02/2012 Labor's Edge Blog Articles
February 29: International RSI Day
by Howard Egerman
February 29th is an unusual day for everyone, since it comes just once every 4 years. However, to people who suffer from repetitive strain injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, thoriac outlet syndrome, rotator cuff injuries among others, this day is special. It's the only day on the calendar which is non- repetitive, and it's also International RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) Day. It is a day to remember those of us who suffer from disorders caused by doing the same motions repeatedly that affect our muscles, nerves and tendons.
As someone who has had carpal tunnel syndrome since l998, I am luckier than most, since I became injured late in life. When I first started my career, there were devices called typewriters, and office workers such as myself put pen to paper.
More posts by Howard Egerman
‘1000 Ways to Die’ Crew Hits the Street to Fight for Their Rights at Work
by Rebecca Band
The hit TV series ‘1000 Ways to Die’ depicts vivid re-enactments of fatal catastrophes. But there’s a real catastrophe going on behind the scenes, as the hard-working crew of ‘1000 Ways to Die’ fights for fairness and a voice at work.
After four years of working in difficult conditions without union protections, the television crew at Spike TV's hit show decided to take a stand. Last Thursday, the crew voted unanimously to support the IATSE so they can finally secure affordable health care, safe working conditions and a fair union contract. But the employer, Original Productions, which also produces other hit reality shows such as 'Ice Road Truckers' and 'Deadliest Catch', refused to recognize the IATSE as the bargaining unit, and promptly fired more than 25 crew members.
More posts by Rebecca Band
Walmart in Chinatown: There Goes the Neighborhood
by Aiha Nguyen
The recent confirmation that Walmart will be setting up shop in LA's Chinatown made my heart drop. This is a neighborhood that will always hold a special place in my heart. Having previously worked in the community for two years, I can tell you stories of eating pastries at Phoenix Bakery or the smells of ginseng and tea wafting from Wing Hop Fung or the sound of elders debating loudly at family association meetings.
Chinatown holds so much history but it’s also a living community that remains a cultural and economic hub for hundreds of thousands of other Chinese, Vietnamese and other Asian American residents. It has been the landing spot for immigrants for centuries, even after the original Chinatown was demolished and moved to its current location. Despite this disruption, the fabric of the community has managed to stay intact – continuing to provide a sense of community for many Asian Americans.
More posts by Aiha Nguyen
AFL-CIO President Trumka Joins Domestic Workers at Capitol to Support CA Domestic Workers Bill of Rights
by Andrea Mercado
More than 100 domestic workers descended on the State Capitol yesterday in support of AB 889, the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, with a very special guest: AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Trumka, who met a group of domestic worker in California last fall, has made their crusade for equal treatment and dignity on the job his own, traveling to California this week to support their cause.
At a press conference this morning, Trumka, California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski, Assemblymembers Tom Ammiano, V.M Perez, Bill Monning and others voiced their support for the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, AB 889, a bill that extends basic protections to this often overlooked and undervalued workforce.
More posts by Andrea Mercado
Stand With Golden Gate Bridge Workers
by Tim Paulson
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of America’s most famous icons. However, right now we have a disturbing and heartbreaking situation going on at the bridge.
Over 380 union members who are joined in a coalition of 19 unions have been bargaining for over 10 months without reaching an agreement, and now are down to a fight to keep healthcare affordable for their families. The Golden Gate Bridge General Manager and Board have insisted on concessions to help them out of a short-term budget challenge, while also giving the non-union employees at the District a raise in July of 2011.
More posts by Tim Paulson
LAUSD Budget Proposal Fails to Put Classrooms and Communities First
by David Lyell
With the recent Los Angeles Unified School District/United Teachers Los Angeles agreement to stabilize schools, LAUSD officials embraced a renewed commitment to fixing schools rather than continuing to abdicate that responsibility to outside interests.
Then, they took four steps back by creating a devastating “fiscal stabilization" budget that would decimate communities and educational opportunities. In a small spot of good news, School Board members voted unanimously to delay approving this budget, but they will take the issue back up on March 13.
More posts by David Lyell
Workers at SoCal Carwashes Win First Contracts
by Mike Hall
Workers at two more Southern California carwashes won their first contracts with carwash owners after they voted last year to join the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 675.
The workers at Vermont Carwash and Nava’s Carwash in South Los Angeles came together in the CLEAN Carwash Campaign to fight for their rights. The CLEAN Carwash Campaign is a coalition supported by the USW, the AFL-CIO and more than 100 community, faith and labor organizations in Los Angeles.
