Letter to the Editor: In Support of Local Hiring Ordinance
The writer says Somerville needs to plan ahead if the city wants its residents to benefit from jobs at upcoming development projects.
The following is a letter to the editor. The writer supports a local hiring ordinance, which would require that developers receiving subsidies from the city hire a certain percentage local workers. With several major development projects on the horizon in Somerville—in Assmbly Square, throughout Somerville as part of the Green Line extension project, and, further on the horizon, in the Inner Belt and Brickbottom areas—the issue of hiring local workers will likely continue as an important political issue in the city.
Recently, according to the Boston Globe, the Somerville Board of Aldermen's Legislative Matter's Committee has been considering changes to a proposed local hiring ordinance to address certain issues of constitutionality.
The following letter expresses the views of the writer, Rand Wilson:
Passing the Local Hiring Ordinance Will Help Raise Labor Standards in Somerville
By Rand Wilson
Somerville's economic development policies should place the highest priority on creating the good jobs our community needs.
All across Somerville working families are facing high levels of unemployment. And for those who are working, they have experienced cuts in their pay and benefits, increased health and safety problems and violations of their rights on the job. Of course, these problems existed long before the current economic crisis, but they have really been exacerbated since the Great Recession and the rampant Wall Street greed that led to it.
Recently announced federal initiatives to create jobs are woefully inadequate for the scale of need in this "jobless" economic recovery. Without a Local Hiring Ordinance, Somerville's job initiatives will continue to rely on private sector give-aways that do not address the need for sustainable economic development for those most impacted by the crisis.
As most people know, MaxPac's developers signed a covenant with the City of Somerville to use union labor and we fought hard to get them to make a commitment to hire local residents. If we learned anything from the campaign, it’s that we need much stronger local laws to compel developers and other employers to behave responsibly in our community.
Somerville elected officials often promote development projects because of the jobs they promise to create. Yet, $25 million dollars were issued in bonds earlier this year to build infrastructure at Assembly Square and more than $400,000 of public money was spent on the ramp into the MaxPac project without any guarantees that Somerville people will get jobs.
I know from public records that Argus Construction, the site contractor at MaxPac, didn’t hire a single resident from Somerville. That is simply unacceptable.
Passing the Somerville Local Hiring ordinance would be an important first step to address this problem. The campaign to win the ordinance is part of a larger movement to raise labor standards and increase the economic stability of Somerville's workers. In addition to the Local Hiring Ordinance we should support other measures to raise our labor standards:
Adopt a policy of requiring larger employers not to interfere when workers desire to form unions.
Require Project Labor Agreements and Community Workforce Agreements on all publicly funded construction projects to ensure union labor and equity for women, people of color and other historically disadvantaged or underrepresented groups;
Promote local ownership, and where possible, worker ownership of business in our city.
Somerville is poised for growth. Jobs will be created at Assembly Square, all along the new Green Line extension, and hopefully more in Somerville’s Inner Belt Industrial Park. Now is the time to prepare for that growth so that it truly benefits everyone in our community.