Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

AFT Identifies Companies that Profit from Family Separation Policies

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018
AFT Report
One of the most heartbreaking news stories of 2018 is the Trump administration’s decision to separate undocumented immigrant families that enter the United States.The AFL-CIO, the AFT and other advocates for working people have condemned this policy and called for families to be reunited. As part of this effort, the AFT has issued a new report to inform pension trustees and the working people they represent about companies that are profiting off of family separation and mass incarceration.
First, there are the companies that directly profit from the family separation policy. They build and operate the facilities used to detain immigrants or provide support services to those facilities. These companies include:
  • CoreCivic: Formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest private prison company owns and operates eight immigration detention centers.
  • GEO Group: A company that operates private prisons and operates family detention centers.
  • General Dynamics: A top defense contractor, the company provides case management services at youth detention centers.

Second, there are the companies that provide financing to CoreCivic and GEO Group. These companies include:

  • BlackRock
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Wells Fargo

These companies may hold direct shares in the companies that profit from the policy, or they may have indirect investments in those companies through index, private equity or hedge funds.

AFT will issue a follow-up report that identifies individual investment managers who profit from private prisons and the mass incarceration of people of color.

Read the full report to learn more.

California Labor Federation Announces General Election Endorsements, Massive Mobilization to Win in November

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018


COSTA MESA — The California Labor Federation, representing 2.1 million union workers across the state, today announced endorsements in statewide constitutional, Assembly, Senate and congressional races and ballot measures for the November general election at California Labor’s Biennial Convention in Orange County, the epicenter of the fight for control of Congress this fall.

In the wake of a series of attacks on unions from the Supreme Court, congressional Republicans, the Trump Administration and the billionaire corporate special interests who bankroll their campaigns, delegates to the convention committed to the most energized campaign in California labor history. The campaign will focus on flipping Congress, electing worker-friendly candidates up and down the ballot and beating back the Republican-led attack on road and bridge safety by defeating Prop 6.

“Corporate CEOs and their lapdogs in the Republican-controlled Congress want to raze unions to the ground to eliminate the last line of defense for working people,” said California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski. “Today, we launched the most sophisticated, energized campaign in our history to turn out voters – union and non-union alike – to take back our country and put working people back in the driver’s seat of this economy.”

Delegates to the California Labor Federation, representing unions across the state, voted on all endorsements for the General Election today. Delegates endorsed Gavin Newsom for Governor, Kevin de Leon for US Senate and took positions on ballot measures.

On ballot measures, highlights included a unanimous vote to oppose Prop 6, which would severely impact much-needed improvements to our state’s roads and bridges, and overwhelming support for Prop 8, which protects dialysis patients and workers.

Delegates also committed to massive mobilizations in at least seven congressional districts with the goal of turning Congress from red to blue. In addition to a volunteer-led campaign to turn out union voters, the Labor Federation is leading, along with NextGen America and community partners, a major door-to-door field campaign to educate and mobilize non-union voters on the candidates and issues at stake in key congressional races.

Endorsements are determined through a democratic process by which delegates to the California Labor Federation vote to support candidates and ballot measures.

For a complete list of endorsements, click here.

Resources for California Wildfires Disaster Relief

Friday, October 13th, 2017

The San Francisco Labor Council wants to assist with the many relief efforts being established to help our union families in the counties affected by the disastrous and unprecedented fire storms.

Visit this website to donate to the Disaster Relief Fund managed by the local Labor Councils in the region – North Bay Labor Council and Napa/Solano Central Labor Council.

The California Labor Federation also created a website with resources for folks affected (including information on applying for grants, unemployment insurance, etc), and ways folks can help. For now, the most immediate need is cash assistance for families. Information will be posted in the coming weeks about how to volunteer in the region.





Visit for additional information on CA wildfires disaster relief. Please share far and wide.

Thank you everyone for wanting to step up!

In Solidarity,
Tim Paulson
Executive Director

Statement by Executive Director Tim Paulson from Saturday, August 12 on Charlottesville

Monday, August 14th, 2017

For anybody to not condemn the current and historic racism shown in Virginia today is un-American. As others were silent the labor movement condemned the anti-Muslim, anti-African-American, and anti-Semitic racism on show. Except for our Native American brothers and sisters, this is a country of immigrants. We don’t need to “take” anything “back” as we continue to fight for racial and economic justice.

An additional statement was adopted by the San Francisco Labor Council Delegates on August 14, 2017 and can be found here.

