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City Unveils Local Hire Partnership

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Posted at 5:53 PM, Jan 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-29 12:06:55-05

They're calling it the Nashville Construction Readiness Partnership.

It's the plan to execute last fall's charter amendment vote in Davidson County which said construction projects funded by local tax dollars should be hiring local workers.

Those with the city have put together a construction workforce development program.

They see it as a partnership between construction firms and job training programs.

Utilizing the State's Jobs4TN website will be one way for employers to find the skilled or entry-level workers they need.

Another way would be using two existing groups, Nashville Organized for Action and Hope and the Nashville Workforce Network.

“Those two entities would allow us to utilize and work with non-profits throughout the community at every district and every neighborhood throughout Davidson County,” said Paul Haynes of Workforce Development. “Where we could have a place for individuals to go. Where they can get into the system, and they can put their profiles in, and they can say, ‘I'm looking for a job, and I'm looking for a job in the construction industry.’” 

City leaders also wanted to come up with a training program for people who want to work in the construction industry but just don't have the skills to do so yet.

There were a lot of rules they've come up with to regulate the local hire vote, including penalties for contractors that don't follow the new guidelines.

For more detailed information from the city, including a video, click here.

The following is a statement made at Thursday’s announcement by Metro Law Director Jon Cooper regarding the partnership’s regulations:

“As you know, the Charter Amendment itself - the language of the charter amendment - requires that Davidson County workers perform 40 percent of the total construction work on Metro construction projects that are in excess of $100,000 dollars and sets a 10 percent goal for low-income workers.  The purpose of these regulations that we are putting forth is to comply with both the intent and the spirit of the charter amendment that the voters resoundingly approved, but also to address the legitimate concerns that the business and development community raised about this amendment.  As the mayor said, the overall goal is to improve and develop our workforce in Davidson County.

The regulations designate the Nashville Career Advancement Center as Metro's partner in finding and training Davidson County workers in the construction field.

The regulations provide that both skilled construction trade work and unskilled construction-related work by Davidson County residents would count toward the required levels.

Work that is performed by those in apprenticeship programs and participating in on-the-job training programs would also count toward the totals. 

There's a definition for low-income to mean the HUD program limits at the 50-percent level for a family of four, which for Davidson County is at the $28,000 household income level.

The regulations specify the detailed information that contractors will provide in an electronic format as part of their monthly payroll report that they will submit to the purchasing agents. 

The contractors will not get paid until this report is provided and failure to provide the report could be considered a breach of contract. 

The regulations include an exception for emergency projects when there is a threat to public health or safety - such as the collapse of water infrastructure or something that must be repaired immediately. 

The most innovative part of these regulations includes a phased-in penalty approach.  Rather than hitting contractors with a penalty, you know at their first instance of not being able to meet their requirements, we've phased the penalty portion in, so that the first step would be a corrective action plan. 

So if the contractor is showing a good faith effort to comply, they would work with the purchasing agent to come up with a corrective action plan.  If that is unable to be addressed, then the purchasing agent could withhold an amount equal to the average hourly wage paid - multiplied by the number of deficient hours. 

So that would be kind of a liquidated damages provision that would ensure that contractors were making the good faith effort to comply.  This would not be phased in, or this would not apply immediately.  It would be phased in over four years. 

So the first year it would be a 25 percent.  Second year 50 percent.  Third year 75 percent.  And then, from the fourth year, for projects that are less than the fourth year going forward, it would be 100 percent for that penalty provision. 

If continued failure, or if they're not able to resolve the issues, and continue to accrue the penalties, the contract could be terminated for breach and there could be a three-year debarment.  It does include a waiver provision the purchasing agent can use at any point if he finds that a good faith effort to comply has been made and if there's proof that there are not sufficient numbers of Davidson County workers with the specialized skills or training necessary to meet the requirements.  

This waiver can be provided on the front end or at any point along the way when it's determined that the adequate number of workers are just not available.”