SD City Council Gets Labor Report Card
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Aired 4/26/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.
Guest: Lorena Gonzalez, secretary-treasurer and CEO of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO.
Five of the eight members of the San Diego City Council were given failing grades by the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council today for their stances on 24 key issues.
Carl DeMaio, Kevin Faulconer, Sherri Lightner, Tony Young and Lorie Zapf were given F grades by the umbrella group for the region's labor unions in their "Working Families Report Card.'' DeMaio, a vocal opponent of labor political aims, received the lowest score, with 16 percent.
Marti Emerald received the highest score of 87 percent, while David Alvarez received 81 percent.
Todd Gloria, who frequently supports labor causes on the council dais, received 60 percent. He was dinged for supporting Mayor Jerry Sanders' plan to finance the expansion of the Convention Center and backing competitive bidding for operations for the Miramar Landfill.
Five of the 24 issues were related to the Convention Center expansion. "Extra credit" was also awarded for councilmembers' support of three additional issues: a state bill to require economic analysis of big box stores, fair contracts for low-wage workers and collective bargaining and local hire policies for construction.
Emerald was rewarded for going against the majority of her colleagues by supporting a measure to prevent the construction of Wal-Mart stores in the city, opposing a vote by hotel owners on whether to increase the nightly room tax to pay for the bulk of the Convention Center expansion and being against the landfill bidding.
Lorena Gonzalez, secretary-treasurer and CEO of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, spoke to KPBS about the report cards.
She said low scores were awarded because of a series of council votes over the last two years.
"(The votes) really do favor downtown corporate lobbyists, hotel interests and developers over the needs of the neighborhoods and working families," Gonzalez said.
"I think it's good and important that we focus on economic growth in general in San Diego, but not at the expense of the workers, and I think that's what we've been seeing," she added.
The labor council chose to focus the report card on councilmembers' votes that labor lobbied on, Gonzalez said. Those include advocacy for transit, Convention Center financing, affordable housing fees, public safety cuts and workers' rights resolution.
"We used the exact votes that we had actually talked to these councilmembers about, both publicly and in private meetings," she said.
Although some have said issues like pension reform are not worker-related, Gonzalez said pensions are directly related to new workers in the city government.
"They're going to be hired on without necessarily even the safety net of Social Security," she said. "That affects not only that worker, but if we see that spread, this idea that retirement security is now this thing of the past, that we're going to start having a retirement program that's based completely on the whims of Wall Street without even the basic safety net of Social Security, that affects every worker in the private sector as well and I think it's a concern for everybody."
Councilman Tony Young had agreed to respond to the report card on KPBS Midday Edition, but was unable to call in during the show.
City News Service contributed to this report.