October 7th, 2020 by Zachary Shahan
Are you excited about the large-scale arrival of electric buses? Are you uplifted by the promise of cleaner air on our streets and at our kids’ schools? Do you want to help produce those electric buses? In Los Angeles, you can now learn how to do so.
A partnership between the Los Angeles County Department of Workforce Development, Aging, and Community Services (WDACS), Proterra, United Steelworkers (USW) Local 675, Jobs to Move America, and Citrus College is focused on providing the training for these jobs. They are offering an “Electric Bus Manufacturing Technology” training program, with the first group of students kicking off this Friday, October 9. It’s just a 9-week program, quickly getting students ready for the EV workforce.
Among the more obvious goals of accelerating the transition to electric vehicles, the crew behind this initiative highlight that the aim is “to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and job quality in the green manufacturing sector by targeting historically underrepresented groups with barriers to employment.” Members of management from electric bus maker Proterra guided the curriculum on production and assembly — in particular, members of management in the production and assembly portion of the business. The courses are being taught at Citrus College, and the practical objective is to train people for union jobs at Proterra’s factory in the city of Industry, California. (Yes, I looked it up — that’s an actual city name. Though, only about 200 people live there, while it is home to about 3,000 businesses and nearly 7,000 jobs. So, Industry is a fitting name.)
For more, here are several quotes from involved parties (and more are here):
“These agreements represent the future of the LA County workforce,” said Otto Solórzano, Acting Director of LA County WDACS. “We have brought all partners to the table — public, private, labor, education — to create good-paying careers for traditionally underrepresented workers. In line with the Governor’s actions and the direction of the Board of Supervisors, LA County is building the technology and the workforce needed for a sustainable future.”
“The USW is proud of the work that we did to come to this agreement with Proterra,” said Maria Somma, the Organizing Director for USW International Union. “This new contract increases wages and benefits and provides workers a voice on the job. We are excited to be a part of manufacturing clean energy technology while working together with Proterra to create a safe, healthy, and prosperous future.” (Note that a collective bargaining agreement — the first one — was also made between Proterra and the USW International Union alongside this new program.)
“Creating sustainable communities starts with education that leads to a well-paying career,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “I am pleased that Citrus College, located in the Fifth District, collaborated with the private sector to train our workforce to fill modern, high-tech jobs that are desperately needed. This partnership between the public, private, education, and labor sectors is a model for success and a livable future.”
“The impacts of climate change are unrelenting and indisputable,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “As we heed the call to transition to cleaner and greener vehicles in order to reduce our carbon footprint, we have an opportunity to promote environmental and economic sustainability for our workforce who should be well-prepared to build such vehicles. The Electric Bus Manufacturing Technology training program meets this challenge by preparing our most vulnerable residents with the skills needed to thrive in a green economy. I applaud this diverse coalition that has come together to make sure that is the case.”
“We don’t have to choose between good jobs and clean air. We can and should have both,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “This training program, in partnership with organized labor, ensures that we are not only investing in the zero-emissions vehicles of the future, we are investing in the good-paying jobs our communities need.”
“Electric vehicle technology is an opportunity to strengthen American manufacturing and create good paying, skilled jobs for Californians,” said Jack Allen, Proterra CEO. “Proterra is proud to partner with Los Angeles County and Citrus College to invest in vital workforce development and training. We are excited to support the creation of more job opportunities in electric vehicle technology manufacturing through this innovative program and partnerships.”
“Making workers and communities true partners in the transition to zero-emission transit is a way to ensure that the growing clean economy does not leave behind working families from earning high, family-sustaining wages in a safe work environment with high labor standards,” said Héctor Martin Huezo, Senior Workforce Equity Coordinator at Jobs to Move America. “As more cities and states electrify bus fleets and take action to combat climate change, our coalition is working tirelessly to make sure that every single public dollar we invest in state-of-the-art electric buses creates good jobs, real benefits and training opportunities, like this one with WDACS, for communities who need access to good jobs and training.”
Images courtesy of Proterra
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