Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

SF Living Wage Coalition Honors Teamsters 856 Leader Rudy Gonzalez and SEIU 1021 Political Vice President Alysabeth Alexander

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

Two emerging, dedicated, young, but experienced and committed leaders in the San Francisco labor community were honored at an energetic dinner last Friday at the long-standing Living Wage Coalition fundraiser.

AlysabethAlexander-LvngWgHnree-2015Alysabeth Alexander is a rank and file nonprofit worker who has been entrusted and elected to represent her members in the legislative and political fields of her union, SEIU 1021, which represents over 50,000 workers in Northern California. She was vitally engaged in the campaign to pass San Francisco’s minimum wage ballot measure for $15 an hour and is leading ongoing efforts to raise the wage in other East Bay cities in SEIU 1021’s jurisdiction. Her passion for economic justice for housing rights, fighting predatory lending, advancing cost of living raises for non-profit workers, and being in the field with the labor movement during the historic Occupy Movement are attributes to her organizing leadership.


RudyGonzalez-LivingWageHonoree2015Rudy Gonzalez has recently been elected by his members as Vice President of Teamsters Local 856 and is Director of Organizing. Rudy was the coordinator of the historic organizing drive to win a voice at work for the employees at Edgewood school in San Francisco’s Sunset District. Rudy has been elected to serve on the San Francisco Labor Council’s Executive Committee and represents Teamster members with professionalism and passion.


Alysabeth and Rudy are two leaders who represent the future of the labor movement and make me sleep a little better at night because I remember when I was twenty years younger fighting in my union’s visceral organizing campaigns – winning or losing, but always fighting.

Historic Coalition Meeting with San Francisco Federal Reserve Board President John C. Williams

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

FedReservePhoto-2015A national coalition of the AFL-CIO, the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) was formed to create a campaign to engage the Federal Reserve Bank in all 12 districts across the nation. The campaign’s focus is to create a relationship of ongoing dialogue within the Fed to make sure that the economic needs of ordinary working men and women have a voice at the table. Our goal is to create a grassroots voice to challenge the traditional Wall Street-driven analysis that Fed members rely upon to decide monetary policy.

Our campaign was also designed to advocate for community and labor seats on the regional boards, as well as on a newly created community advisory committee.

With the progressive leadership of Board of Governors Chair Janet Yellen, recently appointed by President Obama, a consumer advocate as well as an advocate for adding economic inequality into the metrics for monetary decisions, we decided to take this opportunity to support worker voices and values.

Our main goals were to initiate a dialogue to counter the national blunt instrument economic data that merely pointed to indications that there is aggregate employment and economic growth without looking at what worker realities really mean.

We would point out:

  • Wage stagnation
  • Underemployed workers & workers working 2-3 jobs
  • New job creation is paying much less than before the economic collapse of 2008

After a coordinated national rally outside all 12 Federal Reserve Branch Banks across the nation in 2014, our San Francisco coalition received an invitation to meet with San Francisco Board President John Williams to address our concerns.

Each city and region has different flavors to their local coalitions and I believe that our meeting last week was historic and groundbreaking. Our local San Francisco coalition strategized for weeks and was fully prepared for our meeting and I believe the results belied our local strategy of engagement.

This national coalition has had meetings in Boston and Kansas City, but in other areas of the country our coalition has been either rebuffed or ignored.

Besides local representatives of the San Francisco Labor Council, CDP, and ACCE we invited Dr. Steven Pitts, labor economist at the University of California, Berkeley, and Derecka Meherens, Executive Director of Working Partnerships USA and co-convener of Silicon Valley Rising, a faith, community and labor coalition that is fighting for housing and economic justice in the South Bay.

Workers from ACCE, UNITE HERE Local 2, and SEIU USWW presented testimony about how the economy is not working for wage earners and that raw unemployment numbers don’t tell the true story of underemployment and creation of verifiable living wage jobs.

At our coalition meeting we asked the San Francisco Fed for four places to engage with our worker coalition:

Don’t Raise Interest Rates
Since the unemployment rate is a blunt tool for measuring the labor market’s strength, we urge the Federal Reserve to evaluate remaining slack by looking at wage growth. Until wage growth is at least 4%, there cannot be any wage-driven inflation pressure. Given the lack of any real inflation threats, there is no need to act prematurely and raise interest rates before the economy has reached full health. We ask that you hold off on any interest rate hikes for the rest of 2015.

