Labor's Edge Blog Articles
Service is Service: Why I’m Giving Back to My Fellow Veterans
In the mid-1970s, I enlisted in the United States Army and served for three years from 1976 to 1979 as a missile systems repairman for the Cobra Helicopters (TOW) missile system. I was stationed at Fulda Germany in the 11th Air Cav, where I achieved the rank of Sargent E-5. When I returned from my tour of duty overseas, I utilized my “veterans preference” to land a good union job at the U.S. Postal Service, and I’ve been there ever since -- more than 33 years.
But these days, returning veterans don’t have the same opportunities that I did. Far too many are jobless, homeless and struggling with physical and mental effects of their military service. Those brave men and women who served our country have earned – and deserve – our respect and support when they come home. That’s what inspired me to launch the non-profit Veterans Partnering With Communities, Inc. in 2011.
More posts by Danny Marquez
FPPC Levies Record Fines Against Dark Money Groups
California’s Fair Political Practices Commission today sent a strong message to shadowy out-of-state corporate special-interest groups and donors trying to influence our state’s elections by levying record fines for contributions to committees that supported Prop 32 and opposed Prop 30.
According to the Sacramento Bee, "In a campaign finance case watched around the country, California's political watchdog has levied a $1 million fine against two non-profit groups for inappropriately laundering money during last year's ballot initiative wars ... The commission also sent letters to two California committees demanding they pay the state general fund more than $15 million they received from groups that didn't properly report the source of their funds."
More posts by Steve Smith
Virtual Schools: Cyber Pie in the Sky?
Sandy Hellebrand was concerned. She needed to find a school that could educate her son Gabriel, who has autism and was about to enter high school.
Hellebrand thought she had found the perfect solution: She would enroll Gabriel and her two younger children in Sky Mountain Charter School, one of a rapidly-growing number of virtual schools in California and across the country.
After all, she reasoned, the school would provide excellent online instructional materials and instructors to guide Gabriel’s individual needs. Since Sky Mountain is a publicly funded school – although not a traditional brick-and-mortar one – the state of California would pay for her children’s education.
More posts by Gary Cohn
Charter School Sustainability or Student Achievement?
Most charter schools promise higher test scores than conventional public schools, and Rocketship charters have been the loudest proponent of a test driven approach. Let’s set aside for a moment the problems with the test and the problems caused by teaching to the test and excluding other educational experiences. Charter schools would have us measure their success by looking at API (Academic Performance Index) scores. So how does Rocketship do? The answer is poorly.
At a recent charter workshop held at the Santa Clara Office of Education, board members said that they should consider the sustainability of a charter school in their approval process. The largest charter school network in Santa Clara County is Rocketship Education, and the county Board must be impressed by their sustainability because there will eventually be twenty Rocketship schools in the county.
More posts by Gemma Abels
BART Strike Ends—Unions & Management Reach Tentative Agreement
After more than five months of contentious negotiations, BART’s largest unions, SEIU 1021 and ATU 1555, announced last night that they’ve reached a tentative agreement with the transit agency and the four-day BART strike is officially over. Trains began running again this morning, and service is supposed to be fully operational by this afternoon.
The agreement is centered around a fair compromise on pension and healthcare costs. It also provides for reasonable wage increases, in addition to some work rule changes that allow for innovation and input from workers.
More posts by Rebecca Band
The BART Strike Could Have Been Prevented - But Management Said ‘No’
Now that a second BART strike is upon us, let’s be clear about one thing: this strike is absolutely unnecessary and could easily have been prevented. In the final days of negotiations, the unions had accepted management’s demands for higher employee healthcare contributions. They had already agreed to a pension deal that was favorable to management. They had in place a framework for a deal on pay that was acceptable to both sides and which represented a further reduction – after several significant reductions in the previous two weeks – in the unions’ wage proposals. And contrary to what has been reported in the media, the unions had made important concessions on work rules and were prepared to submit the few remaining of disagreement to expedited voluntary arbitration.
More posts by John Logan
Three Things You Need to Know about the BART Strike
After months of negotiating in bad faith, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) management last night left BART workers no other option but to go on strike. What a shame. It didn’t have to come to this.
With all the misinformation swirling about on the BART strike, there are a few things to clear up.
Here are the three things you need to know about the BART strike (h/t to Pete Castelli of SEIU 1021).
More posts by Steve Smith
Shutdown Shut Down
After 16 days of a government shutdown that kept vital services behind locked doors for the public, paychecks out of the pockets of hundreds of thousands of federal workers and pushed the economy to the brink of disaster, the Republican government shutdown ended last night when the Senate (81–18) and House (285–144) passed, and President Barack Obama signed, a bill to fund and reopen the government and raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, "While it is good news that we have avoided a crisis, we all know that it should never have happened. No party or faction inside a party should hold our economy hostage to extract political gains."
More posts by Mike Hall
Having it All: The Absurdity of the False Choice Frame for Pensions
The most recent alarmist language from pension opponents is that Californians must make a choice between providing a secure retirement for our state's seniors and paying for every other social service and progressive cause. The warning bells are earsplitting, as fear mongers go to such extremes as to tell us that California won't be able to tackle climate change unless we overhaul the pension system.
But it's not education or pensions, it's not climate change or pensions. These are false choices that continue to be put forward by the same millionaires and hedge fund managers that got us into this mess.
It's not one or the other, because budgets are made up of thousands of decisions. There are several reasonable ways that the state could raise revenue without impacting social services, without impacting taxes, and without crippling the retirement system that so many of our friends and neighbors have paid into and now rely on for retirement security.
More posts by Dave Low
TPP Is a Race to The Bottom—We Need a Race to the Top
For 130 million working Americans, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is, as Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison (D) described so well, the "largest corporate power grab you never heard of."
After 19 rounds of negotiations between the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, TPP remains a mystery to everyone except government trade negotiators and the corporate lobbyists who get to read all the proposals.
Even Members of Congress have real no idea of what's involved in the negotiations.
More posts by Larry Cohen
Career Politician Teams Up With Enron Billionaire to Gut Californians’ Retirement
It’s official. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, a career politician with backing from a Texas billionaire and former Enron trader, has filed a ballot measure to strip away retirement security from current teachers, firefighters, sanitation workers and other public servants.
According to the Sacramento Bee: "The Pension Reform Act of 2014 would alter California's constitution to allow state and local government employers to cut pensions for current workers." Essentially, this means politicians would have the power to unilaterally slash the retirement of current workers, breaking a promise made to those workers when they were hired.
More posts by Steve Smith
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