities have the right to rescind benefits. The Owner then pays higher property taxes and we lose the potential for repeat work.
One of the tax relief packages received for this project is a Jersey City Tax Abatement. Under the abatement, the owner is obligated to meet or demonstrate a good faith effort to meet specific requirements designed to provide economic benefit to the city and its residents. It is specified that the General Contractor and their subcontractors provide job opportunities to Jersey City inhabitants. Tocci is making a significant effort to place 51% minority and 6.9% female Jersey City residents on the project and assign 50% of the apprenticeship hours to Jersey City residents.
One of the mandates for meeting this goal is hosting local job fairs. The 3 Journal Square project is governed by a Project Labor Agreement which was also a city requirement. Any new journeymen workers required by our subcontractors will be assigned by the local unions from their pool of existing and available union members. That means the biggest opportunity for new jobs is through union apprenticeship programs. Tocci has been working with the City and the Hudson County Building and Construction Trades Council to organize and advertise two job fairs that target apprentice candidates. The first of these fairs was held on February 11th at the Bethune Life Center, a community center, in Jersey City. Guestimate is that 200 potential apprentices, attended to learn about the trades and fill out an interest application. The second job fair was held on February 25th.
Interested candidates don’t get automatic acceptance into an apprenticeship program. Getting into an electrical, carpentry, labor, ironworker, plumbing, or other apprenticeship program requires:
• Having a High School Diploma or GED
• Passing a reading and math aptitude test
• Having a clean driver’s license
• Passing a drug test
• Successfully interviewing for a job and starting their apprenticeship
Only 5% of applicants who take the aptitude test pass on the first try. The Hudson County Building and Construction Trades Council, however, facilitates reading and math refresher courses for candidates who do not pass but continue to have an interest in pursuing a trade career. 70% of candidates who take the refresher courses pass the test on a second try. The unions will work with candidates with driver’s license issues such as parking tickets to clear records up. They also provide guidance for successful interviewing. Candidates who fail their drug tests are barred from re-applying for an apprenticeship program for one year.
We can’t wait to see how many of the hopeful faces from these job fairs are assigned to our project to learn their chosen craft!