(On November 6, Long Beach became one of three cities in the country to pass minimum wage ballot measures, and the only one to guarantee paid sick leave to workers. This story is the first in a weeklong series of reflections on that important victory.)
Since the times of Supervisor Harvey Milk in San Francisco, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) communities have worked with labor organizations to improve the lives of people simply trying to stay afloat in the world. Through the Coors beer boycott of the 1970s, Milk not only laid the foundation for a solid partnership between seemingly disparate communities, he created something much larger: a space for individuals, organizers and union representatives to grow, expand and converse. He created the opportunity for bonds to form and for hearts and minds to open and understand how difficult it was in the 1970s — both for working people and LGBTQ people to be afforded respect,
My mail delivery guy just got happier. He can finish his route while it is still light outside – this despite the change back from daylight savings time. Now he gets his work done in daylight: With the election over, he has less junk to deliver.
I don’t know how it was in your neighborhood, but in my apartment building the stuff filled the box every day for a month, and in the last week, so much mail rolled in that it couldn’t fit anymore. So my mail carrier patiently sorted it into clumps and placed it in the magazine space at the bottom of the mailbox area.
As far as I can tell, the vast majority of these ads went untouched, unless some conscientious soul threw them directly from the mail box into the recycling crate across the hallway. In any case, a couple of million dollars-worth of campaign mail wasn’t read,
Two thousand workers who clean the rooms and serve the food at hotels in Long Beach, California had special cause for celebration election night. They will finally earn a living wage and be able take a sick day without risking a paycheck or a job.
“I have said all along that the second thing I would do when Measure N passes is take my family off of public assistance,” said Maria Patlan, a 10-year housekeeper in Long Beach’s hotel industry. “But the first thing I will do is a dance of joy.”
Maria and scores of workers like her helped lead the diverse Long Beach coalition that organized for months to pass the ballot initiative that became known as Measure N. It establishes a minimum wage of $13/hr (about $2,000 a month) in Long Beach’s hotels employing 100 or more, guarantees workers can earn five sick days a year and protects their tips.
Jonathan Parfrey wears several hats: executive director of Climate Resolve, president of the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters and a commissioner at the L.A. Department of Water and Power. Election Day morning found him up early gathering climate-change documents in advance of a public DWP hearing. He remained unfazed by volatile election scenarios painted by pundits.
“I relied heavily on Nate Silver as my online therapist,” Parfrey said. “He kept fixing my head so I could function.” (Silver’s dry polling metrics, carried in his New York Times blog FiveThirtyEight, consistently predicted the presidential race to be a walk-off for Obama.)
Parfrey would vote that day at the L.A. Job Corps Center on Broadway.
“The volunteers were under 87 years old!” he marveled.
Something extraordinary happened Tuesday in Long Beach. A city long dominated by an ideologically driven business sector and marked by token community participation, embraced a living wage measure. With a resounding 63 percent of the voters in favor of Measure N, we can clearly state that the Long Beach community stood in favor of fairness and justice November 6. From a practical perspective it means lifting 2,000 Long Beach workers above the poverty line, perhaps a two-bedroom apartment for a family of four, or the “luxury” of taking a paid day off to attend to a sick child or relative. It also lays the foundation for renewed economic growth by providing additional income that will be recycled through the Long Beach economy.
How did this happen in a city controlled by business interests who said a living wage should not, could not and would not pass? By acknowledging four things: