Labor

Thumbnail image for Distract, Deny, Distort and Deceive: The Fight Against A Minimum Wage Hike for San Diego

Distract, Deny, Distort and Deceive: The Fight Against A Minimum Wage Hike for San Diego

by Doug Porter 04.24.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

City Council President Todd Gloria appeared before the press yesterday to announce a proposed November ballot initiative increasing San Diego’s minimum wage, along with a path for workers to accumulate paid sick days.

Gloria’s role in pushing this measure dates back to his call for a “meaningful” increase in the minimum wage during the State of the City speech in January. The big unanswered question for local scribes was “how much” would constitute “meaningful.” We now know the magic number to be $13.09, achieved in three stages by July 2017, should voters approve. But it’s negotiable.

In keeping with Plato’s dictum, “those who tell the stories also hold the power,” UT-San Diego (owned by a hospitality industry magnate, whose business model depends on low wages and government subsidies) is all over this today with a front page story, an “explainer” and, (ta-da!) an editorial denouncing Gloria and blaming California Democrats for the leftovers of the Great Recession.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego City Works Press Celebrates Its 10-Year Anniversary!

San Diego City Works Press Celebrates Its 10-Year Anniversary!

by Staff 04.23.2014 Activism

By Staff

Ten years ago, Jim Miller and Kelly Mayhew co-founded City Works Press, a nonprofit publisher that they edit in concert with the San Diego Writers Collective. Both Jim and Kelly are well known to the San Diego Free Press community.

Jim has written a weekly article for his Under the Perfect Sun column since we launched the site in 2012 and prior to that he submitted articles to the OB Rag, our sister publication. Kelly wrote a series of articles about Golden Hill restaurants when SDFP provided a neighborhood focus on that community. Throughout the years this couple has hosted myriad events that benefit progressive organizations in San Diego. This Saturday, April 26, they will be hosting a celebration and fundraiser for City Works Press, the only press of its kind in San Diego.

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Thumbnail image for Review: Cesar Chavez Remembered, Warts and All

Review: Cesar Chavez Remembered, Warts and All

by Source 04.20.2014 Activism

Miriam Pawel offers the most comprehensive look at Chavez and his movement in her new book, The Crusades of Cesar Chavez.

By Mark R. Day / Labor Notes

“Cesar was not a humble man,” narrator Luis Valdez says at the conclusion of the new documentary “Cesar’s Last Fast,” about the late farm labor leader Cesar Chavez. “Nor was he a simple man.”

Indeed, Chavez was a controversial and complex figure. That’s the problem with Diego Luna’s feature film “Cesar Chavez,” whose release coincided with the charismatic leader’s March 31 birthday.

Chavez was, of course, a genius and a master organizer. His successes in the vineyards and lettuce fields of California came about as a result of enormous personal sacrifice and his ability to reach out to a wide audience: students, priests, nuns, ministers, labor leaders, and average housewives who made up their minds not to buy grapes.

He broke the back of the open shop in the fields and is credited as a founder of the Chicano movement. Just a decade after he began organizing grape pickers in Delano, California, he appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

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Thumbnail image for Historic Win for Labor and A New Direction in the University of California System

Historic Win for Labor and A New Direction in the University of California System

by Source 04.20.2014 Activism

By Daniel Gutiérrez

La Jolla, California — On Tuesday, April 15th, UAW Local 2865, representing graduate student-workers across the University of California system, reached a tentative agreement with UC management regarding the procurement of all-gendered bathrooms and lactation stations. UC management succumbed to the necessities demanded by UAW Local 2865, acknowledging that both all-gendered bathrooms and lactation stations are a labor right to graduate student-workers. The historic achievement was reached after the union went on strike for two days early this month, in which nearly two dozen students were arrested and many others intimidated.

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Thumbnail image for Taxi Medallions: San Diego’s Licensing Program for Exploiting Immigrants

Taxi Medallions: San Diego’s Licensing Program for Exploiting Immigrants

by Doug Porter 04.17.2014 Battle for Barrio Logan

By Doug Porter

While lots of local politicos are willing to give at least lip service towards increasing the minimum wage or creating affordable housing, the abject lack of interest in rectifying a government sponsored system of exploitation in the local taxi industry is staggering.

The medallion based system of licensing currently in place in San Diego, wherein drivers pay for the privilege of leasing a vehicle that may or may not be roadworthy, insures consumers of two things: scarcity of service and higher fares. This form of regulation might have made sense 80 years ago in New York city when it was started, but today a privileged few and the politicians they fund are the only beneficiaries.

