Blacks on the job in Homewood housing construction

EMPLOYING THE LOCALS—Rashad Byrdsong talks with laborer Barry Johnson, as he sits on a sweeper, in Homewood.

If you walk past the new houses going up along Susquehanna Street in Homewood, you might not see Joshmin Ray, even though he has worked, or will, on all 36 of them. That’s because he’s working inside as part of the all-Black crew from Entergy Electric.
“I came through Rashad (Byrdsong’s) Ma’at Construction program. I like it. It’s good work,” he said. “I’d worked as an electrical assistant before, but that was a commercial job. I’m drilling holes, stapling, everything, basically, but pulling wire.”
WORKING HARD—Syronn Terry, 50, of Wilkinsburg, is a laborer for Mistick Construction, cleaning up the rubble.

That, said foreman Terry Dunning, is something he or journeymen Sean Mitchell and Martel Palmer can do—but Ray could do it if he continues and goes through the IBEW apprenticeship program.
“We’re the first in and the last to leave—because we have to wait for the Plumbing and HVAC guys to get their stuff in. Then we’ll be back after the walls go up,” said Dunning. “After this, we’ll be working on houses Mistick and KBK are putting up in Larimer and on Kelly Street.”
LEARNING THE ROPES—Joshmin Ray pushes a 220-volt line through a wall to be hooked up by the Local 5 electricians with whom he has helped wire 36 houses in Homewood.

Like Ray, you probably won’t see Walt Porter on Susquehanna Street, or Tioga Street or Panky Way. That’s because he’s part of the Iron City Excavating crew, installing the plumbing mains from the street to all 36 units in the Susquehanna Homes development—and when he spoke to the New Pittsburgh Courier March 29, he was doing the last one.
“From the main to the house—all 36 of them,” he said. “I’ve been cutting, laying pipe, moving gravel, running the skid loader—I don’t get to run that, though,” he said, nodding to a backhoe perched in front of a foundation. “I got on through Rashad. Hopefully, I’ll stick with Iron City. It’s a good job.”


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