Black Workers Center offers hope for workers locked out of construction

Its mandate is to increase access to quality jobs

Lena Coleman | 7/25/2013, midnight
Jason Hill has been in the construction industry for 26 years. “I saw the condition of South Los Angeles deteriorate ...

The Center also wants to ensure that African American workers are included fairly in Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor project, as well other construction projects around the city.

Lola Smallwood Cuevas, director, says when the Center began its construction campaign, she thought the major function would be reaching out to 19 to 35-year-old construction workers and educating them on how to get into the union. But after speaking to the workers, she realized the real issue was finding work and being included in projects.

“We had a woman worker who was on a job where she was suppose to get training, but they had her sweeping because she was a woman. When she complained about that, she was suddenly let go,” says Cuevas.

Cuevas says the Center is building a network of legal advocates and attorneys who not only educate workers on how to document discrimination, harassment or other unjust treatment, but also litigate the cases.

“The work at the Black Workers Center is about lifting up collectively a process for us to understand what is happening in this industry, who is making the decisions that are creating these conditions, who has the power to really change that and to build our power sufficiently enough to be able to address it.”

The Black Workers Center will be holding its first L.A. Workers Congress on Sept. 6 and 7. For more information about the Black Worker Center and how to become a member, call (323) 752-7287.