On Oct. 17, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) announced it will ask companies vying for a $2 billion contract to manufacture 854 new rapid transit cars to provide specific information on how many jobs they plan to create in America and how they will generate opportunities for American workers, for the first time.
The addendum to the invitation for bids could enhance the impact of the $2 billion project by encouraging manufacturing companies to train and hire disadvantaged workers, including veterans and residents of low-income neighborhoods. American jobs commitments from Chicago rapid transit manufacturers could result in the creation of as many as 20,000 U.S. manufacturing and related jobs, according to economists from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
“We applaud Mayor Emanuel and the CTA for taking a lead role in bolstering Chicago’s economy and creating jobs,” said Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor. “We urge manufacturers to work in partnership with the CTA to create quality manufacturing jobs here in Chicago and around the U.S.”
Due to CTA’s addendum, manufacturing companies will be encouraged to develop comprehensive American jobs plans that include factors like the quality and quantity of jobs created for American workers in addition to factors of cost, and those plans could be incorporated into contracts once the bid is awarded. Manufacturing companies have until Dec. 18 to submit information about their American jobs plans to CTA.
“The city of Chicago is demonstrating leadership to rebuild American manufacturing, and leveraging our buying power deliberately for community benefit,” said Naomi Davis, fellow at Green for All, and founder of BIG: Blacks in Green. “Community activists and city officials must now work closely together to ensure that CTA’s intentions result in real jobs and opportunities for Chicagoans. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and collaborate.”
Chicago working families are in dire need of good jobs and economic opportunities. Illinois’ manufacturing sector has declined by 20 percent over the last decade. The state’s unemployment rate is 9.2 percent, the second highest in the country, and the unemployment rate for Illinois African American workers is nearly double, at 17 percent. In response, city officials, business leaders, labor unions and community groups are stepping forward with initiatives to support the city’s manufacturing sector, like CTA’s new American jobs addendum.
“With so many Americans struggling to find work, it is critical that public agencies use our taxpayer dollars to invigorate our economy,” said Madeline Janis, national policy director of Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE). “If manufacturers step up, this could be a big opportunity to create jobs for low-income communities and communities of color, while upgrading Chicago’s transit networks with new, efficient, American-made rail cars.”
Every year, transit agencies across the country spend about $5.4 billion on bus and rail car purchases, totaling a $50 billion investment over the past ten years. The national Jobs to Move America coalition is advocating for cities to maximize these investments of taxpayer dollars, by rewarding bus and rail car manufacturing companies for creating American jobs and generating opportunities for unemployed American workers. The Jobs to Move America coalition is comprised of community, labor, philanthropic, academic and environmental organizations, and small businesses.