Of all things revealed in a 2013 San Diego State University/Center for Policy Initiatives study–the unsafe working conditions, the dangerous vehicles, the exploitation of drivers–it would appear that Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s response will be limited to the vehicles themselves and, perhaps, record keeping issues.

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Thumbnail image for “We Are More Than Just Workers — We’re People.”

“We Are More Than Just Workers — We’re People.”

by Source 04.17.2014 Activism

By Lisa Maldonado Robinson/ Escondido Democratic Club

It takes an hourly wage of $13.09 and a full-time job to be able “to make ends meet” in San Diego County, according to Lisa Maldonado Robinson of the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice (ICWJ). Robinson spoke to Escondido Democrats at their April 12 meeting about the ICWJ’s ongoing program in San Diego County in which religious leaders strive “to lift workers out of poverty.” The program has a North County component and Robinson described efforts to organize workers at Casino Pauma and Northgate Markets.

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Thumbnail image for UFW Co-Founder Calls for Citizen Action; Struggle Goes On, Dolores Huerta Says

UFW Co-Founder Calls for Citizen Action; Struggle Goes On, Dolores Huerta Says

by Source 04.05.2014 Activism

By Lindajoy Fenley/chicoSol

Celebrating a legendary man can be as simple — and as necessary — as signing up for health insurance.

That’s the message delivered by Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers, when she spoke Thursday [March 24] at Sonoma State University (SSU) to a crowd of more than 1,000 students and community members in commemoration of Cesar Chavez Day.

Chavez, Huerta reminded her audience, fought for decent working conditions for California’s farm workers, and coincidentally, the deadline to sign up for government health insurance falls on his birthday, March 31. Huerta said that buying insurance — particularly for the young Latino students — is a way to honor the man who fought for civil rights for people of color.

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Thumbnail image for We Are the 89%: San Diego Fast-Food Employees and Religious Leaders Take Action Against Wage Theft

We Are the 89%: San Diego Fast-Food Employees and Religious Leaders Take Action Against Wage Theft

by Source 04.04.2014 Activism

Outrage grows as new poll shows stealing from employees is rampant industry wide

By Crystal Page/CPI

San Diego – Fast-food employees and community and faith leaders took action Thursday against systemic and illegal wage theft in the industry—just days after the first-ever national poll of fast-food employees showed companies like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s are stealing money from 89 percent of their employees.

The action comes as two former McDonald’s managers spoke out for the first time about how they were forced to steal from employees’ checks. In a video made public Tuesday, the managers talk about how they shaved time off of employees’ schedules, among other practices, so they wouldn’t “blow labor,” or spend more than they were supposed to, on employees.

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Thumbnail image for A Review of “Cesar Chavez” the Film: Sí, Se Puede

A Review of “Cesar Chavez” the Film: Sí, Se Puede

by Source 04.04.2014 Activism

By Byron Morton/ OBRag

Cesar Chavez shows the political evolution and the struggles of the man behind the movement during the 1960s to organize the farm workers in California. Through the United Farm Workers (UFW) Chavez (played by Michael Peña) brings bargaining rights and dignity for the impoverished farm workers. The UFW motto during this time was “Sí, se puede” or yes, it is possible.

It is important to remember at that time in the 1960s the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 did not protect farm workers and others. The Act “is a foundational statute of US labor law which guarantees basic rights of private sector employees to organize into trade unions, engage in collective bargaining for better terms and conditions at work, and take collective action including strikes if necessary.”

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Thumbnail image for UCSD Graduate Students Strike After Just Demands Not Met

UCSD Graduate Students Strike After Just Demands Not Met

by Source 04.03.2014 Activism

Strikers disrupt classes and block public thoroughfares to get a decent raise while upper level administrators continue to receive exorbitant salaries and enjoy a culture of lavish living

By Daniel Gutiérrez

Graduate students at the University of California, San Diego represented by the United Auto Workers Local 2865 initiated a two-day strike Wednesday, April 2nd, that will end Friday, April 4th. The strike at UCSD is part of a statewide action occurring at all the campuses of the University of California for these reasons. Graduate students have been bargaining for months now and have faced an unresponsive University of California Labor Relation bargaining team that barely allowed a 3% increase in pay to Teaching Assistants, still leaving them below the poverty line and far behind competitor universities.

Graduate students and undergraduate supporters began to assemble in front of the university’s emblematic library at 8:30 am to begin their activities. Students were able to successfully close Gilman Avenue for nearly twenty-five minutes in an attempt to cause delays for the city and school bus services.

