Gray Panthers of San Francisco
April, 2006 Newsletter

POWER at March 2006 General Membership Meeting

(Additional graphics added for web page.)


At our March meeting we heard an impressive presentation by Jason Negrón-Gonzales and Steve Williams of People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER), a 9-year-old organization that grew out of the homeless movement and metamorphosed into a group promoting economic and community development in San Francisco, especially in communities of color.

Jason and Steve gave an overview of the history of the U.S. economy and placed San Francisco within that framework as a town that increasingly caters to the rich with privatization of city services and budget cuts that force working people and their families out of the city while retraining a large class of low-paid service workers on the bottom. These ideas are described in detail in their book, Towards Land, Work & Power: Charting A Path Of Resistance To U.S. -Led Imperialism. They said the San Francisco Housing Authority has contributed to the decrease in the City’s stock of affordable housing.

POWER’s vision is to empower San Francisco’s working people through job development within the community, community ownership of land, and much greater participation in the political process. A major project involves organizing women domestic workers in communities of color, with the goal of building a citywide union. Using an aggressive outreach program, the staff has succeeded in attracting a sizable membership.

Another POWER project is organizing residents of Bayview Hunters Point around the issue of gentrification. Here, where unemployment runs as high as 40%, the City has finished off it’s 3rd Street light-rail project with a long line of palm trees costing $5,000 each. (See story on page 4.)

POWER was involved in the fight to stop the Home Depot development on Bayshore Blvd. They feel they lost because they never offered an alternative proposal, leaving the community to choose between Home Depot’s low-paying jobs and no jobs at all. Instead of being proactive, they remained on the defensive, and they don’t plan to make the same mistake again.

In response to a question, they said that Gray Panthers could help them a lot by donating labor and money, and also by making the economic problems in San Francisco a major focus of our group.

(back to April 2006 Newsletter front page)