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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

They Said It

Nora Davis Said It-
"You People Are Dupes For EBASE!"

Politics in Emeryville have produced quite a lot of hyperbole over the years. At the Tattler, we occasionally post quotable quotes from Emeryville personalities since where we've been can sometimes inform where we're going.

Oakland based East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE), an economic and social justice nonprofit organization concerned with working people and families, helped push for Measure C, a hotel workers living wage ordinance in Emeryville. In the run up to the 2005 Measure C election, many Emeryville residents publicly testified before the City Council that they didn't like to see hotel workers taken advantage of in their town and that they supported the incipient Measure C.

Council member Nora Davis, who worked against the passage of the living wage ordinance, publicly impugned the intelligence of all Emeryville residents that supported the hotel workers by calling them "dupes for EBASE" from the council chamber dais at an October 2005 council meeting.

Measure C was subsequently approved by Emeryville voters 54% to 48% on November 8, 2005.


  1. When we take EBASE seriously we're dupes.

    When we take conservative members of the council seriously we're right thinkers.

    Such is the lore. Labeling and name-calling is a form of desperation.

    --Joe Cohen

  2. p.s. This is the last time I'll post a comment
    on this site, if other responders continue to refuse to sign their comments. (You can do this even though you choose the "anonymous" profile for convenience.) Such timidity is not befitting a public conversation. What are people afraid of?

    --Joe Cohen

  3. I was duped by EBASE. I voted for a living wage for the people and their families and the reality is that most of the employee's ended up being terminated due to their undocumented status. EBASE is not for social justice. They are for their union cronies and lining their own pockets.

  4. The above anonymous commentor is correct that the workers at one of the four hotels in Emeryville were fired. That hotel is the Woodfin. After five years, the hotel has still not paid the fired workers the moneys that are owed them as the Measure C ordinance requires. The other three hotels in town are in compliance with Measure C and they're paying their workers the increased wages (and lowered sweatshop-like former workloads the measure standardizes). Woodin is subverting the will of the people of Emeryville and is a lawbreaking business in our town.

    The commentor is incorrect in his/her social justice opinion; EBASE has a proven record of working for social and economic justice throughout the East Bay by helping to set higher standards for working poor families in our communities.

    The commentor is correct in that EBASE "lines their pockets" since EBASE employees are in fact paid for their work they do.

    Measure C doesn't provide for hotels to be unionized.

  5. I think the guy that said he was duped by EBASE really doesn't give a rat's ass about a living wage for working families. It's ridiculous; he says he's for a living wage law but he hates unions. Anybody else think this guy is, oh, I don't know, a liar?

  6. OK people let's keep the name calling out of this please.

  7. Why can't you support a living wage and not support unionized labor? That is a reasonable position. As someone who has been a union officer, I hold this position.

  8. Why all the hatred of unionized labor? If you hate unions, you effectively hate the middle class. The trade union movement is how America formed a middle class. Before the advance of unions in the 'Gilded Age' 19th century, America had no middle class to speak of.

    By the 1950's and '60s when America's unions were the strongest, we had the largest middle class on earth and we were the envy of the world with the most egalitarianly shared wealth of any nation. Since 1980 we've seen the decimation of both unions and the middle class. There has been a massive period of wealth redistribution in this country from the middle class to the wealthy.

    They best way to get a living wage is through organized labor. The corporations will never deliver it and government action is only second best. It's better if those involved work for their own best interests.

    A strong union movement means a strong America.

    Disclaimer: I'm self employed.

  9. Brian, you've obviously read Paul Krugman's "The Conscious of a Liberal"--which I encourage everyone to read. However, what Krugman really says in the book is that the New Deal and the income tax structure post 1920's really created the middle class. Unions were also a factor, but not the biggest factor. I've worked in both unionized and non-unionized positions and I can see why they definitely had a place in developing the middle class. However, I think that today's unions are largely outmoded. My union represented neither my best interest or the realities of our workplace.

    There is much more social pressure to provide good working conditions today than there ever has been. This has changed the way unions need to operate and, in my experience, the unions have not effectively changes their operations. I support a strong middle class with all my heart, but today's unions are not equipped to aid in this effort like they were in the 1950's and 1960's. I agree that "it's better if those involved work for their own best interest." I just don't think today's unions--which are really yesterday's unions--are the best tool to do that.

  10. While I haven't read that book, I agree Paul Krugman presents a very cogent argument and has a gift for explaining esoteric economic arcanery in a populist and easy to understand way. I believe it was he who described the concept of the "long gilded age" wherein he posits the gilded age really ended with the crash of '29 rather than with the Teddy Roosevelt administration's progressive legislations, as most economists say.

    I don't think unions are 100% responsible for the rise of the middle class in America (from the '40s through the '70s) but certainly the rise could not have happened without unions. Of course, Keynesian economic government action in that era was also necessary to the rise. But to those who would discredit unions, it seems very convenient to try to separate a vibrant and growing middle class from trade unionism. The fact that trade unions have made middle classes possible worldwide throughout history and the glaring absence of a rising middle class without union action is overlooked.

    This reminds me of the convenient argument (made by some white people in America) that we're now in an era of "post racialism" and it has been stepped up in the wake of the election of Barack Obama. The obvious fact of the existence of 'white privilege' goes unmentioned.

    If as you say you agree that "its better if those involved work for their own best interests" but unions aren't up to the task then that leaves the goal of raising up the middle class to the corporations. Well, we were told we need to do that by the Republican party starting in 1980. They told us that we need to forget the lessons our grandparents learned the hard way. We were told the corporations would trickle down the wealth if only we dismantle the depression era legal safeguards protecting the middle class and suppress the unions. And that's just what we did from 1980 to now. I'd say it's been a disaster

  11. Our choice is not between unions and corporations. There are other institutions--and even individuals--which can effectively foster social and political change.

  12. Yeah, institutions for social and economic change like EBASE!