2011 YEAR IN REVIEW
As the year 2011 comes to a close, we find ourselves reflecting on Brightline's efforts this year to protect and empower vulnerable communities.
Just one year ago, we successfully concluded two campaigns that have been core Brightline efforts since our founding in 2006: closure of the Potrero Power Plant and local hiring reform. In the case of our community godmother, Bayview-Hunters Point's Espanola Jackson, and our allies in neighborhoods such as Chinatown and the Mission, the drive to craft a new local hiring policy to replace the old "good faith" law was decades in the making.
In 2011, Brightline and our allies would work with the law's sponsor, Supervisor John Avalos, and the office of Mayor Ed Lee to implement our new local hiring policy, as well as with our partners in labor to realize the potential opportunities of a deep and meaningful community-labor partnership. In addition, we would take steps toward expanding local hiring into non-construction jobs with the leadership of Supervisor Jane Kim. And we would at last see results on some longstanding clean energy goals.
The following are some of this year's highlights from our efforts to revitalize our communities and strengthen our local economy:
1) Mandatory local hiring becomes part of public works contracts in SF and beyond. The year kicked off with a celebration of the breadth of support for the new local hiring law. By the end of the year, the City had issued no less than a dozen construction contracts with the City's new local hiring requirements. On average, bids came in at or below cost, helping put to rest the myth that increasing blue- and green-collar job opportunities for local and qualified disadvantaged workers would lead to increased costs to the City. Sup. Avalos took steps to expand the scope of union jobs in construction to address the needs of both new and existing union members while creating jobs, and Mayor Lee has publicly stated his commitment to aggressively implement the law and make it work.
In addition, this year Brightline would begin fielding calls from across the country from advocates seeking to advance a local hiring policy of their own, one based on actual results and not simply "good faith efforts," some with the option of implementation through a project labor agreement to ensure timely completion of projects under budget. Locally, the University of California, San Francisco would take a bold step forward in the fall by creating a local hiring program for construction of their $1.7 billion Mission Bay Hospital, engaging a team made up of Brightline, Mission Hiring Hall, ABU, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, and the Laborers Local 261 Community Service and Training Foundation to implement their community development goals.
2) Local hiring brings labor and community groups together. While a handful of local hiring stakeholders stayed on the fence with respect to the new law, Brightline and our community partners have broken new ground with our allies in the Laborers, Carpenters, and Operating Engineers unions. When a proposed November street bond measure that would create 1,000 union jobs in those unions was falling behind in the polls, Brightline and the A. Philip Randolph Institute teamed up to distribute 10,000 doorhangers and help win the 2,000 additional votes required to pass the bond.
When questions lingered about the America's Cup's commitment to local hiring and union jobs in preparation for their 2013 sporting event, we worked with Sup. Avalos on a hearing to highlight the united concerns of both community groups and labor. And by year's end, Brightline would work to successfully negotiate a community workforce agreement with the San Francisco Building Trades Council and Laborers Union through our work with the Emerald Cities Collaborative, guaranteeing union jobs and community opportunities on an upcoming Mission Housing Development energy efficiency retrofit project. The agreement was unveiled at a November press conference attended by Supervisor David Campos, Emerald Cities national director Denise Fairchild, our community partners ¡PODER! and San Francisco Conservation Corps, our partners in labor, and San Francisco's CityBuild and Department of the Environment.
3) Community hiring coalitions expand. When Brightline's local hiring work began in early 2009 there were pockets of local hiring advocacy occuring in different neighborhoods, but the most concentrated efforts within the halls of government were led by Brightline and our partners in the Southeast Jobs Coalition. By 2011, a multi-sector and multi-community coalition had come together to pass local hiring reform and promote community job opportunities. This year, Brightline, Chinese for Affirmative Action, POWER, ¡PODER!, Osiris Coalition, Anders and Anders, Coleman Advocates, Asian Neighborhood Design, La Raza Centro Legal, Chinese Progressive Association, Filipino Community Center, and Young Workers United came together to create the San Francisco Local Hiring Community Education Committee, polling candidates for Mayor on their positions on local hiring and publishing the results at sflocalhiring.com.
Following Sup. Avalos' America's Cup hearing, our work to advance workforce equity through the Cup's jobs plan received a big boost from the support of America's Cup committee member and former Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, who in the fall convened a working group of advocates to strengthen plans to employ local community workers under sustainable working conditions in the build up to the 2013 boat races.
4) Technology companies take steps toward embracing local hiring. In March, Brightline sent a letter to social gaming company Zynga raising the question of potential local hiring within the context of a discussion of exempting technology stock options from the City's payroll tax. At a hearing at the Board of Supervisors attended by Brightline and many of our community partners, Supervisor Jane Kim would embrace the idea and set a table for a series of groundbreaking discussions between community advocates, Zynga and other tech companies, city agencies, and non-profit service providers.
We believe that under Sup. Kim's leadership, and with the lessons learned in construction local hiring and a shared understanding that investing in the potential of our diverse and underserved communities to succeed in the burgeoning technology sector is a win-win for local workers and the private sector, these discussions will lead to an innovative new local hiring pilot program in 2012.
5) SF makes advances in clean energy and efficiency. In early 2008, Brightline became supporters of the CleanPowerSF energy program as an alternative to a proposal to replace the aging Potrero Power Plant with new dirty power plants in southeast San Francisco. This year, the program would take dramatic steps forward toward approval, most importantly with a green light from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to develop a plan for hundreds of megawatts of local distributed generation and efficiency, creating thousands of jobs covered by prevailing wage and local hiring.
Brightline began advocating the incremental decrease in the City's electricity rate subsidy, arguing that as departments begin to pay the true cost of municipal electricity it will not only create additional funding for the City's successful GoSolarSF incentive program, but also incentivize job-producing energy efficiency investments by City agencies as a way to control costs. We hope in 2012 to work with Supervisor Eric Mar and ¡PODER! to advance the potential of the local Energy Efficiency Task Force that was established last year. In addition, this year we expanded our clean energy efforts by filing joint testimony with Green for All at the California Public Utilities Commission in support of increased jobs and better wages and benefits under the agency's ESAP low-income energy efficiency program.
Brightline once again thanks our supporters and allies for the ability to engage in this exciting work with people that we believe in and among community members that inspire us daily. As we close out 2011, we again invite you to make a contribution to our efforts through our online donation system and we look forward to great things in 2012!