In a report released April 8, the Los Angeles Black Worker Center (LABWC) detailed some sobering facts about the world of work in the City of Angels.
Among the key findings the center uncovered in its research for the Community Compliance and Monitoring Program Report was that there is a “Black Jobs Crisis.”
Researchers also found that almost half of L.A.’s Black population (48 percent) is either unemployed or underemployed (working at jobs insufficient to meet daily needs.) Additionally, even though Blacks make up 9 percent of the city’s overall population, they are only 2 percent of workers on public construction projects and 10 percent of new apprentices.
The study, which spent three months reviewing four different public construction projects, also found that fewer rules combined with no oversight equaled the highest percentage of disparity about the hiring of Blacks and other minorities.
The study found that on phase one of the Crenshaw/LAX rail line, the hiring of apprentices is 30 percent below target on phase one, and on the other phase it is 40 percent below the target.
The Crenshaw Line has, however, hit 20 percent in terms of hiring Black workers, which is far higher than any other project. The differences said the study is “robust community involvement” in monitoring compliance with the project labor agreement (PLA) that was approved and implemented by the Metropolitan Transit Authority board of directors.
The goals for hiring on the Crenshaw/LAX were 25 percent Black, 5 percent female, and 20 percent apprenticeship participation.
One key to beginning to address the Black job crisis found the LABWC study is the implementation of PLAs combined with monitoring and enforcement.
Other findings in the study include the fact that 30 percent of Black workers earn less than $12 an hour.
Beyond the Crenshaw/LAX rail line, there are a number of other Metro projects covered by the PLAs but according to the Black Worker Center report, meeting target numbers are lagging on these as well.
For example on the Regional Connector project, only 2.35 percent of the workers hired in the early phases are Black and 4.93 percent are women. African Americans make up only 1.73 and women 8.2 percent of those hired for the Westside Utility. On the Westside Shaft project, 11.4 percent of workers hired have been Black and only .042 were women.
Much of the monitoring of the projects were conducted by LABWC-trained community members, and they offered suggestions on improving the situation. Ideas include bringing together contractors and key subcontractors together regularly with the building trades and community organizations to assess progress; policymakers need to prioritize investment in pre-apprenticeship programs targeting underrepresented workers; including community-based outreach, tutoring and mentoring programs; conducting a comprehensive audit of the racial and gender makeup of the public construction sites; establishing a robust Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement; and training workers on the laws governing workforce composition.
To get more information about the report, visit the website www.lablackworkercenter.org or call (323) 752-7287.