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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, our community-labor coalition with SMART Local 105 in California signed a landmark Community Benefits Agreement with electric bus manufacturer BYD. The CBA is supporting the creation of good, family-sustaining jobs 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, including women, African Americans, justice-impacted individuals, and veterans.


After winning the largest-ever railcar procurement in the Chicago Transit Authority’s history, railcar manufacturer CRRC signed a Community Benefits Agreement with our community-labor coalition in Illinois, which includes IBEW and SMART. This CBA will ensure that people facing barriers to employment have the opportunity to access good, family-sustaining jobs at the the CRRC railcar factory on Chicago’s south side. The CBA also establishes a jobs pipeline for local residents through a pre-apprenticeship and workforce training program.

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