Jobs and Economic Equity
There are multiple issues resulting from rail consolidation in the city of Springfield: Displacement of a significant number of homes and businesses owned by minorities; outdated federal female/minority hiring regulations; potential for further segregation of east-side residents who are mainly low-income people of color; environmental issues related to increased traffic on the one train line.
Response: Through the efforts of Faith Coalition leaders working with IL legislators and city officials, a Rail Community Benefits Agreement addressing the above mentioned issues was signed by city, county and state officials. The Community Benefits Agreement was created because Faith Coaliton wanted to make sure that those living in East Springfield (low income, minority community) benefit from the rail project. The Rail Community Benefits Agreement states that the rail improvements project should provide:
- local jobs with hiring goals for minorities and women;
- funding for apprenticeship and “on the job” training programs;
- relocation assistance for those displaced by the railroad tracks;
- economic development opportunities;
- safety and noise considerations; and
- a community led planning and monitoring committee.
Due to identified concerns over compliance with this agreement, Faith Coalition leaders worked with legislators to ensure passage of legislation to create a commission to oversee and enforce the policies set forth in the Rail Community Benefits Agreement. This legislation will continue to push labor unions to accept unemployed and underemployed individuals who are enrolled in our 100 Ready Workers Initiative into their apprenticeship training programs. This legislation passed the Senate in May 2015 and in the House in July 2015. It was signed into law by Governor Rauner in August 2015.
Faith Coalition leaders continue to work with our national partners in Gamaliel to push the US Department of Labor to increase federal minority and female hiring regulations which have not been updated since 1979.
The 100 Ready Workers Initiative was developed two years ago because of Faith Coaltion's work on the Springfield High Speed Rail and Railroad Relocation Project. The Rail Community Benefits Agreement states that the railroad project should provide local jobs with hiring goals for minorities and women and funding for apprenticeship and “on the job” training programs. The 100 Ready Workers Initiative assists with the implementation of these goals and has been expanded to include jobs with the medical industry.