Solar City and Beyond: The Call to Action Continues!
Organizers of Solar City Protest Rally Announce Weekly Planning Meetings
Charley H. Fisher, president of B.U.I.L.D. of Buffalo organization and Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant have announced that they will host weekly strategy and planning meetings to address the lowering of the minority hiring goals at Solar City and other publicly funded construction projects in and around the City of Buffalo.
These meetings will be held at either the newly named Buffalo Empowerment Center, 1327 Jefferson Ave. or across the street at the Frank E. Merriweather Library when it is available. The first meeting will be held on Thursday, October 15th, 6-8 p.m. the 1327 Jefferson Avenue address.
"I am extremely happy that a group of ten or more not for profit or activists' organizations from the east and west sides of Main Street have banded together to advocate for our Black and Brown 'brothers and sisters' who may be havingdifficulty in getting into an union apprenticeship training program or getting hired on the many construction sites and projects around the city," said Fisher.
These meetings are open to the public and former and present minority contractors, M/WBE's businesses and construction workers. Allare invited to attend these meeting to share insight and testimony regarding the lack of adequate ethnic diversity in the construction trade. For more information, contact Charley H. Fisher @ (716) 650-8889 or Betty Jean Grant @ (7160 602-5877.
The announcement of the weekly planning meetings come on the heels of last Friday’s protest and rally outside the Solar City Plant being built on South Park Avenue. The “Call to Action” was held after it was revealed that minority hiring goals were decreased from 25% to 15% without public notification or input.
The rally for inclusion, fairness and jobs- which drew nearly 100 people – took place despite a press conference called by Mayor Brown, who shared data which said that minorities have done 16.2% of the work on the site from the start of construction in May 2014 through July of this year, “exceeding the workforce diversity targets” set for the $900 million solar panel factory.
When complete, Solar City will be the biggest solar panel plant in the Western Hemisphere when it reaches full production during early 2017. Amid chants of “No Justice No Peace” and “No Jobs, No Peace!” demonstrators on Friday called on LP Ciminelli, the main contractor at Solar City, to raise the hiring goal to 25% for minorities.
Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant is calling for an independent monitor to keep track of whether minority and women hiring goals are being met at the construction site. At this point she said there is no outside monitor and “you can’t have the developer monitoring itself.”
The only thing needed on the East side, to quote the late Bill Gaiter, is jobs, jobs, jobs!” said one of several speakers at the rally, Rev. Kinzer Pointer oftheConcerned Clergy of WNY. Saying“you can’t play games with numbers” and referring to the poor minority hiring as “immoral, criminal and unjust,” he admonished. “Someone needs to tell the governor this is not acceptable!”
John Washington, community organizer for PUSH BUFFALO, declaring that “Buffalo is more segregated than Birmingham Alabama,” said “we live in a racist city” and lamented how the Buffalo billions had been racially applied “I’m only 30 and I’m tired!”
“This is a crime scene…that’s being repeated all over the nation,” activist and radio personality Jim Anderson said in reference to the construction site. “We don’t need City Hall to sign a pledge of words…we need them to sign a pledge for jobs! We’re going to get some jobs or shut it down!” “In order for there to be peace there has to be justice,” Anderson continued. “Where there is not justice, there is no peace!”
Bishop Michael Badger, Pastor of Bethesda World Harvest International Church, calledfor jobs,equityand quality education for our children. “It can’tbeONE BUFFALO if the East Side doesn’t have the same opportunities (as other areas).” He called for an even greater minority hiring goal. “Governor we need you to establish goals of at least 30% on Solar City….Mayor, you don’t get a pass either. An economic roundtable does not give jobs!”
Bishop Badger said this communitywas looking for Mayor Brown “to raise the goals” instead of saying its ok to drop the goals.