U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was in Menands Thursday afternoon to promote her Build Local, Hire Local Act. WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas was there.
Gillibrand stood with union leaders and advocates at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, District Council 9, Local 201 on Broadway, touting legislation introduced in July she says will make bold reforms to federal infrastructure. "And the goal of this bill is to prioritize infrastructure projects in communities that need them the most, including our low-income communities and our communities of color. Then we can use those projects to increase the job opportunities and strengthen our unions, our labor standards and worker’s rights. You all have been witness to companies coming into the Capital Region and bringing outside, often non-unionized labor, with them and denying jobs to our local workers. Right now Amazon is starting work on their Distribution Center without hiring workers from this community. Those are jobs, that could have gone to workers in the Capital Region. And they should have. Build Local, Hire Local ensures Federal projects do not go down the same road."
The Democrat says her bill, endorsed by organizations including AFL-CIO and the National Urban League, would prioritize spending tax dollars on projects that raise wages, protect workers, and expand worker rights by giving preference to companies that do not discourage union organizing.
District Council 9 Business Manager/Secretary-Treasurer Joseph Azzopardi says Gillibrand's bill is overdue. "For decades union like ours have fought and won better wages and benefits for thousands of New Yorkers all around the state. What we continue to see is a hunger and need for better career paths into the middle class. The training center you're sitting in today is just that. And behind the walls that we're standing in front of is our actual training center. The Build Local, Hire Local is what we're all about. We train, not only apprentices, but journeymen and journeywomen that belong to District Council 9. On upgrading, on any skills that we need for any of our trades."
Gillibrand says her legislation would also require that federally-funded projects incorporate community input to ensure investments benefit local residents, and would promote the use of American-made products in rebuilding infrastructure.
Detailed specifics about the legislation are here.