Companies seeking city business and their minority and women sub-contractors would be required to have a comprehensive sexual harassment policy, under yet another change made Thursday in response to a tidal wave of sexual harassment allegations against men in acting, the media, the restaurant industry and politics.
It was the fourth time in five months that the #MeToo movement had stopped at City Hall to inoculate aldermen from a sexual harassment scandal that has hit Springfield, but has yet to touch the City Council.
Aldermen have made sexual harassment training mandatory for all city employees, including aldermen and citywide elected officials. They have added themselves and other elected officials to rules barring sexual harassment of other city officials or employees and broadened the protective umbrella to cover lobbyists, constituents, businesses and developers.
On Thursday, the City Council’s Committee on Workforce Development went further.
At the behest of Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th), aldermen moved to require all companies seeking city business “on or after June 30” to have a comprehensive sexual harassment policy in place and provide “legal recourse” for sexual harassment victims.
Failure to have such a policy in place would trigger a “default” after a 30-day “opportunity to cure” the violation. If a contract has already been awarded, it would be re-bid.
“The #Time’sUp and the #MeToo movements are shining a light on the urgent need to put systems in place to prevent harassment and hold harassers accountable,” Maldonado told his colleagues.
“This…ordinance sends a strong message that sexual misconduct will not be tolerated in city government and ensures that city contractors are providing a mechanism to register sexual harassment complaints and empowering an investigative body to make a determination and impose penalties. City Council has acted to strengthen our city sexual harassment policy….Now, we must hold city contractors who work closely with city government and receive taxpayers’ money to the same standards.”
Chief Procurement Officer Jamie Rhee said she plans to spend the next year working with the Hispanic-American Construction Industry Association (HACIA) and 30 other “assist agencies” to implement a similar policy for sub-contractors.
The one-year timetable was not enough to satisfy Workforce Development Committee Chairman Pat O’Connor (40th). Not when black and Hispanic aldermen are demanding a fair share of the bonanza of jobs and contracts tied to an $8.5 billion O’Hare Airport expansion project.
“Oftentimes, the criticism we get as a city is that we throw barriers up for meaningful participation for minority businesses, for women-owned businesses, for veteran businesses. How do we assure that this type of an ordinance is not going to create another barrier?” O’Connor said.
Rhee countered, “We have a year to implement that plan and get the word out to all contractors…We will work with them to define an appropriate action so that we don’t have unintended consequences that would create barriers for minority- and women-owned businesses and other sub-contractors working on our program.”