Electric buses are appearing on the streets of US cities, and one of the leading vendors is the Chinese automaker BYD. This isn’t a case of American jobs being shipped overseas however – the buses are built at BYD’s plant in Lancaster, California. Now the company has made a further commitment to supporting the community, agreeing to hire 40% of its workers from disadvantaged populations.
The bus builder has signed a community benefits agreement (CBA) with a coalition of community groups called Jobs to Move America (JMA). A CBA, which is more typically associated with real estate projects, is a legally enforceable agreement designed to support the creation of local jobs.
BYD, in cooperation with JMA and the SMART Local 105 labor union, will create training and apprenticeship programs that include classroom and hands-on training in precision metal work, electrical wiring and assembly of complex mechanical and electrical systems. The company will recruit workers that have historically not had access to the manufacturing industry, including women, African-Americans, returning citizens [individuals who have been released from the penal system], and veterans. BYD has committed to a goal of at least 40% of the eventual workforce being composed of workers in one or more of these groups.
“Lancaster has one of the largest re-entry populations in Los Angeles County. Ensuring returning citizens have a stable job with benefits is the best way to keep them from returning to the system,” said Pastor Darrell Dorris, Deputy Mayor of Lancaster. “This important agreement is proof that communities and businesses can work together to create better outcomes for our society.”
“BYD is the only electric bus manufacturer with a workforce represented by a union, meaning workers will have a seat at the negotiating table around their wages, benefits, and working conditions,” said Luther Medina, President of SMART Local 105. “Now, with a Community Benefits Agreement, the community will also have a seat at the table to make sure the county’s most struggling populations have a pathway into the middle class.”
“At BYD, our core values are about cleaning the air and creating great jobs here in California,” said Macy Neshati, Senior VP of BYD Heavy Industries. “BYD is proud to be investing in good jobs, apprenticeship and training programs for the community.”