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The Voice of San Diego Podcast

VOSD’s Friday roundup of the past week’s news in brief, featuring interviews with special guests and more.

May 12, 2017

There's dissension among the ranks of local labor groups.

This week, national AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka announced he placing the San Diego Imperial-Counties Labor Council in a receivership, ousting its leader Mickey Kasparian. In turn, Kasparian announced that several local unions, including two of the largest, were leaving the Labor Council to form a new coalition called the San Diego Working Families Council.

The news comes months after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced against Kasparian.

Brigette Browning, president of the local chapter of Unite Here, a labor union that represents 6,000 workers in San Diego's hotel and hospitality industries, joined podcast hosts Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts this week to shed light on some of the issues behind the turmoil plaguing local labor.

Browning explained why her union left the Labor Council in 2014.

"I felt that the culture at the Labor Council had really changed, that you were no longer entitled to your own opinion and there was no real collaboration," Browning said. "And if you were prepared to accept directives, I felt like you were really treated in an unfair way, especially me as a woman. I felt like I was treated in a much different way than other people who took similar positions to me."

Browning said her union is now ready to rejoin the Labor Council. Browning said she didn't think the new San Diego Working Families Council will hold much power, that the City Council should exert more oversight over Civic San Diego and she talked about Mayor Kevin Faulconer's proposed ballot measure to hike the hotel tax to pay for a Convention Center expansion, homeless services and road repairs.

Browning said she favors a private project already planned for the plot of land where the Convention Center would be expanded over the mayor's plan.

"I think the Fifth Avenue Landing project is a better project," she said. "I believe in keeping the park as open space is really important because I know that many of my members enjoy that park. I thought it was never really forward-thinking the way they developed the Convention Center expansion. I've thought for a long time it really should come over Harbor Drive rather than going back towards the water. The mayor hasn't even spoken to us, and we're the biggest union at the Convention Center. We represent 500 members there. I don't think he really intends to form a real coalition. I don't think he cares if it really passes."

Also on the podcast, Keatts talked about emails that showed that bike commuting targets codified in the city's Climate Action Plan were totally arbitrary and unrealistic, and Lewis discussed the newsVOSD's Lisa Halverstadt broke about the departure of the city's homelessness czar.

Hero of the Week

The team of architects and developers behind Quartyard, a pop-up park on a formerly vacant, city-owned lot in East Village, get the nod this week for announcing that they'll relocate the park to another empty, city-owned lot nearby. The project was always envisioned as temporary and mobile, so it's nice that the project is moving forward as planned.

Goat of the Week

The San Diego Unified School District gets the goat, yet again. This time, it's for some news uncovered by VOSD's Ashly McGlone, who found that the early retirements San Diego Unified offered to teachers to save some cash in the short term will end up costing the district $635,000 over the long haul.