Janelle Jolley 0:19
Welcome back to What's Left To Do. I'm your host, Janelle. Now, we're picking back up with Kaylah at the start of her career as a flight attendant. Now this part didn't make the edit, but y'all she first started off as a flight attendant for Spirit Airlines. No, ma'am! There was also a story about a wild passenger that didn't make the edit. I might throw that up on social. And I had no idea that flight attendants know who the air marshals are on their flights. Am I late? Am I the last one to know this? Anyway, back to Kaylah. You're starting your career as a flight attendant. You have some crazy experiences with some passengers. No, ma'am, I couldn't do it. When in all of this- you're in your early 20s- when during this time did you move to San Francisco, and why? Or did you move around a bit?
I went through flight attendant training in February 2015. And, like, immediately, everyone in my training class, because it was at the very beginning of a big hiring process, they needed a lot of flight attendants in San Francisco. So they're like, "Cool, great, welcome. Um, you usually get to bid for which base you want to have your number one, two and three choice. But y'all don't get that, y'all going to San Francisco."
Janelle Jolley 1:46
Oh, where would you have wanted to move?
What's so crazy is, I thought that I would want to be Newark based. I thought that I want to be in New York City. I thought I want to be on the East Coast that you couldn't tell me- I was like, "Oh, San Francisco is cool." But I didn't really-I didn't- I never viewed myself in San Francisco? And what was so crazy is I was like, "Okay, well, I guess this is a new adventure. We'll try San Francisco out." But, I mean, that's the part that kind of is so wild to me is my life would be- like, I mean, my passion, my everything, is this city now. I would have- it would have totally- I wouldn't be the person that I am if it wasn't for having to move out here. Yeah, so I ended up making the move February, I think, you know, March of 2015 after the training. I moved in with a couple other flight attendant friends who were- we all in training together. A lot of those girls are gonna be literally bridesmaids at my wedding, like they are best friends. My best, best friends. And I get to San Francisco and I start flying. And I'm like, "Cool. Let's get into it. I'm having fun." And I'm enjoying it, I'm having a lot of fun flying, but I'm also still feeling like I'm kind of missing something. Because it's fun to fly but you do kind of- if you are only just, you know, there for a couple hours at a time being someone's, you know, happy flying experience person, but then you come home and then you're like, "Okay, well, I'm just gonna sit and watch TV until"-
Janelle Jolley 3:21
Until my next job.
Yeah. And something about it really felt unfulfilling and felt kind of a little empty. And it's like, "Okay, well, what do I love?" And it just kind of went back to that same passion of, I love people and I love getting involved in doing something that makes me feel fulfilled. And so that was the same time as the Bernie campaign. The 2016 campaign. And so I think it was, California was no longer- like California was after Super Tuesday.
Janelle Jolley 3:53
Yeah, it's in June. It used to be.
Yeah. And so I was like, "Okay, well, cool. Let me volunteer with Bernie. Bernie, is this cool person I'm hearing about. I think I'm a socialist now."
Janelle Jolley 4:03
What was your process understanding that? Or, coming into an understanding about that?
I mean, I feel like I'm just like a lot of folks in this way. And I feel like- I really I appreciate people who are able to realize that they were socialists before Bernie, but Bernie made me a socialist. I mean, it's a lot of basically- like, a lot of things that I felt were straightforward, like, "Oh yeah, you shouldn't go into debt because you have to go to the hospital." Simple things that I just didn't- I always felt like I'm not speaking a different language and I'm not being a bleeding heart. I'm just being a logical person who, you know, cares about humans. And I just felt like there was- there's disconnect within a lot of politics that wasn't really hitting the head on all the stuff. And it was like, maybe we'll get close with Democrats. But it wasn't fully-
Janelle Jolley 4:54
It wasn't all the way there.
Getting there, yeah. And so once Bernie really ran I was like, "Wow. Yes, thank you. Wow, that's exactly what I was thinking." It just it made perfect sense. And that was when I was so hooked. And I was like, "Okay, well, I feel good about this, I feel passionate, I want to put my all into this, I want to build friends who- make make friends and build relationships with people who feel the same way as I do, and care deeply as I do about this stuff." And I got involved with this organization called Bay Area Social Events for Bernie. I would go to their events, and I'd just be like, "I don't know anyone but I like Bernie, hi!" One of the base organizer, that's Iris, was like, "You have a lot of great energy." And I was like, "Yeah! I can help do things!" And she was just like, "Okay, well, we need people to come into the organization and help out and be a volunteer coordinator and, you know, help keep"- because they would put on events that would- help people put on events that could fundraise for Bernie,
Janelle Jolley 5:59
Because in 2016, if I remember correctly from what Alvin told me, there wasn't an office in San Francisco. So did this group meet in San Francisco or in the East Bay, or?
They did a lot of their events in the East Bay. So it was a lot of riding the BART into Oakland and Berkeley. But they also did some events in San Francisco. And at the time, I was living in South SF, so I would just hop on- and I had no car at the time- so just hop on a BART, take a Lyft or Uber, do whatever had to do to get there because I just wanted to help out. And god, really how much money was spent on Uber alone? Geez Louise. But yes, because there was no org, like set organizing thing, they would just be a bunch of individuals who want to help out and BASE was kind of this way to help organize a lot of different other people. And I can do this on the weekend. And I could, you know, go fly and do a couple flights and come back on the weekend. And on my off days, it just felt like a perfect balance of feeling like I was actually a part of San Francisco Bay Area culture and not just a flight attendant who lives here. Because so often a lot of flight attendants- we can be based in San Francisco and live in, like, Las Vegas. Live in other cities and just come fly into work to work and then fly out and be done. And so I wanted to feel like this is my new home and-
Janelle Jolley 7:27
And a part of the community.
Janelle Jolley 7:29
What are some of the most fond memories you have of the 2016 primary?
