Erie County, NY, which includes the city of Buffalo, has enacted a hiring mandate that requires any construction project in the county costing more than $250,000 and using at least three workers to employ locals, according to WBFO.
The executive order, which goes into effect on Oct. 1, requires that all workers on these projects live in one of eight surrounding counties with 70% being Erie County residents.
Officials said the new order will create more opportunities for individuals in pre-apprentice programs to enter full apprenticeships on construction projects in the county, boosting the region's supply of qualified construction workers.
Local hiring requirements can be a mixed bag of benefits and frustrations. The quotas, particularly for projects in economically depressed areas, can open up doors for workers who are in need of employment. But just because a region or project has a hiring mandate doesn't mean there will be enough workers to satisfy it.
Contractors on the Detroit Red Wings' new Little Caesars Arena were fined nearly $3 million through March for failing to meet the city's 51% local hiring requirement. The construction companies on the project have reportedly done community outreach, hosted job fairs and offered training but have still come up short. Local officials who have been monitoring the project's hiring have said the contractors have made a solid effort to meet the requirement, there just weren't enough qualified workers available.
Unlike Detroit, which limited the potential employee pool to city residents, the Erie County order encompasses a wider area, which should help contractors meet the 100% local mandate.
Hiring requirements are typically negotiated as part of project labor agreements on a job-by-job basis. But cities including Boston, San Francisco, St. Louis and New Orleans have instituted local hiring programs that cover all the work they fund, similar to Erie County's. Still, those kinds of orders have seen pushback, according to Lexology.
Construction-industry critics of local hiring requirements cite a lack of area workers as a critical hurdle to following the rule. Others say they've had to lay off out-of-town employees and take their chances with the limited local labor pool. Even some state governments have come out against such requirements. Ohio recently passed a law that keeps public entities from establishing local workforce hiring goals.