I’m probably not getting this endorsement
One of the more interesting things about running for mayor is answering questions from one side of multi-sided issues like this one from the Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee. Here are their questions, and my answers.
The Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee represents thousands of union members from the industrial, commercial, service, construction, and public sectors. In recent years, Tennessee led the nation in the rate of union growth, as our economy rebounded and our affiliates organized workers. This critical election year the CLC is committed to registering, getting out the vote, and informing union members and their families like never before.
This questionnaire is the first step in our endorsement and member education process. It will only be shared with affiliated union representatives who participate in our screening process; it will not be shared with other candidates, media, or any group not affiliated with the CLC. These questions were compiled by a survey of our membership and represent the concerns of affiliates from every industry.
We look forward to your responses and to working with you to improve the lives of working families in the great state of Tennessee. If you have additional questions, we can be reached at 865-206-6086.
What if any direct personal or professional experience do you have with organized labor?
_I was a union member for a very short while in the early 70s, until we went on strike and I got laid off and never called back___
As a stakeholder in our community, how will you specifically involve organized labor in your policy making process? Do you support the specific inclusion of an organized labor representation on boards and commissions dealing with issues that affect our members?
_The same way I will involve everyone – with open government that listens to all stakeholders, no matter their affiliation, or lack thereof. I’ll give special attention to no one. __
Do you believe that public & private employees, contingent/temporary workers, and independent contractors employees have a right to collectively bargain for wages, hours, and working conditions?
_Of course, but I’m not convinced it’s always or usually in their best interest to do so. _
What measures will you take to ensure your office is free from sexual and other types of workplace harassment?
_I’ll start by setting a good example, and I’ll have no tolerance for anything other than professional behavior on the part of any public employee under my supervision. ___
Nashville has grown rapidly over the last four years. Do you believe income inequality in Nashville has narrowed, remained stable, or grown? Explain.
_I have no idea and I doubt it matters much. What matters is that everyone has a chance to market their labor and talents for what it’s worth ____
If elected, what are your top three priorities after taking office
First, Reset the transit improvement process. Second, solve school safety. Third, solve the General Hospital issue. While I’m doing that that, I’ll comb the budget for wasteful spending so we can afford to fix some of our neglected needs.
Do you support Memorandums of Understanding with public safety and general government employees?
I’ve not heard enough arguments about this to say right now.
Based on the experience of outsourcing various metro services over the past decade, do you support further privatization of any metro services?
___I will make all such decisions based on getting the best value for the taxpayer. The purpose of government is not to provide jobs, but to provide the most cost effective services for the customer, the citizens. Whether that means outsourcing or not must be a case-to-case decision to hold to that principle. But, it’s not just a price issue. There are other considerations that may make the lowest price deceiving when looking for the best value.
Do you support continued full funding of the metro employee pension for all public safety and general government employees?
__Not necessarily – if that leaves out any opportunity for pension reform that might be better for both the worker and the taxpayer. __
Do you support the current defined benefit structure of the metro employee pension? Would you support a hybrid or 401k system?
I would prefer a hybrid or a transition to a 401k system.__Defined benefits create promises that are hard to keep.
Do you believe in creating a dedicated funding stream to support the pay plan’s COLA increases and increments to occur on a consistent basis? If yes, why?
_No. That seems to leave little room for reform that may be beneficial to all.
When considering approval of major construction projects would you support apprenticeship and training participation by the contractor as a factor in its procurement by Metro? Would you sponsor amendments to apply this to projects before Council?
___Not as a requirement, but if all other things were equal, it may be a factor. ____
Recent high-profile Metro projects have relied on temporary employment services as the access point for Davidson County residents to construction jobs. These temp services have well-documented records of wage theft and OSHA violations. What steps will you take to keep known bad actors off of publicly funded jobsites? Will you support direct hire on Metro projects?
__I will keep all known bad actors from working for Nashville in any capacity whenever I discover them. I will also give all people and businesses a fair hearing before I declare them to be “bad actors.” _
Would you support requiring contractors to hire a standard of local Davidson County workers for publicly funded projects, with transparent reporting available to the public?
_I can’t say that for sure, but one can make a good case that Davidson County workers are the most cost effective, even if they are not the “cheapest,” so I would certainly consider it._______
The next ten years will see billions of dollars in infrastructure upgrades and other projects by Metro Nashville. How would you support the inclusion of organized building trades and DOL Registered apprenticeship programs in the planning and execution these projects?
_I believe organized building trades has a good case to make on every contract and you should have every chance to make it, but without any prejudice on the part of the city. _____
The restaurant and hospitality industries comprise a large portion of Nashville’s workforce, yet these are often low-wage jobs with little to no job security, and vulnerable to harassment and exploitation. In your opinion, what policies could be put in place to improve conditions for working people in these industries?
_As a friend of many current or former hospitality industry workers, I can say without reservation that none of the best hospitality workers want ANY government interference in their work or their wages. I simply cannot share your concern. All of us go through thankless, low-paid work that we love to tell our kids about later. But we go through it. We don’t stay there and expect someone to make that job better so we don’t have to move on. It’s time to move on from the notion of organizing transient labor.
What will you do, specifically, to increase the affordable housing stock in Davidson County so that our members can afford to continue living here?
___I will reduce all unnecessary cost of building such housing but I will NOT subsidize the builders, the renters or the owners. I will not solve “affordability” issues with subsidies.
In many cities, to qualify for tax incentives developers are required to agree to workforce standards to give maximum benefit to the impacted community. Currently Nashville’s Industrial Development Board and the Mayor’s office does not use this tool. Will you support Community Benefit Agreements for large tax incentivized projects?
__I disprove of tax incentives in general. They are another way to funnel a lot of money from the many to the few. _
When raising utility rates, taxes, and fees, what measures will you take to ensure that low-income residents are not unfairly burdened?
__I will keep actual costs as low as possible by eliminating wasteful spending that leads to higher taxes and fees. I will NOT further subsidize those costs for the provider or the customer.
What are your priorities in developing our mass transit system?
___Stopping the huge multi-billion dollar mistake of right rail is step one. Then, we upgrade buses and improve bus lines. Then, we take the money we saved by not wasting billions and we fix streets on time so they don’t damage our cars. We also prepare for the imminent multi-trillion dollar autonomous vehicle and ride-sharing industries that are going to solve the congestion problem more than any city transit will. And, we encourage more companies and workers to participate in telecommuting, when responsible, productive workers can work from home.
Signed: __Ralph Bristol_______________________________________