California Receives Wisconsin and Ohio’s High-Speed Rail Money

Last month, voters in Wisconsin and Ohio elected Republican governors who pledged to stop their state's high speed rail projects, even though they had won $1.2 billion in federal stimulus grants to begin the projects. On the same day, California voters overwhelmingly elected pro-HSR candidate Jerry Brown, who backed a bullet train proposal from LA to SD in the early 1980s, over the anti-HSR Meg Whitman.

Republicans in WI and OH wanted to redirect the federal stimulus funds to road projects, which is moronic – we need to fund 21st century infrastructure that liberates us from oil, rather than deepening our dependence on it. Jerry Brown and California voters – who themselves approved $10 billion in funds for HSR in 2008 – understand that we cannot have 21st century prosperity without it.

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The California Alliance for Retired Americans Fights to Protect Social Security

and Jodi Reid

Leading up the recent failed vote on the Deficit Commission report, the California Alliance for Retired Americans recently held successful demonstrations in front of Speaker Pelosi’s San Francisco office and Xavier Becerra’s Los Angeles Office.

CARA’s rally could not have come at a better time, as the Deficit Commission zeroed in on cutting Medicare and Social Security. Calling for “No Cuts to Social Security,” seniors and union activists sang and rallied in the rain – to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

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National Day of Action Targets Rite Aid Execs for Disrespecting Employees

During the past few years, Rite Aid executives made bad business decisions that caused serious financial problems at the country’s third-largest drugstore chain. But instead of working with employees to move forward together in challenging times, Rite Aid execs are trying to make the company's loyal and hard-working employees pay for management's mistakes.

With support from the AFL-CIO, United Students Against Sweatshops and Jobs with Justice, Rite Aid workers are calling on union supporters to join with community and student allies to participate in a National Day of Action on December 15th.

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Republicans Pull the Plug, Jobless Help Dies

At the stroke of midnight last night, some 800,000 workers who have been looking for jobs for more than six months lost their unemployment insurance (UI)—2 million will be without help by the end of December. Why? Because congressional Republicans have chosen to side with the nation’s millionaires instead of the jobless.

They chose to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy as their top priority this lame-duck session and essentially have told workers struggling to find work in an economy with five job hunters for every opening: “Tough luck. Happy holidays.”

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Building Sisterhood and Solidarity in the Central Valley

The Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) is the national women's organization within the labor movement. Our values are simple: Solidarity, involvement, dignity and justice. We strive to empower women workers to become leaders in their unions and communities, and encourage them to make a difference on the job, in government and in their own lives.

One of CLUW's founding goals is to use legislative action to create policy that is favorable to working women and their families. To further that goal, we’ve begun expanding in political hotbed areas, including California’s Central Valley. On November 12th, CLUW National President Karen See presented the charter for the new Central California Chapter, which includes San Joaquin, Calaveras, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Mariposa, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kern, Kings, and Tulare counties.

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It’s Up to Us—Together

by AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka

It’s a perilous time—but one that is also ripe with opportunity. Right now, the American people, who repeatedly have voiced their desire for change, are hungry for leadership.

Someone has to turn this economy around—fast, before working families lose more jobs, more homes, more opportunity for a decent future for their children. And it’s not going to be the political lap dogs for Wall Street and the rich—they’re not going to fix this economy. It’s not going to be the conservative ideologues or the haters.

This job falls to us—a united American labor movement. We have so much to do in the coming months and years. And it’s a core of our history, of all we stand for, that the way we win is by winning together.

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Kamala Harris’ Victory in AG Race Completes Clean Sweep in Historic Election

California's working people had an extra-nice Thanksgiving after receiving the news that Kamala Harris will be our state's next Attorney General. Harris is a forceful advocate for working people and a dynamic progressive leader. See Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski's statement on this historic win.

The California Labor Federation played an instrumental role in Harris’ victory. Over the last 10 days of the campaign, the Federation launched a broadcast and online media blitz reaching millions of voters with special emphasis on Los Angeles County. To view the Federation’s ad in support of Harris, click here.

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House Republicans Block Unemployment Benefits Extension

House Republicans yesterday blocked an effort to maintain federal unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, making a lapse in benefits all but certain when they expire at the end of the month.

House Democrats tried to speed the extension through by calling for a suspension of the rules, a procedure which requires a two-thirds majority. Although 258 members—a significant majority—supported the bill, the final vote fell short of the needed margin. The bill, H.R.6419, would have extended UI through February 2011 for those who have exhausted 26 weeks of insurance provided by states. It also would provide 100 percent federal funding to state unemployment programs to cover additional costs.

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Senate Republicans Block Paycheck Fairness Again

Just three days into the lame-duck Congress, Republicans returned to their obstructionist ways. Yesterday, all the Senate Republicans voted in lockstep to prevent the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 182) from coming to the floor. The final vote, 58-41, fell two votes short of the 60 needed to break the Republican-imposed logjam. The House passed the bill last year. If enacted, it would help close the wage gap between women and men. Check out the roll call vote here.

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Feinstein and Boxer: Redirect High-Speed Rail Money to California

As newly elected Republican governors in Wisconsin and Ohio threaten to reject hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding to build desperately needed high speed rail projects, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have stepped up to call on those funds to be redirected to California should they become available.

This is an excellent move by California's two Senators. The people of California have twice now shown their support for high speed rail, both with the approval of Prop 1A in November 2008 and their rejection of anti-HSR candidate Meg Whitman in the November 2010 election. Recent polling from across California and on the Peninsula shows HSR is still widely popular.

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