People of color in central New York aren’t getting a fair number of jobs in the construction industry, a local study finds. According to a new study by the Urban Jobs Task Force and the Legal Services of Central New York, there’s a major racial disparity in the New York construction industry despite people of color making up a quarter of the state population.
Researchers analyzed a group of construction projects taking place in New York state including the I-690 project, the Syracuse Hancock Airport Renovations, and the Lakeview Amphitheater in Onondaga.
Researchers found that 88% of the construction workers on these projects were white. Approximately 4% of workers were black or indigenous and only a few workers were Hispanic and Asian.
“Workforces are white in Central New York and we’ve seen it driving by them,” said Andrew Croom, an attorney from Legal Services of Central New York who worked on the study. “Was I ready for how white they were? No.”
The U.S. construction industry is usually a good place for American workers to earn money. Construction projects have public money in them paid for by tax dollars, beneficiaries of government grants, or tax breaks. In 2016 alone, the construction market was worth $1,162 billion and the composite materials market is expected to reach $38 billion by 2023.
The lack of inclusivity in the industry is concerning for many reasons, but especially because it keeps impoverished New Yorkers from finding good-paying jobs. Up to 16% of Rochesterians are living in extreme poverty and 15% of those in Monroe County live below the poverty line.
“You know, living in a city that’s 50% minority and 50% white, I expected a project like I-690 that’s two blocks from my house to be represented by the city where it is,” said Croom. “And it was so far from that, that yes, I found [these] results shocking.”
Urban Jobs President Deka Dancil says there are historical reasons why many people of color aren’t working in construction. The construction of Interstate 81 caused economic and racial segregation, urban renewal, and redlining.
“[This] made the networks of minorities only be with other poor minorities,” said Dancil. “And the networks of white people, for people who had the paying jobs, [were] exposed to the construction trade. I tell you … my whole time growing up in high school, I never even heard a thing about it.”
Dancil also points out that barriers such as non-paid training, lack of transportation, and lack of childcare prevent those who are already living in poverty from getting into construction programs that could lead to higher paying jobs.
Croom says that there are ways to ensure inclusivity in construction projects. LA Metro in Los Angeles is creating workforce agreements within their PLAs and have unions in the community working together.
New York state could see more collaboration with unions and have them more actively recruit in the city with targeted training, Croom says. Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh recently launched Syracuse Build in an effort to train those in the city who are looking to work on the I-81 project.
However, Dancil says she isn’t as optimistic after seeing years of meetings on the topic of boosting inclusivity in the construction industry. The voices of local residents need to join those of policymakers, she says.
“I think what it comes down to [is] that there has to be a big table,” says Croom, “there has to be collective action to say ‘we’re all here. We all want the same thing.’ So, we have to work together to make those policies.”
Aldi is the common brand of a German family-owned discount supermarket chain with over 10,000 stores in 20 countries. The grocery chain was founded by Karl and Theo Albrecht in 1946 when they took over their mother’s store in Essen, which had been in operation since 1913.
According to the Democrat and Chronicle, Aldi’s is making its way back to the North Winton part of Rochester. Aldi’s has tried for years to open a store in the area, but were blocked by landlords and area residents. Still, the chain has to wait for Rochester to OK the signage before they start their remodeling plans, which would involve reconstructing the former Tops Friendly Markets.
“This is where it hurts,” said Mary Coffey, a co-chairperson of the North Winton Village Association. “Although we are thrilled to death about Aldi’s, the big concern is what is it going to look like?”
North Winton residents have expressed their disappointment over how the former Tops will be remodeled. The plans involve an angled roof and a combination of aluminum and masonry for the storefront veneer. Since 50% of all customers who enter a business do so because of the signage, the visual aesthetic is crucial for both organizations and consumers alike. To put it another way, nearly 85% of people surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that signs can convey the “personality or character of the business.”
“Aldi has changed its traditional look and is going with something more modern,” added James Seitz, president of the Browncroft Neighborhood Association who opposed the original Aldi plan based on its design. “Some people have liked it, and some people think it’s too edgy for the street.”
According to Rochester City Newspaper, Flaum Management, the commercial real estate firm that owns the property, has committed to upgrading the landscaping and lighting across the plaza.
“We are committed to working with the neighborhood associations to create a property that works within the scope of the neighborhood,” said Loren Flaum, VP of finance for Flaum Management.
Local dentist Dr. Susan Bracker is taking action in the face of a national addiction crisis. She has vowed to run an opioid-free clinic in an attempt to lower the number of people who first experience the addictive drug through the prescriptions dentists give out after surgery.
When patients enter Dr. Bracker’s practice in Greece, the first thing they see is a sign on the door informing them of the change in procedure. Dr. Bracker believes that her small notice on the practice door is more than an indication of how that specific practice operates, but a greater sign of the times.
“I think this has affected so many people. There’s not a person out there who doesn’t know someone who has died from addiction,” Dr. Bracker told 13WHAM News.
Across the United States, overdoses from opioids have been increasing in men and women in most age groups. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 42,000 people died of overdoses from prescription or illicit opioids in 2016 alone.