Honoring Labor Leader Women on International Women’s Day in San Francisco

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

This week, to celebrate International Women’s Day, the City and County of San Francisco honored three incredible labor leaders. Never in my time at the Labor Council have this many labor leaders been honored on one day. But it was the three women whose dedication to the Labor Movement made this day even more historic.

Olga2017Mayor Ed Lee honored Olga Miranda for her leadership as an organizer and as the president of Service Employees International Union Local 87, San Francisco’s janitors union. Her years of fighting for good wages, health care and retirement benefits for the thousands of her mostly-immigrant members is legendary.

Olga is also the elected Secretary-Treasurer of the San Francisco Labor Council.

I first met Olga Miranda when I was the organizing and political director for Justice for Janitors back in the 1990’s and it has been wonderful to see her work ethic and dedication to the Labor Movement recognized this week. Most of our country doesn’t know the time and devotion it takes to be a labor representative – how much time it takes to take on the bosses so members have union representation and a voice at work. Olga has managed to maintain that dedication working 10-12 hours a day, often 7 days a week, while also being the mother of Joaquin, her son with her husband.

Olga was also honored in Sacramento this week as Woman of the Year by the California State Assembly for her political and member organizing.

Supervisor Jane Kim and Board President London Breed honored Conny Ford, former Secretary-Treasurer of Office and Professional Employees Local 3 and current Vice President of Community Activities of the San Francisco Labor Council, as a “Trailblazing Woman in Labor and Business,” a centerpiece of San Francisco’s Women’s History Month.

ConnyFord2017Conny has been instrumental in founding San Francisco’s branch of Jobs with Justice, a coalition of labor unions and community organizations dedicated to expanding economic justice for all workers, whether covered by a union contract or not. This new coalition has been controversial but game-changing for labor and community in San Francisco. Its work has brought broader coalitions with the Labor Council that led to passing the highest minimum wage in the country, the first Retail Worker Bill of Rights, and the Fight for Free City College, which resulted in free tuition for San Francisco students.

Conny Ford was a lead in all these campaigns and currently works with the Labor Council as campaign coordinator for our small, emerging nonprofit, sfCLOUT, which is dedicated to workforce development and housing justice.

FYI: The San Francisco Labor Council is an OPEIU shop.

Sabrina+Cohen2017Supervisor Malia Cohen honored Sabrina Hernandez, the first woman and first person of color to serve as a business representative of IBEW Local 6. A journeyman inside wireman (sic) who completed her apprenticeship in 1992, she still represents Local 6 members and fights non-union contractors who cheat workers out of prevailing wages and benefits. Sabrina serves the labor community as a member of the Board of Directors of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District and is a delegate to the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council. (Of all the labor directors over the last 25 years, Sabrina is the only one to have invited me to take the elevator up for a tour of the signature tower…)

These historic commendations for our female colleagues were even more special in this new era of unimaginable attacks on civil rights and economic justice. And the recognition that the Labor Movement wouldn’t exist without women is as powerful a statement that a City can make to our entire community.

Thank you, Olga, Conny, and Sabrina! And to all women who take the risk to stand up and fight for economic justice.

All Out for This Weekend’s Inauguration Actions

Friday, January 20th, 2017

Tomorrow’s inauguration will be a difficult and painful day for workers and their families in San Francisco and throughout the country. The president-elect has already nominated cabinet members who are opposed to public education, civil rights, labor rights, immigrants, women’s rights, affordable housing, green energy … the list goes on. And that’s why so many of us have been on the streets and loading social media with our concerns about protecting the democracy of this country.

I want to encourage all to attend the rallies and marches on January 20 and 21. Please see the links at the bottom of this email for more information and to download fliers.

On Friday Jobs with Justice SF is spearheading a day of actions beginning with an early morning march from the Embarcadero. SEIU 1021 is rallying outside of SFGH at 11:30 AM. The Labor Council is protesting against the proposed secretary of labor nominee at Carl’s Junior, outside UN Plaza at 4:30 PM. This will jump-start a city-wide rally and march at 5 PM at the Civic Center.

Please start your weekend with the SF branch of the National Women’s March starting at Bill Graham Auditorium at 3 PM on Saturday.

I am reminded of the sweet spot that organizers always dream of: “Nothing motivates workers more than a bad boss.”

Hope to see all of you on the streets. This is just the beginning of our resistance.

