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Syracuse Common Council approves local hiring requirement for contracts

Tom Magnarelli
Supporters of the job hiring ordinance in Syracuse held banners and signs at the Common Council vote.

The Syracuse Common Council has voted in favor of an ordinance that will require contractors working on city projects to hire 20 percent of their workforce from within the city. Proponents of the regulation say it is one tool to help reduce unemployment.
Republican Councilor Joe Carni voted against the ordinance.

"To require contracts to go to certain sections of people and limit what the private sector can do I think it would be damaging and costly to the taxpayer with these contracts,” Carni said. “The contracts are going to end up being more expensive and cost the taxpayers money. At this time in our city’s history we’re strapped for cash and I don’t think it should be forcing the burden of this further on taxpayers in the city."

Democratic Councilor Khalid Bey, who sponsored the ordinance, said if a contractor is too burdened by the requirement, the city can find someone else.

“There’s no extra work,” Bey said. “We can add whatever considerations we deem necessary to the benefit of our citizen and to our contract. If people have a problem with that, the right to negotiate and enter contract is theirs and cannot be impaired, well neither can ours. It’s the right move in the right direction, it’s not the absolute magic pill but it’s a tool to improve our unemployment situation here in the city.”

The ordinance will affect construction, public works and service contracts worth $100,000 or more. Small businesses are exempted. A committee will be created that can connect employers with qualified residents, which Bey said there are plenty of in Syracuse. Failure to comply means a contract could be terminated and a contractor could be fined. The ordinance will take effect in six months.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.