No real answers at question time



At last week's Board of Supervisors meeting, Mayor Ed Lee showed up for Question Time, that scintillating moment when the city's top-ranking official reads off a written response to a pre-submitted question. Despite knowing in advance that District 1 Sup. Eric Mar would ask him how much he was considering raising the minimum wage, Lee still didn't fully answer.

"Mayor Lee, San Francisco is now the city with the fastest-growing gap between rich and poor ... Some labor groups in the City have proposed to increase the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour," Mar noted, referencing a ballot initiative led by Service Employees International Union Local 1021 to ask voters to approve that increase. "Can you share what level you are currently considering increasing the minimum wage to and how you plan on mitigating impacts on small businesses and nonprofits?"

But Lee did not respond by naming a concrete dollar amount, instead saying he hoped all stakeholders could "work together" to arrive at a mutually agreeable figure. "I am, along with Sup. [Jane] Kim and others, working closely with labor unions, advocates, business leaders, and nonprofit representatives to craft one consensus measure that we can put on the ballot this November," Lee said. "I am completely committed to increasing it this year, and I hope we can all work together to support one consensus measure."


Hundreds of Bay Area fast food workers joined in protests against McDonald's and other chains that exploit low-paid workers as part of a day of action that spanned 150 US cities and 33 countries across the world.

In Oakland, a march targeted a McDonald's on East 12th Street and a Burger King at 13th and Broadway, among other locations. KFC worker Jose Martinez helped organize a similar march in Oakland last year. Since then, he said, his bosses have shown little inclination to help workers.

"Nothing has changed," Martinez said. "I've been working there four years, and I haven't had a raise — $8.25 is nothing, I can't live on that."

Martinez is a student, and says the pay isn't enough to cover basic needs while he focuses on his studies.

Meanwhile, other workers rely on fast food restaurant jobs to support their families.

"I haven't had a raise in three years," a McDonald's worker who identified herself as Markeisha told us just after she went out on strike from an Oakland McDonald's in December. Markeisha said she's the sole provider for her two children.

Fast food workers also contend they are a vulnerable workforce. Wage theft, low salaries, slashed hours, and punitive measures for speaking out are among the grievances they allege against chains including McDonald's, Burger King, and Taco Bell.

"One thing we found when talking to fast food workers was wage theft issues were high," Service Employees International Union Local 1021 Political Director Chris Daly told the Guardian. "When you're making $8-11 an hour, a couple shifts can be the difference between paying the rent or not."


Transit advocacy groups filed an appeal May 14, challenging a controversial vote by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's Board of Directors last month to end paid Sunday meters.

The appeal argues that the paid Sunday meters program was highly beneficial, and charges that the decision to terminate it was made without adequate review under the California Environmental Quality Act.