It may seem like this addiction crisis would only affect those who struggle to manage longterm conditions, such as the six out of 10 baby boomers who are predicted to manage a chronic condition by 2030. However, a recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed the unexpected risks that prescription opioids from dentists pose to teenagers.
Every year, dentists pull 10 million wisdom teeth from patients who range in age from 13 to 30. About 80% of these patients fill the opioid prescription they receive from their dental surgeon. According to the recent study from JAMA, almost 6% of patients who fill the initial prescription are diagnosed with opioid abuse a year later. Teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 are among the hardest hit by the addiction.
Public health officials say that the best way to combat the crisis is to tackle the opioid prescription process, which is exactly what Dr. Bracker is doing at her practice. She is encouraging patients to turn to over-the-counter pain medication like Tylenol and Advil. According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, a review of over 460 studies showed that taking these two medications together in appropriate doses is actually more effective than opioid medication on dental pain and leads to fewer side effects.
“I think we’ve been programmed that, unless it’s a prescription, it isn’t as good. In most of those kinds of extractions, you really don’t need it. Most kids heal really fast and easily,” says Dr. Bracker.
At Dr. Bracker’s practice, they only break their opioid-free policy in extreme cases. Even in these instances, Dr. Bracker only allows doses of the opioid medication to cover three days, well under the seven-day recommendation from the American Dental Association. When she prescribes opioids, she also educates patients on their addictive nature and advises to take them on a strictly as-needed basis.
As 99.7% of adults believe that a healthy smile is socially important, avoiding procedures that cause dental pain is nearly impossible. However, Dr. Susan Bracker has demonstrated that avoiding the use of dangerously addictive medications is entirely possible when those giving out prescriptions take control.
February is Black History Month, and this year’s celebration is a special one for Rochester residents in particular. That’s because February 2019 is also the bicentennial anniversary of famed abolitionist and author Frederick Douglass, who later made his home in the Flower City. Not only is Douglass immortalized throughout Rochester in the form of statues for all to see throughout the year, but the University of Rochester’s Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies will partner with the school’s Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation library facility to showcase Douglass’s work and life.
Of course, this is not the only way Rochesterians are celebrating. Mayor Lovely A. Warren and Rochester’s Black Heritage Committee are hosting a month-long events program to pay tribute to our country’s proud black heritage. The City Hall Link Gallery hosted a special event to kick off the month with flair. Live jazz music by the Art Beaty Band could be heard as guests appreciated the artwork of 25 local African American youth and adult artists. Attendees also had the chance to sample a variety of specialty African American foods. Considering that an estimated 65% of American consumers purchased specialty foods in 2017, it’s likely the crowd left the event satisfied on several levels. The event may have passed, but the artwork will remain on display through the middle of March.
City Hall isn’t the only place you can experience incredible works of art, either. The Memorial Art Gallery also hosted a Black History Month event that included live jazz performances, art activities for children, storytelling, and even a Frederick Douglass impersonator. During February break, kids can also receive free admission to the museum with the purchase of an adult ticket. Since studies have shown that seeing a beautiful painting can increase the blood flow to the “joy response” part of the brain by 10% (the same effect you experience when you look at a loved one), this can be a wonderful cultural experience for families.
If art isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate Black History Month in Rochester. There are several gospel concerts planned throughout the month, including one that will take place in the City Hall Atrium on February 27 during the lunch hour. The U of R’s Tournees Film Festival features several selections for Black History Month, as well. The celebrations put on by the city actually continues into March, with the 16th Annual Black Heritage Gala on March 9 and the Community and College Gospel Explosion on March 30. The Memorial Art Gallery will also host a multi-screen film and video installation called Lessons of the Hour, which is inspired in part by Frederick Douglass, from March through May. Residents can also do their part to support black-owned businesses during this month by checking out Embellish Boutique, Simply Simone Naturals, the Arnett Cafe, and more. Black-Owned Business Rochester is an excellent resource to learn about other establishments in the area. Should you feel like staying home and tuning into some local programming instead, WXXI will broadcast television and radio programs throughout the month that feature influential black men and women.
Clearly, there are countless ways to celebrate Black History Month in Rochester, thanks to the city’s diversity and commitment to cultural appreciation and understanding. Don’t miss an opportunity to learn more about the iconic figures that have shaped the black experience, both past and present.
Many of you have noticed our extended hiatus and have begun asking if this is the end for RocSubway. I didn’t think it would be necessary to say anything about it. But for those of you who had followed this blog like religion for so long, you deserve some closure.
A little while ago I lost my job and decided to start my own web design business instead of going back to work for someone else. That was the best decision I ever made for myself. But it also means I now work pretty much nonstop with little time for anything else. What extra time I do have, I put into growing Reconnect Rochester . Reconnect is a nonprofit organization doing amazing work to change the way transportation is viewed in Monroe County. It’s something I’m very proud of. And it began with a seed planted right here.
So I’m not going away, really. I just won’t be posting much here for the foreseeable future. In the meantime you’re welcome to join me over at Reconnect . Or perhaps I’ll run into you somewhere else, helping to make our community better in your own way.
