2/12/2011--Amid fight over local-hire, Peninsula supervisor wants discussion
By Shaun Bishop
Several dozen construction workers and local elected leaders flanked Assemblyman Jerry
Hill, D-San Mateo, Friday as he introduced a new bill that would scale back the local
hiring legislation, requiring contractors to hire city residents to work on public projects.
Hill’s bill would block any city statewide from enforcing a local hiring ordinance on
projects that get state funding or that are outside the jurisdiction’s boundaries.
Hill and other officials said the local-hire law would limit opportunities for Peninsula
construction workers to work on San Francisco projects such as the San Francisco
International Airport or Hetch Hetchy water system improvements.
“We all want to reduce unemployment and get people back to work, but we can’t just
focus on our own county and forget about our neighbors in this regional economy,” Hill
said at a news conference at Bayfront Park in Burlingame, overlooking SFO.
Carole Groom, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, said she wants
“have a conversation” with her San Francisco counterparts about potentially amending
the ordinance, though she didn’t say how.
Groom said she recently talked to San Francisco board President David Chiu about the
issue and hopes to meet with ordinance author San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos.
Avalos could not be reached for comment.
“They’re protecting their workers. Well, we want to protect ours too,” said Groom,
adding the Peninsula construction industry has a 25 percent unemployment rate.
Supporters of the local-hire law came to the news conference to support the ordinance
and protest Hill’s legislation, saying it would be a “job killer.”
“We’re not excluding anyone from working, we just want to be included in the process,”
said Ashley Rhodes, a representative for Aboriginal Blackmen United and a painter who
lives in Bayview-Hunters Point.
The local-hiring law requires San Francisco residents to be employed for 20 percent of a
project’s hours, a mandate that climbs to 50 percent by 2016.
Supporters argue that the ordinance has exemptions for projects outside San Francisco so
workers in the project area would be included, but Hill said he believes those exemptions
would end if the labor agreements for a local-hire project are changed.
The law also applies only to city-funded work, not federal or state money, but Hill said
that the local hiring ordinance is projected to add to the cost of construction projects,
representing an extra cost to state taxpayers.