The San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council endorsed candidates for Board of Education and BART Board of Directors at its delegates meeting September 6.
After hearing from seven of the 10 candidates running for three open seats on the School Board who spoke about their priorities and answered questions about building trades issues, delegates voted to endorse Monica Chinchilla, Faauuga Moliga, and Michelle Parker.
Monica Chinchilla is an organizer and activist who managed the successful 2016 Proposition V (Soda Tax) campaign in San Francisco in 2016. She said her priorities include closing the achievement gap in which Latino and African-American students graduate high school at lower rates. A statement on her campaign website notes, “50% of African American and Latino children in SFUSD are falling behind in math and reading by 3rd grade. Being successful by third grade is critical in predicting academic success and graduation rates. Ultimately I want to see more of our Black and Brown youth go to college than to prison.”
Chincilla supports increasing teachers’ salaries, and promoting community schools that offer services beyond the school day for students and families. She said she supported a parcel tax increase to help boost teachers’ wages, and wants to see a tax on corporations earning netting $100 million or more in profits to fund teacher salaries and reduce class sizes. She said she wants to see shop classes offered at the Middle School level to expose students to the well-paying jobs in the building trades, and wants to see better enforcement of contractor compliance with the SFUSD’s project labor agreement. Chincilla is endorsed by the San Francisco Labor Council, some public sector unions, and several building trades unions.
Michelle Parker is a public school parent of three children who lives with her family in the Richmond District who has been an active advocate for public education for over a decade. As a leader of a coalition of Parent Teacher Associations in her district, Parker worked to increase education funding, advocated for local control of public schools, and strengthened the voice of parents at City Hall and in Sacramento. “Investing in public education strengthens the community and provides economic opportunity,” she said. She said she wants to make sure teachers can afford to live in San Francisco, and supports building more housing for teachers and advancing home ownership assistance programs.
She said she wants to expand Career Technical Education. “We need shop classes in more schools,” she said, to lead to apprenticeships and construction careers for local residents.
Parker, who worked on the 2011 SFUSD Facilities Bond Measure A campaign, said she absolutely supports the PLA and better enforcement. She said, “I am accessible and will follow through to make sure we have enough staff” to enforce compliance with the PLA.
Faauuga Moliga, a parent and school social workers, said he wants to increase graduation rates and opportunities for Pacific Islander, Latino, and African-American students. He worked with the Bayview YMCA to develop student advocacy programs that helped chronically truant students and, with Burton High School, helped develop a community-school approach to education that helped increase attendance. He said he is highly supportive of expanding shop classes. “We have to give students options beyond college,” he said. Familiar with programs at John O’Connell High School and City Build and the multi-craft core curriculum, Moliga said he would like to see shop classes start in middle schools.
Moliga’s platform includes prioritizing mental health, creating community-based schools, and supporting educators. A statement on his campaign website notes that he “will work to establish school wellness centers staffed by social workers, nurses, therapists, and health workers. Creating district-wide wellness policies and curriculum will ensure that mental health is de-stigmatized in our district starting in Early Childhood Education and continuing throughout K-12.” He advocates for a community-based approach to schools which “allows students and families to feel connected to their school and transforms them into committed partners on campus. When family engagement is prioritized, and our educators have a seat at the table, teachers also feel supported by the entire school community.” He said he “stands with our educators and will fight to ensure they are the highest paid in the country” and “will push for a living package that supports the daily needs of our educators such as transportation, water and electric, food, child care, and rental assistance.”
Moliga said he wants to see better enforcement of compliance with the School District PLA. “We have to be accountable to the workers,” he said. “Unions protect workers and are under attack.” He is endorsed by the San Francisco Labor Council and United Educators of San Francisco
BART Board of Directors
Jonathan Lyens or Melanie Nutter
The San Francisco Building Trades Council co-endorsed Jonathan Lyens and Melanie Nutter for the BART Board of Directors after hearing from the four candidates running for the District 8 seat.
Lyens, a senior contract analyst for the San Francisco Department of Public Health who has been legally blind since childhood, said, “As a blind man, I am very interested in access. Being from a union family with health care benefits enabled me to get the care I needed and maintain what vision I had.” Lyens said he supports the project labor agreement for BART construction projects and “will ensure the PLA remains strong.” Lyens said he would advocate for housing construction on BART property to be built union. “I will make sure it happens,” he said.
Lyens said he fully supports the rights of BART workers to strike. “I was on the picket line with Local 2 and with AFSCME,” he said. “If a strike happens, I will be on the picket line. I am proud to be the candidate of the BART workers’ unions.” Lyens is endorsed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3993, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, and SEIU 1021.
Nutter said she relied on public transit as a child and wants to support a thriving public transit system for the city. She said she wants BART to partner with the city to address issues of security and safety on BART trains and in stations that she described as filthy. “The safety, cleanliness, and reliability of BART are my top priorities,” she said.
“BART is the backbone of regional transit in the Bay Area. Working with the community, I will ensure that everyone feels safe while riding BART and that riders have a comfortable, efficient, and affordable transit system.”
She said she supports the rights of BART workers to strike. “It is an essential right for public employees, and BART workers in particular,” she said, adding that, if elected, she would “ask strong questions of management, and ask from a labor perspective,” Nutter supports expanding the PLA with BART to cover housing construction on BART property and future work, including a second transbay tube. A former Deputy District Director for Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment, Nutter said she has the experience and knowledge to move through bureaucracy to get things done.