Late last year, President Barack Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (Fast Act) approving $305 billion in transportation spending. The Act includes a number of provisions, including a 10 percent increase in Buy America transit requirements meant to boost domestic American manufacturing.
On February 19, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx sent a letter to transportation stakeholders encouraging the use of innovative ideas to maximize the impact of the Fast Act. The letter also highlighted a new contracting tool developed by Jobs to Move America (JMA), the U.S. Employment Plan (USEP), as an example of an innovative approach to using public transportation funds to create good jobs and ladders of opportunity in the United States.
Leaders across the country hailed the letter as an important step forward for domestic manufacturing. “This letter shows transit industry decision makers that there is a path toward truly making our transit dollars go the distance,” said Madeline Janis, JMA’s executive director.
“Secretary Foxx has once again demonstrated the Obama Administration’s commitment to leveraging every opportunity to create good, middle-class jobs for all Americans,” said Edward Wytkind, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD).
A commitment to U.S-made products is a commitment to creating U.S. jobs and improving the economy for some of America’s most excluded communities. According to a study released by JMA and the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass Amherst), the mandatory minimum official domestic content requirements for buses and railcars purchased with taxpayer funds is only 40 percent of the value of a vehicle.
The USEP was developed by a team of lawyers, researchers, business and labor leaders, in partnership with transit agencies such as LA Metro and the Chicago Transit Authority to help transit agencies maximize the jobs and economic impact of publicly funded train and bus purchases above the mandatory minimum.
To date, the USEP has been included in requests for proposals issued by five major transportation agencies: Los Angeles Metro, Chicago Transit Authority, Maryland Transportation authority, the Metropolitan Council of Minneapolis-St Paul and Amtrak.