by Paul Burton, Managing Editor, San Mateo Labor
In the city of San Mateo, close to 10,000 service workers, including food prep, janitors, personal care and moving/transportation workers earn a median wage of $21,860—which is at the federal poverty level for a family of three. San Mateo County Central Labor Council Community Services Director Rayna Lehman told the San Mateo City Council November 16, “The minimum wage is too low. A household with two full-time workers earning the minimum wage will take home well under $38,000 per year. Our workers and our children are suffering.”
was celebrated as a “game changer” for the union electrical industry and an example of labor management cooperation. The union hosted a Grand Opening celebration at its ZNE Center in San Leandro May 30, featuring speeches and presentations by Governor Jerry Brown, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, State Senator Ellen Corbett, San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy and other officials.
IBEW Local 595 Business Manager Victor Uno thanked the union’s Trustees and leaders and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) for creating the center, which he said was a fulfillment of a vision for a new model of training.
The all-union construction crew at the new 888 San Mateo Apartments project in San Mateo was recognized at a worker appreciation event May 16, hosted by the AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust (BIT), in partnership with the San Mateo County Building Trades and Sares Regis Group of Northern California. The $69.9 million development that broke ground in June 2012 is funded by the BIT, which invests union pension funds in building projects around the country.
Like other Building Trades apprenticeships, the Laborers’ (LIUNA's) training program prepares men and women for careers in construction. The apprenticeship program at the Northern California Laborers Training Center in San Ramon is relatively new and has been providing training for new laborers for just 12 years. Apprenticeship coordinator Manny Carrillo said as the work that Laborers do has become more specialized and the workers need to learn more skills, the program is now mandatory.
union members presented testimony at a hearing in Brisbane May 9 on the impacts of the planned move by the medical supply firm VWR from Brisbane to Visalia. The hearing—billed as “A Federal-State Inquiry Into Job Losses and Misdirected Tax Policy”—enabled workers at the Brisbane distribution center to make the case to state and federal officials that the state’s Enterprise Zone program subsidizes a race to the bottom.
VWR will receive annual sales tax breaks of $1.5 million from the state by relocating to Visalia’s Targeted Tax Area, part of the Enterprise Zone program, as well as tax credits of $37,000 for each employee hired there. The 160 Brisbane employees would lose their jobs and the City would lose half of its sales tax revenue—a reduction of over $2.15 million.