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un-american immigration policy". helen raleigh, thank you for being on booktv. >> booktv is on twitter, join us to get author information and to talk directly with others during our live programs. twitter.com/booktv. >> we are exceptionally excited to welcome steve early, the second time we have hosted you. steve is here to talk about his book "refinery town: big oil, big money, and the remaking of an american city" about richmond, california. it is exciting to see good, well researched, deep dive into what works in organizing. one of the problems with our media landscape is could find 1700 pieces on what the president put out on twitter yesterday but an actual helpful
account on how to organize with community guess that is grassroots and corporate power, asking too much. i know the richmond, california story is an incredibly important story, has really been told, i have seen a couple articles about it but it is one of the real stories we should be learning especially in baltimore, in terms of deindustrialization, racism, poverty and one of the most important things is lack of luxury to get hung up on not working together, like baltimore, richmond too small to have too many sectarian divisions and what is exciting about the richmond story is a found a way to get over those divisions, work together in an alliance that is able to get stuff done, significant green party mayor in the united
states. really excited to learn. join me in welcoming steve early. >> thank you very much for that great introduction. the privilege to be here tonight. i apologize for the formality of the arrangements. good friends at c-span booktv are here so this is an opportunity for all of us to be on tv, late night, at a date yes to be determined, if we make this event a lively one. i gather when people very soon get to come up and ask questions, contributing to the discussion, it would be good -- the camera crew can capture what you have to say. i will keep this real short because these eventss are most
productive if they are conducted as an exchange, as a discussion and i know from folks i have known for a long time in the room or just met like ian shellac man who ran for city council last fall, with the backing of the green party and democratic socialists alternative. a lot of people in the city are tackling the problem of how progressives can get involved in electoral politics at the municipal level and run credible and eventually successful campaigns. two old union comrades, old in the sense of long time union comrades, brother barry who i met many years ago, united electrical workers throughout the northeast and my long time newspaper gil comrade, coworker
and friend donna cartwright who is the one person i know in the room who has been to richmond, california. a visitor to our neighborhood. donna has not been there on days like this, when big oil was having a very bad, fair day and had fire and explosion, 15,000 of our richmond neighbors grambling for medical attention in every hospital emergency room and clinic in the area. anybody else went to school in the bay area, worked in the bay area, spent any time in richmond? you went to berkeley. ever go to richmond at berkeley? >> i have been back. different organizing good -- >> let's come back and talk about them?
anybody else? okay. the county seat where we have the sheriff we need to replace and the county da but we could talk later about the challenges of the progressive movement gaining traction in one city and coming up against the fact that in california property taxes are controlled, county level, county sheriff, your own city police chief is on the sanctuary city program, the da when there are problems with police his conduct whitewash this case after case, one of our objectives in the richmond area at this point is to come up with credible candidates to challenge the county sheriff and the district attorney. i get ahead of myself. anyone else in the bay area? i have only been a resident of
richmond, california, for five years. prior to that, i spent 30 years as a national union representative for communication workers, did some freelance writing on the side about labor issues, strikes, organizing, bargaining, union based political action. when i moved to richmond after retiring from my full-time job with communication workers, i was drawn to the richness of the city, its colorful history and many current challenges, inspiring emergence over the last 10 or 15 years, one of the most successful city based municipal reform movements led, as john said, by a very unusual coalition of green party members, socialists from two or three groups, independents,
dissident, black and latino democrats, independent voters. in richmond 10 or 12 years ago people overcame political differences, decided to rebrand as the progressive alliance to run candidates but not just run candidates for the council mayor but to build a membership organization has 300 to 350 members in a city of 110,000. dues paying membership-based group that has labor and community organization affiliate and organizes around a wide range, and environmental issues, year-round. it was a hybrid organization, defect a political party, when people started running for city council, after the richmond progressive alliance in 2004 they were pretty new to local politics, they had to learn from
scratch how to set up phone banks and canvas and the database of progressive voters, how to raise money and fill out the campaign finance and election law, paperwork, overtime got real good at the nuts and bolts of electoral politics and since 2004, progressives in richmond have won 10 of 16 city council and mayoral races, it is 80% nonwhite, which is largely poor and working-class where the median income in the community the lowest in the bay area for 20% of the people in family living at or below the federally defined poverty level. not a university talents, not berkeley, not madison, wisconsin, not burlington, vermont, not santa monica or any of the other places in many parts of the country when you
