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Detroit Free Press

Saturday, September 15, 2007   (0 Comments)
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Hiring workers in the city is ordered

Detroit Free Press

September 15, 2007

A policy that mandates companies performing publicly funded construction projects fill 51% of the project's jobs with Detroiters is drawing concern from construction interests.

But Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's administration said the order, scheduled to take effect Nov. 1, is needed because construction companies hire few city residents.

The order, which Kilpatrick issued Wednesday, primarily would impact road, water and sewer construction.

Officials with the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association and the Michigan Concrete Paving Association said the policy would make it more difficult to do business in Detroit.

Mike Nystrom, vice president of the association, said if every city enacted a similar policy, the construction industry would be brought to a halt.

"We can't be putting fences up around communities all over the state," he said.

But Sharon McPhail, the city's general counsel, said if firms don't like the requirement, they don't have to compete for city work.

"The mayor wants to make sure every Detroiter has the opportunity to work on projects for which their tax dollars are being used," she said.

Douglas Buckler, executive secretary/treasurer of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, said he supports the policy, given the double-digit unemployment in Detroit.

Still, it will be difficult to meet the requirement because of the shortage in skilled trades workers, Buckler said.

Firms that fail to comply could lose the contract and face fines from 3% to 15% of its amount.

In the past, the city had a policy requiring percentages of employees on publicly funded projects to be minorities or women.

Between federal case law and the 2006 voter passage of Proposal 2 in Michigan, which outlawed racial and gender considerations in government contracting and hiring, a residency-based policy was needed, McPhail said.

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