ILWU Members Fight Plan by Top Shelf Liquor Company to Kill 150 Jobs in Menlo Park

For more than 50 years, members of ILWU Local 6 have worked at a liquor bottling plant in Menlo Park that packages some of America’s best-known drinks, including Johnny Walker, Hennessy, Jose Cuervo, Smirnoff, Captain Morgan – plus Guinness and Red Stripe beerand wine labels Rosenblum Cellars, Blossom Hill, Sterling Vineyards, Chateau and Estates, & Moet Chandon. Diageo is the British-based corporation behind all these and other brands.

The company says they make most of their money selling liquor in the United States and reported profits last year of $2.5 billion. But this week, they announced their decision to close the Menlo Park bottling plant, which will destroy 150 jobs – 128 of whom are members of Local 6. Diageo has other union-represented facilities in the East and Midwest, but hasn’t confirmed exactly where West Coast production would occur if the Menlo Park plant is closed.

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SB 104: Providing Farm Workers a 75-Year-Old Protection

by Dylan J. Anderson

Recently, both the California Senate and Assembly passed SB 104, “The Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act.” SB 104 provides farm workers the same basic protection of eliminating employer intimidation the National Labor Relations Act provides most other types of workers. By allowing workers to fill out a union ballot in the safety of their home, SB 104 merely brings farmer workers’ unionization standards up to par with the NLRA – which passed in 1935.

Now the bill is going to Governor Jerry Brown. If he does not sign SB 104 into law, farm workers will continue to face unbearable conditions and pressure.

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SB 469: This Is About Local Decision-Making

In California, local governments are required to study how new development impacts the surrounding environment, and rightly so. Before buildings are put up, the public deserves to know if there will be more traffic impacts, if it will harm wildlife or if there’s a possibility that nearby creeks or beaches will be polluted as a result.

With our state facing such a deep recession, why aren’t we requiring the same studies when it comes to economic issues – like jobs, benefits and businesses? It’s very encouraging to see state leaders begin to start that discussion.

Senate Bill 469, the Small and Neighborhood Business Protection Act, was authored by Senator Juan Vargas to help address a very significant impact on local economies in California – Supercenters. Last week, the State Senate voted to approve the bill, which would require big-box superstores like Wal-Mart Supercenters to undergo an economic impact analysis before they can be built in California.

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Panel Looks at Impact of VWR Move, Misuse of Enterprise Zone

union members presented testimony at a hearing in Brisbane May 9 on the impacts of the planned move by the medical supply firm VWR from Brisbane to Visalia. The hearing—billed as “A Federal-State Inquiry Into Job Losses and Misdirected Tax Policy”—enabled workers at the Brisbane distribution center to make the case to state and federal officials that the state’s Enterprise Zone program subsidizes a race to the bottom.

VWR will receive annual sales tax breaks of $1.5 million from the state by relocating to Visalia’s Targeted Tax Area, part of the Enterprise Zone program, as well as tax credits of $37,000 for each employee hired there. The 160 Brisbane employees would lose their jobs and the City would lose half of its sales tax revenue—a reduction of over $2.15 million.

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Rants & Raves for the Week of May 30th

* California CEOs rake in excessive profits while cutting pay for workers * Blue Shield CEO take $4.6 million salary * San Jose mayor and City Council launch assault on workers' rights * Maine Governor rolls back child labor laws *

* Health insurance rate regulation bill passes Assembly * Bill to enhance job training moves forward * More labor-sponsored bills advance in Assembly and Senate * Labor, business and government converge at 'Building Workforce Partnerships' conference *

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Diverse OC Group Delivers Message to Sen. Harman: ‘Stop Extreme Budget Cuts’

Only in California. That’s what I was thinking this week as I stood in front of Sen. Tom Harman’s office in Costa Mesa with fellow surfers, clergy leaders, parents, kids and others concerned that budget cuts are going to decimate everything we love about our state. To be sure, we’re not your typical coalition. We’re not usually political. But every one of us feels threatened by extreme budget cuts.

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