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City HallThe AgendaProp. F won—but SEIU is ready to go on strike to get...

Prop. F won—but SEIU is ready to go on strike to get rid of it

Plus: How will SF find $7 billion to prepare the waterfront for climate change? And what does 'progressive' mean these days? That's The Agenda for March 10-17

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Among the impacts of the March 5 election: SEIU Local 1021 has filed an Unfair Practices Charge with the state arguing that Proposition F, which mandates drug screening for welfare recipients, will have a major impact on working conditions for city employees—and that the Mayor’s Office made no effort to meet and confer before placing this on the ballot.

Union leaders said the issue could even lead to a strike.

That’s happening at the same time that Mayor London Breed is going to have to negotiate new union contracts during a tough budget year and a mayor’s race.

Theresa Rutherford says Prop. F is an unfair labor practice.

Here’s the statement from Local 1021 President Theresa Rutherford:

Proposition F will have significant adverse impacts on workers and the public alike. SEIU Local 1021 members remain steadfast in advocating for fair labor practices and the well-being of our community. At a time when City eligibility workers, social workers, healthcare workers, and other vital public service classifications are critically short-staffed, adding new requirements, processes, and responsibilities to their daily workload makes Proposition F all but impossible to execute fairly and consistently without substantial new investment in staffing, training, and worker safety. 

Furthermore, in addition to stigmatizing poverty, it will have a chilling effect on San Francisco’s most vulnerable communities that all available clinical expertise and evidence indicates will result in increased homelessness, overdoses, and health emergencies with poor outcomes, which our members will be responsible for treating. All of this will further negatively impact City employees’ working conditions, not to mention exacerbating the very problems Prop F claims to address.

This was, of course, the problem with this measure all along: It mandates screenings for 5,000 people, when there are no workers to do that, and requires welfare recipients to accept treatment that doesn’t exist.

Oh, and it’s a cruel attack on poor people orchestrated as a political stunt by a mayor whose re-election bid is in trouble.

The Planning Commission will hear Thursday a presentation on the immense, $20 billion plan to protect the central waterfront (but not Hunters Point) from sea-level rise.

Everyone agrees that the situation is a crisis: Even a modest increase in sea level, combined with storms and king tides, will cause widespread flooding in areas with large populations, businesses, and transit hubs.

If you read the Army Corps of Engineers report, something stands out: The “non-federal share,” which means what the city and the state will have to pay for the project, is $7.1 billion.

This is the same issue I have with the Housing Element and its mandates for affordable housing: It’s a farce under current tax rules. There is no way San Francisco or the state can put up that much money unless we decide to start taxing the billionaires at a different level.

Interestingly, that’s something that President Joe Biden talked about in his State of the Union address:


There are 1,000 billionaires in America.

You know what the average federal tax rate for these billionaires is? 8.2 percent. That’s far less than the vast majority of Americans pay.

No billionaire should pay a lower tax rate than a teacher, a sanitation worker, a nurse. 

That’s why I’ve proposed a minimum tax of 25 percent for billionaires. Just 25 percent. That would raise $500 billion over the next 10 years. 

I also listened to Mayor London Breed’s State of the City address. She never once mentioned the idea that the 68 billionaires in San Francisco should pay more taxes.

The national Democratic Party under Biden seems to think that economic inequality is a winning issue. The local Democratic Party under Breed and the newly elected DCCC leadership is avoiding it entirely.

Then there’s this piece in the Standard that says that the candidates who won March 5 are actually “progressives:”

The new committee will likely include Bilal Mahmood, who has been tarred as a moderate boogeyman by his detractors. Mahmood, a child of immigrants, former Barack Obama staffer, enemy of wage theft and climate advocate, would be considered an unelectable progressive in most of the country. He endorsed Barbara Lee, California’s most progressive candidate, for the U.S. Senate. He even once tweeted that “San Francisco is a city of progressive values. Elon [Musk] should keep his fucking money out of our politics.”

The new DCCC reps would also include Trevor Chandler, who identifies as progressive but is often tagged a “moderate” against his wishes by opponents. Chandler has campaigned for marriage equality at the state level even before it was broadly supported by the national party. He worked in Topeka, Kansas, to pass a trans-inclusive nondiscrimination bill that drew the protests of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church. He, too, would almost certainly be unelectable in any red—or even purple—state.

Yeah: This is a city where everyone agrees on most social issues. Which is wonderful.

But I’m going to say, for the record, that “progressive” is a word that means something to me. A progressive believes that, as Susan Fainstein writes, “equity is by definition redistributive.” A progressive believes that economic inequality is an existential threat to civilization, and that the only solution—yes, as Thomas Piketty says, the ONLY solution—is much higher taxes on the rich.

“Economic development,” and “training people for the jobs of the future” and “tax incentives to businesses” have failed and will fail.

I have tried to get the likes of Mahmood and Chandler to tell me that they support, for example, a 3 percent wealth tax, or a city income tax on the richest people in San Francisco, or the approach of Prop. C and Prop. I, which raised taxes on the wealthy.

Until they do that, they can’t, in my book, have any claim on the term “progressive.”

Oh, and Mahmood is challenging one of the most progressive politicians in the city, someone who has put economic inequality at the top of the agenda, and will be funded by billionaires who want the exact opposite of a progressive agenda.

Words matter. I’m sick of this shit.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

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