WatchSonoma Watch

Democrats mobilize labor for November election


Union leaders and rank-and-file members gathered Monday morning for an annual Sonoma County Labor Day breakfast at which pancakes and political pep talks were served up equally.

“This election coming up will make a huge difference to what happens to workers,” said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, who called on organized labor to help mobilize voters for November’s mid-term elections.

“If independent voters and Democrats don’t go to the polls, it could be a disaster for Democrats, but I believe we will prevail,” said Woolsey, who is expected to easily win re-election.

“Without organized labor, our middle class disappears,” she said.

An estimated 400 to 500 people attended the event, organized by the North Bay Labor Council, at the local carpenters’ union hall in Santa Rosa.

State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, whose district includes southern Sonoma County, said the November elections are a choice between “going forward and going backward.”

Leno acknowledged the recession has soured voters moods but said the Obama administration inherited a nose-diving economy. He blamed economic woes on Republicans, saying, “It’s not the policies of the past two years that have brought on this calamity.”

He acknowledged, too, that many political observers have predicted a dismal election for Democrats but said unions can play a key role in turning that around.

“Common wisdom has it” that tea party activists are “energized and Democrats are not,” Leno said. “We have to prove them wrong.”

Norman Solomon, a Marin County-based author, Democratic activist and 2008 Obama delegate, said there was a different mood among party stalwarts at the annual breakfast.

“People are in a defensive crouch,” he said, adding that “union participation will be crucial” to Democrats in the fall.

He was more willing than Woolsey or Leno to criticize the Democratic Party’s leadership.

“We need a progressive populism that fights to create jobs and challenge undue corporate power, and the Obama administration has not pursued that approach,” Solomon said.

“Job one is to create jobs, and this administration should be fighting for Main Street much more than it is,” he said.

Others at the event were more forgiving.

“There’s a balance you have to deal with in politics, and he (Obama) hasn’t forgotten the workers, but it’s going to take some time,” said Denise Soza, a union electrician and a business representative with Local 551 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Soza said the message of the day was clear: “If you bring the working class back, the economy will follow.”

40 Responses to “Democrats mobilize labor for November election”

  1. @Retire Woolsey: Yes it’s a good thing that your posts are getting shorter!

  2. Dan Delgado says:

    Do I understand you correctly that the public employee who “picks up your trash” and has “forgone the raises, high salaries and extensive benefits of the private sector” has done so voluntarily? If so, I don’t see it. The private sector is a competitive environment and one who has attained the benefits you reference (as exagerated as they may be) has earned them through hard work (beyond the 40 hours you may consider a full week) and taking financial risks you will never comprehend. My guess is that the guy who picks up the trash never bothered to qualify himself for anything better and is lucky to have a job at all.

  3. Brian Brown says:

    Whoever trespassed on private land and stole the Jim Judd for Congress, signs you need to know that you have broken 3 laws. One county, one state, and one federal. Notwithstanding the fact that you are a coward.

  4. The best thing about this string of posts is that they are getting shorter. Agree?
    Yes ? No? Maybe?

    (I threw the maybe in there for @Lisa)

  5. @Brian Brown
    I accept your apology.

  6. Brian Brown says:

    @Lisa Maldonado I’m sorry. Did I say anything about Meg Whitman?

    I just made a list.

    Hmm. Looks like I point to an area and you start digging a hole.

    Just looking for solutions. Haven’t heard any. ;-)

  7. Tim garcia says:

    Here is an interesting take on big parties everyone should read: (From the SF Chronicle)


  8. @Brian Brown
    Perhaps you like Meg Whitman’s list better:

    *Made billions with shady practices at Goldman Sachs. Check

    *Vows to Block Health Care reform. Check.
    *Outsourced 40% of Ebay’s Worksite overseas. Check.
    *Wants to cut over 40,000 jobs in California, adding to the worst unemployment statistics in California’s recent history. Check.

    oh yeah…I forgot….
    *Hasn’t voted in 28 years but wants to be Governor.Check.

