Supervisors’ Emails Give Backroom Look at Interest Group Influence Over San Francisco Legislative Process

New report reveals labor union and activist group role in last year’s municipal scheduling legislation
  • Publication Date: November 2015

  • Topics: Minimum Wage

Washington D.C. — Today, the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) released a new report giving a behind-the-scenes look at how last year’s San Francisco scheduling legislation known as the “Retail Workers Bill of Rights” was passed. This first-of-its-kind legislation requires chain employers to compensate employees for scheduling changes made up to six days in advance, compensate “on call” employees who aren’t called in, and offer more work to part-timers before hiring additional staff members.

Drawing on hundreds of pages of emails obtained under the California Public Records Act, the report reveals how closely labor unions, labor union front groups, and left-wing activist groups worked with San Francisco legislators to draft the bill’s basic ideas, write significant parts of the legislation, plan out the political strategy to gain support, and add self-interested expansions got labor unions to the bill’s scope just before passage.

The emails trace the scheduling mandate from a meeting of liberal and labor union groups in early 2014 through its passage in late November – with the SEIU United Service Workers West, the AFL-CIO-affiliated San Francisco Bay Area Labor Council, and union-backed front groups colluding to develop and substantially draft mandate packages that ended up becoming city law.

Notably, the uncovered emails show how Supervisor Eric Mar, who represents San Francisco’s 1st district, worked with his brother, Gordon Mar, the executive director of Jobs with Justice – San Francisco, as well as other left-wing special interests to advance the legislation.

View the report here. Read EPI Research Director Michael Saltsman’s op-ed in yesterday’s San Francisco Examiner explaining the report’s findings here.

“While labor unions and left-wing activist groups complain about conservative groups’ influence in the political process, this report shows that they are in fact among the worst offenders,” said Michael Saltsman, research director at the Employment Policies Institute. “Voters in in San Francisco and around the country should take note: Legislation that’s purportedly designed to help employees is often created by Big Labor for Big Labor.”