Labor

Thumbnail image for A Proud Day of Activism for Labor, Refugee and Environmental Advocates

A Proud Day of Activism for Labor, Refugee and Environmental Advocates

by Doug Porter 07.23.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Tuesday, July 22 was a remarkable day for San Diego. Starting with an early morning prayer vigil at San Diego City Hall in support of a higher minimum wage and ending with hundreds of Escondido residents calling for a humanitarian response to the border refugee crisis, people stood up for causes they believed in.

At noontime a broad spectrum of supporters of organized labor rallied in Mission Valley, vowing to support workers for Food-4-Less should they go on strike. And in the afternoon environmental activists testified before the city council, urging Mayor Kevin Faulconer to move ahead with a review process needed to consider an ordinance curtailing the use of plastic shopping bags.

People chose to make a stand on issues that were important to them. They faced off against institutional and political hostility, along with a corporate media all-too-willing to give a platform to those willing to spew ridicule (the UT’s Greenhut) and venomous language (Escondido’s nativists). They stood up and said “we’re not going to take it any more” (UFCW’s Kasparian). They testified that now is the time to protect the environment (representatives of Coastkeeper, Surfrider and the Sierra Club).

It was a great day to be an American. It was a great day to be an activist.

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Thumbnail image for NYTimes Profiles the “Part-Time Hell” Offered to American Workers

NYTimes Profiles the “Part-Time Hell” Offered to American Workers

by Source 07.23.2014 Business

By Dartagnan / Daily Kos

The latest tripe from the Republican Party attempts to distract from its purposeful obstruction of all initiatives or legislation designed to create new jobs, by accusing the Obama Administration of fostering a “part-time” economy.

In reality the prevalence of “part-time only” jobs arising from the residue of the Bush Recession reflects the gradual realization by corporate America that it no longer needs to hew to the pretense of actually caring about workers and can, with impunity, impose hiring policies designed solely to fatten its bottom line.

An expanded field of semi-skilled workers constantly warned against unionizing, a population of nervous and insecure skilled workers deathly afraid of losing their health care and livelihoods, and the propagation of anti-union legislation funded by right-wing think tanks and their Republican tools in state legislatures have all led to an atmosphere of passive acquiescence to predatory hiring practices.

This has little or nothing to do with the Administration and much to do with a relatively new ethic of corporate greed and indifference run amok. It implicates businesses and corporations at every level, but it is particularly visible in retail and service industries.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego PD Stench Reaches Los Angeles

San Diego PD Stench Reaches Los Angeles

by Doug Porter 07.22.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The status quo types around San Diego seem to think there’s nothing wrong with our police department’s enforcement methods, particularly when it comes to not-really-human types like strippers.

You haven’t seen our District Attorney or our City Attorney holding a press conference, promising to investigate the SDPD’s recent “enforcement raids.” Mayor Faulconer can’t be bothered by questions about violations of people’s constitutional rights.

 And the UT? Nothing to see here, folks… Just cops doing their jobs…

At least the Los Angeles Times editorial board knows an outrage when they see one.

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Thumbnail image for Welcome to Comic Con: Be Sure to Cover Your Ass

Welcome to Comic Con: Be Sure to Cover Your Ass

by Doug Porter 07.21.2014 Cartoons

By Doug Porter

The one of the largest collections of make-believe comes to San Diego this week, kicking off Wednesday night with Preview Night followed by four days of events running Thursday, July 24 through Sunday, July 27. More than 130,000  are expected for Comic Con 2014.

What should be a dream-come-true event for fans of the genres involved has turned out to be a nightmare in recent years as an institutional malaise about dealing with harassment issues has surfaced. Last year photographs of attendee derrieres were posted online after Comic-Con as some sort of sick tribute to the misogynist mentality that’s flourished in recent events in San Diego and other cities.

A group calling itself Geeks for CONsent is fighting back this year, circulating a petition aiming at getting Comic-Con International in San Diego (SDCC) to update its harassment policy. They’re asking for a “full harassment policy,” as well as anti-harassment signs and trained volunteers to deal with complaints.  

