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Garcetti calls for more hiring of homeless people, criminals

LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered city departments April 29 to hire thousands of new employees over the next three years, with a focus on recruiting people who have been homeless, possess criminal records or face other challenges to finding jobs.

Under an agreement with municipal employee unions, the city has set a goal of hiring 5,000 people to fill thousands of jobs frozen as a result of an unsettled economy and to account for the fact that about 46 percent of the city workforce will reach retirement age in the next two years.

An executive order signed by the mayor officially sets that hiring effort in motion and creates guidelines for city officials to follow when recruiting.

Garcetti said the city has “an unprecedented opportunity to rethink the way we deliver services to meet the 21st century demands of our residents.”

“Today we start that transformation,” he said. “As the third-largest employer in our county, we are prioritizing local hiring — to ensure that every qualified Angeleno has an equal opportunity to apply for full-time city jobs. Everyone deserves a chance at success.”

To ensure that those who are traditionally turned away due to criminal records or other circumstances, Garcetti specifically instructed city recruiters to refrain from asking about an applicant’s criminal record until later in the recruitment process, and avoid using credit consumer report data in deciding whether to hire people for non-managerial positions.

The hiring effort will be overseen by the Workforce Restoration Working Group headed by Jackie Goldberg, a former assemblywoman and city councilwoman, and including representatives from the mayor’s office, the City Council, labor unions and city departments.

“Earning a job with the city of Los Angeles can be the door to a new life for many Angelenos who just want the chance to serve and to make a decent living for the families,” Goldberg said. “We just need to make sure that door is open to everyone.”

Under Garcetti’s order, city department general managers and directors will need to submit hiring plans, including recommendations for how many and what type of positions to fill, by Sept. 30.

Garcetti also ordered general managers to avoid using contract or “intermittent” workers unless there is an “operational necessity,” which means contract employees should not replace full-time workers or be hired or fired to avoid paying benefits.

The executive order was issued amid City Council hearings on the upcoming fiscal year’s budget, with employee unions asking city leaders to adopt a budget that would expand the number of workers in the city by about 1,600, or almost a third of the 5,000 promised by city management in their labor contracts.

In a separate effort to increase private-sector hiring opportunities for people who have criminal records, Garcetti also announced the creation of a “blue ribbon” commission that will ask private employers to avoid asking about incarceration background until later in the hiring process or using credit reports in deciding who gets hired.