Featured items on homepage for top stories…

Workers win historic jobs agreement at Metro

The Metro board of Directors unanimously approved a historic Project Labor Agreement (PLA) and Construction Careers Policy on Thursday, January 26, that will significantly increase the number of workers from disadvantaged areas to be hired on the agency’s multi-billion-dollar transit projects. The agreement, sponsored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and supported by a broad coalition of labor organizations, community activists and other elected officials, turns the transit agency into one of the most powerful job-creation and anti-poverty engines in the country.

Under the provisions of the labor agreement, 40% of workers hired must come from low-income neighborhoods, and 10% must be disadvantaged — meaning they meet at least two of nine criteria, including homelessness, chronic unemployment, and are veterans.

“This is a matter of justice,” said the Supervisor to cheers during a rally after the vote. “As a result of this groundbreaking victory, Los Angeles is now a model for the rest of the nation. We have demonstrated that job creation — and not the creation of just any jobs, but highly skilled union jobs that lead to a middle class standard of living for workers — can and should be a standard component in transportation infrastructure projects.” The Crenshaw-to-LAX Light Rail Line, expected to break ground this winter, will be one of the first projects under this new policy.

Click here to view the Metro Staff Report.

[toggle title=”Project Labor Agreement FAQ – Click here.”]

Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for Metro Construction Projects

What is the Project Labor Agreement?

The Project Labor Agreement (PLA) is an agreement negotiated with the Los Angeles/Orange County Building Trades Council and approved by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors that will help facilitate the timely completion of transit and highway projects in Los Angeles County. These projects are largely being funded by Measure R, a local half cent sales tax approved by LA County voters in November 2008. However, many of the projects will also be leveraged with federal monies.  

Under the PLA, local construction trades unions will serve as the primary source of labor to supply thousands of skilled workers to these construction projects in an industry that has been especially hard-hit by the recession. The PLA requires that 40 percent of the work hours be performed by workers who live in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, with 10 percent of the work hours going to individuals who are struggling with poverty, chronic unemployment and other hardships. The PLA contains measures to facilitate entry into critical apprenticeship training for those targeted workers seeking employment in the construction industry. For projects that rely 100 percent on local funding, hiring can be targeted for Los Angeles County.  Targeted hiring measures for any project using federal monies are national in scope.

Many public agencies across the nation have entered into project labor agreements. The Metro PLA is unique in that Metro is the first transit agency in the nation to adopt a project labor agreement for federally funded projects. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is in the process of reviewing the agreement.  Also, the targets for hiring workers from depressed areas are higher than the targets in similar  agreements involving other Los Angeles government entities.

How does it work?

The Los Angeles/Orange County Building Trades Council will be the primary source of all craft labor employed on the construction contracts for the various projects. In the event the unions are unable to fulfill the labor requirements of the contract within 48 hours, excluding weekends and holidays, employers may hire qualified applicants from any other available source.

Consistent with Federal and state laws governing public works compensation workers would be paid prevailing wages. A no-strike provision ensures the work is completed under tight deadlines. The PLA does not preclude non-union workers from getting these jobs, nor does it exclude non-union contractors from participating in the projects.  

The Construction Careers Policy provides guidelines to Metro staff and contractors, subcontractors and employers to implement the PLA and targeted hiring measures on Metro construction projects.

Why is it important?

The PLA covers all MTA transit and highway projects with a cost of over $2.5 million, which – if Metro fully implements its Long Range Transportation Plan – could amount to as much as $70 billion in construction work over the next three decades. The PLA ensures a skilled and trained workforce that is paid prevailing wages to get these projects done on time and on budget.

The construction industry throughout the nation is depressed and  communities are suffering from extraordinary and harmful levels of unemployment and poverty. The PLA and Policy help remedy these problems by directing opportunities to those individuals and communities who need them most.

Who will be hired?

The PLA   requires that 40 percent of construction work hours be performed by targeted workers and 10 percent of construction work hours be performed by disadvantaged workers.

