News + Views

More women are entering New York City's construction industry

More women are choosing to enter the male-dominated construction industry in New York City, according to

The Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York City reports women make up 4 percent of the construction unions workforce. Nontraditional Employment for Women, a sector-based workforce development program that prepares women for careers in nontraditional industries, is helping provide the tools women need to join the construction industry.

Nontraditional Employment for Women offers a two-month pre-apprenticeship training program for women in New York City. Many of the women who participate are unemployed or underemployed women of color.

"Work needs to be done to continue to get the word out to women and young girls that yes, you can do this, this is a career for you," says Kathleen Culhane, president of Nontraditional Employment for Women.

Tanay Matthews of Brooklyn, who works construction with Ironworkers Local 361, says she typically is the only woman on a job site.

"I love it, honestly," Matthews says. "It's tough, it's physically draining, but every day I wake up and I give it my all."

Union construction jobs can offer excellent benefits and career growth opportunities, and obtaining a spot in a union apprenticeship recently became more likely for the women who participate in the training program. Since 2005, 10 percent of union apprenticeships were set aside for Nontraditional Employment for Women graduates; now, 15 percent of apprenticeships will be set aside, increasing the total number of women from 150 to about 225.

"My previous job I worked at the World Trade Center and I've seen all these women—construction women—walking back and forth and they have this pride on their faces," says program participant Tshura Williams. "I wanted that for myself."

Minnesota groups push to allow teens to work on construction sites

BATC-Housing First Minnesota and other Minnesota construction industry groups are urging state lawmakers to ease labor laws that prohibit 16- and 17-year-olds from working on construction sites, according to Minnesota currently allows teenagers to work in places such as health care facilities, farms and some factories.

The construction community has been joined by some Minnesota legislators in support of aligning the state's labor laws with federal law. Under federal law, minors age 16 and older can work on construction sites as long as they do not engage in hazardous activities such as demolition or use dangerous tools. Supporters say there are many menial, safe tasks minors can perform at construction job sites, which could allow skilled workers to focus on their jobs and educate teens regarding industry career opportunities. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry says the agency's commissioner could possibly expand the work minors can perform without new legislation.

The desire to train teens in the trades is increasing throughout the U.S. Since Louisiana implemented its revamped Jump Start program in 2014, which allows students to gain credits and credentials in dozens of industries, the percentage of high schoolers earning career diplomas has increased from 2 percent in 2013 to 23 percent in 2018. Program officials want to see an increase to 40 percent. Officials also want to improve the percentage of students whose career diplomas earned through the program lead to high-wage jobs; currently, that number is 25 percent.

Father of former NRCA president passes away


Thomas "Tommy" Allen Lancaster Sr., former owner of Metalcrafts, a Tecta America Company LLC, Savannah, Ga., and father of former NRCA President Allen Lancaster, passed away Jan. 9. He was 86.

A veteran of the U.S. Army Reserves, Lancaster worked with his brothers at the family's roofing and sheet metal company for decades and owned Metalcrafts from 1992 until his retirement in 1997. He and his wife, Carolyn, raised four children together, including T. Allen Lancaster Jr., president of Metalcrafts, who served as NRCA president from 2010-11. Tommy Lancaster loved cooking, fishing, camping and helping others.

Tommy Lancaster is survived by his wife; his children, Allen, Debra, Jeffery and Joseph; one brother; three sisters; 10 grandchildren; and 18 great-grandchildren. Donations in Lancaster's name may be made to the Haiti Missions or Jamaica Missions at First Baptist Church Richmond Hill, P.O. Box 1390, Richmond Hill, GA 31324, or Kindred Hospice, 2280 E. Victory Drive, Suite A, Savannah, GA 31404.

Two companies join NRCA's One Voice initiative

Boral Roofing LLC, Irvine, Calif., and Eagle Roofing Products, Rialto, Calif., have joined NRCA's One Voice initiative and upgraded their associate memberships to "partner member."

The One Voice initiative aims to unite the roofing industry and speak with one voice regarding matters of industry importance, as well as collectively recognize threats to the industry and the opportunities they may present. NRCA invites manufacturers, distributors, architects, engineers, consultants and service providers to fully engage with NRCA, as partners, and actively address the industry's most pressing issues, including workforce and worker certification; effecting change in Washington, D.C.; building codes and insurance; and increasing professionalism in all industry sectors.

For more information about NRCA's One Voice initiative, including a list of the current One Voice partner members, visit

Study analyzing opioid epidemic reveals hardest-hit states

Opioids killed more than 49,000 people in the U.S. in 2017, and a new study published in the journal JAMA Network Open reveals which states have been most affected by the ongoing epidemic, according to

Researchers used data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. census to identify 351,630 opioid-related deaths from 1999 to 2016. During that period, deaths from opioids increased 455 percent—on average, men died from opioid use at age 39.8, and women died at age 43.5, shaving 0.36 years off Americans' life expectancy.

The study also revealed the opioid mortality rate in Washington, D.C., tripled every year since 2013. New Hampshire and West Virginia saw the biggest drops in life expectancy—of more than a year—because of opioid deaths. Montana and Oregon were the only states that experienced a decline in opioid deaths from 1999 to 2016.

Mathew Kiang, a postdoctoral research fellow at Stanford University's Center for Population Health Sciences, was involved with the study and says the number of opioid deaths likely is underreported because identifying synthetic opioids requires additional testing by a medical examiner.

Andrew Kolodny, a doctor and co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University, believes the opioid crisis should be viewed not as an overdose epidemic but as an addiction epidemic.

"Preventing opioid addiction is necessary for the long term so that this crisis ultimately comes to an end," Kolodny says. "And preventing opioid addiction really means much more cautious prescribing."


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