1,000 Help Unmask Right-Wing Billionaires’ Secret Strategy Session

More than 1,000 activists, including members of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU), AFSCME, Health Care for America Now (HCAN) and Common Cause, helped shine a big spotlight on a closed-door gathering of right-wing billionaires and extreme conservative leaders and politicians in Palm Springs yesterday. The strategy meeting was organized by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch who have been instrumental in orchestrating the tea party movement and funding much of the modern right-wing infrastructure.

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Rants & Raves for the Week of January 24th

* Wal-Mart seeks to repeal San Diego's big-box ordinance * Koch brothers hold secret right-wing confab in Palm Desert * Panel finds financial collapse could have been prevented * Chevron uses taxpayer money to 'green' their image *

* U.S. Chamber joins Labor to support infrastructure investment * Assemblymember Allen seeks to combat violence in Napa State Hospital * Unionization in California on the rise *

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Unmasking the Billionaire’s Caucus

A handful of people with very deep pockets operate behind closed doors to attack the gains made by working people and advance their own selfish interests at the expense of our nation’s democracy. The Koch brothers are among them. This weekend, as billionaires David and Charles Koch convene a meeting of 200 massively wealthy business and conservative activists for the eighth straight year, the nonprofit watchdog group Common Cause, in conjuction with Courage Campaign, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, the California Labor Federation and more than two dozen other organizations, will be holding a series of counter events.

“Uncloaking the Kochs: The Billionaires’ Caucus and Its Threat to Our Democracy” will include a Jan. 30 panel disucussion followed by a rally outside the Rancho Las Palmas resort in Rancho Mirage, Calif., where the Kochs & Co. are meeting. The panel will be live streamed. To sign up for the rally, click here. To sign up for the live web stream, click here.

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In-Home Supportive Services Vital in Tough Economic Times

California’s In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program provides low-income seniors and people with disabilities the care they need to live in their own homes, rather than nursing facilities. IHSS providers care for the elderly who want the familiarity of the homes they’ve lived in for decades, the terminally ill and those who cannot take care of themselves.

Governor Brown’s budget proposes deep cuts to the IHSS program that will dramatically change the lives of homecare providers and those they care for. The cuts include a reduction in the hours of care for the elderly and disabled by 8.4 percent, on top of the 3.6 percent reduction in the last budget. The cuts also eliminate services like housework and meal preparation for more than 300,000 IHSS recipients. Those cuts are particularly painful to clients who depend on their IHSS provider for the only hot meal they have all day—meals that will now be fewer and far between.

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Another “Job Killer” Lie Exposed

You may think it's a way to help your spouse or aging parent recover from a devastating illness, but to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) California's Paid Family Leave (PFL) law, enacted in 2002, is a “job killer” that costs employers billions of dollars and drives jobs out the state. Allen Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber of Commerce, echoed that view, calling the law “one of the worst.”

But a new comprehensive study reveals that these corporate lobby groups have been crying wolf. The report, based on a survey of employers and employees, found that the California law has not turned out to be the costly “job killer” that big business warned about. To the contrary, the Paid Family Leave law has produced significant economic, social and health benefits for both male and female workers.

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New Community Workforce Agreement Puts Berkeley Residents Back to Work

At the Berkeley City Council meeting on Jan. 18, 2011, the Council voted to adopt a resolution as noted on the action calendar for that evening “authorizing the City Manager to execute a contract with the Building Trades Council and twenty two labor organizations regarding the provision of labor to City construction projects in excess of $1 million dollars for a term of three years.”

This landmark Community Workforce Agreement will not only put local residents back to work but is a model to persuade other cities to work in partnership with their local communities and labor organizations to bring the jobs home.

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Time to Help Brown Stay True to His Call for Loyalty to the Community

As I listened to Jerry Brown’s inauguration speech on Jan. 3, something he said struck a chord. “A Philosophy of Loyalty,” he called it. “Loyalty to the community that is larger than our individual needs.”

This is a concept that unionists share. It’s one of the fundamentals of our movement. But it’s a value under attack. Tune in to talk radio and you’ll hear a bombastic host inciting his audience against government. In the corporate world, the enduring loyalty is not to community, but to executive compensation.

Ideologues like Grover Norquist have also joined in the debate on California’s future, not by calling for unity, but by threatening legislators who would even consider allowing voters a say on whether revenue is part of the fix for our budget crisis.

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Rants & Raves for the Week of January 17th

* Grand Hyatt management attacks workers' legal fund * House GOP votes to repeal health care reform * Blue Shield jacks up rates, again * Sen. Mike Lee calls child labor laws 'unconstitutional' *

* New report touts benefits of Paid Family Leave * AG Harris and Rep. Garamendi defend health care reform * AFL-CIO President Trumka calls of Obama to renew focus on jobs during State of the Union *

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Constituents to Rep. Lungren: “Why Are You Voting to Repeal Our Health Care?”

Rather than addressing our stagnant economy or drafting legislation that would put people back to work, Republicans made their first move this week in the 112th Congress by voting to repeal health care reform. The Republicans’ (and a few Democrats’) position is clear: they support denying coverage to children born sick, they support insurance company practices that drop people when they get ill and deny coverage because of deadly pre-existing conditions (like acne), and they definitely support higher drug costs for seniors.

On the day of the vote in the House of Representatives, constituents of the third Congressional District (Dan Lungren – R), the Sacramento Central Labor Council and HCAN coalition partners held a press conference in front of Rep. Lungren’s Elk Grove district office to challenge the congressman’s position of siding with the insurance companies over the people in his district.

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Hotel Workers Protest Hyatt Management’s Attack on Their Legal Fund

Legal Fund protects members from evictions and foreclosures and facilitates legal immigration (citizenship, work permits and family reunification).

Hyatt has asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to stop UNITE HERE Local 2 from reallocating employer contributions to the hotel workers’ Legal Fund – a fund that helps workers’ families navigate immigration laws, fight foreclosures, and deal with other difficult situations. Even though this change has no financial impact whatsoever on employers, and even though without this reallocation of funds workers’ might face cuts in legal assistance, Hyatt is trying to block the move in order to put pressure on workers to sign a concessionary contract.

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