By Doug Porter
San Diego is one of 100-plus cities targeted this Thursday as part of a nationwide protest of fast food restaurant workers aimed at low wages and working conditions.
Two new elements will be introduced into this latest round of protests, at least on a national level: acts of civil disobedience and a supportive presence by thousands of home-care workers joining the protests.
Workers are expected to strike at a dozen San Diego fast-food restaurants, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and Jack in the Box. Clergy, elected officials and community supporters will join fast-food workers on the strike lines, according to local organizers.
The Interfaith Center for Worker Justice of San Diego County has emailed supporters inviting them to “pray with our feet” beside Fast Food Workers on Thursday morning. The communique from the social justice advocacy group says they expect up to 500 supporters.
This week’s actions comes one month after the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel determined that McDonald’s is jointly responsible for wages and working conditions at its franchises. Fast food corporations repeatedly have tried to sidestep workers’ calls by claiming local franchisees bear full responsibility.
“If I were busting my butt in the service industry & wanted an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, I’d join a union”–President Obama
From the New York Times:
The organizers say fast-food workers — who are seeking a $15 hourly wage — will go on strike at restaurants in more than 100 cities and engage in sit-ins in more than a dozen cities…
…“On Thursday, we are prepared to take arrests to show our commitment to the growing fight for $15,” said Terrence Wise, a Burger King employee in Kansas City, Mo., and a member of the fast-food workers’ national organizing committee. At a convention that was held outside Chicago in July, 1,300 fast-food workers unanimously approved a resolution calling for civil disobedience as a way to step up pressure on the fast-food chains…
….The S.E.I.U., which represents hundreds of thousands of health care workers and janitors, is encouraging home-care aides to march alongside the fast-food strikers. The union hopes that if thousands of the nation’s approximately two million home-care aides join in it would put more pressure on cities and states to raise their minimum wage.
Nine out of ten fast food workers are victimized by wage theft, according to polling last spring by Hart Research Associates, The most common violation reported was working off-the-clock. About a quarter of those surveyed had worked over 40 hours in a week on some occasions, and half of that group said they didn’t get overtime pay for those hours.
The federal government employed only one workplace inspector for every 141,000 workers in 2008, meaning that the average employer has only a slim chance of being investigated in any given year. And as low-wage workers typically don’t have the money to hire a lawyer to sue for stolen wages, they’re left with nowhere to turn. Making a stink and getting fired doesn’t look like an attractive option in today’s job market.
Good News and Bad News on Jobs
The non-partisan California Budget Project’s annual Labor Day report on jobs and the economy is a mixed bag.
“The state has regained a number of jobs that were lost in the recession,” Luke Reidenbach, author of the report, said. “Between July 2007 and February 2010 the state lost a little over 1.3 million jobs and since then the state has regained a similar number of jobs.”
But those jobs don’t pay as much. According to the report middle and low-income workers earn less today than in 1979, when adjusted for inflation. And the number of low wageworkers has grown. Meanwhile top earners take in 17 percent more.
Reidenbach said in the report that this income inequality is contributes to the slow movement of the recovery…
…“The recent effort to increase local minimum wage as well as a statewide effort is a clear step in the right direction,” Reidenbach said. “San Diego is one of the many cities that’s going through these various minimum wage fights and the research that shows, that looks at the impact on businesses, shows a modest impact on their operating costs and on consumer prices.”
Our Spies Report: Talking the Talk
SDFP contributors John Lawrence and Bob Dorn were on the prowl yesterday, visiting eleven sites around town looking for signature gatherers employed by the the Chamber of Commerce backed group seeking to derail the recently passed city council ordinance increasing the minimum wage.
The good news is they only found the big business canvassers at two locations, an indication that reports about the anti-minimum wage group having difficulty with its ground game may be true.
Things weren’t so nice when they rolled into the Home Depot store over near the Sports arena. Apparently the police were called by the store manager at the request of a paid signature gatherer and his supervisor in response to two volunteers from Raise Up San Diego monitoring their efforts.
The police, according to a volunteer interviewed by Dorn, were respectful, and declined to issue a citation.
One paid signature gatherer at another location even offered to switch sides:
Incidentally, the paid gatherer at this site [Liberty Station] asked me if he could come over and work for Raise Up. I had to disabuse him of two notions; that I was with Raise Up and that Raise Up could pay him for counterdemonstrating. During the few minutes we were here I can say that the paid guy wasn’t doing a very good job of selling the CofC/Roe referendum; I didn’t see him address any passersby, and he seemed more interested in following me…
Walking the Walk
Local politicos and business persons are promised later this week as Raise Up San Diego will be announcing the Minimum Wage Challenge. Those participating will be asked to try living on the Minimum Wage for a week.
The word (unconfirmed) is that certain high profile San Diegans will be issuing a public challenge to Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders and Mayor Kevin Faulconer to participate. (I can’t wait to see the look on Sander’s face when he realizes he can only afford Milwaukee’s Best for happy hour.)
About That New Football Stadium: Nope
Now that the big plans for Convention Center expansion has gone up in smoke, some sort of combination deal involving a new football stadium seems to be on the agenda. And, no matter who’s doing the math, everybody agrees such a venture will require a taxpayer buy-in.
Polling to gauge public support has begun and two early results are in.
10News and SurveyUSA polled 510 “fans,” asking 15 questions. The 290 humans who refused to swear allegiance to the all-mighty Chargers were excluded from further questioning.
Bottom line: Even among the Chargers’ faithful only 36% favored public financing for a new stadium, with 47% saying No and 17% unsure.
The Reader reported on another survey:
On August 26, Solana Beach–based (W)right On Communications, a public relations firm, announced results of a poll of 375 county residents: 63 percent of county residents would oppose the City of San Diego funding construction of a new Chargers stadium.
Two-thirds of the 63 percent would oppose public funding even if that means the Chargers would move to Los Angeles.
The results were similar in the city: 59 percent oppose the subsidization of a stadium, and 59 percent of the opponents would thumb it down even if the Chargers would depart.
Given that the people who’ll have to do a lot of the heavy lifting (i.e., the Chamber of Commerce) to try and reach the two thirds voter approval needed for a public subsidy are the same people out there telling San Diegans to suck it up and enjoy their poverty wages, I’d say this deal ain’t happening.
On This Day: 1921- Mine owners bombed West Virginia strikers by plane, using homemade bombs filled with nails and metal fragments. The bombs missed their targets or failed to explode. 1963 – The integration of Tuskegee High School was prevented by state troopers assigned by Alabama Gov. George Wallace. 1970 – An ad was run in “Melody Maker” by Genesis looking for musicians who were “determined to strive beyond existing stagnant music forms.” Phil Collins answered the ad and eventually joined the group.
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@