With so many people struggling to make ends meet, we need to create more good jobs with fair wages and benefits. That includes healthcare coverage. At the “It’s Our HealthCare” Community Forum at the Tubman-Chavez Center last Friday, I spoke to Yolanda Plasencia, a young mother without health insurance who has terminal cancer and a year to live. If she had health insurance and had received medical attention sooner, she might be able to see her children grow up. Her story is both moving and maddening.

City government can make a real difference on these issues. For example, I oppose “big box” supercenters in our city, bringing low-paying, low-benefit jobs that drive out our small businesses.

I also oppose the contracting out of city workers’ jobs. We too often end up with city services that are profit-driven, of inferior quality, and that cut costs by cutting wages and benefits.

On the City Council, I will never forget the advances that American unions have brought to all workers, unionized or not. American unions brought all of us safer working conditions, protections against sweatshops, the minimum wage and family and medical leave.

I know from personal experience the difference that unions can make in improving the lives of workers. When I worked for Metro Networks up in that tall white building at the northeast side of the 163 and the 8 freeways, I was a member of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). Because of the union, I earned more than I would have at non-union Clear Channel, and I had better job security. The union negotiated for health insurance and retirement benefits.

Although I have left journalism and AFTRA, I have kept my commitment to working people. I walked with UFCW workers on the picket line during the grocery strike. I spoke publicly about the correlation of the crime spike in North Park with the reduction in officers on the street due to the departure of our police for better-paying jobs elsewhere. I joined AFSCME and MEA workers and testified in favor of requiring the mayor to get council approval before making mid-year budget cuts affecting city services and workers. I’ve leafleted in support of SEIU janitors, boycotted in support of UNITE-HERE hotel workers, protested the governor with CSEA and CTA, rallied with CWA workers in support of a contract at Channel 10, and stood with the Teamsters to organize bus drivers.

If you elect me to the city council, you know where I’ll stand. If you agree with me on these crucial issues, I hope you’ll join my grassroots campaign for the City Council.

I look forward to your comments and questions about the challenges facing us.

Thanks for visiting.

STEPHEN WHITBURN

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