Testimonies and Statements at
San Francisco City Hall on
Aggressive Union-Busting in Recent Labor
Struggles in San Francisco and the
San Francisco Region
Sponsored by S.F. Supervisor Jake McGoldrick
Dec. 5, 2005
Testimony of Peter Olney, ILWU International Organizer 12/05/05 SF Board of Supervisors
My name is Peter Olney. I am the Director of Organization for the International Longhore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). Since August of 2004 we have been working with our warehouse Local 17 in Sacramento, California to organize the largest almond processing plant in the world, Blue Diamond Growers.
Blue Diamond employs over 630 workers who do receiving, sorting, packing roasting and shipping of almonds for 3500 member almond farmers up and down the central valley. The plant has been in Sacramento since 1910 and has never been unionized. When we began organizing the workers a year ago the company began a vicious anti-union campaign. They are on record with the Sacramento Bee as "running an aggressive union avoidance campaign".
The legal mastermind behind their anti-union campaign is a San Francisco Attorney named Jerrold C. Schaefer of the law firm, Hanson Bridgett Marcus. He is also ironically the labor relations attorney for the Golden Gate Transit District, and he negotiates regularly with a coalition of 28 trade unions representing public sector unionized bridge and ferry workers.
On October 27, 2005 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued 28 complaints against BDG for violations of federal labor law. These violations include the firing of three union supporters and attempts to coerce the workers by threatening the closure of the facility and the loss of their pensions if the union should gain recognition. Workers of BDG are not with us today because they are at the opening of trial that began at 11:00 AM this morning at the Moss Federal building in Sacramento.
It is our position that the boss has no place telling workers whether they can join a union or not. We have argued with the growers that just as they should not be pressured by other growers or non-growers over their decision to join an agricultural cooperative, so workers should be free to choose whether to belong to a workers organization or not. That is why the ILWU and many of the elected officials in the Sacramento area, having witnessed the BDG horror show, are on record supporting the federal Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) introduced by US Rep George Miller and US Senator Ted Kennedy. This bill provides for card check neutrality, first contract arbitration and severe penalties for labor law violators.
The City and County should go on record supporting EFCA. The City and County should also censure Mr. Schaefer, an attorney who is receiving money for labor relations from the taxpayers on the one hand, while he is acting as a union buster up the road in Sacramento!
Thank you very much.
UNION BUSTING IN SAN FRANCISCO AGAINST EXOTIC DANCERS
by Daisy Anarchy,
Exotic Dancers in San Francisco have been struggling for many years, organizing for better working conditions- for their labor rights and for safety on the job in the face of coercion into prostitution, sexual assault and rape on their work sites; in the context of employers charging dancers illegal fees to work and requiring them to go into dangerous private booths one-on-one with customers. What follows is a time line of some of the union-busting retaliation dancer organizers have suffered.
… 1997- Dancer Organizers Daisy Anarchy and Hima B. fired for organizing- Club owner tells Daisy he is firing her for her "political activity"
… 1999- Terrance Hallinan, currently one of the attorneys for the illegally operating Mitchell Brothers O¹Farrell Theater strip-club-turned-brothel, tells dancers trying to get help with coerced prostitution, sexual assault and rape on their job sights that "he is not going to help them and he doesn¹t have to tell them why." He was then running for re-election and the dancer organizers made his refusal to help them a campaign issue. His staff member had security guards physically drag Daisy Anarchy and Hima B. out of a National Organization for Women luncheon, for which Daisy had received an invitation at the Crown Plaza Hotel, at which they were distributing an informational flyer, and then called the police, who refused to arrest them, citing the dancers¹ right to freedom of speech. Within weeks, Hallinan staff member Maura Duffy, who also was paid monies by Hallinan¹s re-election campaign, began working on Daisy¹s ongoing family law case on behalf of Daisy¹s violent ex-husband. Daisy continued to speak out publicly on behalf of dancers against Hallinan¹s collusion with illegally operating dance club owners.
… 1999- Hima B. fired when club she is working at is contacted by her employers who fired her for organizing in 1997, and who she and Daisy Anarchy have charged with an ULP at the National Labor Relations Board.
