Brown Signs Law Protecting Project Labor Agreements in California

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed into law last week a bill that says local governments cannot issue blanket prohibitions on project labor agreements (PLAs) without losing state funding for public works projects.

Los Angeles and San Francisco recently approved PLAs for projects that will create tens of thousands of good, middle-class jobs. But other cities—including San Diego— have tried to ban the agreements.

Around the country, Republican lawmakers with model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have been pushing bans on PLAs.

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Workers Memorial Day: A Time to Honor the Fallen, Protect the Injured and Prevent Future Fatalities

Every year on April 28th, working families nationwide gather to commemorate Workers Memorial Day and honor those who’ve lost their lives to work-related injury or illness. The occasion commits every one of us to prevent additional fatalities and minimize workplace injuries — and always call on others to do the same. April 28th also presents us, as workers, with a unique opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices we make and to renew the fight for the safety and respect we deserve at work.

In 2010, over 300 Californians lost their lives in work-related accidents, and about 6,500 died from chronic workplace exposure to chemicals and other toxins. Workers throughout every industry sector are affected, and potentially deadly hazards persist in every workplace.

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Preventing Falls in the Solar Industry — A New ‘Digital Story’ for Workers Memorial Day

, PhD

Hans Petersen said goodbye to his roommate and left for work to install solar panels.  Hans didn’t return from work that day.  He died on the job when he stepped backwards off an apartment building roof and fell 45 feet. The California Department of Public Health’s California Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program created a four-minute “digital story” to explain the tragic events that led to Petersen’s fatal fall and what could have been done to prevent it.

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The Tragic Consequences of an Employer’s Broken Promise

Robert Douglas collapsed and died while he was about to let his two mixed-breed dogs out the back door of his modest brick home in St. Louis. Two days later, on Dec. 16, relatives found his body on the kitchen floor. He was 59.

Robert had cared for his two rescued dogs, and he had done the same for his friends and colleagues at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where he had worked for nearly 40 years.

He was to the newsroom as Radar was to “M*A*S*H”: the guy we went to when we needed help.

Robert made sure we got what we needed to do our jobs, especially when the bosses said we couldn’t.

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CEO Pay and the 99%

Today the AFL-CIO launched the 2012 Executive PayWatch site—now called CEO Pay and the 99%—which includes the most comprehensive data accessible on 2011 executive pay. All of the data available is searchable by industry, by state and by the top 100 highest-paid CEOs. Check it and help us share it widely.

CEO Pay and the 99% shows that a CEO of a company in the S&P 500 Index, on average, received $12.9 million in total compensation in 2011. That’s nearly a 14 percent raise over the previous year. And that’s on top of a 23 percent increase in 2010.

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Walmart and Hyatt Workers to Visit .00001% in San Francisco

Greg Penner and Carrie Walton Penner aren’t just part of the 1%. They’re part of the .000001%. The Penners are members of the wealthiest family in the United States, the Walton family, which owns of Walmart. Greg Penner sits on the board of both Walmart and Hyatt corporations. On Thursday, workers from Walmart and Hyatt and their supporters will be paying a visit to the Penners outside a high-priced fundraiser in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Ms. Walton Penner is a co-host of the event. 

The Walton family, including the Penners, are the face of the 1%. Six members of the Walton family have a total wealth of greater than $100 billion. Last year, an economist reported the amazing statistic that these six members of the Walton family have a greater wealth than the bottom 30% of American families combined.

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On Equal Pay Day, Let’s Demand Change from Walmart

Last week, I talked to a cashier at a Ralph’s grocery store in Orange County, California. She told me she lives with and supports her 82-year-old mother and her disabled 56-year-old sister.  She represents a growing group in the United States: a working woman who is head of household and also a family caregiver.

But with the rise of the low-wage retail giants like Walmart, she is also part of a shrinking group: a union worker with rights on the job, health benefits, paid sick days, vacation and possibly a pension or retirement fund.  And, with a union contract, she won’t be arbitrarily paid less than a man doing the same job with the same seniority.

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Patriotic Millionaire Joins Seniors and Workers to Blast Ryan/Lungren Budget Plan

Under Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) federal budget plan, each millionaire would receive a tax cut of about $187,000. And when it comes to Ryan and his GOP cronies in Congress like Rep. Dan Lungren, that fat tax giveaway to the wealthy comes at a cost. Unfortunately, Ryan and Lungren want our nation’s seniors to absorb that cost through draconian cuts to Medicare.

Today in Sacramento, seniors and workers affiliated with the Sacramento Central Labor Council had an unlikely ally in their fight for tax fairness and against the Ryan budget: millionaire David Watson. Watson, who’s a member of the group Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, stood with seniors on Tax Day to denounce the Ryan budget plan and the unfair tax system we currently have which rewards the wealthy and well-connected at the expense of the middle class.

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Young Workers Charged Up at Voto Latino Summit

by Caroline O'Connor

Several hundred young people from California, Florida, Arizona and Texas took part in the Voto Latino Power Summit in Los Angeles this past weekend, joining local community leaders in a two-day event to empower young Latinos to create positive change in their communities. The AFL-CIO was a major sponsor of the summit.

Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, discussed the importance of the Latino vote in 2012 on a panel with the Voto Latino National Director Maria Teresa Kumar and actor Wilmer Valderrama. Other panelists, including Dolores Huerta, talked about past generations and organizing the Latino vote. The panel was broadcast on Telemundo.

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KPFA Workers, Supporters to Picket in Protest of Pacifica’s Anti-Union Actions

Workers at the Bay Area’s KPFA radio will be marking its 63th birthday this week not with a party, but with a picket. They’ve invited supporters to join them Wednesday, April 18 from noon to 1pm to demand that parent corporation Pacifica Radio “stay true to its principles and reverse the hiring of legal consultants Jackson Lewis, which the AFL-CIO calls the nation’s ‘number one union-buster.’

Lew Hill and other conscientious objectors founded KPFA on April 15, 1949, as the nation’s first progressive, listener-sponsored radio station. Fast forward to 2012: KPFA’s union recently found out that Pacifica had hired notorious union-buster Jackson Lewis on retainer for its 5-station radio network.

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