Earlier this month our team from Jobs to Move America (JMA) attended the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Annual Meeting in San Francisco. We were there to learn the latest in transit trends, from sustainability planning to high-speed rail. We were also an outspoken advocate on behalf of American labor and taxpayers amongst 1,500 attendees. Unfortunately, even with the presence of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), domestic labor was largely left out of the conversation, since most participants were public transit officials, manufacturing company representatives, and private sector consultants focused on stretching the dollar.
Despite this bottom-line focused crowd, we were encouraged by the plenary session’s appearance of DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx. He argued that with the right configuration, transportation can connect workers to sustainable jobs and living wages, and transportation as an industry can also generate employment opportunities for disadvantaged Americans seeking second chances.
With tongue firmly planted in cheek Thursday, a beaming Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti credited two secret weapons for helping him break a deadlock among a labor coalition, civic groups, Kinkisharyo International LLC and the city to craft a compromise to save jobs and keep construction of new light rail cars in Palmdale: “bad pizza and smaller meeting rooms.”
Garcetti also serves as chair of the county’s transit authority, Metro. His self-deprecating quip garnered a hearty laugh while setting the tone for a mostly celebratory morning press conference to announce the new agreement before Thursday’s regular Metro board meeting.
In addition to the mayor and Kinkisharyo reps, news conference attendees included L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford Jr., Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Maria Elena Durazo and Antelope Valley business group leaders.
All of the speakers heaped praise upon Garcetti for taking the lead in this 11th-hour process to broker the deal.
In a dramatic turnaround to what only last month was described as a hopeless impasse, Los Angeles Mayor and L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Chair Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday that an agreement has been reached between Kinkisharyo International, LLC and labor and community groups to expand its L.A. County manufacturing operations for its next delivery of Metro light rail cars.
The mayor’s office said the agreement will net the county a total of 250 new jobs as Kinkisharyo expands the light rail car assembly and testing operations at its existing plant in Palmdale. The accord also includes a “neutrality agreement” (stating Kinkisharyo won’t contest attempts to unionize its workforce), as well as a commitment to explore additional skills training and assistance for disadvantaged L.A. County workers.
The agreement covers a total of 175 cars slated for assembly at the facility, including the 78 that Kinkisharyo is currently assembling under a 2012 Metro contract,