Author Archive

Statement from Executive Director Tim Paulson on the Passing of Mayor Ed Lee

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

For Immediate Release                                            Contact:
December 12, 2017                                                     Tim Paulson, (415) 716-6383


 The San Francisco Labor Council is saddened by the sudden passing of Mayor Ed Lee.

Mayor Lee served San Francisco during some of the most volatile economic times in the city’s history. He came to office during the longest economic disaster in three generations and helped steer the city’s fortunes to arguably the largest concentration of wealth that we are experiencing today. Mayor Lee, like many of us in the labor movement, were (and are) challenged by how this booming business environment affects working men and women. The housing, immigration, and wage stagnation crises were fully placed on his agenda and are still part of the struggle for equality in San Francisco, as well as the entire United States.

As a former civil rights lawyer, Mayor Ed Lee fought against worksite raids and deportations of undocumented workers and we are forever thankful for his jump-starting and funding of the San Francisco Labor Council’s Immigration Center, We Rise SF. Our Immigration Center now has more staff and a cadre of immigration lawyers to navigate the citizenship process for hundreds of union workers and their families.

San Francisco passed the highest minimum wage of any city in the US and this was accomplished in Room 200 at City Hall with Mayor Lee and his staff.

We will miss Ed Lee’s quiet approach as he opened doors for nationally recognized apprenticeship programs and career pathway models that include violence prevention. The door was always open at Room 200. I have known Mayor Ed Lee to be the ultimate dedicated public servant. I first met him over 20 years ago when he served in Willie Brown’s administration as the city’s purchaser, and though we have had tough negotiations on many issues over the years I always knew that he cared tremendously for all the people of San Francisco.

On this sad day the Labor Council sends condolences to the Mayor’s family and the many dedicated staff of his administration.

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

SF Labor Council Resistance Action on Saturday, 8/26 at Noon

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

White supremacists will be coming to our city on Saturday, August 26th. We must stand up and make clear hatred, racism and bigotry are not welcome in San Francisco.

As we expressed in our official statement, the recent events in Charlottesville call upon us all to speak out boldly against white supremacy, neo-Nazism, and white nationalism in all forms. Racism, anti-Semitism, hatred, and fear should have no home in America. Working people know that standing shoulder to shoulder together makes us stronger as a people and as a nation. The San Francisco Labor Council is committed to advancing racial justice, as doing so is fundamental to working people uniting to create better workplaces and a more inclusive economy.

On Saturday the Labor Council will be a part of the march from Harvey Milk Plaza to the Civic Center with other community organizations.  We understand other labor and community groups are taking part in other actions and we are embracing what folks are calling a “diversity of tactics” for Saturday actions. We must do all we can to keep ourselves and each other safe and active in the movement for a free and just world. What we cannot do is be “non-political” when white supremacists are in our midst.

The action is scheduled to start at Noon on Saturday at Harvey Milk Plaza, at the corner of Market and Castro in SF. We will keep you all updated as details on the rally and march from Harvey Milk Plaza are fleshed out and encourage our affiliate unions and members join the Labor Council in making our voices of resistance and opposition heard.


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.

Statement from San Francisco Labor Council on the Shootings at UPS Facility

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Statement from Secretary-Treasurer Olga Miranda, President of SEIU Local 87 and Executive Director Tim Paulson

San Francisco – On behalf of the 150 unions of the San Francisco Labor Council our hearts and prayers go out to the UPS workers, victims, and their families on the tragedy that occurred yesterday in San Francisco.

The UPS members have always had a strong voice at work by being members of Teamsters Locals 2785 and 856 and SEIU Janitors Local 87.

The fatalities include four Local 2785 members.

It is times like these that make us as a Labor Movement come together to stand with all of our brothers and sisters. We hope that when we call upon you we can all stand together. We expect UPS to cooperate in any way needed with our affiliates Teamsters Locals 2785 and 856 and SEIU Janitors Local 87.

We are still monitoring details of this tragedy. The Teamsters will be setting up a fund to help the families and we will keep all of you informed about how we can support these families in their loss.

Thank you for your concern and support.


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’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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