Establish an Ongoing Relationship with Our Organizations

  • Come to a town hall or union meeting to hear from workers
  • Take a tour of one of the neighborhoods where our members live and work
  • Attend an event where you can meet our members and their families
  • Attend an event where you give a speech to our members and the public and answer their questions about the economy and the Fed

Assign Staff to Help get Banks to Invest in Community Housing
HUD, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, and some other major banks are selling off pools of delinquent mortgages to private equity firms, hedge funds, and other Wall Street entities. We would like to see those mortgages be sold to nonprofits that have raised the necessary capital to compete in this market for the purpose of saving homes from foreclosure and creating affordable housing. We would like the SF Fed’s help in convening conversations with commercial banks to explore this possibility.

Set Up Procedures to be More Transparent in Appointing the President and Board Members
The Board of Directors of the San Francisco Fed includes 8 representatives from banks and corporations and only 1 representative from a nonprofit. It includes no representation from labor, consumer, or community-based organizations. We would like the Federal Reserve to add more voices of those who represent working families to its Board of Directors.

President Williams was very engaged in our two hour dialogue and agreed to (2) and (3) and said that the transparency model (4) initiated by the Minneapolis branch was something he would be committed to pursue.

See the Reuters article that followed our meeting.

The coalition will be planning the best ways to pursue these breakthroughs. Every policy, issue, or campaign the San Francisco Labor Council pursues has multiple labor and community partners.

Thank you Grace Martinez from ACCE for arranging the logistics of the meeting and Ady Barkin from CDP and Eddie Acosta of the AFL-CIO in DC for trekking to San Francisco. And great kudos for Bayview residents Ebony Esler, Pastor Yul Dorn and Kevin Stein from the Community Reinvestment Coalition for making the real and passionate appeals to make all of us realize what this economy really means to struggling working who are still being squeezed out of the American Dream.

San Francisco Historic Legislative Organizing Honored in Washington, DC

Monday, July 20th, 2015

JobsWithJusticeBanquetPhoto2The San Francisco Labor Council and San Francisco’s Jobs with Justice were on the host committee for the Jobs with Justice national fundraiser in Washington, D.C.

Jobs with Justice is a national AFL-CIO labor and community organization initiated by various International Unions in reaction to Ronald Reagan’s unilateral annihilation of the Air Traffic Controllers union when they went on strike for safe working conditions. It was clear to some unions in the 1980’s that we needed to organize deeper relationships within the community to fight the business assaults on workers and their unions. This 1980’s reactive vision is one that many of us in progressive trades unions have taken on aggressively in this new century. (Footnote: The Air Traffic Controllers had endorsed Ronald Reagan for President.)
At the JwJ fundraiser San Francisco rank and file workers from United Food and Commercial Unions Locals 5 and 648 were being honored for their role in our coalition that passed the first Retail Workers Bill of Rights in the United States.

Our San Francisco legislation, passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors after a year-long campaign, mandates that formula retail stores post their work schedules 14 days in advance so that workers can plan their life schedules for child care, school and other humane ways to live.

This groundbreaking legislation also mandates that part-time workers who are working 24 hours a week and want to work four days a week have to be offered those extra hours before the employer hires another worker.

Based on this groundbreaking victory in San Francisco this law is now being introduced statewide in Sacramento, Minnesota and other communities around the United States.

JobsWithJusticeBanquetPhoto1The fundraiser was held at the beautiful marble-clad Women’s Museum for the Arts on New York Ave. Dinner was an informal mix of three kinds of mashed potatoes eaten in martini glasses – apparently a Jobs with Justice tradition.

Congratulations to Julie Fisher and Mark Ortiz from Local 5 and Sandra Herrera and Michelle Flores from Local 648. They gave great comments in front of a national audience of international presidents, press, and activists. Gordon Mar and Michelle Lim from JwJ, UFCW 648 President Dan Larson, 648 representative Julissa Hernandez and I were honored to be on the stage to support them. The San Francisco Labor Council is proud of these worker-leaders that contributed to this coalition campaign.

Workers and unions need to build on this victory and organize the more than 100,000 non-union retail workers in San Francisco.

