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Posted by Elwin Green on July 30, 2012 at 1:10 PM

Andy Haines, executive vice president of S&A Homes, says that a flyer circulating in Homewood about "Homewood Station," the senior residence planned for North Homewood Avenue, is inaccurate.

The flyer, which appeared last week,  says that S&A Homes, which is building Homewood Station in partnership with Oxford Development, has struck a deal with T. Rashad Byrdsong, head of the Community Empowerment Association. It also lists bullet points that imply specifics about the deal.

Mr. Haines refuted the initial claim, saying, "We haven't struck a deal. But he (Byrdsong) is giving us a proposal to do Section 3 hiring." (We'll explain "Section 3 hiring" in a minute.)

He said that there was a meeting scheduled last Monday with Mr. Byrdsong, along with Calvin Clinton of the African-American Workers Union, presumptive 24th District Representative Ed Gainey, and Jerome Jackson, executive director of Operation Better Block, Inc., to discuss hiring for the project, but that the meeting was canceled. It has been rescheduled for early August.

He then responded to the flyer's bullet points:


"There will be an agreement for MBE and WBE participation," Mr. Haines said. The initials are shorthand for Minority-owned Business Enterprise and Woman-owned Business Enterprise.


"Anybody working on the development will earn residential Davis-Bacon prevailing wage, which varies on the trade."


"Davis-Bacon prevailing wage" refers to wages that meet the requirements of the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931. The act requires contractors and subcontractors on federally funded or assisted contracts of $2,000 or more to pay workers "no less than the locally prevailing wages and fringe benefits for corresponding work on similar projects in the area."


Davis-Bacon wages can vary, Mr. Haines said.


"A carpenter with 25 years of experience will make more than somebody with no experience."


He also said that for most contractors that S&A deals with, the Davis-Bacon wage is a minimum.


"Most of our contractors pay more than the prevailing wage," he said. "They pay what the market will bear."



 "We require contractors to pay at a minimum the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage," Mr. Haines said. "They are required to have some sort of benefit along with that.


"The level of the benefit and the wage is based on the person's experience and skill level."


Here, the flyer hits the mark, at least as far as S&A's intents and preferences go.

"A project labor agreement is an agreement that requires us to have union labor on a development," Mr. Haines said. "We have, frankly, no interest in doing that.


"The project is not large enough to support the cost of union labor."

Large projects like sports stadiums, budgeted at $50 million or more, usually employ union labor, he explained.  

"We're paying what the federal government says is a prevailing wage. But it's not a union wage. A union wage is twice what any other wage would be."

He also said that a project labor agreement "doesn't guarantee work for anybody. It guarantees work for a union person, not a community guy who's not part of a union."

Now, what is Section 3?

Section 3 is part of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, which says that whenever HUD funding is involved in a housing or community development project, economic opportunities will be given to Section 3 residents and businesses in that area.

What is a Section 3 resident? Someone who either lives in public housing, or who is considered low or very low income (i.e., whose income is 80% or less of the median income of that area)

Mr. Byrdsong has not yet responded to requests for comment.

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The Homewood Chronicles

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In October 2005, after a bullet came through his living room window, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Elwin Green began writing "My Homewood," the first blog on the P-G's website. For 4 1/2 years, "My Homewood" shared stories of tragedy and beauty, of perplexity and hope - stories that live again in "The Homewood Chronicles."

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