After the Minimum Wage Win: the Battle Continues

July 21, 2014 by Jim Miller

Closeup of business people standingBy Jim Miller

San Diego’s progressive community got a well deserved shout-out last week in the national media with The Nation praising the good work of our city’s “expanding progressive base.”

More specifically, the article noted that the local movement to raise the minimum wage was comprised of many of the same folks who formed the community-labor alliance behind the David Alvarez mayoral campaign:

That coalition, Raise Up San Diego, includes the Center for Policy Initiatives as well as labor unions, immigrant rights groups and service providers.

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San Diego’s Overlords Seek Overturn of City Council Vote Raising Minimum Wage

July 18, 2014 by Doug Porter
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By Doug Porter

Business interests opposed to raising the minimum wage in San Diego haven’t given up, despite a 6-3 city council vote on Monday, July 14, approving an ordinance boosting wages for an estimated 172,000 workers.

On Tuesday they launched a major public relations campaign seeking to portray the council vote as undemocratic and unfair to their interests. In closed door meetings led by Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders, so-called business leaders are considering the logistics of mounting a signature gathering campaign to place an initiative on the ballot seeking to overturn the minimum wage increase.

Although meeting the August 8th deadline for inclusion on the November 2014 ballot is unlikely, a successful campaign completed …

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San Diego Becomes Largest US City to Pass Minimum Wage Hike and Earned Sick Days Policy

July 15, 2014 by Doug Porter
Thumbnail image for San Diego Becomes Largest US City to Pass Minimum Wage Hike and Earned Sick Days Policy

By Doug Porter

Supporters of a hike in local minimum wages left nothing to chance yesterday as a city council decision on a proposal by Todd Gloria neared. Over 400 hundred people showed up at city hall for a 6pm hearing, filling the council chambers and two overflow rooms. Many wore pink signs indicating their support.

Email and social media reminders abounded during the day, including a mid-day Raise Up San Diego-led “Twitterstorm.” More than 100 people testified before the council. Highlights included former basketball star Bill Walton …

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What Kind of City Is San Diego? It’s Time to Raise the Minimum Wage

July 14, 2014 by Jim Miller

By Jim Miller

raise min wageThe San Diego City Council will consider today whether to pass an ordinance or put forth a ballot measure to increase the city’s minimum wage and provide earned sick days for local workers.

Since the last time I wrote on this subject in late April, the original proposal of raising the minimum wage to the local Self-Sufficiency Standard of $13.09 with five earned sick days has been significantly lowered in order to address the concerns of opponents.

The current proposal keeps the initial five earned sick days but now only raises the minimum wage to $9.75 in 2015 …

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What the Supreme Court’s Harris v. Quinn Decision Means for Workers and American Democracy

July 7, 2014 by Jim Miller

David Sachs/SEIU via Equal Times

By Jim Miller

After last week’s slew of bad Supreme Court rulings much of the media attention rightfully went to the horrendous “Hobby Lobby” case where the rights of corporations were deemed more important than the rights of women.

But there was another big decision where the Supreme Court surprised some observers and ruled narrowly on Harris v. Quinn, the case which could have gutted public sector unions and virtually wiped out their ability to play in American politics by ending all public sector unions’ ability to collect agency fees. As the Daily Kos noted of the case:

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What’s Wrong with the Recent Court Decision for Teachers

June 16, 2014 by Jim Miller

BlueRobot / Foter / Creative Commons AttributionBy Jim Miller and Kelly Mayhew

Last week’s decision in the Vergara v. the State of California lawsuit that undermined tenure and seniority rights was a profound slap in the face to teachers who have committed their careers to improving the lives of our children. It was yet another significant victory for those who are seeking to impose corporate education reforms by pitting teachers against children in a cynical, destructive, and utterly counterproductive fashion.

As tenured professors in the community college system, union members, and parents of a child in California’s public school system, we have a unique perspective on this matter. …

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It’s Time to Stand Up for Increasing the Minimum Wage, San Diego!

June 11, 2014 by Doug Porter
Thumbnail image for It’s Time to Stand Up for Increasing the Minimum Wage, San Diego!

