District 10 Supervisor candidate Shamann Walton talks with people at the traditional Election Day lunch at John's Grill on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Walton wants tech, healthcare to hire more SF residents

One of San Francisco’s newest supervisors said Tuesday he plans to introduce legislation to expand local hiring requirements to businesses in technology, healthcare and other sectors.

The City has required since March 2011 that builders of public construction projects hire a certain percentage of their workers from San Francisco. The program, commonly referred to simply as local hire, is largely celebrated for connecting those most in need to well-paying jobs.

Now Supervisor Shamann Walton has asked the City Attorney to draft legislation that would extend that requirement to other job sectors, like technology and healthcare.

Walton told the San Francisco Examiner in a text message that he is still working out the details. There are legal challenges to telling private businesses who they must hire, but Walton said the requirements could come through contracts that tech companies and hospitals need to have with city government. He will also explore whether just having a city business license would be sufficient for the city to require local hire.

“We will work on the answers with labor, residents and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development,” he said.

He added that City Hall should have local hiring requirements as well.

“Our Local Hiring Policy has been successful for many residents and we are excited to expand this policy to additional industries such as cannabis, technology and healthcare—industries currently experiencing rapid growth—as well as City government,” Walton said in a statement. “African American, Latino, LGBTQ, and disabled unemployment rates are among the highest in our City and we can address this through innovative programs such as Local Mandatory Hiring developed jointly between labor and community.”

San Francisco’s unemployment rate is about 2.3 percent, but that number can be misleading since it doesn’t include those who are not actively looking for work or reflect those who are underemployed.

The City’s Economic Trends and the Housing Pipeline report, which comes before the Planning Commission Thursday, found that “the number of White, Asian and Hispanic San Francisco residents who are employed have all grown since 2010, while the number of Black residents who are employed actually fell, despite record job growth in the city.”

Walton’s proposal has been suggested in the past, but it has never gained political traction.

SEE RELATED: San Francisco’s local hire ordinance could be expanded

SEE RELATED: Job training program, hiring mandate proposed for cannabis industry

Meanwhile, the board gave final approval Tuesday to legislation introduced by Supervisor Ahsha Safai that requires city-permitted cannabis operations to hire about a third of their workforce from a California union-based cannabis apprenticeship program that was recently approved.

That hiring mandate would only kick in once the Office of Economic and Workforce Development launches a pre-apprentice program and signs an agreement for entry of graduates into the state program. The City would call its program CityGrow and it would initially train people for cultivation, but it could expand in future years to cover other disciplines.

OEWD’s workforce director Joshua Arce said that the department “hopes to launch” the CityGrow program in the spring or summer.

“The proposed eight week training will focus on the skills necessary to succeed as a cannabis cultivation apprentice, including experience with the State’s track-and-trace requirements to maintain an inventory of all cannabis seeds, plants, and products,” Arce said. “We view this as an important way to implement the City’s cannabis workforce equity objectives.”

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