SF Labor Council

Dick Meister: Good news for our neediest workers

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By Dick Meister

Bay Guardian columnist 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, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

Here's some good news for the new year: Ten states are set to raise their minimum wage rates on January first.

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) calculates that the increased rates will boost the pay of more than 850,000  low-income  workers in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The rates, raised in accord with state laws requiring automatic adjustments to keep pace with the rising cost of living, will go up by 10 to 35 cents an hour depending on the state. NELP figures that will mean $190 to $510 more a year for the four million workers who are paid at the minimum in those states. Read more »

Dick Meister: Labor Day began in San Francisco in 1886

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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, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

By some reckoning, this is the 118th Labor Day, since it was first observed as a national holiday in 1894. But the observation actually began a quarter-century earlier in San Francisco.

It was on Feb. 21, 1868. Brass bands blared, flags, banners and torch lights waved high as more than 3000 union members marched proudly through the city's downtown streets, led by shipyard workers and carpenters and men from dozens of other construction trades.

"A jollification," the marchers called their parade – the climax of a three-year campaign of strikes and other pressures that had culminated in the establishment of the eight-hour workday as a legal right in California. Read more »

Dick Meister: Walter Johnson did what needed to be done

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BY Dick Meister

Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century, Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 350 of his columns,

Walter Johnson was everything a labor leader should be – a dedicated, unflinching, champion of working people and their unions. But more than that, Walter was also an unyielding advocate of all those  inside and outside the labor movement who wanted – and badly needed – a decent living , or who were in any way oppressed.

Johnson, who died in San Francisco of a heart attack on Jan. 12 at age 87, devoted his life to that noble – yes, noble – task as head of the Department Store and Retail Clerks unions in San Francisco. He also later headed the SF Labor Council for nearly 20 years, from 1985 until his retirement in 2004. Read more »