Recent Liberty Hill Commission Training Focused on Targeted Hire Practices

by EveryAction Admin on September 19, 2015

On June 11, Liberty Hill Foundation’s Wally Marks Leadership Institute for Change Commissions Training Program hosted a panel and discussion on “Targeted Hire in Public Projects: Community Stabilization Through Local Jobs.” Targeted Hire is a policy designed to support people from undeserved communities by providing them with job opportunities in public works projects. Liberty Hill’s Commissions Training Program trains grassroots leaders to become advocates within government structures, such as commissions. The Program ensures that Los Angeles has strong leadership that makes equitable decisions for all communities.

The panel members explored “Targeted Hire” as a policy and provided suggestions for how people within decision-making structures like commissions can advocate for Targeted Hire programs to empower undeserved communities. The panelists emphasized the ways in which “Targeted Hire” programs could build power from within communities, while also creating a more stable and balanced economy.

Featuring four very accomplished women, that panel included- Lola Smallwood Cuevas, Project Director at UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education and Founder of the Los Angeles Black Worker Center (BWC) Coordinating Committee; KeAndra Dodds, Deputy for Office of Supervisor Hilda Solis; Cynthia Guzman, Senior Associate at Estolano LeSar Perez Advisors LLC, and Ashley Thomas, Research and Policy Analyst at Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE).  Joanna Kabat, Senior Program Manager at the Liberty Hill Foundation, moderated.

Ashley Thomas started the conversation by speaking to the success of LAANE’s Construction Careers campaign, a project that brings together community, faith, and labor groups committed to ensuring the construction industry generates career path jobs for Los Angeles’ most disadvantaged residents..

Lola and Fans

Lola Smallwood Cuevas, Project Director at UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education and Founder of the Los Angeles Black Worker Center (BWC) Coordinating Committee

Lola Smallwood Cuevas gave audience members a brief overview of the #BlackWorkersMatter movement. She shared that it was about building power from the bottom up for those who face growing economic disparities and have traditionally been excluded from employment opportunities. Black workers were the slowest group to recover from the economic crisis of 2008.

Neighborhood and economic stabilization comes as a result of putting the needs of black workers at the center of policy analysis. The movement draws attention to the severity of the black jobs crisis and the need to invest in funding black worker organizing. The BWC works to get black workers to the table to discuss potential solutions and policy changes.

Cynthia Guzman then shared knowledge gained from her role in developing recommendations for the California Public Utilities Commission on the workforce inclusion program for disadvantaged Californians in the energy efficiency sector. Guzman assured the audience that commissioners could make a difference in advocating for Targeted and Local Hire programs. However, they must first understand the concepts. She pointed out that most people do not know the difference between Targeted Hire, a policy that mandates hiring people from particular underserved communities, and Local Hire, a policy that requires hiring people from specific geographic locations. She also shared that commissioners must understand exactly how they can advocate for Targeted and Local Hire programs within the scope of their commission’s work. They must have a plan, know their allies, and leverage best practices.

After Panel Discussion

KeAndra Dodds gave details on Supervisor Hilda Solis’s proposal to use the county’s contracting process to give employers an incentive to hire those formerly incarcerated. Born out of Supervisor Solis’ vision to see a more balanced economy in which everyone can participate, the county would leverage contracts in order to be more purposeful about who is employed. The proposal would require counties to do an analysis of businesses that hire formerly incarcerated individuals and in turn receive contracting preferences. Therefore, as Los Angeles County is the largest purchaser of goods and services, more businesses would be encouraged to hire formerly incarcerated individuals.

After the initial round of questions, the audience eagerly joined the conversation. One audience member asked what was being done about the displacement of older workers. Smallwood stated that the displacement of older workers was a serious issue – especially within the construction industry; workers often lack proper retirement funds and end up working much longer. She said that it came down to educating workers on their rights against age discrimination, and enforcing those rights.

Next, the panel was asked how targeted and local hire policies effect tax payers compared to traditional contracting practices? Cynthia Guzman answered saying the programs are cost effective if they also invest in training, resulting in an efficient workforce.  Dodds also added that by employing people from underserved communities, economies are stabilized in the long-run.

Shawn and Kreuti

Shawn Landers, City of Santa Monica Government Social Services Commission

Araceli Campos, City of Los Angeles Commissioner on Status of Women, and training participant asked what work is being done to address gender disparities within male dominated fields. Smallwood Cuevas started by reminding the audience that gender discrimination is already illegal. Therefore, lawmakers must focus on enforcement.  Lawmakers must invest in investigators to ensure compliance and we must give workers a platform to speak as well.

People from marginalized communities are systematically pushed out of and discriminated against in the workforce. The panel showed how Los Angeles can begin to rectify the economic injustices these underserved communities face by investing in Targeted and Local Hire programs that support a strong balanced economy where all Angelinos have the opportunity to participate.