Addendum: Maria Elena Durazo, my former counterpart at the Los Angeles Federation of Labor, now Vice President of Unite-Here International Union for Immigration Rights, was also honored. She, Jobs with Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta, and I are in this second photo at the celebration.


From the Desk of Executive Director Tim Paulson

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Richard Leung, 62, former President of SEIU Janitors Union Local 87 and for many years an executive board member of the San Francisco Labor Council, passed away this weekend after a long battle with cancer. During his leadership at Local 87 Richard led the passage of the Displaced Workers Protection Act, legislation that provides job security and organizing rights for janitors and security officers in San Francisco.

Mr. Leung was born in Hong Kong and after immigrating to the Bay Area earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley. At Berkeley he became an active member of the Asian American student movement and the next three decades of his life were committed to advocating for the rights of service workers in multiple California unions.

Richard was a founding committee member of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO and has served on the executive board of the Service Employees International Union.

After his diagnosis with cancer, Richard arranged to leave legacies for the social causes closest to his heart. He sponsored an essay contest for children of Local 87 janitors. He also established a fund through Give2Asia that supports scholarships for children of migrant workers and grants for labor research. Finally, Richard contributed to the construction of a museum at Donner State Park in Truckee, California, where an accurate history of Chinese laborers in the U.S. is featured.

Richard is survived by his wife, Katie Quan, Senior Scholar at the University of California Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, his stepson Eric, Eric’s partner Melynee, and his step-granddaughter Ella-Rayne. He is also survived by his sisters Wiana Choy, Linda Cheung, Beverley Chan and their families.

He has designated and provided for the San Francisco Labor Council, in conjunction with the UC Berkeley Labor Center, to host a labor forum to educate and highlight the legislative and organizing campaigns that San Francisco Bay Area unions have undertaken during the last twenty years.

Information on services to follow.

From the Desk of Executive Director Tim Paulson

Monday, June 15th, 2015


Leroy King, International Union of Longshore and Warehouse Workers (ILWU) leader and longtime San Francisco Labor Council delegate, has passed away at 91 years old. He died of natural causes at his home in Saint Francis Square in San Francisco’s Japantown, a cooperative complex he helped found to provide homes for union members and their families during a time in the 1960’s when housing discrimination against minorities was still an issue – even in a progressive city like San Francisco. Leroy King joined ILWU Local 6’s warehouse union after WWII and was soon appointed a regional Director for the International Union where he served during the leadership of the legendary Harry Bridges.

Even in retirement Brother King was a friend to the San Francisco Labor Council and helped me personally as Executive Director in our policies and duties. He brokered political tensions at our Martin Luther King Day celebrations; he was a reliable labor steward on the Redevelopment Commission where he served under six mayors from Diane Feinstein to Ed Lee. Leroy King was always available as a mentor to young leaders in our many unions and he had to be a little proud that some of the devastating redevelopment and gutting of the Fillmore District that displaced so many in the African American community, started to make a bit of a return with some of the build out of the Fillmore corridor in the Western Addition.

During my tenure at the Labor Council Leroy stopped by my 2nd floor office in the ILWU headquarters almost every month after doing business on the 4th floor. If I didn’t have to answer more than ten questions about the many legislative and political campaign we were working on I would be relieved. I’d often drive him back to his house in Saint Francis Square.

Leroy King was a legend and historic part of San Francisco labor history.

We will miss our friend.


Victory to Edgewood Workers in San Francisco!

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Victory to Edgewood Workers in San Francisco!

Edgewood LogoCongratulations to the workers at Edgewood Center for Children and Families who voted to join  Teamsters Local 856 last night! The perseverance of Edgewood professionals who simply wanted a voice at work was rewarded with this majority of workers who voted to join a union.

From their Unionize Edgewood Facebook page:

Tonight we stood together and showed confidence in each other. With every YES vote we cast we affirmed that we can achieve more by standing together than by going it alone.

We voted for us, for our coworkers and for a better Edgewood for our clients. And we won the vote!

Want to congratulate these workers? Stop by their  FacebookTwitter pages today.

