Amtrak wins praise for 'American jobs' request in contracts

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Amtrak is winning praise for including a requirement that potential contractors provide details about their plans to create American jobs to fulfill orders from the railway in its latest request for proposals.

Amtrak made the request in a joint call for proposals with the California High-Speed Rail Authority to build 28 high-speed train cars that could potentially be used on Acela trains in the northeast U.S. and on a proposed bullet train in the Golden State.

The national Jobs to Move America campaign said on Tuesday that the inclusion of the provision in Amtrak's contracting requests could create as many as 28,000 new jobs.

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“Amtrak deserves a hearty congratulations for taking this unprecedented step to encourage lasting, high-quality American jobs manufacturing America’s high-speed trains,” Jobs to Move America Director Madeline Janis said in a statement. 

“Amtrak’s move demonstrates that maximizing our public transit investments today can create quality jobs and hopeful opportunities for unemployed Americans tomorrow," Janis continued. "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."

The Amtrak request for proposals calls for trains that can travel at least 160 miles per hour.

The jobs coalition said the result of the "American jobs" provision will be that "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," the group said in a statement.

Amtrak said at the time of its release of the request for proposals that the new train cars were necessary to meet "increasing demand" for high-speed rail service.

"With packed trains and increasing demand, the need to expand the capacity of Amtrak’s high-speed service cannot be overstated,” Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman said in a statement in January. “It is absolutely critical that we get more high-speed trains as soon as possible to provide more service and meet the growing mobility and economic needs of the Northeast region.”