© 2023
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Two adults killed, dozens of injuries after bus overturns on I-84 in Orange County; faulty tire blamed

Changes In Local Responsible Employer Ordinance To Be Discussed

wikipedia commons

        Changes are being considered to a landmark municipal ordinance in Massachusetts that regulated public construction projects to promote local and minority employment, but has gone largely unenforced. 

City councilors and labor union leaders in Springfield are trying to put teeth into the city’s Responsible Employer Ordinance, which when it passed in 2008 was the first of its kind in Massachusetts, but has since been weakened by court challenges and haphazard enforcement.

The ordinance requires that at least 35 percent of the jobs on a public construction project costing more than $250,000 go to Springfield residents. It requires 20 percent of the jobs go to minorities and at least five percent to women.

City Councilor Melvin Edwards, who chairs the REO sub-committee, said “loopholes” in the ordinance have made enforcement difficult.

" I think the city has done a better job because of the ordinance being place, but  we're certainly not satisfied," said Edwards.

The Springfield ordinance also requires contractors to set up an apprenticeship program, provide health insurance and pay into a pension fund for workers.  But Edwards said those provisions will have to be removed because of a court ruling that came in a challenge to an ordinance regulating public construction projects in Fall River.

"Hopefully we can tweak this ordinance and put it in a position to withstand a legal challenge," said Edwards.

Edwards has scheduled a public meeting for Thursday, Nov. 10 at 5 p.m. in City Hall to get input on changing the ordinance. He hopes to hear from labor groups and construction companies.

"The intention is not to make it too difficult to do work in the city of Springfield or make the cost of construction jobs prohibitive to taxpayers," said Edwards.

Fiore Grassetti, president of the Pioneer Valley Central Labor Council, said he supports changes to the ordinance so that it can be consistently enforced in Springfield.  He said a demographic study will be undertaken to justify the local and minority hiring requirements.

"We want to make sure this ( ordinance) works. We want to make sure it creates those jobs for our people in the city," said Grassetti.

Once an amended ordinance is on the books, Grassetti said he will urge the city to hire a full-time compliance officer to enforce it.

The current ordinance allows for fines to be levied and for contractors that have violated the ordinance to be barred from bidding on future taxpayer-funded construction jobs.


Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
Related Content