Center on Policy Initiatives: Beating Back the Attack on Public Services

December 20, 2007 -- Center on Policy Initiatives

By Susan Duerksen, CPI Communications Director

For the Center on Policy Initiatives, 2007 was a year of moving our message, celebrating our achievements, and gearing up for our next big battles.

In October, almost 700 people attended CPI's first big fundraiser, our 10th anniversary dinner!  A short film about CPI premiered at the gala.

As is customary at such events, CPI gave awards to three allies.  But one of our three honorees was a group of 11,000 people: all City of San Diego workers, who were recognized for "high quality, dependable services under pressure."  A big part of the pressure is the Mayor's effort to outsource city departments through "managed competition."  CPI's first major campaign in 2008 will be to save these workers’ jobs.  We will fight to make sure not one of these public service jobs is turned into a privatized job with poverty wages and no health benefits!

Employee healthcare, and the industries that fail to provide it, will be a major theme for 2008.  In July of this year, we published The Working Uninsured, a report analyzing employee health insurance among California's 17 largest industries.  We received extensive media coverage on our findings that fewer than half of working adults in the state have health coverage through their jobs, and in the hotel and restaurant industry it's fewer than 20%.

Our analysis of Census poverty data in August showed a wide income gap and falling wages in San Diego County, and also received broad media attention.

2007 ended with a major victory: a card check neutrality agreement with Marriott!  Our two-year-old Community Benefits Agreement on the Ballpark Village Project had been threatened when the developer switched plans to build a Marriott rather than condos.  With the new agreement, almost all aspects of our CBA will be preserved and San Diego will get another union hotel!

In another year-end victory, CPI beat back the Mayor's attempt to remove livable wages from the city's land-use guidelines.  At our urging, a City Council committee unanimously restored the livable wage goals to a proposed General Plan update. When the issue reaches the full Council in January, we’ll be ready!

We launched a new website this year, www.onlineCPI.org, and we’re closing 2007 with an updated and enhanced version of Follow the Money, our searchable database of campaign contributions in local elections.

In the traditionally conservative climate of San Diego, CPI is building a strong progressive movement for economic justice.  We look forward to the new year!