San Francisco’s new local hiring ordinance was intended, supporters say, to get more local residents working on construction projects in the city. However, it also seems to be inspiring some out-of-town workers to fake their addresses — with their unions’ encouragement.
SF’s ordinance is the toughest in the nation, requiring that 20% of all contractors performing city public works or improvement projects to SF residents. It steadily increases by 5 percent each year after until reaching 50 percent in the seventh year of implementation.
Mayor Ed Lee and many others feel the number of local jobs generated is what makes the stringency worth it. Opponents worry about projects outside city limits that also belong to SF, such as SFO and parts of Hetch Hetchy because the same favoritism for SFians applies.
The bigger issue, however, is the impact it has on union members living outside city limits who still desperately need work. The Ex reports that although on paper it may seem like union members are moving to the city, they’re just forging their address for a job.
Before the law went into effect, those out of work the longest would get priority on jobs. Now that residency takes priority, workers are reportedly doing whatever they can to ensure a paycheck.
Local 38 business Manager Larry Mazzola Sr. told the Ex that “we made jokes around here that you could just put down 1621 Market Street [the address of the union hall] and you could just collect your mail here.”
Other trade union members seem to be following suit, using the addresses of friends and family to duck the rules.
For contracts in excess of $400,000, contractors are required to check addresses of workers. Residence can be verified with an ID card and a copy of mail sent to the residence.
Supervisor John Avalos, who backed the bill, had stern words for folks who might let address scamming slide, telling the Ex that “I would think that the union leaders would want to make sure that members were not changing their addresses in order to comply with the law…It’s not enough to just pretend you’re a San Franciscan.”