The majority of construction jobs for the second phase of the Metro Exposition Line would be performed by union workers, local residents and small businesses under an initiative that is moving ahead.

The Exposition Metro Rail Line Construction Authority Board of Directors voted Dec. 2 to advance a Project Labor Agreement for the light rail line’s second phase to Santa Monica, said county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who championed the proposal.

The agreement with the Los Angeles/Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council will create quality jobs with decent pay and benefits for Los Angeles area workers, Ridley-Thomas noted. The supervisor added that having a Project Labor Agreement in place before the start of construction will help prevent labor disputes that can delay a project.

“This agreement will mean those who live along the route will have an opportunity for jobs building the line,” said Ridley-Thomas. “We need up-front assurances the rail line will enrich our community with high-quality jobs, not extract from it by importing workers who will cash their paychecks elsewhere.”

Final approval of the labor agreement will accompany the awarding of the construction contract for the rail line, which is expected to occur in February.

The Expo Line is divided into two phases: Phase I from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City, which is scheduled to open with limited service in 2011, and Phase II, with service extending to Santa Monica, which is expected to be completed in 2015.

Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson also praised the Expo local hiring agreement saying, “These jobs will not only provide much-needed work for our journeymen, it will train a new generation, who will build their skills and long-term career prospects as they work to build the rail line.”