California's working families have a great deal to celebrate across the state this week, and nowhere is it more true than here in San Diego. Not only are we celebrating the success of Proposition 30 and well-deserved defeat of Proposition 32, on Tuesday San Diego elected Bob Filner to be the next mayor—the first Democratic mayor elected in San Diego since 1988 and the first pro-labor Mayor that I can ever remember.
It wasn’t easy. Years of steadily building infrastructure in the communities long cut off from City Hall had to come together and mobilize, and it did thanks to the most elaborate field program ever imagined in San Diego.
As the election results came in late Tuesday night, it became abundantly clear that the handful of billionaires and CEOs who sought to silence our voice were in for a rude awakening. Their deceptive measure, Prop 32, didn’t just fail, it tanked — by a 12-point margin.
But our victories didn’t stop there. Labor’s ground game also played a huge role in Prop 30, the sorely-needed school funding measure, much to the chagrin of the anti-worker billionaires who thought shifting our attention to Prop 32 would be bad news for Prop 30. And that strong pro-worker turnout had ripple effects all the way down the ballot, particularly in state races.
On Tuesday, San Jose voters overwhelmingly approved a measure to increase the minimum wage in the city from $8 to $10 an hour. Measure D drew 58% of the vote in a race where opponents outspent supporters by more than 2 to 1. The San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce pledged to raise more than a million dollars to keep businesses from having to pay their minimum wage workers $2 more an hour, but San Jose residents proved the increase was the right thing to do.
San Jose State sociology students, led by their professor, Scott Myers Lipton, came up with the idea and quickly drew the support of labor, non-profits and community leaders to bring the initiative to the ballot box.
Long Beach hotel workers and community activists made history Tuesday, passing a living wage ballot measure that will help lift 2,000 people in that city’s tourism industry out of poverty.
Long Beach was one of three cities nationwide that passed minimum wage measures (San Jose and Albuquerque were the others), and the only one that enacted a law with paid sick leave. Workers at Long Beach’s large hotels will now earn at least $13 per hour and will have five paid sick days a year.
to a committee supporting Prop 32 and opposing Prop 30, voters knew the money was connected, in some vague sense, to the Koch Brothers. That group at least had some history to look back upon, and while the relationship wasn't perfectly clear, the Koch connections were there.
However, when an $11 million check floated down from a hitherto obscure group, “Americans for Responsible Leadership,” (ARL) the source was a complete mystery. The group also was in a fight against Top 2 primaries, and some of the board had GOP connections. But, the source of the money was far from clear. The Fair Political Practices Commission, California's campaign finance regulator, sued for information on where the money came from. ARL fought like the dickens, even taking the court to the United States Supreme Court before reluctantly handing over the information this morning.
to back the deceptive Prop 32. Billionaire Charles Munger Jr. kicked in $35 million
against Prop 30 and for Prop 32. A shady Arizona group that refuses to disclose its donors funneled $11 million
into our state to attack California schools and workers.
But now, there’s only one number that matters: 35,000. That’s the number of union volunteers fanning out across the state, in communities big and small, to fight the big money interests behind the attacks on Prop 30 and the fraudulent ads backing Prop 32. The California labor movement has mounted its largest Get Out the Vote effort in history this year, contacting millions of voters one-on-one about the stakes in this election.
funded by very large corporations and vey few individuals. These corporations are so panicked that 37 will affect their bottom line that they are willing sacrifice our democracy and manipulate workers, small business owners, and the public at large to get them to vote against their own interests.
One instrument of this confusion is Ray Martinez, owner of an Inglewood market who in interviews with outlets in English and Spanish and now in a heavily-aired TV ad has repeatedly made the same deliberately misleading claims about food costs and the effects of 37 on retailers, slighting the truth in an effort to keep Californians from voting for the right to know what’s in our food. He purports to care about his customers like family, but wouldn’t you want your family to know what they are eating? And wouldn’t you want them to know the truth?
We may not find out who’s really behind the Americans for Responsible Leadership's money in time for Tuesday’s election, but it’s safe to assume these dark-money mystery donors from out of state simply do not have California’s best interest at heart. They don’t understand what it’s like to see your kid’s school close before your very eyes. They’ve never struggled to make a tuition payment that’s ballooned 100% or more. And in all likelihood, their children will probably never even set foot inside a California classroom.
This isn’t their election. These aren’t their schools. And they can’t prevail if we harness the grassroots power of millions of working women and men.
When you boil it down, Proposition 39 is actually easy to understand. The ballot measure would simply close a tax loophole that incentivizes California companies to create jobs elsewhere. The money saved would help balance California’s budget, and it would be invested in clean energy and energy efficiency projects that will create good jobs.
Every Californian will benefit from this proposition. Construction workers will see good jobs retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency and expanding clean energy infrastructure. Consumers will realize savings from declining energy demand. Investors will have the opportunity to participate in new energy innovation. And all Californians will share in the environmental benefits and reduced carbon emissions that cause climate change.