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Black laborers in the construction industry used to be the norm, but with the increased migration of Latin Americans, the construction industry slowly became more Latino. Washington D.C. based concrete construction firm Miller & Long once employed a workforce that was 80 percent black, but as those black laborers slowly retired, they were replaced with Latinos, which now make up 71 percent of the company's workers.

But as stories of immigration crackdowns cycle through the news, the firm is making a consorted effort at reaching out to the black community. They've been facilitating classes at the Goodwill of Greater Washington sponsored by church groups, government ex-offender programs and other nonprofit groups preparing blacks for a job in construction.

In a recent class with 25 graduates, the firm offered four full-time jobs, paying $13 an hour. While it's below the median average, most were making just $9 an hour as warehouse stock clerks, and they had the opportunity to specialize and increase their salary to $18-19 an hour.

In D.C. alone, one of every 10 black men is unemployed -- twice the national average. The goal of Miller & Long is to tap into the black community, while reducing their non-citizen workforce even though they do use an employment verification system for all new hires.

Not only does the new program benefit the black community, but it also benefits the company. A D.C. law requires that companies who have contracts with the District employ a certain amount of Disctrict residents on their workforce.

In the last two months, only six of the 45 black workers recruited through the program have left the company.

To read more about Miller & Long's efforts, click here.

Black Americans
American workers

Updated: Wed, Oct 15th 2008 @ 5:49pm EDT