Politics, government and public life for Southern California

San Francisco mayor touts success with unions

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The California delegation at the Democratic convention is staying at a non-union hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina.

But at Thursday's delegation breakfast, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee saluted the serving staff, saying that the hotel would be better if they were unionized. The mayor boasts he’s worked well with his city’s unions.

To be fair, when Lee began his run as interim mayor last year, he says he didn't have anything to lose.

"I said, 'Give me the hardest thing that we have to do,'" he says. That, apparently, was pension reform. Lee says unions agreed to have city workers pay more into their pensions, with a break for workers paid less than $50,000 a year.

The way to deal, he says, is to sit down and talk honestly — and to fight against the desire to solve it all "in one fell swoop."

Also important, he says, don't put all the sacrifices on the backs of labor. The economy is "everybody's responsibility," according to Lee, and growing it takes "everybody's participation."

Lee says San Jose and San Diego, cities that passed referendums on municipal employees, will spend years in court as a result.

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