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Thousands Gather to Disrupt Inequality in San Francisco

City Workers, Housing Advocates, and Gig Workers March from San Francisco City Hall to Uber Headquarters to Deliver Message for Gig Companies and for the City to Stop Shortchanging Public Services

SAN FRANCISCO, April 11, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- On Thursday, April 11, more than 2,000 San Francisco city workers, housing rights advocates, and gig workers are anticipated to march from San Francisco City Hall to the corporate headquarters of Uber. The "Disrupt Inequality" action focuses on the role of billion-dollar app-based tech giants like Uber and Lyft in the well-being and livelihood of San Francisco. Nearly half a dozen SF-based 'unicorns' are anticipated to go public this year, unleashing thousands of new millionaires in a city that already ranks among those with the highest rates of income inequality.

WHO:

More than 2,000 public service workers united in SEIU 1021 and IFPTE Local 21, housing rights activists, and SF residents



WHAT:

March and civil disobedience to disrupt inequality



WHERE

March begins at San Francisco City Hall, 1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl, San Francisco, CA



WHEN:

Thursday, April 11, 2019. March from San Francisco City Hall to Uber headquarters begins at 4:30 pm



VISUALS

City workers taking arrest to protest inaction on rising inequality; protesters on bullhorns, holding picket signs; 8' unicorn-shaped signs calling for the end of displacement and for app-based tech corporations to pay their fair share towards public services; picket signs condemning income inequality and unfair treatment of workers.

Residents are bracing for further destabilization of an already squeezed housing market and additional pressure on public services. City workers say that critical city departments and services are already understaffed and overwhelmed, yet Mayor London Breed and City Administrators are failing to bargain contracts that invest in services that residents rely on or that prevent the displacement of working families from San Francisco.

"Our hospitals and clinics are chronically understaffed," said Jennifer Esteen, a registered nurse at the city's Psych Emergency Room in the Department of Public Health. "Patients without housing have nowhere to go but back into the streets after seeking help for life-threatening issues or giving birth. It's heartbreaking that this happens on a daily basis in a city as absurdly rich as San Francisco."

"City workers who provide services to this community can't afford to live here," said Trevor Adams, who works at SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)/MUNI. "Some of us are living in cars, not seeing our families for days just to eke out a living." City workers must commute hours to San Francisco to provide care, maintenance, and administration of city services as a result of record-breaking housing costs. Rents for a 1-bedroom in San Francisco average $3,750 a month and according to HUD, a household making less than $117,000 qualifies to live in low-income housing. San Francisco's average cost of living has increased by 62% since 2000.

Despite $10 Billion in revenues, recent research has shown  that the city's investment in public services has shrunk from 44% to just 41% of its annual budget. "Thousands of the professional public servants that build and maintain our transportation systems, provide care to neighbors most in need, and lead our efforts to combat climate change are being left behind," said IFPTE Local 21 President Gus Vallejo. "The city must re-invest in public services to close the gap that is driving working families from our community."

While workers are being priced out of San Francisco, big paydays are anticipated for venture capital firms and CEOs of Uber, Lyft, and other app-based corporations as they go public. The profitability of these gig economy business models rely in part on poverty wages for their drivers and on dodging paying their fair share into the infrastructure and public services its employees rely on to exist.

An analysis of Uber's publicly-available finances reveal that it minimizes its tax payments into federal coffers that help subsidize homeless and housing programs in the city. By using an intricate network of foreign tax havens and subsidiaries, Uber shields its earnings from being taxed at the U.S. rate. In 2018, Uber used a Dutch subsidiary to pay taxes on its $11.4 Billion net revenue, avoiding paying more than $2 Billion in federal taxes that could have gone towards local communities to fund public services and fix infrastructure. In 2016, it was reported that Uber sold its Chinese operations to a competitor for $7 Billion. However, its tax shelter scheme ensures that only $101.5 million from that sale would be taxed by the U.S., resulting in a loss of over $1.3 Billion in federal tax dollars that could be used to help fund vital city and county services.

Theresa Rutherford, a SF patient care aide and SEIU 1021 Vice President of San Francisco, said "Our city is at a cross roads, and our Mayor and city leaders must take a stand to ensure that San Francisco is a City that works for everyone—not just the 1%. It's time to negotiate a fair contract with workers and to hold these corporations and CEOs accountable."

"We all have a responsibility towards shaping the kind of city we want to live in, that includes the companies that are based in our city," Kung Feng with Jobs with Justice San Francisco added. "How else are Uber and Lyft avoiding paying their fair share towards community services? We want them to operate with greater transparency. Multi-billion dollar valuations shouldn't be treated as free passes from the laws that everyone else has to abide by and grant basic dignity for workers. Being a 'unicorn' isn't an excuse to not pay living wages and benefits to their drivers."

SEIU Local 1021 represents nearly 60,000 employees in local governments, non-profit agencies, health care programs and schools throughout Northern California, including nearly 20,000 workers in San Francisco's public agencies, schools, and non-profits.

IFPTE Local 21 represents more than 11,000 public workers in the Bay Area, including more than 5600 employees of the City and County of San Francisco. Local 21 represents architects, engineers, scientists, planners, analysts, health care professionals, IT workers, and advocates who perform professional and technical service work in city departments focused on housing, the environment, healthcare, transit systems, public utilities, parks and other critical infrastructure.

Cision

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SOURCE SEIU 1021