Interview about Organizing with Executive Director Tim Paulson & Other Affiliate Leaders

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Unions make strides among Silicon Valley workforce

Recently passed legislation could ensure even more tech shuttle companies become unionized

In “The other Silicon Valley,” Al Jazeera takes a look at how California’s tech boom affects the working class. This is part four of a seven-part series.

PLLoopBusHybridSAN FRANCISCO — The labor movement is carving a path straight through the heart of Silicon Valley. In early March, unions won two key victories in the area within days of one another. First, Apple bowed to pressure from the labor union SEIU-USWW and agreed to directly employ the security guards on its Cupertino, California, campus, instead of hiring the work out through a subcontractor. Then, Facebook shuttle drivers gained final approval for their union contract with Loop Transportation, the shuttle company that carries employees to and from Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters.

The Loop drivers are now members of Teamsters Local 853 — which just the previous month had also successfully organized drivers for Apple, Yahoo, eBay, and Evernote, among others. Sean Hinman, one of the recently unionized Facebook shuttle drivers, said he was glad to join the Teamsters, in part because the cost of living in the Silicon Valley area is so steep.

“If you’re asking me to work here, I’m asking for at least the bare minimum to give me something to survive on,” Hinman told Al Jazeera. “The bare minimum for a studio [apartment] here is $1,600″ per month.

As in nearby San Francisco, housing costs are soaring in Silicon Valley, driven largely by the ongoing deluge of tech sector capital. Average wages are on the rise as well according to a recent study from Joint Venture Silicon Valley, but the income gap remains vast: Joint Venture found that jobs it classified as “high-skill, high wage” earned a median annual income of $118,651, compared to $26,847 for “low-skill, low-wage” jobs and $54,892 for jobs classified as “middle-skill, middle-wage.”

That disparity is both a challenge and an opportunity for the labor unions of California’s Bay Area. Silicon Valley’s largest companies have the available wealth to better compensate their low- and middle-wage workers. If regional labor unions compel the companies to do so, the unions may be able to significantly expand their membership — and power — in the process. That’s why unions have spent recent years pouring resources into local organizing efforts. Those efforts, along with a crucial assist from San Francisco’s city council equivalent, the Board of Supervisors, are now beginning to pay dividends for the shuttle driver and security guard campaigns.

Tim Paulson, executive director of the San Francisco Labor Council, said California unions are focusing on new organizing in large part because — while they’ve become very adept at winning electoral victories and fending off potential legislative attacks — “a lot of us are sick of being defensive.”

The state’s labor movement has been “very good at being the opposite of Wisconsin,” Paulson said. Unions have traditionally been strong in Wisconsin, but over the past few years a state government has dealt a series of crushing blows to the labor movement, including passing a law restricting collective bargaining for public employees and a law that bans union shops. Labor in California has remained strong enough to make such attacks unlikely, but Paulson said he and others in the movement have tired of focusing so much on simply avoiding disaster.

“Over the last few years, some of us have just said, fuck that,” Paulson told Al Jazeera. “Let’s do what we want to do to fight for workers. And so the state federation of labor in particular decided that we are going to put our resources into organizing. Into real organizing, that is going to result in a collective bargaining agreement at some time or another, and people being in a labor union, and officially having a voice at work.”

The California Labor Federation selected three particular campaigns on which to combine resources: The SEIU-USWW drive to organize Silicon Valley security officers, as well as a UFCW-backed campaign to organize workers at Walmart and a similar Teamster-driven campaign at food processing plants in California’s Central Valley. Every union in the federation is expected to contribute something to those three campaigns, regardless of whether the campaigns have anything to do with their immediate interests, Paulson said.

“Even school employees, we’re going to send them to the Walmart campaign,” he said. “We’re going to send them to food processing and help the Teamsters out in Central Valley. All of us central labor councils, we’ll organize civil disobedience and actions outside of Google and Apple in order to reinforce organizing for security officers.”

After the security officers campaign began to pick up supporters and public attention, the labor movement started throwing itself behind other organizing drives in the Silicon Valley area, according to SEIU-USWW organizing director Sanjay Garla. The most prominent of those campaigns is the Teamsters’ effort to unionize shuttle drivers — but, Garla said, “there’s a lot of talk about how food-service workers are also part of this fight.”

“Everyone sat down and said, ‘How do we back up these security officers that are going up against these major giants?’” he said. “It was really about supporting the security officers, and it’s turning into something more.”

