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Politics & Policy

Supervisors preview: Pain management

Fast food workers are on strike Monday morning at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO),according to the union representing the workers, in San Francisco, Calif., on Sept. 26, 2022. | Justin Katigbak for the SF Standard.

Expect high drama at the week’s Board of Supervisors meeting as the members tackle two significant labor disputes along with other fallout of the current economic upheaval.

Plus, expect new legislation to free commissioners from signing preemptive resignation letters—despite Mayor London Breed’s announcement that she will end the practice. The full kit and caboodle for the wonks can be found in this week’s agenda.

Labor Pains

The supervisors will hold two special order hearings on exigent labor issues at San Francisco International Airport and Kaiser Permanente

The hearing for food and beverage workers at airport concessions was called last week by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, along with Board President Shamann Walton. In the meantime, tensions boiled over into an all-out indefinite strike, with pickets at every terminal, on Monday morning

Unite Here Local 2, the union for the food and beverage workers at SFO, voted to authorize a strike last month. Many workers haven’t had a raise in three years, according to the union, with average pay barely above the city’s minimum wage. 

Expect the very pro-labor supervisors to place pressure on SFO’s concessionaires—who were earlier granted significant rent relief during the economic slowdown from the pandemic— to end the strike quickly and meet union demands. Local politicos including Supervisors Connie Chan and Gordon Mar, and District 6 supervisorial candidate and local Democratic Party Chair Honey Mahogany, were arrested at a demonstration in support of workers on September 16. 

Local 2 last held a two strike in 2014 over a management proposal to freeze health care payments. 

Last week, Mandelman noted that any strike will also affect the city’s general fund, which receives a yearly services payment from concessionaires, based on revenue. 

The second hearing, requested by Supervisor Hillary Ronen, will cover the strike by behavioral health therapists at Kaiser Permanente, which has been going on for six weeks. Kaiser provides health coverage to city workers, and the hearing will also delve into any effects on them. 

The therapists’ strike is over Kaiser’s alleged failure to provide timely care as provided under state law.The California Department of Managed Health Care is investigating the health care provider. 

Another special hearing, intended to give an update on reforms at the San Francisco Police Department in cooperation with the Department of Justice, is also on tomorrow’s agenda. 

Resignation Pains

District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston speaks at the Board of Supervisors meeting on May 2, 2022. | Camille Cohen

It’s likely that Supervisor Dean Preston will use Roll Call to address the recent controversy over the Breed administration practice of making commission appointees sign draft resignation letters, as recently reported in The Standard.

In the process of covering the dispute between Breed and her appointee to the Police Commission, Max Carter-Oberstone, The Standard filed a public records request which uncovered emails where a Breed staffer had instructed him to sign and return such a letter. The discovery led Preston to announce over the weekend that he would introduce legislation to end the practice.

Mayor Breed announced on Sunday that she would end the use of draft resignation letters. Meanwhile, Preston told The Standard that he would still seek new legislation and a hearing on the matter. 

Tax Pain Relief

Fabian Ramirez, paid volunteer, uses information on cards and sheets as he works the phone bank to encourage people to vote for Prop C in a lounge at Salesforce Tower donated to the campaign on Friday, November 2, 2018 in San Francisco, Calif. | Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Also on Tuesday’s agenda is yet another sign of post-Covid fiscal times. The board is set to adopt a resolution approving a settlement with local clothing giant Gap, Inc. for over $9 million in business tax relief. 

The monies represent a combination of different taxes, including on gross receipts, commercial rents, and “homelessness gross receipts” taxes under Proposition C, passed in 2018. The settlement was forwarded to the full board with recommendation in committee last week.

Implementation of the Prop. C head tax has proved controversial; it survived court action against it in 2020. The Standard also reported that last year, revenue from the tax fell 45%, far greater than the revenue drop for general business taxes, due to workers staying home.