    Looks like that cover’s it!

  9. Brian Brown says:

    * The Department of Labor: Check
    * Employment Development Department: Check
    * Minimum Wage Regulation: Check
    * Department of Industrial Relations: Check
    * Cal OSHA: Check
    * Worker’s Compensation: Check
    * US OSHA: Check

    Looks like it’s covered.

    Oh.. collecting dues and lobbying. Forgot that part.

  10. Whoopsey says:

    On Sunday at the Sebastopol peace festival the mayor of Sebastopol said that Lynn Woolsey had recently been asked a tough question- if she had to choose between what her constituents were asking for and what she felt was right, which would she choose?
    As the story goes, Lynn Woolsey said that she would do what SHE thought was right. The mayor then went on to say that this is why we love Lynn Woolsey!

    We love her because she doesn’t represent us?

    I want to know that my voice and the voices of other constituents is heard by my representative, not ignored in favor of what the ruling class wants.We are a representative rupublic, not a banana republic.

    Vote out those who do whatever they want despite what their constituents say.
    Let’s have a fresh start with people who know how to and have the courage to listen and respond to those who elected them to office.

    Mark Leno said that “We have to prove them wrong” when speaking about conservatives enthusiasm. Why not marshall your own uplifting message instead of trying to degrade others?
    He said that it is not the policies of the past two years that have brought on the problems-he’s right- it is the policies of the past THREE years (not to mention previous years of Fannie May and Freddie Mac’s lack of accountability and government intervention in the housing/lending market and bailouts for those deemed “too big to fail”) that have brought us to this point, and nothing is changing for the better, it is just being doubled down on.
    More government spending and intrusion is not what we need to revive the free market economy.It obviously isn’t working.
    Rank and file public employee union members should know that they would be better off to compromise toward more sustainability now instead of having California go bankrupt and see all of their retirements go bust.
    The current elected officials are willing to pretend that the status quo is fine,when they know that it is not.

  11. @Retire Woolsey
    Um you might want to look up the definition of the word “irony”…just saying…

  12. @Lisa M says, “The fact that you use negative terms like “union boss” and discredit union workers in your comments…”

    Funny you mentioned that words “union boss” being a negative term as I see it used in your bio on your twitter account.

    …just sayin’.

  13. Rosa Koire says:

    Since Ted wouldn’t let me post Lisa Maldonado’s twitter bio I suggest you all go and take a look. She says she supports revolution and the great leap forward.

    Thanks Ted for being so careful with her reputation. I hope you do the same for me.

  14. Lisa M,

    I don’t single out public employee union workers, I have a very similar attitude toward those at the top:

    http://www.marinij.com/letters/ci_16048848 (fourth letter from the top).

    I’m not against anyone in particular as an individual. I see clearly what’s going on and understand that we have crossed the line and are now in a survival situation. If we don’t act wisely and courageously to achieve a sustainable government and economy, the inevitably painful adjustment downward is going to become an utter catastrophe.

    Nobody is exempt, not current workers, not retirees, not schoolchildren, nobody.


  15. Unions advocate for all workers. We also raise the standards for all workers, unionized or not. The canard that public employees are making exhorbitant pensions has been repeatedly debunked. The highest pensions (apart from police and fire captains) are MANAGEMENT and ADMINISTRATIVE DIRECTORS, not the rank and file public employee.
    Workers DO bring value and contribute to the city MR Becker. They pick up your trash, fix your roads, save your life, police your streets, help take care of your kids at the Rec, get you water and in general make living here a great thing. I think that these folks who work hard and give years of their life and have forgone raises, high salaries and the extensive benefits of the private sector are entitled to the compensation and retirement they were promised. The same is true of all workers. Megan, I have consistently advocated for all workers not just union workers, so I can’t see why you are making assumptions about my attitude. The fact that you use negative terms like “union boss” and discredit union workers in your comments (by implying that they don’t work as hard or as long or have as much merit as you and non union workers) makes me think you have a preconceived negative opinion about unions and union workers. Which doesn’t add to a fair and civil discussion.

