L.A. Transit Agency Program Will Create 260,000 Construction Jobs

Working people are applauding the Los Angeles County Metro Board of Directors vote last week in favor of a sweeping, agency-wide program that will create 260,000 construction jobs. Officials said the program will dramatically increase the number of workers hired from communities near upcoming transit projects and special attention will be given to applicants who live in areas of high unemployment.

The Construction Careers Policy covers Metro transit construction projects for the next 30 years, including projects funded under Measure R, the half-cent sales tax recently approved in 2008 by voters to fund transportation upgrades.

Under the Construction Careers Policy, workers who live in high unemployment areas will gain increased access to good jobs through increased access to construction apprenticeship programs and jobs. The policy is the first of its kind for a major transit agency in the United States.

Anthony Mitchell, an out-of-work electrician, praised the final vote:

My family is facing foreclosure. I’m trying to get my loan modified, but I can’t qualify for a modification without steady work—and that’s my problem in the first place….I’m far from alone. There are hundreds of thousands of people like myself—skilled, but unemployed or underemployed.

The L.A. County Metro program is an example of the type of infrastructure investment the AFL-CIO and President Obama are calling on Congress to fund across the country. The nation needs to rebuild its schools, roads, bridges and other infrastructures. At the same time there are thousands of construction workers like Anthony Mitchell who are out of jobs.

Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said:

What we stand for today is good jobs, good jobs, good jobs. And it’s not enough to say we’re going to create jobs. We want them for the people who need them most in our region.

To read Anthony Mitchell's story, “Jobs, L.A. Style” in the new blog, The Frying Pan, click here.

To see photos on Facebook, click here.