Worcester Labor Coalition Fighting for Local Jobs

By William S. Coleman III, community activist

Reverend Clyde Tally, welcomed the Worcester Community Labor Coalition to AME Zion Church, Illinois Street, on Monday, Nov 17.  This well planned and organized meeting of labor and community leaders had the undivided and focused attention of state and locally elected leaders. The impressive leadership from the community shared their concerns and hopes that proposed economic development coming to our city would have a focused interest on making sure that Worcester residents were given priority consideration when hiring construction jobs begins.

Sandy Ellis, of the Massachusetts Nurses Association presented the purpose of the meeting and its goals.

Frank Kartheiser, of the Worcester Interfaith presented a brief history to the Worcester Community Labor Coalition.

Robert Thomas of The Martin Luther King Center highlighted the successes of the coalition in working with elected officials and notably State Senator Harriet Chandler.

Chris Condon, of CSC Solutions presented the results of a survey conducted between July 8th and 10th 2014. 400 registered voters in Worcester participated. Chris explained what a Community Benefit Agreement consists of:

“A Community Benefit Agreement  (CBA) is a contract negotiated between an institution/developer and a coalition representing a spectrum of community leaders. Elected officials participate to ensure the public needs are met.” In the CBA goals were spelled out for hiring talented individuals with previous obstacles to employment. Some targeted categories include: local residents, veterans, single parents, individuals with past felony conviction on their criminal records, women, people of color, and low income residents. The meeting highlighted the need for apprenticeship programs and training opportunities that will lead to good job careers.

A CBA benefits the community, the developers and a skilled and educated workforce.

David Minasian of the Carpenters Local 107, detailed the positive benefits of economic growth and development for our City.

Lenny Cooper, of the Worcester NAACP Unit # 2058 presented the goals for the Coalition.

Many community concerns were addressed by organizations like “Neighbor to Neighbor” when they put forth a need to adjust bus schedules that included express bus services to large employers and to the Auburn Mall.

The audience was given an opportunity to present questions to Coalition members and share their thoughts on important community concerns.

Richard Shea, Senate District Coordinator of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, elaborated on the challenges that poverty presents to students who drop out of high school and the need to rally for preschool education programs throughout our public schools.

Many elected officials attended this meeting and actively participated pledging their support to the goals of the Coalition and its goals.