By Doug Porter
Anna Daniels and myself took a road trip yesterday to beautiful downtown Temecula to meet and talk with employees of Casino Pauma who have been struggling for union representation. Native American casinos like Pauma are located in sovereign territories whose coverage by labor laws are limited to the terms described in compacts negotiated with the Governor’s office and ratified by the legislature.
Following an initial investigation by its General Counsel, the National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against Pauma Casino alleging that management’s response to the wearing of union buttons was an unfair labor practice. The unions says that workers who wore buttons have been threatened with disciplinary action if they failed to remove the buttons.
Organizers with UNITE HERE Local 30 staged a press conference in the parking lot outside of a Ramada Inn in Temecula prior to the start of a week long series of hearings by an administrative judge from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Separate from the hearing, workers have been asking the tribe to agree to a fair process, free from intimidation and retribution, while they decide whether to unionize.
“At the end of the day we want a fair process without the company intimidating us. Ever since I started working here I have not had any guarantee that I will not be fired without a good reason, and my job security is important to me. I have a medical condition so my job and medical benefits are very important to me,” said Martin Loya, engineer at Pauma Casino for almost 9 years.
In March of last year Pauma won a federal lawsuit against the state that allowed it to resume using its 2000 agreement because the 2004 compact was erroneous in its assumptions. This ruling indirectly changed Pauma’s collective-bargaining policies: The tribe is no longer required to remain neutral on the issue, and any unionization vote must now take place by secret ballot instead of on so-called authorization cards.
UNITE HERE Local 30’s organizing drive was already underway last spring, and in April the union presented a petition with149 signatures, more than half of the total pool of 226 Pauma workers in the bargaining unit, and delivered a letter indicating those results to the casino’s officials. Management refused to recognize the petition.
So this labor-management conflict is anything but typical. While some operations, like the one at nearby Casino Pala, have accepted unionization, others are choosing to dabble in the no-man’s land of contested legal definitions and issues of jurisdiction.
Pauma workers told a UT-San Diego reporter last spring “they haven’t gotten a raise in at least four years, are pinched by rising health care costs and want to negotiate some workplace policies.” Meanwhile the casino has undergone a major upgrade. With a thousand gaming machines, 21 table and poker games and half-dozen food service operations, Pauma has prospered as the economy has bounced back.
One housekeeper told us about being stuck working the graveyard shift for the past eight years. She’d love another schedule, but feels trapped by company policies requiring a demotion if she transfers to a day or evening shift.
If there was a theme to yesterday’s press conference, it was that employees were looking for respect as much as any economic benefits that a union contract would provide.
A lawyer representing the employees and union told us it will probably be a couple of months before any ruling is issued by the NLRB administrative judge.
Police Sex Scandal Deepens
The lawsuit against the City of San Diego by “Jane Doe”, which the City Attorney keeps telling reporters is all about gold-digging by the victim, contains a demand for establishment of a mechanism to monitor complaints against the SDPD.
As I’ve said repeatedly in this column, this insistence on the part of the victim is a big part of why the city’s legal beagle has engaged in offensive legal tactics, including a claim that panties taken by the convicted police officer constituted a bribe and hiring a private investigator to (unsuccessfully) gather videotaped evidence discrediting her.
Now 10News has come out with a story that speaks to the culture inside the SDPD that’s allowed three officers in recent years to be arrested for sex crimes.
A series of sexually suggestive posters hung in the San Diego Police Department’s sex crimes unit in 2011, as Officer Anthony Arevalos patrolled the streets trading tickets for sexual favors.
Team 10 discovered the posters while investigating San Diego police culture now that another San Diego police officer is under investigation for sexually assaulting women while on duty. The posters’ existence had been reported, but they had never been seen by the public until now.
Two of the posters make light of women victimized by the date rape drug rohypnol. Other posters celebrate sex acts, binge drinking and female anatomy. Two female sex crimes detectives are suing the department, claiming they were sexually harassed by colleagues in 2011. The lawsuit references the posters and an email titled, “The man test.” The email asks a series of derogatory questions to determine if the person answering exhibits “homosexual tendencies.”
A slideshow of some of the sex crimes’ unit’s office “decor” can be seen here.
Disgusted yet? But wait! There’s more! Here’s a quote about Jane Doe’s attacker, former SDPD officer Anthony Arevalos.
