Mayor Faulconer’s Convention Center Expansion: It’s Huuuge

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By Doug Porter

Oh, those boys and their big shiny toys. Having failed in past years to gain approval for a waterfront expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, the City is about to throw its weight behind a $90,000 study promising “huuuge” (ala Trump) returns.

The Union-Tribune says Mayor Faulconer finds the report so persuasive that he’s prepared to back a ballot measure increasing hotel taxes for 2016. Since those taxes are dedicated revenues, two thirds voter approval will be required.

Today we’ll take a look at the spotty record of the outfit hired to do this report, along with various options along the way to getting a super-majority to go the polls and vote for this expansion.   [Read more…]

Disposable People: Obama, the TPP, and the Betrayal of Human Rights

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By Jim Miller

During the lead-up to the vote on the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP) that the President narrowly won, Obama and his surrogates consistently suggested that those in labor and other allied groups opposing the deal were “fighting the last war” and were against “the most progressive trade agreement the world has ever seen.” Indeed, he even went so far as to accuse critics like Senator Elizabeth Warren of “making stuff up”.

As we know, Obama defeated labor and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and, in concert with Republicans and just enough New Democrats like San Diego’s own Scott Peters and Susan Davis, he succeeded in forwarding the multinational corporate agenda.

Since that time the gaze of the national media has turned elsewhere and, as negotiations have encountered difficulties, the administration has sunk to new lows in its zeal to finish the deal on the TPP.   [Read more…]

NLRB Ruling Could Be a Game Changer for Unions

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By Doug Porter

A Reagan-era standard allowing corporations to maintain an arms-length relationship with their workforces fell by the wayside yesterday as the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of the Teamsters in a dispute with California recycler Browning-Ferris Industries.

The bottom line here is that big companies may be held responsible for what goes on in the workplace. Organized labor is pleased with the decision. Wall Street isn’t. The actual ruling concerned the use of temporary employees. What people are reacting to are its game changing implications.

There are lots of poorly informed (meaning full of crap) analyses being passed off in various media accounts.  To use a baseball analogy, just because a team acquires a high performance player doesn’t mean they’ll have a winning season. Just ask the San Diego Padres.   [Read more…]

Welcome to TrumpLand: A Local Example of Bigotry USA! USA! Style

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By Doug Porter

I’ve been trying not to say too much about The Donald. He’s playing the media like a great violinist plays a Stradivarius. He says jump and the stenographers posing as journalists say “how high?”

I can no longer remain silent in the face of the hate-mongering coming from this public figure aimed at Latinos. He’s giving ammunition to assholes, and there are real consequences, even on the streets of San Diego.

When a well-known and respected public advocate can’t take his child to a park without being race baited, it’s time to stand up and say No More. And, yes, it is precisely the rhetoric favored by Donald Trump that’s encouraging an upswing in bigotry.   [Read more…]

Women’s Equality Day: Celebrating the Success of Militant Protest

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The argument of the broken pane of glass is the most valuable argument in modern politics.–Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst

By Doug Porter

Women’s Equality Day (August 26th) marks anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, giving women the right to vote.

There are observances this week in San Diego, including a re-enactment of an early-century Suffrage march in Balboa Park.

Organizations including the League of Women Voters, the United Nations Women’s Equity Council, the Older Women’s League and others, will join members and supporters of the Women’s Museum at 5pm for a Rally on Thursday, (Aug 27th) at the Kate Sessions Statue, at the 6th Avenue end of the Cabrillo Bridge, followed by a parade across the bridge info the Organ Pavilion where the last free concert of the summer will be held at 6:30pm.

While this commemoration will be celebratory in nature, it’s important to remember, as Frederick Douglass once said, “Power never concedes nothing without a demand.” In many sanitized versions of US history, the struggle leading up to that victory is depicted as controversial only because women left their roles as wives and house-makers to protest. The reality of what transpired is considerably different.   [Read more…]

Nail Salon Workplaces Need A Touch Up

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By Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez

Today I am convening an informational hearing in the Capitol as Chair of the Select Committee on Women in the Workplace, bringing together stakeholders to discuss the challenges faced in the industry and to hear personal testimony from nail salon workers. I’m encouraged to be joined by the Chairs of four other Assembly Committees and other legislators to begin the collaborative process we need to achieve the change these workers need.

Recent in-depth coverage in the New York Times revealed shocking, systematic abuse going on right under the noses of thousands of nail salon customers every day. The reports found employees living in squalor and isolation, underpaid or completely unpaid, and ravaged by health problems possibly connected to chemicals they handle on the job. It echoed and expanded upon reporting done recently in California, drawing new attention to deeply troubling working conditions in the nail salon industry across the country.

