Labor and Business Standing Together to Make Progress for California

It is not every day that labor and business come together to co-sponsor legislation. But the truth is, we have a lot of shared interests. We all care about creating and protecting jobs, ensuring a skilled workforce and revitalizing our battered economy. This year, the California Labor Federation sponsored two bills with the business community to further these shared goals.

These partnerships show that while the Chamber of Commerce may call any bill that helps workers a “job killer,” the employer community is not monolithic. Small businesses care about our local communities and are often ignored by their own trade associations. Manufacturers create the jobs that can rebuild our economy, and we plan to work closely with them to make that a reality.

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After Eight Months, SoCal Grocery Workers Reach Tentative Agreement with Grocery Chains

When our Master Food contract expired in March, no one could have imagined that it would take eight months, two strike votes and giving a 72-hour contract cancellation notice that ran out to the last minute in order to get a fair contract for 62,000 Southern California grocery workers. These three employers, Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons, tried to use the downturn in the economy and high unemployment to drastically reduce the standard of living for grocery workers.

No one is getting rich working in a grocery store, and what has made these jobs into good jobs over the years is the affordable healthcare our members have always had. For eight months — and right up until the last minute — these three corporate giants had proposed cutting the Health and Welfare plan to a point where the fund would be bankrupt that before the end of the new contract.

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Stand With Working Women

Several of the state’s largest newspapers have spoken, and their verdict is in: the hard-working women who care for California’s kids are no more than “babysitters.” At least that’s what a spate of editorials have claimed in recent days as they dismiss the idea that child care providers do difficult, important work. These editorial writers have actually sat and listened to women explain how their day starts at 5:30 in the morning and lasts until 10:00 at night and heard them describe the thought, care, and hard work that goes into caring for and laying good educational and social foundations for up to 14 children a day.

They listened — and promptly dismissed the fact that they play a crucial role in our economy, making hundreds of thousands of jobs possible by giving parents the ability to be at work. As infuriating as it can be to witness such disrespect, I’ve never been surprised when those in positions of power display their contempt for working people, especially working women of color.

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Bleeding Cash Through a Hole in the Tax Code

From President Obama to Governor Brown, politicians tout tax breaks as the way to create jobs and stimulate economic activity. Tax breaks supposedly lure businesses to California and give them incentives to create jobs for the 2.3 million currently unemployed Californians. California has over 82 tax breaks on the books and legislators push for new ones every session as part of job creation packages.

Some experts question the effectiveness of giving corporations billions of dollars in tax breaks with no guarantees that the company will create jobs, or that they won’t move jobs out of state. A recent study by the California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes reported that “One of the biggest criticisms of tax expenditures—and the one most germane to this report—is that they can act like blank checks.”

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End-of-Session Legislative Round-up

For the first time in nearly eight years, California has a Democratic governor brandishing the pen as the legislative session draws to a close. The Legislature sent nearly 600 bills to Governor Brown who has until October 9 to sign or veto the measures. Without Schwarzenegger in office to veto any and all worker-friendly legislation, armies of corporate lobbyists descended on the Capitol to kill labor legislation before it could get to Governor Brown. Unions fought back hard, pushing through a number of key pieces of legislation to the governor.

The California Labor Federation moved a package of bills, co-sponsored with affiliates, to protect workers, create and retain good jobs and make sure our public dollars are spent effectively. Over the next week, “Labor’s Edge” will highlight several Labor Federation sponsored bills that would make a significant positive impact on the lives of workers with a signature from Governor Brown.

Here’s a round-up of the Labor Federation's sponsored bills on the Governor’s desk.

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High-Speed Rail Means Jobs, Jobs, Jobs for the Central Valley

(NVLF) hosted Economic Recovery in Our Community, a forum on high-speed rail and the jobs it is expected to bring to all of California beginning with the San Joaquin Valley. Attending the forum were about 50 people from labor, state, city and county government, and the community.

Mark Kyle of Operating Engineers Local 3 told the audience that high-speed rail will create approximately 600,000 jobs, not including jobs created as the system comes on line to sustain and support the system and provide the services necessary to travelers along the route.

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At Oakland Airport, Transportation Secretary LaHood Speaks Out in Support of FAA Reauthorization

For the third time in the past six weeks I found myself at the Oakland International Airport’s Control Tower Construction Site for a press conference about the same issue, extending the FAA’s reauthorization bill before it expires at midnight, Friday September 16, 2011. In the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but think that I may be back here again but as a glass-half-full kind of guy, I quickly dispelled that thought.

While introducing U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at the press conference, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan remarked back on the last one, saying, “Last month, Barbara Boxer warned us that we might be back here again. We are hoping that the third time is a charm.”

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AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust Helps Create More Than 10,000 New Union Construction Jobs in Two Years

At a time when unemployment in the union construction trades is at levels not seen since the Great Depression, the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT) has reached a milestone by creating more than 10,000 union construction jobs during the past two years.  With investments of $963 million in 34 projects across the country, union pension capital invested by the HIT leveraged nearly $2 billion of development activity, while creating or preserving 12,752 housing and healthcare units and achieving competitive returns. With 11,188 jobs actually generated so far, the HIT is raising its goal to a new target of 15,000 jobs.

Examples of the HIT’s recent job-generating investments include three projects in San Francisco – 333 Harrison, Arc Light Co. and Potrero Launch. These three projects represent $105 million in HIT financing and have a total development value of $233 million. They will create 616 housing units and more than 1,300 union construction jobs.

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Hyatt Workers Take on Most Abusive Employer in Hotel Industry

On September 8, 2011, 3000 Hyatt hotel workers across the nation walked off the job and traded in their mops and brooms for picket signs and bullhorns. The strikers, including 700 San Francisco workers at the Grand Hyatt and Hyatt Regency hotels, are demanding the right to help themselves and other Hyatt workers across the United States contend with an abusive employer, intent on destroying decent jobs. Specifically, Hyatt workers are demanding the right to picket, strike, and boycott in support of other Hyatt workers to organize, get contracts, or protest abuses, wherever they may occur.

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L.A. Stadium Project Means 23,000 Jobs

The California legislature approved of a bill that would allow expedited judicial reviews of any legal challenges to a proposed downtown Los Angeles NFL stadium and renovation of the neighboring Los Angeles Convention Center. 

Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, says the action is “a significant step forward in the creation of 23,000 good middle-class jobs for construction and hotel workers, stage hands and grips and janitors. This is our economic stimulus package and it will be financed with zero public dollars. The LA Labor Movement worked hard to score a major victory for all Angelenos.”

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