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Labor's Edge: Views from the California Labor Movement

Labor's Edge Articles by Steve Smith


6/26/15

Forced Arbitration: Stacking the Deck Against Workers

by Steve Smith

When you start a new job, you expect to fill out a pile of paperwork relating to your employment. What you don't expect is for your boss to slip in a document that effectively nullifies your rights as a worker and demand that you sign it as a condition of employment. It's called forced arbitration, and it's an underhanded practice that's on the rise.


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6/3/15

Major Victory: LA Hikes Minimum Wage to $15 per Hour by 2020

By Steve Smith

The extraordinary campaign to raise wages for low-income Californians scored one of its biggest victories to date yesterday when the Los Angeles City Council approved a plan to hike the minimum wage for Angelenos to $15 per hour by 2020. The union-led coalition LA Raise the Wage has been building support for months to secure yesterday’s historic 14-1 council vote in favor of the wage hike.


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5/13/15

Fast-Track Trade Legislation Suffers Setback in Senate

By Steve Smith

In a victory for workers, health and safety, the environment and democracy, a motion to bring Trade Promotion Authority to the Senate floor failed to garner the necessary votes, halting the effort to fast track the secretive, job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal….for now.


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4/22/15

SF Board of Supes Joins Call to Stop Fast Track of TPP Trade Agreement

By Steve Smith

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.


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4/17/15

What Color is the Sky in Joel Fox’s Fantasy World?

by Steve Smith

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.


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3/24/15

AB 32 Supports Clean Environment, Good Jobs and Safer Workplaces

By Steve Smith

There’s an undeniable link between workers’ rights and environmental protections. It’s pretty difficult to work safely if environmental standards don’t exist to prevent the pollution of air and water in our communities. That’s why unions steadfastly support California’s landmark environmental climate change law, AB 32. In an op-ed in the San Bernardino Sun last week, Laura Reynolds of the Communications Workers of America and Fernando Losada of the California Nurses Association write about the importance of safeguarding and expanding AB 32 so we can all live and work in safe, healthy communities in the future.


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3/5/15

Time for California to Fully Fund Higher Education

By Steve Smith

Budgeting is a matter of priorities. Just ask any family who budgets monthly. The necessities always take priority. In that sense, state budgeting is no different. Education, infrastructure, health care, public safety and the safety net, among other essential services, should all be paramount.  And the workers who deliver those services ought to be able to count on a living wage and decent benefits.


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3/2/15

Oakland Workers Get a Raise Today (And Paid Sick Days Too!)

By Steve Smith

Nearly 48,000 workers in Oakland got a raise today. No, this wasn’t a gift by altruistic corporate CEOs (now there’s an oxymoron). Today’s raise is courtesy of Measure FF, which voters passed in November due to the strong support of Bay Area labor unions and community groups. And not only do workers get a bump in pay to $12.25 an hour beginning today, the measure also provides for paid sick days, which will impact more than 56,000 workers in Oakland. The minimum wage is indexed to inflation, ensuring it will rise as the cost of living does.


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2/4/15

Speaker Atkins Unveils Critical Plan to Rebuild Transportation Infrastructure, Create Good Jobs

by Steve Smith

About 1/3 of all the bridges and overpasses in our state are showing signs of deterioration (i.e. crumbling). Seventy percent of our urban roads and highways are congested. California has the second-highest share of roads in “poor condition” in the nation.

Today California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) announced a long-overdue proposal to rebuild our run-down roads and bridges, ease traffic congestion and create a lot of good, middle-class jobs doing it.


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1/16/15

We’re Not Buying the Pension-Busting Hype

By Steve Smith, California Labor Federation

Chicken little is alive and well. Those who seek to undercut the retirement security of hard-working public servants are once again trying to whip up mass hysteria about pensions, cherry-picking data from  a website recently created by State Controller John Chiang in an effort to fool the public. As usual, the fact-challenged pension-busters -- and a number of media outlets -- totally missed the mark in their shallow analysis of pension data, which Dave Low of Californians for Retirement Security notes in a San Diego Union-Tribune op-ed.


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