By JR Valrey, The People’s Minister of Information
San Francisco County’s District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton has been on the frontline all throughout 2020, introducing innovative and ground-breaking legislation such as the C.A.R.E.N. Act, which was designed to put an end to mostly white people, wantonly weaponizing the calling of 911 on Black people, when they don’t get their way. The C.A.R.E.N. Act will open the perpetrator up to being sued for harassing people, and endangering people’s human rights. This month, Supervisor Shamann Walton, has introduced legislation to implement hazard pay, which can increase wages by $5-6 an hour for essential workers in San Francisco County, that are being economically forced to work through the Covid pandemic. Retail stores have recorded record profits, in the county, since shelter in place was implemented by Mayor Breed in March. Here is District 10 San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton, in his own words..
The Minister of Information JR: How has COVID affected San Francisco County in terms of the health of the residents?
Supervisor Shamann Walton: COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Black and Latinx residents in San Francisco. We see this in the Department of Public Health’s data where there are higher cases of COVID in Black and Latinx communities particularly in Districts 6, 9 and 10. Unsurprisingly, these are also areas with the highest amount of income disparity where residents often work essential jobs or do not have the option to work from home.
The Minister of Information JR: What plans do the Supervisors and mayor have to counter the end of the federal eviction moratorium, which is predicted to lead to an astronomical amount of evictions locally?
Supervisor Shamann Walton: We are working with the State and we are also asking for federal help to continue the eviction moratorium or provide resources and funding for residents to be able to pay their rent. I have supported all the eviction moratorium efforts in San Francisco.
The Minister of Information JR: Can you talk about your recent proposal to give essential workers additional hazard pay? Why do you think that this is important for San Francisco to enact?
Supervisor Shamann Walton: Since the beginning of the COVID-10 pandemic in March, grocery store workers in the city and all over the nation have continued to report to work and serve their communities, despite the ongoing hazards and danger of being exposed to COVID-19. Even though the vaccine just came out, it is only for frontline healthcare workers and those in long-term care facilities. Our essential grocery store workers cannot choose to work from home and their work requires substantial interaction with customers even with precautions and proper PPE in place. Workers had hazard pay from March to June, but these corporations ended the hazard pay in June for most workers. While essential grocery workers are making base wages, retail companies throughout the United States have earned record breaking profits throughout this pandemic that’s not passed on to their workers. This emergency legislation will require grocery stores that are formula retail stores, meaning if they have over 40 stores nationwide, pay an additional $5 per hour for every employee in their store while San Francisco is still in the purple, red or orange levels for COVID-19 transmission. We have passed legislation this year to protect our workers and this expands that work.
The Minister of Information JR: Do you expect a mass exodus of essential businesses citing that this tax has exponentially increased operating cost, and shrunken profit margins significantly? How will you prevent this if the legislation is enacted?
Supervisor Shamann Walton: This is a temporary legislation that is in effect for as long as San Francisco is in the purple, red, or orange levels and only for formula retail grocery stores. During this pandemic, grocery stores have had record profits, but this profit is not passed down to the workers who are risking their lives daily to work for a paycheck to survive. These stores are not going to shut down when they are making record profits.
The Minister of Information JR: What other legislation do you have coming down the pipeline to address the effects of COVID on the San Francisco community?
Supervisor Shamann Walton: My priorities have always included expanding services to our most vulnerable communities, expanding workforce development opportunities, protecting our essential workers, and finding ways to support and save our small businesses. This past year, I have advocated and implemented the family relief fund which provides relief for families who were unable to receive the federal stimulus fund, co-sponsored legislation requiring the city to house vulnerable unhoused folks during Shelter in Place and legislation requiring the city to keep Shelter in Place Hotels opened for un-housed folks. I have also worked on grant programs for our small businesses in District 10 and the 3rd Street corridor. I will be continuing to work on these issues in the coming year.
The Minister of Information JR: How can people keep up with you online?
Supervisor Shamann Walton: Follow me on facebook.com/shamannwaltond10 and subscribe to my monthly newsletter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and requesting to be added to the newsletter list.