One year into a landmark Local Hiring policy for construction sites, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor John Avalos say that their endeavor has been hugely successful. A year-end report shows that the city exceeded its local hiring goal of 20 percent, hitting 34 percent while increasing gender and ethnicity diversity on public works projects:
The San Francisco Chronicle points out that prior to the December 2010 adoption of the local hiring legislation crafted by Supervisor Avalos and a coalition of community and labor advocates, the City included, on average, only 20 percent local residents on taxpayer-funded construction. Local hiring reform advocates pointed to a failed decades-old law that required that contractors make no more than a “good faith effort” to hire locally. The City’s new local hiring policy was quickly embraced last year by former civil rights attorney Mayor Lee, who made successful implementation of the law a priority of his administration.
During a recent groundbreaking, Lee touted the program’s success with many whom it aimed to benefit in attendance:
The current class of CityBuild hopefuls, eager to join other community apprentices who have recently joined unions such as the Operating Engineers and Sprinkler Fitters to pursue their construction career as a local hire, were on hand to show the City the faces of local hire.
“In the first anniversary of our historic Local Hire law, we are proving that we can rebuild our City’s infrastructure and ensure our public investments are creating local jobs for San Franciscans,” said Mayor Lee. “As our economy recovers, we must continue implementing the next steps of our Local Hire law to ensure that City investments in rebuilding our roads, parks and sewers keep putting City residents back to work.”
While many mayors are trying to find jobs for their city’s residents, few have been as ambitious as Lee. Bringing together the community to make real change in the construction trades, Lee’s project takes the kind of stand for diversity and proper training that one might expect from a San Franciscan:
“We needed a New Deal in San Francisco to get more community members onto local construction jobs, something that failed us under ‘good faith efforts.’ It is a testament to the collaboration of community members, labor leaders, contractors and government that we came together to create and pass the local hiring law in December 2010,” said Supervisor Avalos, particularly thanking labor officials who were on hand from the Laborers, Carpenters, Operating Engineers and Cement Masons unions.
By joining unions, these newly trained workers are prepared for careers in a skilled trade. As the program progresses and more and more people are hired, it is likely to have an impact on the city’s cycle of poverty:
Community advocacy nonprofit Brightline Defense recently published “Putting Local Hire to Work,” a report on the long path to local hiring reform in San Francisco. Brightline, on hand to celebrate yesterday’s news alongside Chinese for Affirmative Action, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, Mission Hiring Hall, Young Community Developers and Sustainable Futures, noted that costs on all covered projects are, on average, nearly 7 percent below city engineer’s estimates.
“It’s still early, but these are clear signs that we can use the City’s local hiring policy to get more local workers onto public projects and break cycles of poverty in our most disadvantaged communities while continuing to save taxpayer money on construction,” said Brightline executive director Joshua Arce. “Our local hiring law is a new model for how community groups and organized labor can work together to rebuild cities.”