Press Release

Standing With Union Leaders And Advocates, Gillibrand Announces Her Legislation To Make Bold Reforms To Investments In American Infrastructure

Oct 10, 2019

Menands, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today stood with union leaders and advocates at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, District Council 9, Local 201 in Menands to announce her legislation, the Build Local, Hire Local Act. This bill would make bold reforms to federal infrastructure that would prioritize taxpayer dollars spending on projects that raise wages, protect workers, and expand worker rights by giving preference to companies that do not discourage union organizing. It would also help to correct decades of failed federal policies that have isolated communities of color and marginalized populations from economic opportunity.

The Build Local, Hire Local Act would create a comprehensive set of reforms, including creating 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 federally-funded projects incorporate the community’s input to ensure investments benefit local residents, and would promote the use of American-made products in rebuilding our infrastructure.

“Unions and union members are the heart of Albany, and I believe deeply in the responsibility of the federal government to help give unions the power they need to effectively advocate for the rights and needs of workers. It is why I am proud to have introduced the Build Local, Hire Local Act,” said Senator Gillibrand. “My bill would prioritize infrastructure projects in the communities that need them the most, including low-income communities and communities of color. These projects would help ensure higher quality job opportunities and help strengthen unions, wage protections, labor standards, and workers’ rights. I am committed to fighting for the people of the Capital Region each day in the Senate, and I urge my colleagues to pass the Build Local, Hire Local Act to help do just that.”

“Providing career pathways and investing in our vital infrastructure is critical to building strong communities,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “Senator Gillibrand’s Build Local, Hire Local legislation will not only create opportunity, but it will ensure that local residents benefit from new infrastructure projects in their communities. I applaud the Senator for her leadership on these important reforms and urge the Congress to act on this legislation as soon as possible.”

“Throughout the country we see a tremendous need for a skilled workforce. The Build Local, Hire Local act will give us tremendous opportunity to do just that, DC9 is committed to providing the most skilled workforce in the finishing industry; while also providing career paths for communities in need for good jobs to support their families. We commend Senator Gillibrand for her hard work on tackling this issue, and we will work with her to make sure it becomes law,” said Joseph Azzopardi, Business Manager-Secretary Treasurer of International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, District Council 9.

In July, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed a bipartisan transportation reauthorization bill that included provisions based on Gillibrand’s legislation. This included a new $120 million pilot program to 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. This pilot program would also require that new projects receiving federal funding create a community advisory board made up of residents from the communities where new projects are taking place.

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.