Our Egypt

The images are eerily familiar. Yesterday more than 30,000 workers, students, and supporters sought to defend their democratic rights in the streets. Today the crowds got larger. But instead of the streets of Cairo the mass protests bringing society to a halt are taking place in Madison, Wisconsin.

The epicenter is the state capital, where right wing millionaire Governor Scott Walker last week arrogantly proclaimed he was going to pass legislation to destroy the right of public workers to bargain collectively. Following the “look over there!” strategy designed by conservative think tanks and funded by billionaires, Walker attempted to pin the blame for Wisconsin’s state budget deficit on public employees. 

Read More

City Workers Are the Heart of LA

by Caroline O'Connor

On Monday, February 14, Valentine’s Day, more than 400 Los Angeles City workers rallied on the south lawn of Los Angeles City Hall calling on LA City leaders to work with them to fix the budget, and to preserve and restore front line services. They also rallied to cut all unnecessary spending and ending expensive contracting out. LA City workers held red picket signs that read, “We are the Heart of LA.” In the center of each sign was a big white heart where each worker could fill in the service s/he provides to the city. Signs read: “Parks and Recreation,” “I design sewage systems,” “Airports,” “Maintaining buses,” “Librarian,” “City Engineer,” “Fire Fighter.”


Read More

Florida’s Loss on High-Speed Rail Could be California’s Gain

In his infinite wisdom, Florida Gov. Rick Scott decided today that his state would reject federal funding for high-speed rail. Well, if Scott doesn’t want the economic and environmental benefits high-speed rail promises, California would be more than happy to take that funding off his hands to spark job creation here.

High-speed rail would create as many as a half million jobs in California. And the economic benefits wouldn’t stop there. It would also boost small businesses and infuse cash into struggling communities. California has been the national leader on high-speed rail since Day One. And that commitment is the very reason we’re further along in the project than any other state.

Read More

Staff, Listeners Work to Reverse Job Cuts at KPFA Radio

Berkeley-based KPFA Radio (94.1 FM), part of the five-station Pacifica network, is no stranger to controversy. But recent actions by its national management have thrown the station into its worst crisis in over a decade, bringing charges of financial mismanagement, political favoritism and union-busting.

Hundreds of listeners, paid staff, and unpaid programmers gathered last fall in a spirited rally to support the staff. Enthusiastically supported by tens of thousands of listener-sponsors, KPFA is the place to go for progressive political analysis and news coverage, as well as cutting-edge music and radio drama. KPFA’s Morning Show was a Bay Area institution, delivering up 2 hours of thoughtful discussion and news coverage on local, national and international issues, and including a regular weekly half-hour segment on labor.

Read More

Workers to State Legislators: Stop the ‘Sweetheart’ Enterprise Zone Deals

by Rebecca Greenberg

Each and every California state legislator received a very special Valentine personally delivered by a Teamster yesterday – a box of chocolates with an important message: Stop the Sweetheart Enterprise Zone deals!

The Teamsters know firsthand the negative effects of the wasteful and failed Enterprise Zone program. VWR (a medical distribution company in Brisbane), was recently bought by a private equity firm that told union workers at the company that it was closing the Brisbane operation and moving to Visalia, which is in a Targeted Tax Area, part of the Enterprise Zone program. VWR refused to allow workers to relocate and offered little severance. The new jobs in Visalia are low-wage with few benefits. The economic impact on Brisbane and the workers employed at VWR is devastating. And because of the Enterprise Zone tax credit, California taxpayers are on the hook to pay for the move and resulting job loss.

Read More

SEIU721’s Truth Tracker Blog Debunks Lies About Working People

Elected officials, anti-worker politicians and media pundits are blaming us for budget problems we didn’t cause. They’re using the Great Recession as an excuse to attack working people and take away our rights and benefits.

Lately some people have started to fire back. Just this month, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich said people attacking public workers are trying to hide the real problem: the billions going to bank executives and the ultra-wealthy through tax loopholes. “It's only average workers — both in the public and the private sectors — who are being called upon to sacrifice,” he wrote.

He's right. That's why my union, SEIU 721,  which represents over 80,000 workers throughout Southern California, launched Truth Tracker, a blog that debunks the lies about public service workers and promotes the hard work they do for their communities.

Read More

Don’t Blame California Public Employees!

by Martin J. Bennett

A recent article in the Economist magazine titled “Tough Times for Everyone – Except Public Sector Workers” states that taxpayers are now learning about “the banquet public sector workers have been having at the expense of everyone else” and that many public employees can “retire in their mid-50s on close to full pay.”

These unsubstantiated claims–repeated endlessly in media–stand reality on its head. Such accusations are part of a systematic campaign by corporate America to mislead taxpayers and scapegoat public employees. California public sector workers, such as teachers, public health nurses, firefighters, librarians, maintenance, park, transit, and social workers are not responsible for the economic crisis that makes drastic cuts to state and local governments necessary. These public employees earn modest, middle-class pay and benefits.

Read More

National City Teachers Win New Contract, Avert Strike

Only a few hours before they were set to walk picket lines in an unfair labor practices strike, the 354 members of the National City Elementary Teachers Association in south San Diego County learned they would be going back into their classrooms that day instead. Following 18 hours of intense negotiations, the NCETA’s bargaining team inked a temporary agreement with the National School District at 2:30 a.m., Friday morning, February 4, 2011. On Thursday, February 10, 2011, 97 percent of the union’s membership ratified the new contract, ending a full year of protracted, difficult bargaining.

Read More

Rants & Raves for the Week of February 7th

* LA City Attorney seeks to jail peaceful protesters * More than half of CA welfare recipients are children * Corporate lobbyists line up to protect the Enterprise Zone cash cow * OC Board of Supes fight health care exchange * GOP blocks trade adjustment assistance * US Chamber launches new attack on unions *

* Gov. Brown stops short-sided state building sale * NLRB proposes new rules to support workers' rights * Study finds San Francisco's landmark paid sick days law good for workers and employers alike * State safety net helps put money back into the economy *  

Read More

San Francisco Paid Sick Days Law Is a Proven Success

A new study released yesterday shows that San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance (PSLO)—the first citywide paid sick days standard in the country—has been proven a success. The report, San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance: Outcomes for Employers and Employees, released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), includes the results of a survey of nearly 1,200 workers and more than 700 employers in San Francisco.

The findings are overwhelmingly positive for workers, businesses and the public—adding further evidence that policies that help working families meet their responsibilities at work and at home are good for everyone. More than half of the workers surveyed said they have benefitted from the law. And the law has given workers who need paid sick days the most—including parents and workers with chronic health conditions—the time they need to care for their health and the health of their children

Read More