… 2000- Daisy Anarchy incarcerated for two weeks for refusing to allow her eight year old daughter to go on unsupervised visits with her violent ex-husband by Terrance Hallinan supporter and campaign contributor Charlotte Woolard. Upon being released from jail Daisy still refused to allow her daughter to go on unsupervised visits with her violent ex-husband, and in violation of Daisy¹s due process rights in court, and against California Family Law precendant, full legal custody of Daisy¹s daughter is transferred to Daisy¹s violent ex-husband, even though Daisy has never been accused of any neglect or abuse, and the judge affirms in court that Daisy is a good mother. When Daisy still refuses to turn her daughter over to her violent ex-husband, but files a writ of appeal, Terrance Hallinan charges her with felony child abduction and places a warrant for her arrest with bail set at $100,000. Hallinan staff member Maura Duffy tells the domestic violence agency that has been supporting Daisy that she wants to arrest Daisy at their agency when she comes in for services and also warns them that the District Attorney¹s office knows that Daisy has also been receiving support at the Women¹s Building. In December of 2000, Carlos Sanchez, Hallinan employee and campaign contributor, sees Daisy buying Christmas presents for her daughter at Toys-R-Us in Marin and calls police.
… 2001-Daisy is incarcerated on $100,000 felony child abduction warrant for three and a half months. Exotic dancers, sex workers and other community members organize a benefit for Daisy in an attempt to raise legal funds to assist Daisy and her daughter, who had been placed with Daisy¹s violent ex-husband. Over 300 people attend the benefit, where outrage is expressed regarding the injustice of this obvious political retaliation by Hallinan against Daisy Anarchy for her organizing efforts on behalf of exotic dancers. Under political pressure, Daisy is released from jail, but her daughter remains with Daisy¹s violent ex-husband.
… 2001- Daisy is fired by Déjà Vu strip club manager whom she had named in a 1997 police report regarding pimping and pandering and a later lawsuit for hostile work environment at another club. The manager and subsequently Déjà Vu lawyers admit Déjà Vu fired Daisy for the legal action she had taken against them. Déjà Vu now owns most of the strip clubs in San Francisco.
… 2002- Manager from illegally operating Market Street Cinema strip club shows up at dancer union organizing meeting, says he is there for the union meeting, and in front of dancers and paid union staff signs his name on a piece of paper, before Daisy instructs him to leave. In spite of solid evidence of an Unfair Labor Practice, the National Labor Relations Board refuses to prosecute when the Market Street Cinema claims to not know who the manager is. The National Labor Relations Board refuses to subpoena their records or do any follow-up investigation. However, when the police raid the Market Street Cinema in 2004, he is one of the managers that is charged, and his name is in the newspaper as such.
… 2003- Local public access cable TV show producers interview Daisy at union office on the pretext of presenting the dancers side of the labor dispute, but then sell the tape of the interview for $400 to Déjà Vu,and do not air the initial interview.
… 2004- The videotape is used by Déjà Vu in typically-styled "captive audience" union-busting meetings.
… 2004- UNION BUSTING BY THE SFPD: After exotic dancers and union supporters met with SF Police Chief Heather Fong regarding coerced prostitution, sexual assaults, and rapes that have been happening for years in SF strip clubs (dancers first went to the police asking for help regarding these issues in 1996), the SFPD sent out a non-threatening letter to SF strip club owners regarding relevant police codes. Strip club owners responded by asking for a meeting with the San Francisco Police Department, and rather than being told that police were concerned with the repeated reports and requests for help from numerous dancers over the years regarding the illegal coercion into prostitution, sexual assaults and rapes in the strip clubs, SF police officers Joe Dutto and Tim Hetrick tell the assembled dance club owners and their representatives that the reason the letter was sent out to the clubs regarding the police codes was because "Daisy Anarchy has an office at the labor union and she¹s not going away and she¹s not going to stop."
Daisy learned of this when Robert Halaand, political organizer for SEIU Local 790, and friend and supporter of owner of illegally-operating strip club owner Terence Alan, (Alan¹s web-site business has worked for Déjà Vu for years as well), asked Daisy to come to a "mediation" with him and illegally operating strip-club owner Alan, and Alan revealed what the police said at the meeting and stated that when the police made raids in the clubs that spring, they were telling dancers and managers that "they were raiding the clubs because of Daisy Anarchy." Since coming with other dancers to the police to ask for help in 1996, Daisy has always said that police should not arrest dancers engaging in prostitution, but rather should help and support dancers coming forth regarding the coerced prostitution in the clubs, and should work to end the conditions the club owners have created with dangerous private booths and illegal fees dancers are forced to pay to work. Like many other dancers, Daisy believes in the decriminalization of adult consensual prostitution, but is against the prostitution in the strip clubs, which over the last decade has resulted in the wide-spread coercion into prostitution, sexual assault and rape in the clubs.
