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Supervisor's Report

City labor, retail, and Trump: Answering your questions

For this month’s column, I will be answering some of your questions regarding my recently introduced project labor policy, helping small businesses, and responding to the first couple months of the Trump presidency.

Why did you propose your project labor agreement policy on city public works projects, and what impact do you anticipate it having on city costs?

I believe we need to give working people and families a fighting chance to stay in San Francisco. At the end of February, I introduced a historic, first-of-its-kind citywide workforce policy that will help guarantee highly skilled labor on vital public works projects important to the public.

My policy mandates for the first time a programmatic project labor agreement on public works projects over $1 million. My policy is intended to increase local employment among residents and veterans, decrease work disruptions and stoppages, and reduce overall public works projects costs and delivery. Project labor agreements, also known as community workforce agreements, are prehire collective bargaining agreements with one or more labor organizations that establish the terms and conditions of employment for a specific construction project. The agreements guarantee a constant flow of labor and stop work disruptions.

Every Democratic president since Reagan has encouraged project labor agreements on federal public works projects, because they have been shown to help increase local employment while also helping to lower overall project costs. Local analysis of any cost impacts to the city from the policy will be completed before the item is heard in committee in late April or May.

While there may be minimal costs to add some staff to help administer the policy, the intent of this policy is also to save the city money over time by guaranteeing a highly skilled, constant flow of labor on vital public works projects.

From my perspective, this is a values-based policy in alignment with our shared San Francisco values of supporting workers, good wages, and good benefits. Many workers are paid under the table and do not receive any benefits at all. My policy is binding to all contractors and subcontractors that may work on a qualifying city project, and they must adhere to all local hiring, prevailing wage, and local small business requirements. I am thankful to my six other co-sponsors on the board who agree with the value and importance of this policy.

Is there anything the city can do to help small retail businesses that have taken such a beating, even in this booming economy?

Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy. Even though our local economy is strong — which is great — many small businesses still face challenges with growing commercial rents and online competition.

The city’s Invest in Neighborhood’s program is an interagency partnership to strengthen and revitalize neighborhood commercial districts throughout the city. The program currently serves 25 commercial corridors throughout the city, including two in District 2 — Union and Lombard streets. The program works with small businesses on the commercial corridors to address specific issues to the corridor around cleanliness, marketing, and further businesses assistance and strategy.

Additionally, the voters just this past election approved a measure to help small businesses known as “legacy businesses” apply for and receive rental assistance based on how long they have been in business here in San Francisco. Blue Bear School of Music, Brazen Head Restaurant, Flax Art & Design, and San Francisco Heritage are all examples of small businesses that applied and are now receiving assistance under our legacy business program.

I feel strongly about appropriately helping and working with neighborhood-serving small businesses whenever necessary, because they are what makes San Francisco so great and diverse. If any small business you know is in need of assistance, please feel free to send them my way via e-mail at mark.farrell@sfgov.org.

There was more attention than normal in March to International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. How do you think women’s issues will fare under the Trump administration, and what can local officials do about it?

To put it bluntly, women, immigrant and minority communities, and the low-income are all under attack from the Trump administration due to the policies and budget he is pushing. His first actions and statements as president do not give me much hope that he will champion women’s issues whatsoever. His recently announced budget proposal, for example, seeks to fully defund Planned Parenthood and makes drastic cuts to funding for food security programs, the arts, education, environment, and health care, to name just a few.

One of the silver linings of Trump winning the election is that it motivated more people, particularly women, to get more politically engaged than they ever have been. One of my responsibilities as a local elected official is to provide opportunities for our residents to get more engaged in policy and the political process. I try regularly to publicize opportunities to get involved, whether it’s applying to serve on a city commission, engaging residents in our policy work, or participating in your neighborhood park cleanup.

Inside City Hall, I stand ready to fight alongside my colleagues against the discriminatory policies and proposed drastic budget cuts that would devastate many of our most vulnerable. We’re committed to providing opportunities for health care, child care and family leave, and to working with our federal elected leaders to join us in fighting for our shared values.

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