Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Why we need the REO
Comment to the Telegram article, 6/20/12
The underlying issues here - for the people - are jobs and money. Who gets the jobs? How much do they pay? What are the standards for safety, conditions, benefits? What are the benefits for the community from them? Will they provide opportunities for young people to learn a trade? Will the work get done right the first time?
And where do the paychecks get spent?
While this law does not have a hire-local requirement - many other cities do, typically that 51% of the workers reside in the city - but the requirements of strict adherence to local standards and participation in an apprenticeship program make it unlikely that a contractor from - say - New Bedford, using workers who get bussed in daily from New Bedford, will be able to underbid local contractors.
This is important not just for the jobs, benefits for the workers and conditions, opportunities for our young folk. It's also about the "multiplier effect": keeping the money in circulation locally, which generates more local jobs - as many as one additional job created for each local person working on the site - as the money circulates around in Worcester.
Jobs - and maintaining local standards for pay, training and conditions - is a huge issue. The Governor is bragging about how the official Mass. "Unemployment Rate" is down to 6%. The reality is that it is much higher. Many categories of unemployed worker are excluded from this count, and the official rate is only going down because people are giving up looking. There's a lot of misery and desperation out here.
At a time like this, if the government steps out of the way, what we will get is a dog-eat-dog scramble for the available jobs, a downward spiral of wages and conditions, collapsing revenues and failures for local businesses. We can't let that happen.
The new REO ordinance represents the efforts of an alliance of local community and labor organizations to defend our local standards and economy and block that downward spiral.