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  • Sacred Conversations 2016

Groups Calls For Changes To Decades Old Law

49. That’s how many years it’s been since a federal policy ensuring access to taxpayer funded work has been updated.

Monday, a local group called on Congress to update the requirements for companies when it comes to hiring minorities and women.

President Lyndon Johnson signed the executive order setting hiring goals for companies working on federal contracts. The idea of the goals were to provide access to jobs for minorities and women.

Now almost five decades later some in Springfield say those goals need to be revisited because the population has changed.

“Communities have changed. You can look around Springfield and see that. You can look all over the United States and see that our communities have changed,” said Jim Dixon, Vice President, Central Illinois Trades and Labor Council.

That change includes more women and minorities in the workforce.

The Faith Coalition for the Common Good would like to see federal regulations updated to reflect the changing population in the workforce.

They say the railroad project here in Springfield is a good example of a federal job minorities and women should have access to.

“The people that are hired to build this project reflect the community should reflect the community that it’s intended to serve. And the people that work on this project should look like Springfield,” said Andy Manar, State Representative, 48th District.

The trades are seeing a lot of job growth because the construction industry is rebounding.

Alicia Martin says they’re seeing more people come in to be trained to take the well paying jobs.

“It’s difficult to track the number of women and minorities who are actually in the trades, but since 2013 we’ve had an increase from 89 apprentices in 2013 to 170 in 2014 so there’s definitely an uptick. And with that there’s also an increase in women and minorities coming into the program,” said Martin.

Recognizing a need for job training Calvin Pitts started Southtown Construction Training Center, a program working with the Urban League to train men and women for construction jobs.

“We help them with soft skills, we give them basic overalls of residential construction, help them get familiar with what actually goes on in the construction trade to give them a better assessment of whether this is something they want to do or not,” said Pitts.

So far the Faith Coalition has collected 500 signatures and received letters of support from various state agencies and politicians supporting the update to the policy.


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