The Mitchells Brother O¹Farrell Theater posts a sign in the dressing room asking dancers that know Daisy to speak to the management. Management then tells dancers that even though they have phone numbers for Daisy, convicted murderer Jim Mitchell wants Daisy¹s home address.
When Daisy makes a police report regarding this, SFPD threaten Daisy, telling her the Mitchell Brother(s) could take legal action against her for making a police report, which is untrue.
Déjà Vu, who now own most of the clubs in San Francisco, post signs in all their dressing rooms specifically targeting Daisy, in an attempt to discredit the work Daisy and other dancer organizers are doing, misrepresenting their work and attempting to intimidate Déjà Vu dancers from organizing.
… 2005- Robert Haaland and Michael Goldstein file a grievance with the Harvey Milk Democratic Club asking that Daisy be removed from the Club, citing a demonstration that Daisy participated in with other dancers and sex workers against their friend, illegally operating dance club owner Terence Alan, and other illegally operating dance club owners. The Harvey Milk Club asks that the grievance process be private in the club until resolved, so Daisy does not take this documentation of Haaland¹s retaliatation for her organizing to the union yet. The Member Organizing Committee of SEIU 790 had voted unanimously to hire Daisy to organize the other unorganized dance clubs (the Lusty Lady Theater is the only union-shop club), but the day the SEIU 790 Budget Committee is to vote on the organizing plan, Haaland preempts the vote on the organizing plan by threatening to sue the union for "hostile work environment" if they don¹t ban Daisy from the union, claiming Daisy is harassing him by informing people of his retaliatory acts and stating she has no right to any democratic process to present her documentation.
THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES EXOTIC DANCERS SHALL HAVE SAFE AND FAIR WORKING CONDITIONS!! Contact: Sex Workers Organized for Labor, Human and Civil Rights
(415) 824-6883 firstname.lastname@example.org 2215-R Market St. #126 SF CA
Statement of Lorena Hernandez, SEIU-UHW Local 250, CPMC Sutter food services worker
It was Thursday, October 13, 2005. At 5:00 am we got to the picket line at the Pacific Campus of California Pacific Medical Center. We picketed at the entrance on Webster Street. At about 6:00 am we were told to go to the entrance on Buchanan Street. There were maybe 60 picketers and 20 security guards. At around 6:30 am pushing began where the security guards were pushing us with open hands to move us out of the way. I moved to the side on the sidewalk where I thought I would be safe. I was still near the crowd. A foot came around from the side and kicked me in the stomach. I turned to see who kicked me. The security guard who kicked me put his arm against another security guard and kicked me again, even harder, in my ribs on my right side. The force knocked me to the ground. A woman covered me with her body and yelled, "Stop, stop, she is hurt." I went to the emergency room. I had a big swelling here on my ribs. They gave me pain pills and said it would go away. I was told the police said it was an accident. It was not an accident.
Later, I told Nate, the SEIU representative, "That is the man." Nate said, "Hey, come over here. That is not right to kick a lady," and got his name off the badge. (His name is Alexander Vermudez.) That guard went away and three more guards came up to Nate and said "What are you going to do? What are you going to do to us?" because we can¹t do anything. That guard is still working at the hospital. I feel bad when I see him. I never want to be in a strike again.
Statement of Jack Chernos, AFM Local 6, musician activist
I had a very frightening, bizarre incident on November 8, 2005 involving Modern Industrial Services, a company which was providing security services for California Pacific Medical Center during the labor dispute with the hospital workers of Service Employees International Union (SEIU-UHW). I believe my civil rights were violated because I was followed and threatened because I was wearing an SEIU hat. Furthermore, I believe this company poses a very real danger to whomever this company happens to associate with the unions whose strikes they are hired to break, and I suspect that they operate in this manner all over the country.
At about 6:30 pm on Tuesday, November 8, I was driving North along Van Ness with a friend and I was wearing an SEIU knit cap. (I am supportive of the SEIU strike, and have performed music at their rallies, but I am not a member of SEIU. I am a member of American Federation of Musicians, Local 6 under the stage name Jack Chernos. My legal name is Laurence J. Shaw.) Five unmarked white vans were in the lane next to us, four made a lane change in front of us, and the last one was stuck to the side of us at a traffic signal. The passenger in that last van rolled down his window and asked to cut in front of us. I said O.K., and asked "Who are you guys?" and he said, "The Renegades, a football team." I thought nothing further of this and did not notice where the vans went as I turned left onto Geary. I had intended to turn right on Fillmore but inadvertently went past it. I made a u-turn at Presidio to go back on Geary, took a left on Fillmore and parked at the interestion of Fillmore and Washington, intending to get something to eat in my friend¹s neighborhood along Fillmore.