Today’s hearing is an important start to ensure that the employees of these salons are effectively covered by California’s workplace safety and wage and hour laws. These laws should guarantee all workers fair treatment and safe working conditions, and it’s our responsibility to make sure they work.   [Read more…]

It’s Strike Three for San Diego Unified’s School Board President, But She’s Not Out

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By Doug Porter

San Diego Unified President Marne Foster was in the news over the past few days, and not in a positive light.

The State Attorney General’s office, according to a story in the Union-Tribune, is asking pointed questions about a fundraiser held last month to help pay off debt and college costs for her sons.

On August 19th, the San Diego Unified School District issued a response to a grand jury report on ethics questions concerning Foster, essentially telling the panel to “shove it.”

Mario Koran at Voice of San Diego posted a piece today on Foster, filling in the blanks on long standing allegations about her role in the firing of a highly ranked school principal who refused to go along with special privileges for the School Board Trustee’s son.   [Read more…]

San Diego Takes the Lead in Greenpeace Strike

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By Andrew J. Mackay and Bryan Kim

On August 5, 16 of 19 canvassers for Greenpeace in San Diego walked off the job. They were followed by a majority of the Sacramento office. 22 total employees of the Frontline program, Greenpeace’s in-house fundraising program, have had enough of labor policies that give them no job security.

The strike, led by two veteran canvassers in Socialist Alternative San Diego, comes against an organization that claims to be progressive. However, Greenpeace uses a quota system where even veteran fundraisers can be fired for missing quota two or three weeks consecutively. Senior workers bring in six or seven times their salary in recurring donations, yet are routinely fired. Morale is understandably very low. But choosing to resist, they have mobilized in defense of their jobs and dignity. Non-profits beware: the persuasive skills developed by your employees can be used against you. Instead of selling Greenpeace, organizers now sell the strike against it.   [Read more…]

‘Out of Step’: Investigation Uncovers Striking Paid Leave Divide in US

In the United States, only about 13 percent of U.S. workers have access to any form of paid family leave. (Photo: Corrinne Yu/cc/flickr)

By Lauren McCauley / Common Dreams

With the idea of paid maternity leave gaining traction as a means of recruiting workplace “talent” or used as a talking point on the campaign trail, an In These Times investigation published on Tuesday reveals the sad reality for millions of U.S. families.

In the United States, only about 13 percent of U.S. workers have access to any form of paid family leave, which includes parental leave and other time off to care for a family member, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.   [Read more…]

Stolen Pay, Stolen Lives: It’s Time to Beef Up Enforcement for Wage Theft in California

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By Doug Porter

On the eve of an assembly committee hearing, the California Fair Paycheck Coalition and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) have released a new video showing the link between human trafficking and wage theft.

The state Senate has already passed SB 588, authored by Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, enhancing the ability of the state labor commissioner to fight wage theft and help workers collect stolen pay.

Currently only 17% of workers receiving judgements for stolen wages are able to collect payment. Research indicates low-wage workers lose, on average, 12.5% of their annual income to wage theft.   [Read more…]

The Union Label: Making a Comeback, Despite Challenges

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By Doug Porter

A Gallup poll released this week says organized labor is making a comeback in the public consciousness. Support for labor unions has jumped five percentage points over the past year, with nearly six in 10 people approving of unions, up from 48% in 2009.

This increase in support comes despite an unrelenting effort by right-wing groups to blame unions for everything from unemployment to inciting class war. There are twin editorials/columns in Tuesday’s Union-Tribune misrepresenting the truth, casting labor as the evil opponent of good government and economic prosperity.

Today’s column will examine the phenomena driving the resurgence of the contemporary labor movement and the challenges it faces, along with some information on organizing efforts.   [Read more…]

Area Legislators Return to Sacramento for a Final Push

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By Doug Porter

If you want to understand the issues at play in California politics, keep an eye on the last 20 working days of this year’s legislative session in Sacramento.

Bills will be debated, lobbied and amended. Some will face vetoes from the Governor.

San Diego’s delegation to the statehouse has done an impressive job in this session with several measures remaining to be voted on. Today we’ll take a look at some of the legislation, with an emphasis on our local legislators, up for consideration in the coming days.   [Read more…]

‘The Problem With the Police, In Other Words, Is Not That They Have Unions, But That They Are Police’

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Erik Loomis / Lawyers, Guns and Money

Sarah Jaffe has an excellent discussion of the relationship between police unions and the rest of the labor movement at Truthout. UAW Local 2865, which represents California graduate students, has pushed for the AFL-CIO to kick out the one police union that remains in the federation, the International Union of Police Associations (IUPA). This has received some attention and is worthy of more.

