LOS ANGELES — Grant Henry and his friend Vance hung back under desert trees, avoiding the sun-baked center of Leimert Park. It was Saturday morning, the day before the nation’s largest union gathering, the AFL-CIO convention, was to kick off a historic “inclusion conference” a few miles away.
A mostly African-American crowd assembled in the park for a “Ready to Work” rally and jobs fair hosted by the nonprofit Black Worker Center. Henry, 52, a trained bricklayer and dues-paying union member, was currently unemployed and came in search of construction work.
“The union don’t do anything for blacks,” he said. “The foremen are all Hispanic -- they like to hire their own.”
“White people (once) looked at the ‘Spaniards’ as the new kids on the block. They thought they could get them for cheaper. But now it’s the same wages,” said 47-year-old Harlan, another construction worker in attendance. “No one can survive on $8. They’re not bad jobs; they're bad wages.”