What would happen if over half of San Francisco’s public employees who work to maintain the transit system, water quality and the city’s infrastructure couldn’t get to where they need to go if there were a disaster? This is the question we need to contemplate since over 50% percent the union is 4,955 members we represent in San Francisco alone live outside of the city limits. There is a similar scenario throughout the Bay Area, presenting significant health and safety concerns for the entire Bay Area.
Public service workers, including most Local 21 members, are designated by both State and City law as Disaster Service Workers. However, due to San Francisco’s skyrocketing rent and real estate costs, over half of them could be impeded from reinforcing first responders in the case of a catastrophic event where Bart stopped working and the bridges closed.
While right-wing anti-union pundits assert that city employees already make a lucrative salary, the median salary of San Francisco city employees — approx. $90,000 per year — does not allow city employees to buy a house or rent a single family home in Silicon Valley at current market rates, as it is only 45% of what is needed to purchase a home in a city where on average a house is priced at $1.2 million and the rent goes for $4,694 a month for a 2 bedroom apartment. The salary-to-housing cost ratio for our public employees reveals the strong nexus between labor, public safety and the urgent need for sustainably affordable homes and rentals in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area as a whole.
See the full map comparisons for the Bay Area and San Francisco here.