April 18, 2022

Gillibrand, Representative Bass Lead Bicameral Letter Urging White House to Update Federal Awards Guidelines to Prioritize Local Hire Programs

As White House Begins To Distribute Funds From The Infrastructure Investment And Jobs Act, Proposed Updates Would Strengthen Unions, Uplift Workers, and Invest In Local Communities

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA-37) led 74 of their colleagues in writing a bicameral letter urging Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Shalanda Young to update federal guidelines dictating how states and localities can spend federal money in order to prioritize targeted local hire programs and other high-road employment conditions. The proposed updates to the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance), detailed in a recent report from the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, would help create safe and good-paying jobs, that are also accessible to those in historically marginalized communities, including people of color, women, returning citizens, veterans, and other workers facing barriers to employment.  

 

As we begin to make critical, long overdue investments in our nation’s infrastructure, we must also prioritize the needs of communities that have historically been left behind,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Too often, federal policies have overlooked the needs of disadvantaged and underserved communities—and in many cases, have actually hurt them. As states and localities begin to receive funding from the historic Infrastructure and Jobs Act, we can’t repeat the mistakes of the past. I urge the White House to promptly update the Uniform Guidance to ensure that local communities receive the full benefits of federal funding - this means prioritizing local hire programs, creating opportunity for marginalized communities, and ensuring that all workers on federal projects have the right to unionize.”

The bipartisan infrastructure package that President Biden signed into law last year included a provision to allow agencies like L.A. Metro to prioritize the hiring of local Angelenos for transportation projects that are taking place in their own backyard. While this was a momentous step, we can’t stop there. As our economy recovers from this crushing pandemic, we need to ensure that we are coming back better than before and stronger than before. I thank Senator Gillibrand in joining me on this letter urging the White House to expand the benefits of local hire practices to other industries – a step that would bring even more jobs to Los Angeles,” said Representative Bass.

The letter was also signed by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC-12), Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-CA-44), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1), Anthony Brown (D-MD-4), Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), Shontel Brown (D-OH-11), Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA-29), André Carson (D-IN-7), Steve Cohen (D-TN-9), Jason Crow (D-CO-6), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA-11), Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-35), Mike Doyle (D-PA-18), Anna Eshoo (D-CA-18), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13), Dwight Evans (D-PA-3), John Garamendi (D-CA-3), Chuy García (D-IL-4), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA-34), Haley Stevens (D-MI-11), Brian Higgins (D-NY-26), Steven Horsford (D-NV-4), Andy Kim (D-NJ-3), Conor Lamb (D-PA-17), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA-8), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12), Lucy McBath (D-GA 6), Grace Meng (D-NY-6), Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), Seth Moulton (D-MA-6), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), Grace Napolitano (D-CA-32), Marie Newman (D-IL-3), Donald Norcross (D-NJ-1), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-District of Columbia-At Large), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-9), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ-10), Mark Pocan (D-WI-2), Katie Porter (D-CA-45), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-7), Linda Sánchez (D-CA-38), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9), Adam Schiff (D-CA-28), David Scott (D-GA-13), Melanie Stansbury (D-NM-1), Tom Suozzi (D-NY-3), Eric Swalwell (D-CA-15), Mike Thompson (D-CA-5), Dina Titus (D-NV-1), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13), Juan Vargas (D-CA-51), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), Susan Wild (D-PA-7), Nikema Williams (D-GA-5), and Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL-24).

The full text of the letter is available here or below: 

Dear Director Young,

We write to you today in support of proposed updates to the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance), as detailed in a recent report from the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment. This report represents an important opportunity to strengthen unions, lift up workers, and ensure local communities reap the full benefits of federal funding.  We are committed to working with the Biden administration to implement the recommendations included in the report. 

The report encourages OMB to explore and identify opportunities to update the Uniform Guidance, which dictates how states and localities can spend federal money. Proposed updates include: 

  • Allow states and localities to consider job, wage, and worker empowerment impacts when contracting with federal funds;

  • Ensure states and localities have the freedom to apply worker-empowering, high-road conditions, including local hire and project labor agreement (PLA) obligations, on their subgrantees; and

  • Ensure federal financial assistance programs cannot be used to deny workers the right to organize.

We strongly support these proposed updates and encourage OMB to begin formally updating the Uniform Guidance to include these new provisions. We want to be able to create fulfilling, safe, high-road jobs for our constituents, and make them accessible to communities that have not traditionally had access to jobs on projects funded through federal awards - especially for people of color, women, returning citizens, veterans, and other workers facing barriers to employment.

 We applaud the Biden administration’s work around the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), a historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure that will enhance our competitiveness and create good-paying jobs. As states and cities begin receiving federal funding from this new law, we ask that OMB issue an interim guidance supporting these changes. This would allow states and cities to broadly implement policies, like local and targeted hire, while OMB proceeds with the formal update of the Uniform Guidance. 

The interim guidance would also align with Section 25019 of the IIJA, which removes the prohibition on local hire for transportation construction projects.  Excitingly, the Department of Transportation has already started to implement this provision by including local hire in their selection criteria for the next round of Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants. We hope the projects funded by RAISE grants illustrate the benefits of local hire and embolden OMB to issue the interim guidance, allowing local hire on other projects funded through the IIJA.