San Diegans Are Urged to Attend Council Committee Hearing Today – June 11th

“No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to exist in this country.”~ President Franklin D Roosevelt

By Doug Porter

It’s been the season of (talking about) minimum wage increases. Now it’s time to take action.

On Wednesday the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee will be discussing a proposal supported by Council President Todd Gloria. If the committee approves it will go to the full City Council. Then Council members will then decide whether to approve the wage hike or send it to the ballot for a public vote.

Local supporters of Gloria’s measure, led by Raise Up San Diego are calling for people to attend the committee hearing, slated for the 12th floor at city hall, Wednesday, June 11th from 9am til Noon.

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Junco’s Jabs: Beware of Big Business Wolves

May 23, 2014 by Source


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San Diego Fast-Food Employees Strike for Higher Pay and Better Rights On May 15

May 15, 2014 by Staff

San Diego joins 150-city strike as worker campaign spreads across the globe to three dozen countries and six continents

fightfor 15By Staff

The fast food industry is an issue that isn’t going away. Front line fast food workers in San Diego are living in poverty while working in a $200 billion industry. San Diego workers are calling for $15 an hour wages and the right to form a union without retaliation. Employees from McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger-King will be joined by the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice board members and community supporters on Thursday May 15.

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San Diego Goddam! The June 3rd Election And Why You Should Care

May 8, 2014 by Doug Porter
Thumbnail image for San Diego Goddam! The June 3rd Election And Why You Should Care

By Doug Porter

I borrowed the first part of this headline from one of my favorite songs by Nina Simone, who sang about a certain southern hellhole of a state of mind as her response to the murder of Medgar Evers in Mississippi; and the bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four black children back in 1964. The song speaks to the level of angst and frustration I’m starting to feel about the upcoming election.

Bad things are more likely to happen and good things probably won’t happen if you and your friends pass on your obligation as citizens to vote come June 3rd. Starting today and in the coming weeks we’ll be talking about those possibilities, so you need to (please!) pay attention.

Fast forward 50 years from Ms. Simone’s lament and there are 8 million eligible but unregistered voters in California. Of the 17.7 million voters that are registered to vote in the Golden State, only about one third will bother to cast ballots in the upcoming June 3rd elections. That works out to 14% of the total population deciding how things will be for next few years.

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Remember the Folks Who Brought You the 8-Hour Day?

May 5, 2014 by Jim Miller

By Jim Miller

8hours1Last week, May Day came and went and, while there was a small march downtown, most people barely noticed. Indeed most Americans don’t know much about May Day and if they do, they associate it with the state sponsored holiday in the former Soviet Union.

The truth of the matter is, however, that May Day has deep American roots. It started in 1866 as part of the movement pushing for the 8-hour day.

As historian Jacob Remes reminds us:

The demand for an eight-hour day was about leisure, self-improvement and freedom, but it was also about power. When Eight Hour Leagues agitated for legislation requiring short hours, they were demanding what had never before happened: that the government regulate industry for the advantage of workers.

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Who’s Funding the Competing Minimum Wage Initiative in San Diego?

May 1, 2014 by Doug Porter
Thumbnail image for Who’s Funding the Competing Minimum Wage Initiative in San Diego?

By Doug Porter / San Diego Free Press

Seriously. We need to know. UT-San Diego and KPBS have run stories about an initiative in the works proposing an increase in the minimum wage that’s less than the one currently under consideration by the City Council. In fact, the “increase” it purports to offer wouldn’t affect 93% of businesses small and large in the city via loopholes large enough to drive a truck through.

It takes serious money and/or a large grass roots organization to collect signatures for a ballot initiative. Essentially you’ve got to get 100,000 people to sign a petition in the hope that 68,000 or so will be recognized as valid. The shipbuilders association spent somewhere south of a half million dollars to get their measure killing the Barrio Logan Community Plan on upcoming the June ballot. The 2012 Proposition B Pension Reform backers spent over a million bucks.

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Raise Up San Diego – Do the Right Thing About the Minimum Wage

April 28, 2014 by Jim Miller

raiseuplogoBy Jim Miller

These are still tough times for most working people in the United States. We are in the midst of a new Gilded Age of historic economic inequality. The rich are carving out a bigger slice of the pie at the expense of nearly everyone else in America. As I noted in my column last week, corporate profits are at their highest level in 85 years and employee compensation is at the lowest level it has been in 65 years.

