Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg: Local law to favor local workers draws big crowd at City Hall

ST. PETERSBURG — In an unusual display of public interest, more than 120 residents packed a City Hall committee room on Thursday morning to show their support for a law that would force construction firms to hire local workers on big public projects.

The proposal, still in the early stages, would require contractors and subcontractors to hire Pinellas County workers to perform at least 50 percent of work hours on city projects worth $2 million or more.

Council members Karl Nurse, Wengay Newton and Steve Kornell voted to send the proposal for a full vote before the council next Thursday. Jim Kennedy voted no.

With construction jobs in slim demand, the committee believes the ordinance would reduce unemployment and create training and apprenticeship programs for minority and unskilled workers.

"It's important for us as leaders to create opportunities for workers," Newton said.

Before the proposal can become law, the council will have to approve spending $150,000 to study construction industry hiring practices. The ordinance would not take effect until the study is completed.

Supporters believe the proposal will help residents land jobs on projects like the new $40 million police headquarters and the $50 million Pier project, known as the Lens.

Even though the public couldn't speak at Thursday's meeting, activists from Awake Pinellas and FAST packed the room and applauded after the measure passed.

Manuel Sykes, president of the St. Petersburg NAACP chapter, said local residents should get the first chance to earn wages on expensive projects supported by tax dollars.

"I am glad it passed," he said. "Let's talk about tax dollars staying here. "

The law would exempt firms outside of Florida if they brought workers from other states to complete entire projects.

The proposal would apply if they hired Florida workers.

To be eligible, workers must live in Pinellas County for at least six months before the start of a project and maintain the residence until the work is completed.

Contractors and subcontractors would also be required to make good-faith efforts to use apprentices and disadvantaged workers for at least 20 percent of work hours.

Critics argue that ordinance reduces competition, produces lower-quality work and drives up prices.

The Associated Builders and Contractors threatened to sue the city if the ordinance is enacted.

Mayor Bill Foster said he supports the study, but fears the ordinance might hinder some projects because of the added requirements.

He also worries about other municipalities creating ordinances to block Pinellas workers.

Several council members also questioned the wisdom of spending $150,000 on a study, money that could be wasted if findings show local workers already are being hired on public projects.

St. Petersburg: Local law to favor local workers draws big crowd at City Hall 11/08/12 [Last modified: Thursday, November 8, 2012 10:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Romano: Sewage is the issue in this mayoral race

    Local Government

    Well, poop.

    Nothing else really matters, does it?

    Schools, economic development, public safety? Pfft. The Rays stadium, affordable housing, the Pier? Ack. When it comes to the St. Petersburg mayoral election, sewage is the yin, the yang and the yuck.

    During the St. Petersburg sewage crisis, the city's ancient sewer system released about 200 million gallons of sewage into local watersways, spurring state and federal investigations and becoming a focal point of debate among the leading mayoral candidates. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  2. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete


    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.

  3. Police: Man tries to lure child with puppy in Polk County


    Times staff

    HAINES CITY — A man was arrested Sunday after he tried to entice a young girl into his camper to view a puppy, according to police.

    Dale Collins, 63, faces a charge of luring or enticing a child under the age of 12. [Photo courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Scaramucci on leaks: 'I'm going to fire everybody'


    WASHINGTON — Anthony Scaramucci, President Donald Trump's new communications director, vowed Tuesday to purge the White House staff of disloyal aides in an effort to crack down on leaks, as another member of the press staff resigned from a West Wing reeling from an unfolding shake-up.

  5. Editorial: Coming together to reduce car thefts


    The simple, knee-jerk response to the juvenile car theft epidemic in Pinellas County would be to crack down on offenders with an increased police presence and stiffer sentences. Thankfully, local community leaders did not stop there. As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its 
As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its "Hot Wheels" investigation into youth car thefts, a variety of ideas from multiple directions increases the odds of actually solving the cause and not just treating the symptoms.