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Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) are legally enforceable agreements between private companies and coalitions of community and labor groups. CBAs can be used to ensure a wide range of high-road job standards and equity measures. 

What is a CBA?

When cities and states enter into contracts with private corporations to build transit equipment, these private corporations are rarely required to create good jobs or commit to equity measures. JMA has developed policy tools like the U.S. Employment Plan to incentivize companies bidding for public contracts to create good jobs in the U.S. Using the USEP allows cities and states to invest in new manufacturing facilities. CBAs allow coalitions of community-based groups, workforce development organizations, labor unions, and other social justice advocates to ensure even deeper equity commitments and high road hiring practices at these facilities.

Why organize for a CBA?

CBAs can:

  • Maximize returns on government investment in manufacturing. 
  • Transform communities through stronger, more equitable economies. 
  • Hold companies accountable to their promises to local governments, workers, and communities. 
  • Advance racial and gender equity by creating training and apprenticeship opportunities for women, people of color, veterans, and systems-impacted people who have. historically been left out of good jobs in the manufacturing sector.

CBAs are a win-win for communities and manufacturers. Manufacturers doing business in the U.S. are facing a shortage of skilled and middle-skilled workers to fill the demand for machinists, welders, computer-controlled machine operators and other key positions. CBAs help  manufacturers develop and train a skilled workforce while creating good jobs with benefits for working families. 

CBAs in action


In 2017, the electric bus manufacturer BYD signed a CBA with JMA, SMART Local 105, and a coalition of community groups. This CBA will support the creation of a robust U.S. jobs program through deep investments in pre-apprenticeship and training programs. BYD committed to a goal of recruiting and hiring 40 percent of its workers from populations facing significant barriers to employment, such as veterans and returning citizens. BYD has also committed to hiring from populations that have historically been excluded from the manufacturing industry, such as women and African Americans.


After the Chicago Transit Agency used JMA’s good jobs and equity policy language in a purchase of new railcars for the public transit system, manufacturer CRRC established a factory in Chicago’s south side. CRRC eventually signed a community benefits agreement with the JMA coalition in Illinois, IBEW, and SMART to hire from the local community and invest in the development of pre-apprenticeship and workforce training programs. CRRC also committed to hiring people facing significant and multiple barriers to employment, including veterans, women, the formerly incarcerated, and people of color.

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