‘Raise The Wage San Jose’ Collects 35,000 Signatures

What started as a school project for a San Jose State University sociology class has turned into an organized campaign to change San Jose law regarding what lowest hourly wage workers must be paid.

A coalition of community organizations and social justice groups is supporting the campaign to raise the minimum wage in San Jose from $8 to $10 an hour. Supporters of the initiative were required to collect a little over 19,000 signatures to qualify the measure for the November 2012 ballot. They have collected more than 35,000, which were delivered to the San Jose City Clerk’s office for verification.

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Reality TV Bites: “Blue Collar” Show Fires Its Workers

by “Johnny 5” Hanrahan

I, along with 30 other talented, hardworking crew members, was fired recently from a successful, internationally popular TV show called 1000 Ways to Die. Our crime: Trying to unionize. Joining the union would allow us to have health insurance — something that is not asking for too much, especially from a hit show. It is easy to take advantage of a reality TV crew in this economy, especially for low-ball rates, by having members work 70-plus hour weeks on their feet, as they make nearly minimum wage in a non-union atmosphere. We wanted the opportunity to live the better, healthier lives which we deserve; hence we contacted unions to help us with that. “Together we are what we cannot be alone. United we stand, divided we fall.”

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NorCal Grocery Workers Embroiled in Contentious Bargaining with Raley’s, Safeway & Save Mart

We are Northern California grocery workers, 52, 000 strong. We live in Northern California’s big cities and rural towns. We are parents, PTA members, little league coaches and taxpayers. We provide fresh and wholesome food to you and your families every day. We are your neighbors, we are the community. We are proud members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), California’s largest private sector union. We are currently in contract negotiations with our employers — Raley’s, Safeway & Save Mart — for the renewal of an agreement to safeguard the income and healthcare we have worked hard to earn over many years.

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Labor, Manufacturing Groups Launch “Should Be Made In America” Campaign in East Bay

In front of a sweeping view of the $7.2 billion Bay Bridge construction project, leaders of major labor and manufacturing groups held a press conference Monday to launch a new campaign challenging the offshoring of public infrastructure projects. The effort, entitled “Should Be Made in America,”plans to use the iconic new east span of the bridge a rallying symbol, given that much of it was manufactured in China.

The nationwide campaign, organized by the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) and the United Steelworkers (USW), kicked off with two Oakland billboards noting the “100% Foreign Steel” used in the project. Organizers want policymakers to consider the broader economic advantages of sourcing domestically, not just the lower bids received from foreign, often Chinese firms.

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Workers’ Comp Reform: Undoing the Damage of Schwarzenegger’s Rules

by Mitch Seaman

California’s workers’ compensation system was created a century ago to provide medical treatment and wage replacement benefits to workers injured on the job. Employers fund the system, and in return, injured workers are generally prohibited from suing the employer of injury—even if employer negligence was to blame. What sounds like a grand compromise has, in practice, become something of a nightmare. But most of the worst abuses are relatively new, and the system wasn’t always quite so broken.

Among labor’s top priorities for 2012 will be a massive overhaul of the entire workers compensation system. That’s why the California Labor Federation today launched its campaign to restore benefits to injured workers with the release of “Workers’ Compensation Reform: Undoing the Damage of Schwarzenegger’s Rules,” a research paper outlining concerns with the current system and recommendations for how it could better serve injured workers.

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LAUSD Should Fund Schools in Need, Not District Offices

Dear LAUSD School Board Members, Superintendent Deasy, Secretary Duncan, and President Obama,

We all want to provide the educational opportunities for children and our communities. Please help me receive clarity on the following:

Instead of sending Title I, II, and III money to school sites, as is intended under these programs, LAUSD senior management has chosen to keep this money at central district offices in order to fund unproven, costly initiatives such as the Teaching and Learning Initiative, commonly known as the Value-Added Teacher Evaluation model.

Due to a lack of transparency (the dust hasn't yet settled), it's not even clear yet how much will be spent centrally on these unproven programs, but it appears to be well over $175 million. Is this legal?

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100,000-Member Union Coalition ‘Strikes’ at Major Health Care Foes: Obesity and Chronic Disease

Whoever thinks that labor unions are stuck in the past clearly isn’t following the trajectory of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions. Our Coalition, which represents close to 100,000 workers at Kaiser Permanente medical centers, launched a new campaign this week that targets not a health care employer but a different type of foe: obesity and chronic disease. On Friday morning, more than 500 Coalition union members hit the streets of Hollywood with the message that we plan to use union organizing techniques to take aim at the causes of chronic disease. Our members talked to tourists, gave free blood pressure screenings at a senior center, held up signs that read “Health is a Union Issue,” and even danced to a Beyonce “Move Your Body” video in front of Hollywood’s famed Chinese Theater.

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The Hypocrisy of Allan Mansoor on Campaign Finance Reform

Assemblymember Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa), elected in 2010, has so far made a career out of demonizing workers and attacking workers’ rights. From collective bargaining to pensions, Mansoor never saw a cherished worker right he didn’t hate. Last year, he even took time to honor anti-union Midwest legislators, whom he calls “courageous” and with whom he stands “in solidarity.”

It’s not surprising, then, that he’s become something of a shill for the campaign to silence workers’ political voice through this fall’s corporate power grab initiative. According to the Pacifica Institute, Mansoor vocally supports the measure, which proponents deceptively call the “Stop Special Interest Money Now Act,” arguing that it will limit “the influence of special interest money.” (Of course nothing could be further from the truth. It’s nothing other than a muzzle on workers that will make our system even more corrupt, but more on that later.)

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Employment Training Panel Announces New Labor Apprenticeship Partnership

On Friday, March 23rd, the California Employment Training Panel (ETP) approved guidelines that will enable the Panel to fund apprenticeship training for the first time in more than 16 years, expanding on the journey-level upgrade and pre-apprenticeship training it had previously been funding. The Panel also announced that it will work in partnership with the California Labor Federation and the State Building and Construction Trades Council to assist ETP in building awareness of the program among the state’s Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committees (JATCs) and advise ETP on program evaluation measures and potential program refinements.

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Bay Area Workers Call for Romney Advisor’s Resignation, Protest Mitt’s Anti-Worker Positions

Mitt Romney’s “Multi-millionaire Express” is coming to Redwood City tonight for a high-dollar fundraiser with the likes of failed gubernatorial candidate Meg “Wall Street” Whitman. But it may not be all champagne wishes and caviar dreams for Mitt and his rich buddies tonight as the controversy involving one of his campaign’s key advisors continues to grow.

The Inspector General issued a report Friday finding that National Labor Relations Board member Terence Flynn improperly leaked confidential material on board deliberations. The report details numerous instances of then-chief counsel Flynn funneling confidential information about the labor board’s activities and deliberations to two former NLRB members who have been actively engaged in a relentless campaign to undermine and discredit the NLRB through legal and rhetorical challenges to the agency’s activities. One of those former board members is Romney advisor Peter Schaumber.

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