Solidarity Rocks the Capital this St. Patrick's Day
This St. Patrick’s Day, over 500 working men and women representing unions from around the state packed the ballroom at the Sacramento Sheraton Hotel for the annual California Labor Federation-State Building and Construction Trades Council Joint Legislative Conference. In the festive spirit of the holiday, the event kicked off with exciting speakers demonstrating that like the Irish, working people are fired up to keep fighting and will stand together to take back the American dream.
California Labor Federation leader, Art Pulaksi, welcomed the crowd and introduced Federation officer and UFCW Local 1428 president Connie Leyva, officially announcing her bid to run for California's 20th Senate District.
“When it comes to workers' rights, Connie Leyva will never forget and will never relent. We need Connie Leyva in the Capitol and we need more people like her holding elected office.”
Leyva's decision to run for the 20th district Senate invigorated the audience, giving the announcement a standing ovation.
“The division between wealth and poverty is only growing larger. We need workers standing together both union and non-union alike.
I want to bring labor to the Capitol. I want to be that person who speaks for workers. I want to go to the Capitol and let them know that labor is in the house.”
Highlighting the inequities facing workers across the globe and right here in California, Pulaksi spoke about a number of priority measures the Labor Federation will support to continue the fight to lift working families out of poverty so they can too can live the American dream.
One of those key bills is SB1897 which would hold companies accountable for the temporary workers they employ. Currently, companies will keep temp workers in employment limbo for years at a time, with no guarantee of hours or assignments, no protection from retaliation and no recourse when the labor contractor disappears without paying them.
“Companies like Taylor Farms are using temporary employees and unfair labor practices to keep workers impoverished and from having a voice. It's a fixed fight. That's unfair and we need to change it.”
The lunch program featured a number of exciting speakers, including California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson.
Torlakson, always a champion for public education and for working families:
“I get inspired and energized visiting classrooms up and down the state of California, seeing kids' faces light up with engagement and understanding. Teachers live for that moment when kids 'get it.' We need to remember the importance of ensuring that schools remain learning centers and aren't exploited as profit centers.”
Building Trades Leader Robbie Hunter introduced State Sen. Anthony Cannella, a republican representing California's 12th Senate District. Hunter emphasized that Sen. Cannella understands that workers' rights and the value of having a union in the workplace are not partisan issues.
“I am a business owner and our engineering business is a union shop and we're better for it. I want my employees to be able to focus on their job, they shouldn't have to worry about how they'll pay for their children's health care. The union gives our workers the ability to make a fair wage. What's good for working families is good for California and good for business.”