Work resumes at Sunset Reservoir solar project 

Construction of a solar power plant resumed Thursday morning at the Sunset Reservoir.

The city-backed project was halted Wednesday and most of Tuesday after general laborers protested a city ruling that threatened to kick them off the job site in favor of better-trained electricians.

Crisis talks at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s headquarters on Wednesday helped project contractors identify tasks that laborers could perform under the controversial ruling.

Tasks performed by the laborers on Thursday morning included cleaning work areas, according to laborer Janice Smith.

The laborers expected to start cleaning solar panels after their lunch break, Smith said.

On Thursday morning, 12 general laborers were working at the site, according to David De La Torre, Secretary-Treasurer of Laborers International Union of North America Local 261.

That was up from nine who worked at the site on Friday.

The planned employment of general laborers on the site was critical to the project’s approval by lawmakers because those workers are trained by The City and drawn from the Bayview and other neighbors that are afflicted with extremely high unemployment rates.

Another four laborers are planned to be hired within the coming week and The City ordered contractors to eventually hit the project’s laborer hiring goals, according to De La Torre.

A goal of employing 21 laborers on the site was supposed to have been reached during the project’s peak work period, which has already passed, according to De La Torre.

After the peak period, the project was supposed to employ 20 laborers, he said.

Electrical subcontractor Bass Electric expects to be forced by Friday’s ruling to back-pay laborers at electricians’ high wages for much of the work they had already performed, according to company owner Jeffrey Yee.

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John Upton

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