ELECTION16 | Starting in 2013, the Hayward City Council waged a war over wages and ultimately imposed a five percent wage cut on more than 300 city employees represented by SEIU Local 1021. Following the council’s decision in February 2014, Chris Daly, the very outspoken former San Francisco supervisor then employed by SEIU, rose from his seat and menacingly, but without a word, pointed at each council member.
When asked later about the histrionics, Daly said, “I wanted to make sure these councilmembers running in the election know they declared an act of war.” He then added, “I will make it my mission that none of them ever receive a labor endorsement, and, ultimately, I want to see each one of them out of office.”
The self-described Heart of the Bay is actually the epicenter of a conflict that might become common place in the East Bay as the region slowly sheds its deep blue political shading. The union’s big chance to follow up on the threat comes next June.
Hayward’s at-large election features four of the council’s seven seats up for grabs. Three of the four incumbents voted for the wage imposition and another candidate, Mark Salinas, voted for the wage cut while serving on the council. He is seeking a return the council after giving up his seat in 2014 to run an ill-fated campaign for mayor.
Incumbents Al Mendall and Greg Jones may be the strongest bets for re-election. A tier below is Elisa Marquez, who was appointed to the now-mayor’s former seat. Meanwhile, Francisco Zermeno has served two terms, but has historically had to dig deep to eek out wins. He will need to fight hard again for re-election next June.
Hayward school trustee John Taylor could be a wildcard as could Rocky Fernandez, who narrowly lost out on one of two council seats in 2014. Fernandez, and another candidate, was the beneficiary of more than $100,000 in independent expenditures from SEIU last year and the outlay clearly spooked the council.
Last month, they approved new campaign finance rules seen as a move to potentially portray the union as an outside forced attempting to influence Hayward politics. The council’s move could also backfire since no other city in the East Bay has a larger number of union households than Hayward.