Los Angeles – The Jobs to Move America Coalition held a rally outside Los Angeles County Transportation Authority (Metro) headquarters to announce the delivery of an “open letter” to the CEO of New Flyer Industries, Paul Soubry, outlining the coalition’s concerns with the company. Following the rally, the coalition of labor, environmental, faith, and workforce development groups walked the letter to a nearby mailbox at Union Station while chanting “Safety and Dignity at New Flyer Now!” After mailing the letter, the crowd entered the Metro Board meeting to submit the letter to board members.
New Flyer is a likely bidder for Metro’s most recent purchase for up to 1,000 compressed natural gas (CNG) buses and up to 200 zero-emission buses (ZEB). According to the American Public Transportation Association’s fleet database, the company has manufactured over 90 percent of Metro’s active fleet.
The letter outlined two pressing concerns for the coalition. First, New Flyer was recently issued ten Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations, eight of which are serious at its Anniston, Alabama facility and two serious violations at its St. Cloud, Minnesota facility. Second, the company has refused to develop a community benefits agreement with the Jobs to Move America coalition, which would ensure workers have a voice on the job, as well as enhanced safety and training. Speakers at the rally asserted that the company needs to step up to provide safer working conditions for its employees.
“This callous disregard for the safety of New Flyer employees demonstrates a willingness to cut corners. We are here today to demand a higher standard for these workers!” said Chloe Osmer, Southern California Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health Board member.
Other speakers insisted companies seeking publicly financed contracts, such as New Flyer, need to develop community benefits agreement with community stakeholders to ensure disadvantaged workers will have access to jobs as the company expands operations. “Today, nearly one-third of the adult working age population has a criminal record. These individuals often face significant barriers to accessing high-quality jobs, whether because they lack the skills or because employers are unwilling to give these workers a second chance. This underscores the need for companies to negotiate community benefits agreements with labor and workforce development organizations that have expertise in preparing these workers to be successful on-the-job,” said Ernest Roberts, Executive Director of PV Jobs.
Jobs to Move America’s partners include Alliance for Community Transit (ACT-LA), Blue Green Alliance, Communication Workers of America District 9, Earthjustice, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11, PV Jobs, Sheet Metal Workers International, Sheet Metal Workers Local 105, Sierra Club, South Bay 350, Southern California Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, United Steelworkers 675, among others, came together to demand safety and dignity for New Flyer’s workers.