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Giving fast food workers a say

 September 6, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Matt Hoffman, in for Debbie Cruz….it’s Tuesday, September 5th.>>>>

A new law will give fast food workers a seat at the tableMore on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….######

More hot weather is on tap for today as an excessive heat warning remains in place.

Highs are expected to be in the mid 80s near the coast, lower 90s inland, and upper 90s in the mountains.

Cal Iso is again asking people to conserve energy. The agency has called an emergency alert 1 from 5 to 9 p.m. today

That means the agency expects energy shortages. More on that later in the show.

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The San Diego Union Tribune is reporting that Fat Leonard is on the run.

Leonard Francis pled guilty in 2015 to bribing numerous high ranking naval officers and overcharging the Navy by at least 35 million dollars.

He’s been on house arrest since at least 2018.

Francis cut off his ankle bracelet sometime Sunday morning, according to the U-S Marshal's office. Neighbors told authorities they had seen moving trucks going in and out of his home in the days before his escape.

Law enforcement has been searching for Francis since Sunday afternoon.

His sentencing in the corruption trial was scheduled for the end of this month.

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The East County fire that started near Dulzura last Wednesday is now 100 percent contained.

It burned nearly 4 thousand 5 hundred acres northwest of Tecate.

Six people were injured.

Two men with severe burns were taken to the hospital via helicopter, and four firefighters had minor injuries.

The fire destroyed three homes, three RV’s, a commercial structure and six outbuildings.

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From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

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Labor Day 2022 was a good one for California fast food workers. Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new law establishing a Fast Food Council that allows workers to negotiate wage and working conditions on an industry-wide basis. KPBS reporter Gustavo Solis spoke with the law’s author and people who will be most impacted by it.

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 FASTFOOD 2:55 SOQ

Karina Zuniga joined the labor movement a few years ago because her manager at a KFC in National City wouldn’t give her a 10-minute break.

California employment law requires employers to give hourly employees one 10-minute rest break for every four hours of work.

But Zuniga is an immigrant and this is her first job in the United States. She says she had no idea about the break requirement. She also cited unsafe working conditions in the KFC kitchen 

Karina 00:01:41:02

“Pues as de cuenta que yo no sabia. Soy nueva aqui en estados Unidos, mi primer trabajo.”

The new law is designed to give workers like Zuniga a louder voice on issues ranging from wage theft to workplace safety. It establishes a state-wide council where workers, employers and government officials will come to the table and negotiate industry standards.

Newsom said the bill will empower California fast food workers. 

Newsom 0:49

“A bill that empower our workers particularly in that sector, giving them more voice, giving them more choice.”

The governor mentioned the significance of signing it on the holiday.

Newsom 0:58

“I’m proud, on Labor Day, to sign that bill and enshrine it in law.”

Critics of the bill, including restaurant industry associations, say it will make fast food more expensive for consumers.

But during lunch on Labor Day, San Diegans visiting fast-food restaurants supported the idea of paying workers more money. Even if it means the price of a cheeseburger may increase. 

Andrea Vargas is from National City. 

MOS 00:01:06

“I don’t think it would hurt much because, like I said, fast food isn’t a necessity. So they would be better off buying actual groceries.”

Carlos Alfaro is from Chula Vista. His sister works in a Chipotle. 

“It’s a tough industry where the pay is kind of low. So yes, they do deserve at least a couple of bucks more than the minimum wage or whatever they pay there. Yes, i think wages should be increased for fast food workers.”

Lorena Gonzalez introduced the bill in January 2021 when she was still in the State Assembly. Now she is a leader of the California Labor Federation and sees this as a model that could be applied to other industries.

Gonzalez 00:09:10:07

“I think it’s really exciting, it’s a whole new level of bargaining, it’s a whole new level of coming up with regulations and I think it’s something that could take off not just for fast food workers but other industries as well.” 

Zuniga says it could lead to higher wages and more job stability.

Karina 00:03:48:21

“Se siente bonito, se siente tener ese poder.”

She says the new law is beautiful because it recognizes her value as a worker and as a human being. 

It will take effect on January 1, 2023

 Gustavo Solis, KPBS News

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State power officials say the heat wave that has gripped California has increased the chance of rolling blackouts. The president of Cal ISO (ICE-oh) says forecasted power demand for Tuesday will be at an all-time record. And Calfornians must reduce their power use from 5 to 9 pm. If people don’t bring it down to a sufficient level, it could mean rolling blackouts.

