After a brief hiatus from protests in front of the Mission Bay construction site where UCSF is building a new hospital, the unemployed woke up this morning and resumed their picketing, this time forcing builders to shut the gates and stop working for several hours.
Members of the Aboriginal Blackmen United picketed outside the gates, causing enough disruption that construction workers on the site had to shut the gates and stop working, UCSF officials say. They have since resumed work.
It's the first time that the ongoing disagreement over local hiring has truly hurt the progress of the project, said Amy Pyle, spokeswoman with UCSF
"At some point nobody could get in and work stopped," Pyle said. "And when work stops there are no jobs."
The ABU, a Bayview-Hunter's Point community organization notorious for its boisterous protesting that involve bullhorns and barbecues, has been protesting the $1.7 billion project on and off again, claiming the university is not hiring local builders to do the work. Last month, members of the ABU staged a three-day protest in front of the site. Members of the ABU did not return phone calls seeking comment.
The university was getting pressure from Mayor Ed Lee, and has since sent out a news release, stating its goal to hire 20 percent of laborers locally. As of December, 22 percent of the workers on site were from San Francisco, Pyle said.
But the ABU has complained that the university is not hiring qualified workers from the surrounding neighborhood of Bayview-Hunters Point, which has the highest unemployment rate in the city. Last year, supervisors passed legislation that requires city-funded projects to hire 25 percent of its construction workers from San Francisco. That number will gradually rise to 50 percent by 2016.
But since UCSF is a state project -- not city, it doesn't have to follow that mandate, however, it has made it a goal to do so.
Pyle said in December there were 80 workers on site, and that they will be "ramping up" hiring in the spring when more work is needed. The bulk of the hiring will come next year, when UCSF expects to bring on 1,000 more jobs, Pyle said.
Pyle said that the protests are frustrating for both the unemployed and UCSF; they want jobs and the university wants a new building.
"People are frustrated -- they were told there would be jobs, and they are not seeing a lot of people being hired," Pyle said.
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