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Labor's Edge: Views from the California Labor Movement

Labor's Edge Articles by Sara Flocks


1/6/15

Groundbreaking a Major Leap Forward for Job-Creating High-Speed Rail

By Sara Flocks

California has always been a state of visionaries and risk-takers. From Silicon Valley to Hollywood and everywhere in between, creative and innovative thinkers have taken risks to develop new products, new industries and new inventions. Investment by the public in the state’s highways, bridges, universities and skilled workforce has allowed visionaries to make their dreams a reality.

Today, California continues our proud tradition as a leader in both vision and investment. Leaders from labor, business and government gathered in Fresno to break ground on the most ambitious public works project in the country—high-speed rail. California’s 500-mile high speed rail system will connect San Francisco to Los Angeles with the spine built in the Central Valley.


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6/11/13

Women Leaders Declare Closing ‘Walmart Loophole’ a Top Priority

Sara Flocks

Women have been hit especially hard by cuts to the Medi-Cal program in recent years. And access to care for women will be even more challenged in coming years if large corporations like Walmart continue to avoid their responsibility to pay a fair share of health care costs under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Today in Sacramento, women leaders in the legislature came together with women workers and California NOW to declare protecting women’s health by passing AB 880 a top priority for women this year.


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3/4/13

Enterprise Zone Victims at VWR and Blue Linx Demonstrate Need for Reform

Sara Flocks

The loss of a job is one of the worst things that can happen to a worker. The situation is even worse when an employer closes their doors, leaving hundreds of workers jobless, anxious and wondering how to make ends meet. The loss of a job means can mean that workers lose their homes, their security and their ability to provide for their families.

What’s the one thing that could make job loss even more painful? If you lose your job and then have to PAY for your employer to pack up, leave you behind and open their doors elsewhere. And we're not talking about pocket change; we're talking about $700 million or more every single year for the rest of your life. Sounds too crazy to be true, right? Well, welcome to the California Enterprise Zone (EZ) Program.


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9/20/12

Teamsters Celebrate Momentous Victory Against VWR

by Sara Flocks

You may remember VWR International as the now-infamous chemical supply company in Brisbane, California that was bought by private-equity firm Madison-Dearborn, which promptly cut a sweetheart deal to move the company to Visalia. The deal meant the company would recieve numerous public subsidies and tax breaks, including hefty Enterprise Zone hiring credits, which put state taxpayers on the hook to pay for VWR to turn good, union jobs in Brisbane into low-wage, dead-end, no-benefit jobs in Visalia.

This week, after a months-long legal battle, the workers and the union won an incredible victory when the 5th District Court of Appeals in Fresno reversed a Tulare court’s ruling on the city's approval of a 500,000-square-foot VWR warehouse in Visalia.


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9/15/12

Word In From the Academics: “Lowering Business Taxes May Actually Be Harmful”

Sara Flocks

It seems like only yesterday that Texas Governor Rick Perry was bragging about his “hunting trips” to California to steal companies and jobs away from our state. That was at the same time that a delegation of California’s Republican state legislators (and Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom) traveled to Texas to learn why that state had the alleged edge over California on job creation and economic growth.

It was not hard to debunk the fairytales coming out of Texas about job creation, economic growth and the health of the state economy. It was easy to find data showing that Texas suffers from high unemployment, low-wage jobs and a frightening lack of investment in their children’s education or health care.


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8/9/12

SB 1161: A Real-Life Telecommunications Horror Story

by Sara Flocks

In horror movies, you always know the victims are in big trouble when they pick up the phone to call for help and the line is dead. When there’s no way to call for help, the audience knows that the victims better get out of there ASAP, or else all hell is going to break loose.  

Unfortunately, California is the hapless victim in a real-life horror movie going on right now. AT&T, Verizon, and their corporate cronies are the villains in this particular horror movie, and they’re cutting the phone lines with SB 1161 (Padilla)—a bill currently on the Assembly floor. We all know what happens next. California consumers and workers are in big trouble and are going to pay the price if this bill makes it into law.


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7/18/12

Furthering the Vision of High-Speed Rail

by Sara Flocks

The voices of doom and decline say that high-speed rail cannot be built in California. They’ve tried to stop the forces of progress by calling high-speed rail "a boondoggle" and "a waste." This is not a new phenomenon. Enemies of progress said the same thing about the Golden Gate Bridge, built in the middle of the Great Depression. They screamed “boondoggle” at every major public works project in the 20th century while California was constructing a world-class infrastructure of freeways, dams, bridges and aqueducts that fostered a golden age of middle-class growth.

The Labor Movement rejects the voices of doom, because we have a vision for California. We know it’s time to invest in California’s future, starting with construction of high-speed rail.


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10/18/11

California on the Edge

by Sara Flocks

Big business and their Republican allies have repeated the laundry list of why California’s economy is struggling so many times that it is practically written in stone—Taxes, Regulations, Public Employees. These are the unholy trinity that supposedly crashed California’s economy and threatens to smother any business growth in the future.

The facts, however, contradict the well-worn talking points of big business. The Council on State Taxation, a business-friendly group led by CEOs of major corporations, found that California has a moderate tax burden, taking less in taxes from business than many other states, including the sweethearts of the right, Texas and Florida.


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9/19/11

Bleeding Cash Through a Hole in the Tax Code

by Sara Flocks

From President Obama to Governor Brown, politicians tout tax breaks as the way to create jobs and stimulate economic activity. Tax breaks supposedly lure businesses to California and give them incentives to create jobs for the 2.3 million currently unemployed Californians. California has over 82 tax breaks on the books and legislators push for new ones every session as part of job creation packages.

Some experts question the effectiveness of giving corporations billions of dollars in tax breaks with no guarantees that the company will create jobs, or that they won’t move jobs out of state. A recent study by the California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes reported that "One of the biggest criticisms of tax expenditures—and the one most germane to this report—is that they can act like blank checks."


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9/16/11

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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