EAST ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–A group representing minority workers is suing the Illinois Department of Transportation, seeking more work on the Mississippi River Bridge and other projects.
Attorney Eric Vickers says months of negotiations with IDOT have borne some results, but not enough. “We need transformation. We need institutional change, not something temprorary, not something to just pacify the community until the pressure is off.”
The suit seeks $650 million in damages and an unspecified higher level of minority construction jobs in state transportation projects.
In a recent letter to Mayor Alvin Parks, IDOT officials claimed that 35-percent of the workforce on the bridge project are minorities, and of that group 90-percent are African-American and 85-percent live in the Metro-East.
Vickers calls those numbers “propaganda.”
“The propaganda is this: IDOT will say they have a 30 percent minority (participation), and that may be the case at that time,” Vickers said, “They will get a contractor to go load up on a job with some temporary minorities.”
IDOT is standing by its numbers and says setting a 50-percent goal for black and minority contractors — as suggested by protestors — would be tantamount to a quota, and thus exposing the agency to the possibility of a lawsuit.