Jobs With Justice Dump Trump Day of Actions
Labor Contingent & Dump Trump Rally & March
SF Women’s March

A Few Observations of my Short Friendship with Tom Hayden

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

Oct 28, 2016

Hayden+PaulsonAlmost 10 years ago I was touring a shirt factory in Hanoi with my colleague Kent Wong from the UCLA Labor Center. We were in Vietnam for an exchange he’d arranged between California and Vietnamese labor leaders.

Our tight schedule included a visit with the garment workers union at one of their worksites. During a back and forth after the tour I related that I’d recently worked on a campaign with the American anti-war activist Tom Hayden to pass an anti-sweatshop law in San Francisco that forbade the City and County from purchasing any goods or services that were produced under inhumane or slave-like conditions. Hayden had come up from Los Angeles and recruited me to help teach a graduate level class in legislative process that ultimately resulted in an historic piece of legislation.

The union representative’s eyes immediately lit up and she informed us that Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda had visited this very factory during their visit to Hanoi during the height, as she called it, of the “American” war.  Our visit to Vietnam was coinciding, ironically, with the height of the American invasion of Iraq. I replied that if San Francisco’s government couldn’t find enough American shirts that this union factory in Hanoi could definitely be on our good list.

Weeks later, back in Northern California, I was leaving a union meeting in Berkeley and noticed that across the hall a very crowded and animated class or workshop was happening.  Out of curiosity I slipped inside the room and realized it was a book reading featuring Tom Hayden. Hayden was reciting a narrative outlining the complexities and relationships of the religious and ethnic factions in Iraq that American foreign policy had essentially ignored during the invasion.  He didn’t need to overstate to the mostly gray haired crowd that this was not unlike our entry into Vietnam 50 years earlier.

His new book, “Ending the War in Iraq”, delved into the ancient history of the Sunni, Shia, Kurd, and other groupings in a way that illustrated how our invasion – and now occupation – the seemingly easy overthrow of Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party government (Mission Accomplished!) – had sucked us into the powerful historical undercurrents of religious war and Islamic politics that have persisted for centuries. (I write this in October 2016 while we still have troops in the chaos of Iraq and Afghanistan and other places in the region.)

After the book reading I introduced myself to Hayden and told him my Hanoi factory story. His eyes lit up and he handed the books he was signing to his assistant and took me aside to find his bag. “Tim, I just came back from Vietnam! My first time since the war.” He pulled a magazine from the bag. “Here is the my copy of the article I wrote in The Nation. Hot off the press. You can have it.”

We shared of few observations of the Union and Communist party officials we visited, noting their edged but conciliatory words as a combination of passion for their young, robust, capital-fueled, neo-liberal economy as well as the pride, sadness and complicated emotions at digesting the historic military and socialist political victory that had come with great sacrifice and suffering. Hayden’s article in The Nation, “The Old Revolutionaries of Vietnam,” is a great contemporary snapshot of this time in Vietnam – North and South.)

Before we could get deeper into conversation, Hayden”s assistant interrupted and dragged him back to the bookselling and autographing. “Let’s have dinner later,” he insisted, but I had another meeting that night.

A couple weeks later, Lisa Hoyos, AFL-CIO representative and former Hayden staffer during his legislative career in Sacramento, emailed and asked if I could drive Tom to a peace rally in San Mateo County. “He’d love to visit after the event and suggests dinner.”

The gathering – also at a union hall – was not unlike the Berkeley event. Hayden again gave a contemporary analysis of the sectors and players on the ground in Iraq and then fielded dozens of milquetoast questions. “Don’t you think that Rumsfeld and Cheney had an agenda that ignored the long term consequences of our actions?”

I’d made a reservation at Zuni restaurant in San Francisco and secured a table where we could relax and talk. Lisa warned me that Tom doesn’t drink and asked that I not order any alcohol. Fuck that! When I ordered a single glass of wine Hayden said “fuck that” and ordered a bottle.

That night was the only time I ever had a lengthy discussion with him. I’d ordered Zuni’s famous wood fired chicken – with bread, current, pine nut, balsamic vinegar and mustard leaf stuffing, and which takes at least an hour to cook. We were well into conversation and our second bottle of cabernet when it finally arrived.

Without getting into the weeds of our exchange I want to note that early in the conversation he talked about the evolution of labor leaders and their unions from the 60’s and 70’s moving from bread and butter institutions (grievances, collective bargaining, getting out the vote) to, in some cases, progressive activist organizations that ramped up even more union benefits for their members by fighting for immigrant and civil rights, opposing military expansion, promoting affordable housing, building community coalitions, and taking on the predatory healthcare industry, etc.

