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Local Hire Here At Last

Posted by: Gordon on 3/4/2015
Miss River Bridge Deckwork
It's all about access: local hire will mean more residents of our communities will get work on the transit and transportation projects that take place in our communities. (Photo by Missouri Department of Transportation of Mississippi River Bridge construction)

Gamaliel and Transportation Equity Network leaders said they were delighted Wednesday after a briefing on the new federal Transportation Department regulation authorizing "local hire" -- utilization of local residents on locally sponsored projects.

"This makes it easier for states and cities to hire local residents for transportation projects in their communities," said David Walls, co-chair of Gamaliel's national jobs campaign and leader of North Bay Organizing Project in Sonoma County, California. "It fits right in with our work to increase access to jobs for people in our communities so that we can fix our ailing infrastructure, get people back to work, and try to make sure those good-paying jobs go to people who historically may not have had access to them."

Women, people of color, veterans and low-income people will all gain greater access to jobs on federal highway and transit construction projects as a result of this provision. Those projects include roads, bridges, light-rail, buses, street cars and bus-rapid transit will be affected -- a significant portion of some $52.5 billion in the annual federal budget.

This could mean the residents of the communities where those projects are being built who currently lack access to those jobs could get a share of some of the millions of jobs available on those projects. It also remedies a prohibition against local hire that has been in place for 40 years.

While technically the new regulation is only in proposal form at this time, the rule calls for a pilot project under which local hiring programs can start right away. (The Notice of Proposed Rule Making, NPRM, regulation text is available at http://bit.ly/localhirenprm) The local hire pilot projects are available immediately by application through U.S. DOT regional offices. The NPRM allows folks on the ground to provide comment on the viability and importance of local hire to communities across the country.

Advocates say they will be reaching out to local transportation authorities, metropolitan planning organizations and other appropriate bodies to develop and submit applications in the coming weeks. Groups like MOSES in Detroit, which advocated to create the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority recently, will work to make sure area residents can access these jobs.

"A lot of investment is going into Detroit but not a lot of people are paying attention to hiring people in Detroit--it seems like the folks who want to invest here are missing a huge part of the solution--employment," says one jobs campaign leader. "This new local hire regulation can make a huge contribution toward solving the employment piece."

Alongside local hire, Gamaliel and its campaign arm the Transportation Equity Network have been advocating to update and enforce minority and women’s hiring goals set by the U.S. Department of Labor, increase equal opportunities through apprenticeship programs, and enforce HUD low-income hiring regulations. They are planning to visit Washington to meet with elected and other officials to discuss this and an increase in transportation and infrastructure investments next month.

Next steps

Here are a few next steps we can take now:

1. Submit comment on the NPRM by April 6

You can do that online, by mail, or in person. You can post or upload comments online here. Or you can comment: 

By mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE., W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.2
Hand Delivery: West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone number is (202) 366-9329.  

Note that if you are not posting online you must include the following at the beginning of your comments: 
Agency name:  Department of Transportation
Docket number:  [Docket DOT-OST-2015-0013] or the Regulatory Identification Number:  RIN 2105-AE38
 
2. Submit stories about local hire success, impact, or need in your community to Cynthia Jarrold 

We will use these stories on our website and as part of the comments we submit. 

3.  Schedule a meeting with your local MPO and/or transit agency to identify possible projects that can be used for the DOT pilot program 

You may also want to meet with regional FTA and/or FHWA (depending on the kind of project) staff to learn more about application process and how you can organize around it.

If you have questions or stories to offer, please contact Cynthia Jarrold, Federal Policy Coordinator, Gamaliel/TEN at (913) 219-3198 or cjarrold@gamaliel.org.
Tags: local hire | jobs | budget |
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