Recently, San Gabriel Valley residents gathered to listen to elected officials discuss building community wealth in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. Panelists included labor representatives, city council members and other local leaders vested in eliciting growth for the San Gabriel Valley.
Attendees heard panelists talk about post COVID-era solutions to long-standing community concerns and heard their representatives address topics from tax fraud, pathways to career opportunities and development and building community wealth in the post-Covid era.
BDN was on the scene to interview Contractor and Mayor of LA Puente Charlie Klinakis and Mayor Pro Tem of Monterey Park Henry Lo after the discussion. Each expounded on parts of the Community Wealth 6-point system they felt were important.
Klinakis on how he holds contractors to task as both mayor and also as a peer:
"My company is Alert insulation. I have and always will pay a living wage. There is no such thing as not being able to afford it. The owner of the project, the general contractor of the project cry that they don’t have enough money yet they always have enough money to pay themselves."
"I've always looked at it as, we’re bringing a service and we’re bringing quality and for that service and that quality we deserve to be paid for that. The men and women that we have, deserve to be paid those wages and when the project’s completed that's the proof in the pudding cause that’s when the GC or the owner says “hey you got the project done, you got it done on time. I'm glad I went with you guys”
"As mayor I’m always out there talking to contractors. When they come into city hall, I approach them. Whenever possible I'm always approaching the contractors to make sure they're reaching out to the local trade unions. Trying to make sure they're using union contractors. Nowadays I'm having good success it seems like the unions are being well received so I'm having good success with that."
Lo talked about the importance of the apprenticeship program in community wealth:
"As we move to the post pandemic world, we need to be forward thinking. When I hear people say that they can't wait until we are “back” to pre-pandemic, then I say that is the wrong approach. It's not enough to simply get people back at work if they were displaced during this pandemic recession but to ask ourselves how we can provide workers with the skills, the knowledge based resources to be able to have upward mobility for themselves and their families?"
"I hope that in Monterey Park we can join the growing number of cities that are recognizing the importance of having a plan to create community wealth for our residents and address the economic inequities that became more amplified during the pandemic recession."
"That's where apprentice-based training comes in. I hope that we can have these conversations with cities, employers, unions, colleges, school districts, and workforce development boards to rethink what our workforce can be in the future."
Klinakis knows the unique ability that his two jobs afford him.
"They [contractors] listen to me… maybe it’s because I’m also one of them!"