Rudy Gonzalez, headshot

Treasure Island Breaks Ground

Infrastructure investments signal that it’s time to build out Treasure Island. This massive project is a reminder of the transformational power of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and other federal efforts that continue to boost our economy thanks to voters and the steadfast leadership of our very own Nancy Pelosi.

I joined many civic, government, and industry leaders to celebrate the West Side Bridges groundbreaking on Friday, June 16. As Pelosi said, “The federal agencies know that when they fund a project in SF, we make it happen: Dirt flies.”

Why Juneteenth Matters

Juneteenth, a.k.a Emancipation Day, was declared a federal holiday by the Biden administration in June 2021 and lauded by leaders of organized labor from all sectors. It’s remarkable but not surprising that America’s greatest shame — the enslavement of Black people — for so long lacked the commemorative heft of a national holiday acknowledging its demise.

I was recently asked how unions should celebrate Black joy on Juneteenth. Participating in organized events with your local or lending a hand to create a union tradition is a good step. We should also use the new holiday to learn about Black workers in our own unions. While most of our unions have deep histories of resistance to inequality, some have the stains of racism on their history and hiring hall books.

No matter how you choose to honor the holiday, let’s be clear: This isn’t about guilt for sins you personally didn’t commit. This is about acknowledging our collective past and making sure we never let it happen again. The lessons of struggle and resistance are important as we navigate today’s social issues, many of which stem from the brutality of our nation’s past choices, such as slavery and the racist ideology that protected it.

Before long, Juneteenth may become just another corporate holiday celebrated by chain-store bargain events and mass-produced merch galore. I’d prefer to keep it in the streets for as long as possible. I hope to see you at next year’s Juneteenth march — or, better yet, day of action.

Back to Basics

We just survived a real-life experiment pitting the government against a crisis that, if mishandled, would’ve meant a failure far worse than economic doom. It would’ve meant mass-scale death by infectious disease.

The public sector responded to the crisis fearlessly, literally saving thousands of lives. We’re talking nurses, firefighters, EMS professionals, police, dispatchers, inspectors, plumbers and pipefitters, electricians, and glaziers. You name it — as our resident disaster services workforce, the public sector mobilized to fix it.

Now we face a new challenge together with the current state of our city: the supposed “doom loop,” with businesses leaving San Francisco, office buildings standing empty, and work evaporating. The result of failure in this crisis isn’t literal death in an ICU, but for a whole lot of Bay Area residents — and a whole lot of Americans in general — job loss is an economic death sentence.

Think about it. Without a job, how many of us could make ends meet? Without income, there’s no money to pay for housing, healthcare, food, and gas.

In the City’s current economy, recovery is slow. But jobs are actually on the uptick — just less so in-person and downtown. Our crafts have all recently seen slow but steady increases in work. Regardless, the stakes remain astronomical for the City’s middle class and working poor.

Today’s crisis in SF will yield fewer emergency responders and more pundits looking to use budget emergencies to justify their agendas. There’s no spoiler here — it’s business as usual for these people. They want to privatize the public sector, Medicare, and Social Security, and to reduce or eliminate taxes for the wealthy, to raid the coffers to fund charter schools, and to feed the nonprofits of their pals.

These are the people who will use this crisis to try and resurrect their failed, disingenuous policy of trickle-down economics. But the truth is this: You can’t cut taxes enough to fix the very things we need more of.

Who pays the 911 operators and the emergency crews that follow? Who pays the PUC workers and SFUSD workers in the trades to keep the lights on and the water clean?

It ain’t the $7 toll to cross the Bay Bridge. It’s taxes.

Before we go searching for the ghost of Reaganomics or for some elusive silver-bullet policy, maybe we ought to get back to basics: the essential city services that enable new businesses to open, that permit new construction sites, and that invest in clean and safe communities with modernized schools.

“Back to basics” means infrastructure to support responsible development, and yes, that means housing, too.

What’s the secret to unlocking 8,000 units of housing under a PLA on Treasure Island? Utilities, infrastructure, and permits: They’re all funded by the basics. SFPUC hasn’t hired enough lineman or added sufficient service to maintain adequate power distribution for the 2,000 residents of the island, who suffer weekly power outages. Instead of hiring additional workers, SFPUC blames PG&E, which already feels threatened by SFPUC and the City’s desire to take over power distribution for SF residents.

The sniping between these agencies needs to end. They must get back to basics and do their jobs as government administrators. We just want to move forward to help current and future residents and secure good jobs and economic opportunity — across the City and across the United States.

Organized Labor


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