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Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166

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Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166

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Tyee Alum Helps Build New School

Tyee Alum Helps Build New School

Absher Attracts '03 Grad as a Priority Hire

John Taitano walked onto the Tyee job site last fall to ask if Absher Construction was hiring. He already had a construction job, but this was his old high school and close to home.

Absher snatched up this talented worker through his union, Laborers' Local 242, as another priority hire under our grant-funded King County community workforce agreement (CWA). A CWA is intended to move the needle on hiring minority- or women-owned businesses (MWBE), as well as workers from economically distressed zip codes.  

John remembers landing at Tyee as a 14-year-old from Saipan. Read about his experience in school and the construction industry. Learn how a priority hire program and setting inclusive goals is supporting our local community with results.

“It was hard at first," he said. "But I graduated for me, my dad and my future." After graduating in 2003, his cousin recruited him to work in construction. He joined a union in 2007 for higher pay and benefits and became the youngest journeyman at that time.

He admits construction can be challenging at times. "You have to have a heart to push through it, and to enjoy the physical side of moving all day and working outside. You also get to see the results of a team effort when a building is completed." 

At the Tyee worksite, he drives a forklift, manages logistics, and helps with many phases of the construction project, from delivering materials to operating the machine that compacts the concrete slabs.

He is grateful to be earning a living wage to help support his family, which includes his wife and three daughters.

What are his memories of school at Tyee? He remembers struggling some after immigrating to a new country and school, but being aware that if he could graduate, it meant his cousins at Chinook Middle School would see it was possible for them to achieve also.  

He has a happy memory of earning his first paycheck by clearing trails at Camp Waskowitz as part of a summer program. When he took his daughter to camp, he found a photo of himself still there.

Thanks for sharing your story, John! We are glad to know the new Tyee is in good hands.

Priority Hire Results So Far

Absher Construction has engaged over 15 local firms as subcontractors. At this stage of the project, the subcontractors have hired four apprentices and 48 journeyman crew members, who are priority hires specified by the community workforce agreement. This means the laborers live in one of the King County zip codes designated as economically distressed. And 49 of the 52 priority hire workers live in zip codes within Highline Public Schools boundaries.

Of all the hours worked by Absher’s subcontractors, 16% of the apprentice hours and 29% of the journeyman hours represent priority hires — and most are local to the Highline area. 

“This means that this school bond project, approved by local voters and funded by local taxpayers, is investing dollars back into our communities where they are most needed,” said Ellie Daneshnia, executive director of Highline’s Capital Planning & Construction team.

Curious to know more about the priority hire program? For more information about Absher Construction’s priority hire opportunities, please contact Stephanie Caldwell, Absher’s director of diversity, equity and community engagement.

Skip to the February 2024 Tyee project update