WIN Leaders Organize for Local Hiring Plan in Pepco Undergrounding Legislation

“Raising DC utility bills should mean raising employment for DC residents.                  

Before DC puts residents on the hook for $1 Billion project, we demand a jobs plan from Pepco”

On Monday, December 16th, Council Committees marked up legislation that would enable Pepco, a private company, to place powerlines underground.  The project, worth nearly $1 billion, will be financed by the public – in the form of a surcharge on the Pepco electric bills of DC residents ($500 million), Department of Transportation capital funding ($62 million), and government securitized bonds ($375 million).  CM McDuffie, Chair of the Committee of Government Operations stated that he has requested a plan from Pepco making public how it intends to fulfill its commitment to hire 75% DC residents on this project.  CM McDuffie has requested that Pepco produce the plan before the Committee of the Whole considers the legislation on January 7th. WIN leaders are encouraged by this strong step as well as by efforts to strengthen the bill’s language around local hiring.  WIN looks forward to reviewing the Pepco plan and hope it is released by Thursday January 2rd so that the public has at least 48 business hours to comment on the plan.   Last week, WIN delegates met with Pepco representatives to outline DC residents’ interest in: –Fair wages on the project including holding their construction contractors and subcontractors accountable for paying at least the prevailing wage rates. –Hiring of DC residents for a fair share of the work.  Pepco is claiming the project will create 4,000 jobs but the track record of many past publicly financed projects has shown that without an accountability plan DC residents receive woefully few of the opportunities for jobs.  We want a plan that outlines projections of the number of jobs created, the types of skills needed, and when they plan to employ workers.  As well as how they intend to work with the community and DC government agencies to ensure that DC residents get a fair share of the work. “Our elected officials have $1 billion in bargaining power and we want them to use it to make sure Pepco provides jobs guarantees for DC residents.  We will stand with our elected officials who ensure that there is a strong hiring plan before any legislation forward.   Raising a utility bill should also mean raising employment for District citizens.”  Rev. Lionel Edmonds, Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church. “If Pepco gets its way, they will have guarantees that power bills will go up in all wards – including Ward 8 where I minister to a community with 25%+ unemployment rates.  We want Pepco to guarantee a fair share of ratepayer investments come back to DC in the form of wages and benefits.”  Rev. Kelly Wilkins Covenant Baptist UCC. “We met with Pepco officials.  It is clear they have a plan for how they will get the money to finance putting powerlines underground.  To date they have not presented any plan for how they will also put a fair share of wages and benefits in the pockets of DC residents.  Pepco claims the plan will improve reliability of the grid and create jobs.  We need a more detailed plan to guarantee the reliability of their promises.  We have seen companies make promises in the past, get their money, and leave DC workers without a fair share of the opportunities.  This time we as taxpayers, ratepayers, and voters demand some guarantees from Pepco before our elected official vote put DC residents on the hook for a $1 billion project.   DC leaders should demand Pepco put a more detailed hiring and wage plan in writing to protect the interests of DC residents before the financing legislation passes DC Council and before it is signed into law.”  Rabbi Jessica Kirschner Temple Sinai DC WIN leaders were encouraged by CM McDuffie’s demand for a local hiring plan and by CM Bowser’s strong remarks in favor holding Pepco accountable for its jobs promises.

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