United for Jobs in 2012

As we start the New Year, San Francisco appears united for jobs and the economy. Last year’s lingering recession paved the way for a renewed focus on employment and economic development. Alliances between business and labor were strengthened through projects such as Treasure Island and Parkmerced. A collaborative new approach to policy-making also emerged with pension reform. The stars are now aligned. San Francisco is poised to create significant economic recovery in the year ahead.

Like most cities, San Francisco’s progress on economy-boosting initiatives often starts – and stops – at City Hall. Thankfully, Mayor Ed Lee and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors seem committed to jobs and the economy. According to the Chamber’s 2011 year-end Paychecks & Pink Slips Scorecard released earlier this week, a solid majority of the Board of Supervisors voted in favor of jobs more than 75 percent of the time last year. Individual scores of even the lowest-scoring supervisors improved. Overall, the Chamber gave the Board a year-end ranking of 82 percent, up from 60 percent in 2010, on its actions to spur employment, stimulate the economy and improve government efficiency.

Unlike many other cities, San Francisco’s business community and pro-growth labor unions often work together to advance key projects and policies. These ties were strengthened last year when six local business organizations, 12 labor unions and several community groups came together through the Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth to support the job-boosting projects of Treasure Island and Parkmerced. These collaborative efforts not only helped create nearly 40,000 jobs for San Francisco, they also helped set the stage for broader and deeper collaboration on one of the city’s most significant issues – pension reform.

Led by Mayor Lee, the Yes on C Pension Reform campaign from last November’s election solidified the collaborative approach to policy-making that will carry on in 2012. Organized by the late Warren Hellman and co-chaired by the Chamber and the San Francisco Labor Council, the Yes on C campaign brought together government, business and labor to discuss, compromise and advance much-needed pension and health benefit reform that is now helping the city to save more than $1 billion over 10 years.

2012 will not be without its challenges. San Francisco’s unemployment rate, while declining, is unacceptable at 7.8 percent. Federal and state budget cuts will continue to impact local services. And the November Presidential Election will bring a slew of tax measures to California voters. Simultaneously, San Francisco will re-negotiate labor agreements with nearly every city union and attempt to re-make its business tax system.

As we prepare to face these challenges, the Chamber remains focused on jobs and committed to working collaboratively with our partners to grow our economy and put people back to work in 2012.