Unique partnership launches new electric bus manufacturing training program and union contract
LOS ANGELES, CA – On the heels of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s landmark commitment to zero-emission transportation, 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 marked ‘Manufacturing Day’ today by announcing historic investments into the development of a high-quality, highly skilled, electric bus manufacturing workforce.
The investments include a first-of-its-kind workforce training program in advanced electric bus manufacturing, and Proterra and USW Local 675’s first Collective Bargaining Agreement, ensuring worker voice and representation remain central to the long-term health and success of the company.
“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.”
“Clean economy jobs are good jobs, and I will work to make sure our underrepresented communities are primed for these well-paying employment opportunities,” said Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, Chair Pro Tem. “As a former U.S. Secretary of Labor, I am proud to develop local programs that train all members of LA County’s workforce to tap into the clean energy economy. Our worker-centered efforts will put LA County back in the driver’s seat to growing a stronger, more inclusive middle class.”
“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.”
“This model partnership will help achieve multiple high-priority goals,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “It supports the growth of the County’s green infrastructure and the region’s manufacturing sector, while simultaneously providing training and quality job opportunities to disadvantaged workers. I am delighted to see economic opportunity and forward-thinking environmental policy go hand-in-hand.”
“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.”
“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 Electric Bus Manufacturing Technology training program, which welcomes its first cohort of students on October 9, was developed to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and job quality in the green manufacturing sector by targeting historically underrepresented groups with barriers to employment. The customized, nine-week training program taught by Citrus College was designed in partnership with production and assembly management at Proterra, a leading innovator in heavy-duty electric transportation, and will help fill union jobs manufacturing battery-electric buses at Proterra’s City of Industry facility.
“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.”
“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.”
“Citrus College is excited to be a part of this new training program,” said Michael Wangler, Dean of Career, Technical and Continuing Education at Citrus College. “Our automotive and diesel faculty were eager to help build this customized curriculum that will benefit the community, the environment and the local economy.”
Proterra and USW Local 675 also announced the signing of their first collective bargaining agreement. The collective bargaining agreement sets clear requirements on how workers’ voices will inform the development of training programs, working conditions, safety, and other important factors affecting working conditions. In 2019, Proterra signed Los Angeles County’s Fair Chance Pledge to incorporate Fair Chance hiring practices into the company’s recruitment process and promote the full participation of justice-involved individuals in our economy.
“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.”
This partnership will further help Los Angeles County reach the goals outlined in its Sustainability Plan, as well as the recent Board of Supervisors’ motion for High Road Training Partnerships between industry, labor, community, and local colleges.
For the latest information on how the County is assisting businesses and building a Green LA County for All, please follow @LACBizDev on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. If your business is interested in partnering with the County on a customized training program, please e-mail LACBizDev@wdacs.lacounty.gov.