City College of San Francisco strives to stop abuse of local-hiring provision 

City College of San Francisco trustees want to crack down on contractors who for years have ignored a requisite to — in good faith — hire locally for construction projects.

Board President John Rizzo and trustee Steve Ngo are co-authoring a resolution that will allow the college to initiate a grievance process against contractors who are not abiding by the 2005 labor agreement that initially set a local-hiring goal of 35 percent. They plan to announce the plan on March 10.

The goal was raised to 40 percent by a resolution Rizzo authored two years ago. The goal has never been met.

“Two years ago, it was at 14 percent,” he said. “Now it’s about 35.”

City College is embarking on a building project for its Chinatown campus — comprised of a 14- and a four-story building — that will merge classes that are now taught on 10 different properties in the area. The classes are mostly based on the needs of English as a Second Language students, and the campus is something the community has pushed for 30 years.

The most recent resolution allowed for the hire of a monitor, Chinese for Affirmative Action, for the work on the Chinatown campus. The bulk of the labor will start after April and is scheduled to be completed in spring of next year. The group found that between April 2009 and December 2010, the number of local hires at the site had risen to about 22 percent during the 50,000 work hours that were monitored.

But since there are still about 235,000 work hours left to finish building the $140 million campus, Rizzo and Ngo want to stop the abuse of the college’s good faith that developers will voluntarily heed the local-hire agreement before about 45 more contracts are awarded.

“It’s especially important that we be mindful of how we can nourish our economy,” Ngo said. “What we’re trying to do is create an opportunity for our residents.”

The resolution mirrors The City’s controversial local-hire ordinance authored by Supervisor John Avalos that passed in December. The ordinance requires city contractors to employ at least 25 percent of their construction work force with city residents within this year, rising to 50 percent by 2016.

However, since City College’s agreement is not a mandate, the institution’s recourse is to file grievances if it suspects the agreement is not being honored.

Michael Theriault, a representative of the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council, supports the City College resolution.

“A number of [contractors] just haven’t been doing it,” he said, “even though it’s no skin off their nose.”

Goal not attained

Chinese for Affirmative Action collected data between April 2009 and October 2010 showing that contractors have not hired locally as much as required, despite an agreement with City College of San Francisco that they would do so in good faith.  CAA is the same agency that released a report in August with the nonprofit Brightline Defense Project showing The City’s original good-faith local-hiring policy for all city construction failed.

A breakdown of work done at CCSF’s Chinatown Campus:

Trade work hours: 50,112

Local: 11,080

Construction work hours: 8,345

Local: 2,800

Construction workers: 105

Local: 20

Contractors who performed work on-site: 13

Contractors who hired locally: Six

Source: Chinese for Affirmative Action

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Kamala Kelkar

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