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Citing a looming skills shortage, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has issued an executive order calling for the “use of certain progressive public policy tools” to further regulate construction contracting in the city.

The impetus for these changes, Peduto said in his order, is to eliminate real or potential health hazards and financial losses resulting from “errors in project planning or execution, especially those caused by untrained or inexperienced personnel…unnecessary cost overruns, flawed or inferior projects, and disruptions in schedules that delay the use of critical government facilities or private enterprises.”

To further refine the scope of new policies, the executive order calls for the creation of a task force that will include, among others: representatives from City Council; workforce readiness/minority recruitment organizations; construction contractor organizations; building trades unions, and union apprenticeship training organizations.

Seeing that construction contractors and their employees meet stronger licensing requirements will not only benefit the city, but will protect private individuals from inept or fly-by-night contractors.

But while the order acknowledges a large number of underemployed residents, it seemingly ignores that many are Black, and they are working on small residential construction jobs, or subcontracts to large firms. If they are made to meet new licensing requirements, they may not be able to work.

Scott Tunstalle, whose Power 59 Construction does a lot of renovation and rehabilitation on both commercial and residential buildings, said he was unaware of the mayor’s order, but doesn’t expect it to affect his work.

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