CERN Meeting, December 2007: The Economics of Immigration

Construction Economics Research Network

The Economics of Immigration:

December 6 – 7, 2007
Washington Room
Hotel Washington
15th and Pennsylvania Ave
Washington, D.C.

December 6, 2007

Noon – 1:00
Pre-conference lunch

1:00 – 1:15
Pete Stafford, CPWR Executive Director

1:15 – 1:45
Building Trades position on Immigration
Sean McGarvey, BCTD Secretary-Treasurer
Building and Construction Department on Immigration

1:45 – 4:00
The Place of Immigrants in the Construction Industry
U.S. Hispanics & Immigration: A Demographer’s View
Jeffery Passel, Pew Hispanic

Day Labor in Construction
Nik Theodore, University of Illinois – Chicago

The Effect of Immigrant Labor on Industrial Construction
Robert C. Volkman, Global Construction Manager,
Procter & Gamble,
Retired Consultant, Construction Users Roundtable
President, Construction Industry Resources, Inc.

Building Up New York, Tearing Down Job Quality Taxpayer Impact of Worsening Employment Practices Underground Economy in NYC Affordable Housing Construction
James Parrott, Fiscal Policy Institute

4:15 – 6:00
Construction Labor Demand

Strategic Labor Planning
Jack Buttrum, Jacobs Engineering Group

Forecasting Construction Labor Demand:  A Working Model
Ralph Gentile, McGraw-Hill

Dinner @ Hotel Washington

December 7, 2007

8:00 – 9:00
Continental Breakfast

9:00 – 11:30
Economic Effect of Immigrants on the Construction Industry

The Impact of Immigration on South Carolina
Paulo Guimaraes, University of South Carolina

Steve Camerota, Center for Immigration Studies

Ethnicity, Race and Nativity in the U.S. Labor Market
Dr. Rakesh Kochhar, PEW Foundation

11:30 –  12:00
Employee Free Choice in Construction
Sheldon Freidman

12:00 – 1:00

1:00 – 3:00
Safety and Health Challenges Posed by Immigrant Workers in Construction

New Labor’s Day Labor Intervention
Rich Cunningham, New Labor in NJ
(presented by Carmen Martino)

 Immigrant Construction Workers and Health and Safety: 
The South Florida Experience
Presentation /  Report
Bruce Nissen & Marc Weinstein, Fla. International University

Training the Trainer for a Diverse Work Place           
Don Ellenberger, CPWR

Safety and Health of Hispanic Construction Workers
Jim Platner & Sue Dong, CPWR

3:00 – 3:15
Coffee Break

3:15 – 4:45
CERN Discussion
The Effect of Immigration on the Construction Industry:
Issues and Approaches

The meeting of the Construction Economics Research Network on December 5 and 6, 2007 addressed the role of immigrant workers in construction. The meeting opened with a presentation by Secretary-Treasurer Sean McGarvey on the Building and Construction Trades Department’s position on immigration legislation. The first panel provided demographic and social background on immigrants and where they worked within the construction sector. The second panel focused on measurement of the economic impact of immigrants on the construction industry. Presenters on the third panel both developed safety and health issues facing immigrant workers in construction and discussed programs to improve the safety and health of immigrant workers. Finally, the late afternoon of the first day was given over the two presentations on determining labor demand for craft labor.

It is not possible to distill eight hours of presentations into a brief review. Readers can view powerpoint presentations and papers from the meeting on this website. Several points emerging from this meeting should however be highlighted. First, as indicated by Secretary-Treasurer McGarvey, it is not economically feasible to remove the current undocumented immigrant population. This was reinforced by PEW Hispanic data showing that a large fraction of immigrant households include US citizen children. It is not possible for the industry and its members to ignore the effects and needs of current immigrants. Second, there is remarkably little research focused on immigrants in the construction industry. We know little about the distribution of immigrant workers by sector or trade, or about their economic impact on the industry and its workers. Finally, immigrants are particularly vulnerable with respect to safety and health conditions. Given that many work outside the labor regulatory system, they are vulnerable to economic exploitation and are, to a much greater degree than documented workers, at the mercy of their employers with respect to working conditions. Part of resolving the negative impacts of immigrants on documented and non-immigrant construction workers is to bring the undocumented within that regulatory system.