The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) recently published a statement from President and CEO T. Peter Ruane opposing a local-hiring mandate under consideration in Syracuse, New York.
The mandate would require employers to hire locally to complete federal-aid transportation construction projects, one of which is currently being proposed for Syracuse.
A national survey indicated that 76 percent of U.S. contractors who have worked on projects that were under local hiring mandates said the provisions made the projects significantly more expensive.
“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 addition, 80 percent of the contractors who participated in the survey said such mandates compromise the safety of such workers, who are inadequately trained and inexperienced.
“Local hiring preferences will also drive up costs on projects by driving down competition,” Ruane said. “It is likely that some contractors will simply choose not to bid on these projects because they cannot meet these hiring requirements at any reasonable level of cost, or believe they will compromise their companies’ safety standards in doing so.”
Ruane said the best solution to this local-employment issue in the infrastructure industry would be a long-term, multi-year, well-funded federal highway and public-transit reauthorization bill.