San Francisco to Rewrite Water System Jobs Agreement
SFPUC Preference for Non-Bay Area Workers Causes San Francisco Supervisors To Take Action
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Wednesday, May 6, 2010--It turns out that claims of San Francisco's participation on jobs created by the $4.6 billion Water System Improvement Project (WSIP) were wildly exaggerated. At a Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) quickly apologized to Supervisors John Avalos and Ross Mirkarimi for testifying last month that San Franciscans were performing one-third of the work on the water project when the actual number is just 11%. San Francisco ratepayers are paying for 43% of the total WSIP cost.
In fact, Supervisors also uncovered that well over half of the 28,000 jobs created by WSIP are going to non-Bay area workers, residents of cities whose ratepayers are not picking up the project's hefty tab. The lack of overall Bay Area participation in the effort seemed lost on the various labor representatives and regional non-profit organizations that the SFPUC brought in to testify on its behalf yesterday, as San Francisco workers and advocates testified to their desire for no more than a fair share of work paid for by San Francisco ratepayers. A $23 million WSIP project in the San Francisco's Excelsior district barely exceeded 10% local participation, and Sup. Mirkarimi even discovered that the SFPUC is out of compliance with a state law that requires the use of apprentices on public works projects as a way of cultivating blue-collar construction careers.
At the end of a nearly three hour-long hearing called by Sup. Avalos, San Francisco Supervisors ordered SFPUC Labor Relations Director Carol Isen to begin the process of re-negotiating the multi-party Project Labor Agreement that governs the WSIP in order to remove "good faith" hiring language that will guarantee greater San Francisco and San Francisco Bay Area participation on the water project going forward through 2015. Sup. Mirkarimi even suggested the creation of an independent Project Labor Agreement Oversight Committee and the use of the city's First Source Hiring Administration in order to increase San Francisco's WSIP participation, as even SFPUC staff freely admitted that they do not understand workforce development. A follow-up hearing at the SFPUC and trailing legislation are expected.
"We look forward to sitting down with regional community stakeholders as early as next week to draft a labor agreement amendment that will increase not only San Francisco's participation, but the entire Bay Area's opportunities on this important project," said Brightline Executive Director Joshua Arce. The SFPUC will spend $1 billion on WSIP this year alone.