Obscure labor action in Palo Alto

Three men in dubious battle against hedge funds and venture capital, and their assets, in Palo Alto, summer, 2014, when corporations are people, some say, although Krugman in the times rebuts

Three men in dubious battle against hedge funds and venture capital, and their assets, in Palo Alto, summer, 2014, when corporations are people, some say, although Krugman in the times rebuts

Three men who say they are part of a carpenters union are standing around on Emerson with a banner and say that in San Leandro a company I never heard of is building its new headquarters with non-union labor.

They are standing between the wine bar that used to be an ice cream parlor and the best place in Palo Alto for Venezualan coffee and pitching your next $19 billion app to your b-school buddies or people from your 11-year-old’s play group.

The tie-in — if I believe the shocking pink flyer they handed me — is that a Palo Alto based venture firm (ok, hedge fund –even I am a little unclear on the distinction — I probably do not have to mention that I am not an investor in the firm or the San Leandro low-flying tech start-up — it uses the math symbol of the ratio between circumference and diameter of a circle, a popular irrational, known for a Greek letter, it’s product not its corporate name, excuse the shaggy-dog and non-repeating digression) has offices right there, up the cute little alley, near the mural of the magic dragon.

I did speak to them for about three minutes, took a flyer, and said something vaguely supportive like “I believe in standing up for the rights of the working class”.

They said they had never heard of COPE, the labor headquarters for Santa Clara County — they said they were from Hayward.

Coincidentally or not, Breena Kerr of the Post said, in a brief article about my campaign for City Council of Palo Alto I am “staunchly pro-Union.” Gee, Breena, I don’t know. I am pretty sure I said I was “pro-worker”. I think there is a difference.

I am pro-worker in that I brag of shaking hands once and riding an elevator –two floors, short trip — with Budd Schulberg, author of the book and screenplay “On the Waterfront” (“I coulda been a contender”).

I also wrote a buff piece about William Gould and his love of baseball. He is a Stanford law emeritus and former head of the national labor board, but also the father of two schoolmates from mine at Gunn High.

In fact, when I ran for City Council in 2012 — and got 5,749 votes — I refused to sign a contract offered by Labor orgs that would have pledged me to vote with them in exchange for supporting my campaign. I did sit thru a panel interview — as did Marc Berman — but neither of us got an endorsement. I believe Gail Price is the only recent Council electee who was also endorsed by organized labor.

I am a critic the venture capital and hedge fund communities here, and wonder about their role in policy and land use here — I wrote about that recently and even spoke to a board. (ARB, and that reminds me that they mischaracterized in their minutes what I actually spoke about and I may seek to amend that).

I doubt the efforts of the three men on Emerson will have much impact. In some ways it does as much to raise profile of the target as it does to urge reform or change.

Here is a link to a video about a product of the so-called offensive company

A basic point about my interest in these events is that I believe they are within their first amendment rights to stand around and talk to people like me, and perhaps display that banner (hard to see from the  photo). Meanwhile I am still concerned and researching when restaurant tables encroach on the commons, the sidewalk, perhaps beyond what We The People permit or regulate, which is something I tried to describe to Breena Kerr, in contrast to something her boss Dave Price wrote about “boot on the neck of small business”.

I am more pro-speech than pro-tapas.

COPE is Council of Public Education of the South Bay Labor Council, of which Ben Fields is the head, getting that straight(er).

I also snapped a photo last week of what I thought was a job action, at a mattress outlet here, but was told it was only a photo shoot.

edit to add, three weeks later: in theory weat –that’s an adler and marvell reference — world enough and time — I could log into my sleeping sleeping Patch account and cut and paste this more properly like but this cache catch is the best I can do, me on bill gould, father of my school mates tim and billy:

I ran into William B. Gould IV, the famous labor law professor and baseball nut, at the dry cleaners today. I go to , on Cali Ave, in the building that used to hold the fabled Keystone Palo Alto and several other lesser nightclubs.

I didn’t recognize Gould at first, although I went to his reading at Stanford Book Store a few months back. I bought and had him sign his recent book on the history of baseball as told in labor terms (Curt Flood and all that).

I noticed a set of credentials on his dashboard from civic events and baseball games gone by, then double-taked and back-tracked to greet him. His sons Bill the V and Tim were at Gunn when I was there, back in the early 1980s. I recall that his book, although mostly about Major Leagues had a photo of the professor’s grandson, William B. Gould VI, hitting a game-winning homer in a youth game in SoCal. (His Carlton Fisk moment, I guess, or the first such).

Gould’s car is a red Chevy Camero Z-24 that has a personalized plate reading BOSOX98 which I will have to look into whether it references a year (1898? as in the first World Series or something, or 1998 as in I don’t recall, what, Wade Boggs top season? Or maybe it’s a jersey number? What did Yaz wear?).

Most people know him, if at all, as a Stanford professor who was on National Labor Relations Board and helped end a baseball labor dispute. I also recall running into him and mentioning Alan Davis and the No on D campaign and I think Gould did send a letter out expressing his concern over the measure (which won anyways, i.e. we of the working class lost, but I am here to talk baseball, not politics).

I recall that local writer Gennady Sheyner wrote a nice review of Dr. Gould’s book.

Gould said he is throwing out the first pitch tomorrow Friday, February 17, at Stanford Sunken Diamond, Cardinal versus Vanderbilt, at 5 o’clock. I bluffed my way through mentioning that I had noticed we have an impressive list of pre-season All America — I think Bill said that five of our nine starters rate that highly and that Stanford is #2 in the nation.

I have been watching a lot of basketball lately so missed the fact that spring is already here.

Shout out to my cousin Jenny Moats the former Vandy cheerleader recently married to Pat Falloon in St. Louis in a hotel decorated by Stan Musial, excuse the Cardinals not Cardinal nor BoSox backslide not headfirst like Rickey Henderson.

My tip to Gould was to err on the side of a wild pitch rather than a wicked curve in the dirt. He said that people are telling him to throw from the stretch rather than wind-up and get into a run down and cheat toward the plate and down from 60’6″.

Tip of the cap (or the Patch) to the ol’ perfessor.

and 1:
or the record, I was the only one among 12 council candidates and 6 PAUSD board candidates to go to the Labor Council briefing session, if that says anything. I actually kind of grilled the three different panels there about labor issues and how Palo Alto says them.

For the record, and sorry to post on Lydia’s site — someone asked — and I did meet with Lydia the other day and saw her at three other events, and John — I would accept a Labor endorsement or from a specific union but will not sign a contract or ask or consider a quid pro quo. And I do not, unique about these 18 public figures and want to be’s, I DO NOT accept campaign contributions. In sympathy with Citizens United and McCutcheon, or the backlash and fight, rather.

I was the first Palo Altan on record about problems with Citizens United ruling.

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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