I’ll call him Alex. We work together at the RH restaurant at the Hyatt Andaz hotel on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. We are uneasy around each other now, since the strike. He chose one side. I chose another.
For the better part of a week in September, I watched him from outside the window. I held my Unite Here picket sign and wailed on the drum as he poured drinks for distraught customers. My blood boiled when I found out he crossed the picket line, and I’m sure he wasn’t happy that I was at least partially responsible for his lack of business in the restaurant. We made uncomfortable eye contact through the window far too many times.
Going on a strike and living its aftermath are like going through a divorce, where the children are told to pick a side. Some of us journey all the way through with one parent,
Just about every day we hear about how consumer spending is the main driver of the economy. If only we’d spend more money, we could get the economy back on track. (Of course, this is overly simplistic, and fails to account for any number of factors, not least being the continued drag of housing on the economy, as well as the mountains of cash that businesses are sitting on as they fail to hire workers.)
So I’m doing my part—in fact more than my part.
You see, in a few days, I’m getting married. I never would have imagined the amount of money that my wedding is plowing into our local economy: thousands of dollars to a caterer, a bartending service, an equipment rental outfit, a DJ. We’re renting a municipally-owned venue, so the City should be getting a taste,
There’s something eerily Orwellian about the recent blog post, by L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce president Gary Toebben, entitled “L.A. Should Vote Down New Bureaucracy to Regulate Banks.” Mr. Toebben claims that a proposed new city ordinance that would reward banks that act responsibly toward L.A. consumers with the city’s deposits is “overly burdensome” and an “unnecessary regulation.” This is because, Mr. Toebben argues, “the federal government oversees a heavily regulated banking industry” — implying that businesses like banks and other job creators need to be left free to make lots of money, create lots of jobs so that the benefits can trickle down to everyone else.
The banking industry in the United States is “heavily regulated?” Really? Did the L.A. chamber somehow miss the great recession of 2008? You know, that one where the under-regulated banks got into so much trouble that we had to spend more than $700 billion in taxpayer money to bail them out?
We know Los Angeles is in dire need of both jobs and a transportation system that works. Recently, the Metro Board of Directors took action by moving forward on a sweeping, agency-wide Construction Careers Policy covering Metro construction projects for the next 30 years, including projects funded under Measure R, the half-cent sales tax.
The vote at Metro was preceded by more than a year of hard work by LAANE, the L.A./O.C. Building Trades Council, and a coalition of community, environmental, labor, and transportation advocates – all united to make sure that our tax dollars are used to make Los Angeles a working, greener city. This policy brings together the taxpayers’ wishes for better public transportation and our critical need to get Americans back to work.
Anthony Mitchell, an electrician and single father of two whose family is facing foreclosure, attended the vote.
As reported in a leading New York business paper, “the National Taxi Workers Alliance, which is not formally a union, is the first non-traditional labor organization to join the AFL-CIO since a farm workers group was chartered in the early 1960s.” This is exciting news for a few reasons: first, because it illustrates that labor leaders are thinking more creatively about how to reach hard-to-reach workers, and also because it shows how those organic worker organizations are getting formal institutional support. This is a good thing for both sides.
Beyond this, as the AFL-CIO blog entry describes, these are marginalized workers, workers who have historically been deprived of their legal rights because they have been misclassified as independent contractors. This is a problem we have seen again and again, and which we have visited before on the Frying Pan. As employers continue to push the envelope with these legal shenanigans,