Fast food workers and union organizers march to block the intersection of Ruffin Road and Spectrum Center Boulevard on June 9, 2022. The intersection is roughly 400 feet from the Jack in the Box headquarters. / Photo by Joe Orellana for Voice of San Diego

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More than a dozen people got arrested outside the San Diego headquarters of Jack in the Box last week for attempting to shut down traffic while raising awareness of low pay and conditions in the fast-food industry.

It was one of several demonstrations we’ve seen over the past year as workers from a variety of sectors take advantage of a tight labor market. But as Jesse Marx writes in his Fine City column, the fast-food industry is difficult to unionize because of the nature of the work and the structure of the business. 

As the workers step out of the kitchen and elevate their essential status in a bid for public support, they’re also looking to the California Legislature for help. They’re hoping lawmakers approve AB 257, which would establish a fast-food sector council to set industry-wide employment standards and effectively give workers a seat at the bargaining table through the state. 

An earlier version of the bill was introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez before she stepped down to lead the California Labor Federation.

The fast-food industry is pushing back hard, arguing that the council would give unelected people too much regulatory authority and that the bill would raise prices and lead to a reduction in the overall workforce. They argue that California already has some of the best worker protection laws on the books.

Several workers showed up at the capitol earlier this week to testify alongside union reps in support of the bill. “We gotta listen to them with the same kind of intensity that we would listen to the corporate folks who knock on our doors,” said one state senator. 

Read Marx’s full column here. 

East vs West Wastewater Wars Move Closer to Resolution 

Sewage is now a commodity, a drinking water resource in the world of California drought, and the city of San Diego and a bloc of eastern San Diego County water agencies have been fighting over it

Both parties will be recycling wastewater into drinking water but they need to cut a deal with each other to make that happen and it’s gotten fairly complicated, as Voice of San Diego’s MacKenzie Elmer previously reported.

East County needs a critical set of pumps owned by the city of San Diego for its project;  the city wants East County to ship the waste from its wastewater recycling process to a treatment plant near the ocean through a new pipeline. That deal went awry and East County set an eminent domain process in motion to wrench the pumps free from San Diego’s grasp. 

Now there’s a proposal on the table that could get both what they want, but it could require getting support, and dollars, from other local agencies. 

Click here to read more.

In Other News 

  • More San Diegans are replacing their lawns with less water-intensive uses as the ongoing drought forces the state to impose water restrictions, KPBS reports in an interactive story.
  • Leaders at San Diego Repertory Theater, a week after announcing financial issues were forcing a temporary closure, have apologized to the cast of its most recent production after allegations of racism and misogyny. (KPBS)
  • Construction of new homes in the first three months of the year was down 5 percent in San Diego, the Union-Tribune reports. Last year was the first in 15 years the region built more than 10,000 homes, so the decline is off of a recent peak, but San Diego’s decline also outpaced the 3 percent decline experienced in the rest of Southern California.
  • Encinitas has extended a safe parking lot for homeless residents for three more years, citing the program’s success to date. The lot is run by the nonprofit Jewish Family Services through state grant funds. (Union-Tribune)

This Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, MacKenzie Elmer and Andrew Keatts. 

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