Happy New Year to all. As we dive headlong into 2023, this council remains committed to seeing San Francisco’s recovery continue throughout this new year and into the next.
Tourism is the lifeblood of our city, and we need it to chug back at full capacity if we’re going to make up for the billions of dollars we’ve lost to the pandemic, with the blow it dealt to this crucial sector of our economy. We must be ready and able to host a mass capacity of guests who come from across the globe to see our unmatched sights. We must build more world-class hotels, host more one-of-a-kind in-person events, and continue to be the home base for leading-edge industry conferences. We must maintain our position as one of the world’s great travel destinations.
We also need to back our downtown by focusing on the bread-and-butter work that we’ve traditionally been able to rely on from our central business district. Of course, we need office workers back in cubicles (and open-office spaces) in full-force, filling up San Francisco’s vacant skyscrapers so that demand returns for more class-A office space in a city that has the ability — and the desirability — to host it. But we also need these workers back for the everyday work that they bring us. That means such work as simple storefront buildouts, infrastructure improvements, and high-rise maintenance.
Along with all of this, and perhaps most critically, we desperately need a few very important developments to occur that will help to stabilize this city. First and foremost, we need quality affordable housing that’s built with union hands and accessible to working-class people. We need well-funded public services to keep SF clean and safe. We need improved mass transit and better-maintained streets and sidewalks.
The building trades are crucial to all of this, and I’d like to remind us all of what might be plainly obvious but deserves repeating: When the City prospers, the building trades prosper.
As we step into 2023, this council will be passionately advocating for these causes and working as hard as possible to secure each and every project labor agreement that we can get.
Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.
Monday, January 16, marked the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service — the official designation for the holiday celebrating the life and work of the labor and civil rights movement legend.
According to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, “In 1994, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, designating the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service [...] The MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service — a ‘day on, not a day off.’ [...] The MLK Day of Service [...] calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a ‘Beloved Community.’”
This council is doing what it can to bring about King’s beloved community. You’ll see in this month’s edition of Organized Labor a bit about an ongoing service project we have lent hands and material to support: the rehabilitation of SF’s historic Third Baptist Church, a historically Black church that dates all the way back to 1852. A man who followed in King’s footsteps, Rev. Amos C. Brown, has been the leader of Third Baptist since 1976, and we are proud to help him.
Finally, lest we forget: King was assassinated while in Memphis supporting striking sanitation workers. The man was always a champion for the working class and the poor, famously and wisely saying, “All labor has dignity.”
I’d like to end this month’s column with a hearty King quote, which he delivered during a speech at the National Cathedral in 1968.
Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood, and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood. But somehow, and in some way, we have got to do this. We must all learn to live together as brothers, or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured.
—Martin Luther King Jr.,
“Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution”