By Doug Porter
Mayor Faulconer and his Chamber of Commerce puppeteers may not be willing to acknowledge it, but the train has left the station when it comes to minimum wages. They may think they can stop it, but they are wrong. The momentum to do something, anything about rampant economic inequality in the US is reaching critical mass.
Hizzoner met privately with advocates for increasing the minimum wage and earned sick leave on Friday, telling them while he appreciated their concerns, he was planning on vetoing an ordinance proposed by City Council President Todd Gloria. Any veto will likely be overridden by the Democratic super-majority on the Council.
From the Dave Rice’s reporting at the Reader:
“We are a country and city of opportunity and if you work full-time you should not be living in poverty,” said rabbi Laurie Coskey of the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice, expressing disappointment. “The mayor’s decision to veto the measure will take away 260 million dollars from the paychecks of hard-working San Diegans…. People’s lives are really going to be affected by this.”
Detractors of the proposal had threatened to move businesses outside city limits, halt expansion plans, and lay off workers or reduce their hours if the measure, which would incrementally raise the minimum wage to $11.50 by 2017.
Opponents of the measure are also threatening an initiative drive, which would have the effect of postponing implementation until a vote takes place in June, 2016. They are pointing to self-sponsored surveys saying as many as 14% of businesses would leave the city should the increases occur.
Cities like San Francisco and San Jose, which have already enacted local minimum wage increases, have not seen employment or retail locations decline, according to a study by the UC Berkeley Institute of Industrial Relations. A 2006 study by the University of New Mexico comparing data between Santa Fe (which enacted a living wage ordinance in 2003) and Albuquerque (which didn’t) found no such correlation.
I’ll take the Chamber-types at their word when they say they intend to fight this out at the ballot box. We can expect the mother of all Big Lies to be told early and often in such a campaign. As with other recent propaganda campaigns paid for by big business, the truth of the matter will be told long after the Big Lie is reported as fact in the local news media.
Fast Food Workers Ready to Up the Ante
A delegation from San Diego attended a nation-wide convention of fast-food workers in Chicago this past weekend, and news reports indicate that San Diego’s business community may have more than a ballot box struggle to contend with.
The weekend ended with a general agreement among participants that it was time to escalate tactics. Instead of informational pickets and one day wildcat strikes, fast food locations around the country may be seeing sit-ins and other forms of civil disobedience in the near future.
The New York Times reports:
It was by far the largest gathering of fast-food workers, and it was largely underwritten by the Service Employees International Union, a powerhouse with two million members known for unionizing hospital workers, home care aides and janitors. Mary Kay Henry, the union’s president, said the S.E.I.U. has adopted the fast-food workers’ cause to lift low-wage workers and combat income inequality…
…Throughout the convention, one overarching strategy was to say the fast-food movement was an economic justice movement comparable to the civil rights movement — a strategy the service employees used to unionize tens of thousands of cleaning workers in its “Justice for Janitors” campaign. Inspired by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the fast-food workers debated and discussed using nonviolent civil disobedience to step up pressure on the fast-food companies.
“They’re already slowly killing us with the way they’ve got us living,” said Terrence Wise, a Burger King worker in Kansas City, Mo., who served as M.C. for much of the convention. “Are we going to stand up?” he asked. “I want to see who is willing to do whatever it takes, who is willing to get arrested.”
From Think Progress:
The actions come at a time when job growth has been stronger in low-wage jobs like fast food but the pay is barely enough to live on. The average fast food employee who works full time, year round makes less than $19,000 before taxes. While executives in the industry claim that these jobs serve as entryways for teenagers to get into the job market, the largest share are held by people between the ages of 25 and 54, and more than a quarter have a child to support. The chances of moving up the ladder and making a career in fast food are much slimmer than in other industries.
Executives, on the other hand, are doing well. Fast food CEOs earn about 1,200 times what they pay their workers. The ratio wasn’t always so high, but the industry’s executive pay increased by more than 300 percent since 2000 while pay for workers has only gone up by 0.3 percent.
Beyond staging protests and strikes, fast food workers have taken legal action. Nine out of ten fast food workers report experiencing wage theft, being made to work off the clock or purchase uniforms with their wages, and workers filed seven class-action lawsuits against McDonalds in March alleging these kinds of actions.
Another Report on the Trickle-Down Economy
It’s not just minimum wage workers who have been getting the short end of the voodoo economics stick over the past decade.
From the New York Times:
Economic inequality in the United States has been receiving a lot of attention. But it’s not merely an issue of the rich getting richer. The typical American household has been getting poorer, too.
The inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335, or a 36 percent decline, according to a study financed by the Russell Sage Foundation. Those are the figures for a household at the median point in the wealth distribution — the level at which there are an equal number of households whose worth is higher and lower. But during the same period, the net worth of wealthy households increased substantially.
Big Brother’s Coming to San Diego Says Tobacco Seller
The San Diego City Council is taking its first pass on regulating e-cigarettes today.
From City News Service:
Deputy City Attorney Linda Peter said the proposed retailing ordinance would require store owners who sell e-cigarettes to obtain a police permit; prohibit sales of the devices, vaping juice and other paraphernalia through vending machines; and restrict advertisements or promotions that are visible in public areas.
Deputy City Attorney Ken So told committee members that the use of vapor inhalers would be prohibited in the same types of places where people aren’t allowed to smoke — such as restaurants, theaters, sports facilities, parks and beaches.
Use of the devices would be allowed in residences, vehicles, e-cigarette shops and vaping lounges, according to So.
The e-Tobacco industry is fighting back. (First it’ll be our smokes, then our big gulps…).
The National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) contends the city ordinance restricting advertising for cigarettes violates the right of free speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. And they’ve put the city on notice, with letters to the Mayor, the Council and the City Attorney.
Conserv blog SDRostra, trotted out the “Big Gulp” defense penned by Rafid Moga, owner of a local tobacco retail shop.
Here’s the argument:
Michael Bloomberg’s “big gulp ban” was widely ridiculed for being what it was: local government choosing to micromanage the most personal choices of New York City residents.
Well, it looks like the uncontrollable urge of local politicians to micromanage what we eat, drink and consume is making its way back to San Diego. This time the target is “e-cigarettes” the tobacco-less cigarettes that local government is deciding to treat as…tobacco.
The scientific jury is still out on the long term health effects of e-cigarettes. But we do know that they contain no tobacco, and none of the hundreds of potentially harmful chemicals in tobacco that cause an array of health problems over time.
Now, the same city government that should be focusing on problems in its police department, joblessness, homelessness and other pressing issues is taking time to move San Diego one step closer to Michael Bloomberg’s vision of local government that controls just about every choice we make about what we consume.
I’m all about people smoking just about whatever they want in private. I don’t get offended when I’m around it. It’s not that I like smoking, it’s just I can’t stand militant non-smokers. So, “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em,” as John Wayne used to say.
But don’t tell me the “scientific jury is out.” If you want to sell dicey stuff like that I don’t think it’s unreasonable for government to step in with some rules. Society tried that “jury is out” and “common sense” approach with tobacco products over the past six decades and it did not work.
I’d love to have a public debate with Mr Moga, but my vocal chords were removed a few years back. Enjoy your “freedom.”
The Times Did What?
Speaking of smoking stuff, the New York Times editorial board called for the federal government to repeal the ban on marijuana. In a weekend edition, even.
Here’s a snippet (It’s part of a week-long series):
There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.
This stance doesn’t extend to the NYT’s own corporate policies, however.
From Michael Calderone at Huffington Post:
…A Times spokeswoman told HuffPost that the paper’s policy for drug testing hasn’t changed, despite the editorial board’s decision.
“Our corporate policy on this issue reflects current law,” the spokeswoman said. “We aren’t going to get into details beyond that.”
California’s Six Bird Solution
From the San Francisco Chronicle website:
If Tim Draper‘s dream of dividing California into six separate states comes true, he says, every one of those states will have the opportunity of naming its own state bird.Julian Grant has some suggestions:
Jefferson: Pacific loon; North California: red-breasted nuthatch; Silicon Valley: masked booby; Central California: black vulture; West California: wandering tattler; South California: yellow-billed cuckoo.
If you catch a thread common to those names, says Grant, those references apply to the people in favor of such divisions.
On This Day: 1869- Women shoemakers in Lynn, Mass., created Daughters of St. Crispin, demanding pay equal to that of men 1932 – Federal troops forcibly dispersed the “Bonus Army” of World War I veterans who had gathered in Washington, DC. 1933 – The first singing telegram was sent. It was given to Rudy Vallee on his 32nd birthday.
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