LOS ANGELES, CALIF. — At the steps of Los Angeles City Hall, the 1000 Strong Coalition—which includes Los Angeles Black Worker Center, SEIU Local 721, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, UCLA Labor Center, and AFSCME District Council 36—celebrates the diligence, hard work, and unwavering commitment of labor organizers past and present to ensure Black workers are equitably represented in quality work.
In pursuit of actualizing equity and repairing generational harms, local leaders and the Los Angeles Board of Public Works, in a unanimous vote, will now take a crucial step forward toward piloting a “Workforce Equity” program for marginalized communities, including organizations and allied labor experts fighting for representation of impacted workers and proactive, equitable economic recovery in the Black community in the development of this initiative.
"My colleagues and I are intensely excited about this project and the opportunity to create opportunity,” said Greg Good, President of the Board of Public Works. “Vulnerable communities and communities of color have historically been the last to feel the benefits of our prosperity—and we want to change that."
With more than 83% of Black workers in California filing for unemployment, the coronavirus and systemic racism are exacerbating the jobs crisis Black workers were already facing. The Board of Public Works will proactively move to ensure economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic includes Black workers by forming the foundational frameworks and plan of action to operationalize equitable hiring and retention practices.
"The 1000 Strong coalition celebrates this first step in the right direction,” said Janel Bailey, Co-Executive Director of the Los Angeles Black Worker Center. “It is refreshing to see the City of Los Angeles begin to undo some of the harm this exclusion has caused Black communities by ensuring that Black Angelenos share in the collective prosperity when our economy begins to heal."
“The Los Angeles labor movement commends the City of Los Angeles and the Department of Public Works on the motion today and celebrates the beginnings of a plan for recovery centered around inclusion," said Ron Herrera, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO President. "We look forward to helping shape the steps they are taking for long-overdue equity and investment in marginalized communities."
Labor organizers are also calling on the City of Los Angeles, its departments, and Mayor Eric Garcetti to stand true to address economic injustice in Los Angeles through conscious investment in solutions that remove systemic barriers, open doorways of opportunity, and foster sustainable job creation for Black workers.
According to Sherri Bell, a public sector worker in Los Angeles, “Labor rights issues are civil rights issues, and conversations surrounding economic recovery in Los Angeles must prioritize Black voices while mutually addressing the distinct needs of marginalized communities. In this model rests the path to fairness, healing Black futures, and standing true to promises of collective well-being.”
Simboa Wright, LA Sanitation Department wastewater collection specialist, said, “Historically, city jobs have served as a gateway to the middle class for disadvantaged communities. These opportunities—they change lives for generations to come.”
1000 Strong is standing prepared to work with local leaders to actualize equity, and make the outcome of this decision a key achievement in the fight for shared prosperity.
For more information visit 1000strongla.org.
Full press conference can be viewed on Facebook Live.
Photos from press conference available on Flickr.
About 1000 Strong
1000 Strong is the campaign coalition of labor unions and community organizations on a mission to create long-lasting change in the Black community: Los Angeles Black Worker Center, SEIU Local 721, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, UCLA Labor Center, and AFSCME District Council 36. We believe the best way to combat economic injustice is to ensure there is equitable economic recovery in Los Angeles from the current crisis—one that has disproportionately impacted Black communities. For centuries, Black workers have failed to earn a fair return on their labor investments, and to that we say, no more. We are well-prepared to advance our civil rights efforts to secure labor and economic equity, now.
Support these collective efforts by signing the 1000 Black Jobs Initiative today.