From Madame Noire Business: Ed Gardner, the 87-year-old founder of Soft Sheen hair care products, met with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel this week to discuss the lack of African-American construction workers on jobs around the city. The Tuesday meeting came after more than two weeks of protest from Gardner and supporters seeking more opportunity for Chicago’s out-of-work or under-employed construction workers.
Gardner’s protest began in September when he passed a South Side construction site where sidewalk was being laid and saw no blacks among the workers. Gardner literally stepped (with his cane) into the wet cement to make abundantly clear how he felt about the situation. After calling for additional protests, about 1,000 joined the business leader on September 30, including Reps. Danny K. Davis (D-Chicago) and Bobby L. Rush (D-Chicago). Other protests have also taken place.
Just days later, when asked about the protest during a press conference, Mayor Rahm Emanuel talked up the number of jobs that have been created in the transportation space and the minority- and women-owned businesses that have been commissioned for the work. However, he says unions and the lack of training they’re providing for minority workers also needs to be addressed.
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