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May
2014
6

Ohio Contractors Association Sues Akron to Prevent It From Hiring…Ohioans.

The Ohio Contractors Association (OCA) has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that local hiring requirements set forth by Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic violate the constitution of both the United States and the state of Ohio.  The lawsuit is based around requirements for contractors bidding on the Rack 15 Storage Basin project, a $1.4 billion overhaul of the city’s sewer system.  

Get this straight: An organization called the Ohio Contractors Association is taking the city of Akron, Ohio to court in hopes of preventing Ohioans from being hired to work in Akron…Ohio.

In March, the city mandated that contractors hire 30 percent of their workforce locally, with that number rising by five percent until local hires made up 50 percent of the workforce in 2018.  Despite the obvious benefits to the region, the OCA plans to fight for their right to bring in out-of-state workers and hard-to-hold-accountable fly-by-night subcontractors on the massive public works project.

City officials note that in creating the requirements they looked at what other cities had done with similar contracts.  They believe their requirements will withstand a legal challenge.  

On May 2nd, Mayor Plusquellic asked the city council to pass legislation which would make the city a contractor on the project. This would help ensure local hire was achieved, he says.  The unorthodox move was not the preferred choice for the city according to the Mayor, who told Ohio.com, “This is not something I wanted to do.  If I have to be the new contracting company in town, that is what I am going to do.”

The Mayor is interested in using city employees and workers from local union halls to complete the project, Ohio.com reports:

With the council’s approval of the legislation, Plusquellic said the city will use either its own employees or employees from a local union hall to do at least the preliminary work in the Rack 15 project. If the hiring requirements lawsuit is settled, the city will then open the bids and allow the lowest and best bidder that also complies with the hiring thresholds to complete the work.

Supporters of the local hiring plan are confident that the 30 percent threshold can be crossed.

UPDATE: City council has approved Akron becoming a contractor on the project in question.

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