  16. Lisa Maldonado,

    Public employee unions have two options:

    1) rethink their entire reason for existing, relationship with the customer and employer (taxpayer), and figure a way to contribute to the benefit of the investors and customers (taxpayers);


    2) get pay and benefits ratcheted down relentlessly and remorselessly by investors and customers (taxpayers) who will not vote even ONE MORE DIME to government officials to squander in pandering to the special interests who support them and finance political campaigns.

    This Nation has no option but to face the realities of the 21st Century. Government and public employee unions can delay but cannot exempt themselves. November 2nd can’t come soon enough….


  17. Megan C says:

    I am offended that Lisa seems to think that organized labor are the only workers. Do you think that those of us who are not dependent on union bosses and collective bargaining are not workers? Do you think that we do not labor just as hard (or harder) for our money?

    A little secret: those of us who are NOT in unions, we succeed on merit. We succeed on hard work. We put in longer hours, but we know we are being rewarded, not for mediocrity, but for excellence. I do not hold animosity toward most union members; but I do have a lot of anger toward the union bosses who distort the facts and do not honestly deal with the public AND the membership.

    We cannot afford the extravagant pensions and benefits the public employees are receiving. There are not enough givers to the system and far too many takers. We need them to understand that we appreciate the work you’re doing, but you’re going to have to feel some of the pain the rest of us are feeling.

    I hope that this can remain civil. (I am not optimistic).

  18. Oh Thank You Charles,I am happy to know that the repeated misspelling was inadvertant. I just noticed that I have similarly made a mistake on your last name…no offense intended either…
    However, while I do recognize that political discussions can occur were reasonable people disagree (but are not disagreeable) I think that statements call unions a “travesty” and a “blight” ARE disagreeable to some of us. ( they are insults and perhaps similar to how you might feel if I had called a small business owner like yourself a ” fascist capitalist opressor” ). It is hard to receive the sentiments of “warm regards” as sincere when you have made a sweeping indictment of a political and social movement that has contributed so much and means so much to me personally and to many of us in this country.
    Lisa MALdonado

  19. Lyn Cramer says:

    @Chuck and Lisa

    Thanks for the laughs. Humor is not something one expects from these threads. I was wondering why the monitor didn’t put a stop to the juvenile name calling. And now I see it started as nothing more than sloppy spelling. >:)

  20. Lisa Maldonado,

    FWIW, I realize now that I’ve been unintentionally and inadvertently misspelling your last name. No insult intended, just bad spelling.


  21. Lisa Moldonado,

    My positions stand, just review the thread. The PD moderator here has allowed your namecalling (Charles Pecker) to lower the discussion to that level of sliminess that I make a habit of avoiding.

    Most of the public employee unions have become a blight on taxpayer, reality is going to being paying us all a visit.


    PS: Your comment on my ‘Regards’ clearly indicates that you don’t understand the base principle of politics: people can disagree about policy or about behaviors without being disagreeable toward each other.

  22. @Charles Pecker
    I believe you won’t responsd to my argument because you did insult and attack workers and then try to claim that you don’t wish any workers ill. Your own words speak for themselves as does your habit of making attacks and then signing off “regards”. It’s a little inconsistent to say the least.

  23. Jim says:


    You may have some good points but you are also neglecting that the current administration and congress are just continuing and furthering those things.


    For those who actually spend time reading the history books (unless you happen to live through it) Chuck is spot on. In a post war ravaged world the US was the only industrialized base left in tact, the factories re-tooled to build consumer goods and sold them world wide.


