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.