Now that all results from June 7’s consolidated statewide direct primary election have been officially tabulated, we can see that this council’s endorsed causes and candidates fared well overall. I am sorry to report, however, that we lost what was probably our biggest issue, and we lost it by a painfully slim margin: Prop A, the Muni Reliability and Street Safety Bond. Had it won, it would’ve allowed the SFMTA to borrow $400 million to make essential upgrades to the City’s transportation infrastructure.
Being a bond measure, Prop A required a 66.67% “yes” vote from the people of San Francisco, but it fell just short of that threshold, clocking in with 65.11% approval.
This outcome is a blow to increased safety of mobility for SF’s drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. It’s an even bigger blow to public transit; Prop A’s defeat (though, with such a high approval margin, it feels odd calling it a defeat) deals a gut-punch to the communities and jobs that transit supports. It’s a missed opportunity for a lot of well-paying, stable work that could’ve taken many building trades people off the bench and put them on the jobsite. It’s a loss to an overwhelming majority of San Franciscans who are clearly in favor of investing in desperately needed transportation infrastructure improvements but who will be denied the opportunity to make that investment.
The SFMTA will now have to make this funding happen some other way. While we’re not sure how it’ll get done, this council believes in the agency and supports its efforts. One thing is for certain: The coalitions and political endorsements that used to win need to be re-evaluated for the modern era. If labor is to be victorious at the ballot box, our message must reach a deeper working-class audience earlier and more often. If it’s a bond measure we’re trying to pass, we’re going to have to work twice as hard so that we can hit that high approval threshold.
A personal note on the recall of District Attorney Chesa Boudin: In the leadup to the recall and even after its success, I’ve noticed among the anti-Boudin crowd a rampant politicization of every aspect of the system and a real reactionary tone that isn’t good for building alliances to win real results. Let’s hope the hangover subsides sooner rather than later.
Pride: Visibility and Solidarity
Pride month reminds us that the rights of our LGBTQ+ siblings are forever connected to workers’ rights.
Teamster Allan Baird, for instance, was an early straight ally who was instrumental in connecting the Bay Area gay community with labor when he organized a successful boycott against the then-ultra-conservative Coors Brewing Co. for its union-busting activities, wage stagnation, and general corporate homophobia in the early 1970s. Baird knew that the LGBTQ+ community was largely working-class and had lots of buying power in the Castro, so he reached out and built coalitions with them and with Harvey Milk to effectively rally against Coors — and corporate greed and discrimination in general. In exchange, the Teamsters began hiring openly gay drivers for the first time.
Our movements have come a long way since then. Just last October, after an anti-union contractor hurled homophobic slurs at workers, SF Supervisor Rafael Mandelman (D8) and SF Democratic Party Chair Honey Mahogany organized a successful LGBTQ+ solidarity picket with the SF Building Trades and Labor Council. A photo from that action appears below.
This fight isn’t over. One in four LGBTQ+ workers report being treated unfairly in the workplace, and over half report that they have heard homophobic and transphobic comments on the job. Nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ+ Americans in general say they’ve experienced some form of discrimination in their personal lives. The labor movement has struggled for equality among all workers and long stood for the cause of civil rights. It’s in our DNA as a movement. The next generation of San Franciscans must be taught about how our struggles have been intertwined locally.
I’m proud to say that this edition of Organized Labor represents the second issue we’ve published in-house. We’re working hard to build capacity and make this an efficient and expanded outlet that helps affiliates share information with members as well as covers issues and stories relevant to our industry and this council’s agenda. We’ll also be bringing more intentionality to the advertising within these pages and delivering messages and, we hope, discounts that’ll be exclusive to members.
We thank you for your continued support. Read on!