Strikers created human barricades along a busy pedestrian avenue that cuts through the heart of the campus. Later in the afternoon, strikers attempted to storm the Office of Graduate Studies, but the office locked its doors to them and even one of their own employees.

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Thumbnail image for UCSD Graduate Students Protest Controversial Employment Policy

UCSD Graduate Students Protest Controversial Employment Policy

by Source 04.02.2014 Activism

Doctoral students rally against the 18 Quarter Limit

By Daniel Gutiérrez

La Jolla, California — Students at the University of California, San Diego stormed the Office of Graduate Studies Tuesday, April 1, to protest a controversial employment policy implemented across the University of California. The “18 Quarter Limit” restricts doctoral students by only allotting them 18 quarters to be teaching assistants, readers, or graduate student researchers. Such positions, if secured, reduce a graduate student’s tuition from roughly $5,200 a quarter to a mere $196. The action came on the eve of the two-day strike that will be held April 2nd and 3rd at UCSD.

The 18 Quarter Limit greatly affects graduate students who begin their studies in MA programs and then transfer to doctoral programs. This is because their access to funding begins to expire after their first quarter in the university as Master’s students.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Fast-Food Workers Hit by Wage Theft to Hold Action

San Diego Fast-Food Workers Hit by Wage Theft to Hold Action

by Source 04.02.2014 Activism

Outrage grows as new poll shows stealing from employees is rampant industry wide 

By Center on Policy Initiatives

Fast-food workers and community and faith leaders will hold an action Thursday against systemic and illegal wage theft in the industry—just days after the first-ever national poll of fast-food workers showed companies like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s are stealing money from 89 percent of their employees. 

The action comes as two former McDonald’s managers speak out for the first time about how they were forced to steal from workers’ checks. In a video made public Tuesday, the managers talk about how they shaved time off of workers schedules, among other practices, so they wouldn’t “blow labor,” or spend more than they were supposed to, on workers. 

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Thumbnail image for If César Chávez Were Alive Today, He Would Join the Resistance Against Walmart

If César Chávez Were Alive Today, He Would Join the Resistance Against Walmart

by Source 03.31.2014 Activism

By Sarita Gupta / Alternet

This month, a new film documenting César Chávez’s historic campaign to organize farmworkers in America was released in time with what would have been his 87th birthday. Chávez rose to prominence as a founder of the United Farm Workers (UFW), where he organized thousands of poor Latino workers laboring in fields throughout central California.

Through nonviolent but aggressive tactics — many of which we’ve seen revived today — Chávez and the UFW successfully won higher wages, safer working conditions, and collective bargaining rights for generations of farmworkers, culminating in the passage of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975.

So as we celebrate the legacy of this historic leader, we must also pause to consider that today farmworkers — and others laboring for low wages along the food supply chain — are still struggling. Back then, Chávez and his supporters famously camped outside grocery stores to encourage shoppers to boycott grapes until conditions and wages improved. But today, instead of a grocery store, he may indeed have been standing outside of a Walmart.

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Thumbnail image for The Small Business Owner’s Case for a Higher Minimum Wage

The Small Business Owner’s Case for a Higher Minimum Wage

by Source 03.27.2014 Business

By Jay Porter / jayporter.com

I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but around these parts there’s a strong movement forming to raise the minimum wage. Most of the municipal proposals are in the $10-13/hour range, but the zeitgeist seems to be heralding a $15/hour minimum wage.

People getting paid more for their work is a heartwarming notion, so it can be pretty easy to get behind these proposals on an emotional level. Economically, one sees macroeconomic cases made both for and against a higher minimum wage. I haven’t found the arguments in either direction particularly compelling. At the small business owners’ level, I hear from people both in favor and against raising the minimum wage.

But who are we kidding – most people are going to give or withhold their support for this initiative based largely on their perceived self-interest. So here’s my self-interest — as a small business owner, I selfishly think a higher minimum wage is great for me. Make it $15 an hour. Make it $20. The higher, the better, at least until dishwashers get paid as well as office workers.

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Thumbnail image for City Council Makes First Step Towards Raising the Minimum Wage in San Diego

City Council Makes First Step Towards Raising the Minimum Wage in San Diego

by Doug Porter 03.25.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The room was packed yesterday for a meeting of the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee as Councilman Todd Gloria successfully gained approval to draft ballot language on a measure proposed for the November ballot raising the minimum wage and granting paid sick leave for San Diegans.