I went to one Bernie event, like I flew to Louisiana, to New Orleans, to visit a friend and while I was there, Bernie was speaking. So I was like- I went to the Bernie rally with my friend and I got my little Bernie poster, and I got a sticker and I put it on the poster and I wrote New Orleans, whatever the date was. And I flew back home with the poster. And then I saw that Bernie was speaking in Boston. I hopped on a flight that I did- worked a trip to Boston so I could layover in Boston, see my other friend from college and me and her would go to the Bernie thing, get sticker, stick on it and write Bernie Boston, whatever the date was, and I just kept doing that. And I had a whole thing. I mean, I knew- I kept hearing the same stump speech over and over. But it was so worth it cuz it was just a chance to, in that campaign, it was like, "As a flight attendant, I could just fly and see Bernie anytime I want." It was rad. I was a Bernie groupie! It was rad! I was just like, "I love you, Bernie." It was really cute and just so much fun. Just imagining all the places on just my layover of like, "Alright, we're going to Phoenix tomorrow!"
Janelle Jolley 8:45
Like, I know my man gonna be something there. I need to add another sticker to my poster."
Yeah. And I still have that poster. It's just a really sweet momento of all the times you've been there.
Janelle Jolley 8:56
Did you- one inappropriate question, one honest question. Now, was it while you were a groupie for Bernie that you were like, "I'm also a bisexual for Bernie." You said it wasn't until you moved to San Francisco, which you were like "This is what it is."
I think it was less during the campaign. I think it was a little bit after the 2016 campaign. Because that was whenever- a little after the campaign is whenever I was- well, I will say that happened probably more after Bernie 2016 and then after Jane for State Senate. But then Jane for- Jane Kim for Mayor that- because that was whenever I was meeting other queer people.
Janelle Jolley 9:42
Like from, just generally? Or because of The Milk Club or-
Partially Milk Club, but it was more of- I think the mental block was coming out was this idea- this really dumb weird thing myy mind where I was like-
Janelle Jolley 9:54
No, don't say that. We don't do negative self talk right now.
Okay. Thank you, I appreciate that. I really did need that because it is something I'm like-
Janelle Jolley 10:02
It's just...what it is.
It is what it is, yeah. I think it was just this block I kept in my mind where I was like, "Obviously, being queer is perfectly fine. Obviously, having queer friends is great and wonderful and perfectly fine, but you can't be queer." And it was just this thing of like, I just couldn't unlatch that. And it was this weird thing of I didn't realize how much I had built a wall around saying, "Yes, I am bi." Until I was- it was kind of, I guess, number one being around a lot of other queer folks and feeling accepted amongst that and having a lot of honest conversations with people to be like, "Yeah, I do this. And I think that's okay. But I don't think it's okay." And they're like, "No, girl, it's good. Like, it's fine." And just realizing, "Oh, it is okay, isn't it? Oh, why am I stopping myself from being my full self?" And I think it just is a matter of really letting that guard down. That took a minute of just unpacking it. Got a lot to unpack in there. A lot of religious shit you're holding on to, girl, you gotta let that go.
Janelle Jolley 11:12
Sure, sure. How would you describe your understanding of your own politic and politics writ large, or San Francisco politics writ large at that point? Having thrown down with BASE, and then getting involved with Jane's campaign? Like, what are what are some of the things that came into stark relief about politics for you at that point? And your own politics?
Yeah, um, I think I realized how big housing was in San Francisco. And it's something that I just- I guess, because there's so little land and so many people? I think housing and homelessness were the two that really hit me hard. And what really kind of, well, for me, like I just said, also, when I'd go into the city, I- growing up in Louisiana they were, of course, there's homeless people, of course, but, there I've never seen such a- like families of people, of homeless folks. Like, of unhoused neighbors. Genuinely families. And I just would be- I found that was so crazy that we were in such a wealthy city and had such crazy amount of the wealth disparities. I think that's what really, really hit me. And that's, I think, was a big motivator for me. And that was also helping to drive like, "Oh, yeah, you definitely a socialist."
Janelle Jolley 11:44
Because everybody needs to be housed.
Exactly. Exactly. And it just was kind of like- it really, really- I think that really painted my view of politics. And it really, yeah-
Janelle Jolley 12:50
Can I ask a question? What is your analysis on why some issues are so pronounced in San Francisco? Based on, you know, your inside political knowledge?
Um, yeah, I don't know. I mean, I feel like-
Janelle Jolley 13:05
Or maybe it's not inside political knowledge. Maybe it's just, you know, your eyes are open, you're paying attention?
What you're seeing. Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of it, it comes down to just- I mean, I feel like it's a cliche answer, but also it rings so true, is like so much money in politics. It just, it feels like, the thing that really fucking sucks. And, you know, even in having run campaigns, what fucking sucks is just how much money goes into politics and how much money influences things. And, in when you look at, I mean, I'm- any chance I get an opportunity to smash Scott Wiener, I'm going to do it. Sorry, dude. But like, when you look at how much money he's gotten gotten from real estate developers. And like, it's not just Scott. It's really so- okay. Yeah?
Janelle Jolley 13:56
No, no, no, I want you to- we're gonna double click on this. I want you to explain for people who don't live here. Tell them who Scott Wiener is and why you're going to smash him when you see him. And like, what are the issues around him and money? So, explain that.
There we go. So I will say this, Scott Wiener- sorry, Jane Kim, when she was running for State Senate, her main opponent was Scott Wiener and he not only was backed by huge corporations, but one of his main, big, big, big, big, big, big, big, big, big donors, has been from so many different real estate developers. And when you look at his tenure of him being in office, and you look at the housing crisis that we see in San Francisco and in the Bay Area at large, it just- it's despicable. It really makes my blood boil because the money and politics. Like, where your money comes from, that's who your constituents are. And if your money is coming from the people, then your constituents are the people. If your money is coming from big corporations who just want to make money and build huge sky rises for people who don't live in San Francisco, and waste that, and while there are literally family sleeping on the street, that is- it drives me- I mean, my blood just boils every fucking time.
