Carver Construction was on its way to getting back in the city’s good graces.
After being cut out of Schenectady projects for years because company leaders did not want to follow a local law to hire minority subcontractors, Carver was finally welcomed back.
In its first project this year, a culvert replacement, minority subcontractors did 11 percent of the work. The job came in just $4,000 less than the city’s goal for minority work.
But on its second project, a paving job, minority subcontractors accounted for only 1 percent of the work.
It was a stunning change, and one that Carver immediately tried to explain. Carver officials did not return a call seeking comment for this story, but Mayor Gary McCarthy said they told him that they hired the wrong subcontractor.
“They hired somebody who was representing themselves an a [certified minority subcontractor] but wasn’t on the list, wasn’t certified,” McCarthy said.
Making matters worse, Carver had intended to pass 2 percent of the project to a minority contractor that could do electrical work. But the job turned out to be easier than expected, and no electrical work was needed, Affirmative Action Director Miriam Cajuste said.
She sent out a letter telling Carver she was deeply disappointed by the final figures. Carver officials have asked for a conference with her about it, she said.
There is no direct penalty specified for Carver for missing its minority goals.
The paving contract was the low point in an otherwise strong report. The city hired contractors for five projects that were completed by November, and those contractors came close to hitting the 12 percent minority participation goal in all but the one project.
“Everyone else did very good,” Cajuste said.
McCarthy said the city may develop its own certification process, which could handle situations like the one Carver encountered. He also wants to change the city’s law so contractors could hire minorities instead of subcontracting to them.
Carver officials have said they would prefer to hire a diverse crew, McCarthy said, “but you don’t get any credit for that.”
If the law was changed, Carver officials told McCarthy they would run job fairs to recruit minorities. McCarthy said he would be satisfied with a diverse work crew.
“You become a full-time employee, year-round. I think that creates stability,” he said.
The City Council received a copy of the minority participation report and is expected to discuss it at an upcoming council committee meeting, but no date has been set.