Oakland, San Francisco May Mandate Hiring Bilingual Workers for City Public Services
To provide services to a "fast-growing population of immigrants not proficient in English," the cities of San Francisco and Oakland are considering ordinances that would require many city government departments to hire bilingual workers, the Los Angeles Times reports. Although state and federal laws require bilingual access to government services, some critics have said that the "measures are unspecific and lack enforcement provisions." Next Tuesday, the Oakland City Council is scheduled to vote on a measure that would require city departments that have contact with the public to fill vacancies with bilingual workers. According to census figures, 35% of Oakland residents are Asian or Latino. Oakland officials said that the first hires would be able to speak English and either Spanish, Cantonese or Mandarin. According to the Times, 25 of the city's 65 departments are expected to be affected, and those involving public health services will be among the first to hire bilingual workers. City officials added that no current city employee would be fired or transferred because of the ordinance. Similar to Oakland's, the San Francisco ordinance aims to provide "the same level of service to limited-English-speaking persons as they provide English speakers." The San Francisco City Council is expected to vote on a bilingual ordinance in May (La Ganga, Los Angeles Times, 4/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.