Janelle Jolley 15:18
So draw a straighter line for me. And let's talk about Wiener and his taking, let's say, real estate money. Tell people how, in your analysis, him taking real estate money contributes to either the way he campaigns around housing or development or the legislation that he supports and or has blocked. Give me some concrete examples.
Senate Bill 50 allows the entire state of California to just, all of this land to be up zoned, which allows real estate developers to come in and add a lot of housing. Just build and build and build and build and build. Which I like housing, I want housing. I think that's really important. And dense housing is so important. The problem that I have is, whenever your constituents are the big corporations and the big real estate developers, that means that they're gonna be building housing that's really good for their pockets. And real estate that's good for their pockets does not mean it's real estate, that's good for families. That means, you know, high rises that are really big, luxury condos. And what we really need are, you know, 2-3 bedroom houses for families. We need affordable housing options. And that was the biggest issue that I've really felt so excited about with Jane was- Jane was someone who, when she was the state's- when Jane was the district 6 supervisor, she fought for housing to be built. But she also fought developers to make sure that that housing was affordable. And that, you know, that it wasn't just one or two houses that were affordable housing. It was housing that was more affordable housing, and that affordable housing didn't have, like, a different color door.
Janelle Jolley 17:09
Yeah, yeah, yeah. A stigmatized "other" type of housing.
Right. Or is like- because it'd be developers like, "Okay, yeah, we'll build this housing with affordable housing in it. But the people who have affordable housing, they don't have access to the pool." It's like, what is this separate but equal bullshit? No, that's not- you can't do that. And I just I really, I think that that's- when you're facing such a huge crisis, when people's lives are at risk, and genuinely their lives are at risk, you can't play for money with that. You know what I mean? Like that really has always rubbed me the wrong way.
Janelle Jolley 17:46
So your understanding was- your understanding after being involved in that campaign and being more involved and aware of local politics, is that the money in politics is distortionary.
Yeah, yeah. And I think a lot of it too, was like, the more money that you have the easier it is to be very loud. And that was, I think, a really crazy realization is like, "Oh, when you invest in paid advertisements or billboards, you may be the loudest, but it's not necessarily the most effective." You have to actually go to those people who you think are- who are, you know, ? Valley moms who might not- who don't- who have a really nice life, but you have to explain to them, "This is why the revolution is for you too."
Janelle Jolley 18:33
That's right. And this is what you stand to benefit.
Exactly. And it's like, I think that that kind of mindset and organizing really only happens within labor organizing and electoral. Because it gets you outside, I mean, it gets you-
Janelle Jolley 18:46
It gets you face to face on the ground with people and not just some thought exercise of like, "Oh, let's, you know, let's revise Marx." You know, it's like, there has to be some praxis.
Exactly. Because, I mean, I think that there will be people who naturally gravitate towards leftist theory, which is great, like, grab them, bring them in, make it open, make it welcoming.
Janelle Jolley 19:06
But you have to grab them.
Yeah, you have to grab them.
Janelle Jolley 19:08
You have to be out there to touch them, to speak to them. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Exactly. And I think that that's the thing is like, if we if we focus too insular, if we're like, you know, "Okay, well, you have to use all-" I mean, don't come in there saying crazy words, but- "You have to use all of the right Marxist language and you have to know how to already read this and have a fully developed-" No one's gonna join us. No one's gonna have fun.
Janelle Jolley 19:32
That's right. What have been, after Jane, what have been your electoral activities and your labor activities? Because you are one of those, I think- well, maybe not super rare for San Francisco- but I think generally speaking for people of our generation, you're kind of a rarity in that you, I think, do both in tandem. So like, discuss- talk to me about those two different things that you hold and how you, kind of- how you are attentive to each of them.
Yeah. I mean, it's kind of cool because when I actually look back at my timeline of what I've done, they all kind of feed into each other in a really kind of fun way. Because working on the IE, the IE was run by- one of the IEs.- one of the contributors of the IE was UNITE HERE Local 2. Love UNITE HERE Local 2.
The IE on Jane's campaign?
On Jane's campaign, yeah. They- like, UNITE HERE Local 2 helped to literally run it. And so after the campaign wrapped, they reached out to me, like, "Hey, you know, the campaign's over but if you want to do an internship with us, we would love to have you." And that's where I got my first taste of like, "Oh, this is what union organizing looks like, this is pretty cool." I got to sit in on meetings and talk with hotel workers as they were preparing to, you know, fight for a new contract. And learn a lot of cool different languages around like- well, actual languages, because it's a lot of Spanish that I got to catch up on. But, but also learning a lot of like, what is fighting for a new contract look like? What is working alongside actual real workers, people, whose lives are on the line? Like, their livlihood is on the line.
Janelle Jolley 21:21
This is not a theoretical exercise, they need to be able to pay their rent and feed their families.
Right? Exactly. And it was so cool just to have that experience. And then, you know, I've worked on that side of- the organizing side of UNITE HERE Local 2, and-
Janelle Jolley 21:34
And what is that? Is that a labor union for...who is that a labor union for?
Oh yeah, UNITE HERE is a labor union for hotel workers. Also I think catering, and restaurant workers, predominantly. And then also an SFO airport-
Janelle Jolley 21:54
Yeah, the concessions. Oh, what is it called? Basically, it's a really big- I forgot what the name of the company was. But yeah, all the food stuff coming out of the airport- SFO airport.
Janelle Jolley 22:06
Okay. So you interned with them. And then?
And then after that, then I got a call from Jane herself. And she's like, "Hey, I'm running for mayor. And I would love to hire you because I heard of all the great work you did on my IE." And so I went to work for that campaign. The first day, I met Edward Wright, who is my current roommate, and dearest, dearest friend. And on that same day, I met him and was like, "Cool, I need a roommate." And he was like, "I need a room." So I moved in like a month later on the campaign. So yeah, it all kind of happened pretty quickly of just like- that was when I think I really learned, during Jane's campaign for mayor, is when I learned all of the basics of what a political campaign looks like.
