Mayor Walsh credits Urban Jobs Task Force and local labor leaders for supporting virtual meeting about jobs and economic opportunity for city residents

Mayor Walsh hosted the Interstate 81 Jobs “Big Table” meeting on Thursday, Aug. 13. The meeting was proposed by the Urban Jobs Task Force (UJTF), a community advocacy group concerned about employment opportunities for city residents. 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings, the group met via web conference. Nearly 70 elected leaders, community stakeholders, government agency staff, business and organized labor representatives were seated at the virtual big table. More than 100 people joined the online meeting as an audience. The two and a half hour meeting explored policy, legislative and regulatory actions to ensure City residents can benefit from the jobs and economic opportunity that the Interstate 81 project will create.

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who has sponsored legislation to reform the way federally-funded infrastructure projects are handled; U.S. Congressman John Katko; State Assembly Transportation Chairman Bill Magnarelli; an Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon delivered welcome remarks to the participants and audience. Representatives of New York State Department of Transportation, Department of Labor, the State Attorney General, the State Comptroller and the Federal Highway Administration, which will provide primary funding for the project, were participants in the meeting.

“I thank the UJTF for proposing the Big Table and helping the City make it happen. And I want to thank the Central and Northern New York Building and Construction Trades Council and North Atlantic States Council of Carpenters and other labor organizations for supporting the Big Table. We had the right leaders at the table and alignment on maximizing local jobs for people of color and other city residents who were adversely impacted by Interstate 81 or simply haven’t had access to good jobs and economic opportunity,” said Mayor Walsh. “There is much work to be done and not time to waste, but the Big Table was an exciting and positive first step.”

New York State DOT provided an update on the 81 project and on New York State workforce development and job creation on state transportation projects. The UJTF presented on the importance of establishing a Community Workforce Agreement on the Interstate 81 project with strong monitoring and enforcement on local hiring outcomes. Senator Gillibrand’s office explained its proposed Build Local, Hire Local Act. The Building and Construction Trades Council and Council of Carpenters gave an overview of the new Pathways to Apprenticeships being created with the CenterState CEO Work Train program, Syracuse Common Council President Helen Hudson and funding through Greater Syracuse H.O.P.E.

Following the presentations, President Hudson and Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens lead a roundtable discussion on creating a Community Workforce Agreement and on preparing people and local businesses to be ready for the jobs and contracts the project will create. Click on the image above to see the roundtable discussion.

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