San Francisco

Breed, Schaaf Cancel Homelessness Forum Appearance to Avoid Crossing Kaiser Picket Lines

Two Bay Area mayors withdrew from a panel on homelessness sponsored by Kaiser Permanente as 100 health care workers planned to picket outside the San Francisco venue where the panel is being held Wednesday evening.

The forum, hosted by the Commonwealth Club, took place at the club's headquarters at 110 The Embarcadero in San Francisco.

Kaiser workers were picketing the forum to push for a renegotiation of their contract with the health care giant and oppose its recent spending policies, according to information released Wednesday by the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf withdrew from the forum to avoid crossing the picket line.

The mayor of Portland, who was also slated to speak at the forum, withdrew along with Breed and Schaaf, but panelists including Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Kaiser CEO Bernard Tyson still planned to speak, according to the union.

"As members of this community and Kaiser Permanente workers, we care deeply about homelessness, and even though we have jobs, we too struggle with issues of housing affordability," Ethan Ruskin, a Kaiser employee, said in a statement.

The Commonwealth Club declined to comment on the presence of picketers at the event.

Neither Breed nor Schaaf was immediately available for comment.

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