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Bay Area Headlines: Wednesday, 5/27/20, PM


Newsom’s Budget Criticized / Flush Your Pipes! / LA County Reopening / McDonald’s Workers Strike In Oakland

Newsom’s Budget Criticized

California lawmakers have slammed Governor Gavin Newsom's budget proposal that reflects the state's massive effort to fight the coronavirus. Most lawmakers did not ask questions yesterday. Instead, they criticized the proposed budget cuts to public education, health care, and environmental protections. Few lawmakers offered an alternative plan. The state is facing an estimated $54.3 billion budget deficit because of the economic fallout from the coronavirus. Lawmakers must approve a budget by June 15 or they don't get paid.

Flush Your Pipes!

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is offering guidance to building managers on how to flush their water systems in preparation for a return to work.

With shelter in place orders beginning to ease, workers will soon be returning to offices that have been sitting dormant for months. No workers using water fountains or flushing toilets means that no water is moving through office building pipes. 

Stagnant water can leach metal out of the pipes that it sits in, leading to developmental delays in children and health problems for adults. It can also lead to the growth of microorganisms harmful to human health. But water flowing through pipes can mitigate that risk, bringing in disinfectant from the municipal water system.

According to an article in today’s Chronicle, more than fifty downtown retail, hotel and office buildings saw their water usage nearly disappear in the months of March and April. Another 100 properties saw their usage declined by more than half.

That’s why the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is providing guidance and a checklist to commercial property owners regarding how to flush their plumbing systems before returning to normal operations. The guidance calls for building managers to drain and clean water storage facilities and hot water tanks, inspect their building’s plumbing and flush cold water lines before hot, among other things.

According to the Chronicle, building managers have already begun taking action to ensure workers’ health and safety. But for large office buildings, the flushing could take as much as a week.

LA County Reopening

California's most populous county is permitting businesses and houses of worship to open their doors, saying it's met state requirements for flattening the coronavirus curve. Los Angeles County is permitting in-person shopping and prayer services beginning today. The decision was a surprise because only days ago, officials were talking about July 4 as a target date for such reopening. But most of California’s 58 counties already have reopened stores, placing L.A. County at an economic disadvantage by limiting its businesses to curbside pickups and deliveries. Most of the Bay Area is still only open for more restricted business.

McDonald’s Workers Strike In Oakland

Today is the second day of protesting for the cooks and cashiers at a McDonald’s on 45th Street and Telegraph ave in North Oakland. 

Four workers have tested positive for COVID-19, and three others are sick with symptoms. Several of their family members have also tested positive for COVID-19, including a ten-month-old baby, currently suffering from diarrhea and dehydration.

When the pandemic began, workers allege that managers gave them dog diapers and coffee filters, with a stapler and rubber bands for them to construct masks. 

Eventually, they were provided disposable masks, but told to wear them for three days; and when the supply ran out, They allege that managers told them to resume using coffee filters and dog diapers to protect themselves. Some workers got rashes from the diapers and say they were told to bring their own masks.

Michael Smith, the owner and operator of the McDonald’s on Telegraph, told Mercury News that claims of dog diaper or coffee filter masks are false.

All 22 non-managerial employees at the restaurant are participating in the strike. They are demanding PPE, paid quarantine, medical coverage, and a deep cleaning of the restaurant.

The strike has forced the restaurant to temporarily close.