The Illinois Department of Transportation and labor unions have signed off on an agreement that sets requirements for state-funded bridge and road projects.
Union and church leaders met with Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider at the new Mississippi River Bridge Wednesday, celebrating the new Project Labor Agreement that will set standards for minority and female participation.
"It provides a critical template to ensure that all citizens have an equal chance to share in the economic growth and success of the community," Pastor James Hunt of New Hope Christian Church in Chicago said, calling it a "great victory."
IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider says the Mississippi River Bridge has had over 11,000 workers on the project since it began, and about a quarter of them have been minorities. She says the new Project Labor Agreement will provide for greater minority and female representation in projects like these.
"I think that's an important thing to note, that it hasn't been in our agreements up to this point," Schneider said. "So that is movement in the right direction, but we still have a lot of work left to do."
And while spending is at a premium due to the so-called sequester, those gathered at the press conference also called for transportation to receive priority in federal budgets.
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