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Thumbnail image for After the Minimum Wage Win: The Battle Continues

After the Minimum Wage Win: The Battle Continues

by Jim Miller 07.21.2014 Business

By Jim Miller

San Diego’s progressive community got a well deserved shout-out last week in the national media with The Nation praising the good work of our city’s “expanding progressive base.”

More specifically, the article noted that the local movement to raise the minimum wage was comprised of many of the same folks who formed the community-labor alliance behind the David Alvarez mayoral campaign:

That coalition, Raise Up San Diego, includes the Center for Policy Initiatives as well as labor unions, immigrant rights groups and service providers. The campaign is endorsed by the San Diego LGBT Community Center, San Diego’s NAACP chapter and several other organizations and small businesses. Many of the groups had collaborated on issue work, elections and voter-turnout programs in the past . . . San Diego’s expanding immigrant community is just one indicator of the city’s transformation. Alongside its newfound diversity, the city has begun to shift politically, from reliably Republican to a more complicated patchwork of blue, red and purple.

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Thumbnail image for Looking Back at the Week at SDFP and OB Rag: July 13-19

Looking Back at the Week at SDFP and OB Rag: July 13-19

by Brent E. Beltrán 07.20.2014 Activism

Compiled by Brent E. Beltrán

Starting today San Diego Free Press will publish a new column every Sunday morning called Looking Back at the Week. This new column will feature links to articles from the previous week from SDFP and OB Rag’s regular and at-large contributors including Doug Porter, Frank Gormlie, Jim Miller, Ernie McCray, John Lawrence, Anna Daniels, Junco Canché, Brent E. Beltrán, and others. In case you missed their articles during the week this will be your chance to catch up on what they’ve been writing about.

This week’s edition features articles on the minimum wage increase, the Federal Reserve, immigration, DeMaio flush with Koch and Tea money, SDFP and OB Rag receiving awards, the OB community plan, two Junco toons, Jews speaking out against Gaza offensive, The Orphan of Zhao, Neighborhood House, and more.

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Economic Lynching

by Source 07.18.2014 Culture

By Paul Buchheit / Common Dreams

On October 26, 1934 Claude Neal, a black man accused of murdering a young white woman in Jackson County, Florida, was dragged from his jail cell to be lynched. The event was rushed into the afternoon newspapers. When an unruly crowd of several thousand people gathered for the spectacle, the six men in the lynching party got nervous and decided to drive Neal to a secluded spot in the woods. There they tortured him in ways that seem impossible for a human being to imagine.

America can rightfully feel better about itself now, having gone beyond such detestable acts of savagery against fellow human beings. But the assault on people deemed inferior continues in another way. Instead of a single shocking act of physical brutality, it is a less visible means of drawn-out terror that destroys dignity and livelihood and slowly breaks down the body. So insidious is this modern form of economic subjugation that many whites barely seem to notice people of color being dragged to the bottom of one of the most unequal societies in the history of the world.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego’s Overlords Seek Overturn of City Council Vote Raising Minimum Wage

San Diego’s Overlords Seek Overturn of City Council Vote Raising Minimum Wage

by Doug Porter 07.16.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Business interests opposed to raising the minimum wage in San Diego haven’t given up, despite a 6-3 city council vote on Monday approving an ordinance boosting wages for an estimated 172,000 workers.

Yesterday they launched a major public relations campaign seeking to portray the council vote as undemocratic and unfair to their interests. In closed door meetings led by Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders, so-called business leaders are considering the logistics of mounting a signature gathering campaign to place an initiative on the ballot seeking to overturn the minimum wage increase.

