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Wealth & poverty

Twitter, Other Tech Companies Get S.F. Tax Breaks but Show Little Progress Hiring in Neighborhood

Yoona Ha, San Francisco Public Press — Nov 11 2013 - 12:51pm

The largest of the firms settling in mid-Market signed extensive community agreements, but critics call them toothless

Last year, 14 San Francisco technology companies received $1.9 million in tax breaks for setting up shop in the mid-Market Street area. Supporters said it was a good investment, bringing economic development and jobs to an economically depressed strip in the core of the city. The zone is certainly coming back to life, and the companies that benefited now employ more than 2,700 workers. But it is less clear that the deal resulted in entry-level jobs for residents of the hardscrabble neighborhood — one of the goals most sought by skeptics of the tax break. The largest six of the companies promised a list of community benefits that included an effort to identify qualified job seekers in the Tenderloin and mid-Market area. But the agreements are vaguely worded, the companies have been slow to report their progress to the city, and most were unresponsive to direct questions about employment practices.

This story is part of a special report on workforce development in the San Francisco Public Press fall print edition.

S.F. Board Watch: City to Consider Expanding ‘Green Zone’ for Marijuana Dispensaries

Josh Wolf, San Francisco Public Press — Nov 7 2013 - 5:54pm

The Board of Supervisors this week approved a limit to the number of marijuana dispensaries allowed to open on the southern end of Mission Street in the Excelsior commercial district. Medical cannabis dispensaries would need a special permit to open within 500 feet of an existing dispensary. Supervisor John Avalos said he may later propose expanding that distance to 1,000 feet. Plus: Marsh Theater’s Unwanted Neighbors | City Parks Closure | New Policy on Video Productions

HELP WANTED: City Hall Focuses on Hot Job Sectors, but Struggles to Track Workforce Training Budget

Noah Arroyo, San Francisco Public Press — Oct 8 2013 - 3:00pm

Behind the ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ mantra — Auditor says S.F.’s fractured workforce development system needs new strategy

Six years ago, San Francisco politicians called for better coordination of job training and placement services across the city. A new report reveals that since then, spending has more than doubled while control and evaluation of the sprawling system remain as elusive as ever.

At least 14 local agencies now independently operate an array of workforce development initiatives at an estimated combined cost of $70 million, the city’s budget and legislative analyst found. Without a common citywide strategy, no one has been able to measure accurately how many or what kinds of jobs are being filled, or how much is spent to prepare unemployed San Franciscans for new careers.

Mayor Ed Lee, whose approach to workforce development has focused on meeting the labor needs of some of the fastest-growing local industries, has ordered his own review this fall to map out all employment programs across the city.

SAN FRANCISCO’S WORKFORCE REBOOT is the cover story in the fall 2013 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press. Check back for updates on other stories in the package.

Less Than Expected: Minimum Wage Violations in San Francisco (Video)

Tearsa Joy Hammock, San Francisco Public Press — Aug 7 2013 - 10:44am

Mauricio Lozano, a Salvadoran immigrant, was paid below minimum wage to work at a North Beach pizzeria. With the help of local nonprofit organization, Young Workers United, and the San Francisco City Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, Lozano won his case, recovering his rightfully earned wages.

State Homeless ‘Bill of Rights’ Put on Hold Until Next Year

T.J. Johnston, San Francisco Public Press — May 30 2013 - 2:41pm

A “homeless bill of rights” in California must wait until next year for a vote in the full Assembly after clearing its first hurdle.  Advocates say the legislation would protect homeless people from local enforcement of so-called “quality of life” laws, and specify homeless people as deserving of protection in the state’s antidiscrimination statutes.

State Should Follow S.F.'s Lead and Raise Minimum Wage, Says Lawmaker

Alex Kekauoha, San Francisco Public Press — May 15 2013 - 4:27pm

San Francisco’s record of raising the minimum wage 10 years ago without crashing the local economy proves that California can do the same, said a leading labor policy reformer in the Legislature. Watsonville Assemblyman Luis Alejo’s plan to raise the state minimum to $9.25 an hour by 2016 draws heavily on the experience of San Francisco.

S.F.’s Minimum Wage, Highest in the Nation, Eludes Thousands as Enforcement Efforts Face Obstacles

Aaron Tilley and Michael Stoll, San Francisco Public Press — May 1 2013 - 10:07am

10-year-old reform unfinished as businesses routinely flout $10.55 mandate, labor activists say

This story is part of a special report in the Spring print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

While San Francisco’s minimum wage is the highest in the nation, thousands of workers still earn below the current mandate of $10.55 an hour, say economists, anti-poverty activists and public officials. It has been 10 years since voters passed the groundbreaking labor reform, and the city has built a first-of-its-kind inspection team that has recovered back wages for more than 3,000 workers. But these efforts appear to have addressed only a fraction of the problem. ALSO: Listen to discussion of S.F.'s minimum wage enforcement on KALW Radio’s “Your Call” Friday Media Roundtable.

Indigenous People Face Obstacles Seeking Legal Pay

Jonah Harris, New America Media — Apr 24 2013 - 11:46am

Mayas from Yucatán find work in food service, but face language, immigration barriers

This story is part of a special report in the Spring print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

Few are more susceptible to the crime of wage theft than indigenous newcomers from Latin America, say labor experts, advocates for minority ethnic communities and immigrant workers themselves. Indigenous people from Mexico and Central America, who make up as much as 30 percent of the population of immigrants from there, are less likely to be literate, to speak either Spanish or English proficiently or to have legal documentation.

Restaurant Worker Paid Below Minimum Wage for ‘Training’

Tearsa Joy Hammock, San Francisco Public Press — Apr 22 2013 - 12:00pm

Food-service sector among worst violators of wage laws

This story is part of a special report in the Spring print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

Last year, Mauricio Lozano found a job through a friend at a pizzeria in North Beach. The pay was $8 an hour, in cash. He said a supervisor told him he would get less than San Francisco’s minimum wage because he was “in training.” Under city law, that’s no excuse for paying below the mandated wage floor, then $10.24 an hour. But the restaurant needed someone right away, and Lozano was in no position to negotiate. 

S.F. Lacks Data to Set Minimum Wage Policies

Alex Kekauoha, San Francisco Public Press — Apr 15 2013 - 12:24pm

Estimates of low-wage workers range from 20,000 to 55,000

This story is part of a special report in the Spring print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

With President Barack Obama proposing to increase the federal minimum wage, local policy experts say fully understanding the economic effects of the change could be a problem given the dearth of accurate statistics in the large city that has had the highest minimum wage for years: San Francisco. No one has ever done a formal tally of minimum wage earners in San Francisco, said Ted Egan, chief economist for the city’s Office of Economic Analysis.

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