A movement is underway in San Francisco that would mandate the hiring of local residents for construction jobs, a notion that has long been city policy but which advocates said today falls short for minorities, women and the poorest in the city.
“It’s really about strong communities,” said Vincent Pan, executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, at a news conference in Chinatown this afternoon.
Pan’s organization and the Brightline Defense Project released a report today that concluded San Francisco’s “good faith effort” policy on local hiring has failed.
The report, which surveyed nearly 30 local public infrastructure projects, found that only 24 percent of the work hours in those projects are going to San Francisco residents.
Fewer than 4 percent of the hours went to women.
“It’s 2010. This is an unacceptable number,” Pan said.
Other disparities were found in the hours going to Asians, Pacific Islanders and African Americans, the report said.
Additionally, minority participation was “heavily skewed” toward the lowest-paying jobs, Brightline Executive Director Joshua Arce said.
Macio Lyons, a Bayview resident who has been working on increasing job opportunities in his district, said today that his community is struggling with both unemployment and high crime rates.
“These construction jobs can make all of the difference in the world for us,” Lyons said.
The groups say that with the city set to invest billions of dollars in public infrastructure projects in the next 10 years–including the Central Subway, the Transbay Terminal and upgrades to the Hetch Hetchy water system–now is the time to make local hiring compulsory.
They are recommending a minimum of 50 percent of workers hired for public infrastructure projects be San Francisco residents.
“We cannot wait to take this action,” Arce said. “The opportunities are right before us.”
Supervisor John Avalos said separately by phone this afternoon that he is hoping to introduce legislation in September requiring some level of local hiring.
“Fifty percent seems like a worthy goal, but I have to consider the market conditions that are out there that make that a challenge,” Avalos said.
Another consideration is the role of local unions in agreeing to allow local residents to join and dispatching them to jobs.
Avalos said any legislation would have to also “meet their needs, knowing that they have to make a stronger effort to hire locally.”