Today, the carwasheros celebrated their victory at a ceremony with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
More posts by Mike Hall
Solidarity: The Next Generation
by Niesha Lofing
The goal was to draw attention to a decision in San Jose that could have stripped collective bargaining rights from workers.
So about 25 members of the Next Generation Bay Area group donned zombie gear, marched down to a music event at a city park and held a flash mob. Then they camped overnight in support of workers.
The group has about 50 active members, with 150 more involved via email. They hold at least three events a month not including activities like voter registration drives. They attend alliance events, hold happy hours and raise awareness around social justice issues.
More posts by Niesha Lofing
Beverly Nurses Fight for Quality Patient Care, Fair Wages, & Union Protections
by Ken Deitz, RN and Barbara Blake, RN
Beverly Hospital is a community hospital that serves working families in Montebello, Pico Rivera, Monterey Park, El Monte, Whittier, and East Los Angeles. In recent years, the quality of care at Beverly has plummeted. The hospital’s roof is leaking, there isn’t enough medical equipment, and existing equipment is broken. Wages are so low that the hospital can’t keep enough experienced nurses to maintain safe staffing levels as required by state law.
While hospital administrators refuse to invest in Beverly’s staff and equipment, the hospital’s CEO, Gary Kiff, has been getting pay raises and bonuses, now making more than $400k a year. Over the years, Beverly’s Registered Nurses have made repeated individual attempts to speak to management about our concerns – but we have gotten nowhere. We chose to form a union so that we would have a real voice in patient care and working conditions.
More posts by Barbara Blake
Stop the Corporate Power Grab Act
by Brian Brokaw
Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association – who makes his healthy living (last reported to be $300,000 annually) fundraising, concealing, and dispensing special interest money through what the Sacramento Bee calls “a sophisticated series of nonprofit corporations and political action committees” – this week issued a righteous call to “STOP SPECIAL INTEREST MONEY.” How about that?
Of course, anyone who has followed California politics over the last few decades knows that the group founded by the late Jarvis, now led by Coupal, is one of the biggest, most powerful, most-entrenched special interests under the dome. As the Bee’s Dan Morain notes, “[Jarvis] is part of the Republican establishment, almost always aligned with Chamber of Commerce and real estate interests, and often with tobacco, oil, gambling and other big businesses.”
More posts by Brian Brokaw
San Diego Activists Commemorate 100-Year Anniversary of the Fight for Free Speech
by Lorena Gonzalez
It started as an organizing drive for the International Workers of the World. But one hundred years ago in San Diego, when the Wobblies took to their soapboxes, it turned into a battle to defend free speech that mobilized thousands across the country.
A city ordinance banned public speaking in a downtown area, and protesters were jailed, beaten, tarred and feathered, tortured and even killed for demanding their right to stand on a soapbox and speak. The fight attracted the likes of Emma Goldman, who was nearly attacked by a mob when she arrived in San Diego, and stretched until legal picketing was finally established three years later.
Free speech itself is on stronger footing today. We've seen across the country and right here in San Diego that the fight for real freedom continues every day. The freedom of earning a living wage and being able to afford a decent place to live as well as the freedom of building a secure retirement and having access to basic health care.
More posts by Lorena Gonzalez
250,000 Sign Petition to Apple to End Slave Conditions at Its Suppliers
by Tula Connell
Outraged at the inhumane treatment of workers in China who make iPads, iPhones and other Apple products, protesters visited a half-dozen Apple stores around the world last week to deliver petitions calling for reforms in the working conditions at factories run by Apple’s suppliers.
According to Democracy Now!, "A demonstration at Apple’s Grand Central Terminal store in New York City drew a dozen people, who peacefully handed over a petition with 250,000 signatures to an Apple store manager. Shelby Knox, the director for Change.org, led the effort to collect the signatures."
More posts by Tula Connell
Why Some Politicians Like Bad News
by Ben Field
A couple months ago, it came to light that the city of San Jose was overestimating pension costs for the coming fiscal year by more than $50 million. Last week, a report by City Manager Debra Figone revealed that the reserve set aside for next year’s budget shortfall had grown to $22 million, which reduces the deficit to just $3 million, but she and Mayor Chuck Reed continue to represent the shortfall as $25 million. Then on Wednesday, NBC Bay Area investigative reporters showed that the Mayor and others had overstated the city’s projected pension costs by $250 million.
More posts by Ben Field
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