Jobs to Move America
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Read our press release about the campaign launch.

Read our report about the local hire pilot program.

Watch our March 2 press conference and campaign launch.

Across the country, cities and states are working hard to rebuild communities and recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic on working families.

But something is blocking our road to a just recovery: the local hire ban, an outdated rule that prevents cities and states from creating local jobs with public infrastructure dollars.

What is the local hire ban?

The story starts in the 1980s, during the anti-apartheid movement in the US. To put pressure on apartheid South Africa, certain local governments in the US decided to withhold public contracts from businesses that were profiting from apartheid.

These cities and states were met with fierce opposition from the Reagan administration, which responded by imposing strict rules on public contracting.

One of these rules was an all-out ban on local hire, which prohibits cities and states from using federally-funded public contracts to create jobs in local communities. For example, if a city wanted to guarantee that a certain percentage of jobs created through a federally-funded contract were set aside for their residents, they would be prevented from doing so or risk losing their funding.  

Today, the ban on local hire is still active.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Too many people are suffering – unable to pay their bills, losing their homes, and struggling to survive.

To recover from the pandemic and build equitable local economies, we need to create millions of good local jobs and invest in infrastructure for the future – from high speed trains to a stronger electric grid.

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act took the first step to overturning the ban by allowing local hire initiatives on federally-funded highway construction projects, paving the way for a full repeal of this ban. 

This means that cities and states can now hire within their communities for federally-funded road work, like repairing and building highways and bridges. But, the ban on local hire is still in place for all other types of federally-funded projects, like upgrading our broadband infrastructure and investing in small businesses.

Our opportunity.

One step the Biden administration can take right now to help cities and states invest in their communities is update the Uniform Guidance to empower state and local governments. 

The Uniform Guidance is a set of federal regulations that determines how states and localities can spend federal money. Since the 1980s, these regulations have prevented states and cities from attaching labor and equity standards, like targeted hire, to federally-funded procurements, like targeted hire and taking job quality into account. 

We want to change that.

Jobs to Move America recommendations were included in a report written by the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment. This report details executive actions President Biden can take to strengthen unions and lift up workers in the United States, such as:

  • Updating the Uniform Guidance to empower workers. 
  • Allowing consideration of job, wage, and worker empowerment impacts as part of the application evaluation process for contractors applying for federally-funded contracts.
  • Ensuring that cities and states have the freedom to apply worker-empowering conditions, including local-hire and project-labor agreement (PLA) obligations, on their subgrantees.

The task force also recommended ensuring that federal financial assistance programs cannot be used to deny workers the right to organize.

Taken together, these provisions can substantially help state and local agencies to use their purchasing power to create fulfilling, safe, high-road jobs for workers in their communities – especially for people of color, women, returning citizens, veterans, and other workers facing barriers to employment.

Learn more

Read a public letter signed by over 160 public officials, community groups, unions, advocates, and academics calling on Biden to overturn the local hire ban.

Read our latest report that analyzes data from the DOT’s local hire pilot program and found that local hire policies create good local jobs in communities that need them most, advance racial justice, and create strong, worker-centered local economies. 

Check out our press release about the campaign launch and letter here, and watch our press event from March 2 here.

Read our latest blog post highlighting the JMA recommendations included in the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment.

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