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More than a dozen people were arrested last week outside the Jack in the Box headquarters in San Diego for trying to shut down traffic while raising awareness of low pay and conditions in the fast food industry.

It was one of several demonstrations we’ve seen over the past year as workers from various sectors take advantage of a tough job market. But, as Jesse Marks writes in his Fine City column, the fast food industry is hard to unionize because of the nature of the job and the structure of the business.

As workers emerge from the kitchen and rise to their core status in a quest for public support, they are also turning to the California Legislature for help. They hope lawmakers will approve AB 257, which will create a fast food industry council to set industry-wide employment standards and effectively give workers a seat at the negotiating table across the state.

An earlier version of the bill was introduced by Assemblyman Lorena Gonzalez before she resigned to lead the California Federation of Labor.

The fast food industry is fighting back, arguing that the council would give unelected people too much regulatory power and that the bill would raise prices and reduce the overall workforce. They argue that California already has some of the best worker protection laws in place.

Several workers showed up at the Capitol earlier this week to testify in support of the bill, along with union representatives. “We should listen to them with the same intensity that we would listen to corporate representatives knocking on our doors,” said one state senator.

Read Marx’s full column here.

Wars between East and West over sewage treatment near resolution

Wastewater is now a commodity, a drinking water resource in a California drought world, and the City of San Diego and the San Diego Eastern District water agency bloc are fighting over it.

Both parties will be converting wastewater into drinking water, but they need to make a deal with each other to make that happen, and it’s become quite difficult, as Mackenzie Elmer of The Voice of San Diego previously reported.

East County is in need of an important set of pumps owned by the city of San Diego for their project; the city wants East District to ship waste from its wastewater treatment process to a treatment plant near the ocean via a new pipeline. This deal went awry, and East County launched a massive blast-furnace process to wrest the pumps out of San Diego’s hands.

Now there is an offer on the table that may get what they want, but may require support and dollars from other local agencies.

Click here to read more.

In other news

  • More San Diegan residents are replacing their lawns with less water-intensive ones as continued drought forces the state to impose water restrictions, KPBS interactive history reports.
  • San Diego Repertory Theater executives, a week after announcing financial problems that caused the temporary closure, apologized to the actors his last production following allegations of racism and misogyny. (KPBS)
  • Construction of new houses in the first three months of the year down 5 percent in San DiegoIt is reported by the Union-Tribune. Last year was the first in 15 years that more than 10,000 homes were built in the region, so the decline is not up to par with a recent peak, but the decline in San Diego also exceeded the 3 percent decline seen in the rest of Southern California.
  • Encinitas has expanded secure parking for homeless residents for another three years, citing the success of the program to date. The site is managed by the Jewish Family Services non-profit organization through government grants. (Soyuz-Tribuna)

This morning report was written by Jesse Marks, Mackenzie Elmer and Andrew Kitts.

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