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L.B. Falls Short of Achieving Job Goals for Latinos

October 27, 1985|DARYL KELLEY | Times Staff Writer

LONG BEACH — Pressured by community groups and the federal government, the City of Long Beach hired Latino employees at an unprecedented rate during the last fiscal year, but Latinos remained the most under-represented ethnic group in local government, city statistics show.

The 1984-85 year-end figures also show that more women and minorities worked for the city than ever before, although white men still held a disproportionate share of all municipal jobs, especially the best-paid positions. Of 163 top administrative slots, white men had 66%.

Latinos, who make up 22% of the regional work force, held 7.6%, or 302, of the 3,999 city jobs on June 30, compared with 7.1% and 282 jobs a year before, according to the city's annual affirmative action report. The increase was the sharpest since 1973, when affirmative action figures were first kept here.

Blacks, the report said, hold 17.1% of all positions in city government, nearly double their 8.8% representation in the two-county area work force from which Long Beach draws its workers.

Asians, 5.7% of the region's work force, hold 4.9% of the municipal jobs.

Women, 43% of the region's labor pool, hold 25.9% of all city jobs.

Commissioned by City

A recent Urban Institute study commissioned by the city put the 1985 population at 374,000, with 56.7% white, 18.4% Latino, 12.6% black, and 10.2% Asian. Women make up 51%. City employment goals are based on the sexual and ethnic makeup of the two-county labor pool, rather than the city's population breakdown. The city is still formulating its affirmative action goals for fiscal year 1985-86.

Latino leaders, who have fought the employment issue through a series of hearings in the last year, said they were encouraged by the statistics and by what appears to be a change of attitude at City Hall. In February, the City Council directed its staff to more aggressively recruit minority and women employees.

"(The city) today is certainly very receptive to our concerns," said Mario Cordero, president of the Long Beach chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). " . . . But there are some goals that have to be met, and we're not there yet. We want employment to reflect the population."

A LULAC complaint last year over Latino hiring in the Department of Parks and Recreation prompted federal officials to threaten to cut $6 million in annual revenue-sharing money. The dispute was settled when the city agreed that 22% of employees in that department should be Latino by 1990.

Minority hiring in the Recreation Department and in the Police and Fire departments, which also have relatively few Latino workers, remains the primary focus of city recruitment efforts, said Carol Moss, executive director of the city Civil Service Commission.

The most recent class at the Long Beach Police Academy reflects a new-found success in recruitment, Moss said. Seventeen of the 42 cadets who entered the academy in September were Latinos, 17 were white, 6 black and 2 Pacific Islander. And 10 were women, she said.

Moss' newly formed three-person recruitment team, which includes two Latinos, is now working with a Fire Department committee to lure minority and women candidates for about 40 firefighters positions that will open next month, she said. Even though it is City Council policy to recruit more minorities and women, they are not given preference in competitive job testing, Moss said.

"Our efforts," she said, "are to recruit qualified candidates from the minority and women areas. There is really no suggestion of bypassing anyone who is qualified.

"We're taking materials to community colleges where they have firefighting programs and a high concentration of Hispanics," she said. "And we're going to health clubs and physical education programs, where women are more physically fit."

Robert Guyett, deputy fire chief, said nine of the last 13 hires in the Fire Department have been minorities. Latinos made up only 3.5% of Fire Department employees in June, 1984, but their proportion had increased to 4.7% this June.

Blacks are also under-represented in the Fire Department, holding only 3.1% of the jobs. Women have only 3.6% of Fire Department jobs, but 27% of those in the Police Department.

Once the firefighter application period closes Nov. 7, the Civil Service recruitment team will concentrate on meeting goals for the Recreation Department in its agreement with the federal government, said Moss.

Every Person Hired

If that department is to be 22% Latino by 1990, virtually every person hired between now and then must be Hispanic, said Recreation Director James Ruth.

"That's our No. 1 priority and everybody knows it," said Ruth. "A lot of it is going out and beating the bushes, and we're doing that now."

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