Janelle Jolley 22:54
What- talk to us about what those things are.
Oh yeah. So, I was a volunteer director. So I just would call through that-
Janelle Jolley 23:03
Whoa, wait, you were your volunteer director and still working full time as a flight attendant?
Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Janelle Jolley 23:06
How did you do that?
Oh, so I would just drop down to my minimum 20 hours of flying as a flight attendant, and I would either work on the weekend, or tell the campaign manager, like, "Okay, cool. I need just this day off so I can fly a couple trips and come back tomorrow."
Janelle Jolley 23:25
Because you can get your 20 hours in three days. You can just cram that? Okay.
Yeah, so I was like, "Alright, cool. We're just gonna hop on a flight. See you guys in a couple days. I'll be right back." It's like, this is a three day weekend, basically, every- once a month. And it was good. And I was able to just, you know, maintain by working for the campaign full time. And as a volunteer director, I got to know so many people, because I basically had to call through a list of 1000 plus people every week.
Janelle Jolley 23:56
Wow. To raise money or to-
To get them to come to the weekend volunteer events.
Janelle Jolley 24:01
I see, you were phone banking to get canvassers organized.
And so I- that's actually where a lot of my individual relationships, a lot of really active, cool people in the city. That's how I met Alison Collins, who I adore. And it was this big push of just constantly calling people, reaching out, and understanding like, this is the same kind of lesson I learned from the State Senate race, is I learned that what wins campaigns is actual people power, not just huge amounts of money. You need to have- she- like if you want to win, you need to canvass doors. If you want to canvass doors, you need volunteers. If you want volunteers, you got to call. And so I called. And it was that constant drive. And that was a big- kind of seeing the full production behind campaigns field work on that end. I had this meeting with Jen, Jen Snider, and she's like, "I don't know, there's this guy running for DA, sounds kind of cool." I was like, "You know, I don't know he's pretty crazy. He's like, you know, has a crazy past with his parents and he wants to be the first decarceral DA in San Francisco." I was like, "Sounds pretty cool." It's like, "Do you want to have a meeting with them?" And I was like, "You planned this." And I was like, "Yes. Yes I do, actually. He sounds amazing." And I looked him up and online I was like, "Oh my God, this guy is so freakin cool."
So Jen Snyder set that up? He didn't step to you?
Yeah, Jen set it up cuz she- her and Jim Stearns were the consultants on the ? campaign. And so they were like, "Yeah, all right. Kaylah could do this. I think she could do that." I was like, "Y'all sure. Again, why?" I gotta have more confidence sometimes. I'm working on it.
Janelle Jolley 25:52
Yes. We're working on it.
So, then I met with Chesa and he was super lovely, really cool, down to earth and had a lot of really cool ideas. And I was sold.
Janelle Jolley 26:07
Talk about some of his cool ideas because my man is under a little bit of fire right now for some really dickhead reactionaries. But talk about his cool ideas that hooked you.
Yeah. I think one of the biggest ones was just the fact that he wanted- I mean, this seems like it should be a standard- but to not convict children as adults.
Janelle Jolley 26:27
That seems real obvious.
Yeah, no, but that's not what was happening. You would have these kids, you know, who would be in and out of juvie and then they would upgrade them and they would, you know, say, "Oh, yeah, we're gonna still gonna charge them as an adult." Like, that- it was like, "Oh, yeah, we don't do that already?" And I think another really big one that just seemed kind of crazy to me was, it was, what's the name of it? It's whenever- it's like if you were from, let's say you're from a random neighborhood, right? And in this random neighborhood, the SFPD has now deemed it a gang territory, or whatever. If you are just a random person who gets arrested in that territory for something like a misdemeanor or an infraction, or whatever, you can get up charged like you're-
Janelle Jolley 27:23
Oh, they'll throw the book at you because you're in gang ter- oh, I didn't know that.
Or if you're gang affiliated, they'll say that- they'll go because this guy is your cousin. Um, that means like, you went in you robbed a bank. Okay, well, yeah, if you did a crime-
Janelle Jolley 27:27
Let's say you stole a soda from a bodega.
Yeah, you stole a soda. And you stole a soda with your cousin. Then you're like, "Okay, well, it was two cousins? Y'all in a gang. We're charging- you're doing-" Gang enhancements! That's it!
Janelle Jolley 27:54
I didn't know that. Okay. That's absurd.
Yeah, it's bad. And because especially in San Francisco, gangs in San Francisco happened in the 80s, 70s, 90s?
Janelle Jolley 28:05
But also, gang- I mean, this is an aside- but also what people popularly understand is gangs are just like, neighborhoods of people who know each other. Like, that's it.
That's really it. I mean, and so with gang enhancements, you would see-
Janelle Jolley 28:22
You end up throwing the book at people who are disproportionately black and/or brown. And just- and poor, across the board.
Exactly. I mean, that was the thing is, as you said, it's like, there has never been a person who has been charged with a gang enhancement, who is not a person of color. Never, never. And he was like, "We're changing that. Day one, I want that to be changed. I want gang enhancements out the window."
Janelle Jolley 28:46
Meaning that gang enhancements are- that's a tool in a DA's toolkit to throw the book at somebody?
Janelle Jolley 28:54
I see. And that is something a DA has control over- it has discretionary over?
Yeah. So he could choose to- so it's like, yeah, if someone, you know, steals a soda, they will get charged for stealing a soda. Not charged for stealing a soda and also they did it with the cousin who could be a gang member. So suddenly, now it goes for two days in jail to, you know, 20 years. And if- they were really some crazy enhancements, where you're like, "What the hell?"
Janelle Jolley 29:20
Also, why- using that term enhancements is so cynical and insidious, because that makes it sound like a plastic surgery term. Like, we're making your lips bigger. But it's like, no, we're making your charges bigger.
Bigger, just bigger for you. So you're welcome! We're enhancing it.
Janelle Jolley 29:43
Made them more lovely. Like, fuck off.