One question he asked me, “Lisa told me that you are a Progressive and helped, among other things, lead the AFL-CIO to the historic position of demanding the military withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. What has taken the labor movement so long to start leading this kind of stuff?”

One reason is that it has taken a long time for some of us to sufficiently organize to get these positions – to actually get elected as the principal officer of a major union or Labor Council.

But it’s not just simply electoral. Our members, defined as workers, have to trust us if we are to keep these jobs for more than one term. That organizing is the most important. And part of that trust comes from that bread and butter work of trying to get raises, good contracts and organize jobs sights to pay those good wages. A constant turnover of officers is usually a good indictor of a struggling union where organizing doesn’t reach far enough in any of that necessary work.

“I guess that must be a part of it…..”  I sensed impatience and disappointment with this answer.

And then for some reason I blurted out that “even when we push the benchmarks to a higher level we are still accused by the Left of being sellouts!” ….even though we aren’t screaming from the scaffolds in our hardhats and pissing on the longhaired hippies marching down Michigan Ave……

Later we started a silly game of trying to judge who the best labor leaders and politicians were – leaders who tried not to sell out or compromise, yet still managed to get things done. Or at least be defined as trying.

I started with the example of Hillary Clinton who was going to be the savior for Single Payer Healthcare when Bill first got elected. “Before the Beltway giggled and ate her lunch?” Tom winked.

Some other examples:

Jimmy Carter: “Campaigned that he wasn’t from Washington and demonstrating that promise for the next four years by getting booted out.”

Andy Stern: “Smart. Vanguard. Abandoned Democracy.”

Dennis Kucinich: “Couldn’t get elected outside of two neighborhoods in Cleveland.”

Tom Ammiano, San Francisco Supervisor: “Hmmm. Good one. No, wait. He sold us out on our Sweat Free ordinance when we asked for $100,000 for compliance.”


We talked about the struggle to bring in the resources and talent to sustain progressive campaigns for the labor movement amidst the constant corporate attacks and the failed labor laws that keep us on the defensive.

I took my last sip of wine and noticed that only two tables still had customers. The servers, always attentive, were ready to call it a night.

As I paid the bill I asked what he was doing besides writing, accepting these gigs and lecturing. He told me with little enthusiasm that he was “on the short list to be hired as a full time professor” at a college in Southern Cal.

Why the tepid response? “I have been told there is no way that I can be hired despite being the most qualified.”  Why?  He looked me in the eye. Ah, yes…. Another blackballed lefty.

The California Democratic Party Convention opened in San Jose last summer with minor fanfare. Like our national labor movement, we wouldn’t be endorsing for President until after the primaries. Too many unions and major associations were still supporting either Hillary or Bernie. After the primaries were tallied we’d drag our belated unity into Philadelphia at the Democratic National Convention.

But delegates were jockeying in San Jose to run as Democratic National Committee members and Tom called and said he was running and asked for my support.  I asked him why, he’d already run and served in major elected offices throughout his career. Convention delegate?

“I want to stir up some issues in Philly.”

I had many friends – incumbents and otherwise – on the DNC ballot, but I gave him my support. I even took personal privilege as Labor Chair of the Party and gave him the microphone at the jam-packed Labor Caucus meeting (the largest caucus of the California Democratic Party).

He surprised everyone by saying that he now supported Hillary.*  When asked why he moved away from Progressive Bernie he answered that Hillary has the best chance of putting together a real post election coalition that includes African-Americans, Latinos and women.

This was quintessential Tom Hayden, the calculating of next steps that has defined Hayden’s career. Take to the streets and media to promote and define policy; wash up and march into the convention halls and legislative chambers to get it done.

The vote for DNC was an uphill climb – the campaign for any new DNC candidate meant that one had to challenge the insiders, the entrenched, the establishment, and piss folks off.

Tom fell just short on the ballot but he went to Philadelphia anyway.

If you followed the platform fights and newscasts from Philadelphia (that didn’t focus solely on the nomination of Hillary Clinton), Tom Hayden was all over the place and everywhere. When I talked to him on the phone at his home in Santa Monica a few weeks ago he said he “may have overdone it physically at the convention but that I shouldn’t worry, he was on a recovery regimen.”

