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Pierce County Council approves E-Verify requirement

Post by David Wickert on Oct. 7, 2009 at 9:37 am |
October 7, 2009 9:40 am

Pierce County will require private companies that get county contracts to verify their employees can legally work in the United States.

On Tuesday the County Council approved the new requirement by a vote of 6-0. County Executive Pat McCarthy, who vetoed a similar measure last month, has indicated she will sign the new ordinance.

The new law will require contractors to enroll in and use the federal E-Verify program. The program allows businesses to check several federal databases to ensure their employees can legally work in this country.

Under the new law, the county also will verify the employment status of its own workers.

“The United States accepts more people from other nations than all other countries combined,” said, Councilman Dick Muri, R-Steilacoom, the chief sponsor of the ordinance. “E-Verify gives us a way to ensure that U.S. jobs go to those who have earned the right to work here.”

McCarthy supports the E-Verify proposal. But she vetoed a previous ordinance because she said it was too broad and could result in fewer businesses competing for county contracts. She also feared it would have a disproportionate impact on small businesses, nonprofits and companies owned by minorities and women.

She argued the E-Verify requirement should apply only to county contracts worth at least $250,000. The measure the council approved Tuesday includes a $100,000 threshold for road and other public works projects and a $25,000 threshold for other contracts.

“The federal government implemented this (E-Verify) requirement on contracts valued at $100,000 or more just last month, despite concerns by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” McCarthy said. “It’s my hope that these systems will get off to a smooth start and accomplish the goal of continuing to protect American jobs.”

You can read the full press releases issued by the council and executive below.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 6, 2009

As the current recession forces job reductions and boosts demand for existing jobs, Pierce County will now have a tool to ensure that those who work for the county are lawfully able to do so.

The County Council today, Oct. 6, unanimously authorized the county to participate in E-Verify, a federal Internet database that instantly confirms whether or not job applicants have documents establishing their eligibility to work in the United States. Applicants for county jobs will be screened using E-Verify, and most businesses seeking to do contract work for the county will be required to use the system for their own employees.

“The United States accepts more people from other nations than all other countries combined,” said Councilmember Dick Muri, the ordinance’s prime sponsor. “E-Verify gives us a way to ensure that U.S. jobs go to those who have earned the right to work here.”

As part of the ordinance (2009-74s), businesses would need to confirm they are enrolled in E-Verify if they are seeking road or other county public works contracts worth more than $100,000. Those applying for any other contract worth more than $25,000 must do the same.

E-Verify works by allowing employers to electronically compare employees’ information taken from the federal Form I-9 – the paper-based employment form used for all new hires – against more than 449 million records in the Social Security Administration database and 80 million records in the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration database.

The system has proven effective at screening out workers with questionable status. Of all new hires screened by E-Verify, 2.8 percent are eventually found to have documents that can’t be confirmed by the system.

The city of Lakewood uses E-Verify for all of their contracts, and 11 other U.S. states use some form of E-Verify requirement for their state and local contracts. The federal government also uses the system to check the status of its own new hires and requires its contractors to participate.

“It’s time to make a stand to protect U.S. jobs for those who are legally allowed to have them,” Councilmember Shawn Bunney said. “This was a hard path to go down, but it’s the right path.”

CONTACT: Brad Chatfield, Council Communications Manager, 253-798-6626

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 6, 2009

Executive ready to implement E-Verify

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy said her administration is preparing to use the federal E-Verify program to confirm employment eligibility among county workers and contractors.

The Executive, who vetoed the County Council’s original E-Verify ordinance that was approved in August, said she appreciated the Council’s cooperation in addressing her concerns by passing a new version Tuesday. She issued the following statement after the 6-0 vote:

“I’ve said all along that I have no problem with implementing the E-Verify program. In fact, our Human Resources Department is ready to apply it to county hires from now on, even before the ordinance goes into effect.

“However, the original ordinance was too broad. One of my biggest concerns was that it would result in fewer businesses competing in our bidding process, which could result in higher costs for the County as well as have a disproportionate impact on mom-and-pop operations, nonprofits and companies owned by minorities and women.

“My administration convened a work group that quickly studied the issues and worked with the Council to write a more efficient ordinance that still captures most County contracts.

“The federal government implemented this requirement on contracts valued at $100,000 or more just last month, despite concerns by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It’s my hope that these systems will get off to a smooth start and accomplish the goal of continuing to protect American jobs.”

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