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MTA, Bring Manufacturing Jobs Back to LA!




Two Trains Running: One brings jobs to L.A., the other doesn't.

By Shomari Davis

It’s no secret that the disappearance of manufacturing in Los Angeles and other urban centers over the past few decades has hit communities hard. When the factories closed, they took with them not only jobs, but the path to a better future for countless residents.

What you may not know is that, for the first time in a long time, we have a real shot at bringing an important manufacturer back to L.A. – and along with it jobs and hope.

The company is Siemens, one of the world’s largest railcar producers. Siemens is one of the finalists for a $1 billion railcar contract, which will be awarded by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). If chosen, the company will bring more than 1,100 jobs to the U.S., many of them right here in L.A.

Here’s the bad news: MTA staff has recommended that the board go with a bid from the Japanese firm Kinkysharyo.

Those of us who have been working for years to bring good jobs to our communities are still scratching our heads at the staff’s recommendation. Siemens and Kinkysharyo are both highly reputable companies. The big difference is that Kinkysharyo will send most of the jobs from this project to Japan, which does nothing for L.A. or its residents.

Going with Kinkysharyo would be a very bad decision even if the funds for this project weren’t yours and mine. But they are. How the MTA could even consider using our tax dollars to send jobs overseas is beyond me. Isn’t the investment of our tax dollars supposed to lead to the betterment of our communities?

The MTA board will vote on this issue Monday, and I am not the only one hoping that they will exercise their responsibility as leaders and override their staff’s short-sighted recommendation. They have a rare opportunity not only to create good jobs here, but to show that manufacturing is not just a remnant of our past but a part of our future.

Shomari Davis is a business representative for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 11 and a member of the South Los Angeles Faith-Based Construction Initiative.

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