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Coalition-driven updates to Uniform Grants Guidance include lifting 40-year ban on local hire.

Jobs to Move America: Lauren LaBorde
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JMA Deputy Director Miranda Nelson spoke at the White House event announcing the updated Uniform Grants Guidance.

Following advocacy led by a national coalition of community and civil rights groups, small businesses, cities and states, the White House today has taken a significant step in transforming how communities can use the trillions in federal funds flowing to states and cities. 

Today the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the final 2024 updated Uniform Grants Guidance, which determines how states, cities, tribal governments and other federal grantees can spend federal money. This new guidance includes many of the Local Opportunities Coalition’s (LOC) recommendations:  

  • Returning decisions about local contracting criteria to state and local governments receiving federal funds
  • Allowing for targeted hiring in disadvantaged communities, including workers who have been historically left out of higher-wage infrastructure, service and other jobs created by public contracting
  • Lifting the ban on geographic preference so states and localities can prioritize workers and small businesses in their communities 
  • Promoting job quality and equity by allowing recipients of federal funds to reward bidders for job quality metrics such as wages and benefits, including using scoring mechanisms like Jobs to Move America’s U.S. Employment Plan framework 

“The Local Opportunities Coalition believes the updated Uniform Grants Guidance represents a historic step in maximizing the benefits of federal dollars for local workers, small businesses and communities,” says Miranda Nelson, Deputy Director of Jobs to Move America and Local Opportunities Coalition coordinator. “For too long, local governments have been held back from implementing the kind of innovative policies that we know are effective in building good jobs and equity into the public procurement process for federally-funded projects. Now, cities and states will be able to do so much more with these unprecedented federal investments.”

Since the 1980s, the Uniform Guidance has limited states’ and cities’ ability to use their own policies, including attaching labor and equity standards to federally funded contracts. It has particularly limited them in creating local hire policies because of a legal interpretation that doing so might impede fair and open competition. A 2021 study from Jobs to Move America of the U.S. Department of Transit’s Local Labor Hiring Pilot showed that local hire policies positively impact workers and regional economies. 

“Here in Chicago, many of our constituents—low-income workers of color, especially Black and Latinx—are unable to find jobs with good pay and benefits near them,” says Leone Jose Bicchieri, Executive Director of Working Family Solidarity based in Chicago, IL, and a member of the Local Opportunities Coalition. “This updated guidance would allow for programs that give these workers access to jobs that can lift them out of poverty.”

The Biden-Harris Administration’s landmark legislative agenda, including the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), CHIPS & Science Act, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the American Rescue Plan Act, is sending billions in federal funds to states and localities to build and update infrastructure and to produce technology geared at addressing climate issues. With local and state governments now able to attach strong worker and community benefits to their federally funded projects, the new guidance is poised to uplift workers and local communities by providing access to quality jobs that aid the transition to a green economy and address urgent climate issues.

“Local hire benefits entire communities. By prioritizing workers within the very communities where construction projects are located, we can open up doors for historically marginalized people,” says Jim Williams, Jr., General President of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, another LOC member. “Additionally, it is in all of our interests to promote fair wages and good jobs. By ensuring that contracts are awarded to responsible employers, we can limit wage theft, misclassification and other abuses of workers. The IUPAT applauds the OMB’s guidance that gives workers, communities and advocates new paths towards prosperity.”

In 2022, the federal government provided over $1.2 trillion in grants, which make up to a third of state budgets in a typical year. 

Below are more quotes from LOC coalition members:

“President Biden continues his historic pro-labor streak. Ending the Regan-era ban on local hire means state and local governments no longer face legal hurdles to attaching labor and equity standards to federal money. As a result, we’ll see more opportunities for IBEW members across our industries, from construction to manufacturing and more. The IBEW applauds the Biden-Harris administration for this historic new guidance, which will ensure that local workers, including those from historically marginalized communities, benefit from President Biden’s unprecedented investments in energy and infrastructure.” – Kenneth Cooper, President, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

“Through these updates, both opportunities for job creation and economic growth will be increased, providing much-needed access to those who have historically faced barriers to economic opportunity and stability. By ensuring streamlined, fair, and transparent processes for procurement and grant funding, the Uniform Guidance fosters a level playing field for all individuals and organizations seeking to participate in federally funded projects. We’ve seen this success in practice through our work in partnership with the Local Opportunities Coalition on the I-81 project in Syracuse, which is currently exceeding its unprecedented local hire goals and creating life-changing careers for disadvantaged individuals who have been historically excluded from the construction field. Expanding the potential for this success to be replicated in additional industries will strengthen the economy as a whole, but also create a more inclusive and equitable society where all have the opportunity to thrive.” Tylah Worrell, Executive Director, The Urban Jobs Task Force of Syracuse, New York

“Dream.Org is committed to realizing a future where economic stability and societal progress are accessible to all. We are proud to see an update to the Uniform Guidance empowering states and localities to create job opportunities for their constituents when contracting with federal dollars. At the core of our vision lies the belief that meaningful employment is a linchpin for economic empowerment and social advancement.” Alana Lewis, Federal Policy Manager,

“By allowing states and cities more flexibility to attach labor and equity standards to federally funded contracts, this update to the OMB Uniform Guidance will help build a stronger economy that works for 

all of us. These changes are long overdue, but making these updates now is more important than ever, with massive new federal funds in the pipeline for infrastructure and climate projects. Public funds are precious, and we all have an interest in ensuring that the benefits of these investments are equitably shared.” – Sarah Anderson, Global Economy Director and Co-editor, The Institute for Policy Studies

“This is a great victory for working people and their communities. Enabling local hire policies and good jobs standards on manufacturing will result in so many jobs that are safe and have good pay for so many low to moderate income people.” – Lew Finfer, Director and Community Organizer, Massachusetts Action for Justice

About the Local Opportunities Coalition 

The Local Opportunities Coalition is a group of national and regional advocacy groups, labor unions and community organizations that are unified in maximizing the benefits of federal dollars for local communities and workers. The Local Opportunities Coalition has led the charge to transform government spending by advocating for several changes to the OMB Uniform Guidance as a way to ensure cities and states have the tools to create good-paying, family-sustaining jobs and ensure community benefits when they receive federal funding. 

Associated Resources

Local Opportunities Campaign Summer 2023 Congressional Letter

Last week, a letter signed by 61 Members of Congress was sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in support of the Local Opportunities Campaign efforts to update current federal grant regulations, which are known as the Uniform Guidance. The letter was led by Representative Greg Casar and Senator Tammy Duckworth, and encourages …

Resource Types:

    Project Labor Agreement Resource Guide

    JMA’s community benefits agreement with New Flyer is mentioned in the Department of Labor’s Project Labor, Community Workforce, and Community Benefits Agreements Resource Guide.

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    • Factsheets