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California bill would stop government contractors from hiding job creation numbers

When the government — us, the public — signs a contract with a corporation, we should be able to tell whether they’ve held up their end of the deal.

Right? Who would argue against that?

Corporations would — and many have, arguing that how much they pay employees who work on a contract, among other information, is a “trade secret” and “proprietary information.”

A bill making its way through the California legislature would put an end to this absurd corporate swindle.

Senate Bill 749 makes sure that information in state or local contracts about job creation, job quality, and job retention, as well as Buy America laws compliance, is not exempted from the California Public Records Act.

We’ve already seen the difference that would make.

Back in 2017, it took a lawsuit by a public interest organization to force a multinational bus manufacturer into proving they had honored job commitments in a contract with the Los Angeles Metro.

The manufacturer had won a $500 million contract based in large part on its promise to create new, local, good paying jobs. In fact, that commitment pushed them to the top of the bidders list.

When asked to hand over the proof, they sued to block the government from releasing the job information, arguing that doing so would result in disclosure of “trade secret information.”

Luckily, the Los Angeles Superior Court eventually ruled that the information must be made public.

As you might have guessed, California isn’t the only state taking corporate America’s boot to the face.

A multinational water corporation successfully leaned on officials in Allentown, Pennsylvania, to delay the release of financial information pertaining to the city’s plans to sell off its public water system.

Private investors urged the state of Texas to block a journalist from seeing traffic projections for a privately built toll road project.

We, the public, shouldn’t have to sue to know things about jobs that we’re paying someone to create.

Simply put: California’s legislators would be siding against their own interests if they didn’t pass SB 749.

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