Tom Hayden was always on a recovery regimen. Over 50 years of organizing, traveling, fighting, strategizing, counting votes, writing, recovering.  From jail or as a Senator; over a typewriter or in the Ivory Tower.

Tom Hayden was one of the most unique and important shapers of public policy in contemporary American history. He left us too soon.


  • Tim Paulson is the executive director of the San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO, which represents over 150 union and 100,000 members. He is also the elected labor chair of the California Democratic Party.
  • Part of Hayden’s trip to Vietnam was facilitated by the same Vietnamese leader that guided our labor visit, Chau Nhat Bihn, Kent Wong’s friend and colleague from the Vietnamese General Federation of Labour (VGFL), who had taken the Harvard Trade Union Leadership Program a few years prior and spent the war years in and out of the tunnels of the Ho Chi Mihn Trail.
  • *”I Used to Support Bernie, but Then I Changed My Mind.” The Nation


Executive Director Tim Paulson on Historic Immigration Meeting of California Labor Councils

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Immigration Group Shot 2016 TomThe San Francisco Labor Council and the California Federation of Labor hosted an historic summit of 12 California Labor Councils to discuss how the union movement is uniquely positioned to help immigrant workers and their families.

In the context of I.C.E. raids, stalled national immigration reform, the Supreme Court “non-ruling” that has kept President Obama’s DAPA order on hold, as well the difficult process to obtain Green Cards and a path to Citizenship, we thought we should gather to discuss how Labor Councils can support immigrant members of our affiliate unions with the difficulties they face.

Neidi Dominguez and Gloria Alvarado, great national organizers from the AFL-CIO, also co-hosted this meeting and flew to San Francisco to give us a national perspective.

Three panels from the Los Angeles Federation of Labor, the San Francisco Labor Council and the Orange County Federation of Labor presented information about the Immigration Centers and diverse services they have established in their three counties.

Immigration Center logo door 2016Leaders were treated by the staff of the San Francisco Labor Council’s Center, “We Rise San Francisco,” to a tour of the new San Francisco offices.

Susan Sachen and Hector Saldivar from the California Federation of Labor helped with the organizing as well as facilitating and compiling notes from the formal and informal input everyone provided. We set an agenda for four hours, but the discussion spilled out longer and we agreed to plan another meeting in California after the November elections.

The theme of this meeting circled around an idea that AFL-CIO Executive Vice-President Tefere Gebre advanced two years ago: We all have union halls that have large spaces that we don’t use more than a few times a month. Let’s set up citizenship programs for immigrant workers so that workers know that labor unions are the place where they have the best chance to obtain citizenship, get legal help, register to vote, and obtain protections from deportations. The same unions halls where they obtain and keep a good union job.

And that’s what we talked about.

Legal help, screening, a safe place to talk about status, certification for union staff to officially process members cases, citizenship as a goal for voter registration, laws we have passed locally and statewide to stop companies from using I.C.E to break up organizing efforts, etc.

Besides the AFL-CIO and California Federation of Labor staff, the CLC’s from San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Fresno, Monterey, North Valley, San Joaquin, Merced, Stanislaus, Tri-Counties, Los Angeles, and Orange Counties brought principal officers and staff.  Sacramento and Bakersfield had scheduling conflicts but will come to our next meeting.

Our Local 87 janitors union in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, where our SF Rise Immigration Center is housed, provided an amazing buffet lunch of tacos, two types of enchiladas, salsa, chips, guacamole, rice, beans… (Lost track of the other goodies when my plate got full!)

Immigration CLC 2016 RightAs unions and Labor Councils, we have many issues at the top of our advocacy: health care reform, affordable housing, the right to organize a voice at work though collective bargaining, Project Labor Agreements for construction, etc.

Immigration reform and protections rise all these waters for our members and our families.

Summary: Even with anti-worker court rulings and a Congress that refuses to fix our failed immigration system, the California labor movement will continue to protect immigrant workers who pay taxes, work hard and make America work.

This meeting was a great first step in California to engage this work everywhere in the state – rural and urban, coast to valley, north and south.

Workers standing together win together!

Executive Director Tim Paulson’s Remarks on the 2016 MLK Breakfast

Monday, January 25th, 2016

MLK2016-CecilWilliamsAs I pulled into the Holiday Inn on Van Ness at 6:30 AM last Monday there were about 150 police officers outside. What the hell?! I was arriving early to coordinate our annual Martin Luther King Day Breakfast. Everybody knew there was going to be some kind of protest, but WOW!

