Unions Convince John Avalos to Soften Local Hiring Goal

Categories: Politics
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What do you mean you don't like workers from Danville?
Supervisor John Avalos says he plans to soften his proposal to require firms doing construction work for San Francisco government to hire 50 percent local workers. This comes after labor leaders complained that the measure would harm, rather than help, most of their members.

"We proposed a level of 30 percent, that would then scale up to 50 percent in three years," said Avalos, in reference to proposed legislation aimed at inducing contractors to hire workers from poorer San Francisco neighborhoods. "I don't expect we're going to keep it at that. It's going to be something in-between. The phase-in time will be something longer. And the floor won't be 30 percent. It will be somewhat lower."

Under Avalos' pending legislation, building contractors doing work for the city would be fined if their workforce didn't include enough San Francisco residents.

City contracting rules already encourage builders to hire at least 50 percent local workers. The existing policy is widely perceived as a backdoor form of affirmative action, implemented based on the assumption that local hires would consist disproportionately of people belonging to minority ethnic groups.

According to an August report, contractors have fallen well short of the 50 percent goal.

The principle underlying local hiring laws is the maximization of job opportunities for San Francisco residents, especially for those from economically and otherwise disadvantaged communities.
The report, produced by the Brightline Defense Project, a nonprofit dedicated to "opportunity in traditionally underserved communities through public policy advocacy," recommended a local hiring law with teeth.
The "good faith efforts" approach has clearly failed to achieve the City's local hiring goals, and targeted hiring mandates are a legal andpowerful tool for San Francisco to utilize going forward.

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Joe Eskenazi
Supervisor John Avalos
Now that Avalos has produced just such a proposal, he's hearing complaints from both contractors and the union tradespeople and laborers who work for them. Labor union locals representing construction workers draw their members from all over the Bay Area, with only a fraction coming from San Francisco. They haven't been thrilled with Avalos' bill.

"It's very difficult to manage the political concerns, and that's what I"m trying to do right now," Avalos said, adding that he's working on reshaping his bill so that "labor is not going to think this is going to get rammed down their throats."

Avalos says out of work constituents love the locals-only idea.

"Union members in my district say it's a great idea," Avalos said.

So much for solidarity forever.

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