Appeals Court Strikes Down Residency Requirement Ban

The Downtown Cleveland Hilton Hotel

Ohio’s Building Trades members were the real winners when Ohio’s 8th District Court of Appeals upheld Cleveland’s Fannie Lewis Law, striking down House Bill 180, which banned residency requirements, as unconstitutional.

The victory means jobs for Ohio’s building trades members in their own cities, as the court ruled chartered municipalities such as Cleveland, can impose residency requirements for certain public projects.

CBCTC Executive Secretary Dave Wondolowski

“We feel the 8th District’s ruling was a victory for Clevelanders as well as the Building Trades,” said Cleveland Building and Construction Trade Council Executive Secretary Dave Wondolowski. “We’ve always been supportive of communities that want to see projects being built in their neighborhoods, being worked on by people who reside there.”

The ruling allows Cleveland to continue enforcing the Fannie Lewis Law, which means local jobs for Cleveland’s skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen. The law has played a key role in many construction projects; putting Clevelander’s to work on numerous schools projects, the Downtown Hilton Hotel and The Q Transformation Project. It requires contractors who, successfully bid on certain public construction projects within the city, guarantee 20 percent of the hours worked must be performed by Cleveland residents, and 4 percent of that 20 percent must be allocated for low-income Cleveland residents.

In May 2016, the state legislature passed H.B. 180, which would have banned cities from enforcing local hiring requirements on certain publicly-funded construction projects. Cleveland challenged the law in court and won a temporary restraining order on Aug. 30. Since then, the bill worked its way through the court system, up to the 8th District Court of Appeals.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson.

“For 12 years, the City of Cleveland has used the Cleveland Resident Employment Law (Fannie Lewis Law) as an effective tool to both stimulate the local economy and connect Clevelanders to employment. The decision by the trial court was right and I am pleased it is reaffirmed in today’s ruling,” said Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson in a prepared statement.

In the decision, Judge Sean C. Gallagher, Jr. wrote, “H.B. 180 was not advanced by a labor or worker group.  It was advanced by a contractor association, not for the benefit of workers, but to benefit their interests.  The contractors’ interest is in streamlining contract interactions with municipalities by limiting the ability of municipal governments to place terms or requirements on public contracts that are awarded within those municipal jurisdictions.”

“The ruling means that we will continue the good work of recruiting Clevelanders, knowing that the demand for local workers on these projects will continue,” said Wondolowski.

According to the Plain Dealer, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s did not know whether the office would appeal the ruling to the Ohio Supreme Court.

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