Yeah, exactly. And it's things like that, I was like, "Wow, I had no idea that was happening in the city." And it's really fucked up. It's so crazy. And I was like, "Yeah, this guy's the real deal."
Janelle Jolley 29:59
So he pitched you with his platform when you guys did meet, and you were like, "Okay."
Yep. Sold, sold. 100% sold. And it was literally, I remember, I was in the meeting, it started off with just like, "Okay, I'm thinking about it." By the end of meeting I was like, "Great. So why don't we schedule for the next time to talk about who your top donors will be?" Like, literally just-
Janelle Jolley 30:22
You were in it.
I was in it. I was like, "I'm ready, I'm here, I'm your campaign manager. Nice to meet you. Don't let you get a chance to hire me, I hired myself. So, cool. Hi."
Janelle Jolley 30:33
How big- were you still a staff of one or did you actually have a staff this time?
This was the first time I actually had a staff of mostly women who were behind doing all of this. And it was kind of cool to see, I was like, the Boss Lady. And I kind of thought through the vision of what we want to get done and we want to see. And I would check in with our consultants, Jim and Jen, and just be like, "Hey, I have this idea. Like, what, what are we thinking here?" And they'd be like, "Good idea." Or, "Work on it." And then once it gets kind of good and approved from, you know, from the candidate, from the consultants, I make it happen with all my staff. And it was really neat because all of those same things that I had learned and you kind of figure it out, I just got a chance to say- to teach that to someone else. And teach that to other, mostly- I mean, especially having a mostly woman staff, it felt really cool just to be like, "Hey." Wally was only, like, 19 on the campaign? And she is such a badass. She has so much information and knows how to run campaigns. Kelsey Russom, who I adore, was a rock star volunteer turned intern, who now works in Chesa's office. And these- this is what I- this is one of my favorite things to do is to not just work for, you know, doing this great work on a larger scale, of course, but also on the individual personal level, building up other more women, particularly- well, more great people in general, but, particularly women and women of color, bringing them into the fold into this political world and making sure they are supported. You know? Chesa was originally a public defender in San Francisco, and he worked under Jeff Adachi. And Jeff Adachi was the deputy public defender before he passed away. Actually, he passed away during Chesa's campaign. And he was, you know, another father figure to Chesa and the way that he would run the PD's office was with such integrity, and such amazing thoughtfulness of the community that he served. And what I love is that Chesa really took that- the way that Jeff Adachi ran the PD's office- and he wanted to bring that same integrity to the DA's office. And to hear the way that he talked about it, like, "Look, you don't want your window broken into, I don't want your window broken into. But you know, the person who broke into that window in the first place? If you just put them back in jail and let them go back out on the street with no backup, it's gonna it's just gonna happen again. If you vote for me, I will be able to say, 'Hey, that person broken your window. Let's find a way to get to the root cause of this crime, stop it from happening again.'" And it's like, "Oh, yeah, that works out really well." And this- I just- I don't understand how tough on crime- and it's the same bullshit I see with backlash against Allison Collins, backlash against Chesa. I feel very proud to have campaign managed two campaigns that both have recall that candidate being led by Republicans in San Francisco.
Janelle Jolley 31:20
That's right, that means you did something right.
You're welcome, Republicans. It feels good to know that because what you're seeing is this crazy, reactionary people who are looking at what's happening, looking at how the world is starting to change to bring forward the community, and they're backlashing with the individual. And it is so frustrating, and it sometimes makes me-
Janelle Jolley 34:09
It's short sighted?
Yeah, it's short sighted and makes me feel like...blegh, you know? I just- like, this is what my life's work is. This is what I am put on this planet to do, is to continue to fight for community. And I'll be fucking damned if y'all go and try to get my candidates out of office. Like, that ain't happening. No.
Janelle Jolley 34:29
What was- I'm just interested- what was the math in terms of- like, what was the coalition that got Chesa over the hump? Like, what was the math that helped him win?Even though London Breed goofy ass tried to thunder skills?
I mean, I think it was a really cool coalition of, like- I love the fact that, particularly in the southeast part of the city, within district 11, and district 10? District 11 and district 10, which have a lot of, like- it's probably one of, some of the most racially diverse neighborhoods of this whole city. You saw a lot of Asian American support, particularly a lot of progressive Asian American support, really kind of coming behind Chesa and saying like, "Hey, you know, we are feeling targeted in a lot of ways. We want to make sure we are supported." And, actually showing up in the way that Chesa would quickly responded and got behind, particularly the Chinese community in San Francisco? We saw them step up and show support. Of course, the black community in San Francisco, because we're like, "Yeah, we are being targeted by the police." And it was amazing to see that even the folks who typically fall in line with London Breed are a lot more moderate were actually listening and being like, "Oh, wait. No, this guy got it. He got it." And they were willing to kind of step outta line to say publicly that they were supporting Chesa over other candidates. That was a big move. Within the Latinx community, a mission was going hard- that's district nine- but they were going hard for Chesa. And it was nice because there were- like, Supervisor Hillary Ronen really, really came through and for Chesa and came to literally every single event that was even D-9 adjacent, would show up. And it was just this cool mixture of different communities showing up and saying, "Hey, we are standing with Chesa." And I think that kind of coalition between- that coalition, and then also like, bring in education, there were so many young voters that came up to vote. Across the country, particularly the more southern states, the rise in Trumpism? There's this rise of organizing out of fear. Organizing, because they're scared of something. And a lot of this is the same thing, "I'm scared, I'm scared, I'm scared, let me run to the most reactionary bullshit that I can find." I feel like you can fight back that fear with real logic and real science. And hopefully people are more amenable to hearing that. But sometimes you have to, you know, slap them in the face a little bit with some science or slap in the face with some, you know, logic of some kind to get them out of this fear-based organizing. Because that's all it really is, you know? I don't know how to do it yet, but I'm hoping we'll get there.
Janelle Jolley 37:20
No, we're all working toward that. What is the future that you hope to fight for, and when? And how might we get there? Because you said it's all about community, not the individual. So paint a picture for me.