Although meeting the August 8th deadline for inclusion on the November 2014 ballot is unlikely, a successful campaign completed by year’s end would have the effect of suspending the city council ordinance until such time as a vote could be taken. The next scheduled election is in June 2016.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Becomes Largest US City to Pass Minimum Wage Hike and Earned Sick Days Policy

San Diego Becomes Largest US City to Pass Minimum Wage Hike and Earned Sick Days Policy

by Doug Porter 07.15.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Supporters of a hike in local minimum wages left nothing to chance yesterday as a city council decision on a proposal by Todd Gloria neared. Over 400 hundred people showed up at city hall for a 6pm hearing, filling the council chambers and two overflow rooms. Many wore pink signs indicating their support.

Email and social media reminders abounded during the day, including a mid-day Raise Up San Diego-led “Twitterstorm.” More than 100 people testified before the council. Highlights included former basketball star Bill Walton standing up in favor of the measure and United Foodservice and Commercial Workers’ Mickey Kasparian giving an impassioned speech.

In the end, the City Council did the right thing, voting 6-3 to enact by ordinance a minimum wage hike, with raises in three stages effective January, 2015. This means the measure will not be placed before the voters in November.

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Thumbnail image for What Kind of City Are We? It’s Time to Raise the Minimum Wage

What Kind of City Are We? It’s Time to Raise the Minimum Wage

by Jim Miller 07.14.2014 Business

“The bottom line is that the minimum wage in 2013 is far less now than it was in 1968 despite the economy’s productivity more than doubling, and low-wage workers attaining far more education.”Economic Policy Institute

By Jim Miller

The San Diego City Council will consider today whether to pass an ordinance or put forth a ballot measure to increase the city’s minimum wage and provide earned sick days for local workers. Since the last time I wrote on this subject in late April, the original proposal of raising the minimum wage to the local Self-Sufficiency Standard of $13.09 with five earned sick days has been significantly lowered in order to address the concerns of opponents.

The current proposal keeps the initial five earned sick days but now only raises the minimum wage to $9.75 in 2015 and $10.50 in 2016 before stopping at $11.50 in 2017 and indexing it to inflation after January of 2019.

Thus, despite the fact that the original proposal fell short of the landmark $15 an hour passed in Seattle and being fought for elsewhere around the country, the City Council still bent over backwards to appease the fears of those clamoring that any increase in the minimum wage would spell disaster for small businesses and the local economy. And they did this even though the preponderance of evidence shows that minimum wage increases elsewhere have actually helped the economy.

The response to this compromise from the Chamber of Commerce and company was to essentially flip the Council the bird and reaffirm their opposition to any measure that moves beyond the state’s minimum wage.

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Thumbnail image for A Lack of Affordable Housing and Low Wages Equals Business as Usual in San Diego

A Lack of Affordable Housing and Low Wages Equals Business as Usual in San Diego

by Doug Porter 07.10.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

This morning’s UT-San Diego ran a front page fairy tale about a resolution of the dispute between affordable housing advocates and developers regarding so-called linkage fees on new building projects in the city. We’re told that a plan released by “San Diego’s housing officials and the business community” Wednesday would “double” commercial building fees dedicated to affordable housing.

Hogwash.

The real story here is that wealthy developers and their lobbyists have effectively torpedoed the very idea of linkage fees in favor of “broadening out” the search for funding sources–which means proposing to stick those of us who actually pay taxes with the tab. Given San Diego’s historic adversity to even incremental tax hikes, this means nothing will be done.

Oh, and, by the way, no advocates for affordable housing have signed on to this “grand plan.”

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Thumbnail image for What’s the Role of Race in the New Economy Movement?

What’s the Role of Race in the New Economy Movement?

by Source 07.09.2014 Activism

by Penn Loh / Yes!

There has been a growing buzz about what kind of economy we need in order to address wealth inequality, environmental unsustainability, and lack of democracy. Clearly, many desire something new and dramatically different.

Perhaps this buzz around what many supporters call a “New Economy” will grow into a powerful social movement—one that we desperately need to transform the current economy. But whether it does so or not will depend critically on its color (or lack thereof).

Fortunately, we don’t have to look hard to find examples of communities of color both now and in the past that have advanced economic principles of fairness, sustainability, and democracy.

