Hundreds of potential construction workers from economically disadvantaged communities attended Metro’s job fair and symposium on construction careers recently, hoping for a shot at a construction career during Los Angeles County’s biggest public transportation expansion.
Among the attendees was Kori Ward, 42 of Los Angeles who says she has been looking for employment in the construction industry since 2011.
“I’m looking for a career in the trades, working for Metro,” said Ward. “I like being outside and I like the demanding work.”
At the job fair, Ward got the opportunity to speak with construction companies, organizations and unions such as Skanska, Walsh Shea, PV Jobs, United Auto Workers, LA Trade Tech, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and the Black Worker Center.
The job fair was held in conjunction with a discussion by industry leaders and government officials on the benefits of a Metro project labor agreement, a hiring policy that targets workers from economically disadvantaged communities. The policy, championed by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and enacted by the Metro Board in 2012, was the first in the nation and placed Los Angeles County as a national leader on hiring agreements.
The targeted hiring provision of the agreement and the Construction Careers Policy initiatives require that at least 40 percent of total construction hours are from residents who live in zip codes where unemployment is high. Also, 10 percent of Metro jobs are set aside for disadvantaged workers, such as those who are homeless, are high school drop-outs or who have criminal records and 20 percent of jobs are set aside for apprenticeship.
To date, of the 1,419 workers who have worked on Metro project labor agreement contracts, more than 1,000 workers have met the hiring provision criteria.
“Together, these policies provide concrete opportunities for local residents to benefit from Metro’s investments in our public transit system,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who co-authored the 2012 motion. “To put it simply: More public transportation means more jobs. And we have taken great care to ensure that those jobs are offered to those who need them the most.”