Two big points that I would love to see that I just- what I want to is number one, to have- this one, hopefully it can happen more soon- but number one is hoping to have more engagement of, particularly our generation within the labor movement. Because, I find, it's been kind of stifled. And so, since it's been stifled, you know, you have things like, "Oh, I guess that's the way it is." Like, Jeff is literally his-
Janelle Jolley 38:06
My boo. He is literally at his job facing- since people are leaving from San Francisco and moving to different cities- you know, the company has just said, blanket statements like, "Oh, well, if you're living from the city, then we're going to significantly cut your pay, because we're paying that much money because you're living in San Francisco. So you know, you won't do that." And it's like, yeah-
Janelle Jolley 38:23
What industry does he work in?
He works in tech. I'm sorry, tech workers. But, no, it's like- well, if you had it- and people are just like, "Oh, I guess that makes sense." It's like, "No, if you had a union they could never do." I want to see more representation of more people within the labor union force, you know, joining CWA, who is organizing a lot of amazing tech workers. And once that happens I think it starts to shift the narrative and shift the the psyche of what is possible and what is expected.
Janelle Jolley 39:04
Shout out to Rob, he was a he was the guest- he was episode last week. He recently- or he was one of the early members of the Google union.
Yes! Oh my god, I was so excited to see that! I was like, "Yes." And that's exactly it. It's like, if that becomes the new norm, if that's the new norm, then you know what you're advocating for. You know what you deserve. You know what you are- like, what should be given to you and you have that.
Janelle Jolley 39:26
And you understand the importance of the collective, the solidarity of a union. Like, that becomes extremely clear because together we can, you know, make sure that this person keeps their job or we can we can defend, you know, our pay or our working conditions or blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But as an individual, if I were just bitching about this as an individual, nobody would give a fuck. So yeah, mm-hmm.
Yeah. This is the dream, every leftist dream, but having an actual Labor Party? So we can have representation on behalf of those labor members? And also-
Janelle Jolley 40:03
How do we do that if we keep fucking with the democrats, though?
I know! That's the part where I- that I genuinely have no idea how to get to. Because I just know that I want it to happen. I think maybe- I mean in the pipe dream, pipe dream- let's just work with me, imagine this image: We work hard to get real, actual, tried and true democratic socialists, leftists, who really believe in this movement to come into the Democratic Party and you get to a certain point to reverse a threshold where we can shift it over and pull them over? And like, "Okay, cool. We're already in here. We're established. So now we are a new party and switching parties." But that also is like, decades.
Janelle Jolley 40:45
Yeah and I don't know how that happens. But, you know, we don't have to know how it happens. You just- that is your vision, that's your desire. I see, uh-huh.
Yeah, I would love to see that. Like, I had to call in sick a couple times because I have- TMI- well, no, it's not TMI, it's bodily functions- I have really bad cramps. And flying up and down really makes them even worse. And so I had to call in sick couple times and I felt like, "Fuck, I'm going to get fired. I'm gonna get fired because I have fucking cramps. I can't stop it."
Janelle Jolley 40:51
You can't control it!
You can't control it. Ibuprofen does not help. Only thing that helps is if I sit still with a hot water pad, a hot water bottle on my tummy and just-
Janelle Jolley 41:22
Don't do shit.
Exactly. And I was really worried. I was like, "Fuck, I'm gonna get fired." And I was like, and I was talking to my flight attendant friend about it and she's like, "Oh, just talk to the union rep and, you know, they can refer you to someone to give you FMLA." Which is, like, allows you to call in sick for medical reasons.
Janelle Jolley 41:42
Every month, really? I didn't know that it was that flexible.
Oh, yeah. You're allowed up to as many as like, sometimes you'll have up to six per month to use. Or like, two per month to use. But, yeah, you can just be like, "Hey, I want to use my FMLA and I want to have it covered."
Janelle Jolley 41:57
Oh, right on.
And the union helps you organize that and-
Janelle Jolley 42:00
Oh my god, every woman needs a union if that's the case. I mean, not every woman has terrible cramps, but you know what I mean? But you still- like, it- you can- I mean, there's a range of symptoms, around, you know, the menstrual cycle, whatever. But it's like, I've wished...god-
You would be covered! You would be covered! And that's the thing-
Janelle Jolley 42:18
And not have to worry about being fucking fired because of something your body do that you can't control.
You literally can't control it. If there's something that happens in the company, for example, what's been happening with COVID as flight attendants, and with so much job uncertainty. I know that there are some companies that boast that they've never done any furlough, so they, "Oh, we didn't furlough any flight attendants, so we're great. Who needs a union? We didn't furlough a flight attendant." Yeah, maybe my ass got furloughed, but I at least knew every single step of the way what my company was doing for me and I knew what they couldn't- what they could do, what they couldn't do. What they couldn't do, is they couldn't reduce my pay. They couldn't make a make amendments without- make amendments to my schedule and the ways that- without checking in with me and my union. They couldn't make these changes without checking in with us as- because we represented. We were covered. We were, it's like, "Yeah, sure. Maybe they furloughed us, but, you know what the process to be furloughed at my company is? They first have to offer voluntary leaves. They have to offer- sorry, voluntary leaves, which means you choose to, you know, not fly. They have to offer job shares, which allows you to work a full line but then share it with someone else, so you actually have 10 hour minimums and a 20 hour minimum. They allow- they had to do all these different stipulations before allowing you just to be like "Okay, cool. Now we are, we're just going to furlough you." It's like, "No, no, no." You had all these processes. And we knew every step of the way. And I always felt protected because it wasn't like- I wasn't left on the bridge.
Janelle Jolley 43:56
And, damn, now's the time to need to be able to feel protected in your job. So, did- were you still even- I don't- does furlough mean you get paid or you do not get paid?
So, because- also with that union contract- I was furloughed, but I had furlough pay for three months. And I was furloughed in October, I got brought back on in-
Janelle Jolley 44:13
October? You weren't furloughed in April?