  • Targeted workers include economically disadvantaged individuals who live in areas where the annual median income is less than $40,000 per year.

  • Disadvantaged workers means any individual who meets the income requirements of a targeted worker and faces at least two of the following barriers to employment: is homeless; is a custodial single parent; receives public assistance; lacks a GED or high school diploma; has a history of involvement with the criminal justice system; has experienced chronic unemployment; is emancipated from foster care; is a veteran of the Iraq or Afghanistan wars; is an apprentice with less than 15% of the hours required to graduate to journey level.

Each contractor or subcontractor may bring up to five core workers to work on a covered project.

Registered apprentices participating in joint labor/management apprenticeship programs will comprise at least 20 percent of the workforce.

Apprenticeship Participation:

  • At least 20% of total work hours will be performed by apprentices.
  • The Building Trades will exert their best efforts to recruit and assist individuals in qualifying and becoming eligible for joint labor/management apprenticeship programs.
  • The Building Trades will work cooperatively with the U.S. Dept of Labor, the contractor’s Jobs Coordinator, Work Source Centers, and other non-profit entities, to identify or establish and maintain effective programs and procedures for persons interested in entering the construction industry.
  • The Building Trades and the contractors will support the development and graduation of local and/or disadvantaged workers and apprentices that reside within the targeted areas.

Who will be involved in recruitment and hiring?

  • Contractors, sub-contractors and employers who have successfully bid on the project will engage a qualified Jobs Coordinator to assist the employers in meeting the targeted hiring requirements. The Jobs Coordinator will assist with outreach to targeted workers.

  • The Unions will be the primary source of all craft labor employed on the construction contract for the project. In the event the Unions are unable to fulfill the labor requirements of the contract within 48 hours during business hours, employers may hire qualified applicants from any other available source.

  • The Unions will recruit and identify targeted workers and workers referred by the contractor’s Jobs Coordinator for entrance into the labor/management apprentice programs and assist applicants in qualifying and becoming eligible for such programs.

  • The employers and the Unions agree to coordinate with the Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment and Veterans Employment to reach out to veterans interested in entering into a construction career.

Jobseeker assistance:

Los Angeles /Orange County Building Trades Council is actively providing assistance to residents who are seeking employment in the construction trades. In order to meet the requirements of the PLA, contractors working on Metro construction projects will be looking for qualified workers.


The PLA AND CCP policy is online:


Empowering future leaders through dialogue: 2012 Empowerment Congress Youth Summit

While civil rights leader and activist Rev. Al Sharpton was speaking to a rapt audience at the University of Southern California’s Bovard Auditorium during the 20th Anniversary Summit of the Empowerment Congress, a gathering of a different kind was occurring across campus. A diverse group of 250 children, youth and chaperones convened the 2012 Youth Summit. Participants, ranging from first graders to high school seniors, engaged in a dialectic approach modeled after “Days of Dialogue,” a series of conversations between cultural groups born in the wake of the 1992 civil unrest. The day’s event was entitled, “Youth Empowered: Celebrating Our Heritage, Strengthening Our Community.”

Lead Facilitator Avis Ridley-Thomas and trained facilitators from the UCLA Institute of Nonviolence, along with the assistance of educators and volunteers from the Empowerment Congress Education Committee assisted the students, who were randomly assigned to small groups, as they navigated a series of questions about conflict and problem solving. Facilitators posed a series of questions taken from Youth Issues, Youth Voices: A Guide for Engaging Youth and Adults in Public Dialogue and Problem-Solving, including ones such as: What (if any) issues have arisen in your school/community between racial and/or ethnic groups? What is being done in your school/community to address problems between groups? What has worked? What’s not working well? What could we do to reduce conflicts between groups? And lastly: How can youth take the lead?

