HAMMOND | Public works projects in the city now will have to employ a set percentage of Hammond residents under a new requirement passed by the Hammond City Council.
The local hiring ordinance requires at least 25 percent of the workforce on projects be city residents. The City Council expedited the passage of the ordinance Monday, suspending rules to do a final vote that night.
“It's our attempt to model a program in East Chicago,” Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said. “Our goal is to get more union residents working on jobs.”
The city will build the hiring requirement into project labor agreements that trades sign before working on jobs. The ordinance enables the city to issue a stop-work order if a contractor is not complying.
East Chicago requires at least 50 percent of work hours on a project be staffed by its residents, and has female and minority hiring requirements, according to municipal code.
East Chicago's hiring ordinance impacts projects valued at $100,000 or more. Hammond requires project labor agreements starting at $5,000.
Hammond City Councilmen Bob Markovich, D-at large, and Anthony Higgs, D-3rd, moved to increase the percentage in the proposed ordinance, but the City Council agreed to pass it at 25 percent with the possibility of reviewing the requirement later.
Hammond is the newest municipality to adopt a local hiring requirement, said Randy Palmateer, business manager of the Northwestern Indiana Building and Construction Trades Council.
Palmateer said he'd rather local hiring ordinances be seen as goals and not requirements.
“If it's something the city wants, I'm on board,” Palmateer said.
Hammond can waive the requirement if a contractor demonstrates compliance is impractical or would carry "excessive cost," according to the ordinance.
The ordinance also allows the city and contractor to agree to a lesser percentage if not enough qualified or skilled residents can be found. However, the percentage can't fall under 5 percent.