Labor

Meister: Walker won in Wisconsin, but so did labor

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By Dick Meister

Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com.

Yes, labor lost its attempt to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, one of the most virulent labor opponents anywhere.  But as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka declared, the heated election campaign was "not the end of the story, but just the beginning."

The campaign, triggered by Walker all but eliminating the collective bargaining rights of most of Wisconsin's 380,000 public employees, showed that labor is quite capable of mounting major drives against anti-labor politicians, a lesson that won't be lost on unions or their opponents.

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Lee avoids budget drama, but other fiscal fights loom

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When Mayor Ed Lee unveiled his proposed $7.3 billion city budget today, it was a sharp contrast to the annual budget rituals of his predecessor, Gavin Newsom, both in style and substance. Not only did Lee present a budget without employee layoffs or cuts to critical social services, but he capped months of collaborative work with the Board of Supervisors by presenting his proposal in Board Chambers.Read more »

$3,000 an hour -- is that fair?

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Does anyone really think it's ok for the average CEO to make so much more money than the average worker that a person earning the median income in this country would have to work 244 years to earn what the median CEO earns in a year?Read more »

Tax equity

With the business community divided, can labor and progressives force a business-tax reform that actually increases revenue?

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steve@sfbg.com, yael@sfbg.com

A broad consensus in San Francisco supports reforming the city's business-tax structure by replacing the payroll tax with a gross receipts tax through a November ballot measure. But the devil is in the details of how individual tax bills are affected, which has divided the business community and given a coalition of labor and progressives the opportunity to overcome the insistence by Mayor Ed Lee and other pro-business moderates that any change be revenue-neutral.Read more »

May Day protests begin with ferry workers strike

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[Editor's Note: We'll be covering May Day events in San Francisco and Oakland throughout the day, so check back for regular updates.]

May Day activities have begun with a strike by ferry workers and Golden Gate Transit workers, halting parts of the morning commute.

About 100 ferry workers picketed at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, as well as the Larkspur Ferry Terminal. In anticipation of the strike, the Golden Gate Bridge District announced that they would cancel morning ferry service yesterday. Service should resume at 2:15.

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The mayor's tech tax talks -- and the legacy of the "Filthy 52"

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Tech tax talks. I've always wanted to use that headline.

And of course, the meetings in the Mayor's Office on the city's business tax involve more than the tech folks -- but from what I hear, they dominated the discussion.

The issue is the way the city taxes businesses. Way back in the 1990s, the city had two types of tax -- a payroll tax and a gross receipts tax. The system was complicated, but essentially, companies paid a portion (about 1.5 percent) of payroll or gross receipts, whichever was higher. That made a certain amount of sense; since under California law, cities can't tax corporate income (profits), there's no simple way to enact a perfect local tax, but payroll and gross receipts are both rough approximations of the size of an company.

But in the late 1990s, a group of big corporations, including Pacific Gas & Electric, Chevron, Bechtel, the Gap, Levi Strauss, General Motors, Equity Office Properties, Eastman Kodak, Safeway, Charles Schwab, the Hearst Corporation, the Giants, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, the Shorenstein Company, and others filed a lawsuit to overturn the tax system. We called them the "Filthy 52." The gross receipts tax was unfair, they argued -- and in 2001, with only three dissenting votes, the Board of Supervisors settle the suit by repealing that part of the tax structure.

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What's going on for Bay Area May Day?

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UPDATE: The Golden Gate Labor Coalition has announced a change of plans. Instead of Golden Gate Bridge pickets, the coalition will be supporting a strike of ferry workers, who plan to bring all morning ferry service to a standstill. They have announced that the actions at the Golden Gate Bridge are cancelled, and instead workers will be demonstrating in solidarity with ferry workers in Larkspur- specific locations will be announced later today.Read more »

Pissed off shareholders, homeowners, and taxpayers converge on Wells Fargo meeting

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Wells Fargo managed to hold its shareholder meeting April 24, but not without difficulty. A protest against the bank’s ongoing part in the foreclosure crisis, investments in the private prison industry, and record of tax dodging brought some 2,000 people to the West Coast Wells Fargo headquarters at 465 California St. for the meeting.

A broad coalition, including more than 180 Wells Fargo shareholders, as well as organized labor, students, immigrant rights advocates, and Occupy protesters, swarmed the building. Many entered the building, and others blocked its entrances and set up a stage on California, turning the block between Montgomery and Sansome into a combination alternative “stakeholders meeting” and block party. Read more »

CPMC strike linked to new hospital

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I stopped by the picket line outside Davies hospital and chatted with the members of Operating Engineers Local 39, who have been working without a contract since October, 2010 -- and I heard a story that ought to be part of the discussion over CPMC's plans to build a shiny new hospital on Cathedral Hill.Read more »

The big problems with Mayor Lee's CPMC deal

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The mayor announced a deal for the largest private hospital construction project in San Francisco history with great fanfare, and the folks at Beyond Chron Read more »