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  • Sacred Conversations 2016

Update on Rail Community Benefits Agreement

As the summer draws to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to let the community know what the Faith Coalition for the Common Good has been doing during the spring/summer and to alert them to the coalition’s plans for fall.

Over the past several months, the Faith Coalition has had great success in implementing our Rail Community Benefits Agreement. This includes:

+ Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill; Sen. Sam McCann, R-Carlinville and Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur signing the Rail Community Benefits Agreement. They joined others who have endorsed the agreement (U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the Illinois Department of Transportation, Mayor Mike Houston and the Sangamon County Board).

+Employment of the Rail Relocation Ombudsman. A major highlight of the summer was the hiring of retired judge Theodis Lewis as the rail relocation ombudsman. Lewis is already providing assistance to residents and businesses who are preparing for the relocation process.

+Minority Participation Internship Program. Hanson Professional Services, the City of Springfield and the Sangamon County Board joined together to create a model internship program for minority and women college students. This summer, it resulted in the hiring of four minority persons (three interns for Hanson and one for the City).

+Apprenticeship Programs. During the spring/summer, major time and effort was given to getting minority and women applicants into Lincoln Land Community College’s Highway Construction Careers Training Program (the construction trades pre-apprenticeship) and the construction trades union apprenticeship training programs.

Participants in our 100 Ready Workers program have been a top priority. Many union apprenticeship programs have increased their minority and female trainees thanks to the hard work and support of our union labor leaders and their membership in the Faith Coalition for the Common Good.

+Developing a cohesive Rail Planning and Monitoring Committee. The Faith Coalition for the Common Good Planning and Monitoring Committee — made up of rail project stakeholders representing unions, Faith Coalition members, Springfield Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Department of Transportation, the City, County and interested businesses and citizens — meet on a regular basis and as a result broadened their understanding of the Community Benefits Agreement to ensure its implementation.

+Hiring Goals. To meet one of the goals in the Rail Community Benefits Agreement, Faith Coalition is working with state and national partners to increase federal minority/female hiring regulations on all federally funded projects.

Some of our language and aspirations have been included in the new “Grow America Act” (minority/female hiring regulations, local hiring, funding for job training and the implementation of Disadvantaged Business Enterprise goals in the Federal Rail Administration).

+Involvement with the Carpenter Street underpass. The Rail Planning and Monitoring Committee have stayed abreast of the Carpenter Street underpass, which is scheduled to begin construction this fall.

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