Yeah, they they held off for furloughs for as long as they could.
Janelle Jolley 44:19
But were you actually flying?
Oh, oh, okay. So, I'm still a United flight attendant by pay but I'm on union business, so I'm working for my union.
Janelle Jolley 44:30
So you had been doing union work before COVID that meant you didn't have your line?
Yeah. So it's- so, I'll go back a little bit. So after Chesa won. Well, oh- I'm gonna go back a little more, so sorry.
Janelle Jolley 44:47
No, don't even apologize, child, I need to understand.
So, in the middle of Chesa's campaign, I- this is also around the time whenever, our union president, Sarah Nelson, who is such a badass-
Janelle Jolley 45:01
She was the union head during the government shutdown when the- yeah, okay.
She told off Trump and was like, you know, "I'm fightin'. If you want to do this, we'll have a fuckin shutdown." Boom. Immediately we got what we needed. But during all that time I was still working for Chesa. And around that time it was the national convention, DSA national convention in Atlanta, and I got voted as a delegate for my DSA SF chapter. I was so excited not only to represent DSA SF, but also because one of the keynote speakers was Sarah Nelson. And I- she had come to San Francisco before for some of the Anchor Steam stuff. And I had to fly or I had another meeting, I just wasn't able to meet her, but I was so excited. And so I finally- I was like, "I'm gonna meet her meet her." And she did her speech at the convention. I was fucking crying. I was like, "You're so good!" I was this big old baby, tears on my face. And we were sitting as a whole contingent, like a whole group of DSA SF somewhere towards the front- towards the front left. And so, she finishes her speech and I'm like, "Okay, I'm gonna get up and go, I'm gonna go." And all my friends, like all the other DSA SF folks, are like, "Yeah, Kaylah, let's do it!" Literally pushing me out of my chair to go run up behind her by the stage. And so she finishes her speech, she comes down. And I'm like, "Hi, I'm Kaylah. I am a DSA SF delegate. And I'm also a flight attendant at the same company that you work at. And I'm just really excited to see you and, like, hi." She was like, "Hello!" And she was super excited, and was very kind and was really, really sweet. And just, you know, I was like, "Wait, hey!" And she was like, "Hey, are you involved in your local MEC?" And I was like, "Not really." But she's like, "Well, I want you to call your MEC president, I want you to check in with her- "
Janelle Jolley 45:15
What is MEC?
Oh, you're like your local council. So, there's a United- or, for each company, there's a different- for each company at each base you have your own local- so, there's United San Francisco, there is a Alaska Airline San Francisco, there's a Alaska Airlines Seattle, there's all these different- like, those each individually have their own president. And so she was like, "You should reach out to the one for for your company. And for SFO, there's a really cool program happening that I think you should apply for." And I was like, "Okay! Thanks!" It was a Human Rights Committee, subsection or whatever. And so I'd met Sarah then and she told me to join that and I got involved with the Human Rights Committee through her suggestion and her referral. And so then I met her again, and it's like, "I'm glad to see you here." "Thanks, Sarah!" And so, yeah, I went through the Human Rights Committee training with her. And then after the training I came back to San Francisco, we won the campaign. As I was cleaning up the office, after Chesa won, I got a call from Sarah. And she was like, "Hey, so, you know, I know you've gone through this training. I've met you a couple times and I really think that you've been doing great work. We are just opening up this campaign for Delta AFA, for Delta Airlines to unionize. Would you want to come on board?" I was like, "Yes." Like, that was easy, "Yeah, that's cool." And so she hired me to work on that campaign. And so how it works is after Chesa's campaign, I just, you know, they switch me over- it's a special assignment. I'm like a flight attendant on special assignment-
Janelle Jolley 48:51
So that means you don't have to fly?
Mm-mm. But I still get paid for, you know, what my normal pay would be if I was flying, but it's being paid through the company instead of through the union because the company's making hella money.
Janelle Jolley 49:04
Yes, right, that's right.
They better pay for my salary. Right? Right? Exactly.
Janelle Jolley 49:08
So you are still on union business. You've been on union business through COVID so you haven't had a drop in your income or anything-
No. For a little bit I thought I was going to have to because when I was furloughed I had to- well, like when the furlough went into effect this past October, from October to January, I had to, I mean, I switched from being paid through the company to being- luckily AFA was like, "Cool, it's alright. So, you're furloughed, we will pay for the months that you are not working directly from the company and you're set." It was a little bit of a pay decrease, but nothing crazy. And then once I got recalled back in this past, well yeah, January? February? Then I got, "Cool, back at it."
Janelle Jolley 49:58
What is it like, or what is involved with trying to get Delta flight attendants unionized? Like, what are you up against? And how do you have to move?
I mean, we're up against years and years and years and years of anti-union messaging. Because the whole idea is that they're Delta different. "We're a family here we, you know-"
Janelle Jolley 50:21
Bitch, that's family, they'll look out for me! I mean a family will let me unionized so I can keep food on my table.
Right? A family would have a black and white sick policy so I know if I can or can't call out sick. A real family would have, I don't know, non toxic uniforms?
Janelle Jolley 50:40
That's right, those purple uniforms.
And they're still selling them. They're still selling them. And you can buy those same uniforms for the same amount of money that it was, or get the proven non toxic ones that are more expensive.
Janelle Jolley 50:53
Wow. That's such trash.
Janelle Jolley 50:56
Yeah, that's super trifling.
