SF Community Jobs Campaign
Date: Nov 01, 2010
Campaign for: Local Hiring

VICTORY! San Francisco's Local Hiring Policy for Construction
Became law on December 25, 2010! Download it here


Brightline's work on local hiring reform in San Francisco began with our April 2009 effort in collaboration with the Southeast Jobs Coalition to secure a community hiring agreement on San Francisco's 5-megawatt Sunset Reservoir solar project. Like most cities, San Francisco had long-relied on the "good faith efforts" of contractors to deliver on the city's local hiring goals. Our ultimately successful campaign to secure a commitment of no less than 30% of green jobs to be created by the project for residents of the city's eight most disadvantaged zip codes was complicated by the city's soft "good faith" language.

That summer, a resolution by SF City College Trustee John Rizzo to mandate local hiring on construction work performed under a voter-approved bond led to Brightline becoming more involved in advocating a shift away from "good faith efforts" to a mandatory local hiring approach. As our community mentor Espanola Jackson testified in multiple hearings, "good faith efforts didn't work in the 1960's and it sure doesn't work now."

On June 29,2009 we sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors requesting that mandatory local hiring language be added to a street paving bond measure proposed for the November ballot. We received immediate pushback from a deputy City Attorney who argued against any type of local hiring law, whether "good faith" or mandatory, based on very old legal authorities.

Letter to City Attorney Herrera

Brightline summarized its legal analysis of the viability of a new "mandatory" local hiring law in San Francisco in a July 8, 2009 letter to City Attorney Dennis Herrera. The analysis drew very heavily on the 2007 case Cleveland v. Ohio from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that Cleveland's Fannie M. Lewis Cleveland Resident Employment Law survived scrutiny under the constitutional Privileges and Immunities Clause. It would be many months before we would receive a response from the City Attorney but in February 2010 we got word that City Attorney Herrera was on board with our analysis.

The City and County of San Francisco's push for local hiring reform began with a December 8, 2009 hearing called by San Francisco Public Utilities Commissioner Juliet Ellis that highlighted the agency's dismal performance on creating jobs for local residents on billion-dollar projects such as the Hetch Hetchy Water System Improvement Project, making Commissioner Ellis' case for a new approach to SFPUC local hiring.

Supervisor John Avalos Steps Up

Early 2010 found Supervisor John Avalos laying down a gauntlet in proposing mandatory local hiring as a vehicle to increase job opportunities for San Franciscans. On January 26, 2010 Avalos announced his intent to craft new, mandatory local hiring legislation.

Consequently, Brightline and the Southeast Jobs Coalition and advocates from Chinatown, North Beach, and other neighborhoods to develop a citywide coalition of support for a new local hiring policy. Over the summer, the Haas Sr. Fund and San Francisco Foundation convened a discussion among local hiring stakeholders representing community, building trade, contractor, and government viewpoints. Brightline Executive Director Joshua Arce joined Chinese for Affirmative Action's Vincent Pan, PODER's Antonio Diaz, Sustainable Futures' Utuma Belfrey, and REDF's Jason Trimiew (right)with 13 other representatives of building trades, contractor, and government stakeholders over the course of nearly 25 hours of mediated discussions at San Francisco Planning and Urban Research.

"The Failure of Good Faith"

The August 2010 Chinese for Affirmative Action-Brightline report "The Failure of Good Faith" earned widespread attention and helped ignite the call for local hiring reform that has been smoldering for decades. Brightline subcontracted Community Benefits Law center to provide technical assistance and drafting support for what would become an intensive months-long process to move the consensus-building that began in the local hiring stakeholder convening to a city-wide context, with community leadership emerging in each of San Francisco's neighborhoods.

(Sup. Sophie Maxwell speaks at the October 19, 2010 City Hall rally at which Sup. Avalos introduced his local hiring legislation)

By the end of the journey that led to San Francisco's adoption of a new approach to local hiring, all of the following groups had stepped up to help create a truly historic achievement: Chinese for Affirmative Action, Chinese Progressive Association, PODER, the Southeast Jobs Coalition, Young Community Developers, A. Philip Randolph Institute, Anders & Anders, Arc Ecology, Positive Directions, Visitacion Valley Community Development, Inner City Youth, Brightline, Sustainable Futures, ABU, the Osiris Coalition, Southeast Community Development, POWER, Coleman Advocates, the Progressive Workers Alliance, Community Benefits Law Center, Mission Hiring Hall, Filipino Community Center, Jobs with Justice, Pride at Work, REDF, Asian Neighborhood Design, Charity Cultural Services Center, and many others.

Even state and national civil rights and social justice organiations such as the Equal Justice Society, Greenlining Institute, Public Advocates, and Global Exchange stepped up to help in this achievement. We gained partners in labor in the form of Laborers Local 261 and Carpenters Local 22, as well as large public works contractors such as Webcor Builders and Nibbi Brothers and committed community contractors such as Rubecon and Kwan Wo Iron Works.

"San Francisco's Local Hiring Policy for Construction"

Brightline worked with Supervisor John Avalos and allies in CityBuild and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development to bring together a super-majority of policymakers, the city’s largest building trade unions, the Bay Area’s largest public works contractors, dozens of social justice organizations, and community groups in every corner of the city, to pass the landmark Avalos local hiring law on December 7, 2010, which went on the books by virtue of Mayor Newsom's declination to veto on Christmas morning 2010.

"San Francisco's Local Hiring Policy For Construction" went into effect on March 25, 2011. The law requires city contractors to hire local workers within every construction trade on public works projects, mandating 20% local residents in 2011 with that number increasing 5% annually until reaching 50% by 2017. It immediately requires half of all construction apprentices to be local, developing a pipeline of local blue and green collar workers to meet the gradually escalating requirement for seasoned journeylevel workers.

The measure requires half of all local opportunities to be allocated for residents of historically disadvantaged communities and those facing barriers to employment. The City Controller estimates the law will pump $270 million into the local economy annually over the next 10 years.


Brightline and CAA re-convened in the spring of 2011 to monitor and report out to community stakeholders the progress in implementing the new local hiring law. Adoption of this landmark policy is only the midpoint on the road to the real change that we have all envisioned for many years.

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Posted Thu, Sep 17, 2015 in Local Hiring
In the last few months, local hiring has rapidly gained traction as an anti-poverty tool utilized at the local, state, and now federal level. As cities across the country have rapidly moved to enact new local hiring policies to target disadvantaged communities with high unemployment, the federal government has now take...
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