Even before the recession hit Rhode Island, our communities faced staggering unemployment figures. DARE organizes for access to good living wages jobs by organizing to ensure that when our public money goes to support a business or a development, that business gives back to our community by hiring unemployed Providence residents. Several years ago DARE members found the First Source Hiring Ordinance on the books- it was passed by Providence City Council in 1985 but had never been implemented.
The First Source Hiring Ordinance says that when the City supports a development or business through tax break, grant or loan, the business or organization is required to use a City maintained list of unemployed residents as the "First Source" when they are making any new non-managerial hires. Working with RI Jobs with Justice, DARE organized neighborhood by neighborhood, talking to people who were out of work and who would like to be part of the program.
We worked with City Council to update the Ordinance, include a non-discrimination clause for people with records, and to update goals for hiring women, people of color and people with disabilities. We tried to work with the Mayor's office to put the law in action. Finally, we sued the Mayor and Department of Planning in Rhode Island Superior Court for not complying with the First Source Law. We won in court (you can read the First Source decision here) and the City allocated funding and reporting requirements for the program.
Today we are organizing to hold companies and the City accountable to the law. Every company with a tax break, grant or loan from the City of Providence is required to use the First Source list, but we know that it's up to us, community members, to ensure that our community wins access to new jobs. We are also organizing to make sure that unemployed people in our community know about the program and get on the First Source list.