by Rachele Huennekens
Sodexo — the 22nd largest employer in the world — made more than $1 billion in profit in 2009. Yet the company pays workers in the United States as little as $7.50 an hour, and two-thirds of Sodexo’s workers are not covered by the company's health insurance policies. Addiitonally, Sodexo workers in California commonly face health and safety problems, inadequate staffing levels, and lack of training and proper equipment. As a result of these appalling standards, over-burdened city and state budgets must bear the costs for healthcare and assistance for Sodexo workers.
Hundreds of thousands of workers are being cheated by U.S. employers who blatantly violate the laws that are supposed to guarantee workers decent wages, hours and working conditions.
That's been going on for a long time, but rarely as extensively as it was during the administration of George W. Bush. Thankfully, Bush is gone. And thankfully, President Obama and his outstanding Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, have this month launched a major campaign to try to overcome the very serious damage of the past.
In this election, working people don’t have a choice. We have an imperative.
Jerry Brown has spent a lifetime fighting for working families. Meg Whitman, on the other hand, has spent her adult life as one of the corporate elite, advancing Wall Street’s disastrous agenda. Whitman’s plan to corporatize our economy would lead to more devastating cuts to education, health care and the safety net. She’d cut tens of thousands of jobs, making an already severe recession much worse. She’d strip workers of important protections like meal breaks and overtime pay.
With our unemployment rate at the highest rate since the Great Depression, it’s no wonder that politicians are talking about jobs 24/7. But who is serious about putting Californians back to work, and who is just paying lip service? The Governor and legislative Republicans say jobs are the top priority, but a quick look at their policy proposals reveals just the opposite.
and Cindy Chavez
When the General Motors factory in Fremont closed in 1982, Debbie Williams grieved with her brothers and sisters in the United Auto Workers. The daughter of GM's first African American electrician at Oakland's Eastmont Fisher Body Plant, she had been through prior plant closings – and re-openings.
Now the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant – known as Nummi – is closed, too, despite producing cars that led the J.D. Power quality ratings with zero defects. Beyond its immediate economic impact, Nummi's April 1 closure poses a larger threat – the dissipation of a manufacturing sector anchored in the Bay Area and critical to the future economic success of the region and the nation.
* Assemblymember Knight proposes incentives to hire out-of-state workers * Meg”Wall Street” Whitman releases “Don't Tax the Rich” economic plan * Fatal explosion at West Virginia mine could have been prevented employer *
* Bill to protect jobless benefits from greedy banks moves forward * California one step closer to manufacturing high-speed rail cars in state * Committee shoots down right-wing scheme to help employers skirt regulations *
Update from the March for California's Future
Los Angeles probation officer and Central Vally émigré Irene Gonzalez revisited parts of her childhood when the March for California’s Future reached Atwater and Livingston this past weekend.
As a child, Gonzalez cycled between various foster homes in the Central Valley before finding a permanent home in the town of Atwater. Her foster parents also ran a flower shop in Livingston called Rose’s Flowers, which has long since disappeared, another casualty on the long list of small businesses that have fallen victim to the practice of subsidizing the operations of large companies like Wal-Mart through unnecessary tax credits.
Around this time every year, Californians scramble to finish doing their taxes and pay what they owe to the government.
But not everyone is paying their fair share. Forbes Magazine recently analyzed the tax returns of the top 25 U.S. companies and found out that they’re not paying much in taxes. In fact, corporations such as Bank of America, General Electric and Citigroup will not be paying ANY taxes this year — they’re actually getting money back from the government.
Claudia Gambaro often looks for ways to help fellow state workers, but she never predicted she would become her union's expert in helping them avoid foreclosure. But when the housing crisis hit Gambaro and tens of thousands of state employees, she wanted to help herself and others keep their homes.
Gambaro was able to pair her union, SEIU Local 1000, with Hope Against Hope, a Sacramento non-profit that helps financially challenged home owners, including those who owe more than their houses are worth. Since last fall, SEIU Local 1000 helped Gambaro organize more than a dozen homeowner counseling workshops, reaching more than 1,000 state workers all over California.
If a business wants to contact someone in state government to bring jobs to California, where would they start? The answer is a lot more complicated than you might think. The Trade and Commerce Agency used to be the de facto point of entry for employers to state government, but it was dismantled in 2003, and now there are over 100 separate economic development plans among more than a dozen state government agencies.
This disaster known as California’s economic development plan is what inspired the California Labor Federation to sponsor SB 1259 (DeSaulnier) which would create a cabinet-level Office of Economic Development and Job Creation to streamline and focus the state’s economic development activities.