(TRENTON) – Assembly Democrats Carmelo Garcia and Angela Jimenez have introduced legislation to authorize any political subdivision of the state to establish a program requiring local hiring and employment in public work contracts.
“There is no question that hiring locally directly impacts the community served,” said Garcia (D-Hudson). “Providing viable employment opportunities to residents fuels the local economy and brings New Jersey closer to getting back on the right economic track.”
The bill (A-3176) authorizes any political subdivision of the state to establish a program requiring local hiring and employment in public work contracts after issuing a written finding that the local hiring and employment program will serve the interests of the political subdivision by utilizing limited public finds in a manner that provided economic stimulus or will help to overcome the adverse impact of historic discrimination.
“Smart hiring is beginning your search locally with individuals who already have a stake in the success of their communities,” said Jimenez (D-Bergen, Hudson). “With this legislation, we want to encourage local hiring and encourage local economies to thrive.”
The bill permits the governing body of the political subdivision to set mandatory minimum participation levels for the hiring and employment of local residents and disadvantaged workers as it determines to necessary to serve the interests of the political subdivision or overcome the adverse impact of historic discrimination, subject to the following conditions:
1. For the first year the program is in effect, not less than 20% of all project work hours within each trade shall be performed by local residents, not less than 10% of all project work hours within each trade shall be performed by disadvantaged workers;
2. The percentage of project work hours for local residents and disadvantaged workers shall increase, in equal increments over seven years, to a mandatory participation level of not less that 50% by local residents, and not less than 25% by disadvantaged workers;
3. Not less than 50% of the project work hours performed by apprentices within each trade shall be performed by local residents, and not less than 25% by disadvantaged workers;
4. The governing body is directed, before the end of the second, fourth and sixth years that the program is in effect, to evaluate the impact of the program’s minimum mandatory participation level and the continued need for financial incentives, to determine whether the minimum mandatory participation levels should be reduced because of an insufficient supply of qualified unemployed resident workers; to assess the length of time required for each trade to develop a pool of qualified resident workers sufficient to support a minimum mandatory participation target; and propose any needed amendments for reductions in the participation levels; and
5. The minimum mandatory participation levels of hiring and employing local residents and disadvantaged workers on a project established pursuant to this act result in a reduction of work done by residents of this State who are not local residents or disadvantaged workers, but the minimum mandatory participation level shall not apply to the extent that its application would require the reduction of the amount of work done by workers who are not residents of the State.
The governing body may set the mandatory minimum participation levels lower that the indicated levels for any particular trade based on factors including a finding that there are insufficient numbers of currently qualified and available local residents and disadvantaged workers or trainees anticipated to be available, to enable contractors and subcontractors in that trade to fully satisfy the local hiring requirements.
The bill permits the governing body to provide one or more of pipeline and retention compliance mechanisms for contractors or subcontractors to receive constitutional waivers from the local participation requirements on a project-specific basis.
For covered projects estimated to cost more that $1,000,000, the prime contractor is required to prepare and submit to the governing body for approval a local hiring plan for the project.
The bill also permits governing body to establish a local hiring program to negotiate reciprocity agreements with other political subdivisions that maintain local hiring programs; engage its community-based partners in a workforce development system; and establish subcontractors who exceed the local participation requirements on a covered project.
Any cost to the political subdivision of implementing this bill, including the cost to the political subdivision of implementing this bill, including the cost of any incentive, may be paid from the 0.5% share of public work contracts retained and transferred, the law requires the set aside of an amount equal to 0.5% of the value of public work contacts for the recruitment and training of women and minorities in the construction industry.
Finally, the bill amends the law to permit political subdivisions to elect whether to participate in the set aside program, to elect whether to retain the set aside funds for their own local use, and to elect whether to use the funds for the hiring incentives provided by the bill.
The bill has been referred to the Assembly State and Local Government Committee.