And, I mean, that's a lot of what we're going up against. But you know, I think the best way that we- the best tactics to get there has come from, you know, some amazing labor organizers who've already been doing this work. Jane McAlevey is- I think her book, No Shortcuts has been my Bible. My absolute- I mean, I have it, it's highlighted and underlined. There's different things- I have sticky notes on each different section to remind myself of these things. And a lot of it comes from just, you know, constantly being in contact with new flight attendants, making them activists and getting- and stepping them up. You know, having this conversations and- for me, the hardest part was, I just thought like, "Okay, cool, we need to have, you know, 50 new cards, by the end of this month, I'll just call 50 people and have them call." And then my boss is like, "You know, you don't do that. You're not making a union for them, it's their union." These Delta flight attendants themselves are the ones who have to organize it. We don't come in, we don't- we as staff organizers, we aren't the ones who are making a union. We are empowering the workers to make a union for themselves. And so it's been- that has been a really cool thing, just to remember, like- it's a humbling experience. And it's something that, I mean, I take very seriously. And I have a lot of respect and pride for all of my flight attendant activists because this is truly their space to organize. And I am just here just to give them good advice. And you know, set some, maybe some internal deadlines here or there. But it's them to take it on and make it their own.
Janelle Jolley 52:41
Is the way it works, that enough Delta flight attendants have to say- they have to go to the labor board and say, "Hey, we want to union." And that's- is that how it works?
So, yeah. We get enough cards on file-
Janelle Jolley 52:55
Cards, meaning union cards?
Yeah, union cards. Authorization cards. Once we get that big list of folks, we take it to the board, authorization board, and then they say, "Okay, cool. You guys are now officially eligible to vote." And so then we kind of go into the GOTV, which is Get Out The Vote, which means all the people who signed a card before we need to make sure that they actually come in and actually vote "yes" for the union.
Janelle Jolley 53:24
So you hold an election on the formation of the union after you get enough cards and the labor board says "Okay, you can vote."
Yeah. And so, because it's gonna be, I mean, 10s of 1000s of flight attendants, it's important that we aren't- it's not just like, "Oh, this random person told sign a card, so I guess I'll sign it." It's really about empowering people to be like, "Oh, this is what I want." And especially once we really get, you know, get to that number and we are able to present it to the labor board, that's when Delta's gonna go in overdrive of doing anti-union messaging. It already is subtle, but it hasn't kicked into full gear. But it will.
Janelle Jolley 54:07
Are their uniforms the animating force behind this, or the most recent animating force behind the people's desire to join a union? It's like, "I'm fucking sick at 30,000 feet. And you made me buy this. I have I wear this and it's making me sick. Fuck you guys."
It's the uniforms. There have been base spaces that have been significantly reduced. Like, there's an airbase in Honolulu- a lot of flight attendants, we call them, they're pineapples- they have significantly reduced the base in Honolulu. And have just really been like, "Okay, flight attendants. If you don't make the cut, you gotta move to- you gotta be based- you may live in Honolulu but now you have to commute." And so now you have to commute to LA or Seattle or San Francisco or Salt Lake City. But it's been an organizing force around now new commuters or people who were previous computers to make sure that there's a stronger commitment to the company, or stronger commuter policy around. During COVID, especially at the beginning, wanting more transparency around COVID for sick calls, because again-
Janelle Jolley 55:16
A lot of people got sick-
They got sick, yeah. And there was no distinction between calling in sick for yourself and calling in sick for a child that you take care of, or a partner you take care of. All these different things, it's been a lot of what I've been doing, and what our team has been doing is just creating- finding those pathways of like, where is the agitation here? Where is the issue? Where do people feel like- where do they want their voice to be heard? And we just like, "Cool. We're here, what's up? We can help you have your voice." All these things that are, you know, coveted are not protected. And that's the biggest thing.
Janelle Jolley 55:52
It's like you can have your eight days you have your private sharing, but protect that with a union. Don't be so easily jerked around at the by substitutes of the bosses.
Right. It's like, the whole- last year around Valentine's Day, we had a, for the Delta FA campaign, "Like it, Lock it in."
Janelle Jolley 56:15
That's good marketing. That's good messaging.
Nice, right? It's good. That's like, "Well done, Taylor and Sarah" They're two, you know, the two, I think, main folks in the comms bringing that out. It's like, "If you like it, lock it in." That's simple. It doesn't change it. Because the thing about union contracts, it's done by your peers. If majority of your peers want to keep something, it's gonna stay in the contract.
Janelle Jolley 56:37
That's right. Hmm. Interesting. If you were to give some advice to someone your age or younger about plugging in, or the importance of plugging in and finding something to do, where you are with whatever talents or skills that you have, what would you say?
My best advice, this is local and state and nationwide, find out what you're passionate about, other than just being like, "I'm passionate about politics." Like, no, you're not. What are you actually passionate about? Like, don't tell me that you like politics. What are the things that you like? Because if you can't tell me, it's just power. In which case do not go into politics.
Janelle Jolley 57:24
Yeah, that's right. Cuz then you'll turn into something that you, maybe, don't want to.
Exactly. Ground yourself in the things that make you happy, the things that make you upset, the things that- the injustices that you see that you want to change. Ground yourself in that, and then find it and join it. Even if it's a small club of like five people who meet once a month, join that small club. Get active and show up and keep showing up. And, this is actually something that Jane told me is, it's showing up and doing the work.
Janelle Jolley 57:57
Yeah, it really is, it's that easy. And it sounds easy, but it's so- exactly. If you show up and you do the work, people take notice. And, you know, you will suddenly realize like, "Oh, someone else feels as passionate about this as I do. They want to work with me and do this, keep working and keep fighting for these same things cuz we have the same passion." And suddenly two people becomes five becomes 20 becomes 100 and you are doing what you love. And even whenever it fucking sucks because, god, sometimes it fucking sucks, you will at least seek solace of knowing that you're doing what you love, and you're doing what you're passionate about. You're doing what you care about. And you'll keep going.
Janelle Jolley 59:00
Good grief. I do not know how she does it all. Well, I mean, I do know now but you know what I mean. Full time campaign manager- twice- and a full time flight attendant? Kaylah out here making the rest of us look bad. I will go ahead and say, however, if you find yourself crossing paths with a Kaylah you are definitely doing something right in life. She is truly a gift. All right. Don't forget to subscribe and share. Maybe find us on social media @whatslefttodo. You know, it's really about whatever floats your boat. Okay, see you next week.