Community Workforce Agreements (CWAs) are one of the most effective instruments to operationalize the social compact between labor and community and to achieve these two goals.
A Community Workforce Agreement is a formal, legally binding labor-management agreement that is negotiated between public or private construction end-users, the local Building Trades Council and prime contractors covering specified projects in a geographically defined jurisdiction. While the Building Trades Council leads in negotiating the CWA, individual Building Trades Unions are signatory to the agreement. The CWA is binding on all sub-contractors engaged in work on the specified projects.
Community interests are incorporated into the terms of the CWA. Community organizations may be signatory to agreements ancillary to the CWA, and should be involved in monitoring and assisting in the CWA's implementation. Accountability is an important principle for every CWA.
One key purpose of a CWA is to ensure that the two goals — job access and job quality — that underlay the social compact between labor and the community are actively pursued and persistently protected in a formal agreement covering retrofit projects. Thus, the CWA does two things. It creates new construction career opportunities for members of targeted communities. And, it establishes enforceable labor standards with collective bargaining and/or public policy.
Community Workforce Agreements build on the solid record and effective use of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) in the construction industry. There is overwhelming evidence the PLAs serve the public interest.2 But Community Workforce Agreements go well beyond the traditional experience and use of PLAs. They explicitly address the legitimate needs and interests of urban communities that have historically been excluded from the benefits of economic development or the tremendous opportunities that come with lifetime careers in the unionized Building Trades. In that sense, CWAs represent an effective tool to build new career ladders into the Building Trades, to expand the union market so that there are more jobs and greater employment opportunities for a growing union membership, and to strengthen a labor-community partnership fighting for progressive public policies.
Therefore, in addition to the centrality of the Building Trades in negotiating and enforcing CWAs, the broader community is a vital stakeholder and involved in a variety of potential ways that may include being consulted about the nature and content of the CWA, invited to endorse the CWA, and engaged in monitoring and assisting in CWA implementation.