Unions Seek Community Benefits in South City Plan
South San Francisco’s Redevelopment Manager, Norma Fragoso, talks about plans for housing. Union members particpating included Bill Nack, SM Buildingt Trades; Rich Hedges, UFCW Local 5; Terry Dunnigan, Ironworkers Local 377; and AFSCME Local 829 member Leon Wilborn, a South San Francisco city employee.
Dozens of union members from the Building Trades and public sector unions participated in a public workshop on South San Francisco’s Downtown Station Area Plan (Downtown SAP) September 17. The community meeting featured presentations from city leadership, staff and the Citizens Advisory Group on the city’s plans to develop the downtown area, and interactive workshops on the specifics of the plan. About one quarter of the participants were union members, most either residents of South SF or city employees.
San Mateo County Building Trades Council Business Manager Bill Nack said the Building Trades Council is working in coalition with affordable housing activists, transit advocates, environmentalists and other community based organizations on getting a Community Benefits Agreement implemented into the Downtown SAP that would include prevailing wages and the right to organize.
Sheet Metal Workers Local 104 Business Agent and South City resident Danny Campbell serves on the Citizens Advisory Group and acted as a facilitator of one workshop on plans for revitalizing the Grand Avenue area.
Other parts of the 300-acre plan include linking downtown with more transit-oriented development near the Caltrain station and an expanded large office and research and development area east of the 101. The area already serves as a regional employment center that has attracted biotech companies. The transit-oriented development and expanding the business area could create hundreds of construction jobs over the scope of the development.
As a Priority Development Area, the Downtown SAP is identified by the Sustainable Communities Strategy for infill development and is eligible for government grants and targeted funding. It prioritizes open space, pedestrian walk-ways and bicycle paths and public transit to reduce traffic congestion.
Supporters of a community benefits agreement call for retaining local businesses as new businesses come into the city and ensuring that Big Box stores do not displace small businesses that are the lifeblood of the community. The proposed CBA also calls for providing good construction jobs that pay area standard wages and offer young workers a pathway into construction careers through union apprenticeship programs, It encourages hiring local residents and using local businesses so that wages earned are recycled back into the local economy.
A public meeting on the plan that incorporates some of the feedback from the community meetings will be held in mid-November. Adoption of the Environmental Impact Report and final plan is scheduled for January 2014.
Unions represented at the community workshop included Operating Engineers Local 3, Plumbers Local 467, Sheet Metal Workers Local 104, Electrical Workers Local 617, AFSCME Local 829, Ironworkers Local 377, Carpenters Local 217, Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5.
Members of the coalition advocating for a community benefits agreement include the SMBTC, UFCW Local 5, Sheet Metal Workers 104, the Housing Leadership Council, Transform, the Greenbelt Alliance, Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter, and the San Mateo County Union Community Alliance.
Plumbers Local 467 Business Manager Mike Swanson, IBEW Local 617 President Mark Leach, and Carpenters Local 217 member Rick Bonilla check out some of the plans for the South San Francisco’s Downtown Station Area Plan.