Opinion Editorial by Miguel Villa published in the Gilroy Dispatch on July 15, 2021
After time with the criminal justice system in 2010, I experienced the job rejection that many like myself deal with upon re-entering the workforce. While I was more than qualified for job after job, as soon as they saw the box checked for a felony conviction, my resume went straight to the trash.
Now, years later and with a national craft competition win under my belt, I am experiencing another kind of box-checking rejection. As a non-union roofing construction worker, I will not be able to work at Gavilan College if a Project Labor Agreement is adopted.
This is not a new obstacle. Upon my re-entry, I worked tirelessly to join a union so that job opportunities would be more accessible, but there were no pathways to joining that did not impose a financial burden on me. Joining the Associated Builders and Contractors Northern California apprenticeship program was a way to find work that did not discriminate against my background while providing the additional training and certifications required for construction projects.
Here in Gilroy, this rejection is hitting particularly close to home. I would love to be able to work on a project to quite literally put a roof over my son’s school, not to mention a commute just miles from my house. Gavilan Community College, where my son is a student, is currently considering a project labor agreement policy that would require a majority of its workforce to come from the union.
But because I don’t check the union box, I may not even have the opportunity to work on this project. Rather, I would be forced to work on projects nearly hundreds of miles away, spending time, money and energy on my commute instead of my family.
The Gavilan Community College construction project to upgrade their classrooms, labs and other facilities is a result of Measure X, a bond passed by voters in 2018. The college is considering whether to adopt a project labor agreement that restricts workers and apprentices to those who are union-only.
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