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November 15, 2011

BUILD, its unpaid customer service training for an appreciative cohort, and a graduation ceremony featuring some "Occupy Central Brooklyn" rhetoric

Atlantic Yards Report

In the spring of 2000, activists including ACORN, the WEP Workers Organizing Committee, and the Rev. Al Sharpton marched against low-wage jobs at the Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Center mall and Regal Cinemas in Brooklyn, as described in William DiFazio’s 2005 book Ordinary Poverty.

The low end of the retail wage scale usually doesn't pay living wages. So it’s notable that Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) signatory BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development) recently began to focus on unpaid customer service training--involving classroom sessions and unpaid internships--to position people for hospitality and retail jobs.

After all, BUILD--which had no track record in job training but is led by people with records of community service--was established with the expectation of high-paying construction jobs at the Atlantic Yards project.

The CBA mandated that BUILD offer pre-apprentice construction job training, funded by Forest City Ratner, with the implication that it begin shortly after the CBA was signed in 2005.

That finally happened last year; today, some who went through training have filed suit saying it's a sham. At the least, as I explain, Forest City is now emphasizing that the program--promised as training "Community residents for construction jobs within the Arena and Project"--aims to help new workers develop the kinds of skills that they can use beyond this project."

Click thru for much more about BUILD and its programs.

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Posted by eric at November 15, 2011 12:19 PM