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Friday, November 03, 2006


There has been speculation since the September Davis City Council meeting when Councilmember Stephen Souza suggested that he and Councilmember Don Saylor were in negotiations with Target on a labor agreement. So it was no surprise at all to see the announcement/non-announcement in the Thursday Evening Davis Enterprise.

Claire St. John writes:

But since Saylor and Souza’s announcement — which came in response to a living wage ordinance proposed by Councilman Lamar Heystek — letters to the editor have asked if an 11th-hour announcement about Target’s new union-friendly business practices would be made.

Souza plays the political game to a tee with his non-announcement.

“We don’t want to make a big hoopla about this,” Souza said. “We don’t want to say anything about it, and then after the election we could say something.”

As is the usual with the Davis Enterprise, there is a lot that is not said here.

The article makes it seem at first like this was the announcement of some sort of labor agreement for the Target workers. Of course, this is no such thing. We are merely talking about using union construction work. I do not want to diminish that, but frankly those were the least of the concerns that those supportive of a both a living wage ordinance and supportive in general of unionize workers had about the Target project.

Second, it suggests that Souza and Saylor were in negotiations with the Target corporation. Well, under whose authority were they acting? The City Council has never authorized such negotiations. So are we to take it that Souza and Saylor are acting on their own? This seems very concerning.

Third, Claire St. John never contacted nor interviewed the minority on the Council--either the Mayor Sue Greenwald or Lamar Heystek who introduced the living wage ordinance. St. John is not a rookie, she knows you have to contact both sides of an issue. Why doesn't she?

Fourth, Souza is quoted as saying:

“We can always come back and discuss a living wage ordinance, but it’s about what is legal,” he said. “We can’t just focus on one employer.”

In fact, both Souza and Saylor both continue to repeat this deception. City Attorney Harriet Steiner at the September meeting told Souza that she had a similar issue in Emeryville and her law partner expected to prevail on it.

(Click here to see that video)

There are multiple serious ethical issues here with both the reporting of this issue and the practices of Souza and Saylor. We need to hold our elected official accountable for their conduct. Members of the city council should not be negotiating separate labor agreements without council authority and consent.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting