Without equity at the center of our decision-making, we risk replicating and reinforcing the same ills that made this pandemic a global calamity. The Greenlining Institute is recommending a variety of measures to create and protect jobs, stimulate the economy, and build affordable housing in California so we can prevent further displacement of those most impacted by COVID-19.
As large health systems increase their spending to buy emergency equipment, supplies, and to support routine organizational functions such as legal, janitorial, communications, and food services, they should prioritize contracts and procurement with minority-, women-, veteran-, and LGBTQ-owned businesses to support and protect local businesses from the economic downturn. Implementation of AB 962 (Burke) represents a first step towards hospital transparency and accountability in supplier diversity, but we need action immediately. Hospitals should move swiftly to support diverse businesses, and state officials should encourage them to do so.
Greenlining encourages the administration to direct the procurement staff of each state department to submit a plan within the next 90 days outlining how they will creatively reach diverse small businesses for their contracting needs. An agency like CalTrans, with its more than $23 billion budget, could save thousands of businesses that are currently struggling.
Guaranteeing employment to all state residents willing to work must be a priority for our state government. Over four million Californians are already out of work and may be soon joined by many more. At the same time we will need a robust workforce for the near-term COVID-19 recovery and to address our country’s longstanding history of policy-driven inequity. Californians looking to get back to work can do so by meeting community-identified needs in the public and nonprofit sectors to take up any slack in private for-profit sector employment. These will include jobs in infrastructure construction, upgrades and maintenance, health care, clean manufacturing, and public services (education, youth programs, child care, senior care, etc.).
The state government spends millions of dollars each year to purchase goods and services. We should require whenever possible that the government purchase California-made products, and that it use large state procurement commitments as a tool to create demand for new California-made sustainable goods and to develop particular domestic clean energy industries,high-speed broadband, and universal health care. To guarantee that California purchasing power results in family-sustaining jobs, we should require all procurement to include the following requirements:
- Pay all employees at least $15 per hour;
- Guarantee employees at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave;
- Maintain fair scheduling practices;
- Ensure that employees may exercise collective bargaining rights, such as by posting notices of collective bargaining rights and maintaining complete neutrality with regard to union organizing; and
- Employ individuals with barriers to employment and contract with minority-, women-, LGBTQ-, and veteran-owned business enterprises.
Leverage existing public agency spending to invest in sustainable businesses, including cooperatives and nonprofits, by providing contracts, grants and loans with an emphasis on small, locally-based companies that keep the wealth created by local labor circulating in the community rather than being drained off to enrich absentee investors.
Order that existing housing entitlements for affordable housing receive a mandatory minimum 24-month extension, to prevent projects that have already completed their review from timing out due to COVID-19-related work slowdowns.
Electrification can provide environmental and social justice communities access to major benefits such as cleaner air, healthier homes, good jobs and empowered workers. Electrification also grants access to affordable clean transportation and energy to reduce monthly energy bills, while helping the state meet its climate goals, including a net-zero carbon economy and 100 percent clean electricity by 2045. While electrification has promising benefits for residents and for the state, the rollout of policies at both the local and state level must be undertaken equitably. Decision makers must ensure that environmental and social justice communities are supported to transition to all-electric homes and transportation. See below for a more detailed discussion of building electrification.