March 01, 2013
Volume 1., Issue 266
Congressional Republicans Block Repeal of Sequestration Cuts
California’s economy has been off to a strong start in 2013. We now lead the nation in job creation, our budget is balanced and unemployment is dropping. But the California comeback could be short-lived now that Republicans in Congress have refused to stop the across-the-board “sequestration” cuts, which are set to go into effect immediately and would result in the loss of 750,000 American jobs or more.
According to a report released by the White House this week, California will be particularly hard-hit. Sequestration means California will lose approximately $87.6 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 1,210 teacher and aide jobs at risk. Another $63 million in funding for children with disabilities will evaporate, and job placement and training funds, military funding for our state’s bases and funds for public health and crime prevention will all be decimated.
Visalia VWR Employees Vote to Join Teamsters Union
In 2010, while VWR workers and their union, the Teamsters, were bargaining for a fair contract, the employer announced it would close its Brisbane distribution center and move its operations to a new facility in Visalia. The Brisbane workers were laid off and never given the right to transfer, while the company collected close to $3 million in “job creation” tax credits under the flawed Enterprise Zone program. The new VWR jobs in Visalia start at just $10/hour – an average $12/hour less than what the Brisbane employees earned for doing the same work.
This outrageous wage inequity prompted the Visalia VWR workers to organize a union at their new worksite, and two weeks ago, the workers overwhelmingly voted to join Teamsters local 948. “Visalia VWR employees are telling the company they want equal pay for equal work,” Teamsters 948 Secretary-Treasurer Adam Ochoa said. “We hope that VWR will sit down with us and negotiate a fair contract.”
Laid-Off Hostess Workers Now Eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance
Last week, the Department of Labor concluded that the Hostess/Interstate bankruptcy was in fact the result of declining market share in the face of increasing competition from foreign bakeries. As a result, many former Hostess workers now qualify for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), a richer and longer-lasting level of Federal retraining money, income replacement and health care (COBRA) subsidies designed to help workers whose work has moved offshore and who therefore may need extra help transitioning to a new job or career.
Workers at all Interstate Brands/Hostess locations in California who are laid off between November 19, 2011 and February 19, 2015 are all covered, including workers still employed during liquidation. This also includes people who were laid off for up to two years before the bankruptcy, because the DOL has determined that the company was suffering from a long decline in business, so workers laid off up to two years before the closure are also considered casualties of foreign competition.
Learn more and find out how to apply for TAA.
Report: Broken Immigration System Puts Workers Rights on ICE
Employers across the country are gaming today’s broken immigration system to exploit immigrant workers and evade both labor and immigration laws, according to a new report released this week by the National Employment Law Project. The report uses two dozen case studies—including the recent action at Palermo’s Pizza—as examples of employers’ use of immigration enforcement or the threat of it to retaliate against workers who seek their basic workplace rights.
“All workers have a fundamental right to be treated with respect and dignity on the job, regardless of their immigration status. This report shows that far too often, unscrupulous employers are using threats and intimidation to exploit immigrant workers,” said California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski, “It’s time to put sensible solutions in place at the federal and state levels to protect immigrant workers from workplace abuse.”
Learn more and read the report.
This Week on “Labor’s Edge”
- “Finding the Dream at the Union Hall” by Ashley Thomas, LA Alliance for a New Economy
- “L.A. Bus Buy Creates New U.S. Jobs…Let’s Make Sure Other Cities Follow Suit” by Linda Nguyen-Perez and Michelle Knapik
- “Sequestration Cuts Threaten California’s Comeback” by Steve Smith, California Labor Federation
- “Visalia VWR Employees Vote to Join Teamsters Union” by Doug Bloch, Teamsters Joint Council 7
- “San Francisco Working Families Join Growing National Chorus for Comprehensive Immigration Reform” by Rebecca Band, California Labor Federation
- “50 Years After the March on Washington, the Fight For Jobs and Freedom Continues” by Dr Steven Pitts, UC Berkeley Labor Center
- “Broken Immigration Systems Puts Workers’ Rights on ICE” by Mike Hall, AFL-CIO
- “Ex-Hostess/Interstate Workers Win Extra Benefits Under Trade Adjustment Assistance” by Martha Bader, California Labor Federation