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Thumbnail image for Minimum Wage Increase, Earned Sick Days Proposal Set for Full City Council Hearing July 14th

Minimum Wage Increase, Earned Sick Days Proposal Set for Full City Council Hearing July 14th

by Doug Porter 07.08.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The full San Diego City Council is set to hear arguments over proposals increasing the minimum wage and allowing for up to five earned sick days. The measure being considered is Council President Todd Gloria’s attempt at comprise from an earlier proposal.

The specifics of the current plan are:

  • $9.75 Jan 2015
  • $10.50 Jan 2016
  • $11.50 Jan 2017
  • Indexed to inflation after Jan 2019
  • 5 Earned Sick days

Advocates say earned sick days will impact 285,000 people, with wage increases affecting more than 170,000 people.  They estimate an additional $265 million will be pumped into the local economy.

Yet to be decided is whether the council will simply enact an ordinance or put it before the voters in November.

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Thumbnail image for What the Supreme Court’s Harris v. Quinn Decision Means for Workers and American Democracy

What the Supreme Court’s Harris v. Quinn Decision Means for Workers and American Democracy

by Jim Miller 07.07.2014 Columns

“Our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.” --James Madison

By Jim Miller

After last week’s slew of bad Supreme Court rulings much of the media attention rightfully went to the horrendous “Hobby Lobby” case where the rights of corporations were deemed more important than the rights of women.

But there was another big decision where the Supreme Court surprised some observers and ruled narrowly on Harris v. Quinn, the case which could have gutted public sector unions and virtually wiped out their ability to play in American politics by ending all public sector unions’ ability to collect agency fees. As the Daily Kos noted of the case:

Harris v. Quinn, is about the constitutionality of “agency fees” charged by public sector unions to all workers in a unionized setting, even non-union members. These fees are essential to their operation . . . Agency fees in principle are important to public employee unions because they’re required by law to bargain for all workers in a unionized setting. If agency fees for non-members are ruled to be a violation of free speech, unions fear they would lose funding, become less effective at bargaining for benefits and, in turn, lose members.

If the Supreme Court had ruled broadly it would have crippled public sector unions by making them much less effective, leading to a loss of political power, bargaining clout, and lots of members. And though Harris v. Quinn only involved public sector unions, their demise would have surely been a death knell for the entire American Labor movement.

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Thumbnail image for Anti-Prevailing Wage Lawsuit is a Waste of Money for El Centro

Anti-Prevailing Wage Lawsuit is a Waste of Money for El Centro

by Source 07.04.2014 Business

By  S.E. Mayes

At a time when the City of El Centro is experiencing the second highest unemployment rate of any city in the nation, it is astounding that leaders there are wasting tax dollars and time by joining a lawsuit against a new state law designed to create more middle class jobs for construction workers across California.

The new law, Senate Bill 7 does not require cities to pay prevailing wages, but it does provide incentives to cities that choose to pay prevailing wages on projects that are locally funded.  SB7 gives access to state funding and financing if they will comply with prevailing wage agreements already in place for all state and federally funded projects on locally funded projects.

State and federal governments already require the payment of prevailing wage, because for over 80 years, prevailing wage laws have ensured that taxpayer dollars go to fund projects that are completed by the best trained workers available for the best value possible; more often than not, these projects are completed on time and on budget.  For years, out of state lobby groups have tried to convince local officials in California that they can save money by paying workers less.  In practice, these claims tend to fall apart.

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Thumbnail image for Court Rulings: Corporations Are People; Women Not So Much

Court Rulings: Corporations Are People; Women Not So Much

by Doug Porter 06.30.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Today was another day for bad news out of Washington. I knew there was trouble brewing when the announcement was made this morning that Supreme Court Justice Justice Samuel Alito would be reading the majority opinions for the high courts final decisions of this session.