After exiting the car, I was rearranging some items in the back of my vehicle when a large black Ram truck pulled up onto the sidewalk in front of my vehicle and a white GMC SUV pulled up in the street beside us, blocking our egress by car. Three large muscular-appearing men with crew cuts in what might be described as paramilitary outfits (one dressed completely in black with black gloves--I think they each had black gloves) got out and approached us. The largest of them came right up to me (i.e., "in my face") and said, "Don¹t follow us or we¹ll fuck you up." We told them that we didn¹t know who they were and that we weren¹t following them, but they didn't believe us and repeatedly threatened us. Then it became clear that they were referring to the white vans which we had last seen on Van Ness and we told them that, no, we were not following their vans. But at every stage, every protest from us about our ignorance was met with threats such as, "Shut the fuck up, Punchy, or we¹ll fuck you up." (I don¹t know why he was calling us "Punchy.") So I decided the best course was not to try to deny anything and just to try to leave, but when we suggested that we would leave the leader said, a couple of times, "Where are you gonna go? We¹ll follow you. You follow us, we'll follow you." (The leader was the only one who spoke directly to us.)
Fortunately, we had happened to park on a well-lit corner of a well-populated street and a few people had stopped, since this was such an outlandish, bizarre scene. Thankfully, one passer-by asked what was going on, and I asked him to call the police. Two people in the neighborhood stayed with us for support until the police came. They could provide eye-witness accounts. As we were waiting for the police, we took down their license plate numbers and the leader told his associate to take down our license plate number and then said to me, a couple of times, "Is this your car? Too bad. I¹ve just got a rental. Is this your car? Too bad," in what was also clearly a threatening manner, although it was not clear whether he was threatening to harm the car or track us via the license plate.
Having apparently already followed us, their threats to continue to follow us seemed credible, and their appearance, dress, and manner made their repeated threats also seem very credible. Furthermore, any attempts to reason with them were met with what seemed to be threats of immediate violence, so no communication with them was possible.
The police eventually came and took our names and their names. At that point we learned that they were hired by Sutter, and that my wearing the SEIU hat somehow induced them to follow and threaten us. We believe we overheard that the leader is the CEO of Modern Industrial Services. I am not sure, but I believe they also said to the police that they knew who we were‹that may be because Sutter¹s security was routinely taking pictures during SEIU rallies and pickets. The San Francisco Police CAD number for this incident is 053122934.
I have brought this matter to the attention of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, and I was very surprised to learn that they do not believe this to be within their purview‹not because it is not a civil rights issue, but because their Employment Division would not deal with such incidents.
The Need To Take Systemic Action Against Violators
Of Labor And Human Rights
Statement by Steve Zeltzer Member IUOE Local 39
KPFA Labor Collective and Labor Video Project, San Francisco
The issue of violations of labor and human rights against working people is becoming a growing problem in San Francisco and throughout the country. Alongside a multi-billion dollar industry of lawyers who advise employers on how to get away with violating labor law and preventing democratic union elections and free choice for workers is the growing use of professional union-busting mercenary security firms.
In San Francisco, the combination of these forces have prevented the workers at Comcast, and before that Viacom, from having a union in the cable system. These employers have shut down their operations like Real Food, which is owned by Fresh Organics Inc. and its parent company, Nutraceutical International Corp. Even after the downtown Marriot signed an agreement that it would not screen workers out from working for the company, it did just that for many years and was only organized after a multi-year effort. Home Depot is another company that has a flagrant record of not only labor law violations, but also discrimination against women, minorities and others. In fact this company has even refused to be a Federal supplier in order to avoid following Federal employment protections.
Over 20,000 workers are fired every year for seeking unionization and in San Francisco that is still the case in many unionizing efforts. Some of these efforts have led to physical assaults on union supporters, like the attack on UFCW organizer Carl Kramer some years ago when he was seeking to organize some fish workers at Fisherman's wharf which is leased to private employers. During the last San Francisco Chronicle strike, the Chronicle hired King and Ballow a law firm with a record of union busting and they brought in professional strike breakers. The District Attorney failed to take action against the use of these strike breakers despite a criminal code that says this is a violation of the law. San Francisco should play a leading role in seeking to eliminate discrimination against workers who wish to join unions or take collective action to defend their union and conditions.
