Council President Lederman Urges Expansion, Enforcement of Local Hiring for Public Projects
Springfield City Council President Jesse Lederman sent a letter Thursday to the Springfield Redevelopment Authority urging their Board of Directors to adopt hiring requirements for local residents, minorities, veterans, and women on SRA projects, following the same requirements set forth for municipal projects under the city’s Responsible Employer Ordinance.
“The Responsible Employer Ordinance exists to ensure that projects completed with local tax dollars benefit working families right here in Springfield. Our tax dollars should not be going to out of state contractors who take those dollars out of our community when the job is done,” said Council President Lederman, “As the Springfield Redevelopment Authority assumes a larger role in local economic development it is important that we expand those same policies to keep our tax dollars local and build wealth for the people and families that call Springfield home.”
The Springfield Responsible Employer Ordinance, passed by the City Council, requires that tax-payer funded public construction projects worth more than $500,000 in the City of Springfield meet requirements of a specific percentage of project work hours for the following categories: 35% local residents, 20% minorities, 6.9% women, and 5% veterans, in order to keep tax-payer dollars local and increase opportunities for local workers.
In addition to looking to expand the reach of the Responsible Employer Ordinance, Council President Lederman is urging more robust enforcement of the ordinance at the municipal level.
The ordinance is monitored by a City Council Sub-Committee, which includes appointments from the City Council President and the Mayor. Current reports to the committee indicate that not all ongoing projects are meeting the requirements set forth by the REO, such as the new $3,000,000 Forestry Operations Center at Forest Park. The Forestry Operations Center has so far included only approximately 4% hiring of local residents, even though it is 83% complete according to data released during a January 31 REO Committee Meeting.
“Local residents deserve these jobs. The City Council has put in place the legal tools to hold contractors accountable to these requirements – what we need is leadership to do so,” said Council President Lederman, “In the case of the Forestry Operations Center, this contractor should have been removed from the job consistent with the law, or payment withheld until compliance was obtained.”
“This lack of compliance means money directly out of the pockets of working families in Springfield. That is not acceptable to me,” said Council President Lederman, “Our REO Monitoring Committee and Compliance Team do a great job monitoring these projects and bringing these issues to the forefront. They need to be empowered by the administration to do more.”
Furthermore, Council President Lederman is seeking information on enforcement of laws passed by the City Council in 2019 and 2020 to expand Responsible Employer Ordinance requirements to projects that seek and are approved for tax breaks from the city for commercial and housing developments. Lederman made that request Thursday in by email to Chief Development Office Tim Sheehan.
“When a developer seeks a tax break, they are seeking a subsidy from the tax-payers of the City of Springfield. The City Council passed legislation to ensure that when this occurs local residents benefit through jobs associated with the project,” said Council President Lederman “We need transparent reporting on the status of those agreements.”
Council President Lederman has been a longstanding advocate for ensuring the responsibility of municipal contractors, having also sponsored the city’s Wage Theft Ordinance, barring contractors convicted of stealing wages from workers from municipal contracts.
This year, as City Council President, Lederman announced the creation of a Working Group on Labor and Workforce Development, which will provide recommendations on future policies and initiatives to ensure that working families in Springfield are receiving the respect, compensation, benefits, and opportunities they are due, and that young people have access to careers that will allow them to thrive and prosper right here in Springfield.