January 27, 2012

L.A. Metro approves agreement to hire more 'disadvantaged' workers

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) board of directors unanimously approved a plan to help increase the number of workers from disadvantaged areas to be hired to work on the agency's transit and road projects.

The Project Labor Agreement (PLA) between Metro and the Los Angeles/Orange County Building Trades Council is believed by Metro to be the first of its kind for a transit agency in the U.S. Under the PLA, 40% of work hours on Metro projects would be done by workers who live in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods and 10% of the hours going to workers struggling with poverty.

Many members of the public testified in favor of the plan, most hewing to a simple message: times are tough, they're unemployed and they need a job "not just to survive, but to live."

Los Angeles Mayor and Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa voiced praise for the PLA, saying he believes the program will create a path for workers to the middle class.

"I am proud that the MTA Board voted unanimously to become the first transit agency in the nation to use federal and local dollars to create jobs targeted at economically disadvantaged communities and individuals," said Mayor Villaraigosa. "This landmark program is part of a strategy to deliver public transit projects while creating jobs that will lift people out of poverty and into the middle class."

Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas said after the vote that the rest of the nation now has the chance to follow Metro and create jobs in places where they are most needed by building transportation infrastructure.

"Today's unanimous vote by the Metro Board was an historic win for workers," he said. "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 lifestyle for workers — can and should be a standard component in transportation infrastructure projects."

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