Right now, the main focus of the security officers campaign is getting major companies to either directly employ their security officers, or to agree “to use contractors that have a track record of respecting the rights and the work that service workers do,” Garla said. In other words, SEIU-USWW is trying to make sure security work goes to contractors who compensate their employees relatively generously — and who are less likely to fight unionization. In addition to persuading Apple to directly employ its security guards, SEIU-USWW has successfully pressured Google to bring its officers in-house.

The Board of Supervisors Steps In

The Teamsters are taking a different approach. In addition to organizing workers at both Loop Transportation and fellow contractor Compass Transportation, the Teamsters have won an important legislative coup in San Francisco. Due to a resolution unanimously passed in late March by the Board of Supervisors, the city’s main transit authority now has a mandate to get directly involved in shuttle bus unionization campaigns.

Tech shuttle buses in San Francisco are privately operated, but they use public bus stops to pick up and drop off their passengers. For this the shuttle companies must obtain permits from the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA); the resolution passed by the Board of Supervisors asks the MTA to factor “labor harmony” into its deliberations when deciding whether to award such permits.

The resolution defines “labor harmony” vaguely, but reasons that the MTA has an interest in preventing any company facing labor unrest from utilizing public, or Muni, bus stops because of the likelihood that protests could “result in the disruption of the orderly operation of SFMTA buses.” Board of Supervisors member Scott Weiner, who sponsored the resolution, said explicitly that the resolution was developed in concert with the Teamsters and was intended to support organizing efforts.

“Obviously the Board can’t require any company to allow unionization, but what we can do as a city is say we want some showing of labor harmony,” he said. “Because if these shuttles are using our Muni bus stops, any kind of labor discord would disrupt not just the shuttle service but the Muni service and traffic generally.”

The MTA is a quasi-independent agency, meaning the Board of Supervisors cannot directly dictate its policy, but Weiner said he is “cautiously optimistic that the MTA will be receptive to our request.” If it does, the MTA could withhold permits from shuttle companies that resist unionization. Doug Bloch, political director of Teamsters Joint Council 7, said the legislation could also apply to a shuttle company locked in a contract dispute with its already unionized workforce.

“It leaves it up to the executive director of the MTA how to enforce it,” he said. “We, the Teamsters, aren’t telling them how to enforce it. But we are going to be telling them when there are companies we think they need to enforce it on.”

In a response to a query regarding the labor harmony resolution, Loop Transportation CEO Jeff Leonoudakis said in a statement that his company has “a culture of always trying to get better and being good members of the community.”

“We are committed to providing our drivers with the best possible working conditions, and we continue to explore ways to deliver one of the best wage and benefit packages in the Bay Area, including negotiating with our drivers who have union representation,” he said.


Nation should follow SF’s lead on minimum wage 

Monday, May 4th, 2015

By ,  and
Published in the San Francisco Examiner on May 1, 2015

Tim Paulson on Belva Davis

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Belva.PaulsonOn Monday Labor & Community honored Belva Davis at the annual Labor & Community MLK Day breakfast organized by the San Francisco Labor Council and the NorCal MLK Foundation. The last time Belva Davis interviewed me was at the Democratic Convention in Charlotte last fall. I was feeling guilty because she asked that I meet her early in the morning in the lobby of the hotel where the California delegation was staying so she could complete her “This Week in Northern California” special edition, but I later found out that AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka wanted all labor delegates to get together for breakfast in another hotel for a briefing and rally on the other side of town.

As a labor representative I rarely compromise the work I do in order to make statements to the press.  If we are smart we don’t “negotiate” through the press. We might “communicate” through the press, but if we are really doing our jobs we do them sitting at the table with unions and workers, where we build power and represent the positions our unions empower us to enjoin.

Belva Davis has been an exception. In her illustrious career she has worked her way through every job and avenue of journalism that you can imagine, from beat reporter to, probably, copywriter. But her legacy, in my opinion, rests with her roundtables of writers, pundits and policy experts discussing the important topics of the day in the Bay Area and California every week. No entertainment journalism and ideological baiting. No preconceived agendas. Just a place on Sunday morning where some knucklehead like me could flip on the TV and watch Belva Davis ask all the questions that I might have asked if I had the time that week to catch up on what was happening in Sacramento, San Francisco or DC.

