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Labor's Edge: Views from the California Labor Movement

09/2011 Labor's Edge Blog Articles


End-of-Session Legislative Round-up

by Sara Flocks

For the first time in nearly eight years, California has a Democratic governor brandishing the pen as the legislative session draws to a close. The Legislature sent nearly 600 bills to Governor Brown who has until October 9 to sign or veto the measures. Without Schwarzenegger in office to veto any and all worker-friendly legislation, armies of corporate lobbyists descended on the Capitol to kill labor legislation before it could get to Governor Brown. Unions fought back hard, pushing through a number of key pieces of legislation to the governor.

The California Labor Federation moved a package of bills, co-sponsored with affiliates, to protect workers, create and retain good jobs and make sure our public dollars are spent effectively. Over the next week, "Labor’s Edge" will highlight several Labor Federation sponsored bills that would make a significant positive impact on the lives of workers with a signature from Governor Brown.

Here’s a round-up of the Labor Federation's sponsored bills on the Governor’s desk.

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High-Speed Rail Means Jobs, Jobs, Jobs for the Central Valley

by Randy Bayne

Last week, on September 7, the North Valley Labor Federation (NVLF) hosted Economic Recovery in Our Community, a forum on high-speed rail and the jobs it is expected to bring to all of California beginning with the San Joaquin Valley. Attending the forum were about 50 people from labor, state, city and county government, and the community.

Mark Kyle of Operating Engineers Local 3 told the audience that high-speed rail will create approximately 600,000 jobs, not including jobs created as the system comes on line to sustain and support the system and provide the services necessary to travelers along the route.

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At Oakland Airport, Transportation Secretary LaHood Speaks Out in Support of FAA Reauthorization

by Charlie Costello

For the third time in the past six weeks I found myself at the Oakland International Airport’s Control Tower Construction Site for a press conference about the same issue, extending the FAA’s reauthorization bill before it expires at midnight, Friday September 16, 2011. In the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but think that I may be back here again but as a glass-half-full kind of guy, I quickly dispelled that thought.

While introducing U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at the press conference, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan remarked back on the last one, saying, "Last month, Barbara Boxer warned us that we might be back here again. We are hoping that the third time is a charm."

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AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust Helps Create More Than 10,000 New Union Construction Jobs in Two Years

by Liz Diamond

At a time when unemployment in the union construction trades is at levels not seen since the Great Depression, the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT) has reached a milestone by creating more than 10,000 union construction jobs during the past two years.  With investments of $963 million in 34 projects across the country, union pension capital invested by the HIT leveraged nearly $2 billion of development activity, while creating or preserving 12,752 housing and healthcare units and achieving competitive returns. With 11,188 jobs actually generated so far, the HIT is raising its goal to a new target of 15,000 jobs.

Examples of the HIT’s recent job-generating investments include three projects in San Francisco – 333 Harrison, Arc Light Co. and Potrero Launch. These three projects represent $105 million in HIT financing and have a total development value of $233 million. They will create 616 housing units and more than 1,300 union construction jobs.

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Hyatt Workers Take on Most Abusive Employer in Hotel Industry

by Julia Wong

On September 8, 2011, 3000 Hyatt hotel workers across the nation walked off the job and traded in their mops and brooms for picket signs and bullhorns. The strikers, including 700 San Francisco workers at the Grand Hyatt and Hyatt Regency hotels, are demanding the right to help themselves and other Hyatt workers across the United States contend with an abusive employer, intent on destroying decent jobs. Specifically, Hyatt workers are demanding the right to picket, strike, and boycott in support of other Hyatt workers to organize, get contracts, or protest abuses, wherever they may occur.

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L.A. Stadium Project Means 23,000 Jobs

by Mike Hall

The California legislature approved of a bill that would allow expedited judicial reviews of any legal challenges to a proposed downtown Los Angeles NFL stadium and renovation of the neighboring Los Angeles Convention Center. 

Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, says the action is "a significant step forward in the creation of 23,000 good middle-class jobs for construction and hotel workers, stage hands and grips and janitors. This is our economic stimulus package and it will be financed with zero public dollars. The LA Labor Movement worked hard to score a major victory for all Angelenos."

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Fifty Thousand Friends: Union Organizing On Facebook

by Tom Dalzell

Last year, the union I represent -- IBEW Local 1245 -- started the Shame on NV Energy campaign to fight the utility's decision to the slash health benefits of their retirees. We made a conscious decision at the beginning to try something new and approach the campaign not as a speech, but as a dialogue.

This week, Shame on NV Energy notched its 50,000th member and became the largest organized labor site on Facebook, dwarfing the national AFL-CIO, SEIU and AFSCME. 50,000 friends isn't just a number -- we've engaged our members to sign petitions, show up at protests and put public pressure on the company. And we've helped secure some real concessions, including a key change to the company's bylaws through a shareholder resolution.

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Flood of Support Forces Walmart Subcontractor to Reverse Retaliation Firing

by Tracie Morales

On August 24th, warehouse worker Santos Castaneda spoke publicly of workplace temperatures that exceeded 110 degrees, lack of indoor ventilation and other health abuses rampant at NFI Industries, a national logistics facility subcontracted by national retailers like Walmart. Five minutes later, Castaneda was fired.

After news of health and safety violations surfaced, NFI workers reported receiving veiled threats of calls to immigration, job loss, assignment changes and employers telling workers to ostracize leaders. Castaneda was one of three workers at NFI who filed Cal/OSHA complaints reporting the violations in July.

News of Castaneda’s wrongful firing sparked delegations of labor advocates and more than 3,300 online supporters who signed a petition demanding NFI Industries rehire Castaneda and cease retaliatory tactics. On August 30th, Castaneda was rehired and returned to work.

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This Labor Day, Let’s Unite to Fight for the Middle Class

by Art Pulaski

There’s a threat to America’s economic future that’s so overlooked it’s gone almost unnoticed amid the endless debate over the debt ceiling and federal spending: massive income inequality.

This Labor Day, the gap that separates the very wealthy from the rest of us is as wide as it was in the Great Depression. Since the economic collapse of 2008, workers have suffered through joblessness, home foreclosures, reduced wages and benefits and a sustained assault on our right to collectively bargain. Did you notice that corporate profits are soaring and Wall Street bankers are receiving fatter bonuses than ever? And we wonder why our middle class is disappearing before our eyes.

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Farm Workers Marching for Fair Treatment Need Your Support

by Jocelyn Sherman

History is being made, and you can take part. Ten days ago, on Tuesday August 23, farm workers began a historic 200-mile pilgrimage up the Central Valley to Sacramento to press for enactment of the Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act and legislation giving farm workers the right to be paid overtime after 8 hours like other workers. This historic march will end this Sunday, Sept. 4th, Labor Day weekend, at the State Capitol. Thousands of farm workers from throughout California will attend this rally and personally tell Gov. Jerry Brown to sign their bills once they reach his desk. Will you join them? Learn more and sign up to participate here.

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