The goal of the event was to elicit open and frank discussion, and it did. Young participants shared their views and experiences on race, culture and issues of inclusion as it related to their families, school environment and peer groups. Some spoke of divisions and tension in their schools and neighborhoods. Most students referenced the similarities that exist among various groups, yet spoke of living within isolated communities and proposed increasing activities among youth and adults that serve to bring individuals together. The overall tone of the Youth Summit was uplifting. Students were addressed by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheriff Lee Baca, as well as noted actor, author and activist Hill Harper. Harper caused a stir when he spoke, urging the youths to believe in themselves, assuring them that they can overcome whatever obstacles come their way.

“The perspectives gained from engaging our youth add significant value to the Second District,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. ” If we are to raise up a generation of future leaders who will positively contribute to our communities, we must unapologetically support and promote our youth.” As the 2012 Youth Summit drew to a close, students were buoyant and empowered to go forward as leaders in their schools and communities. The Education Committee plans to hold smaller dialogues with youth at local schools as part of the 20th Anniversary Year of Empowerment.

More than 18 schools schools and organizations from throughout the diverse tapestry of the Second District participated, including: Washington Preparatory High School, Morningside High School , Kayne Eras Center, Tongan American Youth Foundation, Century Center for Economic Opportunity Inc. (Youthbuild), J. Eldridge Taylor (JET) Foundation, Educating Young Minds, Verbum Dei High School, Brotherhood Crusade, Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and Animo Pat Brown High School.

2012 Annual Kingdom Day Parade announces Supervisor Ridley-Thomas will serve as grand marshal

27th Annual Kingdom Day Parade: MyFoxLA.com

The life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was celebrated by second district residents as they joined Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, this year’s grand marshal, Stevie Wonder, and thousands of spectators and participants at the 27th annual Kingdom Day Parade on January 16.  The procession progressed along Martin Luther King Boulevard and ended with a festival at Leimert Park. The parade featured dozens of marching bands from schools throughout  the Second Supervisorial District, in addition to community leaders, musicians, floats, equestrian units, drill teams, dance groups, dignitaries and the surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen, the legendary African American aviators in the U.S. armed forces.
Coincidentally, these World War II pilots made their way through the parade route just days before the opening of the movie about their experiences entitled Red Tails. The movie is produced by legendary filmmaker George Lucas and hit movie theaters throughout the nation on January 20.  More than 25 years after Kingdom Day Parade founder, Mr. Larry E. Grant launched the first event, the parade it continues to be a vehicle for people of all races and religions, colors and creeds to pay homage to the deeds and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Free high efficiency toilets

Central Basin Municipal Water District has been awarded a conservation grant from the California Department of Water Resources, which includes funding through the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to provide free high-efficiency toilets, including installation for qualifying multi-family properties. The Central Basin Municipal Water District covers all of Florence-Firestone, all of the City of Lynwood and Parts of Willowbrook, East Rancho and Compton.

This program is designed to install 10,000 High-Efficiency Toilets in multi-family residences throughout the District’s service area. Made possible from grant funding awarded by the Department of Water Resources and will conclude by December 2012. By replacing conventional 3.5 gallons-per-flush devices, residences will conserve over 200 acre-feet of water annually over the 25-year life-span of the HETs.

Click here for more information and to register.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas delivers keynote address at the 41st Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Brotherhood Breakfast

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas delivered the keynote address Friday morning at the 41st Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Brotherhood Breakfast, held at YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles. His full speech appears below:

I am honored to be here this morning as we pay tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I am also pleased to acknowledge the work of both Carl Ballton and Linda Griego who through their respective positions and associations seek to improve the quality of life for what Dr. King termed, “the beloved community.”

Let me also give appropriate acknowledgement to the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles, its President, Alan Hostrup, and the Board of Directors, many of whom are here today.

The work of the YMCA adds value not only to those who participate in its various programs, but to the wider communities that it serves. Its work is underscored by the Christian values that the YMCA was founded on: trust, respect, responsibility, fairness, character, and civility. Inherent in those values is a universalism that can be applied in all contexts, regardless of religious tradition, age, ethnic background, race or experience.