Every time I talked with Belva she told me how much the union meant to her and her family. The security, the health care, the retirement benefits, the respect.  But you would never hear her pontificating about it on her shows – the way the anti-union pundits use it as a part of their reporting – because she was an objective journalist (remember them?). As a worker she knew which side she was on.

Belva has “retired,” but I know she will still be in demand and be called upon by many in the media to continue her work because the integrity of her life’s work is remarkable.

Her last interview with me took three takes because I’d run back to the California hotel after the AFL-CIO meeting in 99 degree heat and 99 percent humidity and I was a mess. I didn’t want to disrespect her and wanted to make sure she could ask the Labor Chair of the Democratic Convention a couple of questions. The producers gave me a couple towels. My glasses were fogged up. When I was done she said, “Great take, Tim, but you look like hell.”

Happy New Year 2015 from Executive Director Tim Paulson

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

E-Board-2014 copyThe San Francisco Labor Council’s last Executive Board meeting of 2014 was at Scoma’s Seafood Restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf on a cold but beautiful evening.

As Executive Director of this diverse Labor Council I will not be going out on a limb to say it was the most convivial meeting of the year. In my 10 years working for the Council this is the first time we met outside a boardroom.

We conducted our official business in an efficient manner. We argued about a few bills and then 30 affiliate leaders and Labor Council staff broke bread, grabbed a glass of wine and decided that in a crazy year where political and union disputes were sometimes impediments to full unity, in San Francisco we could still look each other in the eye and feel in our gut that every one of us was committed to not only fighting for our members but for all workers.

Without making official reports, leaders talked about their campaigns and imminent fights.

Unite-Here Local 2 announced their strike at San Francisco International Airport for job security and health care; Teachers talked about their fight to save City College; Building Trades leaders talked about their new PLA’s and the fight at the Housing Authority; UESF teachers announced their 12 ½ % contract settlement. Sign and Display 510 and IATSE 16 reminded us of their prevailing wage legislation.

We talked about the “Formula Retail Workers Bill of Rights,” which passed unanimously at the Board of Supervisors just a few days ago – led by Supervisors Eric Mar and David Chiu – which mandates 14 days of predictable scheduling and rights to more hours for part time workers. An incredible, often unwieldy, coalition fought for these rights with the UFCW and I will be writing more about this historic campaign in a subsequent article.

ILWU warehouse workers announced their organizing and bargaining victories for recycling workers; Teamsters commented on their food processing organizing in the San Joaquin Valley and the ongoing Edgewood private school organizing in the Sunset District; OPEIU reminded us about the ongoing work in Bayview-Hunters Point where, among other programs, some of our 10,000 union members who live in the district are taking City College classes to understand and help implement our historic Community Benefits Agreement. Another OPEIU board member talked about American union unity with Mexican workers over the murder and disappearance of teaching students in the southern state of Guerrero.

We’re still only into our salads and chowder!

Nurses reminded us of their organizing victory at the California Pacific Medical Center (Sutter) where over 1,000 nurses voted to join the union. Firefighters mentioned their fight with management and their outrage over the lack of full ambulance staffing and infrastructure in the City. SEIU USWW thanked us for coming to rallies and civil disobedience actions at Apple and Google facilities for security officers and described how Google now recognizes the union.

We toasted the re-appointment of Larry Mazzola to the Airport Commission and were reminded how many of us attended the Labor Council meeting with Mayor Lee to make sure that happened.

2014NovElectionProp J - Group PhotoWe are proud to be part of the Coalition for a Fair Economy (CFE) that reached the historic agreement with the Mayor, Supervisor Jane Kim and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors that put a consensus minimum wage measure on the November ballot that gets all workers to $15 with the cleanest non-exemption path in the United States.

San Franciscans passed Measure J by 77%. This was more than just an agreement to get $15 on the ballot, but also changed the culture of how labor unions and community organizations can fight together for equity, fair wages, and a voice at work. Organizations involved in the coalition were UNITE-HERE Local 2, SEIU Local 1021, the California Nurses Association, the San Francisco branch of ACCE, Jobs with Justice, Young Workers United, the Chinese Progressive Association, Progressive Workers Alliance and SF Rising (the last two are worker of color & LGBT coalitions of 9 community organizations).

As with the Formula Retail Workers Bill of Rights coalition, the CFE coalition will also advocate for full enforcement. Years ago, working with the Building Trades Council, we helped the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement to monitor and enforce all our worker laws (sick days, living wage, etc.) and we will continue to fight for resources to empower this valuable department.

Scoma’s union servers were passing out the crab cakes and salad when we revisited a long simmering loophole in the 2006 San Francisco’s landmark universal healthcare law, the closest thing the United States has to universal health care with the public option, which required employers to make minimum expenditures towards their employees’ healthcare for each hour worked. (This was the model legislation that our legislative leader Nancy Pelosi used as a template for moving the Affordable Care Act as far as the Congress was able before the United States Senate riddled it with compromises.)

Since the law’s passage, a minority of San Francisco employers have avoided paying hundreds of millions of dollars in required spending by exploiting an unintended loophole.  In 2013 alone over $90 million dedicated to employees was not used to meet workers’ healthcare needs and was, instead, clawed back by employers.

We finally closed that loophole thanks to the leadership of Supervisor David Campos, five other co-sponsors, and the thoughtful coalition of Supervisors London Breed and Mark Farrell. The crux of the legislation was to make the employer spending requirement irrevocable, meaning employers will not receive credit for having met the spending requirement if they reclaim unused money.

The incredible research and policy team guiding this campaign was led by Ken Jacobs from the University of California, Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education; Paul Kumar, Health Care Consultant to the San Francisco Labor Council; and Ian Lewis, Research Director for Unite-Here Local 2. The full coalition included the San Francisco Labor Council, Unite–Here Local 2, SEIU 1021, OPEIU 3, California Nurses Association, Young Workers United, NUHW, Health Access, Chinese Progressive Association, Jobs with Justice, ACCE, and the San Francisco Organizing Project (PICO), with support from many other community and labor partners.

Here is the San Francisco Chronicle article that outlines these legislative victories.

Another labor achievement this year culminated with the Board of Supervisors passing an ordinance to require large hospitality industry employers to retain employees for up to 90 days upon a change in control of the hospitality establishment. This was passed without objection by all 11 supervisors. This legislation built upon an ordinance that was passed over 10 years ago to keep worker stability in the commercial real estate industry where building owners, upon changing janitorial and security officer companies, were required to keep the previous company’s employees for 90 days and not create instability, job turnover, and job insecurity for dedicated workers in service sector jobs who had no say in the building owners business decisions to change contractors.

This will ensure much-needed stability to key segments of the hospitality industry, one of San Francisco’s most important bases of employment.

We remembered and complained about the devastating losses in the U.S. Senate and governorships this November (Wisconsin – how could you?!), while California still elected all labor candidates to the constitutional offices and added one more Democrat to Congress.

TomTorlaksonEven Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who was attacked with millions of dollars from “privatizer” school “reformers,” won with his biggest margin (70%) in San Francisco because of our political outreach this November.

One big toast was given to President Obama who finally!! acted with an executive order on immigration policy. Millions will not be living in the shadows anymore. San Francisco and the Bay Area Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform never stopped fighting and advocating for reform for our members and all workers. We went to DC; we fasted; we marched; we lobbied; we got arrested. And we will still not stop until there is true immigration reform.

OlgaMirandaAgain, victories like these are rare in the new climate of national Tea Party anger and corporate attacks on immigrants and unions. We should applaud when the American Dream is advanced in our communities with policies to help workers stay in their homes by getting a raise, keeping their jobs, and achieving healthcare coverage. We in the Labor Movement are proud of our collective bargaining agreements that provide workers with a voice at work. We are also proud that we are now expanding collective bargaining in the legislative and political arena for all workers.

Nationally the rich are still getting richer and hoarding their profits and earnings while wages stagnate and health care costs continue to rise – but here in San Francisco the Labor Council can still look at 2014 and be proud of standing up for and winning many battles for workers.

I am grateful to our wonder Labor Council staff: Financial Manager Hang Le To, Community Services Liaison Tom Ryan, sfCLOUT Organizer Conny Ford, Political Director Amber Parrish-Baur, and my Assistant and Labor Council Communications Director Emily Nelson.

Happy 2015! Keep up the good organizing!

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