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.

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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: