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We Won in San Diego

by Allison Padgett  |  November 30, 2012

Do you remember Richard Hayes?  He’s the San Diego garbage collector who picks Mitt Romney’s trash.  Hayes was brave enough to speak out for working people in an election video that went viral.  It has been viewed by over 1.6 million people.

Aside from President Obama’s re-election, Hayes and his co-workers have another reason to celebrate.  In San Diego’s Election Day mayoral race, AFSCME-endorsed candidate Bob Filner prevailed over Carl DeMaio, an anti-worker city councilman who led the effort to strip away pensions from city employees earlier this year.  Filner becomes the city’s first Democratic mayor in 30 years, a victory made possible by the worker activists who got active in this election to put Main Street over Wall Street.

“This is a real victory for us.  For the first time in a long time we have a mayor who’s actually interested in helping working people, not just downtown interests,” said Frank Pitarro, a carpenter and vice president of AFSCME Local 127 (Council 36).  “Bob Filner is going to make sure that everyone is included to move our city forward.” 

AFSCME members around the country know that the 2012 elections are not just about who we sent to Whitehouse or the United States Capitol.  Local races, such as mayoral contests and ballot propositions, also have a direct impact on the lives of middle class families. 

It’s the difference between keeping neighborhood community centers open or giving more tax cuts to wealthy business interests.  The difference between protecting decent jobs or allowing more Americans to slide into poverty.

In San Diego, politicians like DeMaio and former Mayor Jerry Sanders have spent most of the last decade chipping away at the jobs and security of city workers.  They haven’t gotten raises for years and are under constant threat of losing their jobs to privatization schemes.  The city’s sanitation department is one of the latest in the crosshairs.  The election of Bob Filner gives hope to hardworking men and women like Hayes, whose father and grandfather were city trash collectors before him.

Also on Election Day, AFSCME members in California also successfully campaigned to pass Proposition 30, a measure to raise additional revenue for vital public services like education.  At the same time we defeated Proposition 32, stopping corporate interests from drowning out the voices and political power of middle class Californians.  Voters rebuffed Proposition 32, despite it being misleadingly crafted as a good government reform measure that would stop “special interest money” in politics.

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