In his Marxyist column yet, our Jesse Marx digs into the details behind the sanitation worker strike that left Republic Services customers without trash pickup for weeks over a major holiday.
“Strikes only work if the union’s members stay off the job and hold themselves to the collective cause,” Marx writes. “But word began to spread that several of their own had abandoned the strike and crossed the picket line.”
The financial strain of fighting the power came to bear on Arturo Tapia, whose daughter was recently diagnosed with a rare health problem. He pulled his kids out of sports and dance classes to save a few bucks and missed a car payment.
But if workers refused to pick up their garbage truck keys too long, they risked losing their health insurance.
Tapia held fast to the picket line until the strike ended, but in the end the workers settled for less than desired. That’s bad news for one of the most dangerous jobs in the country that pays about $51,000 a year before taxes. Striking sanitation workers say that’s not enough to support a family in expensive San Diego County.
At the last minute, their employer, Republic Services, warned that layoffs would follow for the employees who refused to come back to work. Others complained the local government’s political support of striking workers was too little too late.
Ultimately, Marx reveals the true cost of collective action and living in San Diego, both edging on untenable for the low-wage worker.
Inside the Effort to End California’s ‘Three Strikes’ Law for Teens
California’s three strike law, which imposes harsh sentences on people convicted of a third serious or violent offense, has for years been assailed by criminal justice advocates noting its disproportionate impact on people of color and contribution to ballooning prison populations. But there’s a legislative effort underway to at least protect one group from the law: minors.
As Kelly Davis outlines in a new story that was also published in The Imprint, a national publication covering child welfare and juvenile justice, California is the only state where 16- and 17-year-olds can receive a strike. Even though their records are sealed at 18, the strikes they receive as teenagers follow them into adulthood. That’s true even though juveniles don’t receive jury trials, during which they could challenge the strike.
“On one hand, we tell them, ‘Hey these are not priors; we’re trying to rehabilitate you,’” said Michael Mallano, a deputy district attorney who was head of Compton’s juvenile unit and who helped write a law that would end the practice of using juvenile crimes to enhance adult sentences. “But we go ahead and not only treat strikes as priors in a criminal court, we use them to enhance their sentences as adults.”
Assemblyman Miguel Santiago proposed that law, AB 1127, last year, before pulling it in June before a floor vote. But he’s vowed to bring it to a floor vote this month.
San Diego’s District Attorney, Summer Stephan, has not yet taken a stance on the bill.
Police Oversight Advocates Still Unsatisfied With City’s Proposal
This summer, advocates of Measure B, the initiative approved by voters in 2020 to beef up the body that oversees allegations of police misconduct, balked at the city’s attempt to turn that voter-approved measure into a detailed law.
After the dispute, the city agreed to send the ordinance, which would specify how much information the police department provides to the commission and who serves on the commission, back to the drawing board.
That ordinance is back now, as Kelly Davis writes for us, and the community members who drafted the ballot measure and have pushed for the city to fully implement their vision aren’t seeing what they want.
The city’s public safety committee is due to vote on the ordinance Friday afternoon, which would send it to a full vote of the City Council. But advocates are pushing for the committee to slow down, and instead make some changes before it moves forward.
Chief among those changes: reversing a ban that it would impose on anyone who has a criminal record from serving on the commission. That ban runs 180 degrees from advocates’ desires to see the oversight body populated by people whose lives have intersected with law enforcement.
Photo of the Week
Photojournalist Joe Orellana visited the picket line outside of Republic Services in Chula Vista last week before workers settled on a new collective bargaining agreement. He shared his experience with us here.
What was the scene like when you arrived?
The picket line was mellow. There were around fifteen strikers standing and sitting near the Teamsters tent. I was greeted by skeptical but polite workers who seemed worn, but kind.
What was the overall sense you got from the workers?
From what I could gather, the workers were tired, but they accepted the strike as a necessary and therefore fixed circumstance that they’d resigned themselves to. The workers were nonetheless jovial and their constant banter indicated years of camaraderie.
What did the workers try to do when the trucks arrived at the site?
When trucks tried to enter or exit the site, striking workers would walk back and forth across the driveway to prevent trucks from moving. As I understand it, they can’t legally stop the trucks entirely or indefinitely, so the workers would hold up the trucks for minutes at a time.
In Other News
- Chula Vista has a new superintendent and it’s the chief human resources officer at Sweetwater. (Union Tribune)
- And SeaWorld San Diego has a new president and it’s a former Disneyland general manager. (Union Tribune)
- Nonprofits that hold special events like farmers markets and street fairs say those events are in jeopardy due to a sharp spike in fees for police and fire support. (Union Tribune)
- Hundreds of San Diegans are fighting a plan to flip half of a golf course into a sand mine in the eastern part of the county. (Fox 5)
- Santa Ana winds, which originate in the desert and blow hot air toward the coast, are expected to churn-up gusts up to 55 miles per hour between midnight Friday and Saturday evening. (Fox 5)
- As the city has increased pay by more than 30 percent in recent years, the cost of providing police and fire support to special events like street festivals and farmers markets has increased, too. In response, the city is proposing a sharp fee hike to the nonprofit groups that organize those events, but the groups say the fees could make it too expensive to hold them, the Union-Tribune reports.
- State regulators are stepping away from a controversial plan they rolled out last month that would have made rooftop solar panels less attractive for homeowners. (KPBS)
This Morning Report was written by Andrew Keatts, MacKenzie Elmer and Adriana Heldiz. It was edited by Megan Wood.