Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg tweaks proposal for hiring ordinance

ST. PETERSBURG — After lots of study and criticism, city officials have decided not to spend $150,000 to analyze the hiring practices of local construction firms.

Such a report would have formed the basis of a proposed city law to force construction firms to hire Pinellas County residents on taxpayer-funded projects that cost $2 million or more.

A study isn't needed to link high unemployment and poverty to the impact of the ordinance, Jeannine Williams, assistant city attorney, wrote in a recent memo to the City Council.

The group will be updated Thursday on the changes.

The council could request more revisions or use the update as the first reading of the proposed law. A vote and public hearing could follow in the coming weeks.

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

Now, city attorneys have tweaked the proposal to target unemployed or underemployed workers instead of residents or disadvantaged workers.

The earlier proposal would have forced firms to use the workers for 50 percent of the hours on the projects. That's been changed to 25 percent.

Other changes include requiring contractors to show how they identified unemployed workers, listing subcontractors and detailing the work to be done by workers.

The hiring law has been talked about for months and is being pushed by Faith and Action for Strength Together, or FAST, an interfaith social justice group made up of 38 houses of worship in Pinellas County.

Rabbi Michael Torop, co-chairman of the FAST jobs committee, is pleased that the city won't be doing the study. Even with the required hours dropping from 50 percent to 25 percent, Torop said "anything will help" unemployed workers.

Critics contend the law would reduce competition, produce lower-quality work and drive up prices. The Associated Builders and Contractors objects to the proposal.

Steve Cona III, president of the trade group, said the law should target unemployed workers who are qualified or skilled for the jobs. And he suggests the proposal only be a good-faith effort, not a hard, fast rule.

"A 25 percent quota for all work hours on a construction project is not a workable solution," he added.

Besides some taxpayers and council members, the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce also opposed the $150,000 study because of recent budget woes.

No overall figure is available on how much St. Petersburg spends yearly on consultants or studies. But the city spent $250,000 in 2012 on two studies that produced no results.

St. Petersburg tweaks proposal for hiring ordinance 01/07/13 [Last modified: Monday, January 7, 2013 11:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. College World Series puts Florida Gators in elite company


    With Tuesday night's College World Series win, the Florida Gators put themselves in rare company.

    Florida celebrates after defeating LSU in Game 2 of the College World Series finals, Tuesday, in Omaha, Neb.
  2. Pinellas sees spike in infant deaths from unsafe sleeping, and advocates are concerned


    The reports from the Department of Children and Families are tragic: A Pinellas County mother falls asleep on a recliner during an early morning feeding and wakes to find one of her 3-month-old twins unresponsive. Another finds her 6-month-old daughter lying still, a blanket over her head. Another infant is found wedged …

    Advocates are looking to step up their public information efforts this year after reports show a spike in sleep-related infant deaths in Pinellas County. []
  3. Kellyanne Conway warns of health care spin, but then delivers her own in Miami


    On the same day that Senate Republicans were forced to delay a vote on their healthcare legislation because not enough of them wanted to vote for it, White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway defended the bill in Miami.

    White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway is welcomed by state Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-District 105, at the Miami-Dade GOP’s Lincoln Day fundraiser on Tuesday night.
  4. Sign up for our new daily News at Noon email newsletter


    The Tampa Bay Times will soon launch a daily newsletter called News at Noon. You can make sure to be among the first to receive it by signing up now.