And this is happening despite the fact that the average American worker is more educated and more productive than ever before. The result of all this is a declining middle class, economic instability, and the hijacking of our democracy by moneyed interests.

Here in San Diego, we have one of the highest costs of living in the United States, ….

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Reverse Robin Hood Funding Threatens San Diego

April 22, 2014 by Source
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By Laura Barrett / Huffington Post / April 21, 2014

San Diego’s sunny beaches and beautiful college campuses can be deceptive. The city’s soaring housing costs force university students and low-income families to sleep on couches and to depend on free meals. Many, too, end up living out of cars. The waiting list for Section 8 housing is 10 years long, and as a result, families are being forced to move out of state.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a renter in San Diego’s Metropolitan Statistical Area would need to earn $26.58 an hour to afford a fair market two bedroom apartment, yet, the average renter’s wage is just $17.28. Despite this, the City of San Diego is trying to take away federal money that provides a source of relief.

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Book Review: Cesar Chavez Remembered, Warts and All

April 21, 2014 by Source

chavezbookMiriam Pawel offers the most comprehensive look at Chavez and his movement in her new book, The Crusades of Cesar Chavez.

By Mark R. Day / Labor Notes

“Cesar was not a humble man,” narrator Luis Valdez says at the conclusion of the new documentary “Cesar’s Last Fast,” about the late farm labor leader Cesar Chavez. “Nor was he a simple man.”

Indeed, Chavez was a controversial and complex figure. That’s the problem with Diego Luna’s feature film “Cesar Chavez,” whose release coincided with the charismatic leader’s March 31 birthday.

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OSHA Wins Case Against SeaWorld Involving Death of Orca Trainer

April 11, 2014 by Source
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From OH&S / Apr 11, 2014

OSHA has won the appellate case involving its enforcement case against SeaWorld of Florida LLC following the death of killer whale trainer Dawn Brancheau on Feb. 24, 2010. A 2-1 decision issued April 11 by a panel of three judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that SeaWorld “recognized its precautions were inadequate to prevent serious bodily harm or even death to its trainers and that the residual hazard was preventable.”

“The remedy imposed for SeaWorld’s violations does not change the essential nature of its business,” the majority opinion written by Judge Judith W. Rogers states. “There will still be human interactions and performances with killer whales; the remedy will simply require that they continue with increased safety measures.”

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Democrats’ Revenge: San Diego City Council Appointment of Ed Harris Tilts Council Left

April 8, 2014 by Frank Gormlie
Thumbnail image for Democrats’ Revenge: San Diego City Council Appointment of Ed Harris Tilts Council Left

Appointment of Democrat Is Complicated even with “Super-majority”

The Democrats on the San Diego City Council took revenge on their Republican colleagues yesterday by appointing another Democrat to the Council. As of 5pm Monday, April 7, there are now 6 Democrats to the 3 Republicans on the Council after they choose Ed Harris, a lifeguard and union head – and Democrat, to take the seat to represent District 2.

This retaliatory measure was, in no small part, revenge for the defeat of the Democratic candidate in the last mayor’s election, where David Alvarez lost to Republican Kevin Faulconer. Faulconer vacated his seat for the 2nd District when he stepped up to the mayor’s floor of City Hall.

With a 6 to 3 tilt, the City Council now leans left, …

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UCSD Graduate Students Strike After Just Demands Not Met

April 4, 2014 by Source

Strikers disrupt classes and block public thoroughfares in protest against unfair labor practices while upper level administrators continue to receive exorbitant salaries and enjoy a culture of lavish living

By Daniel Gutiérrez

Grad student strikers and their allies block a pedestrian walkway at UCSD.

Graduate students at the University of California, San Diego represented by the United Auto Workers Local 2865 initiated a two-day strike Wednesday, April 2nd, that will end today Friday, April 4th. The strike at UCSD is part of a statewide action occurring at all the campuses of the University of California for these reasons.

