L.A. Fights for Fair Wages

Despite Los Angeles’ enormous wealth, hundreds of thousands of residents are living in poverty.

Since 1993 the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) has been finding ways to reduce poverty.

LAANE also tries to secure good jobs and community benefits for all living in the city, support the rights of low-wage works of Santa Monica’s tourism zone, leads the charge for fair wages at the airport, and reports on working poverty and the Mayor’s Business Team.

Inglewood activists want Wal-Mart to change its cut-rate ways and are fighting for this through The Coalition for a Better Inglewood, which just celebrated its one-year anniversary.

The Wall Street Journal writes that in the latest sign of the growing coordination among community groups and the sway they are having on development projects, the city of Los Angeles has agreed to pay nearly $500 million to provide environmental mitigation and jobs-related benefits programs to the neighborhoods affected by plans to upgrade and expand the airport there.

The Ford Foundation Report features LAANE and spotlights how they have created coalitions with other community activists and made big developers their partners in fighting poverty.

LAANE is recognized as a national authority on issues regarding the working poor and an innovator in the fight against working poverty, according to their website.

The organization came to prominence by leading the effort to pass one of the country’s first wage laws, raise wages for 15,000 workers, according to their literature.

In 2001 LANNE launched its new Accountable Development program, winning landmark agreements to ensure that developers provide quality jobs and community benefits in exchange for public subsidies, based on their records.

LAANE and its leadership have received numerous honors, including awards from the Mayor of Los Angeles, the Speaker of the California Assembly, and the UCLA School of Law, among others.

This past spring, a year after Inglewood voters defeated a plan by Wal-Mart to build a Supercenter in their town, a group of locals headed to the retail giant’s hometown to gain assurances that it will be more sensitive to local concerns in the future.
Members of the Coalition didn’t bring any concrete proposals but had hoped to meet with Wal-Mart Chief Executive Lee Scott to hash out a legally binding agreement that would address issues such as pollution, traffic, wages, and health benefits.

“We are concerned about the impact of poverty wages and inadequate health care on the quality of life of Inglewood families,” they wrote in a letter to Scott.

Contending large companies like Wal-Mart can’t be trusted, the Rev. Altagracia Perez said the group wants something in writing.

“Developers will say anything to get a development through,” said Perez.

The group rejected a proposed meeting with other Wal-Mart officials.

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