The local hiring language in SAFETEA-LU was championed jointly by the Transportation Equity Network, the Gamaliel Foundation, Representatives Millender-McDonald and Costello, and Senators Bond and Obama. The new law directs the U.S. Department of Transportation to let communities create their own agreements around local and minority hiring. This allows communities to create local jobs by directly accessing the $286 billion SAFETEA-LU funds. Benefits of Local Hiring Agreements:
Local communities have more control over how their tax money is spent.
Residents around highway and transit projects get access to the living wage jobs that these massive projects create.
Welfare, jail, and other poverty-related costs to the community are reduced because more residents have living wage jobs.
Job benefits are more equitably distributed throughout the region, rather than being concentrated in a few high-growth suburban corridors.
The unemployed, underemployed, and people of color are given the opportunity to move into construction careers.
Community groups can pass their own local hiring ordinances on highway and transit money at the city council, county council, or state legislative levels. They should identify their best partners and create a strategy that moves toward a regional agreement.
In 1992 Bus Riders’ Union (BRU) organizers, organizers-in-training, and members rode thousands of buses for thousands of hours and began to build what has become a dues-paying membership of 2,500 persons and a very active leadership core of 200 riders. Many members have been active for five or more years. Another 40,000 people who ride the buses support our work, and many of them have participated in BRU fare strikes and other actions.
Local dimensions of imperial economic and development policy
The word “imperialism” is back on the radar of political discourse, after lying dormant for many years, thanks to the Bush administration’s willingness to throw the weight of the United States around with abandon. Imperialism is a useful word. Just as the concept of “internal colonialism” was helpful to people thinking about power and injustice in the 1960s, imperialism can be brought home to good effect for today’s activists and movement leaders. But as an analytical term, it needs to be deepened beyond sweeping statements like, “U.S. imperialism is ravaging the globe”—which are so broad as to be mere slogans—if we are to apply it to conditions of race, poverty and the environment in California and nationwide.
Economic Development policies that deprive the poor of transit and jobs.
Economic development subsidy programs—such as property tax abatements, corporate income tax credits and low-interest loans—were originally justified in the name of poverty reduction. Initiated as far back as the 1930s and accelerated in the 1950s, many of these programs were targeted to older areas and pockets of poverty that needed revitalization.
But over time, more and more of the 1,500 development subsidy programs nationwide have become part of the problem instead of the solution. Subsidies originally meant to rebuild older urban areas are being perverted into subsidies for suburban sprawl. Wal-Mart and other big box retailers are getting subsidies that allow them to simply pirate sales from existing merchants. Upscale residential and golf course projects are getting subsidies from programs originally designed to serve low-income neighborhoods.