First came the ruling (Harris v. Quinn) that home health care workers constituted a new class of “partial public employees” who cannot be required to contribute union bargaining fees. The ruling was narrower in scope than many unions feared a negative opinion might be, but significantly impacts one of fastest growing areas of labor organizing.

Then, in keeping with the current flair for the dramatic by Chief Justice Roberts (who decides when rulings will be announced), the Supreme Court (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby) held that closely held corporations (90% of all companies) are “persons” as defined by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, and can hold religious beliefs exempting them from the ObamaCare mandate on contraceptive coverage.

Again, the scope of this final ruling was not as broad as some analysts had feared. But if you happen to be a woman, its implications are huge.

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Thumbnail image for Union Appeals to UCSD on Behalf of Che Cafe

Union Appeals to UCSD on Behalf of Che Cafe

by Source 06.29.2014 Activism

The following letter was sent to the administration and student councils of the University of California San Diego this week concerning the impending university ordered closing of the Che Cafe: 

We are writing you as concerned members of the UCSD community, as citizens of California, and as UPTE (University Professional and Technical Employees, Communication Workers of America 9119) members.

We support the right of the Che Café to continue operations in its current building and oppose any plan for demolition of the building. We are motivated by values of fair play and due process as well as our sense of civic responsibility to speak clearly about the educational and cultural priorities of our public university.

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Thumbnail image for What’s at Stake with the Proposed Escondido Charter?

What’s at Stake with the Proposed Escondido Charter?

by Source 06.20.2014 Business

By Don Greene, President, Escondido Democrats

In a 4-1 vote, the Escondido City Council approved the draft of the proposed city charter to be put on the November ballot. Incredibly, the charter was approved with at least two of the council members not understanding the document that they were approving.

Case in point:  During the June 18th hearing, Council member Ed Gallo very magnanimously told the assembled crowd and those watching at home that the council “could have done themselves, but they chose to put it on the ballot.”  Um, no.  Charters must be approved by a majority of the residents of the affected city according to state law.  Mr. Gallo also stated that “this is the same document that we started with in May” and that the city had gone through “4 public hearings” on the matter.  Neither of those points is correct. It would be nice to be sure that our Council members actually understood what they were voting for.

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Thumbnail image for Junco’s Jabs: Please, Sirs Sanders and Faulconer, We Want Some More.

Junco’s Jabs: Please, Sirs Sanders and Faulconer, We Want Some More.

by Junco Canché 06.19.2014 Business
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Thumbnail image for Reactionaries Reject City Council Compromise on Minimum Wage “Because They Can”

Reactionaries Reject City Council Compromise on Minimum Wage “Because They Can”

by Doug Porter 06.17.2014 Business

“No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to exist in this country.” President Franklin D Roosevelt

By Doug Porter

Having successfully bamboozled their way through a series of political encounters over the past few years, downtown’s reactionary business class proved yesterday that they’re in no mood for any compromises.

With hours of a Council president Todd Gloria introducing a revamped minimum wage proposal the Chamber of Commerce’s newest front group, calling itself the San Diego Small Business Coalition, mustered a couple of dozen bodies in front of city hall to denounce the compromise proposal as ”massive,” threatening increased prices and reduced employment.

Gloria’s scaled-back proposal increases the local minimum wage in three annual increments. Stage one (originally $11.09) would be $9.75, stage two (originally $10.50) would be $10.50 and stage three (originally $13.09) ends up at $11.50, effective January 1, 2017. Allowing employees to earn paid sick days is also part of the measure.

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Thumbnail image for What’s Wrong with the Vergara Decision for Teachers

What’s Wrong with the Vergara Decision for Teachers

by Jim Miller 06.16.2014 Columns

By Jim Miller and Kelly Mayhew

Last week’s decision in the Vergara v. the State of California lawsuit that undermined tenure and seniority rights was a profound slap in the face to teachers who have committed their careers to improving the lives of our children.  It was yet another significant victory for those who are seeking to impose corporate education reforms by pitting teachers against children in a cynical, destructive, and utterly counterproductive fashion.

