San Mateo, San Francisco Strike Deal on Local Hire
"Reciprocity Agreement" Reached Despite Hill's "Acrimonious" Bill
by Chris Roberts, SF Appeal
Turns out that San Francisco's local hire laws - billed as the toughest in the nation, which mandate city residents be hired on construction projects receiving city funds, and which triggered a reactionary anti-local hire law from a San Mateo Assemblyman -- aren't just for San Franciscans.
The local hire laws also apply to residents of San Mateo County, where San Francisco International Airport and bits of the Hetch-Hetchy Aqueduct are located, according to Supervisor John Avalos, who authored the legislation.
That local hire guarantees jobs for San Mateo County residents as well as San Franciscans is old news for Avalos -- but it was a harder sell to Peninsula politicians, who needed a signed-and-delivered "reciprocity agreement" which codifies the arrangement.
This agreement, negotiated by the City Attorney and San Mateo County counsel, could be signed as early as today, according to sources familiar with the arrangement, and will be unveiled by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and San Mateo politicians in the next few days.
John Beiers, the San Mateo County counsel who negotiated the agreement with the city, said Thursday afternoon that "the partnership" would guarantee San Mateo County workers "the ability to work" on airport projects and at Hetch-Hetchy. "We hope to have a tentative deal done [Thursday]," he said. "We're putting the finishing touches on negotiations."
Local hire could soon have a strong impact on San Francisco International Airport -- most of the workforce there comes from the South or East Bay, Avalos said.
The reciprocity agreement means a burying of the hatchet between politicians in San Francisco and in San Mateo, whose Board of Supervisors sent former mayor Gavin Newsom an official letter begging him to veto the local hire law (he did not, though he also returned the law unsigned).
San Mateo Supervisors Carole Groom and Adrienne J. Tissier met with Avalos in the Bayview District to flesh out concerns and left happy, Avalos said. "San Mateo County residents are ratepayers for the Public Utilities Commission (which oversees Hetch-Hetchy), and in my mind that guarantees them access to jobs," he said. "I crafted the legislation to do that, and I assured [the San Mateo Supes] of that."
One politician left out of the reciprocity party -- though he's also reportedly angling for an invitation to the celebratory press conference -- is Assemblyman Jerry Hill. Hill authored legislation, which appears dead in the state Assembly, that would have overturned local hire laws like San Francisco's. The bill, AB 356, was scheduled to be called to the Assembly floor for a vote -- Friday is the deadline for bills to be moved to the state Senate or die -- but the influential State Building Trades Council, a labor organization, circulated a petition Thursday asking Assembly members to oppose AB 356.
Letters from Lee and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also slammed AB 356, which was supported by a non-union contractors' association, seen by many as labor's mortal enemy.
Hill could not be reached for comment. Aurelio Rojas, a spokesman for Hill, declined to comment, telling the Appeal only, "I only comment to legitimate media."
It's unclear what benefit the local hire kerfuffle will have for Hill, a former Republican who has formed a campaign committee to run for state Senate in 2014, at which time he will have to ask for votes from San Franciscans.
"Supervisor Avalos and Mayor Ed Lee have been working for months with San Mateo County on an agreement that will be a win-win for both of our counties," said Joshua Arce, an attorney and activist who worked to pass the local hire laws. "Jerry Hill and AB 356 have been nothing but annoying distractions."
Though if that Senate race in 2014 doesn't work out, Hill's got a place reserved for him at the airport or on Hetch-Hetchy. Guaranteed.
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