DC: Amtrak Encourages American Job Creation from High-Speed Rail Car Manufacturers

Feb. 3, 2014
The Jobs to Move America coalition on Feb. 3 congratulated Amtrak for its recent Request for Proposals (RFP) for the purchase of 28 high-speed train sets including an unprecedented requirement for bidders to detail their plans to employ American workers.

The Jobs to Move America coalition on Feb. 3 congratulated Amtrak for its recent Request for Proposals (RFP) for the purchase of 28 high-speed train sets  including an unprecedented requirement for bidders to detail their plans to employ American workers. 

The RFP asks bidding manufacturers to divulge comprehensive information about their plans to create American jobs, locate manufacturing facilities in the United States, and recruit and train disadvantaged workers such as veterans in connection with the contract. 

University of Massachusetts, Amherst economists estimate that Amtrak’s move could incentivize manufacturing companies to create nearly 28,000 American jobs.

“Amtrak deserves a hearty congratulations for taking this unprecedented step to encourage lasting, high-quality American jobs manufacturing America’s high-speed trains,” said Madeline Janis, director of the Jobs to Move America campaign.  “Amtrak’s move demonstrates that maximizing our public transit investments today can create quality jobs and hopeful opportunities for unemployed Americans tomorrow. It simply makes good business sense for public transit agencies to leverage our taxpayer dollars to revive America’s manufacturing sector and tackle persistent unemployment.”

On Jan. 24, Amtrak issued its RFP for the purchase of 28 high-speed “train sets” capable of carrying up to 450 passengers at speeds of at least 160 miles per hour, to replace Acela trains currently operating between Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C.  Amtrak’s RFP was issued jointly with the California High Speed Rail Authority, which requested proposals for 15 additional train sets with similar high-speed capability to operate between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

For the first time, manufacturing companies seeking the Amtrak contract will be required to divulge the number of Americans employed, the quality of jobs provided in terms of workers’ wages and benefits, company investment in workforce development, recruitment, and training, and relationships with workforce development and training organizations.   The RFP also asks bidders to disclose the location of their facilities in the United States, and to make best efforts to have at least 10 percent of the vehicles’ content made by small businesses.

Amtrak’s move could encourage the large, global corporations expected to bid to build the state-of-the-art train sets to strengthen their proposals by significantly increasing commitments to American job creation and investments in U.S. facilities.

“TTD joined the Jobs to Move America coalition because we believe that public transportation investments should maximize economic impact and job creation in America,” said Ed Wytkind, president of the transportation trades department of the AFL-CIO.  “Amtrak’s procurement has the right priorities: purchasing high quality and safe rail cars that are built right here in the U.S., creating good paying jobs for American workers, and providing employment opportunities for our veterans and those in underprivileged communities.  This is a critical next step in our effort to boost transportation investments and simultaneously expand the transportation manufacturing market here at home.”

On Feb. 3, Amtrak held a webinar for companies interested in its RFP.  Manufacturing companies have until May 17 to submit bids to Amtrak.  As part of this best-value procurement of the high-speed rail cars, Amtrak will then evaluate and score each bidder’s American jobs plans in deciding which company to award.  The company that wins the bid will then incorporate its American jobs plans into the contract with Amtrak.

In the coming weeks, the Jobs to Move America coalition — a national coalition uniting more than 30 community, civil rights, faith-based, philanthropic, labor, academic and environmental groups that aim to make our transit dollars go the distance — will be encouraging bidders to seriously invest in American jobs for disadvantaged Americans such as veterans, residents of low-income communities and people of color.

“We urge the companies bidding on the Amtrak high-speed rail project – some of the largest manufacturing companies in the world – to partner with nonprofit and government-funded workforce development organizations to present the strongest proposals,” Janis said.