Trade group challenges St. Petersburg, Fla., ordinance on construction contract mandates

Legality of requirement to hire apprentices, disadvantaged workers at issue.

December 02, 2019 |

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The Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors filed suit against the City of St. Petersburg, Fla., over an ordinance that requires contractors to hire apprentices and disadvantaged workers in order to work on big city projects.

The ABC chapter asserts that the worker mandates for construction contracts worth $1 million or more violate state law, discriminate against certain workers, and raise project costs. The city enacted the ordinance with the goal of addressing a shortage of craft labor skills by giving more people the skills they need for jobs.

One requirement calls for at least 15% of all hours of the work performed on major construction projects to be performed by apprentices employed by prime contractors or subcontractors. The ordinance counts residents of south St. Petersburg, veterans, people who haven’t finished high school, people with a criminal record, and people who have recently received unemployment compensation or other public assistance among disadvantaged workers.

ABC said its members who cannot meet the city’s requirements are at a competitive disadvantage when bidding on public works projects.

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