Homicide and Hospitality

“So, would you like to move into management?”

I’ve been asked this question various times during my employment with the Hyatt Andaz hotel over the past few years. The last manager who asked me this had deep bags under her eyes. She’d been working eight days in a row and was then on her 12th  hour that day. She told me she needed a cigarette, — which was odd, considering she didn’t smoke.

I laughed.  I told her I’d be a terrible candidate for management because I enjoy my family time. I like seeing my wife. I enjoy eight-hour workdays. I enjoy the fact that I occasionally get to do menial household tasks like laundry and dishes. I love the fact that once I’m off the clock, I’m truly off the clock.

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Exposing San Diego’s Dirtiest Politician

Local elections rarely matter to the rest of the State. We all are facing so many challenges in our own regions, that paying attention to another part of the State is often just an after-thought. But, once in a while, there is a local politician with such dangerous beliefs, tactics and immense corporate backing, that they warrant statewide attention.  Such is the case in San Diego today.

I came of age as a young San Diegan at the same time Pete Wilson left our City Hall to become a U.S. senator and then governor of California.  And, as harmful and antagonist as a Governor Pete Wilson was, he was mild compared to Carl DeMaio.  DeMaio is one of four high-profile candidates vying San Diego’s top spot this June.

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1 Million Signatures Submitted to Recall Wisconsin Gov. Walker

Wisconsin working people hit one right out of Miller Park: Moments ago, they submitted 1 million signatures supporting a recall election of Gov. Scott Walker (R), exceeding the total number of signatures required by 460,000. Walker last year pushed to abolish the rights of public employees to collectively bargain for a middle class life. Overall, Walker’s policies are killing 18,000 jobs a year in Wisconsin, according to a recent report.

Union members and allies also turned in 123 percent of the required signatures against Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who was thought one of the more challenging recalls to pull off.

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Dr. Martin Luther King, ‘Bold Struggles’ and the Labor Movement

“The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployme¬nt insurance, old-age pensions, government relief for the destitute and, above all, new wage levels that meant not mere survival but a tolerable life. The captains of industry did not lead this transforma-tion; they resisted it until they were overcome.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr spoke these awe-inspiring words at the Illinois AFL-CIO Convention almost 50 years ago, yet his message about hope, progress and ‘bold struggles’ still rings true today — perhaps truer than ever, as we face increasingly aggressive attacks on our rights from the ‘captains of industry’ and their undue influence on our government.

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Warehouse Workers to Wal-Mart Subcontractor: “We’re Not Going to Take It!”

In October, the State of California raided and cited the labor agencies who staff the warehouses run by Schneider Logistics in Mira Loma, one of the biggest Walmart-contracted distribution centers in the country. These citations exceeded $1 million in recordkeeping violations alone. The investigation into the broad scale and systematic wage theft reported by these warehouses workers is still under investigation by the State of California.

In addition, the workers at the warehouse filed a complaint in federal court, because they repeatedly worked more than 16 hours straight without breaks or overtime, they are paid in confusing and deceptive ways often resulting in not just the denying of all wages due but also in widespread minimum wage violations , and that the warehouse managers retaliated by firing and disciplining workers who ask for their full wages.

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Anti-Prevailing Wage Bills Killed by Legislative Committees

Just as an Assembly committee had done last week, the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee on Wednesday killed an effort by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) to gut California’s prevailing wage laws.

The two ABC-backed bills, SB 725 and 727, had the same aim as two Assembly bills that were defeated last week. They would have increased the prevailing wage cost threshold from $1,000 to $100,000, allowed local governments and special districts to exempt themselves from prevailing wage by ordinance or resolution, eliminated prevailing wage on specific public works projects, narrowed the definition of a public works project, weakened apprentice requirements, attacked collective bargaining agreements, and lowered the prevailing wage overall by abolishing the “modal” rate of prevailing wage determination.

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Methyl Iodide on Trial: Bad for Public Health, Food Security, Worker Safety and the Environment

Today, a lawsuit filed in December 2010 by Earthjustice and California Rural Legal Assistance – on behalf of several farmworkers and a number of activist groups, including Worksafe, Inc., against the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and Arysta LifeScience – heads back to court. At issue is the approval of methyl iodide for agricultural use here in California.

Methyl iodide is a particularly nasty carcinogen. Fifty-four eminent scientists, including six Nobel Laureates in Chemistry, called it “one of the more toxic chemicals used in manufacturing” and questioned the wisdom of U.S. EPA’s approval of the chemical in the first place. It poses the most direct risks to farmworkers, particularly young workers, and neighboring communities; a team of independent scientists determined that it would likely result in exposures far above levels of concern, unless the size of spray buffer zones was “several hundred feet to several miles.”

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Southern California Car Washes Agree to $1 Million Back Pay Settlement

Eight California car washes agreed to an historic $1 million settlement with the state’s attorney general for routinely failing to pay minimum wage or overtime, creating false records of work hours and not paying money owed to employees who quit, according to Attorney General Kamala Harris. “Workers at these car washes were taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers who illegally denied them the pay and benefits they earned. I am pleased that the resolution of this case will allow workers to receive the pay they are owed,” she said.

At least $800,000 of the settlement will go to workers who were underpaid, according to court records. Other parts of the settlement will pay taxes and penalties. Click here for a copy of the settlement agreement.

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Right to Work: ‘Bad Economics and Cynical Politics’

hit the mark Sunday when it castigated Republican lawmakers for pushing so-called right to work (RTW) laws in states like Indiana and correctly connected this anti-worker agenda with a similar assault on voting rights. Both moves are financed by a little-known organization funded by extremists like the Koch brothers.

According to the editorial, “Many Republican leaders are adopting model legislation proposed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a national corporate-financed conservative organization that is also assisting the Republican push to require voter identification cards to suppress the vote of minorities, young people and other constituencies that tend to favor the Democratic Party.”

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Celebrate Dr. King and His Contributions to the Labor Movement at the Western Workers Labor Heritage Festival

will take place on the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, January 13-15, 2012 in Burlingame at the Machinists’ Hall, 1511 Rollins Road. The festival has been inspiring union and community activists to use the creative arts to strengthen working class movements for 25 years. Participants learn how to use music, drama, visual arts, spoken word and writing to support and enhance their efforts, as they honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King and his links to the labor movement.

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