(The following post originally appeared on the blog for Next City, “a non-profit media organization dedicated to connecting cities and informing the people who work to improve them.”)
Chicago labor groups are pissed. And they have a right to be. The Montreal-based company Bombardier Transportation was awarded a $1.14 billion contract to build more than 700 train cars for the Chicago Transit Authority, and the local workforce has been left out.
The greater Chicago area and Illinois were cut out of thousands of jobs on this public project, according to the Chicago Tribune, and nine labor and community groups have written a letter calling on the CTA to change the procurement process and include a requirement for local job creation for the next batch of rail cars — 846 cars to the tune of roughly $2 billion — set to be built over the next decade.
How did the Los Angeles Metro recently leverage the purchase of 550 clean-fuel buses to create 200 U.S. manufacturing jobs?
What will it take to link the billions of federal dollars used for transportation investments to domestic job creation?
To begin addressing these questions, Living Cities invites you to join a webinar April 10 about the Transportation and American Jobs Project, a national effort to ensure that transportation investments using federal funds create quality jobs for American workers. Specifically, the webinar will provide an overview of the U.S. Employment Plan (USEP), a model transit procurement program which incentivizes investments in domestic manufacturing jobs. This innovative model has the potential to have significant economic impact in the rebuilding of the U.S. manufacturing sector. Speakers will include Professor Manuel Pastor, from the Program for Environmental & Regional Equity (PERE) at USC, and Madeline Janis,
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (aka L.A. Metro) needed new, clean buses. If L.A. Metro had simply followed current buying protocol, its single focus would have been on finding a company to deliver the lowest-cost buses. In all likelihood, this would have resulted in jobs going overseas (but for some final assembly jobs on U.S. soil).
Instead, in January, L.A. Metro awarded a $305-million contract for 550 clean-fuel buses to New Flyer Industries, a Canadian company with dedicated manufacturing plants in the U.S. The bus order means that the company will expand its factory operations in St. Cloud, Minn., add a third shift, hire 150 women and men from the local community and create another 50 jobs in Los Angeles. L.A. Metro took a longer-term view of how “big-ticket” transportation purchases — most of them supported by federal funds — can stimulate high-quality jobs and manufacturing in the United States.
So far the HOT Lanes (High Occupancy Toll Lanes) experiment is going well. On the program’s first business day, Los Angeles County’s transportation agency, Metro, reported that “traffic was flowing smoothly in the heart of the morning rush hour,” and despite some grumblings from the media, all was well on the I-110. As commuters adjust to the new system, there are a few questions that we need to ask to understand the future of HOT Lanes. And despite my lack of clairvoyance, I’d like to submit my educated guesses on the future success of tolls in Los Angeles.
First, does the system work? At its most basic level, we will need to see if the technology works, if the Metro bureaucracy is a barrier for commuters and if the CHP can adequately enforce the rules. The answer to these questions will take time, but since the program has been successfully implemented in several places across California,
The promise of employment comes from the groundbreaking Construction Careers policy passed by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). Metro became the first transit agency in the country to ensure that projects are completed using skilled workers and creating training opportunities for economically disadvantaged residents. Since then, the Construction Careers coalition – an alliance of worksource centers, youth-engagement and veterans groups, and community groups – has embarked on an ambitious effort to reach out to as many communities as possible about opportunities in the construction industry, in advance of groundbreaking on major projects that will be covered by the policy, including the Crenshaw/LAX line, the Westside Subway Extension and the Regional Connector. This sort of outreach is crucial as South L.A. is one of the communities hardest hit by unemployment.