associate with past efforts, to take over city hall to turn municipal government into a laboratory for progressive public policy initiatives. we now have a progressive supermajority, 5 of 7 councilmembers in richmond and so i mentioned between 2006, and 2014, our green mayor, gil laughlin, made richmond the largest city in the country as mayor, i am proud to report she is still a member of city council and on one day declared her independent progressive candidacy for lieutenant governor of california, we also have a fellow progressive on city council, wonderful woman who is running for state
assembly. with a strong base in one of the larger cities, richmond progressive are trying to move off of politics. something about the elements of success. people got involved in municipal politics in richmond not because they particularly wanted to. people were involved in the nader campaign, the green campaign from california, people were involved in the peace movement, the environmental movement, most people were direct action is. they did not have much use for electoral politics or experience with it. practical experience but people are confronted with the kinds of problems you face in baltimore, police department was out of control, killed people, cost the city millions in civil rights case damage settlements that brutalized black and latino youth. the city 10 or 12 years ago was
faced with a corrupt and dysfunctional city hall administration, the city was nearly bankrupt at one point due to the incompetence of a series of not so professional city managers. it had landlords that were running amok. it had one of the largest energy companies in the world, chevron, largest employer polluting the air and water and politics of the city for much of the last century until the progressive movement challenged his control of the city. chevron previously known as standard oil dominated richmond politics as part of a broader conservative coalition that included the chamber of commerce, the manufacturers association, and progress in baltimore, and sad to say the
building trade union and police and firefighter union so people have been up against a few of those adversaries, some of them are not allies as they would be in a better world but that is the consolation of conservative deep pocketed political sources that richmond progressives had to start tackling 10 or 12 years ago. in the last 10 or 12 years, progressive representation on city council has grown particularly during eight years when mclaughlin was the innovative mayor we have been able to raise the minimum wage without mayoral veto. we have been able to make chevron pay a little bit more of its fair share of taxes. last fall and a breakthrough that elected two more progressives to city council and gave us a 5-member supermajority, richmond voters made the city one of the first
california cities in 30 years for rent control. i talk about this and other places in the country, washington state, oregon, massachusetts, we can't adopt that control, some people never heard of it. california, through a limited extent, municipalities can regulate rents and our ballot measure last year that was incredibly popular among thousands of black and latino low income tenants in richmond rolled back rends to the level of the year before. established a much wider requirement landlords had just cause to convict tenants in richmond, tie future rent increases to the overall annual increases in the consumer price index and created rent buoy appointed not elected members but rent board to deal with landlord-tenant disputes and
because our candidates came out of the tenant rights movement, were members of a progressive alignment that did year-round organizing around how the portability and accountability and economic justice issues and environmental justice campaigns. they placed first and second in a field of 9, a 26-year-old african-american tenant movement leader, melvin willis, bernie inspired first-time candidate, 2000 votes ahead of an 85-year-old, 40 year, african-american council incumbent backed by chevron for the last four decades, beaten by 2000 votes. second-place candidate, a korean-american environmentalist, ben joy, benefited from this huge upsurge of voter registration in the rent control issue.
the other seven candidates, some of them nice people, some are neighbors of mine, all corporate democrats, none of them like candidates in richmond will take the pledge to refuse corporate donations so the dividing line in richmond politics over the last decade or more has been the candidates who run together as part of a team committed to common progressive platforms which are then better able to hold them accountable when they get elected to public office and everybody else is doing it in the usual way. individual, entrepreneurial, handout looking for corporate donations kind of campaigns, more about personal career and ambition and sometimes doing good for the people but too often about getting on councils and become mayor to run for state legislature and run for congress or whatever.
in richmond we have built they facto political party, movement based party. functioning very much like seattle. using the elected position, whatever resources they have as part-time or full-time public official in the case of the mayor to mobilize the constituencies, labor, community organization, very different relationship between insiders and outsiders. the other elements of the richmond model i contributed a little bit to to some long meetings, this started when bill was first elected mayor in 2006, dozens of appointed positions to all kinds of key city boards and commission committees that have been seeded with progressives in richmond over the last decade, parks and recreation, more important ones like the planning
commission, housing commission, civilian police oversight commission whose powers in richmond have been strengthened. i as a labor activist am appointing the richmond personnel board and i get to hear grievances. police, firefighters, blue-collar workers represented by service employees and public employee unit in northern california. hundreds of people who not only help out an election year as volunteers, phone callers, contributors, sign holders, campaign volunteers, people who year-round support our elected officials with staffing, expertise, with their own occupational background and contribute as appointed city officials and it makes a difference to move the city bureaucracy in a better direction.
