For years, San Francisco has led the way in workers issues by providing things like the nation's highest minimum wage and paid sick days. In 2009, San Franciscans took great pride in the passage of the Health Care Security Ordinance, which we were told would require employers with more than 20 employees to provide health insurance for their workers. We see signs at restaurants around town saying they are adding a surcharge to their bill so they can provide health insurance for their employees, and we were satisfied to know that our money was going to take care of the people who prepare and serve our food.
But now we're pissed off to learn that almost half of the restaurants are not providing actual health insurance or access to Healthy SF for the employees. Instead they are putting money into Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) that is set aside for employee health costs. The bottom line is this: HRAs are not health insurance. They may be adequate to cover routine health care costs, but any kind of serious illness or injury will quickly wipe out an HRA account. HRAs are also typically too limited in what types of health care they provide.
Supervisor Wiener's proposed charter amendment would give the Board the power to override voter-approved measures. This would mean that only a few years after San Francisco voters approve a ballot measure, the Supes could undo our vote! There is a tricky system to how this works. During the first three years the initiative is off limits. After three years, a two-thirds majority vote of the Board could change an initiative, and after seven years, all that's required is a simple majority. So say we vote on an initiative that passes in 2012, our decision as voters can be overturned after only three years?! This doesn’t seem very democratic to us. As an organization whose bread and butter is educating young and disenfranchised voters about what's on the ballot, we're really freaked out by this.