Ralliers at Wilson Building defend D.C. hiring law

District of Columbia leaders and advocates rallied Thursday in defense of a requirement that local residents be hired for at least 51 percent of the new hires once work has begun on the project.

"Let the people work," was the rallying cry.

Mayor Vincent Gray and the D.C. Council strengthened the law last year, prompting a lawsuit from numerous builders and contractors arguing that the statute is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit says the District hasn't created any jobs with the local hiring requirements and should focus its attention instead on training and educating its work force. It also calls the law discriminatory.

Councilmember Michael Brown and other supporters of the law call it a "rally for jobs and justice" at the John A. Wilson Building, the district's city hall.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.