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The city of San Diego is studying whether to ditch natural gas and require buildings be equipped to run completely on electricity as part of its latest plan to stop climate change. Unionized gas workers are paying attention.
They worry, MacKenzie Elmer writes, that the new rules will mean more work for electricians and less for those who lay gas pipe. City officials have yet to make a decision but are conscious of what it could mean for the livelihoods of people and families supported by those pipe-laying jobs.
Instead, one labor leader suggested the retrofitting of natural gas-fired power plants to run on hydrogen or build new hydrogen fuel plants altogether. The debate could put local unions at odds with one another, or with environmentalists who see policies that stop short of full electrification as strategies to perpetuate fossil fuels.
At the same time, advocates are talking about the need for a “just transition” into the future and one possible solution is to retrain workers. But it’s not that simple.
As a union organizer explained, “You’re essentially asking someone in their 40s to go back to school and retrain and educate themselves, then take a pay cut.”
Related: KPBS highlighted city moves to widen roads despite similar commitments on climate change and safety.
“Advocates say it’s yet another example of how car-centric planning has quietly continued in San Diego despite years of commitments from city leaders to cut back on car dependence by making streets safer and more oriented towards pedestrians, cyclists and public transit,” wrote reporter Andrew Bowen.
On Wednesday, Gompers Preparatory Academy teachers will begin voting to potentially decertify the school’s teachers union, which was formed two years ago.
A vocal group of teachers has argued against the union ever since its founding. But it’s unclear how much support the group has. At the time the union was formed, 70 percent of employees signed a petition supporting it.
Charter schools like Gompers have increasingly unionized their workforces in recent years. Teachers at the High Tech High charter chain unionized in April. The renowned Preuss School UC San Diego unionized a couple years ago. It’s a big change for the sector. Many of those who funded charter schools, like Eli Broad, believed that limiting union influence was key to helping charters succeed and innovate.
Last January, Ashly McGlone wrote about the conflicts at Gompers and the teachers trying to push for a decertification vote.
The teachers pushing for decertification have been supported in their legal battle by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
The Union-Tribune revealed that former mayor-turned-gubernatorial candidate Kevin Faulconer’s campaign committees paid at least $58,000 to his former chief of staff’s company during the same period he reported earning between $10,000 to $100,000 as a strategist for another company controlled by that former chief of staff.
As the U-T reports, candidates are barred from using campaign funds as personal income — and public records do not show that former mayoral Chief of Staff Aimee Faucett’s company used campaign checks to pay him. But the amounts are in the same broad range.
A Faulconer campaign spokesman said there is no connection between the companies and that there are “no finances moving between the two.”
One of those companies controlled by Faucett was Agenda Setting, LLC, which according to the U-T received payments from the Faulconer campaign committee, including a car lease, food and campaign consulting.
The other was Collaborate for California, which counted a real estate company that specializes in building space for biotech firms as a client and a five-acre development near the San Diego Bay downtown as one of its projects, Faucett said. Faucett previously told VOSD’s Andrew Keatts that Faulconer provided “strategic advice” when requested, a role that allowed the former mayor to refer to himself on the recall ballot as a “businessman.”
The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Will Huntsberry and Jesse Marx, and edited by Scott Lewis.