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Current mayor of Chicago and former White House Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel has been dealing with a series of situations in the Windy City. With gang violence ravaging the inner city streets, to widespread allegations of city corruption which has dogged the metropolis for years, Emanuel’s task to correct things is a weighty one.

Just recently dealing with a citywide teacher’s strike, Emanuel finds himself on the wrong side of the labor movement once again after blasting unions for their lack of hiring African-Americans in the city, reports NBC Chicago.

Appearing yesterday on local AM station WVON, Mayor Emanuel addressed a question regarding the lack of African-American workers on construction sites throughout the city. Whites and Hispanics make up much of the labor force on construction jobs, and considering the city is undergoing major transformations, a local businessman took umbrage at the lack of Black faces on these projects.

Soft Sheen Products owner Ed Gardner has been active in trying to get jobs for Black workers in the city. Gardner was enraged that a project near the intersection of 95th and Western on the city’s south side wasn’t more racially diverse. Days ago, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, Gardner led protesters to the site and staged a rally to complain about the lack of job diversity. It appears that Emanuel and Gardner are attempting to get on the same page – but Emanuel seems to suggest that unions are blocking this from happening.

The mayor’s response:

First of all, my staff has been in touch with Mr. Gardner. I think they’re meeting with him this morning, and they’ve met with him before. Mr. Gardner and I share the same goals, and the same objectives. We’ve talked about, where other cities are pulling back on public transportation, I just told you, we’ve got 400 permanent CTA bus driver jobs. We’ve got 200 to 300 jobs in rehabilitating our buses. We’re going to fix the Red Line, and over 30 percent of the work is going to be done by firms that are minority- and women-owned, and over 50 percent of that is African-American firms. On this particular project at 95th, I talked to my staff, and as soon he said it was Hispanic and whites working on, I said, “Go check out what’s happened.”

But remember, only a few years ago, the complaint was, “Nobody’s investing.” Now, we’re investing. The question is, “Now that we’re investing, who’s getting the work and who’s working on it?”…Now we’ve got to make sure that the building trades, which there’s a history at, which have not been opened to African-Americans and Hispanics and others, and minority children, make sure they have a training program, so the jobs that we’re investing in, and finally doing after years of not doing, are open to everybody in the city to apply for, and have the skill set so they, too can have that work.

No further response from the mayor’s office or from Gardner has yet to be reported in the wake of this latest news.


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