By Eileen Houlihan, senior writer/editor, ARTBA
ARTBA President and CEO Pete Ruane Sept. 23 issued a public statement opposing a proposed local hiring mandate for public works projects in Syracuse, New York. ARTBA’s affiliated chapter, the Associated General Contractors of New York State, also expressed its opposition to the proposal. Syracuse City Councilor Khalid Bey plans to introduce the legislation, which would mandate that Syracuse residents perform at least 20 percent of the labor on city construction contracts of $100,000 or more.
In April, the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) announced its intention to reverse longstanding policy and begin approving these types of local hiring mandates for federal-aid highway and transit projects as part of a pilot program. ARTBA submitted two sets of comments opposing this change and is also pursuing federal legislative action that would limit U.S. DOT’s activities in this regard.
In its statement opposing the Syracuse mandate, Ruane referenced a national survey of contractors coordinated by ARTBA earlier this year. At that time, 76 percent of contractors who had participated in projects with local hiring mandates reported those provisions added ‘significant costs’ to the project, while 80 percent of respondents indicated such a mandate would compromise safety because of inadequately-trained and inexperienced new employees on the job site.
Funding for transportation improvement projects is severely constrained across the nation and in New York State, specifically, Ruane noted, adding that an “inefficient” approach like the local hiring mandate will add to the taxpayer’s burden for projects, drive up costs by limiting competition and threaten safety standards for contractors.
Read the full statement.