in the best sense, infiltration of city government. and city council, to work wonders on our behalf, a larger layer of folks involved in trying to transform city government. and you can't do as much as you want to do in one city, property taxes have to be reformed, state-level, tried to do more networking in the wake of the bernie campaign with other like-minded sanders campaign who fired local progressive groupings in the bay area. a meeting with representatives from ten groups, the next county over from san jose, civil county south, and strong groups in berkeley, one emerging in oakland, people trying one way or another, one to another to
the larger city circumstances. trying to build membership organizations, trying to run candidates in a programmatic way, hold them accountable and try to bring people from an otherwise fractured left together around a broader tent, organized around issues and run effective, credible, winning electoral campaigns. the progressive alliance a couple months ago affiliated with our revolution post sanders campaign network of progressive groups around the country, we have also had discussions with the working families party, people's action a whole bunch of networks out there trying to support people running for local office. when bernie ended is campaign a year ago in june he put out an appeal for his supporters to contact him if they are interested in running for city council, mayor, school board,
county supervisor for state legislature, 25,000 inquiries. i'm ready to run, what do i do next, how can you help me. an enormous number of people out there thinking seriously about going local in politics, trying to contest for power, state, county, most often at the city level and there are daunting challenges as you know in your recent campaign experiences in baltimore city, six times bigger than richmond but they can be overcome and i hope we have explored the relevance of the model, some of the differences and some of your own ideas how to move this progressive reform ahead. thank you for coming. let's open this up. [applause] >> coming up here so everybody can hear you and the television can pick up your voice.
and if you don't want to be on television, you can shout your question out. >> donna cartwright, cwa retired. as i understand it, the rpa, one of the things that made it possible for the rpa to grow is richmond -- municipalities in california have nonpartisan elections so you don't have to get into it immediately but the democratic party or not. it sounds to me like you are at a juncture now because you are moving to the next level, the county level and people are running for state legislature. do you have any sense of what that will mean differently for you now? >> the municipal elections in california are officially
nonpartisan in the sense that people are not listed on the ballot as democrat, republican, green, peace and freedom party, socialist alternative but the process of building a progressive movement over the last 10 or 12 years in the arena in richmond made the elections highly partisan as they have always been because nonpartisanship is a cloak and when you have candidates running with the benefit of hundreds of thousands of dollars in some election cycles and independent expenditures by renewable energy giant, they are as a personification of the term corporate democrat. richard is the city was 70% registered democrats, probably only 300 or 400 greens at this point and some independents and republicans, the conservative role is played by conservative
democrats backed by corporations. emergence of a progressive movement, the way it chose to branded self-enrichment, the dividing line it created by running corporate free candidates versus candidates who were often small progressives in their own minds, liberals, gay-rights activists, good people on a number of issues, but not so good on fundamental economic working-class issues, around the issue of who takes corporate money, who doesn't, the bernie sanders style brand of being independent, corporate free is what people look for now. when virtually all the democrats you are running against in this environment to take business donations. things are getting a little blurrier as richmond progresses, moves up, former mayor bill
mclaughlin, 100 roles coming independent last june to vote for bernie in the primary, she is running as a progressive independence, not a green party candidate but is seeking green party support for lieutenant governor. and the status of receipt in the area surrounding richmond, has only been a registered democrat though part of the progressive alliance, running as a democrat, election laws have been changed in california in a way that has obliterated third parties. we have a jungle primary system. everybody is thrown into the same pot, congressional races and senate races, there is one big primary, greens, peace and freedom democrats, republicans, libertarians, they all run in a june primary in the top two make it on the ballot in the fall since this reform was introduced, third parties have been wiped out. that is why there is greater
space to build and collect oral force that has a different kind of brand and different platform and different identifiable program, at the local level. registration is predominantly democrat. party organization is fairly weak. and the groundwork, and where spending 30-1 in 2014. and other questions from people involved in recent campaigning in baltimore. if you get to that microphone you will be hearing from people
for months. i saw you, i was up at 2:00 in the morning. i turned on c-span booktv and there you were. >> i'm interested in the leadership element in the 350 membership of the richmond progressive alliance, i'm interested in the base issues, you mentioned the tenant organizing and rent control, what were some of the other issues that brought people together over the period of a decade, 15 years and was there a platform, what did it look like, more about the organizing and how it came together. >> the structure today, i will pass a membership card that shows -- >> resistance to trump -- a website with a link on their.
