Exposition Line Authority Approves Sweeping Jobs Standards Policy Creating 6,700 Good Jobs on Forthcoming Light Rail Construction Project


For Immediate Release
March 21, 2011

Nick Sifuentes (310) 866-1692


Program will create career-track jobs for local Los Angeles residents

After previous unanimous votes in favor of the Construction Careers Policy, the Exposition Line Construction Authority Board of Directors voted unanimously in favor of a new agency-wide Project Labor Agreement (PLA) that sets out job standards for the Port of Los Angeles, ensuring that the estimated 6,700 construction jobs to be created on the mass transit construction project are pathways to middle-class careers.

The Exposition Line Construction Careers Policy and PLA will cover a total of $1.6 billion worth of work developing Phase II of the Exposition Line, a light rail mass transit project which will run from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica. Along its route, the line will serve many low-income communities in South Los Angeles. The Construction Careers Policy mandates that 30% of the jobs created go to local area residents and that 10% go to disadvantaged residents, which include single parents, individuals without a high school diploma and those who have received public assistance.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, through whose district the light rail project will run, has been a longtime proponent of the Construction Careers Policy and PLA. “The agreement before the Expo Authority today means employment for thousands of residents at a time when Los Angeles County is facing an unemployment epidemic,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. He added: “An investment in our physical infrastructure is incomplete without a similar investment in our human capital. Anything less is not only economically unsound, it is immoral.”

Local residents who are hired will join multi-year apprenticeship programs in the building trades unions. These apprenticeships offer career-track education and experience in the construction industry as well as specialized craft training and rigorous safety standards—critical for both worker safety and public safety on the completed line.

Current apprentices spoke about the positive impact a career in construction has had in their lives. “Before I became an apprentice, I had to work thirteen-hour days to even make ends meet. My daughter had just been born and I remember rushing home every day to spend even a half-hour with her before she had to go to bed,” said Alton Wilkerson, an apprentice with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11. “Now we’ve got a baby boy on the way and thanks to my job I can provide for my family and be a father too.”

Friday’s vote authorizing the prime contractor and ratifying the PLA was the final step locking in place meaningful job standards, including entry into apprenticeship programs, ensuring the payment of prevailing wages and health insurance benefits. The PLA’s benefits will be felt most especially in LA’s most disadvantaged communities, where unemployment has hit Depression-era levels.

“The Construction Careers Policy and Project Labor Agreement at the Exposition Line Phase II is the best way of combining the mass transit and the good jobs we need—and that local residents have access to those jobs. In communities that have been hard-hit by the recession, this will put people back to work in career-track apprenticeship programs,” said Flor Barajas-Tena, Director of LAANE’s Construction Careers Project.

LAANE is a national leader in the effort to build a new economy for all. Combining dynamic research, innovative public policy and the organizing of broad alliances, LAANE promotes a new economic approach based on good jobs, thriving communities and a healthy environment. LAANE’s work has helped tens of thousands of people attain better wages and health benefits, and has improved public health for hundreds of thousands of people across the region.