Capacity crowd of supporters and unemployed local workers watch Budget Committee advance historic jobs proposal to Dec. 7 vote
by Brightline Defense Project
San Francisco – In the end, concerns about the cost of Supervisor John Avalos’ landmark local hiring legislation proved unfounded. Blink during Tuesday’s presentation at the Board of Supervisors Budget Committee by the City’s chief economist and you would have missed a slide showing that with a cost of under $10 million, representating less than 1 percent of the total cost of city construction, the Avalos legislation will put nearly triple that amount into the hands of local workers, giving the city a much-needed $27 million shot in the arm and creating a new era of opportunity in San Francisco’s most economically-disadvantaged communities.
The Avalos local hiring legislation proposes to end decades of reliance on “good faith efforts” to employ local residents on local projects funded by local dollars and would make San Francisco only the second city in the country with a mandatory local hiring ordinance that penalizes non-compliance with what were previously just goals and soft targets. The legislation would start a path toward the City’s long standing 50 percent local hiring goal by requiring a lower initial starting percentage that will steadily increase over time, growing a pipeline of local workers by immediately requiring 50 percent of all construction apprentices to be San Francisco residents and giving contractors the ability to sponsor new community apprentices if no local workers are available in a particular trade.
A standing-room only crowd of supporters – including out-of-work union members, job advocates, contractors, labor leaders, families, young adults, social justice activists and other local residents – was on hand as nearly 100 speakers lodged their support for the measure. Bobby Alvarado, executive officer of the Northern California Carpenter Regional Council, and Ramon Hernandez, Laborers Local 261 business manager, represent thousands of trade union members and yesterday offered their conditional support for the legislation, provided that the legislation starts its path to 50 percent at 20 percent by trade next year. Avalos has currently proposed to start next year with a 25 percent local hiring requirement, with that number increasing by 5 percent per year until reaching 50 percent.
CityBuild Director Guillermo Rodriguez, whose office worked with Avalos on the legislation, as well as Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Fred Blackwell and SF Public Utilities Commission General Manager Ed Harrington all spoke in support of the Avalos legislation. Countless social justice and workforce development organizations were on hand in support for legislation that many of them helped craft, and even the venerable environmental stewardship of the Sierra Club was present in the form of a letter of support for the measure.
At the end of a three-hour hearing that underscored the historic nature of the legislation without a single voice of opposition to send the local hiring measure, Supervisors Avalos and Sean Elsbernd agreed to move the proposal to the full Board of Supervisors for a vote next Tuesday, Dec. 7.
Recent studies by Chinese for Affirmative Action and Brightline Defense Project, as well as L. Luster & Associates, have shown that local hiring in San Francisco is at an all-time low just as local unemployment hovers near an all-time high. It is expected that if Avalos accepts the proposal from the two unions with the largest San Francisco membership to begin next year at 20 percent rather than 25 percent, a move that would ensure a community-labor partnership and what certainly must be a unanimous vote at the Board of Supervisors next week, the local hiring requirement in the second year will remain fixed at 30 percent and not be revised downward.
The Avalos legislation is believed to be the most community-driven and crafted legislation of its kind, resulting from hundreds of hours of meetings with local workers and community advocates. Supervisor Avalos and his legislative aide, Raquel Redondiez, have assembled a standing drafting committee to craft and review policy that works for all local hiring stakeholders, including the community, labor, contractors and government, but that maintains its core mission of lifting up San Francisco’s most underserved.
“The shift from ‘good faith efforts’ to mandatory is decades in the making and represents the fulfillment of generations of promises deferred,” said Brightline Executive Director Joshua Arce, who worked with Chinese for Affirmative Action to publish the August 2010 report, “The Failure of Good Faith.”
Brightline Defense Project is a non-profit civil rights advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and empowering communities. Brightline’s efforts have led to the prevention of a new power plant in Southeast San Francisco and increased employment opportunities for economically disadvantaged residents, particularly in the green jobs sector. Learn more at www.brightlinedefense.org.