Hundreds turned out at Leimert Park for a “ready to work” rally demanding more job opportunities with the upcoming construction of the $2-billion rail line along the Crenshaw Boulevard corridor and other Metro projects planned in the near future.
At the rally, sponsored by UCLA’s Black Worker Center, speakers and attendees called for improving access to training and education programs that can facilitate employment for African-Americans. Black workers have long been underrepresented in the building trades and African-American unemployment rates are roughly twice the national average.
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas was on hand to support those efforts and to discuss the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Project Labor Agreement and the Construction Careers Policy which were launched in 2009 and created the policy for local workers in high unemployment neighborhoods to be hired.
Chairman Ridley-Thomas told the crowd that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and its contractors have agreed on hiring mandates meant to bring well-paying work to neighborhoods those along the Crenshaw corridor for the construction of the 8.5-mile line connecting the Expo Line and the Green Line to LAX.
Under the agreement, 40 percent of work hours on the railway must be performed by employees from economically depressed areas. There are also special provisions for trainees and the “disadvantaged” workers — a group that includes veterans, the homeless, chronically unemployed and applicants with criminal records.
“This is economic justice in real time,” said Ridley-Thomas, who serves on Metro’s board and was one of the most forceful proponents of the agreement. “I have a fundamental and passionate belief in the transformative value of a job. When it leads to a career that pays a livable wage, families are strengthened and neighborhoods are reinforced, communities are built and people aspire to achieve all that they can.”
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