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A Review of “Cesar Chavez” the Film: Sí, Se Puede

April 3, 2014 by Source
Thumbnail image for A Review of “Cesar Chavez” the Film: Sí, Se Puede

By Byron Morton

Cesar Chavez shows the political evolution and the struggles of the man behind the movement during the 1960s to organize the farm workers in California. Through the United Farm Workers (UFW) Chavez (played by Michael Peña) brings bargaining rights and dignity for the impoverished farm workers. The UFW motto during this time was “Sí, se puede” or yes, it is possible.

It is important to remember at that time in the 1960s the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 did not protect farm workers and others. The Act “is a foundational statute of US labor law which guarantees basic rights of private sector employees to organize into trade unions, engage in collective bargaining for better terms and conditions at work, and take collective action including strikes if necessary.”

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UCSD Grad Students Protest Controversial Employment Policy

April 3, 2014 by Source

UCSD grad students protesting.Doctoral students rally against the 18 Quarter Limit

By Daniel Gutiérrez

La Jolla, California — Students at the University of California, San Diego stormed the Office of Graduate Studies Tuesday, April 1, to protest a controversial employment policy implemented across the University of California.

The “18 Quarter Limit” restricts doctoral students by only allotting them 18 quarters to be teaching assistants, readers, or graduate student researchers. Such positions, if secured, reduce a graduate student’s tuition from roughly $5,200 a quarter to a mere $196. The action came on the eve of the two-day strike that will be held April 2nd and 3rd at UCSD.

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Outgoing CEO Paul Jacobs to Shareholders: Tell Your Congressman to Give Qualcomm a Tax Break!

March 26, 2014 by Source

pauljacobs1By John Lawrence / San Diego Free Press

In his final message after more than eight years as chief executive officer of Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM), Paul Jacobs on March 4 gave employees shareholders what he called a “homework assignment.” “Send your Congress people your opinion that you’d like American companies to be able to bring offshore money back to the United States to either reinvest or return to shareholders”, said Jacobs, now executive chairman of the San Diego based chipmaker, which has $21.6 billion in overseas profits.

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City Council Makes First Step Towards Raising the Minimum Wage in San Diego

March 26, 2014 by Doug Porter
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By Doug Porter / San Diego Free Press

The room was packed Monday, March 24th, for a meeting of the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee as Councilman Todd Gloria successfully gained approval to draft ballot language on a measure proposed for the November ballot raising the minimum wage and granting paid sick leave for San Diegans.

Gloria will consult with City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and bring the measure back for consideration by the committee on April 30th. We can only hope the City Councilman president has the language double-checked by an outside attorney who doesn’t have a vested ideological interest in the measure failing.

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Notes from the Class War: Killing “The Year of the Populist” in the Crib?

March 24, 2014 by Jim Miller

By Jim Miller

democratic-party-where-are-youRecently, in “Neoliberalism and Its Discontents: What’s Left Beyond More Impoverished Choices?”, I continued my analysis of the national debate that followed the publication of Adolph Reed’s sharp criticism of what qualifies as the “left” in the contemporary American political landscape.

After that column was posted, Reed wrote yet another piece in American Prospect, this time responding to Harold Meyerson’s dismissal of his call for a left less tethered to a Democratic Party increasingly colonized by Wall Street and other corporate interests.

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San Diego to Hold Hearing on Raising Minimum Wage – Monday, March 24

March 21, 2014 by Source

By Miriam Raftery / East County Magazine

Should workers have the right to earned sick days? Should the minimum wage be raised in San Diego? A City Council committee will hold a hearing on these issues on Monday, March 24 at 9:30 a.m. at City Hall.

A new organization, Raise Up San Diego will hold a rally outside Council Chambers at 202 C Street in support of these proposals.

“Come be part of history as the Improving Wages and Working Conditions measure is introduced at the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee,” an e-mail invitation from the organization states.

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Increasing San Diego’s Minimum Wage: If You’re Not at the Table, You’re on the Menu

March 21, 2014 by Doug Porter

raiseminwageBy Doug Porter / San Diego Free Press

The ‘Improving Wages and Working Conditions’ measure is set to be introduced at the City Council Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations (EDIR) Committee on Monday morning. In addition to calling for an increase in the minimum wage, the proposed initiative would also guarantee workers up to five earned sick days.

While serving as iMayor, Councilman Todd Gloria made a bold pledge to get a measure before the voters that would raise local minimum wages. He’s now softened that pledge a bit making it clear that the actual amount of any increase is negotiable. And the opening negotiating position for the Chamber of Commerce (and their as yet silent allies) is: Zero.

