Worker’s Memorial Day is more than just an observance and a day to honor our friends and family who have suffered and died on the job, it’s also a call to action. Yesterday in our ThrowbackThursday post we highlighted life for workers before Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act more than forty years ago.
Can you imagine a time when you could go to work, get injured, and have no recourse whatsoever?! Until workers started to organize in the 20th century and push for safe standards on the job, this was the case for generations of men, women, and children. For decades workers across industries fought to have employers voluntarily adopt regulations to keep their workers safe and provide benefits in the event a worker got injured while working.
The Coalition to Stop Fast Track began airing television ads in Sacramento, Bay Area, and Fresno media markets to encourage voters to urge their Representatives to oppose Trade Promotion Authority, aka “Fast Track”, which Congress is expected to vote on within the next two weeks. These "Bad Deal" ads are part of a seven figure campaign running across the country and specifically target Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA 6th District), and Congressmen Ami Bera (D-CA 7th District), Mike Thompson (D-CA 5th District) and Jim Costa (D-CA 16th District) who have been non-committal about their position on Fast Track legislation.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors last night joined the growing chorus to stop fast track for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by unanimously passing a resolution opposing Trade Promotion Authority for the TPP. San Francisco joins another major West Coast port city – Seattle -- in opposing a fast-tracked TPP that would have broad and potentially devastating consequences to California’s economy, environment and public health.
There’s been a lot of attention lately on California’s turnaround. As it turns out, that nonsense about all our jobs moving to Texas was a just Texas-sized whopper. Last year California created about 500,000 jobs to lead the nation in job growth, outpacing the conservative darling Texas.
Thousands took part in strikes and protests Wednesday in one of the largest mobilizations of underpaid working people in history. Actions across California from Los Angeles to Sacramento gave working people the opportunity to stand with low wage workers who bravely went on strike and walked out mid-shift to send the message: we will not stop until $15 and a union.
Yesterday, Labor’s annual Joint Legislative Conference, sponsored by the California Labor Federation and State Building and Construction Trades Council, brought together more than 500 union leaders, representatives, and activists from all over the state to plan and execute a shared agenda for the good of all working families. While there were many phenomenal speakers throughout the day during plenary, lunch and dinner, conference attendees agreed: the workers who were able to tell their story stole the show.
Today more than 500 leaders and activists from hundreds of California unions will come together in Sacramento for Labor’s 2015 Joint Legislative Conference, hosted by the California Labor Federation and the State Building and Construction Trades Council. The theme of the conference this year is “Working People Standing Together Changing Lives”.
With National Women’s History Month behind us now, it’s still important to celebrate the great strides women have made over the past decades. It is equally important to remember how many women workers still don’t have the basic necessities they need to support themselves and their families. The labor movement views the struggle for women’s equality as a shared fight, especially considering women are the sole or primary breadwinners for 40% of families in the United States. Women of color, in particular, have a hard time getting good pay and benefits, and they make up a disproportionate share of low-wage workers.
Everyone loves a good #TBT but there are also so many forward-thinking campaigns worth highlighting in the labor movement! Yesterday we celebrated the legendary Cesar Chavez for #ThrowBackThursday and today we’re dedicating our first #ForwardFriday to Jennifer Muir with the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA). Muir wrote an opinion piece for the Orange County Register today that will hit home for many working people in California who are fed up with a system that is rigged against us.
“If we can change Walmart, we can change the World”
It was with this spirit that workers from around California united at dozens of Walmart locations to educate customers and staff about the recent wage victory for Walmart workers and to let them know that the fight is not over. We will not stop until workers earn a living wage and have access to full time work.
For our final Q&A celebrating women in the California labor movement to honor Women’s History Month, we sat down with Mary Gutierrez-Khopkar. With experience in labor, federal and state politics, Mary Gutierrez-Khopkar currently serves as Child Care Campaign Director for the largest union organization in California, the State Council of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU California,). SEIU California is the coordinating political body for over 17 SEIU locals throughout California representing over 700,000 school employees, child care providers, homecare workers, janitors, social workers, court employees, healthcare workers, and other service employees. In this capacity, Mary is responsible for leading strategy and implementation of one of the largest union organizing efforts in the country by trying to win collective bargaining rights with the state on behalf of a predominantly female workforce of over 60,000 family child care providers.
On Wednesday April 1st, all across the country, we will spread the news of the recent wage victory for Walmart employees and the message that we can’t stop until all workers are earning $15 and full time is an option for those who need it at Walmart. Just last month Walmart announced raises for 500,000 Walmart workers. That’s $1 billion in money into Associates pockets! It’s a huge victory and a great start, but even with this raise many associates continue to struggle to support their families on low wages and too few hours.
That’s why workers are calling on Walmart to publicly commit to $15 an hour and access to full-time, consistent work. You can join them on April 1st.