Yesterday, the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment brought us one step closer to ending the federal prohibition on local hire and empowering states and localities to create good jobs in their communities. The task force, led by Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, released a report recommending executive actions the White House can take to strengthen unions and lift up workers in the United States.
Along with our partners, we made the recommendation to the Biden administration that they take a deep look at the Office of Management and Budget Uniform Guidance, get rid of policies that are stifling progressive innovation, and write language encouraging states and cities to use federal dollars to create good jobs for the people who need them most.
The task force was receptive to our ideas, and included many of our recommendations in the report! Some of these include:
- Identifying opportunities to update the Uniform Guidance to empower workers.
- Allowing consideration of job, wage, and worker empowerment impacts as part of the application evaluation process
- Ensuring that grantees have the freedom to apply worker-empowering, high-road conditions, including local-hire and 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 increase the ability of state and local agencies to use their procurement processes 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.
A little background
Among the recommendations was one we’ve been championing with all of our partners at the state and national level: removing the ban on local hire and permitting states and cities to take job quality into account when they spend federal dollars to procure goods and services. As the administration begins to implement the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, these policy changes will ensure states and cities have the necessary tools to create good-paying jobs for their residents and that the economic benefits from these projects remain in their communities.
The current ban on local hire is found within the Office of Management and Budget’s Uniform Guidance, a set of regulations which dictate how states and localities can spend federal money in contracting. For too long, these regulations have made it next-to-impossible for states and localities to craft innovative, progressive policy when spending federal dollars. As the White House recognized, changing these regulations presents a real opportunity to open up federal procurement rules, and reorient federal government spending away from its current laser focus on competition and towards investing in our communities.
While this report is a strong first step, there is still work to be done. Jobs to Move America is committed to working with the Biden administration, our union partners, and the many national and local advocacy organizations within our network to get these policy changes across the finish line.