Now that he’s been outed as pro-labor by the Bee’s Judy Sly, Anthony Canella may have to start wearing a disguise and hide out in his own district. Canella is the Republican State Senator from Ceres. He recently co-sponsored Senate Bill 7 (SB7), which puts pressure on cities to pay prevailing wages for locally-funded projects or lose state construction funding.
Needless to say, this isn’t the kind of politics that goes over well with Modesto’s civic leaders. In fact, it’s hard to say which are loudest, their shouts for, “jobs, jobs, jobs,” or their outcries against a minimum wage.
Speaking of civic leaders, many of them are the kind of people who wouldn’t lift a toothpick for less than a 25% return on investment. These are the “job creators” who want upfront money for their housing tracts and strip malls and guaranteed profits even if the public has to foot the bill for infrastructure, police protection, and social services. When these guys say America was built on “Free Enterprise” there’s always a heavy emphasis on “Free.”
No question our movers and shakers have gotten strong from all their hard work: When it comes to paying the help, they don’t even need vice grips to leave pinch marks on their nickels.
They say people hereabouts don’t need a living wage because of the cheap housing costs, but that’s before you figure in the two-hundred mile commute to a decent pay check. At today’s gas prices, that’s a hefty addition to a mortgage payment.
By the time you factor in the increased car and home insurance premiums brought about by our prominent place at the top of the nation’s crime statistics, we’ve tacked on another bill, and that doesn’t include the extra dead bolts and alarm systems a person needs just for an early enough warning to get the shotgun loaded before the burglar gets in.
According to our leaders, laborers have it too easy. It’s not like they’re schmoozing with the leisure class at a mere four-hundred bucks an hour like the local land use attorneys. Nor are they sweating over a drafting board trying to figure out how to cram three-and-a-half bathrooms into a four thousand square foot house like one of our local architects. All these guys are doing is wielding hammers and pry bars in the July heat, or maybe resurfacing roads with boiling asphalt while the temperature climbs into the triple digits.
When Anthony Canella was Mayor of Ceres, he balanced budgets, built reserves, and funded twenty-one new police officers. Republicans are up in arms about his support for the working man, but to many of us he sounds like one of the greatest Republicans of all.
Theodore Roosevelt made history during the Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902, when he gave as much respect to laborers as he did owners. He later insisted on the workingman’s right to join unions even as he warned against abuse of union power. Anthony Canella may receive brickbats and boos from today’s extremists, but from the long view of history, he’s in the best of company.