November 5, 2010, SAN FRANCISCO – Tuesday was a watershed day for workers in California and the country. In San Francisco we had the largest ongoing volunteer turnout in recent history from our South of Market campaign headquarters. The San Francisco Labor Council coordinated—for the first time in modern history—with the Democratic Party to get out the vote. To see hundreds of volunteers—walkers and phoners—from 9 am to 10 pm at 1261 Howard St. in District 6 for the last two months is something we will never forget!
The local results for candidates in San Francisco will not be known for a few more days, but I want to thank all union members and Democratic volunteers for defeating the so-called “pension reform” charter amendment, Measure B. Measure B was nothing more than an attack on San Francisco city employees’ health care and pension benefits. And we beat it by almost 60 percent. Other California cities also introduced similar anti-worker measures and I am proud (and sad) that only in San Francisco did we defeat this anti-worker onslaught. As I said to the City Editor of the Bay Guardian on Election Day, we have the smartest voters in San Francisco. (We also had an incredible worker-led campaign!)
And despite the local and national attacks on public services, San Francisco passed the revenue-generating Measure N. After the Wall Street debacle that has crippled many of our members, the Labor Council worked hard with the Board of Supervisors to find a smart non-tax ballot measure that all stakeholders could support that would protect city services—parks, clinics, libraries, street repair, etc. After our city workers gave up $250 million in salary over the next two years it is only fitting that Measure N would make a small assessment on real estate sales valued over $5 million dollars to fund our city’s services and I thank San Franciscans for voting overwhelmingly to support this measure.
Today we know that Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina have been defeated and can find some comfort to know that their anti-worker, job-killing agendas have gone away. The rest of the state’s Democratic ticket appears to have defeated the Republican onslaught and we hope that our own Kamala Harris prevails as Attorney General, which may be the second most important constitutional office after Governor. Go Kamala!
Nationally, we’re sad but cognizant of the bitter fight for Congress. We know that workers feel impatient that the wave of change we turned in 2008 wasn’t moving fast enough. As our AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka so succinctly stated, “This election was about the economy and jobs, plain and simple. Here’s what it wasn’t: It wasn’t a mandate for the policies most Republicans campaigned on.” Our agenda for the last 10 years has never faltered. And we know we cannot go back to the anti-worker agenda of the Bush years. Our members have voted solidly, but others in America have temporarily lost their patience and feel ignored.
One of our short-term setbacks is the loss of Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. I, personally, hope her caucus sees fit to recognize her incredible leadership and keeps her as its leader so she can continue to fight for progressive issues. Her legacy is impeccable and I thank her for her strong will and leadership.
Again, I want to thank everyone who participated in this historic election, abandoned their nights and weekends and proved that San Francisco and California activists continue to set the standard for electoral victories. No on Measure B!