Front page of Issue 16

The winter 2015 print edition is in stores now. Special report on the persistence of segregation in local public schools. Plus: 24-page insert commemorating the now shuttered weekly San Francisco Bay Guardian, produced by the newspaper’s former staff.

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Wealth & poverty

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.

Economists Say City Minimum Wage Means Big Boost for Working Class

Christopher D. Cook, San Francisco Public Press — Apr 10 2013 - 2:26pm

Backers say it helps recruitment and retention, opponents say it kills jobs

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

“Job killer” is a common refrain from businesses in opposing wage increases and other worker benefits. But some researchers are challenging the assumption that boosting the minimum wage depresses hiring. “We don’t see any decline in employment,” said Michael Reich, director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley.

‘I Don’t Think You Can Survive in This City on the Minimum Wage’

Christopher D. Cook, San Francisco Public Press — Apr 10 2013 - 2:21pm

At S.F.’s largest soup kitchen, working adults say full-time work no longer pays the rent

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

As President Obama’s minimum wage hike proposal renews a national debate over costs and benefits, many low-wage workers in San Francisco say they can hardly get by even on the nation’s highest minimum wage of $10.55, which is nearly $3 an hour higher than the federal rate. As rents have soared above $1,500 for a typical studio apartment,  low-income workers say San Francisco’s minimum wage isn’t enough to keep up. 

San Francisco Would Post Signs Warning of Earthquake Risk on Buildings Whose Owners Fail to Retrofit

Noah Arroyo, SF Public Press — Feb 5 2013 - 10:05am

A plan being unveiled Tuesday in San Francisco would require the city to inform the owners of thousands of potentially earthquake-unsafe buildings that they need to retrofit at their own cost or demonstrate why not. If they don’t comply, the city would post a scarlet-letter sign on the property: “This building is in violation of the requirements of the San Francisco Building Code regarding earthquake safety.” (Listen to Public Press reporter Noah Arroyo on KQED Radio’s “Forum”)

As Long Lines Form Daily Outside Homeless Shelters, City to Eject Disorderly Clients

T.J. Johnston, SF Public Press — Jan 25 2013 - 10:23am

Frequent calls to the police to respond to disturbances outside a South of Market homeless shelter have prompted the city to crack down on misbehavior and make it easier for shelters to summarily reject clients seeking a bed. Practically every day at the Multi-Service Center South shelter, the police are called to break up a fight or quell acts of violence. But the problem isn’t just inside the shelter. Homeless activists say the long lines people must wait in for hours makes the space outside the building a conflict zone.

Food Bank Looks to Make Up Loss of Federal Funds

Lissette Alvarez, SF Public Press — Nov 16 2012 - 4:18pm

Federal food aid cutbacks have forced the San Francisco Food Bank to seek additional cash donations after it failed for a second straight year to receive money from the Emergency Food and Shelter Program.

Without long-term support, human trafficking survivors at risk of re-exploitation

Ambika Kandasamy, SF Public Press — Aug 30 2012 - 8:31am

Some who flee captive labor conditions end up with low-wage jobs, insecure housing

People trafficked into the country receive temporary government and nonprofit social service benefits after rescue or flight from captivity: shelter, health care, counseling, employment and legal help. But once these benefits term out, counter-trafficking specialists worry that victims, who generally have little work experience and weak social and family networks, could fall back into labor conditions as exploitative as the ones they fled. As a victim of international labor trafficking, Lili Samad received government help to stay in the U.S. But she is among hundreds of trafficking survivors each year who end up, months after getting help trying to build a new life, living in marginal housing and working in low-wage jobs.

Poll: Air pollution takes heaviest toll on black, Latino communities

T.J. Johnston, SF Public Press — Aug 8 2012 - 2:14pm

Monday night’s large crude-oil fire at the Chevron oil refinery in Richmond, which produced a towering column of acrid black smoke and aroused widespread panic in the area, served as a dramatic backdrop to new research showing that minorities and low-income people believe they bear the brunt of health problems related to air pollution.

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