Press Release

Standing With Business Owners, Community Leaders, and Advocates, Gillibrand Announces Her Legislation to Make Bold Reforms to Investments in American Infrastructure

Oct 9, 2019

Syracuse, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today stood with community leaders, business owners, and advocates at the JHP Industrial Supply Company in Syracuse to announce her legislation, the Build Local, Hire Local Act. This bill would make bold reforms to federal infrastructure investments, helping to correct decades of failed federal policies that have isolated communities of color. The Build Local, Hire Local Act was inspired by the legacy of I-81 in Syracuse, whose construction segregated marginalized communities and limited their economic opportunities.

The Build Local, Hire Local Act would invest in projects like the community grid and create new requirements for hiring workers to ensure that local residents are the first to benefit from new infrastructure projects in their community. The legislation would also require that federal projects incorporate the community’s input and give contracting opportunities to small businesses and minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses, among other disadvantaged entrepreneurs.

“Infrastructure across New York is crumbling, and we must do something about it. But when we do, it is vital that we do it thoughtfully and purposefully – in a way that rebuilds the communities that have been left behind by failed federal policies, and in a way that connects more Americans to economic opportunity,” said Senator Gillibrand. “My bill, the Build Local, Hire Local Act, would help to do just that. It was inspired by the legacy of I-81 in Syracuse. The highway cut off whole neighborhoods from the broader community and from economic opportunity. My bill would make sure that when we invest in our infrastructure, we help undo injustices caused by decades of disinvestment and exclusionary federal policies. I urge my colleagues to pass the Build Local, Hire Local Act.”

“The Urban Jobs Task Force Racial Equity Impact Statement found that a majority of the construction projects in the City consisted of people not from the City of Syracuse. That’s why it’s so important for the Build Local, Hire Local bill to be passed with the upcoming I-81 viaduct project. The City has extreme levels of poverty, and this could be a way to gets tons of people into good paying jobs,” said Deka Dancil, President, Urban Jobs Task Force.

“I think Build Local, Hire Local would be fantastic for the Syracuse area. The bill would give businesses here the opportunity to use their workforce, instead of having other contractors bring in a workforce from other areas. It would give workers in this underdeveloped city the opportunity to be involved in projects in their own community,” said Emanuel Henderson III, President, JHP Industrial Supply Company.

In July, provisions from Gillibrand’s bill passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee with bipartisan support. A new pilot program would provide funding for removing bridge overpasses to create more connected communities, while encouraging the creation of local construction jobs for people who need them most and contracts for disadvantaged businesses.

Specifically, the Build Local, Hire Local Act would do the following:

  • Create high-quality local construction jobs for people who need them most through targeted hiring practices that use registered apprenticeships and coordinate with state and local workforce development boards.
  • Rebuild our infrastructure with new opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses.
  • Encourage the use of best-value contracting, registered apprenticeships, and neutrality in union organizing to ensure projects place a premium not just on the bottom line but also on the quality of jobs, safety, equity, climate resiliency, and environmental justice.
  • Dedicate investment to struggling areas and connect communities to greater opportunity through new performance measures and data on accessibility to transportation and a new $25 billion Connect Communities Grant Program to redevelop marginalized communities.
  • Provide pathways to careers in construction, specialty trades, and other infrastructure jobs through a new $5 billion Building American Infrastructure and Careers Program to support training partnerships led by unions, community organizations, and education and training providers.
  • Improve labor standards and working conditions and strengthen worker power by using Davis-Bacon and Service Contract Act wage protections, exposing bad actors in contract bids, requiring the use of workforce diversity programs, creating transparency in pay, employment status, and wage rates, ending forced arbitration, and ensuring that funds are not used for union-busting.
  • Protect and expand domestic manufacturing by establishing a new Buy America Bureau that would help build American supply chains and bring transparency and coordination to the Buy America waiver process, and by encouraging the use of U.S. Employment Plans that prioritize existing and new American manufacturing and service jobs when building the nation’s infrastructure.
  • Ensure that the communities where infrastructure projects are taking place are the first to benefit from the job and training opportunities that those projects provide.

Find detailed specifics about the legislation here.