When employees of Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco began talking about unionizing earlier this spring, their concerns centered on issues familiar to workers of all stripes: understaffed departments, increased workloads, benefit cuts, high turnover. Although an attempt to unionize in October 2010 was unsuccessful, most employees at the homeless services nonprofit believed that the effort would end differently this time around.
One year ago, an explosion at the Chevron refinery in Richmond sent a plume of black smoke into the air and more than 15,000 people to local hospitals. Now, as the city still tries to assess the total damages from the incident, new concerns have erupted that the refinery and others in the Bay Area may start processing significant amounts of tar sands oil.
On the afternoon of June 29, 1998, Trina Gomez and Maximilian Patlan were closing a branch of Fidelity Financial Services in Fullerton, California, when two men knocked on the door. They asked if they could make a payment, so Patlan let them into the bank. Once inside, one of the men punched Patlan in the face and ordered him to lie on the ground. The other man pulled out a shotgun and forced Gomez to collect all of the available cash. Minutes later, the two thieves walked out of Fidelity with more than $5,400 in cash and personal checks. The armed robbery and assault happened so quickly that Gomez and Patlan later had difficulty identifying the perpetrators.
BART's board of directors, many of whom were elected on progressive, pro-labor platforms, have taken a hard line against employees at the bargaining table, arguing that the transit system is starved for cash. In truth, however, BART's financial documents show that the agency regularly diverts tens of millions of tax dollars each year that could be used to fund day-to-day operations — including worker salaries — toward expensive expansion projects, such as the planned rail extensions to San Jose and distant East Bay suburbs.
The Supreme Court issued historic rulings on gay marriage today, dismissing an appeal by Prop 8 supporters and stating that married same-sex couples are entitled to the same federal benefits as opposite-sex ones. While the justices did not rule on the constitutionality of states’ rights to prohibit same-sex marriages or give guidance on the effect of their ruling, legal analysts believe today’s decision regarding Prop 8 will open the door for same-sex marriages in California.