The essence of Dr. King’s witness is embedded in the values of the YMCA. Dr. King was reared in the religious tradition by his mother and father. Yet while a student at Morehouse College, and later seminary, his worldview was shaped by the lessons of Gandhi, and, closer to home, Howard Thurman, and Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays. The intertwining of the values learned in the religious context, coupled with that of Thurman, Gandhi, and Mays, enabled Dr. King to take controversial stands on the important issues of his time as well as to espouse a principled opposition to the violence that was occurring on the streets of Birmingham and jungles of Vietnam.

Dr. King’s ethos led him to march his weary feet across the red soil clay of Georgia to fight for dignity. It led Dr. King to walk through the rainstorms in Alabama to encourage African-Americans to vote. His ethos led him to build a movement to fight slum conditions in Chicago and stand for equality in education. Dr. King’s range of vision and his wisdom was much broader than the parochial interests of segregated communities. He understood the interconnectedness of all humanity and the role that different movements have in the fight for social and economic justice.

Therefore, it was no coincidence that Dr. King emphasized the relationship between organized labor and civil rights. We are all familiar with the language articulated in the Declaration of Independence, specifically the statement that “all men are created equal” and that each individual is endowed with the rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Implicit in the meaning of both phrases is the notion of human dignity.

Dr. King wielded an understanding of those simple but mighty phrases. And so, on the steps of the Washington Monument, he spoke of his dream that the quality of life of all people would one day be equal. He spoke of justice and democracy; of brotherhood and the urgency of the moment.

Dr. King was not satisfied with seeing those who toiled in the factories day and night traveling to their resting place only to find themselves unable to feed their children. He was not satisfied with witnessing farm workers stoop low in the searing sun and not receive a livable wage. He was not satisfied with policies that benefited the rich over the poor. He was not satisfied with mediocrity and so he challenged us to view the interests of African-Americans and labor on one accord. I am here because of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In my work as a former teacher, an activist, and now as a public servant for over 20 years I have sought to champion that which will improve the lives of the least among us.
And so the question becomes, what does that mean?

It means focusing on unemployment not only by creating jobs in the Second Supervisorial District, but by ensuring that a significant proportion of local residents are hired for those good jobs.

It means making sure that the aptly named, new Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital provides quality, competent heath care to the residents in south Los Angeles. It means ensuring that our children are literate and numerate by supporting the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School initiative.

It means completing the work begun by Tom Bradley and Julian Dixon and making certain that we have light rail transportation in our community with the Expo Line and the Crenshaw-LAX line.

It means focusing on the issue of developmental disabilities, particularly autism, and the inequity and challenges that confront those who battle with that condition making it one of the new civil rights issues of our time.

And lastly, it is our moral imperative to address the manner in which we incarcerate juveniles and adults by providing them with quality education, mental health services, and jobs that enable them to live productive lives and successfully transition back into the community.
Our work continues.

Dr. King’s life is a testament to the fact that one individual can bring about catalytic change.
Although he believed that individuals possessed the capacity to make a difference through direct action; Dr. King demonstrated that mass participation is necessary to improve the body politic.

And so I am pleased that tomorrow, on the campus of the University of Southern California, we will celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Empowerment Congress. The Empowerment Congress is a model founded on the principle that the sum of our collective wisdom and talents is greater than our individual reach.

We must raise up and empower a generation of leaders, committed to find solutions to the enormous challenges that confront us today. We need a new generation leaders who are agents of responsible, ethical and social transformation in their communities. Leaders who posture themselves as conduits of new ideas and innovation across a wide array of disciplines. Leaders who have the courage to change the tide. Leaders whose moral compass is oriented toward justice.

In closing, let me leave you with the following: Our work is not done. The songwriter states, “We who believe in freedom shall not rest.” I renew my commitment to be unyielding in the fight for equality and justice on every issue, large or small. “Let us march on until victory is won.”

Thank you.