“This all could have been stopped years ago,” retired San Diego officer Francisco Torres said in a deposition. Torres worked closely with Arevalos in the department’s southern district.
Torres has said Arevalos’ close relationship with his commanding officer, Lt. Rudy Tai, allowed him to remain unreported. Tai was promoted to head the department’s sex crimes unit and is now the head of the San Diego Police Department’s criminal intelligence unit.
Really folks! It’s time for enablers like City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and Police Chief William Landsdowne to be held accountable.
A Good Day for Congressman Scott Peters
The D-52 Democrat received a 100% rating from the League of Conservation Voters yesterday.
Meanwhile, it was revealed yesterday that the Koch brothers, who’s Americans for Prosperity group is funding anti-Peters ads on local cable channels, might have fibbed just a tad when they told Congress last year they had no interest in the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. And that’s true. They’re not actually building it.
The International Forum on Globalisationrevealed yesterday that Koch Exploration Canada (KEC) hold leases on up to 2 million acres of tar sands acreage in Alberta and potentially could reap $100 billion in profits. (And, yes, I know the Koch PR machine was quick to deny the profits claim, which IFG has already refuted here.)
Now of course we all “know” that Carl DeMaio, the likeliest potential beneficiary of the Koch/AFP largesss, has nothing to do with them, right? Perhaps it’s a good time for some publicity minded environmental group to work up a “dirty oil can” award for Mr. DeMaio.
Another Fox News Prediction Failure
I thought the talking heads at Fox News were going to have a stroke back when Gov. Brown signed the law granting transgender students access to activities corresponding to their gender identity.
From Media Matters:
On January 1, California’s recently enacted School Success and Opportunity Act went into effect, requiring public schools to allow transgender students to have access to facilities and extracurricular activities that correspond to their gender identity. A right-wing coalition aims to overturn the law in a November referendum, but an initial signature count suggested that the repeal campaign won’t have sufficient signatures to put the law up for a vote. California officials have until February 24 to complete a signature-by-signature count.
Following passage of the law, right-wing media figures issued apoplectic predictions of bathroom harassment and inappropriate behavior, warning that students would pretend to be transgender in order to sneak into opposite-sex bathrooms.
Equality Matters contacted officials from a number of California’s largest school districts to determine whether the right-wing horror stories about transgender students had come true in the first month of the law’s implementation. Unsurprisingly, none of the school districts reported incidents of harassment or inappropriate behavior, with several pledging to continue accommodating transgender students even if the law is repealed in a referendum.
A Rant Worth Repeating
This rant from local activist Martha Sullivan on Facebook about GOP envy over the endorsements by Democrats to mayoral candidate David Alvarez was too precious not to repost.
Poor Ron Nehring, unmoored since his last official gig, as Chair of the virtually-defunct CA Republican Party, ended in 2011. Just on local NBC News whining about the support David Alvarez has received from the Democratic Party at all levels, including endorsement by President Obama and CA Senators Boxer and Feinstein, the appearance of Democratic National Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz here on his behalf, as well as 2012 Democratic National Convention keynoter, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. Plus Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom here last week, along with the leadership of the CA Legislature — Speaker John Perez and Senate President Darrell Steinberg, joined by our homegirl, Speaker-elect Toni Atkins, punctuated by Governor Brown’s endorsement, plus so many other statewide electeds, including Board of Equalization Member Betty Yee.
Whiny Ron says “Out of town endorsements don’t matter in San Diego” — yeah, only because Kevin Faulconer has been doing his best to stay at arms-length from the clown-car of GOP luminaries. He’s gonna invite House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell? The CA Legislature 1/3 Minority leadership? National laughingstock Congressmembers Darrell Issa and Duncan Hunter Jr? The best he can muster is former Mayor Jerry Sanders, whose 8 years in office left our city’s infrastructure crumbling in favor of his developer buddies — and former City Attorney Mike Aguirre, bizarrely enough. There, there, Ron … I know it’s hard being completely marginalized.
On This Day: 1812 – The term “gerrymandering” had its beginning when the governor of Massachusetts, Elbridge Gerry, signed a redistricting law that favored his party. 1937 – General Motors agreed to recognize the United Automobile Workers Union, which ended the current sit-down strike against them. 1964 – The Beatles played their first U.S. concert at the Collisseum in Washington, DC.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@