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Cheswick’s Bartenders Pass the Boot in OB to Help Firefighters

March 6, 2014 by Matthew Wood
Thumbnail image for Cheswick’s Bartenders Pass the Boot in OB to Help Firefighters

By Matthew Wood

For years, Cheswick’s West bartenders Allie Shea and Shelly Hutchison would ring the bell behind the bar whenever one of the local fire trucks would drive by on Newport Avenue to show their love.

Now they do it with a purpose: To raise money for the Fallen Firefighters Foundation (link). That’s because every time one of the trucks drives by, the bar passes around the firefighter’s boot they have perched behind the bar for everyone to donate.

“Every time they drive by, we ring it. People love it,” Hutchison said.

The idea to raise money came about after Shea took part in the San Diego Memorial 911 Stair Climb at the Hilton Bayfront last year. More than 900 people gathered to climb 110 stairs in honor of the firefighters who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

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Now Is the Time to Save Our Postal Commons

March 3, 2014 by Source
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By Matt Stannard / Nation of Change

Editor: There are too many links in the original for us to provide them, so please go to the original article for those links.

For some, the postal service has become an ideological punching bag, proof that “government programs” don’t work and that the state inevitably bureaucratizes services better left to the private sector. In the case of the postal service, this narrative lacks a critical element: fidelity to truth.

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The “Alvarez Effect” and the Future of San Diego

February 17, 2014 by Jim Miller

By Jim Miller

Alvarez14DNobody thought this was going to be easy.

Back in July, at the height of the Filner debacle, I predicted a dire outcome, noting that “in a recall or special election in an off year, the electorate is guaranteed to be more conservative and definitely not favorable” for a progressive replacing Bob Filner because, “Faulconer would have a huge fundraising advantage garnering support from all the usual suspects downtown and benefit from an energized base geared up to hand it to the liberals, unions, minorities, and other foul ‘special interest groups’ that they’ll blame for bringing us the evil that was Bob Filner. With the Democrats dispirited, humiliated and divided, it might not even be much of a fight.”

As it turned out, David Alvarez stepped up and offered progressives hope, and the labor movement surprised everyone by actually being able to raise more money than the Faulconer forces. Sadly, on Tuesday, many of us were crying in our beer instead.

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Cohn’s New “OB Warehouse” About to Open on Newport – Old Portugalia Sign Finally Gone

February 14, 2014 by Matthew Wood
Thumbnail image for Cohn’s New “OB Warehouse” About to Open on Newport – Old Portugalia Sign Finally Gone

Ding dong, the wicked sign is gone.

You know the one I’m talking about. The Portugalia sign – that garish Ed Hardy-tattoo-esque design (that yes, included a cross) painted two stories tall over the now shuttered club on Newport Avenue – has finally been removed, thanks to Tim Spann and the folks at Cohn Restaurant Group.

Spann, who is in charge of signage and some of the interior design for the new OB Warehouse, aided in taking down the old and now out-dated sign – which lorded over the upstanding exteriors of Newport Avene like an hulking gargoyle. Its reign over the village is finally over, as the new “OB Warehouse” sign went up on Wednesday.

We got a sneak peek inside the new place, …

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In the Battle for the Soul of San Diego David Alvarez Stands for All of Us

February 10, 2014 by Jim Miller

1658660_769012429793127_570456494_oBy Jim Miller

San Diego is on the national stage again.

As the final week of the dead heat mayoral showdown unfolded, Politico reported on “the battle for San Diego,” the Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters pondered whether the race would be a harbinger of things to come in California politics, and the New York Times covered “a battle of ideology in a city unaccustomed to that sort of election,” astutely noting, as I did here at the San Diego Free Press during the primary, that this contest is “a test of whether yet another big-city Democrat can be elected by riding a wave of populism, much as Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York did last fall.”

And that test is happening because last November David Alvarez defied the pundits and political insiders and beat the prohibitive favorite, Nathan Fletcher, in the race to face Kevin Faulconer in the run-off to be San Diego’s next mayor. This was a seminal moment for San Diego—perhaps the biggest political upset in the history of the city.

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