Earlier this month our team from Jobs to Move America (JMA) attended the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Annual Meeting in San Francisco. We were there to learn the latest in transit trends, from sustainability planning to high-speed rail. We were also an outspoken advocate on behalf of American labor and taxpayers amongst 1,500 attendees. Unfortunately, even with the presence of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), domestic labor was largely left out of the conversation, since most participants were public transit officials, manufacturing company representatives, and private sector consultants focused on stretching the dollar.
Despite this bottom-line focused crowd, we were encouraged by the plenary session’s appearance of DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx. He argued that with the right configuration, transportation can connect workers to sustainable jobs and living wages, and transportation as an industry can also generate employment opportunities for disadvantaged Americans seeking second chances.
Massachusetts’s Taxpayer Protection Act is the gold standard when it comes to ensuring government contracts are awarded fairly and will result in cost savings that don’t simply rely on slashing wages and benefits for workers. Also known as the Pacheco Law, the legislation was passed in 1993 after years of wanton government outsourcing led to drastic failures and outrageous corruption by contractors. The reckless privatization of critical services such as mental health care for Massachusetts’ most vulnerable citizens led to the creation of important standards and protections for public workers, service recipients and taxpayers.
Businesses that want to win a contract with the Commonwealth must prove they can lower costs to do the same service at the same level of quality, while providing their employees with the same wages and benefits as the public agency. A uniform process for evaluating and awarding contracts ensures conflicts of interest are rooted out while the state auditor oversees everything.