the organization's bylaws, and the way it is structured, not overly rigid but formal enough to make membership an important thing, people -- an annual membership election, 25 to 30 member steering committee, four quarterly memberships a year, you have to pay your dues to come and make decisions about candidates and campaigns, the steering committee meets monthly and meetings are open to any members to observe. in the last couple years as i described in the book, founding mothers and fathers of the organization made a very important decision, step back and create space for younger black, latino, asian activists to move into leadership positions.
the steering committee like in the past is predominantly female, people of color in the past. it doesn't have paid staff, and the culture was one of workaholic volunteers. wouldn't mind a 6-hour meeting making decisions by consensus about anything. younger people who have jobs are going to school, two or three jobs, families, working on a lot of things, want to be involved but it is hard for them to plug into that old kind of political culture so that has been a big change. issues that help the group
coalesce ranged from environmental justice, people in the black community tangling with chevron since the 1980s, as in baltimore prior to 2005 the police department enrichment was then representative, the community was out of control, shooting and killing them, costing the city millions in damage settlements. reforming the police department was a priority, housing affordability, trying to improve municipal labor relations, raising labor standards, making where possible chevron pay its fair share of taxes in different forms, developing an industrial safety ordinance that would limit its contracting out practices identified as one cause of refinery accidents and explosions. a range of labor, environmental, neutralizing the influence of chevron money in politics with
one reform that has been achieved that i recommend people explore is local public matching funds. richmond candidates might have been successful because they developed a bernie sanders style base of small donors. in richmond you get matching funds when you have that fundraising capacity. the match is not as favorable as it should be, it is not 6:1, $6 to one that helps progressives run for city council and when in new york city. portland just adopted something similar. it has helped level the playing field. it is an important electoral reform. the other side doesn't need it. they are getting super pac independent expenditures, a few wealthy donors that maxed out 2500 a piece for a candidate but progressives run in grassroots campaigns with bare-bones budgets and small donors, they
need that injection of public money. i recommend that as one goal to explore here. >> can you say a little bit more about why the older white folks are willing to give up power and create a space for younger black and latino? >> it is not happening with our unions or the nfl cio which i used to work with as copresidents of pride at work. too many institutions are on the geriatric side. if you're going to tap into the idealism and enthusiasm of thousands of people that got involved in the bernie campaign or jill stein's campaign last fall, they have to have a seat at the table and the experience to play a leadership role. exceptional behavior exemplary and people quit and snuck away
and went home and sulked, they still consult, still volunteer, still involved but don't try to run things and that is something we need to learn how not to always try to do. why don't we have more young people in the room, more new members, this or that, you make some basic structural changes you will increase your chances of greater diversity racially and ethnically and agewise and also the opposition was using relative lack of diversity as a club. don't vote for the candidates of the richmond plantation alliance. how is that for reverse dog whistle politics. these white radical elitists that want to shut chevron down
and foist all of their radical political experiments on our people, our community, they are not from here. we hear some of them are from berkeley and if you are not rooted in the community developing young indigenous leadership, you are more easily painted as radical outsiders with an agenda that isn't in tune with the needs and wants of the majority of the population and the majority minority city that is not affluent, poor and working class. thank you. other folks? >> a question. wondering if you could say a little bit about how progressive forces in richmond are thinking
about gentrification. richmond given the tremendous pressure in the bay area, people have to see something coming down the pike and i am wondering how they are thinking about using what power they have at the city level to build structural solutions beyond rent control to preserve communities? >> excellent question. there is a chapter in the book gentrification and discontent and basically gives -- deals with a byproduct of relative success. if you make a city that has been pretty badly scarred by 110 years of dirty polluting industry, cleaner and greener and healthier and more equitable the good news is people want to move there. chevron used to be associated with crime, corruption, city hall dysfunction and chevron. now partly because people are
being displaced due to the housing crisis and rent increase, berkeley and oakland and san francisco the next stop is richmond, that is not good when landlords are free to raise rents as high as they would like and turn people out which is definitely led to a decline in the african-american population following the pattern of san francisco and oakland so rent control is an important stopgap measure, not an ideal solution, but it holds the line and within the limits imposed by state legislature in richmond, 10,000 units, 20,000 people in california, rent control only applies to pre-1995 housing so it is a bit of federal preemption interfering with what otherwise would be broader protection of tenants. affordable housing in richmond