Updating the Uniform Guidance is a crucial step to connecting good-paying, family-sustaining jobs to the communities that need them the most. Local hire programs can help communities address historic inequities by creating on-ramps to construction careers for low-income workers, who are more likely to be people of color. Money earned by those workers strengthens local economies by channeling resources back into their communities.

We look forward to working with the Biden administration to empower state and local recipients of federal funds to take substantial strides in improving job creation, quality, and equity for workers in hundreds of industries across the United States.

As we begin to make critical, long overdue investments in our nation’s infrastructure, we must also prioritize the needs of communities that have historically been left behind,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Too often, federal policies have overlooked the needs of disadvantaged and underserved communities—and in many cases, have actually hurt them. As states and localities begin to receive funding from the historic Infrastructure and Jobs Act, we can’t repeat the mistakes of the past. I urge the White House to promptly update the Uniform Guidance to ensure that local communities receive the full benefits of federal funding - this means prioritizing local hire programs, creating opportunity for marginalized communities, and ensuring that all workers on federal projects have the right to unionize.”

 

The bipartisan infrastructure package that President Biden signed into law last year included a provision to allow agencies like L.A. Metro to prioritize the hiring of local Angelenos for transportation projects that are taking place in their own backyard. While this was a momentous step, we can’t stop there. As our economy recovers from this crushing pandemic, we need to ensure that we are coming back better than before and stronger than before. I thank Senator Gillibrand in joining me on this letter urging the White House to expand the benefits of local hire practices to other industries – a step that would bring even more jobs to Los Angeles,” said Representative Bass.

 

The letter was also signed by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC-12), Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-CA-44), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1), Anthony Brown (D-MD-4), Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), Shontel Brown (D-OH-11), Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA-29), André Carson (D-IN-7), Steve Cohen (D-TN-9), Jason Crow (D-CO-6), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA-11), Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-35), Mike Doyle (D-PA-18), Anna Eshoo (D-CA-18), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13), Dwight Evans (D-PA-3), John Garamendi (D-CA-3), Chuy García (D-IL-4), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA-34), Haley Stevens (D-MI-11), Brian Higgins (D-NY-26), Steven Horsford (D-NV-4), Andy Kim (D-NJ-3), Conor Lamb (D-PA-17), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA-8), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12), Lucy McBath (D-GA 6), Grace Meng (D-NY-6), Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), Seth Moulton (D-MA-6), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), Grace Napolitano (D-CA-32), Marie Newman (D-IL-3), Donald Norcross (D-NJ-1), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-District of Columbia-At Large), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-9), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ-10), Mark Pocan (D-WI-2), Katie Porter (D-CA-45), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-7), Linda Sánchez (D-CA-38), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9), Adam Schiff (D-CA-28), David Scott (D-GA-13), Melanie Stansbury (D-NM-1), Tom Suozzi (D-NY-3), Eric Swalwell (D-CA-15), Mike Thompson (D-CA-5), Dina Titus (D-NV-1), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13), Juan Vargas (D-CA-51), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), Susan Wild (D-PA-7), Nikema Williams (D-GA-5), and Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL-24).

 

The full text of the letter is available here or below: 

 

Dear Director Young,

 

We write to you today in support of proposed updates to the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance), as detailed in a recent report from the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment. This report represents an important opportunity to strengthen unions, lift up workers, and ensure local communities reap the full benefits of federal funding.  We are committed to working with the Biden administration to implement the recommendations included in the report. 

 

The report encourages OMB to explore and identify opportunities to update the Uniform Guidance, which dictates how states and localities can spend federal money. Proposed updates include: 

 

  • Allow states and localities to consider job, wage, and worker empowerment impacts when contracting with federal funds;
  • Ensure states and localities have the freedom to apply worker-empowering, high-road conditions, including local hire and project labor agreement (PLA) obligations, on their subgrantees; and
  • Ensure federal financial assistance programs cannot be used to deny workers the right to organize.

 

We strongly support these proposed updates and encourage OMB to begin formally updating the Uniform Guidance to include these new provisions. We want to be able to create fulfilling, safe, high-road jobs for our constituents, and make them accessible to communities that have not traditionally had access to jobs on projects funded through federal awards - especially for people of color, women, returning citizens, veterans, and other workers facing barriers to employment.

 

We applaud the Biden administration’s work around the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), a historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure that will enhance our competitiveness and create good-paying jobs. As states and cities begin receiving federal funding from this new law, we ask that OMB issue an interim guidance supporting these changes. This would allow states and cities to broadly implement policies, like local and targeted hire, while OMB proceeds with the formal update of the Uniform Guidance. 

 

The interim guidance would also align with Section 25019 of the IIJA, which removes the prohibition on local hire for transportation construction projects.  Excitingly, the Department of Transportation has already started to implement this provision by including local hire in their selection criteria for the next round of Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants. We hope the projects funded by RAISE grants illustrate the benefits of local hire and embolden OMB to issue the interim guidance, allowing local hire on other projects funded through the IIJA.

 

Updating the Uniform Guidance is a crucial step to connecting good-paying, family-sustaining jobs to the communities that need them the most. Local hire programs can help communities address historic inequities by creating on-ramps to construction careers for low-income workers, who are more likely to be people of color. Money earned by those workers strengthens local economies by channeling resources back into their communities.

 

We look forward to working with the Biden administration to empower state and local recipients of federal funds to take substantial strides in improving job creation, quality, and equity for workers in hundreds of industries across the United States.