By Doug Porter
It was Labor Day on Monday. That’s the holiday where people are supposed to celebrate the many little victories adding up to what is generally referred to as middle-class life. These days it’s about those fortunate souls who’ve managed not to be pushed downward by the market-based economy.
Many of them are union families. In America’s Finest City, they’re likely the most diverse grouping of people you’ll see anywhere. Black, Brown, old, young, gay and straight–the one thing binding them together is the power that collective bargaining gives them.
In the news business if it doesn’t bleed, it doesn’t lead. There were no bombs thrown and no heads busted at the hundreds of labor day picnics, rallies and parades around the country. So it was in San Diego, where just a couple of TV crews braved the blazing sun to report on the rally held by the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council at Tailgate park.
Comp tickets in hand, I arrived via the East Village past swaths of humanity encamped on the sidewalks, the most obvious casualties of an unrelenting class warfare. It was a somber reminder of what we are (or should be) fighting for.
(FYI- Less obvious are the even greater number of people-average age 11, by the way-couch surfing, staying in temporary housing or lucky enough to have found a shelter. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s current definition of homelessness excludes most homeless children or youth.)
Volunteers handed out cold beverages, boxed lunches, tee shirts and tickets to the Padres-Rockies game to the couple of thousand people who showed up. Mostly short speeches were made by local politicians, labor leaders and younger organizers working with new constituencies, like fast food workers and home care providers.
Former City Council candidate Carol Kim, now working as the liaison between labor and the United Way appealed (Dial 80888, text SAND for a $10 donation) for the families of workers being laid off as the local Haggen stores close.
And then it was off to the ballpark. A sea of powder blue Union-Yes tee shirts filled the upper decks.
The Padres lost.
Organized Labor won, with a timely reminder that solidarity is the best defense against the encroaching libertarian nightmare.
Meanwhile, there’s this tidbit from the Politico Morning Shift newsletter:
Meanwhile, first-year wage increases from collective bargaining rose during the first half of 2015. According to data from Bloomberg BNA, which collected settlement information on 322 contracts representing 440,000 workers, the weighted mean of all first-year wage increases went up to 4.3 percent, a 1.4 percent increase from this time last year. AFL-CIO estimates that 200 companies and government bodies will negotiate new contracts in 2015 and 2016.
Compare that data with this freshly released report from the National Employment Law Project:
…In fact, taking into account cost-of-living increases since the recession officially ended in 2009, wages have actually declined for most U.S. workers. Inflation-adjusted or “real” wages reflect workers’ true purchasing power; as real wages decline, so too does the amount of goods and services workers can buy with those wages. The failure of wages to merely keep pace with the cost of living is not a recent phenomenon. The declines in real wages since the Great Recession continue a decades-long trend of wage stagnation for workers in the United States (Gould 2015a). […]
Declines in real wages represent purchasing power losses for workers and their families. For example, for a restaurant cook who works full time, year-round, a real wage in 2014 that is 8.9 percent less than in 2009 translates into approximately $2,185 less in income in 2014 than in 2009, or an annual average decline of $437.
Union-Tribune Publisher Gets the Axe
It was just three short months ago that San Diegans learned about the daily paper being sold to Tribune publishing, owners of the Los Angeles Times.
Now publisher Austin Beutner, the executive responsible for the deal (and the reassurances that things were going to get better), is gone.
From Ken Doctor at CapitalNewYork.com:
Beutner’s quick departure — just one year after Griffin appointed him to the job, and just four months after Tribune’s acquisition of the San Diego Union-Tribune and the subsequent creation of the “California News Group” — should send shockwaves through the news publishing world.
Tribune touted Beutner as a nontraditional publisher — a find pulled out of the worlds of both private equity smarts and deep local and civic connection in L.A. —when his surprising appointment was announced. Beutner’s hiring, just one week after Tribune split from the parent company, we were told, was symbolic of the new post-split Tribune.
