Fifty years ago this week, union workers joined with civil rights leaders and progressive activists to march on Washington for good jobs and equal rights for all. Dr. Martin Luther King’s call for America to “rise up” and demand equality — both economic and racial — was a seminal moment in our nation’s history. This Labor Day, much has changed since 1963. But sadly, too much remains the same.
The American Dream is but a faint hope for many workers today. The path to the middle class is an increasingly uphill climb that’s littered with obstacles like low pay, declining retirement security and costly health care. For immigrant workers, the news is even bleaker. More than 2.6 million hard-working immigrants in California live in the shadows, never able to realize America’s promise.
Close on the heels of yesterday's historic fast food worker strike, 180 Oakland Airport food and retail workers walked off the job today to protest unfair labor practices by their employer, Host International including a retaliatory lawsuit filed against the union by the company and regressive bargaining. Host’s most recent proposals would strip away benefits the workers have depended on for years.
Monica Guzman, a Host retail cashier, says, “I’m ready to strike because I’ve worked here for 22 years, I raised my family on this job, and now Host wants us to give up the benefits my co-workers and I have fought to protect for all these years!”
Trying to raise a family on fast food wages? Not likely.
The median hourly wage for fast workers employed by corporations like McDonald's, KFC and Taco Bell is $8.94 nationally.
It's an unjustifiable situation – especially when you consider that the industry is taking in $200 billion a year while many of its workers can't even come close to making ends meet on the poverty wages they are paid.
Fast food workers are taking to the streets today to stand up for the work that they do and demand a living wage. Strikes are happening in 60 cities across the country.
Backers of campaign finance reform legislation today called on would-be legislative candidates participating in a League of California Cities candidate recruitment “institute” to disclose who is paying their way, where the money is coming from and whether or not any gifts are being properly reported to the Fair Political Practices Commission.
This Thursday at the California Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Sacramento, a group of legislative hopefuls are scheduled to participate in the final day of the California Civic Leadership Institute, a three-day event explicitly targeting candidates looking to run for the Legislature – basically a candidate-recruitment fest masquerading as an “educational program.”
will kick off its national convention in Los Angeles. The last time it was held in L.A. was in 1999, when the AFL-CIO announced its historic declaration for a legalization program for all undocumented immigrants, increased workplace protection for immigrant workers and an end to employer sanction laws, which it supported back in 1986 as part of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). The national convention this year in LA will also be a historic one. With union density at around 12% (the private sector below 7%), the labor movement today is in a state of crisis. As the recent deep recession, or depression as some economists have labeled it, has shown us, the labor movement is really the only safety net that we have in this country for the working class.
This week we mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Few would argue about the importance of Dr. King in U.S. history and the decisive role he played in the civil rights movement. Soon after his death, a campaign began to have King’s birthday declared a national holiday. Over six million signatures were collected on a petition to Congress to pass such a law, in what has been called “the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. history.”
Martin Luther King Jr. Day became a federal holiday in 1986. Fourteen years later, MLK Day was observed in all 50 U.S. states for the first time.
On Saturday, more than 20,000 adults and children attended the 2013 Fresh Start Community Festival at Dodger Stadium – the largest number of attendees since the Festival started four years ago. The daylong event was presented by SEIU United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW), the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation. Started by ULTCW in 2010, the free Festival was created as a way to help those hit hardest by the economic downturn by providing back-to-school backpacks for students as well as free entertainment, lunch, and health screenings for the entire family.
It appears that the nightmare scenario of two of the country’s most influential newspapers falling under the control of right-wing extremists David and Charles Koch won’t become reality. The Daily Caller today reported that sources are saying the brothers are no longer in negotiations to buy the papers.
If this report turns out to be true, it’s great news for defenders of journalistic integrity. No doubt that the Kochs sought to use the Tribune Co. as a megaphone for their anti-worker, anti-environment agenda. The effect of such an acquisition by the Kochs would have been devastating.
Martin Bennett & Fred Glass
Fifty years ago, on August 28, 1963, the nation witnessed the largest march in its history. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom lives on in popular memory as the moment when Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his iconic “I Had A Dream” speech and called for racial integration and reconciliation in America. Most Americans today point to the emergence of a substantial black middle class and the election of the first African American President as evidence of our progress towards that goal.
We tend to overlook the other goal: of jobs that pay living wages and provide economic opportunity for all. Organizers of the March, as its title proclaimed, believed jobs and freedom were tightly bound: the purpose of the March was to address the “twin evils of discrimination and economic deprivation,” as stated in the July, 1963, “Call to Americans.”
Remember in last year’s election, when $11 million in in special interest money passed through the hands of a shadowy Arizona non-profit and wound up in the hands of the No on 30/Yes on 32 campaign?
Well, for the last decade, a similar game of hide-and-seek has been going on with some homegrown Super PACs. Only this time, the secret deep pocket may actually be the taxpayers.
Since 2003, more than $17 million of campaign money has been funneled through “non-public funds” — anonymous accounts run by taxpayer-financed non-profits like the League of California Cities. The League alone has spent more than $12 million out of these secret accounts.
No FPPC number. No donor reporting. Nothing but the cryptic “non-public funds”.