Lights out on Labor Council endorsement

Pub date August 26, 2008
SectionPolitics Blog

by Amanda Witherell

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Graph from San Francisco Chronicle, July 26, 2007


Last night while the San Francisco Labor Council was meeting to vote on endorsements for the November election, the power cut out.

“I immediately started chanting public power, public power,” said Robert Haaland, who was there on behalf of SEIU 1021. He was referring to the Clean Energy Act – Prop H on the ballot.

Haaland called the experience surreal. “It was literally in the dark and the people counting votes were doing it by flashlight.” Because voting was by delegates, with people standing up for or against it in a dark room it was impossible to see who exactly voted for each side. “Maria Guillen, the COPE chair for 1021 gave a very impassioned speech for public power and also addressed how the campaign against public power has been attacking city workers,” said Haaland. SEIU’s Joint Council voted in favor of endorsing the measure.

Despite the PG&E power outage, the Council chose to go neutral. PG&E has more power outages than any other utility company in the state, according to a July 26, 2007 article in the Chron.

Apparently representatives from some of the trades urged neutrality on the issue, and expressed concern about how retirement and pension benefits would be affected should the city go into the retail power business and buy out PG&E’s infrastructure. According to the Clean Energy Act’s website, “any PG&E employees who become City employees as a result of this Act will not suffer any reduction of compensation or seniority.

If passed, the Clean Energy Act would force the city to establish a long-term energy plan with renewable power benchmarks more aggressive than current state mandates. The city will study how best to achieve this and if it’s determined that a municipally owned electricity system is the most efficient and expeditious way to achieve 100 percent renewable power by 2040, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission will have the authority to issue revenue bonds to purchase and construct the infrastructure to do that.

The full list of Labor Council endorsements can be found in this PDF.