At 8 AM many of our guests were already inside when I started getting text messages that police had begun to screen everyone coming in. I went nuts!

The Labor Council and the Nor Cal MLK Committee did not ask for this police presence. All guests, and frankly, all peaceful protesters, were welcome. I had given the hotel management that message on Sunday.

The annual breakfast had a great program that included music from the wonderful Latin Youth Jazz Ensemble and tributes to the history of the Civil Rights Movement and reports on the challenges and injustices we still feel. The breakfast was attended by hundreds of union members, community activists, pastors, faith leaders and elected leaders, including 8 of the 11 San Francisco Supervisors and all of our legislative representatives in Sacramento. We were proud to honor Reverend Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani, co-founders of the wonderful Glide Memorial Church and Foundation in the Tenderloin, which has been serving food and providing programs for underprivileged men and women and families in San Francisco for over a generation.

MLK2016-CrowdShotDuring the program one protester managed to get inside, jumped the stage, and shouted the demands of the Justice for Mario Woods Coalition, which was formed to decry the killing of a young man in the Bayview. The brother played it cool and was all dressed in a suit and tie to sneak in and be able to shout the coalition’s demands: “Full investigation into the shooting, charge the officers, fire the police chief.” The attendees were respectful of his message and his right to speak it.

Rev. Williams signaled to us that he wanted the protester on stage when he received his Willie B. Kennedy award. My co-emcee, Aaron Grizzell, and I, along with Sean Farley from the International Longshore Workers Local 10, took it a step further and went outside to bring all 20 or so protesters into the room to be on stage with Cecil and Jan.
AGrizzell-FTrumell-TPaulsonIt was a historic organizing event. Bridging any divide between the attendees and the protesters, Rev. Williams spoke of the importance of supporting this new movement and the power of love and working together to end injustice, wherever it is.

The San Francisco Labor Council has taken a position in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement and in support of many of the positions of the Justice for Mario Woods Coalition. We did not support firing the police chief.

This was a special San Francisco confluence of organizing at the breakfast. Thank you Rev. Williams for your Grace, and to all the participants who made this a memorable MLK event of tension and compassion that ultimately included everyone!


Labor Leaders from U.S. & Germany Break Bread

Friday, September 11th, 2015

2015GermanLaborDinnerAFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler traveled to Northern California last month to convene an exchange between Reiner Hoffmann, Chairman of the German Trade Union Confederation, and California labor leaders. I was joined by Shelley Kessler, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the San Mateo County Central Labor Council; Ben Field, Executive Director of the South Bay Labor Council (San Jose); and Angie Wei, Chief of Staff of the California Federation of Labor.

We met at the infamous Buck’s restaurant in Woodside by the California coast, the funky roadside restaurant where, rumor has it, all Silicon Valley deals are brokered. We were joined by Andrea Nahles, the German Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, and the San Francisco German Consulate staff.

The Germans were in town for short visits in Washington, D.C. and the Bay Area to explore and study the Silicon Valley technology models of business. They titled their visit “The Internet of Things.” They had toured Google and Airbnb headquarters in San Francisco and Mountain View before meeting us for dinner.

The German labor movement is an accepted part of the fabric of commerce and acknowledged as the “voice at work” in Germany. Labor, management and government still have a commitment to cooperate and find ways to solve economic issues. Unlike America, where Republicans and a large portion of the business community spend incredible resources to destroy and eliminate our unions, the German economy still deems workers and their unions as true partners.

It was inspirational to see Labor Minister Nahles and Labor Chair Hoffman traveling as equals in this government delegation. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka would never be paired as equal partners by the Obama administration to participate in an international delegation like this.

That being said, our conversation over dinner from the American delegation was pretty one-sided. The Germans were informed that the Silicon Valley business model does not value American workers. Independent contractors, third party outsourcing, and non-employee-type models that don’t include health care costs and retirement plans is not a way of doing business that values a sustainable life in California.

The technology and innovation to make workers’ lives more efficient is exciting and worth being part of, but if the cost of this innovation drives more people into poverty – janitors, food service workers, security officers, construction workers, truck and bus drivers – then we have a problem.

The wealth created in Silicon Valley is not shared and the Labor Movement is working to fix that.

Thank you Liz Shuler, Chairman Reiner Hoffmann, and Labor Minister Nahies for listening to the workers’ perspective.

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