Jaffe makes a number of key points. First, as the quote I used for the title points out, busting police unions isn’t going to change police behavior at all. The problem is police culture. …   [Read more…]

DeMaio’s Latest Pension Scam Fails Sacramento Sniff Test

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By Doug Porter

Former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio and proponents of  a California ballot initiative requiring pension changes to go through a public vote are screaming foul about the California Attorney General’s official description of that measure. The language, starting out with “eliminates constitutional protections”  will appear on petitions backers use to get signatures.

The backers of the “Public Employees. Pension and  Retiree Healthcare Benefits Initiative/Constitutional Amendment,” issued a statement blasting ‘union bosses’ and ‘politicians’ in response to Kamala Harris’ wording.

Likely most upsetting to the measure’s backers was the omission of the word “empowering.”  This squashed the idea of tapping into the politics of resentment and was a hoped for main selling point by proponents.   [Read more…]

August Tales from America’s Finest Tourist Plantation

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By Doug Porter

Two seemingly unconnected stories popped up as I made my morning media rounds today, pointing out the underlying reality of a city governed by the few at the expense of the many.

An article in City Beat described the pressures being brought to bear to exclude elected officials from decisions on a taxpayer-funded development scheme… A former city councilman wrote an essay refuting a narrative published in the Union-Tribune denigrating local lifeguards…

These disparate tales are connected by a business ethos fostered by former and present elected officials claiming to have the public interest in mind. I’m talking about a Plantation Overlord Mentality as opposed to a backroom conspiracy. Business as usual in San Diego, in other words.   [Read more…]

Here’s the List of Top 10 Groups Lobbying Our Government – and There’s Not One Union on It

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By Staff / O.B. Rag

There’s a group called MapLight and they keep accounts of which lobbying organizations are in our government’s face – in Congress and at federal agencies – lobbying. MapLight is a 501(c)3 research organization that tracks money’s influence on politics.

Here’s their most recent report – issued July 30, 2015, on the second quarter lobbying expenses for this year – and check it out – we’re always told by the mainstream media that government officials are pressured by labor as well as by corporate lobbyists – that union money is equal to corporate money during elections. You can see by the following list that is patently untrue – at least for this quarter:   [Read more…]

USC Report: Inequality Threatens San Diego’s Future

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By Doug Porter

A report by the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) says long term prospects for San Diego’s economy are challenged by widespread inequality.

I could dazzle you with charts and figures (and there are plenty in the report), but here’s the bottom line: the way public policy is and has been made in San Diego benefits a few at the expense of the many. Trading short term greed for long term growth would be better for the overall economy and the environment.

The authors of the report point to metropolitan areas around the country where public and private entities have opted to work together on economic and environmental issues and are building platforms for sustainable growth. They also point to emerging data demonstrating that “greater economic and racial equality in regions corresponds with more robust growth in terms of employment, output, productivity, and per-capita income.”   [Read more…]

How San Diego Is a Petri Dish for the ALEC Agenda

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By Brendan Fischer / Center for Media and Democracy

This week, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) descends on San Diego, California for its annual meeting of lobbyists and legislators.

In many ways, San Diego is an appropriate setting for ALEC’s conference. Beyond the walls of the Manchester Grand Hyatt, where ALEC members convene under heavy security and behind closed doors, the city known as “America’s Finest” has been a major battleground in the corporate-backed resistance to local control over paid sick days and the minimum wage.

It was at ACCE’s last meeting, held in Washington D.C. in December, where an ALEC task force director claimed that “the biggest threat comes from the local level” when it comes to grassroots efforts to raise the wage and enact paid sick days, and warned that “we are seeing a number of localities that have increased their minimum wage.”

San Diego is one of them.   [Read more…]

The Complicated World of Having Your Boss Decide What Kind of Birth Control You Can Use

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By Joan McCarter / Daily Kos

Too bad Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy decided to wait until this session to not be insane about Obamacare. Not only did their Hobby Lobby decision make it okay for bosses to deny their employees health insurance plans that cover birth control (because that has everything to do with your job), they opened up the floodgates for all sorts of “religious freedom” claims in which people declare they won’t do something that their job requires them to do and they think is icky because God. But back to the birth control part, the Kaiser Family Foundation has a helpful explainer of the newly complicated world of trying to plan your family with health insurance.   [Read more…]

Confronting ALEC’s ‘Everybody Does It’ Defense

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By Doug Porter

Mike Huckabee, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz. How can you lose?

