Last year, when Sup. John Avalos introduced and eventually won passage of the city’s landmark local hiring ordinance, a number of battles broke out, as folks in neighboring municipalities began fretting that the new law could shut them out of construction jobs in San Francisco. Avalos worked hard to make sure their concerns were addressed, but he continued to encounter resistance from San Mateo County.
And in February Assemblymember Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) who is facing term limits and reapportionment, introduced a bill in Sacramento that was intended to limit the reach of the Avalos legislation, which aimed to put more San Francisco residents to work on city-funded construction projects.
Hill's legislation, AB 356, sought to prohibit the use of state money on local-hire projects and prevent Avalos' legislation from being applied to the city's projects in counties within 70 miles of San Francisco, including upgrades to the Hetch Hetchy water system on the Peninsula.
"San Francisco can use its own money any way it wants," Hill said at the time, "Taxpayers from San Mateo, Ventura, Solano and other California counties shouldn't have to pay for the increased construction costs that will result from San Francisco's local-hire ordinance.”
Plus, he said the city should be thinking regionally, not hyper-local.
But, as Avalos repeatedly pointed out, his local hire law doesn't apply to projects funded with state money, and it only mandates 20 percent local hire this year, gradually increasing to 50 percent local hire over the next seven years.
At the time, the Guardian predicted that Hill's bill would “probably go down the crapper because the San Francisco legislators, who have a fair amount of clout up in Sacramento these days, aren't going to support it. Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and state Sens. Mark Leno and Leland Yee have all signed a letter supporting the city's local hire law.”
And sure enough, after the mayors of San Francisco and Los Angeles, not to mention organizations from San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego, and the State Building Trades Council made their views known, Assemblymember Charles Calderon requested June 3 that Hill’s legislation by ordered to the inactive file.
Local supporters of Avalos’ legislation say Hill’s bill got pulled because there was no chance in hell that it would ever get out of the State Assembly.
But Hill’s office claims it was because San Francisco and San Mateo reached a deal last week, and that this outcome was Hill’s intention all along.
“What happened was that the Assemblymember Jerry Hill put together a bill and his intention was to get his constituents in San Mateo a memorandum of understanding with San Francisco—and that MOU was signed last Friday (June 3) by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and San Mateo County Board President Carole Groom," Hill's legislative aide Aurelio Rojos told the Guardian.
And according to a statement that Hill’s office released June 3, Hill welcomed the signing of a reciprocity agreement that “ends a dispute between the counties of San Mateo and San Francisco by creating a level playing field for San Mateo County residents working on construction projects in the county funded by San Francisco.”
Hill’s press release claims the MOU was “forged following weeks of negotiations that began in February after Hill introduced legislation that would have limited San Francisco’s recently enacted local hire ordinance to its geographic boundaries. The agreement allows contractors working on San Francisco public works projects located in San Mateo County to hire an equal number of workers from the two counties. As a result of the agreement, Hill has agreed not to move forward with his legislation, Assembly Bill 356.”
“San Mateo County construction workers will no longer be penalized by San Francisco’s local hire ordinance as a result of the agreement,” Hill said. “I applaud Mayor Lee and Supervisor Groom for creating a level playing field that will enable San Mateo residents to work on construction projects within their county.”
Hill claims that with San Francisco scheduled to award $27 billion in public contracts during the next decade, the city’s local hire provision would have impacted the ability of San Mateo County residents to work on construction projects in their county, including the San Francisco International Airport, the jail in San Bruno, Hetch Hetchy waterworks and other facilities on the Peninsula.”
Either way, today, Avalos, who has long maintained that Hill either didn’t understand his legislation or was refusing to understand the legislation, and Mayor Ed Lee are introducing a resolution, “approving a local hiring agreement between San Francisco and San Mateo County,” and reinforcing equal opportunity guaranteed under San Francisco’s Local Hire Policy and community-labor partnerships
Avalos, who is running for mayor, apparently led the negotiations alongside Lee to forge the agreement which allows contractors performing San Francisco public works projects in San Mateo County to equally draw workers from San Francisco and San Mateo to meet required staffing levels under the local hiring ordinance.
The agreement covers San Francisco-funded projects located in San Mateo County, including the San Francisco airport. Under the agreement, San Mateo workers are included by the local hiring requirement for projects in San Mateo County, and will be able to fill up to half of the local hiring requirement.
“This is a win-win for workers in San Francisco and San Mateo. Whatever we can do to support job creation in the Bay Area region during this very long recession is going to be very meaningful to the families that are struggling to stay in this area,” Avalos said.
“The achievement in securing this resolution is really a testament to the strength of communities united," said Brightline executive director Joshua Arce. “Sup. Avalos always intended that his legislation would expand, in terms of opportunities on city-funded projects, outside San Francisco. On San Francisco-funded work in San Mateo, San Francisco and San Mateo workers will be working side by side, taking advantage of the local and regional aspects of the legislation.”
Or as Avalos put it, “The local hiring ordinance is about making sure we create job opportunities in San Francisco when the city invests taxpayer dollars in construction projects. We included the flexibility to craft reciprocal agreements with other cities and counties, and that’s exactly what was accomplished in the deal that was reached between San Francisco and San Mateo.”