has to be funded and this is a debate in richmond, in baltimore, development projects, people with a lot of money one to put market rate housing in up and coming neighborhoods but don't want to contribute to affordable housing and don't want to build mixed income housing so there has been very strict enforcement in different places called linkage fees and city council with strong progressive majority can drive harder bargains with developers. we do want development and jobs, you want housing but if people come in to build market rate housing they will help fund affordable housing somewhere else in the city and i understand there have been problems collecting those kinds of fees and developers can do
that with city council, giving them a big break and accelerate the problem. the trend of gentrification. the tragedy of gentrification, great place like this, cafés, restaurants, decent food and local grocery stores, why shouldn't everybody have access to that? it is associated with displacement, people can afford those things getting the benefit of the man's other residents in the same neighborhood, the same city being forced out so it is one of the challenges in richmond, this becomes a more popular place for people to move, higher income, better jobs, more education, to maintain this incredible diversity and keep the city affordable for lower income and working-class people lose one thing is holding the city back a
little bit, schools still have unfairly done work in one high school, a bad reputation, not everybody wants to live next door to this. you can try to hold chevron's feet to the fire in terms of better corporate behavior, less pollution of air, water and less contributions to global warming, but that is a full-time job in itself, as we know, in the larger debate going on right now, but deregulation of companies like this under the trump administration, one of the things we benefited from was an unbelievably detailed investigation by the us chemical safety board, federal agency, the causes of this fire, became the basis of ongoing litigation filed by the city, became the
basis for health and safety fines and civil penalties, us chemical safety board is a toothless federal agency only costing taxpayers $11 million a year but whenever there is a major chemical plant or oil refinery disaster or fire or explosion they are in there and doing a detailed report. in terms of budget proposal he wants to eliminate the chemical safety board. part of a broader undermining of osha and the epa but the notion that there is too much regulation of big oil, it is overregulated is a joke. owes impose the biggest fine in its history on chevron for this mess in august 2012, nearly killed 19 workers and sent 15,000 residents to seek medical attention. a million-dollar fine, really impressive.
in 2012 chevron had $250 million in worldwide revenue and its profits were $26 billion that year. a million-dollar fine, which they still haven't paid five years later, is the proverbial slap on the wrist. when you are tangling with a company like this you have to go at them from every direction all the time, workplace safety, carbon emissions, pollution of the air and water, and the hazards of living downwind from refinery, richmond as a 25% rate of childhood asthma, much higher than other parts of the bay area and people pay a heavy price for having this kind of company, for more than a century dominate the industrial landscape. yes? >> my question i hope you can answer, don't know much about rent control and fortunately. i live in new york, i wish i
knew more about rent control but what i do know when i lived down here, i was a section 8 inspector and one thing i had taken a lot of issue with with landlords is their willingness to invest in their property since considering section 8 landlords argue the market rate. how do you, without exception, you don't have inspectors when it is rent control, how do you ensure that landlords are invested in their properties, invested in their units. >> very good question. opponents of rent control, not just the california apartment owners association in richmond on the ballot in some form made that argument and if you regulate rent, landlords will have less incentive to invest in maintenance and upkeep and
repairs. some are already, commercial landlords in richmond, not well known for their maintenance and repairs, when tenants are empowered and have rights and can only be evicted with showing of just cause, and protection of a union, they will be more willing to stand up and make demands without fear of a retaliatory rent hike above the level that has been established as annual for fear of eviction for no cause at all. we will see how it plays out. >> for the most part the way it is working, protection from being evicted and have to rely on themselves, to ask the landlords themselves.
>> the campaign for weighing this ballot measure strengthened tenant organizations. there were several rent strikes in the campaign. there was a lot of direct action. .. i think people feel empowered and more protected. there certainly a problem all this was all tending every tolerant tory red hikes which is why we had the row back to the
year before. so, landlords who tried to benefit from the impending passage of rent control to not get to profit unnecessarily from that. we'll see. for many landlords, renting will still be profitable. there are a lot of landlords that have a good reputation. there is no doubt about it, the opponents of re rent control, wy single out housing. why not other basic expenses that people have are not regulated. why pick on us. but it would be better if we would have hundreds of millions, billions of dollars being spent by the federal government and state government of california i'm building a foreig affordablc housing. there might be less scrapping about rent control. it's not about to happen under trump. in the meantime, this is the
best band-aid solution that housing advocates and tenant movement organizers could come up with based on a not perfect experience in neighboring cities like san francisco, oakland, berkeley. berkeley has had rang control for 30 or 35 years. still a very expensive place to live, but their people and all those cities that are only there because at this point there is rent control in effect. if there wasn't they would've been turfed out long ago. as the best answer again. in a year to we'll see. if landlords go on strike, people will be trying to campaign for repeal of rent control based on that market response.
