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MTA looks at project labor agreement

Cynthia E. Griffin- | 9/21/2011, 5 p.m.

On Thursday, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is expected to vote on a proposal by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas that would direct staff to start negotiations with the Los Angeles and Orange county building trade councils on a project labor agreement (PLA) that proponents believe will ensure that more African American workers and low-income residents have an opportunity to secure construction jobs.

According to representatives for Ridley-Thomas, the proposed PLA will be an agency-wide construction careers policy that covers a spread of projects over five years rather than a project-by-project basis.

Ideally, the MTA's negotiated PLA agreement will designate projects up to a particular dollar threshold to include. These projects will have to meet a requirement that x-amount of the total hours worked on construction project will be reserved for qualified workers living within a certain radius, at-risk residents or those who live in communities of high unemployment.

Organizers at the L.A. Black Worker Center believe that once the PLA is approved and implemented, more African American construction workers and apprentices will have access to the higher-paying construction jobs.

According to Supervisor Ridley-Thomas' office, it could take two to three months to negotiate a PLA with the union. Once this agreement is crafted, it must be returned to the MTA board for final approval.