The abrupt leave-taking raises a wider question about Tribune Publishing’s ability to transform itself. As the third largest U.S. newspaper group, with nine largely metro properties, its fortunes are closely watched within the industry.
The only certainty I can see in the reporting on this change in leadership will be the same thing occurring with every development of any sort in the dead-tree media these days: more layoffs.
More Shady Political Donations
Liam Dillon at Voice of San Diego has written about yet another round of questionable campaign donations. This time around it’s the city’s towing businesses, lining up their employees for simultaneous donations, which may or may not have been reimbursed.
The same pattern shows up again and again in donations from tow companies.
On Jan. 19, 2012, six Advantage Towing employees and associates identified as drivers, office managers and service providers, gave the maximum to Dumanis’ mayoral campaign. That same day, four workers with Vista-based NK Towing donated the maximum to Dumanis. On May 7, 2013, three employees of Angelo’s Towing in Barrio Logan and Quality Towing in Lemon Grove gave the maximum to Dumanis’ DA re-election bid.
Money donated this way raises lots of red flags. Low-level tow company employees are unlikely to have the disposable income to give maximum contributions to political campaigns. And by giving all to the same politician on the same day, it indicates that the money is linked. Together, the donations raise questions about whether tow company owners were laundering their own money in the names of their employees.
You’ll never guess who the prime beneficiary was… District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. She, of course, knows nothing about these donations amounting to $13,810.
Other recipients included: Nathan Fletcher ($4500), Bob Filner ($1500), Carl DeMaio ($1500), Chula Vista City Councilman Rudy Ramirez ($1200) and Sheriff Bill Gore.
The story indicates that consequences for these actions are unlikely due to the difficulty in prosecuting campaign finance violations and a lack of physical evidence.
The Week in Washington
I hope you have a strong stomach. This stuff is sickening.
The Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives will convene hearings on Wednesday with the catchy title: “Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation’s Largest Abortion Provider”
From Susan Grigsby for Daily Kos:
Gee whiz, I wonder what the hearing will find?
Perhaps you need a title like that to distract from the real purpose of the hearing, which is to justify not only defunding Planned Parenthood, but completely gutting Title X and leaving millions of women without access to reproductive health care.
Or perhaps this is just a bone that House Speaker John Boehner has thrown to the rabid forced-birthers and their supporters in the Republican base. He knows that shutting down the government once again—this time over women’s health—is not a good idea, but is facing yet another challenge from his troublesome ultra-conservative contingent. So earlier this summer he called for hearings. This means that, in addition to the Judiciary Committee, we can look forward to hearings from the Energy and Commerce, and Oversight and Government Reform committees. Yipee. Sadly, they have not released any bombastic titles yet.
Over at Politico, Andrew Restuccia tells us that Republicans are so happy with their meddling in the Iran Nuclear deal that they’re going to give it another shot with the upcoming climate summit in Paris.
In case you’re unfamiliar with this tactic, what GOP leaders are doing is broadcasting to foreign leaders the probability they’ll undo any negotiated settlement, regardless of its content…Because, you know, the black guy made the deal…
Republicans are considering making the case that Congress should get to review such a high-profile agreement, whether it’s technically a treaty or not, a strategy that echoes the one lawmakers are using to review the deal on the Iranian nuclear program. But unlike with the Iran deal, Republicans aren’t likely to get much support from Democrats for reviewing the climate agreement.
Either way, GOP lawmakers say they’ll make the case that the climate deal is largely meaningless because a future Republican president will be under no obligation to comply with it.
On This Day: 1935 – The Hoboken Four, featuring Frank Sinatra as lead singer, appeared on “Major Bowes Amateur Hour” on WOR radio. 1965 – United Farm Workers union began its historic national grape boycott and strike, Delano, Calif. 1966 – NBC-TV aired the first episode of “Star Trek” entitled “The Man Trap”.
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