If the spinmeisters at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) hoped media coverage would focus on the three GOP presidential candidates genuflecting before their annual gathering of corporate lobbyists and state legislators this week in San Diego, they may be proved wrong.

A barrage of press releases and public statements from a wide spectrum of public interest organizations combined with the growing certainty that San Diegans would actually show up in large numbers to protest the closed-door right wing strategy meeting has begun to shift coverage away from the celebrity angle to questions about just what might be going on inside the Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel.

Although there will always be plenty of stenographers willing to be dazzled by celebrity, a slow but steady drumbeat of dissent aimed at ALEC’s real agenda has forced that group’s defenders to go to Plan B, also known as ‘everybody does it’.   [Read more…]

San Diego Activists Go All In for Anti-Alec Protests

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Labor, Environmental and Community Groups Plan Multiple Actions

By Doug Porter

A wide range of organizations, some of whom rarely get involved in non-electoral politics, are calling upon San Diegans to put on their protesting shoes during the upcoming annual meeting of the American Legislative Council (ALEC).

Protests, press conferences, teach-ins, rallies and guerrilla theater will be happening throughout the coming week commencing on Tuesday, July 21st as ALEC delegates are checking in. Buses will coming in from the Los Angeles/Long Beach areas on Wednesday for what organizers expect will be the largest events of the week.

Today’s column will focus on the already-announced activities (there are more coming, I’m told).   [Read more…]

Help Save Our Public Postal Service

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By Dave Johnson / Campaign for America’s Future

The Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service is calling for support of two House resolutions that urge restoration of overnight mail service standards and a continuation of six-day delivery.

The alliance consists of more than 70 national organizations. The coalition is asking people to contact members of Congress in support of House Resolutions 54 and 12. H. Res. 54, from Reps. David McKinley (R-W.Va) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that the U.S. Postal Service “should take all appropriate measures to restore service standards in effect as of July 1, 2012.” H. Res. 12, from Reps. Sam Graves (R-MO) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA), says that the USPS “should take all appropriate measures to ensure the continuation of its six-day mail delivery service.”

These resolutions are in response to a new attempt to manufacture a crisis in postal delivery.   [Read more…]

Chargers Stadium Financing Plan: Sell City Owned Unicorns and Fairy Dust

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By Doug Porter

This whole deal with using public money to build a stadium for a privately owned football team just keeps getting stranger.

Yesterday we learned the idea of using funds from developments adjacent to the Mission Valley site to fund the project was off the table. Ancillary development has been part of every stadium plan proposed over the past 15 years. That’s $225 million just vanishing. Gone. Poof!

Then where’s the stadium construction funding coming from? Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s spokesman, Craig Gustafson, emailed Scott Lewis at Voice of San Diego: “The plan the City/County team is developing is based on negotiations and discussions with the Chargers and the NFL.”   [Read more…]

The Persuaders: California Restaurant Association

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By Bobbi Murray / Capital & Main

“Something always seems to be starting in California,” Angelo Amador, an attorney and vice president for the National Restaurant Association, told Bloomberg News.

It was 2012 and his remark was prompted by a California state Supreme Court decision favoring an employee’s right to have defined meal-break times. The association—dubbed “the other NRA” for its lobbying muscle, with annual revenues of $71 million in 2013–had vigorously opposed policy that required employers to ensure that workers take rest and meal breaks rather than leaving it to the employees to push back against managers to enforce break provisions.

Amador’s NRA is perhaps the largest trade group that you have never heard of, and supports an “institute” run by a PR firm that churns out opinions and papers to shape policy debates.   [Read more…]

Anti-Vaxxers’ Tactics Fail to Sway Legislature

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By Doug Porter

Gov. Jerry Brown signed off yesterday on legislation giving California one of the most far-reaching vaccination laws in the nation. Religious and personal-belief exemptions for schoolchildren will be phased out, starting next year.

Getting this bill passed turned out to be a major political battle. The combination of paranoia about government (on the right) and corporate greed (on the left) mixed with a solid dash of unfounded health concerns ended up being a recipe for political passion rarely seen on the legislative floor.

The anti-vaxxers, as they are popularly called, viewed this legislation as a battle for the lives of their children and the liberties of the nation. They’ve indicated that litigation will be their next step.   [Read more…]