As tenured professors in the community college system, union members, and parents of a child in California’s public school system, we have a unique perspective on this matter.  Although the “Vergara” decision has no effect on our jobs at San Diego City College, it does affect the professional lives of the educators who teach our son and it will do them, and him, more harm than good.

We have had our kid happily ensconced at a tremendous place–McKinley Elementary School in North Park.  This is a traditional neighborhood school that has a staff of devoted, loving, highly skilled professionals, many of whom have dedicated most of their careers to this place.

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Thumbnail image for U.S. Lags Behind World in Temp Worker Protections

U.S. Lags Behind World in Temp Worker Protections

by Source 06.15.2014 Business

By Michael Grabell / ProPublica

For nearly six years, Limber Herrera has toiled as a temp worker doing the same work for the same company in Mira Loma, Calif. About 40 hours a week, he unloads shipping containers for NFI—one of the largest freight distribution firms in America—moving goods that will eventually stock the shelves of Walmart and Sam’s Club.

Herrera, 30, has been a temp so long that he’s outlasted the agency that hired him. But that mattered little. One day in late 2012 he was called into the break room to fill out some paperwork. Then he went back to work—only now employed by the temp agency that took over the contract.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego’s Minimum Wage Hike: Headed for Compromise?

San Diego’s Minimum Wage Hike: Headed for Compromise?

by Doug Porter 06.12.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

It ain’t over ‘till it’s over. I quote baseball great Yogi Berra because it appears to me something is going on with the minimum wage increase proposed by city council president Todd Gloria.

On the surface things would seem to be headed towards a city council decision later in June. The Economic Development and Intergovernment Relations Committee agreed yesterday to forward the proposal to incrementally increase to the full council for discussion.

The reality is there is no hard and fast proposal; it’s more like a notion than a motion. Whatever comes out of the council session later in the summer could be on the ballot come November. Or maybe November 2016. Or maybe the city council will simply enact an ordinance, which might then be challenged by the usual pathetic liars claiming to represent San Diego’s business interests.

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Thumbnail image for Seattle Wins $15 Minimum Wage—Will Your Town Be Next?

Seattle Wins $15 Minimum Wage—Will Your Town Be Next?

by Source 06.11.2014 Activism

Activists built support for the ordinance by demonstrating that it would reduce poverty in the city.

By YES! Editors

Yesterday, June 2, the Seattle City Council approved a new ordinance that will raise the minimum wage in the city to $15 per hour—the highest in the United States.

Most visible were young activists in their twenties and thirties who moved directly from [City Councilmember Kshama] Sawant’s campaign to a new group, “15 Now.”

Seattle’s economy is fueled by high-tech industries and cutting-edge products produced by some the most famous corporate names in the nation: Starbucks, Amazon, Microsoft, and Boeing.

But the cost of living in the city is high and rising. People who work in low-wage nonprofessional jobs here—restaurant workers for example—find it increasingly difficult to afford the rising cost of food and housing in the city. As is true across the United States, many low-wage workers have to supplement their full-time salaries with government assistance like food stamps in order to have both rent and groceries.

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Thumbnail image for June Gloom: Inequality for All, Really

June Gloom: Inequality for All, Really

by Jim Miller 06.09.2014 2014 June Primary

By Jim Miller

“When you skip voting it’s not rebellion, it’s surrender.”

That was the apt Facebook meme doing the rounds last week after a brutal primary election where a pathetically low turnout led to a very good night for Republicans and the corporate interests they represent. Of course this was not at all unexpected as June primaries have always been lethargic affairs, but this one was even more embarrassing.

Indeed, with labor significantly depleted after losing a big mayoral special election and fractured local Democrats still reeling, the right saw an opportunity to go for the kill and they did, outspending the Democrats in nearly every race and burying the community of Barrio Logan under a mountain of corporate-funded bullshit. As Doug Porter accurately observed, it was a triumph of environmental racism and plutocracy, pure and simple.

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