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Buffalo’s Business: SolarCity site exceeds hiring quotas

Minorities and women make up nearly a quarter of the workforce building the SolarCity factory in South Buffalo, according to data from the project’s main contractor.

Minorities and women have worked 24.6 percent of the hours put in by workers on the SolarCity construction project since it began in May 2014, Buffalo-based contractor LPCiminelli said.

About 800 workers are currently on the job at the SolarCity construction project, down from a peak of about 1,200, said Kevin C. Schuler, an LPCiminelli spokesman.

Minorities have worked 18.4 percent of all the hours put in by construction workers on the project, the data showed. Women have worked almost 6.2 percent of the hours worked.

The diversity of the workforce on the RiverBend project is exceeding the goals of 15 percent for minorities and 5 percent for women set in a Project Labor Agreement, or PLA, between the contractor and local labor unions, Schuler said. Local advocacy and community groups, however, have criticized the hiring targets as being too low and urged last year that the goal for minorities be raised to 25 percent.

During March, women and minority participation in the SolarCity workforce was even higher, topping 27.5 percent in all. Minorities worked 20.5 percent of the hours during March, while women worked a little more than 7 percent, the report said.

The workforce diversity report is based on certified payroll reports that each subcontractor working on the project is required to submit to receive payment.

The project-labor agreement also calls for 10 percent of the hours to be worked by apprentices, as a way of helping more workers gain entry into the skilled trades workforce, Schuler said. During March, apprentices worked 14.2 percent of the hours. Apprentices have worked 13.1 percent of the hours since work began more than two years ago, the report said.