As construction booms, LA's building-trade unions are stepping up recruitment in the inner city, where many new hires are former gang members. The LA Times explores a trend that's turning traditionally white, fraternal outfits like the pipefitters, sheet-metal workers and even Teamsters into majority minority—and, in some cases, majority gang—shops.
For unions, threatened by aging membership and competition from non-union workers, the recruits mean survival. The same may be true for the new hires, who embrace the high wages, the benefits and, perhaps most important, the second chance at respectability. "This is our gang now," says former Crip Albert Frey. "In a positive way, though."