>> thank you for all of your success stories. you have given a lot of success stories. we want to take them back to our communities. i'm from albuquerque, new mexico. we are learning from you back in albuquerque. would you sharon mistakes you made are your dirty laundry? >> you can find it in the book. we talked about it last night, there is quite a communitywide debate recently about the adoption of a soda tax to raise money for preschool program. bernie sanders came out against attacks arguing it was a regressive tax on poor and working-class people are going to expand public education program, preschool programs it ought to be done through a progressive taxation. probably the biggest mistake ever made was in 2012 putting a penny per ounce tax on sugary drinks on the ballot. this was a project of a
aggressive city council, greek a, long time cardiologist at kaiser richmond who had seen in his dealing medical practice the effects of an epidemic of obesity. people with chronic health conditions due to poor diet and too much consumption of sugary drinks. ahead of the curve, ahead of mexico, berkeley, san francisco, then richmond's took his head out of it the trench and put the soda tax on the bow. in addition to a million worth of chevron spending. the american beverage industry came in and created an astroturf campaign that made this the race class issue from hell. they mobilize small latino grocery store owners, they hired
paid canvassers, young people of color. they brought a former mayor san francisco, willie brown to mobilize african-american ministers against attacks. the richmond plantation alliance was accused of putting a schema people of color telling them what to drink and depriving them of the pleasures of cheap ice cold coke. there were a few heroes in the book and black public health workers said sugar, slavery, we have historical connections here, shouldn't we be looking at this in a broader context. it went down 3 - 1 that is the only election cycle since 2004 were no progressive candidates one. both were defeated because of the extra, $3 million worth of big soda money. put big soda with big oil, all the things i talked about that people were going to overcome it
was just too much. people do not anticipate the degree to which it would be a grassroots backlash against what they thought was a much-needed public health measure to fund sports programs, health education and parks and recreation. other citizens have broken the ice, they had been big soda, philadelphia got a throughout the city council action and it was presented more as a revenue enhancer. it is not something progressives in richmond will touch anytime soon. it backfired so badly. people learn from it and realize that if you put a ballot measure like my control on that meets people's needs and provides concrete economic benefit, hopefully will not backfire later on, people will vote for it not turn against you. that was not the case in 2012.
>> one of the toughest things for union people is appealing to workers while attacking their employers. i think that is the case of chevron, that would be particularly enhanced enrichment. i'd be curious to know how you handle that. i know people have ambivalent feelings about their employers but there's also the fear that your job is going to go away. >> richmond is really ground zero this challenge of how you create blue-green alliances, bring blue-collar workers of different types together with environmental activists who have
a shared concern hopefully about workplace safety and environmental protection, slowing down the process of global warming. and where i live, it's a beautiful spot but is surrounded by the port of richmond which imports about one quarter of a million japanese and create cars every year, workers do that were, they have a huge burlington northern santa fe williard, between the port and the refinery and until oil prices drop as far as you could see those filled with black tank cars, ron buffett owns this railroad and it was filled and headed to other refineries. any of two or 3000 people, white blue-collar who depend their livelihoods on working directly or in directly for chevron. you're surrounded with examples of workers, or employment
involving transportation, refining or use of fossil fuel. one of the things i described in the book is the difficulty the environmental movement faces, making this idea of a just transition to green jobs, two equivalent wages, union protection real for people in the oil industry. tony and many people here may remember as a pioneering label environmentalist is one of the first people to try to build these coalitions between environmentalist and chemical plant workers. as i described in the book two years ago steelworkers which is where the workers are now part of they had a nationwide oil worker striking contract campaign, the first one in years in the bay area. there was an inspiring
expression of solidarity by 350.org. shared peace, asian-pacific environmental network, they will all one up to the picket line and supported the strikers. and the steelworkers were able to rally public support because the demands they raised about limiting and contracting out giving workers refinery operators the right to shut down unsafe work, the refuse to do it, shorter hours and limits on forced overtime, they're all designed to make the workplace safer and in the process, reduce the risk of refinery fires and explosions and accidents which will ask affect refinery neighbors. people found common ground. the problem is there is a historic split within the refinery labor force tween the old industrial union represented by the steelworkers and the workers from the building trades
who do contracted out refinery work. the building trade like a company union, they participate in chevron's political action committee unlike the police and fire fighters they have been part of the opposition of progressive politics. they show up at hearings, they won't fight for stronger california safety rules and they have no interest in blue-green alliances. the leadership at least. they talk about individual unions with hundreds of thousands of members. but they have a real challenge. in the richmond chevron refinery, 67 years after it was organized it was an open shop. i was shocked to discover this. other industrial unions have always had the ability except recently to collect dues or
agency fees for their representation and bargaining services. this refinery worker unit has been whittled away by contracting out to building trades and the leadership has to be careful how far they push the envelope of getting involved with environmental groups. enrichment neighbors, they let supervisors go on the shop floor and encourages members to drop out which they have the opportunity to do because there is no union security language in the contract. of course the leaders of this local representing workers have to run for reelection. there have been cases in the past were supporters were voted out of office in the local because management ran a campaign against the enter their own members against them.
