Report back from Mt. Zion meeting on creating good jobs at airport

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Report back from Mt. Zion meeting on creating good jobs at airport

Last Thursday, August 31, sixty intrepid souls braved torrential rains and tornado warnings to discuss how the $1.2 billion airport expansion could be used to uplift North Nashville and other designated Promised Zones throughout the city.

The community meeting, which was supposed to be held in Mt. Zion Baptist Church’s historic sanctuary, had to be moved to the basement to ensure everyone’s safety. However, neither the weather nor the change of venue could dampen people’s spirits. Stand Up Nashville’s Ethan Link reminded the crowd how church basements have been the birthplace of many social justice movements.

After a warm welcome from Bishop Joseph W. Walker and opening prayer from Elder J. Davis of P.S.A.L.M. Ministry, Stand Up Nashville leaders presented the coalition’s goals for equitable development at the airport and in the city more broadly.

Presenters addressed the problems with the current development model, including a broken workforce development pipeline that traps too many people in dead-end jobs with little chance for advancement. They also hit on the widespread problems of wage theft and dangerous working conditions in Nashville’s construction industry, as documented in the Build A Better South report.

The presentation quickly pivoted to concrete steps that can be taken to use major projects like the airport expansion to create good jobs and career pathways for those currently being left out of Nashville’s growth.

Stand Up Nashville is specifically calling on the Airport Authority to consider these community benefits as part of its BNA Vision plan:

  • Targeted hiring focused on areas of high unemployment and poverty.
  • Apprenticeship programs that lead to careers rather than temporary jobs.
  • Awarding contracts to high-road contractors and businesses that offer good wages, benefits, and safe working conditions.
  • A “Workers Bill of Rights” to ensure that all construction, permanent operations, and service jobs are good, safe, and secure at BNA.
  • Fair chance to be given to applicants by adhering to “ban the box” policies.
  • The right of private workers to organize without management interference or retaliation.

The next step in the campaign is to present these ideas at the Airport Authority Board of Commissioners meeting on September 13 at 1 pm. We need to pack the room with supporters.

This is a huge opportunity to put down a marker and ensure that going forward major projects create good jobs and tackle growing inequality. The Airport Authority can change the course of Nashville’s development by prioritizing high-road contractors and providing pathways to good jobs, showing the way for the soccer stadium and transit system.

You can make the difference! Click here to get involved and help the movement for a fair and equitable Nashville achieve lift off.

Stand Up Nashville would like to thank everyone over at Mt. Zion Baptist Church for making this such a successful event.