Local hiring on city-funded projects falls short

Just 20 percent of the 4.3 million work hours for city-funded construction projects were done by people living in San Francisco, a city-commissioned study found. That fell short of the 50 percent goal and prompted a proposal to mandate more resident hiring.

The City’s economy has struggled to rebound as the unemployment rate hovers at nearly 10 percent. Taxpayer-funded projects are expected to create nearly 9,400 green and blue-collar jobs next year, and Supervisor John Avalos said it is time to require that San Francisco residents are hired for the work.

He plans to introduce legislation today that would make local hiring required by law. The mandate would “start somewhere slightly above what we’re currently doing” and ultimately require 50 percent, Avalos said.

“San Franciscans are making these public investments. It makes sense that San Franciscans gain the biggest benefit for it,” he said.

Mayor Gavin Newsom said he supports local-hiring requirements, but they do raise some concerns, said Tony Winnicker, the mayor’s spokesman.

“New requirements that sound good on paper, but that are legally toothless or that pit the community against building trade unions and contractors, won’t create a single new local job,” Winnicker said.

Michael Theriault, a representative of the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council, said a draft of the legislation fails to address the many challenges that hinder local-hiring efforts, including the fact that youths are trained in The City but move away to live where it is more affordable. He said schools lack shop programs that were once training ground for skilled trades work.

The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency has had little success meeting a 50 percent local-hiring goal. Since 1999, the agency has never hit that mark, and there were only three years when it achieved more than 25 percent, according to a report to be presented to the agency’s commission today.

The issue of local hiring also is heating up in neighborhoods. During the past two years, “a number of community local hire disputes resulting in community protests, work stoppages and near violence [occurred] largely as a result of community outrage in response to perceived and real unmet local hiring goals on several construction projects,” the report said.

The legislation will not undergo a public hearing by the board for at least 30 days, when negotiations are expected to continue.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

 

Gainfully employed

 

Local hiring for city-funded projects:

4,310,148: Work hours of city construction projects from July 2009-10

3.4 million: Work hours by nonresidents who are apprentices/journey people

884,000: Work hours by city residents who are apprentices/journey people

20: Percentage city achieved in local hiring

50: Percentage goal for local hiring

59,654: Projected fiscal year 2011-20 jobs in building trades

Sources: Labor market analysis, S.F. construction industry, L. Luster & Associates

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