August 11, 2008

NOAH's Plan Drives Up Costs

Do we need governmental bodies to pass legislation requiring that jobs in our community must be given to residents of our community? Elected officials in Wheatfield and North Tonawanda think so, and apparently officials in the city of Lockport and Niagara County are considering it as well.

While NT and Wheatfield have already passed the legislation, other municipalities are being urged by the Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope, or NOAH, to support NOAH's proposal to require contractors on city, town or county projects to hire at least 30 percent of their workers from inside Niagara County.

There's a problem with this type of legislation: It drives up the costs of doing business to taxpayers.

New York State has very specific bid criteria that municipalities must follow. That criteria includes a stipulation that the lowest responsible bid must be accepted for municipal projects.

If governmental entities are forced to use local help, it reduces competition, increasing the likelihood of higher bids, higher costs to the municipality, and thus, higher costs to you and I, the taxpayer.

This is not to say that we don't support using local worker for local jobs. But the law is very clear, and what this group is advocating is a violation of that law.

NOAH pins elected officials between a rock and a hard place because they tell people that if a politician doesn't support NOAH's goals, they don't support local workers, and that's a lie.

It is not the government's job to stimulate job growth, it's their job to create a business atmosphere that's conducive for job growth. Passing legislation that directly hinders that ability is bad for the entire community, even the workers that it is supposed to benefit.

Municipalities need to take a long, hard look at this before they jump in. Then they need to have the guts to tell NOAH that this is bad for the local economy and bad for the taxpayers.


Anonymous said...

This group is supposedly "faith-based" and using that angle to push a union agenda. What exactly is the connection and does God support using his name for this purpose? I doubt it.

Pete M said...

They are a modern day Local 91. They show up at events and meetings with a dozen or so of their members and attempt to intimidate legislative bodies into taking action. They are sheep in wolves clothing. Too bad NT and Wheatfield councils didn't see this.

Anonymous said...

Stop with Local 91. Their corrupt leadership paid the price. There are dozens of hard working men and women who have to live with the shame and disgrace. Give em a break.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how this provision drives up cost any more than the current law already does. There is a high level of competition in bidding for local projects and despite costs increasing, bids have remained relatively flat (Asphalt is way up though).

While some of their tactics could use some tempering, NOAH is faith-based group striving for social justice in a poor community. Currently, public projects must pay prevailing wages (union scale covers this) to all employees, union or non. Isn't important to improve the quality of local workforce as part of long-term economic development? And why should labor be imported for Niagara County jobs when there is an underutilized pool right here.

Besides, don't businesses qualify for tax-breaks when hiring from underemployed communities?

While leadership of NOAH may be pro-union, there purpose here is not to further the union case (just how easy is it for minorities and other disadvantaged individuals to get their membership card?). Rather it is the hope that can help to provide some social justice (their term, not mine) to the community.

We currently use policy to alter behaviors (smoking, etc) and to support or oppose actions (tax rates, zoning codes, etc). Why can't policy be used to improve the workforce here? Is the real cost too high or is it just rhetoric?

By the way, pete m: I don't think that Supervisor Demler in Wheatfield was either bullied or tricked by NOAH.

Anonymous said...

Because it should be the business owner's call, not government. If I own a business and I can hire cheaper labor from outside of Niagara county, that is MY prerogative. I don't need government telling me how to run MY business. Once government reforms Wicks Law, Scaffold Law and gets rid of idiot Sam Hoyt and his IDA reform billl which mandates prevailing wages, then we can talk about it.

upstate guy said...

Again we see the sort of short sighted thinking that has brought this area to the brink of total economic collapse. Noah neither advocates union labor nor advocating that all jobs go union.
Why shouldn't the jobs go to those whose tax dollars support these projects? As anonymous stated these are all prevailing wage jobs anyway. There is no added cost in hiring local.

Those of you complaining about the initiative are probably the same people that speak against the use of foreign oil. That we need to become energy independent. Where is the difference? We are importing people to take away our good paying jobs. I bet if your job was being outsourced you would be screaming for the government to take action.

Another way to look at it is when people have jobs they are not on public assistance. How do lower taxes sound?

Also locals will buy houses here and support local business adding to peripheral economic stimulation.

It's time to take care of our own. Don't complain about the sad state of the economy if you are against simple initiatives to help it.

In conclusion before I am accused of being a union or Noah plant let me say I am the owner of a local construction company, non union, and I hire from Niagara County. I feel that taking care of our people is more important than adding a few dollars to my bottom line.

Anonymous said...

Anon, your right about the gov't telling you how to run your business. The rules and mandates from agencies at every level are sometimes overwhelming.

But in this instance, aren't we talking about your business providing a service to the government? Should anybody be able to bid on public jobs? Isn't bonding then an intrusion into your business practices? Isn't the government really just a customer in this case? If your don't want to work for them, don't. There you have it, that's YOUR PEROGATIVE. If a private customer wanted you to use a specific product or subcontractor, you may or may not agree to it but your under no obligation to work for them. You can run your business as you choose. But to say that government can't act as any customer seems to be a stretch.

Policy is not limited simply to getting a job done the cheapest. Maybe it should be but its not.

Government is not a business and despite the good sounding rhetoric of running it like one, it really doesn't work. Sure there are reforms and improvements that might streamline the system and reduce costs but a citizen's agenda and a shareholder's agenda don't necessarily match.

Sweaterman said...

Good take on this group. I have met a couple of their leaders and they are the rudest and arrogant people around. They should be ashamed that they consider themselves faith based.

They should do the world a favor and each one of them: Pull their lip over their head and swallow.