In a unanimous vote, the Long Beach City Council passed a new citywide agreement during its meeting Tuesday to increase hiring of disadvantaged workers within the city.
Called the Project Labor Agreement, the contract between the city of Long Beach and the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council is designed to help workers like veterans, those with criminal records or those who have not completed higher education receive employment.
The agreement is slated to be conducted over a 10-year period and will cover city projects over $750,000 and “all street-related right-of-way projects” over $1 million, according to the meeting agenda.
Councilmembers Mary Zendejas and Al Austin II both said they felt the project is beneficial in offering employment opportunities for local residents and helps to expand equity in the city.
“This agreement brings so many good paying jobs to so many residents in need, especially right now,” Zendejas said.
According to Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, the Project Labor Agreement represents over $260 million in work compared to about $6 million within the previous PLA agreement.
“That’s five times the impact on this PLA and five times the opportunity meant for jobs coming to our local community by expanding it to include street projects,” Richardson said.
Councilmember Stacy Mungo said the program has created opportunities and economic security for families within the city.
“When you talk to someone who has had an opportunity because of the trades and the confidence they have, you can hear in their voice their life has changed,” Mungo said. “These are more than just jobs; they’re really life for a family.”
According to Councilmember Suzie Price, the benefits “have far outweighed any additional costs” that might come with the project.
During public comment, local residents expressed their approval of the measure and claimed the agreement has made positive impacts within the community.
“With these new steps hopefully we can ensure local Long Beach residents are the ones getting these jobs with good benefits and an entryway also to union jobs,” said Roberto Lopez, a Long Beach resident. “To help create an opportunity to recreate and help grow [the] middle class to low income and marginalized residents who are put to the side.”
The next city council meeting will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 5 p.m. via teleconference.