Exploring Targeted Local Hire

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This weekend, Got Green and the Construction Jobs Equity Coalition are hosting a Community Jobs Forum to discuss the idea of a Targeted Local Hire campaign.

The idea behind local hire is to ensure that local residents access the work created by our local tax dollars.  Targeted Local Hire would goes one step further by ensuring that low-income workers facing the greatest barriers to accessing this work are included in city construction projects.

This issue was highlighted in 2012 when the bids for construction of the Rainier Beach Community Center came in with no women and minority business contract work.  Rainier Beach residents, concerned that nobody from their community—where unemployment is higher and the need for work is great—was getting work on construction right in their backyard raised the issue.  The city responded by refusing to accept the original bids.  So the city put the project out to bid again with a new Women and Minority Business Inclusion Plan. The effect was staggering and resulted in a project with 66% WMBE utilization for the same cost to the city.

This action has led to a broader conversation about how our local tax dollars support local workers.

In 2011, the City of San Francisco enacted a Local Hire Policy.  In its first year, it required 20% of all work hours on large construction projects (over $400,000) be performed by San Francisco city residents.  At least half of those (10% of total work hours) must be performed by disadvantaged workers, defined by income or structural barrier such as criminal history or being a single custodial parent.

According to the early findings of the first year report the program was a success.  34% of total craft hours and 68% of apprentice hours on 22 public works projects were performed by local residents.  The goal ramped up to 25% in 2012 and will continue to increase annually up to 50%.  We are looking forward to seeing the Year Two report in the near future.

In Seattle, we have “local hire” provisions in a few places.  All Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) construction requires a portion of “Section 3” Hiring to ensure SHA residents and other low income workers have access to jobs on SHA construction projects.  This program has been most recently applied in the agreements for Yesler Terrace Redevelopment construction.  In addition, a project labor agreement for construction of the Seawall includes provisions for local hiring in a three county region and the city is currently working on implementation details.

The South Seattle Jobs Coalition is exploring whether a city-wide policy for local hire on all City-funded construction projects is a good idea for Seattle.  It sounds like a step in the right direction to me.

Want to learn more?

Join me at the Community Forum on Saturday to hear what community members have to say.