ADM Contractors, Inc. Fraudulently Promised Northside Residents Construction Jobs
Earlier this week, ADM Contractors held what was supposedly a job interview/application on Wednesday June 27th. What ended up happening was a couple hundred unemployed people were used as pawns in a media stunt of sorts.
Folks at the Wingnut heard earlier this week from our neighbors about a job opportunity. Word on the street was that the company building the new RRHA housing on Dove St. was hiring 100 people from nearby neighborhoods like Southern Barton Heights and Highland Park to do the construction. Anyone from the area interested was told to go at 5pm on Wednesday to Overby Shepperd School to apply.
A bunch of us went, and even early, saw over 100 people there. There was no line, and the only thing happening was that a single spiral bound notebook was being passed around for people to write down their names and their phone numbers. One of us asked and was told that we would all get called on a later date to come in to the office and fill out applications.This seemed kind of weird. The man also said that we were waiting to go inside the school to hear a lecture about the project we would be working on. This also seemed a little off.
Everyone who was waiting for their turn to sign into the little notebook was standing around in the unpleasantly hot sun. Around 5:05, another man, Ronnie Jennings, CEO of ADM Contractors showed up. He started herding the crowd back and forth and eventually began delivering a speech.
He refused to use a megaphone or speak up, so most of the crowd of close to 200 people at this point had no idea what he was saying. The things we could make out included him saying that “we were all here to work”, and to “get paid on fridays”, and “thank god for the opportunity”. He also mentioned that he was building 3 jails, a school, and a housing project.
He lost some of our interest at the jail part, and one of us exclaimed, “Who the fuck would want to build a jail?”
Then he announced that at 6pm we would be going inside the school to hear more. Well, as rousing as his speech was, some of us decided a)we wouldn’t want to build a jail, and b) our odds of getting called were probably the same whether or not we waited 45 more minutes in the hot sun or not, so we left and went home.
Two of us did stay, along with the majority of the crowd, confused, but desperate for work, and willing to sit through weird things in the hopes of landing a job. They waited an additional 45 minutes in the summer heat for what happened next.
The crowd was then split into 3 groups; women, laborers, and contractors. Another one of our friends left during this sexist separation of job applicants. Once split up, the crowd went into the school. Inside it turned out to be a community meeting with members of City Council present, and not a job opportunity at all.
6th District Councilwoman Ellen Robertson announced that she had no idea people were coming expecting jobs, which sent the crowd into an uproar. It seems that Mr. Jennings coerced a couple hundred unemployed people into attending the meeting as some sort of publicity stunt. It is unclear at this time whether or not Mr. Jennings or ADM Contractors, Inc. has this or any other contract with the City of Richmond.
One of us who did attend wrote immediately after the event that they, “Just sat around for a couple of hours in the hot ass sun without water because people were going around the community saying a developer was looking to hire laborers. There were a couple of hundred of us and they kept telling us we were all going to get a job if we waited there and went into an auditorium when they were ready. When a news crew finally showed up they brought us all in and it was a community meeting with members of city council members there. The councilwoman from our district was a the front of the crowd and she told us none of us were leaving the auditorium with a job and apologized if we felt we were lied to. Everyone was pretty furious at that moment and most of us stormed out as the councilwoman begged us to stick around for the meeting.” – WT
6th District Councilwoman Ellen Robertson had this to say about the incident: “No one was more surprised than I to see so many people expecting to receive a job. The meeting was for the purpose of discussing development on Dove. Based on who approached me as the spoke person and took credit for coordinating getting people out for the purpose of discussing jobs, his card identifies him as Ronnie Jennings of ADM Contractors, Inc. To my knowledge he is not a contractor on the job. I had no discussion with Jennings prior to the community meeting and had no knowledge of the word on the street. However, I am willing to work with all those who attended to find jobs. I asked everyone there to sign up so I could contact them. However, Mr Jennings took all the sign in sheets so I don’t have any contact information except his.”
Folks we interviewed from Southern Barton Heights who had gone to apply for jobs were all quite upset at how they were treated. Richard Williams said, “That was wrong. Having all those people come down their waiting for a job in the heat”. When asked what they were expecting one man said, “What was said was for a job, you could come down there and get a job. Nobody got nothing”.
The people who made the effort, waited in the sun, and got nothing for it feel violated and upset. Dmitry said, “I felt angry, and taken advantage of” and Roger felt like, “They were playing with our emotions, it was nothing but a waste of time”.
And summing up many people’s feelings about the whole fiasco – “That’s some bullshit.” -anon.
So where do we go from here?
Ronnie Jennings and ADM Contractors should NOT be given contracts by the City of Richmond. They have violated the trust of a couple hundred citizens of Richmond.
The Dove St. housing project should be constructed using laborers from Southern Barton Heights, Barton Heights, and Highland Park. We are the people who live here, who will be effected by the construction, and who should benefit from it through job opportunities.
Residents of Northside NEED jobs.
We showed our willingness to take work offered to us over 200 strong on Wednesday June 27th, standing in the hot sun while being lied to. People here need jobs that we can access- jobs in our community that we can walk or ride bikes to. What happened on Wednesday was offensive and a violation of the people here looking for jobs. Folks with real job opportunities should keep Southern Barton Heights and Highland Park in mind as places to find folks willing to work. Come here to find workers, and if you are hiring for jobs in these neighborhoods, please definitely find your workers here.
If you want to get the contact information for people on Northside who are willing to work construction jobs, please get in touch. We are going to try to get the lists that Ronnie Jennings took back from him, but in the mean time, will be assembling a list of our own to pass on to people willing to help our neighbors find jobs. (804) 303 5449 or email firstname.lastname@example.org