one of the heroes of the book is mike smith, a safety representative first to workers local five. had 12 years of experience as a refinery operator, one of the leaders of the campaign around safety issues during the strike campaign he was involved in local -- was chevron. they refuse to allow safety-related demands, two weeks after the settlement he got a notice canceling his union until name he has to come back to work. he basically had to quit the company without full pension coverage. purely retaliatory. he traveled to australia three times to consult with oil and maritime workers were up against chevron at a fight against soft or liquid natural gas operations. blue-collar workers who are militants in a fossil fuel based industry take real risk when
they embrace environmental causes. it's great the california nurses and service employees take progressive state on global warming and of our mental protection. it's a lot easier to do it with their members don't have the same kind of skin in the game. have quite a bit of sympathy is 70 started out in the labor union but it's dilemma. we saw how coal miners devoted last year west virginia in western pennsylvania, bernie was on the ballot maybe they would have more choices but too many went for trump and his false claims that he will revive the coal industry because there was no just transition for them. they're at risk of losing their pension and the retiree health care coverage and disability benefits. they took it out on hillary
about it for trump. when oil workers hear about just transition and superfund for workers they look and see what happened to coal miners. it's not a pretty picture. we have to beef up our concrete plans differ gonna build a stronger movement. based on the experience locally. >> thank you very much. now that last week the person in washington with the paris agreement as far as environmental control, what can we do as citizens to be able to talk about climate justice and
all that, what can we do to get congress people who still a minority at this point to get something together, there's a lot of concerns here. the environment, the free air that type of thing. what is being done? >> our current mayor who said a good cry on environmental issues but not so good on rent control and raising the minimum wage he went to the paris climate talks and was part of an international meeting of mayors. he has been a big supporter of something we have called community choice aggregation. about 85% of the customers of pacific gas & electric serving northern california enrichment get their electricity from renewable energy sources provided by a nonprofit, the co-op type prophet of clean
energy. there are things municipalities can do to help individual consumers reduce their own dependence on electricity generated through burning fossil fuel. solar trent solar is asian is something richmond has tried to promote as part of the community benefits agreement with about $90 million. that was negotiated years ago as part of a refinery project still going on. the city pains and funding for a program to build a big solar farm, going to employ two or 300 people and unionize green jobs and eventually provide direct solar generated electricity to for 5000 homes in richmond. , again an initiative where more
cities took similar steps, as much damage as trump is going to do for as long as he's in there, there's still the possibility of local progress on many environmental fronts. there's a lot going on in california, big oil has a lot of in influence as a point out in the book, but the growth of the energy from renewable sources has become critical and practical and achievable and widespread program for cities to adopt. >> if there are no more questions, want to remind you that we do have a book for sale, it is great to support authors and fantastic like deacon press and independent bookstores. so by another book, if you buy this one were selling it for full price, you get hurt 10%
union discounts on all of our books. >> and because we have a progressive president of the baltimore city council as of the last election, if you want to buy this book for a new city council people and give it to them will give you a bigger counsel, 30% off. >> we need more independent bookstores to build on this model. i just want to say that this is creative marketing. very author friendly. and thank you for coming. >> thank you for hosting for being here. [applause]
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