SPOKANE (Dec. 17, 2014) — The Spokane City Council voted Monday night to approve ordinances designed to create local jobs and more apprenticeship opportunities for family-wage careers. The Spokane Alliance of area labor unions and community supporters packed the council chambers — in what Councilmember Jon Snyder called the biggest turnout of the year — to urge passage of the ordinances.
“The Quality Jobs campaign has been over a year in the making,” said Carol Krawczyk, lead organizer of the Spokane Alliance. “Our hard work, persistence, and consistency led us to this win for Spokane. Now we have a way to start putting our youth, veterans, and woman into state-approved apprenticeship programs while creating opportunities for local contractors and investing in our community.”
The Quality Job Ordinances create:
► Requires contractors on public works projects costing more than $350,000 to utilize apprentices whenever possible. Beginning next year, 5 percent of all labor hours on such projects must be performed by apprentices and in 2017, that standard will rise to 15 percent.It also creates a grant fund for Community Empowerment Zones (CEZ) for poor performers who do not meet the criteria and fail to obtain a waiver. This measure, which passed with a veto-proof 5-2 majority after hours of testimony, will “create a more skilled workforce” in Spokane, said Council President Ben Stuckart.
► A funding mechanism to assess the economic benefit of low-bid materials over $20,000 compared to materials purchased locally.
► A way to awarding points to local contractors with a history of good performance.
► Goals of 10 percent to meet federal guidelines for women, minorities, and residents of a CEZ.
The Spokane Alliance has been working to create Quality Jobs in Spokane for the past five years. This ordinance package is an evolution of the work the group did last year with the Public Facilities District Board to align Quality Jobs values with the implementation of work on the Convention Hall and Arena which resulted in keeping $38 million of $42 million local while putting veterans back to work and creating educational opportunities for youth in the form of apprenticeships.
After the ordinances’ passage, The Spokane Alliance thanked City Council President Ben Stuckart, City Councilmembers Candace Mumm, Jon Snyder, Karen Stratton, and Amber Waldref for positively impacting the city. They say the council’s support of the package is acknowledgement of the large number of public works projects that are coming up, the need for additional technical opportunities for area youth, and the age of our current workforce.
The Spokane Alliance is a non-partisan and non-profit alliance of congregations, unions, school, and community groups in Spokane County, representing more than 20,000 people, that are working together for the common good.