I and others suggest a number of steps that the city can take to remedy these persistent and systematic attacks on labor and democratic human rights.
1. Make all franchises and contracts that the SF City and County sign
contingent on not being a persistent and systematic violator of labor laws and democratic rights. Failure to abide by these laws should lead to revocation of all contracts with the city and any licenses that this operation has in the City and County of San Francisco.
2. The establishment of a labor commission with representatives elected by district from the city. This commission would investigate labor conditions in the city of San Francisco and also the violation of labor laws and rights of the people of San Francisco, and provide a yearly report on the state of labor in San Francisco. The commission would also propose legislation and action to the Board of Supervisors to rectify violations of labor rights and conditions of working people in San Francisco.
3. The support for hearings both in the City and County of San Francisco and by the State Legislature and our representatives and the California Attorney General on the use of profession strike breakers both in San Francisco and statewide. These firms, which include the Steele Foundation and others, are using former mercenaries from Iraq and elsewhere against workers in San Francisco and throughout the state of California. The growing use of these companies is a serious threat to all labor and democratic rights and their activities need to be investigated.
4. The use of the government channel to provide regular coverage of labor laws in both English, Spanish and Chinese so that the majority of working people can be provided information on cable about their rights as workers.
5. An annual report by the District Attorney on (i) actions taken against the use of professional strike breakers in the City and County of San Francisco and (ii) a public record of complaints of harassment and other threats made against workers who seek unionization. The recent attacks by security employed by the Sutter Hospital chain and the failure of the District Attorney to investigate the assaults and physical threats must not be repeated.
Testimony By Doug Slaydon, Member UFCW 588
Thank you Supervisor Jake McGoldrick and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for providing a public forum allowing workers to express their need for protection.
My name is Doug Slaydon. For twenty-four years I've been a union meat cutter and enjoyed the benefit of a higher standard of living and protection at the workplace unionism has provided.
I’m here today because I believe my struggle to maintain that standard of living has led to retaliation by my employer, Safeway Stores. On November 10, 2005 suspended and subsequently terminated my employment.
January of this year my local, UFCW 588 and other Bay Area locals agreed to a contract that eroded wages, benefits, and retirement contributions. Soon afterward our president Jack Loveall retired before the end of his term. The Executive Board, which includes seven family members, voted his son Jacques Loveall as the best qualified candidate.
I asked for answers. Not getting them, I looked for my own. I wrote International President Joe Hansen complaining about these events. It was my symbolic "theses" nailed to the church door. The reply was to come months later.
I began to criticize my local union leadership. Speaking at the Labor Action Coalition, posting an open letter on the internet, networking with other labor activists inside and outside my union local, leafleting stores, talking to members, gathering contacts.
The solution is to gather numbers of members, organize a caucus, advocate for ourselves to improve our conditions, also with the aim to run a reform slate of candidates next year to replace those unable or unwilling to honestly represent us.
This is free speech. This is free assembly. Freedom to organize.
Union leadership told me I wasn't qualified. I'm dishonest. I'm anti-union. Elections are expensive. It's too close to the next contract.
November 9, 2005 five of our group canvassed the Modesto area, signing thirty members to contact cards.
If you’re thinking: Modesto? Our local UFCW 588 covers thirty-five counties, 22000 members. It’s a big deal! What happens at Local 588 dictates what happens in Northern California, probably the nation.
Remember: there are approximately 14 Safeway Stores in San Francisco, close family ties to this city, Peter Magowan owns majority of the Giants.
The day after our successful organizing campaign, I was suspended from my job pending investigation and ultimately terminated. A high level Retail Operations Executive just happened to be in the store at 500PM, acting and judge and jury.
Three things express the injustice of Safeway Stores towards me:
1) Why would Safeway want union reform, when they’re getting what they want now?
2) The time-line of my termination reeks of retaliation and collusion.
3) The punishment doesn't fit the crime. I have been out of work for the last month for saying "crap" as in "You’re full of crap".
Safeway Stores told me in writing that I violated company policy and procedure, but didn't even extend the courtesy to let me know what policy and procedure.
I want to thank the Board of Supervisors again for your time and for providing this forum. Please consider a labor abuse remedy to protect working people who are increasingly are risk and are losing their rights with little access to recourse.
Member UFCW 588
Jake McGoldrick at Press Conf