Gloria will consult with City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and bring the measure back for consideration by the committee on April 30th. We can only hope the City Councilman president has the language double-checked by an outside attorney who doesn’t have a vested ideological interest in the measure failing.

A coalition of faith-based, community and labor groups called Raise Up San Diego! turned out over 100 people carrying neon green signs expressing support for the concept yesterday. They’ll need to keep the pressure on until the full council takes a vote (no later than the end of August) for the measure to appear on the ballot.

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Thumbnail image for Three Years, Three Million Dollars, Three Excuses and Now, Three More Months for Failed Balboa Park Centennial Group

Three Years, Three Million Dollars, Three Excuses and Now, Three More Months for Failed Balboa Park Centennial Group

by Doug Porter 03.24.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Board members with the failed Balboa Park Celebration, Inc.(BPCI) have taken their case to KPBS, blaming ex-mayor Bob Filner, the failure of Plaza de Panama parking plan and the competing agendas of park organizations for their group’s lack of accomplishments.

Details revealed in the first of a two part series, including comments from co-chair Nikki Clay, Stephen Russell and Patti Roscoe, by reporter Angela Carone paint a sad picture of the planning and preparations for a year long centennial celebration.

The release on Friday of a Transition Agreement empowering BPCI staffer Gerry Braun to handle shutdown of the organization (and collect another $39,000 while doing so) has just added to outrage felt by those in the community already upset with the group.

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Thumbnail image for Corporate Welfare and the Minimum Wage

Corporate Welfare and the Minimum Wage

by Source 03.21.2014 Business

By Joslyn Stevens / Common Dreams

The arguments against raising the minimum wage are bullshit. The majority of Americans including conservatives support an increase yet congress continues to drag its feet on doing right by the people they claim to serve.  The conservative “pull-yourself up-by your-bootstraps” mentality has become an acceptable excuse to justify kicking people when they’re down.

The greedy and elitist attitudes of CEO’s and bankers have created a culture of entitlement in this country in which stealing from others less powerful is the best way to get to the top regardless of the social cost.

The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 since 2009  despite cost of living increases and the fact that Americans are being forced to get by on less pay, food stamps, unemployment, savings etc. Every resource the working poor needs to stay afloat or get ahead is gone or disappearing.

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Thumbnail image for Vladimir P’s Got Nothing on Bonnie D –  Spin to Win Charged in Deputy DAs’ Unanimous Endorsement

Vladimir P’s Got Nothing on Bonnie D – Spin to Win Charged in Deputy DAs’ Unanimous Endorsement

by Doug Porter 03.18.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Vladimir Putin may know how to rig an election, as his minions probably did in pulling off 97% approval for Crimean secession from the Ukraine this past weekend, but District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis know how to spin one: don’t bother with actual votes, just claim a unanimous victory.

Following a February vote from the San Diego Deputy District Attorneys Association, the Dumanis campaign issued a press release declaring, “Deputy District Attorneys Announce Unanimous Endorsement of DA Bonnie Dumanis, ” followed by “BREAKING: Deputy DAs unanimously endorse Dumanis” on Twitter.

UT-San Diego ran with a story saying that the board of the Deputy DAs Association unanimously endorsed the incumbent.

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Thumbnail image for Haven’t We Met Before?

Haven’t We Met Before?

by Source 03.18.2014 Business

By Norma Damashek

In response to requests I received for the names of people I alluded to in last week’s commentary Too Many Years of Inbreeding I’m providing a list of Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s recent appointees, plus a brief description of who they are.

Many names will be familiar to those of you who have been following city affairs over the years.  For others, the people on this list may not ring a bell; like the city’s water and sewer pipes they tend to operate beneath the surface.  But their organizational interconnectedness and crossovers are readily identifiable by one and all.

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Thumbnail image for UCSD Graduate Student Workers Call Strike

UCSD Graduate Student Workers Call Strike

by Source 03.15.2014 Activism

By Daniel Gutiérrez

Graduate students affiliated with United Auto Workers Local 2865 at UC San Diego have announced a two-day strike for Wednesday, April 3, and Thursday, April 4. The dates selected for the strike fall on the first week of the school’s Spring Quarter.

The UAW Local 2865, which represents over 12,000 graduate student workers across the campuses of the University of California, voted and passed the strike. UAW Local 2865 has been in contract negotiations with the University of California for nearly a year. Union representatives have been meeting with labor-relations delegates for months trying to secure better wages for graduate student workers and improve work-place conditions.

The University has been hostile towards any advancement in workers’ rights, despite ever-growing expenditures on management. Despite the fact that many of the school’s graduate student-workers receive poverty wages, the UC administration continues to treat its own like royalty.

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Thumbnail image for Neoliberalism and Its Discontents: What’s Left Beyond More Impoverished Choices?

Neoliberalism and Its Discontents: What’s Left Beyond More Impoverished Choices?

by Jim Miller 03.10.2014 Columns

By Jim Miller

The debate rages on. Last week after I spent the final part of my column addressing Adolph Reed’s provocative Harper’s piece on the dismaying state of American politics, “Nothing Left: The Long, Slow Surrender of American Liberals, the argument just kept going across the national progressive media landscape.

In a sharp rebuttal to Reed in The Nation, Michelle Goldberg attacked what she characterized as “Electoral Nihilism” by essentially dismissing what she called his “left wing disappointment” and reasserting the very strategy that Reed so adeptly critiqued in his article:

So yes, for liberals, there is only one option in an election year, and that is to elect, at whatever cost, whichever Democrat is running. The rest of the time, those who find the current choices intolerable should join in the long, slow groundwork that would allow for better ones.

Goldberg points out some current signs of hope for progressives nationwide, particularly a wave of progressive new mayors in places like New York and concludes that this makes it a “bizarre moment” for Reed to put forth his argument.

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Thumbnail image for The Jobs Picture: Not Looking So Good From the Bottom Up, Even in San Diego

The Jobs Picture: Not Looking So Good From the Bottom Up, Even in San Diego

by Doug Porter 03.07.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

An article in the UT-San Diego business section about employment opportunities caught my eye this morning. While the local picture may be slightly better than the national projections, due to the presence of defense and tech industries, the prognosis for hiring remains heavily weighted towards low paying industries.

Today we’ll take a look at this story and other recent economic reports, along with what they portend for the growing national movement in support of increasing the minimum wage.  

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Thumbnail image for SDPD Chief Lansdowne Takes One for the Team

SDPD Chief Lansdowne Takes One for the Team

by Doug Porter 02.26.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

San Diego’s Chief of Police is gone as of Monday, March 3rd. Retired. Resigned. Whatever.

Incoming Mayor Kevin Faulconer will be starting his term with a clean slate, able to downplay reports of police misconduct as the failures of prior administrations.  

The systemic problems within the SDPD won’t be actually resolved by his resignation, but the perception that action has been taken will likely trump demands for actual reforms, or, God forbid, an actual independent monitor. Fortunately, there was another, less noticed, development yesterday that may derail hopes by local officials that these scandals will fade away.   

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Thumbnail image for Vergara v. California’s Corporate Heart

Vergara v. California’s Corporate Heart

by Source 02.26.2014 Education

By Julie Gutman Dickinson/Capital and Main

Are job protections for teachers to blame for educational underachievement among low-income students of color in California? That’s the provocative question ostensibly at the heart of Vergara vs. California, which seeks to invalidate the tenure, due process and seniority rights of hundreds of thousands of educators.

Astute observers of the nation’s escalating education wars, however, may be asking another question: When did it become permissible to use the welfare of children as a fig leaf for an all-out legal attack on teachers?

Or, as historian and teacher John Thompson wrote recently in Scholastic, “Are corporate reformers unabashedly using the courts as a battleground for battering employees’ rights, as opposed to helping children?”

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Thumbnail image for More Lies Leveled Against Raising the Minimum Wage — This Time by the Federal Govt. Itself?

More Lies Leveled Against Raising the Minimum Wage — This Time by the Federal Govt. Itself?

by Source 02.23.2014 Business

The truth: economists say raising the federal minimum to $10.10 would lift somewhere between 4.6 and 6 million households above the poverty line.

By Joe Conason / AlterNet

In the midst of a crucial political debate that plainly favored proponents of a higher minimum wage, the Congressional Budget Office dropped a bombshell headline this week. Increasing the minimum to $10.10 an hour — as demanded by President Barack Obama and Democrats on Capitol Hill — would “cost 500,000 jobs.” At a moment when employment still lags badly, this assertion was potentially devastating.

Almost lost in much of the predictable media coverage was the CBO report’s estimate that a minimum-wage increase would lift at least 900,000 workers and their families out of poverty — and boost incomes for at least 15 million more.

But as top economists have repeatedly pointed out, such damning employment numbers are fuzzy and unreliable, while the CBO poverty numbers probably underestimated the positive impact of a higher minimum.

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