Members demanded that the City close the wage gap and do its part to save the shrinking middle class in San Francisco
On January 17th, more than 700 Local 21 members crowded the steps of San Francisco City Hall, overflowing onto the sidewalk below. 5 City Supervisors, representatives from 7 other unions and 2 Labor Councils, and several community groups came out to support us in calling on the City to do to its part to address the shrinking middle class and the widening wealth gap as the largest employer in San Francisco. The rally marked the kickoff for 2019 bargaining.
Members carried signs that read “Close the Gap!”, “A Great City Deserves Great City Services”, and “A San Francisco for All” as they chanted and listened to speakers addressing the crowd.
Tedman Lee, Senior Engineer and union Bargaining Team Member speaking on the growing wage gap in San Francisco: “I’m here to urge the City to Close the Gap. We need to retain and attract the talent, the world class talent that makes this city run. If we can’t close the gap, we can’t attract and maintain the talent.”
Local 21 Executive Director Debra Grabelle called on the City to match the history and promise of a progressive San Francisco to issues its workforce are raising. She called on the City to close the gap between the reality our members are facing in San Francisco and the City’s stated commitment to justice. Grabelle said the City must end its overuse of temporary workers, end discrimination in the workforce, show our members respect at work, and actively fight income inequality.
Supervisor Matt Haney said to the assembled workers, “We see revenues going up like never before. We gave so much money to the state that they just gave some back to us. The sad thing is what we don’t see growing in this city is the middle class, and that’s wrong…. Here’s my commitment to you: The first thing is that we need to make sure that no one who works for the city is pushed out of the city because they can’t afford to be here.”
Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer addressed the workers; “What you bring to this city, how you serve the residents of San Francisco on a daily basis, you need relief from this huge wealth gap we are seeing here in San Francisco.”
Supervisor Norman Yee said, “As our strong economy continues to increase wealth in this city, middle income households and public servants are being left out and pushed out of the city due to high rent and home prices….our city has a moral responsibility to lead on fighting income inequality and maintaining a middle class that can work and live in the city.”
The show of solidarity sent a strong message to the City on the first day of bargaining. We will not sit back and fall further and further behind the cost of living and watch our members leave the city because we can’t afford to live here. San Francisco must not become a city only for the rich: public servants form the backbone of the middle class, and the services we provide should be the best in the country. When we come out and show our strength, we make an impact!
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Multiple media sources turned out for the massive rally, check out our coverage at the, the , , and the .