LA city jobs fall short for Black trainees in program

Tekoah “TK” Flory was very excited when they got a job offer from the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting in September of last year. Flory was working as a traffic director at Dodger Stadium, but this job was only temporary and would be ending soon.

Flory, who is 31 years old, had worked several minimum wage jobs and was excited about starting a new career in a city job. Flory expected the job to pay between $40,000 and $60,000 per year.

“I was really happy, thrilled, and prepared to plan my budget for the year,” said Flory, who prefers to be referred to using they/them pronouns. “I was thrilled to have a career in this city instead of just having a job. It’s better than barely making ends meet or earning just enough to afford food.” However, in January, the city took back the job offer. Flory had returned to the same place they had started from.

Flory applied for an office job at the street lighting bureau through a program called the Workforce Equity Demonstration Program. This program is a partnership between the Los Angeles Black Worker Center and the L.A. Department of Public Works. People who receive training at the Black Worker Center for a few weeks can apply for jobs in Public Works without needing to take a civil service exam. This exam is often a challenge for applicants.

Also Read: New Rental Property Owner California Laws to be Effective in 2024

The partnership contract, which was signed in 2022, stated that the city would employ 200 Black workers who had received training from the Black Worker Center. Trina Traylor, who is in charge of the campaign at the center, said that the city has agreed to hire them by June 2024.

However, out of the 83 people who received training, only 49 have been hired. In addition to Flory, another applicant had their job offer taken back. “We are far from reaching that number (200) for various reasons, some of which are unclear or unsatisfactory to us,” explained Yodit Semu, a program specialist at the Ready to Work program of the L.A. Black Worker Center.

Organizers are happy that some people in the program were able to find jobs, but they are concerned that the slow city bureaucracy is making it difficult for other Black workers to find opportunities. Currently, the city has a high job vacancy rate of 17.5%. In response, Mayor Karen Bass is planning to reduce the number of vacant jobs in order to address the budget deficit.

“It is very important that Black workers can find jobs in the city and throughout the city. The mayor will keep working to make sure that the current economic situation doesn’t undo that commitment,” said Zach Seidl, a spokesperson for the mayor, in an email. The public works department refused to give interviews and stated that they would provide written answers to questions instead. They did not meet the deadline.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.