POWERGRID 2A  :16  “If we get to that point where all of these other tools that we have described, the energy, demand response, emergency response, our operating reserves, if those are exhausted, at that point we will be conveying to the utilities that it would be time to drop load.” 

Then it would be up to the utilities, like SDG&E in San Diego, to devise a plan for rolling blackouts.

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As THE HEAT WAVE CONTINUES TO SEAR SAN DIEGO COUNTY … SOME RESIDENTS ARE FINDING RELIEF AT THE BEACH … THAT’S WHERE WE SENT KPBS REPORTER KITTY ALVARADO YESTERDAY.

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BEACH HEAT 1     :54                     SOQ

San Diegans hit the beach on Labor Day for the unofficial last day of summer …to try and cool off from the extreme heat wave that continues to bake Southern California … like Darren and Elaine Vaught who live in Spring Valley 

Darren Vaught / Elaine Vaught 

Spring Valley Residents

kinda started to feel the heat and she’s like let’s go to the beach 

And what does it feel like from there to here 

The heat is still the same 

It’s like a 20 degree difference 

No it’s a 20 degree difference 

Is it

Yeah

I don’t know

Yeah, it’s cooler here, there it’s really hot

Yeah

Marine Safety Lieutenant Ric Stell with the San Diego Lifeguard Service says this heat wave  coinciding with the holiday weekend is keeping the beaches packed and lifeguards busy 

 we’ve seen extreme crowds almost like Fourth of July weekend 

We’ve had a large amount of rescues, medical aids

The extreme wave has been extended through most of the week Kitty Alvarado KPBS News 

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Speaking of the heat wave, Saturday was supposed to be a day of celebrating the opening of Snapdragon Stadium … but the scorching heat forced fans out of their seats and into the shade, with several in need of medical attention due to heat-related illnesses.

KPBS reporter Jacob Aere has more.

SDSUSTADIUM 1A (ja) soq :49

The San Diego Fire Department says it dispatched multiple units to Snapdragon Stadium on Saturday to treat people suffering from heat-related illnesses.

Thousands of Aztec football fans packed San Diego State's new home field as a heat wave continues to impact the Southwest.

Season ticket holder Kris Golojuch (Guh-LOW-you) attended the game and says the stadium needs long-term solutions or attending events in the late summer will be brutal. 

“So we didn't tailgate as long just because we knew it was going to be hot. But right off the bat an ambulance showed up and took away one of our tailgating neighbors, I think he suffered a mild heatstroke.”

The Aztecs play their next home game this Saturday at 5:00 p.m. against Idaho State. They don't have any more day time games currently scheduled for the rest of the season. 

Jacob Aere, KPBS News.

TAG: KPBS reached out to SDSU but they did not respond in time for comment.

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Coming up.... A musical that challenges the expectations of the genre. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

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Stephen Sondheim is best known for his musicals “Company” and “A Little Night Music” and his work on classics like “West Side Story.” But he also created works that challenged expectations about musicals. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando has more.

ASSASSINS (ba) 1:14 SOQ

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When Stephen Sondheim wrote Assassins in 1990 he expected a backlash. The musical looks at the back stories of attempts to assassinate U.S. presidents  – from Abraham Lincoln to Ronald Reagan. Not a typical subject for Broadway musicals. But Sondheim told the New York Times, “We're not going to apologize for dealing with such a volatile subject.”

Amanda Blair is not apologizing either. She’s directing Assassins for Wildsong Productions. 

AMANDA BLAIR: I'm always interested in pushing the envelope as a director, and I'm interested in stories that mean something to people. A big underlying theme in this show is the American Dream, and it's interesting to see different perspectives and different takes on what the American Dream means to these characters because it's not always the same.

Another theme has to do with listening to what people, even assassins, have to say. 

AMANDA BLAIR: I think that they turn to these acts of violence hoping that they will be heard and taken seriously, but it almost has the opposite effect.

Blairs’s not asking audiences to condone these acts of violence but she does hope they will try to understand the motives of these assassins and see them as multi-dimensional human beings.

“Assassins” opens Sept. 16 at the OB Playhouse.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

<<<SHOW CLOSE>>>

That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Matt Hoffman. Debbie Cruz will be back tomorrow. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new law establishing a Fast Food Council that allows workers to negotiate wage and working conditions on an industry-wide basis. Then, state power officials say the heat wave that has gripped California has increased the chance of rolling blackouts. And, a musical that challenges the expectations of the genre will soon be on a local stage.