Update: Paul Rose, spokesman with the MTA, returned our call just now and said that the agency would not delay the bidding process. He pointed out that any delays could result in the loss of federal funding.
Original Story, 2 p.m.: Yesterday, The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency took people off guard when it went ahead and put out to bid the start of the Central Subway project, just three weeks before the city's local hiring law goes into effect.
Residents -- namely unemployed construction workers -- were expecting the MTA to hold off on hiring construction workers until March 25 when the new local hire law will force the agency to draw 20 percent of its laborers from San Francisco.
But the bidding process is still wide open, which isn't sitting well with Supervisor John Avalos -- the sponsor of the local hiring law. He is demanding that the MTA yank the bid advertisement and reissue it after the new labor law goes into effect.
"We want to ensure San Francisco residents are working on that project," Avalos tells SF Weekly.
Avalos has the strong backing of the community. In a letter drafted this morning to both city supervisors and Ford, the Brightline Defense Project, a local nonprofit that advocates for housing, to withdraw the "hastily-crafted" bid advertisement.
"There is real hunger in the Chinatown and SOMA communities to work on this project," said Joshua Arce, executive director of Brightline. "Pull the bid back, add local hiring, and reissue it on March 25."
Mayor Ed Lee and Muni Chief Nat Ford are reportedly meeting at City Hall right now to discuss the issue.
It's not clear how a three-week delay in the bidding process would impact the Central Subway project; Muni officials have not yet returned a phone call from SF Weekly.
The $225 million tunneling portion of the project would employ about 1,350 construction workers -- and if 20 percent of those were San Francisco residents, it could help with the city's lingering 10 percent unemployment rate.
"Our new local hiring law is a powerful tool to deliver jobs to these workers," the letter states.
And if the MTA can't wait, couldn't it at least implement the spirit of the law?.
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