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Our team in California is proud to be a part of a community-labor coalition that is changing how we think about public contracts and working to create more jobs for Californians across the State. 

JMA, along with our community-labor coalition, including the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Union (SMART) signed a  Community Benefits Agreement with electric bus manufacturer BYD.   Through the CBA, BYD committed to diversifying its staff in California by developing high-quality apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs to train a new generation of workers in the manufacturing industry for quality, skilled union jobs at their facility in Lancaster, CA. These trainings have created a career ladder for existing workers who are gaining cutting-edge skills, and an industry-recognized credential via an apprenticeship program, thereby earning more on the job.

In 2019, SMART Local 105 and BYD launched the country’s first electric bus manufacturing apprenticeship program using the nationally-recognized Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) credential. This apprenticeship selects competitive applicants employed by BYD who have demonstrated a desire to further their careers to participate in a 1.5-year hybrid program that includes in-classroom instruction and hands-on training. The first cohort of graduates completed their apprenticeship in partnership with Antelope Valley College in the Spring of 2021. You can read one of the graduate’s stories here

In 2020, SMART Local 105 and BYD, in partnership with the Worker Education Resource Center (WERC), were awarded nearly $1 million from the State of California’s High Road Training Partnership (HRTP). These workforce development funds are only available for industry, labor, and community groups to expand access to apprenticeship programs and quality jobs in clean technology sectors that will support the state in reaching its ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals. The community benefits agreement makes BYD eligible for these resources to build new employees’ training and hiring pipelines.  

Together, the BYD-SMART apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs comprise the single largest investment in high-quality employment and training programs by any electric transit vehicle manufacturer in U.S. history.

Associated Press Posts