The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) recently cited safety and cost concerns in its opposition to a proposed local hiring mandate for a Syracuse, New York infrastructure construction project.
The organization stated that it is opposed to the mandate, which would require employers to hire locally to complete federal-aid transportation construction projects.
ARTBA recently published a statement from its president, T. Peter Ruane, about the proposed mandate.
Ruane said the biggest issue with hiring locally is that unskilled and untrained local workers lack the safety training of experienced employees.
"[T]he most troublesome aspect of local hiring mandates is the effect on safety, which is the foremost value for all transportation contractors," Ruane said. "An unskilled or unqualified worker on a project can lead to tragic results, whether for that individual, his or her colleagues, or the traveling public. Public owners and private companies involved in these projects agree it is an unacceptably hazardous practice to introduce personnel into a work zone who are not trained or properly aware of their surroundings."
Ruane also stated that the necessity of providing advanced training to local workers would drive up costs and result in less competition for bids, which would further strain public works budgets.
“Funding for transportation improvement projects is severely constrained across the nation and in New York State, specifically,” Ruane said. “When bidding on a project, contractors evaluate the risk involved, and include its dollar value in their bids. When bidding on a project with a hiring preference, they will need to include the costs of hiring local workers who in many cases are inexperienced in the industry, require significant training, and ultimately cannot be utilized on key aspects of the project in the short term. Such an inefficient approach will add to the taxpayers’ burden for the project.”
In his statement, Ruane cited a national survey showing that 76 percent of U.S. contractors who are involved in projects that have local hiring mandates stated that the provisions made the projects significantly more expensive. Of the contractors who participated in the survey, 80 percent said that the requirement compromised the safety of the workers because the inexperienced employees had not received adequate training for the work.
ARTBA is joined in its opposition to the mandate by the Associated General Contractors of New York State.