    I think Lynn Woolsey meant to say that “without organized labor, she would disappear.”
    Now we know why the last two spending bills have been so hastily passed. The incumbent politicians needed a fresh infusion of tax funded democrat reelection money coming in from hard working and suffering constituents who, if given the choice, may not support these failed politicians campaigns. These same constituents have been repeatedly ignored, ridiculed and rebuffed by their elected officials in order to provide money for more political action, support for special interest groups and to produce free astro-turf supporters campaigning for challenged incumbents who are clinging to their coveted influence,title, power and careers.Their challengers are not necessarily funded by the G.O.P., but have grassroots volunteer supporters giving whatever they can to the cause.They are not beholden to unions or special interest influence.

    For this jobs and prosperity-wrecking behavior,in the midst of many Sonoma/Marin constituents losing their homes, Lynn Woolsey voted for a pay raise for herself!

    Round and round our tax dollars go- from the politicians to the unions and back again. We effectively pay to reelect people we don’t want and who don’t represent our best interests or those of our children or elderly parents.($575 billion in cuts from medicare in the health care bill.)
    Why will the politicians get special gold plated health care and certain unions are also exempted from paying fees for their “cadillac” health care plan?

    Who says that Lynn Woolsey is “easily expected to win” and if she were, why the big infusion of cash and effort for her reelection campaign? Are people really satisfied with the level of representation that she has provided? California is broke thanks to policies that she endorses and helps enact.

    Let’s try something new-not red or blue, let’s elect real people who have not been career politicians for most of their working days, and who have ideas that have been proven to work in the real world- not fantasies about providing more free stuff to more anonymous poor people while allegedly saving us all lots of money through bigger,wealthier and more dominant government.

    Vote for Jim Judd in district 6 http://www.jimjuddforcongress and Loren Hanks in district 1.Let’s have some genuine representation from citizen candidates who know what we really need to bring jobs back and who understand what many average, ordinary people are going through,not this current destructive, manufactured round robin of influence peddling and excessive spending with no accountability and no real working plan.
    Help retire the “north bay electeds” and get some true representation from real people.

  25. Lisa Moldonado,

    I’m not going to bother responding to the rest of your strawman post, what’s the point of dealing with you taking one and two word snippets out of context, and inventing others? But let’s talk about this:

    Your words: “…there was a time when MOST workers had that and could afford to buy a home and raise a family with just one person working”

    That time evaporated when Germany, Japan, China, France, and England (among others) rebuilt their economy after the devastation of WWII. The days of that gravy train are over. It make no difference how many time you recite “race to the bottom”, there is one reality in this world: we face competition.

    And public employee unions are a blight and a travesty when the taxpayers are forced to finance benefits that they cannot have in a competitive market.

    It’s called competition.


  26. Ken Sportini says:


    The Republicans passed tax breaks for the wealthy in 2001 & 2003, what do we have to show for it?

    They got us into two wars, one through LIES. Great job!

    George Bush got his budget passed, and we have only a mountain of debt to pay for.

    Deregulation, which Republicans chant as the answer to everything has only wreaked havoc on the country and allowed the uber-Capitalists to rob us blind. Scared by the recent salmonella scare? Too bad, because if the Republicans win, no one will be regulating anything, we’ll just leave it to the good will of the corporations.

    And oh, yeah, Marxist Obama got his education from a Republican, his predecessor, who bailed out Wall St. Public funds to bail out private biz. Dick Cheney and Bush, got their companies super rich, and now Blackwater is carrying on.

  27. Full Steam Ahead says:

    Lynn Woolsey isn’t working anymore for district 6. Jim Judd is going to take this district forward. Not RIGHT nor LEFT, but FORWARD!

  28. @ Charles Pecker
    You called unions a “travesty” and a “blight on the economy” Those are your words. You accuse them (with no evidence) of “arm twisting” to get benefits from tax payers that “no taxpayers have” Basically you quote a lot of Fox News Propaganda with no evidence and then act suprised at my response and say you don’t “wish ill” on any worker.. after basically accusing them of wanting more than Chinese workers…please keep in mind that the people who destroyed our economy are not workers. They (and all of us) are entitled to decent benefits and pay…and there was a time when MOST workers had that and could afford to buy a home and raise a family with just one person working. That was when union density was high. Wages have been stagnant for 20 years while CEO pay has exploded. Try to direct your anger at the people who have destroyed our country’s economy and despite what Rush Limbaugh and Fox say, it’s not the American worker.

  29. Lisa Moldonado,

    You constructed a strawman of your own design, inserted my name wherever it was convenient, and then proceeded to pummel it.

    I don’t wish ill on any working person.

    Facing reality is no longer optional. The only “choice” we have is whether to face reality voluntarily, on our own terms and at a time and place of our choosing. Or to not choose, and let reality do the choosing for us, and that will be a short and meager menu.

    Public employee unions have outlived their usefulness. But it’s not just unions, government managers have a lot of atoning to do, as well. There is a lot to grapple with, to unravel the damage of a 40+ year bender.


  30. Steele says:

    Excellent points RBF. The fact is that Jerry Brown HIMSELF allowed the public employees to be represented in the first place during the dark days.

    I know rational citizens are worried sick about what the public employee unions have done and are tired of their ilk. The one thing to remember is that the public employee unions will disappear as they will lose their memberships support in the coming years. They over played their hand and now its bye bye time.

  31. Mary says:

    Woolsey and Maldonado need to stop reading Karl Marx and start reading Groucho Marx. Communism failed. There I said it. Capitalism is what made this country great, not all power to the proletariat. Socialist public unions have given only a few huge salaries and benefits at the expense of our local and state economy. They control most of the politicans at the local level and in the California State Assembly.

    City and county employees do not slave in service jobs receiving slave wages. Many wish they had these wages and benefits.

    State Senator Leno is right. We do face a choice of going forward or backward in November. Backward is following Woolsey, Leno and the Democrats.

  32. Really Big Fish says:

    Thanks Mr. Becker. I know it is difficult to respond to Ms. Maldonado’s comments because they make absolutely no sense with no foundation in fact or even common sense. Let’s see who are the workin family union “freedom” workers at the next rally.

    One simple point. Jerry “moonbeam”Brown has been the problem in California for 40 years and one of actual reason we are in a such as mess…not Goldman Sachs and Meg Whitman. Jerry Brown is owned and paid by the unions and does what they want. They use the high union membership fees paid for by taxpayers through over priced services to back Jerry Brown. Meg Whitman with a good education,management and leadership skills developed one of the largest businesses in the world were all benefit from a simple idea. She was fortunate to make big money and now spending her own after tax money so she does not have to wear the union nose ring.

    Except for fire and police down with all these ridiculous labor and service unions.The vast majority of people who are employed are non-union, have contract agreements and retirement plans.

  33. Gee Mr Becker
    Why stop your race to the bottom at 3K a year with the wages for Chinese workers…?Let’s go even further, I am sure that people starving in India and Vietnam and Malaysia will work for pennies? Why shouldn’t we? You are right that workers here are just so spoiled…with their private yachts (oh no that’s Meg Whitman) and their never paying taxes (oh yeah that’s Meg Whitman) and their being responsible for the demise of our economy (oh yeah that’s Meg Whitman and Goldman Sachs) You are right though Charles they are a blight and I am sure that repectable good taxpayers like yourself would never want an employment contract, or the right to speak up at work, or sick days and breaks or some vacation time…Too bad all workers are’nt as selfless and good as you…

  34. Geoff,

    You wrote: “… now represents more employees in the public sector (7.9 million) than in the private sector (7.4 million)”

    The overwhelming majority of the voting population in this country are now offended that labor unions, originally the worker’s recourse against rich and abusive capitalists, are a weapon now being turned against hard pressed taxpayers who enjoy none of the benefits that public employee unions claim for their own.

    Public employee labor unions are a travesty of justice and logic. Whose arm are they twisting for better pay, rich capitalists? Heck, no! Taxpayers who can barely make ends meet as it is, and are forced under the coercive authority of government to cough up more and more taxes to pay unsustainable compensation to public employees.

