Chicago Housing Authority Board grants authority to negotiate first-ever Project Labor Agreement

Jul 18, 2017

Press contacts:
Office of Communications – Chicago Housing Authority
Molly Sullivan: (312) 786-3344;
Matthew Aguilar: (312) 935-2646;

CHICAGO (July 18, 2017): On the verge of enacting the Chicago Housing Authority’s first-ever Project Labor Agreement, the CHA Board of Commissioners today granted authority for CHA to negotiate an agreement with Chicago’s Building Trade Unions.

The result of months of preliminary work between CHA and the Chicago and Cook County Building and Construction Trades Council, the anticipated agreement would guarantee the use of union labor on certain CHA developments. In exchange, the Unions would guarantee that CHA residents will be provided access to training, union apprenticeships and jobs, giving them the opportunity to join Chicago area unions and the high-paying jobs they offer. The PLA would also reserve opportunities for Section 3 contractors.

“This is an important and historic day for CHA, our contractors and residents and is another example of how CHA is finding new ways to create a better future for our residents so they can gain greater economic self-sufficiency,” said CHA CEO Eugene Jones, Jr. “I am proud that we have forged this partnership with the unions. For too long, CHA residents did not have access to union apprenticeship programs and the high-paying jobs that they ultimately provide. The PLA would change that and open the door to greater economic and career opportunities.”

In addition to providing access to union apprenticeship programs, the new PLA would create training opportunities and establish hiring goals of 30 percent of apprenticeships or interns for CHA residents and would require that 10 percent of construction craft labor hours be filled by CHA residents in training and skills development programs.

The PLA would apply to contracts for construction, demolition, rehab or renovation and would require that all work performed under CHA contracts or subcontracts be performed by signatories to a union collective bargaining agreement or member of the Chicago and Cook County Building and Construction Trades Council or the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department.

The agreement would also call for CHA and the unions to develop and implement outreach and training programs to recruit CHA Section 3 program participants and CHA residents for union membership.

CHA and the Trades Council have already taken steps in that direction, with union sponsorship of the first of a number of workshops for CHA residents that are designed to acquaint them with union apprenticeship programs and the various trades, from painting, carpentry and bricklaying to roofing, electrical, plumbing and other work. The event in May drew almost 50 people and more events and outreach efforts are planned in the coming months.

CHA Board Chairman John T. Hooker, who has been instrumental in the formation of the PLA, said: “Organized labor has helped build Chicago into the world-class city that it is for residents and visitors alike. Today, we mark a new chapter in labor relations that would make one of our chief goals at CHA a reality: to enhance the participation of CHA residents in the labor force and to provide training and skills improvement opportunities for them. I applaud everyone who is working to achieve this agreement.”

Other key provisions of the PLA would include:

• CHA would work with each union to develop recruitment mechanisms to identify qualified CHA residents and to assist them in gaining entry into appropriate training programs administered by that union. This may include, with agreement from the unions, the development of pre-apprenticeship training curricula to be administered by an appropriate educational institution for the purpose of enhancing the successful participation and retention of CHA residents in apprenticeship programs. 

• CHA would organize, sponsor and host opportunities for CHA and the parties to implement building trades outreach programs and opportunities for CHA residents and other City of Chicago residents.  The parties would coordinate with and participate in these programs and opportunities by providing union personnel, in particular CHA residents or Section 3 participants, as speakers or advocates.

• Various recruitment, training and trade union eligibility programs may include some or all of the following:

  • Work readiness curriculum
  • Math or related substantive courses
  • Trade Exam preparation
  • Drug screening
  • Job site exposure
  • Potential mentoring opportunities
  • College or academic credit
  • Paid or volunteer intern opportunities