Workers, Clergy, and Community Celebrate Passage of Historic CRA Construction Policy

May 18, 2008 -- Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy

In April, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to approve a landmark policy that ensures that low income workers and their communities benefit from the construction jobs created by city redevelopment projects.

The “Construction Careers and Project Stabilization Policy” received initial approval from the board of the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles (CRA/LA) in February. Crafted by the agency in collaboration with LAANE and the L.A. County Federation of Labor, the policy will require most CRA-funded projects to hire local and low-income residents from the communities in which the project is being built. The policy also ensures that major new CRA developments will be covered by project labor agreements, which guarantee that the jobs are quality union jobs. Over the next five years, it is expected to result in over 5,000 new middle class jobs for Los Angeles residents and increase the number of African Americans working in the construction industry.

“Today, thanks to the hard work of the City of Los Angeles – including the City Council and the City Redevelopment Agency – we are taking a big step forward to make sure that a big portion of future construction jobs in L.A. go to local residents,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “The policy requires projects receiving large CRA subsidies to be covered by a Local Hire Agreement and a Project Labor Agreement... …because it is only fair that these funds truly benefit the community by providing construction careers for Los Angeles residents.”

Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year in Los Angeles’ commercial construction industry. However, low-income communities have traditionally lacked access to construction jobs, even those funded with public dollars from the CRA. This policy, conceived by labor, community and faith-based organizations, was created to bridge that gap.

“By requiring that CRA subsidies stay in affected communities through local hiring - and by ensuring that the jobs created are middle class, union jobs - this policy will deeply impact Los Angeles’ underserved communities and help grow our middle class,” said Flor Barajas-Tena, director of the Construction Program at LAANE . “This policy is also the first of its kind in the country and establishes a compelling national standard for other redevelopment agencies.”

One supporter, who spoke at the hearing on the policy, is former gang member John Harriel, a 38-year-old union electrician who faced enormous challenges growing up in South Los Angeles. After participating in a construction trades apprenticeship program, Harriel is now a foreman supervising a crew of 13 workers: “This work is exciting and rewarding because it impacts lives positively. I’m well-trained, well-paid and happy with how I’m able to contribute to my community.”

For more information, visit the LAANE website a