    Average public employee income: $70,000/yr. Average private employee income: $40,000/yr. Average Chinese worker income: $3,000/yr. Until public employee unions(*) face that reality and start contributing solutions, they are a blight on the economy.


    (*) As far as I’m concerned, private industry unions are free to do whatever they can for their employees, and bless them for it. Investors in private companies have the choice to stay invested or divest. As taxpayers, we don’t have that choice.

  35. @Geoff Did you notice that the figures of declining union rates correlate to our declining middle class? We need more workers who have a say at work, decent pay and benefits and retirement with dignity. Many skilled manufacturing jobs were low paid until they were unionized and workers could bargain collectively for decent wages and benefits. The same is tru today. We can’t afford a community where the majority of workers slave in poorly paid service jobs, and use the county emergency rooms for medical care is a bad deal for all.

  36. Really Big Fish says:

    The labor unions and the teachers unions have and will continue to destroy California. Independents and some intelligent democrats as well are fed up with supporting, through outrageous taxes and poor services, the small group of the “entitlement” mafia which owns “bottoms-up” Woolsey. Independents now know that “working class” people includes illegial aliens who, if you work for the county disposal companies make more that an entry level degreed engineer from a good university. Those kids and parents, who are in debt and also being denied a career/job because of foreign workers because they are cheaper. The situation is so bad that the unions as the guest of the teachers unions are welcome on high school campuses as a recruitment tool. Education is in the decaying process with only some 25-30% going to college. Join us who believe in real diversity, multiculturalism, capitailism (the system that pays and feeds all of us)to vote Woolsey and the unions OUT.

    As you know the PD editorial board and writers, owned by the NY Times, will back the unions and Woolsey and do very little to nothing on objective reporting.

  37. Mike says:

    These old lefties, they never fail to amuse. “Its all the Republicans fault.” The problem is they have been in total charge of Congress for years now and Obama has ruled for almost two years. The only place unions have had success is in the public sector. They only have 7% of the workforce in the private sector and they are losing members there too. Obama relys on the old socialist tried and failed schemes to “fix” the economy many which were tried in the 1930′s and didn’t work then either. The Democrats spend our taxes on schemes that only benefit their public union supporters. They haven’t created employment except in the nonproductive pubic sector. First it was Tarp, it failed, then health care and it is failed in the view of the public because they realize it is driving up costs and taxes for business and killing jobs. The list goes on. All Democrats and their public sector union supporters know is increase taxes, spend the money and don’t worry about what happens to the local, state or national economy. Well, enough is enough. This country is not a socialist regime where the citizens are told by government what is good for them.

    Vote Republican in November and lets get the economy turned around. It is not going to be easy. A lot of damage has been done here in Sonoma County and nationally.

  38. Geoff Johnson says:

    Most Americans are workers–and most of them are non-union.

    E.J. Dionne’s column in the Monday PD commented that:

    “Only 12.3 percent of American wage and salary workers belong to unions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, down from a peak of about one-third of the work force in 1955. A movement historically associated with the brawny workers in auto, steel, rubber, construction, rail and the ports now represents more employees in the public sector (7.9 million) than in the private sector (7.4 million).”

  39. Over 500 people showed up to support working families and to dedicate themselves to creating an economy that works for ALL not just a selct few. ALl of us can see that the old “trickle down, voodoo economics” is a disaster and that although the Republicans still keep trying to sell it, no one is buying it. We need good paying jobs with wages that can support a family and allow working people to live with dignity. Our communities and children will be healthier when parents have secure, wages and retirements and health care and spend time with their families instead of having to work two or three jobs just to pay the rent.
    Labor is proud that our north bay electeds care about workers and their families and that’s why we are psyched to get out there and knock on doors and phone for them! As far as the Party of NO, we have had 12 years of their disastrous policies and there is no way we’ll listen to rich oligarchs like Carly and Meg who shipped all our jobs overseas to India and China and never voted for 28 years but now want to run the state? Is this how arrogant the GOP is or do they really think voters are stupid?

  40. Steele says:

    Good riddance!