Jan 16 2015
SEATTLE – A City Council committee today unanimously recommended adoption of a jobs bill to help people living in economically distressed areas establish and secure careers in the construction industry.
The committee approved “priority hire” legislation to support pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs and to require that a percentage of the work on City-funded capital construction projects costing over $5 million be performed by residents from economically distressed areas of Seattle and King County. Economically distressed areas are indicated by high concentrations of people who are unemployed, without college degrees and living below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.
“With this bill, more Seattleites who have faced barriers to getting into construction careers will reap the rewards of both a well-paying job in the short-term and portable skills for the future,” said Councilmember Sally J. Clark, the legislation’s sponsor and chair of the council’s Housing Affordability, Human Services and Economic Resiliency Committee. “I want to thank the many residents and stakeholders who shared their experiences and expertise on this complex and historic legislation.”
“Using our local tax dollars to put people from communities in our city with higher unemployment to work just makes good sense,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, co-sponsor of the legislation. “This is a great step today and an acknowledgement of the incredible community organizing that began years ago to bring this bill to fruition.”
“This is a landmark social justice bill to keep jobs in Seattle and creating opportunities and pathways to success for economically disadvantaged groups. We are trying to create a new pathway that has not been there before,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell. “I want to recognize community leaders like Michael Woo from Got Green to Puget Sound Sage and members of the Construction Careers Advisory Committee for helping us make this legislation a reality.”
“I was shocked to learn that of 33 City-funded projects only 6% of the workers on those projects lived in Seattle; with only 25% being from King County,” said Councilmember Nick Licata. “If we want to reduce environmental impacts of commuting, we must reduce the driving distance of workers driving to their Seattle jobs.”
In 2013 the Council and Mayor convened a Construction Careers Advisory Committee (CCAC) composed of contractors, sub-contractors, women and minority businesses, community organizations, labor unions, training programs and policy experts. Based on the CCAC’s recommendations, this legislation was developed in partnership with Mayor Murray to increase access to construction jobs for people who have historically not been equally represented in the industry. Today’s legislation creates an ongoing Implementation and Advisory Committee, which will submit an annual report to the Mayor and Council, and in 2016, the Mayor and Council will review the program results.
In 2012 the City’s public works budget was approximately $220 million, which generated about 446 full-time jobs in construction. A review of 33 City funded projects between 2009-2013 found that 6 percent of the workforce lived in Seattle.
The legislation will be considered by the Full City Council on Tuesday, January 20 at 2:00 p.m.
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