Workers in midst of contract negotiations protest Twitter tax break 

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  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • Members of a city employee union march down Market Street on Wednesday.
San Francisco’s largest city employee labor union rallied outside of Twitter’s Market Street headquarters Wednesday, calling on the technology company to stop taking a tax break as the union works to negotiate a new contract.

About 450 workers attended the afternoon mid-Market rally organized by Service Employees International Union 1021, which represents thousands of nurses, transit workers and nonprofit health care staff. It began at the main offices of the Department of Human Resources, which started labor contract negotiations last week, and marched two blocks along Market Street to Twitter’s headquarters.

Workers chanted “Twitter you’re no good, pay your taxes like you should.” Police officers guarded the tech giant’s front entryway and 12 motorcycle officers were parked across Market.

The event was the latest of a string of demonstrations in which protesters blame tech companies for issues such as soaring rents, evictions and a rising cost-of-living in The City. Similar protests were held in recent months around commuter buses ferrying tech workers to and from Silicon Valley.

Labor representatives and two members of the Board of Supervisors — John Avalos and David Campos — called on Twitter to stop taking a mid-Market tax break, which was established in April 2011.

“We want to get rid of the Twitter tax break,” said Campos, who is running for a state Assembly seat against board President David Chiu. “I don’t know a single worker who gets a tax break from City Hall.” Campos added: “It’s not too much to ask that you be able to afford to live in this city.”

The rally comes as 27 local labor contracts, with a combined value of $2.8 billion, are up for negotiations as they expire in June. Bargaining is expected to include increases in some health care premiums and pay raises. No official proposals have been made, said Susan Gard, spokeswoman for the Department of Human Resources. The deadline to finalize the contracts is May 15.

Larry Bradshaw, vice president of SEIU 1021 and a paramedic at the Fire Department, said health care costs could increase by as much as $1,200 a year for a single parent under proposed Kaiser rate increases.

The value of Twitter’s tax break is subject of speculation, but recent estimates put it at more than double the initial $22 million estimate when it was approved in April 2011. This money, labor leaders say, is better used in offsetting impacts to city workers and improving city services. Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

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