U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced Wednesday that that U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) will be restoring and expanding the Local Hire program launched during the Obama Administration. This is good news as local hiring has been a major priority of the Metro Board of Directors — the Board wants L.A. County residents to benefit from jobs created by the construction of Metro projects.
In the past, federal regulations have not permitted local transit agencies to require that bidders establish local hiring programs. The historic rationale for this prohibition is that the federal gas tax is collected from around the nation and, thus, all individuals and companies in the U.S. should have access to jobs on any given project.
Metro has argued that rule does not take into account the new reality of how transportation projects are financed — with the bulk of the dollars often coming from local taxes or bonds. For example, Metro gets most of its funding to build big projects from the four local sales taxes approved by L.A. County voters in 1980, 1990, 2008 and Measure M in 2016. Measure M is expected to raise $120 billion to help build 40 major projects in its first 40 years.
“Metro welcomes the U.S. Department of Transportation’s wise and prudent decision to restore the federal Local Hire program,” said Metro CEO Phil Washington. “This action — which is entirely consistent with the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative — will ensure that local transportation projects benefit local workers. I am encouraged that moving forward, as we build infrastructure projects across Los Angeles County, we will be able to empower local communities by offering good paying jobs to local residents.
“I commend the Biden-Harris Administration, Secretary Buttigieg, Rep. Karen Bass and members of the Los Angeles County Congressional Delegation for making this announcement today a reality,” Phil added. “I also want to personally thank our Board of Directors for their advocacy in support of restoring the federal Local Hire program.”
“As we invest in world-class infrastructure for Americans, we want to make sure that our investments create jobs for people in the communities where the projects are located,” said Secretary Buttigieg. “Both the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration will soon launch programs allowing state agencies to exercise options, such as using geographic or economic preferences, when recruiting workers for infrastructure projects.”
Below is a Metro fact sheet on local hiring: