Breakthrough for Community Benefits and Construction Careers in Ohio

September 11, 2012 -- Partnership for Working Families

Cleveland, Ohio was the site of a dramatic conversation between community, labor, business and union leaders convened by Mayor Frank Jackson’s office to discuss a shared community benefits agenda for a wave of anticipated development in the city.  At this forum, which took place August 3,  the Mayor and the head of the building trades unions in Cleveland, Loree Soggs, both publicly pledged that they would work to advance a community benefits agenda for development in the city.

The Partnership worked with Mayor Jackson’s staff, as well as local allies Policy Matters Ohio and Cleveland Emerald Cities Collaborative, to stage the event. Deputy Director Kathleen Mulligan-Hansel and Legal Director Ben Beach joined a panel presentation that included colleagues John Reamer from the City of Los Angeles, Art Lujan, Special Assistant to the President of the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Deparment, and Jennifer Epps-Addison, of Good Jobs Livable Neighborhoods/Citizen Action of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee.  The panel highlighted the benefits of the Construction Careers approach and the importance of community and union leaders working together to implement a shared vision.  

“The Partnership has a unique ability to set up these kinds of conversations, based on our affiliates’ extensive experience making construction careers programs a reality in cities around the country.” Mulligan-Hansel commented. “We have encountered a wide array of concerns and questions and we know how to address them. Our affiliates have pioneered innovative strategies and our network maintains strong relationships with the leaders in government who are making these programs work. It was a pleasure to help bring this conversation to fruition in Cleveland.”

A diverse group of more than 140 participants represented building trades unions, African American community organizations, the business community, environmental groups and the public sector. Strong leadership from elected leaders, including Mayor Jackson and Councilman Terrell Pruitt established the critical importance of an honest, open and thoughtful dialogue. 

“I’m proud that the Partnership is helping to catalyze powerful conversations about opportunity that lead to real breakthroughs,” said Leslie Moody, the Partnership’s Executive Director, “And I’m excited about what’s now possible in Cleveland.”

What comes next in Cleveland?  It’s up to local leaders to forge a path forward that builds on the power of this event. The Partnership looks forward to supporting their efforts to make real change for all Cleveland communities.