Before I sign off, I want to say thank you.
I’ve gained much more from every RocSubway reader I’ve met (virtually and in person) than what I’ve given on these pages. Always remember there are important lessons for the future buried deep within our past. Everywhere you look in this city—behind every wall and within every person—you will find a beautiful story. We’ve only scraped the surface.
On a recent trip to New York City (my previous home) I came across a poem in the subway by former U.S. Poet Laureate, Billy Collins. I cannot think of better words to close with…
As you fly swiftly underground
with a song in your ears
or lost in the maze of a book,
remember the ones who descended here
into the mire of bedrock
to bore a hole through this granite,
to clear a passage for you
where there was only darkness and stone.
Remember as you come up into the light.
Gilbert Hunt was a trolley and bus operator for Rochester Transit Corporation (the predecessor organization of RTS) from 1907 to 1948. When Gilbert retired in 1948 the Democrat & Chronicle published a story about him and his impressive collection of Rochester transit passes which he amassed over his long career. That collection is now up for grabs…
As some of you may have heard, bike share is coming to Rochester. I’ve considered writing about it all sorts of ways. I thought about mentioning how many other cities have it. Or how safe it is. Or even the specific plans for Rochester (warning: PDF). As you may have already guessed, I’m not about to do any of that. Instead, I’d like to discuss what bike share has meant for me over the past decade, and what it might mean for you too.
Rochester’s arts and entertainment community is in the final stages of preparation for the 2016 First Niagara Fringe Festival , which takes place Thursday, September 15 to Saturday, September 24, all across Rochester. There will be more than 500 performances at more than 25 venues in and around the city. And 170 of those performances are totally free!
If you haven’t noticed, it’s now mid-November, and your garden is probably all generous-ed out (see Part 1). I understand! But don’t let that discourage you from helping all the same. Read on to see what you can do to stay involved.
Somewhat unexpectedly, a fifth proposal for Midtown Parcel 5 was submitted. Spoiler alert, it’s, how to be polite about this, different. Ok, fine, it’s terrible. It’s bad. It’s terribad. It might even be a false flag operation to make the submitted proposals look better. I don’t know, but inexplicably it’s being taken seriously by parts of the city which is creating unrest with other parts of the city. I’d be calling for the popcorn if this weren’t the future of the middle of our town on the line.
While poking around the Rochester Image Database that the Monroe Public Library so lovingly maintains, I bumped into a series of 24 aerial photographs taken in 1982. That in and of itself wouldn’t be the most interesting thing ever, except the images portray Rochester in the middle of an incredible transition to be much closer to the city we know now than the one anyone might have recognized from before.
If you spend any amount of time looking at real estate in Rochester, you might discover that there are a non-zero number of vacant properties (although not as many as you might think). Others have noticed too, and a report on them has been written by Monroe County. While some of their solutions are laudable, it seems that access to capital for renovations isn’t there. This is one of the biggest problems, whether it’s for home owners themselves or investors.
Today’s Filling in is just a little bit different than usual. Instead of looking at one building or one site, we’re going to take a look at a whole block. Namely, Main Street from Clinton to St. Paul. If you hadn’t already heard, there is a huge event called The re:Main Social taking place there on October 1st. I hope all of you are able to make it. In the lead up to it, let’s discuss some short to long term visions for the area.
The City announced the Inner Loop RFP winners. The three proposals that won aren’t bad. No Great Wolf Lodge, at least. One of the sites is being held for a future RFP. Best of luck to all the winning proposals.
I don’t know of anyone in the world who loves parking—except maybe Lorraine Baines—but that’s not exactly the kind of parking I’m talking about here…
I’m talking about the hassle of cruising up and down the rows of a Wegmans parking lot, trying to squeeze in next to the hummer who decided he needed an extra couple of spaces, fighting the nine other drivers who won’t even entertain the thought of walking an extra twenty feet to pay $5 for a bottle of water.
When Andrea Chervenak received a letter earlier this year from the Town of Irondequoit notifying her that a sidewalk was being proposed for her street, she was thrilled. Unfortunately for Andrea, her neighbors’ front lawns are more important than her children’s safety. To hammer this nonsensical point home, some people even made lawn signs…
Cuomo was in town to announce a sizable expansion of the Genesee Brewery. More details here. This is exciting for Genny and the region in general. One other small plug for a local firm – the design is being done by Pardi.
After the Erie Canal was rerouted south of downtown Rochester, the Rochester
Industrial & Rapid Transit Railway (the subway) was built in
its place as a link between the five different railroads and interurban trolley
lines that served the Rochester area. As the industrial landscape of Rochester
changed, and highways replaced the railroads, the Rochester subway gradually
became a relic of a bygone era. In 1956 the subway was abandoned and much of
its route was converted into Interstate 490 built to connect Rochester
with the New York State Thruway (I-90). Read more about the history of the Rochester Subway.
RochesterSubway.com exists to help spark
public dialogue around how we can better connect the neighborhoods of Rochester
NY, surrounding communities, and their cultural offerings. Rochesters
future is written in her past. Let's rediscover it.