The Middle-Class Wrecking Ball: Wal-Mart and the Waltons

The destruction caused by the bursting of the housing bubble and the subsequent Great Recession continues to wreck havoc on our economy, communities, families and workers. Last month, the Federal Reserve released 2010 data from its Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF). This triennial survey, one of the best sources on net worth (assets minus liabilities) for the U.S., just happened to coincide with the recession.

During a period of massive destruction of wealth for typical families and even when their peers lost some ground, the Waltons were able to cash in. It seems what has been bad for the vast majority of Americans has been very good for the Waltons. As the company’s then CFO said right before the start of the great recession “Tough times are actually a good time for Wal-Mart.” Looks like he was right.

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Tracking Occupational Health in California

A day laborer falls off an unsafe scaffold and dies.  A custodian gets work-related asthma from cleaning products.  A painter is tested and found to have lead poisoning.  Every year, thousands of California workers are injured on the job or become ill as a result of health hazards at work.

Twelve workers tragically lose their lives on the job each day in the United States, with 409 workplace deaths in California in 2009. Latino workers are particularly at risk. In Los Angeles County, where nearly one quarter of the state’s fatalities occur, Latino workers have a 50% higher fatality rate than non-Latino workers.

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What It Really Takes to Create a Green Economy

One central challenge to building a green economy is that for many, the inner workings of a key pillar of that economy — the construction industry — are a mystery. Understanding construction helps us move beyond simply creating green “jobs,” which could be temporary or even dangerous, to building a new green economic sector that generates permanent construction careers.

Construction is one of the largest sectors of the U.S. economy, with a dollar value approaching $800 billion and more than 7.2 million workers. It brings together people from all different walks of life. For community members that the economic downturn has hit the hardest — low-income workers, minorities, women, those returning from the military or from prison — construction offers a chance at a middle-class career.

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Thank a Superhero Worker at San Diego Comic-Con

Every summer, San Diego welcomes more than 100,000 people to town for Comic-Con to celebrate “the largest comic book and popular arts convention in the world.” For the better part of the week, downtown is transformed into a fantastic celebration of comics and art, with creative costumes and parties for every taste.

A celebration this elaborate doesn’t just happen though – it takes thousands of workers to make everything go. That includes the San Diego Convention Center decorators, electricians, stagehands, banquet servers, hotel workers, janitors, parking lot attendants and more who keep the show running.

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On the 10th Anniversary of Paid Family Leave, It’s Time More Workers Know About It

At any point in their lives, workers may need to take time off to care for either a new child or a sick family member. While we have state and federal laws to protect workers from losing their jobs or benefits when they take leave, the leave time is mostly unpaid. Unpaid leave hurts a family’s income and economic security – many of our working families, especially in this economy, live at the margin and can’t afford to take leave without pay.

No worker should have to make the difficult choice between a paycheck and being there for a loved one.

Ten years ago, labor unions and community organizations in California came together to ensure that our working families did not have to make this difficult choice. We successfully advocated for and passed the California Paid Family Leave (PFL) Act in 2002.

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Ask Your Senators to Support the Bring Jobs Home Act

As CEO at Bain Capital, Mitt Romney earned “jaw-dropping profits” by closing U.S. factories, laying off hundreds of workers, sending those jobs overseas and stashing money in offshore tax havens.

Recently, The Washington Post ran a scathing article on Romney’s Bain Capital for owning “companies that were pioneers” in the practice of shipping work from the U.S. overseas. Even though Romney says he left Bain in 1999, recently revealed SEC filings show Romney was at the company until 2002. 

Congress must fix these outsourcing practices. We have lost 6 million manufacturing jobs while our trade deficits have ballooned and the largest nonfinancial companies in the United States sat on record amounts of cash.

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KPFA Listeners Poised to Recall Anti-Union Pacifica Board Member

the network’s treasurer, Tracy Rosenberg.

Throughout its 63-year history, Pacifica has been known for its progressive approach to journalism, including its coverage of workers’ rights issues. But last year managers of the nonprofit network, led by Rosenberg and Pacifica’s executive director, Arlene Engelhardt, targeted outspoken KPFA workers for layoff, using the guise of a budget crisis and violating the union contract of the staff, who are represented by CWA Local 9415.

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Like the TEA Party? You’ll love the Special Exemptions Act!

At first blush, some would think that Prop 32, the Special Exemptions Act, would be a step in the right direction.  That it would somehow reform our broken campaign finance system.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the Special Exemptions Act ends up making the system worse, and more biased against working Californians. It leaves open huge loopholes for Billionaires to spend in SuperPACs and Independent Expenditures(IEs), while stifling the voice of labor and working Californians. It's an unbalanced and unfair measure that would just increase the power of the undisclosed and poorly regulated SuperPACs and IEs and their tea party allies in California.

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IBEW Mentoring Program Prepares Local Residents for a Career in the Electrical Trades

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 11 has a successful mentoring program designed to help underserved communities prepare for careers in the electrical trades. Before applicants take their entrance exam at the IBEW/NECA Electrical Training Institute in Commerce, Calif., IBEW mentors provide support and guidance for obtaining GEDs, make sure candidates have the algebra requirements and help them to study for the exam.

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Strike Vote at Northern CA Lucky-Savemart Stores Motivates Employer to Work Out Settlement

members employed by Lucky-Save Mart voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, after the company announced it was issuing and moving to implement its last, best and final offer, which would result in $5-per-hour reductions in pay or layoffs for hundreds of members throughout Northern California.

Workers from Lucky and Save Mart stores voted in record numbers to authorize a strike. Twenty-six meetings were held in four days from Ukiah to Salinas and east to Vacaville. Four hundred voted San Jose and five hundred cast ballots in Hayward alone. In the end, 94% voted in favor of authorizing the strike.

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