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Labor's Edge: Views from the California Labor Movement

01/2011 Labor's Edge Blog Articles


Rants & Raves for the Week of January 10th

* GOP Senators balk on budget * Sen. La Malfa attacks high-speed rail * Banks profit off of record foreclosures * Congressional Republicans deny aid to states * Shady investors back away from state building sale *

* President Obama inspires nation in wake of Arizona tragedy * New Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones goes after greedy insurers * Krugman debunks the "Texas miracle" myth * State Board of Ed delays bad parts of "Race to the Top" * California commemorates Dr. King *

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Lack of Paid Sick Leave Is Family and Public Health Concern

by Mike Hall

More than 44 million private-sector workers in the United States—­42 percent of the private-sector workforce­—don’t have paid sick days they can use to recover from a common illness like the flu, according to new research by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). According to report, the occupations most likely to have regular contact with the public—­food service and preparation, and personal care and service—­are among those least likely to provide paid sick days.

Recent surveys show three-quarters of Americans say paid sick leave should be a “basic workers’ right” and Congress should pass legislation that guarantees workers paid sick leave. More than 160 countries provide paid sick leave, but not the United States.

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More posts by Mike Hall


The Good, The Bad & The Ugly in San Francisco Hotel Dispute

by Carl Finamore

For a few hours on Friday, January 7, San Francisco’s most contentious and longest-running labor dispute recalled scenes straight out of Hollywood, at least that’s how distinguished law professor Jack Getman saw it.

Speaking from a flat-bed truck parked in front of the city’s one-square block premier downtown Hilton hotel, the Earl E. Sheffield Regents Chair Professor at the University of Texas, fired away: “This is like an old western movie where there are good guys and bad guys, and,” pointing his finger toward the hotel doorway entrance, “here in San Francisco, clearly, Hilton management are the bad guys and hotel workers are the good guys.” The sidewalk picket audience of around 100 laughed and cheered, including Getman’s numerous colleagues from the most prominent law schools in the nation.

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More posts by Carl Finamore


Budget Proposal Opening Salvo of Important Debate

by Steve Smith

The budget proposal unveiled today by Gov. Jerry Brown is sure to ignite an epic debate about the future of California.

Brown’s proposal contains a number of cuts that are difficult to stomach. Many of these cuts would impact our state’s most vulnerable at a time when the economic crisis continues to batter our families. Major cuts to higher education are of great concern. How are we going to compete in a global economy unless we are producing a skilled, educated workforce ready to meet the challenges ahead?  But as bad as the proposed cuts are, it stands to get much worse unless voters approve an extension of taxes already in place.

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More posts by Steve Smith


Wall Street Attacks Your Garbage Collector

The wealthy right wing have always liked to pick on the working class. And now Wall Street wants to blame Main Street for the financial crisis our country is in. Big bankers taking home large bonuses are blaming the childcare workers and parking-meter collectors in this country, saying that their jobs are the reason we're in a recession.

If you stop to actually look at the people and jobs Wall Street is attacking, you realize that we need to stop the lies. Public-service workers make little money and do the hard jobs necessary to keep our country running.

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More posts by Robert Greenwald


An Open Letter to Rep. Darrell Issa

by Mitch Seaman

Dear Rep. Issa,

Politico reported Tuesday that last month you delivered letters to over 150 corporations, trade associations and conservative think tanks, requesting a list of their least favorite “existing and proposed regulations” that you, as House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chair, could help eliminate. The article further highlights your appeal for “suggestions on reforming identified regulations and the rulemaking process.”

Obviously there’s been some sort of mistake. As I’m sure you’re aware, Duke Energy, Toyota and Bayer—all recipients of your letter—are not residents of California’s gorgeous 49th district. Maybe you were thrown by the names of the American Petroleum Institute and the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA), hoping they were consumer-driven nonprofits focused on improving the safety of oil production and transport—assuming you’d like to protect the 49th district’s world-class beaches and environmental beauty.

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More posts by Mitch Seaman


Fighting Back Against Union-Busting at KGTV

by Dennis Csillag

Members of NABET-CWA Local 54 who work at KGTV Channel 10 in San Diego have had a contract with the McGraw-Hill-owned station since it went on the air in 1953. While there were a few minor scuffles along the way, there was never a major dispute and the union and company enjoyed a unique partnership that maintained KGTV as a market leader.

That all changed in the Fall of 2005. KGTV cancelled the scheduled “informal” negotiations with Local 54 and hired a law firm that brags on its website about providing union-free environments. And that’s exactly what KGTV was up to. They intended to frustrate employees to the point that they gave up and decertified their union. But the employees said, “I don’t think so.”

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More posts by Dennis Csillag


New Leadership and a New Outlook in 2011

by Rebecca Greenberg

On Monday at precisely 11:19 a.m., Governor Schwarzenegger’s seemingly endless term finally came to a close as Jerry Brown was officially sworn in as our once and current Governor. And right away, it became clear that Governor Brown is about to usher in into a whole new era of California politics.

Unlike Schwarzenegger -- who spent his inaugurals hobnobbing with corporate lobbyists and courting wealthy donors -- Governor Brown instead chose to head straight to the People’s Inauguration Party on the Capitol lawn, sponsored by the Orange County Employees Association, where  he munched on a free hot dog alongside thousands of working Californians who came out to celebrate the occasion. Later in the afternoon, Governor Brown made a surprise appearance at the California Labor Federation’s own inauguration celebration, where he warmly greeted and mingled with the union activists and leaders who were instrumental in the 2010 campaign.

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More posts by Rebecca Band


Anti-Union Measures Harm ALL Workers

by Caitlin Vega

Yesterday's New York Times reports that in a number of states around the country, Republican lawmakers are taking advantage of the budget crises they face to attack unions.

Proposals include limiting collective bargaining, ending prevailing wage on construction projects, eliminating the right to strike, and even banning the union shop. Some Republican House leaders are even pushing to take the word "labor" out of the "Education and Labor Committee" and change the title to "Education and Workforce Committee." Here we are, in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Depression, and politicians are attacking the only voice for working people in this country.

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More posts by Caitlin Vega


Christie Out in the Cold

by Caitlin Vega

You gotta love the irony of this one. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been on a crusade against public employees since the day he came to office. Faced with a serious state deficit, he places the blame squarely on the working people of his state. In spite of the national recession and the lingering foreclosure crisis, Christie has focused solely on state workers, city employees, and public school teachers, accusing them of creating the budget problem.

Now, Christie is taking heat because while his constituents have been hit by massive snowstorms, he and his Lieutenant Governor are both vacationing out of state. Even when it became clear that the storms had created chaos throughout the state, Governor Christie chose not to return from Disneyworld.

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More posts by Caitlin Vega

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