SB 488 a Common-Sense Bill That Prohibits Deception in Campaign Mail

Make no mistake:  It’s no coincidence that the hired gun for the California Organization of Police and Sheriffs (COPS), Kelly Moran, is actively trying to kill a great piece of campaign reform legislation SB 488.  This bill prohibits the unauthorized use of public safety logos, insignias and other identifiers on political mail pieces.

COPS rakes in MILLIONS  each election cycle through the use of fake public safety badges in its political “voter guides”, which gets sent to voters in the hopes of swaying their decisions on candidates and issues.

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Hollywood’s Back Door

A neighborhood on the eastern edge of the L.A. basin and shorthand for the movie and television industries, Hollywood had its own city charter for fewer than ten years before being annexed by Los Angeles in 1910. By joining L.A., it gained access to the water supply then beginning to flow by aqueduct from the Owens Valley 233 miles to the north.

D.W. Griffith, Cecil B. DeMille and Charlie Chaplan filmed there but now, in fact, studios and related businesses are situated throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan area with particular concentrations in Culver City, Burbank, the San Fernando Valley and – of course – the part of town known as Hollywood.

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AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Joins San Jose Minimum Wage Advocates to Say “It’s Time for Ten!”

Through hip-hop, 'spoken word' poetry and music, one strong message permeated a room full of worker advocates and supporters last night in San Jose: “It’s time for Ten!” they cheered, voicing their support for a November ballot measure that would increase the minimum wage in San Jose to $10/hour.

The event, held at IBEW Local 332, featured National AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler (herself an IBEW member) who flew in from Washington, D.C. to throw her support behind the minimum wage campaign, which was launched by a San Jose State University sociology class and has drawn the support of hundreds from community groups, businesses, elected officials and individuals. Secretary-Treasurer Shuler offered her unwavering endorsement of the increase as she lauded the group of young activists who launched the minimum wage effort.

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Retiring to Poverty

“Is there an age limit on those energy efficiency jobs you were talking about, sir?” asked an elderly woman with a heavy, Eastern European-sounding accent.

Assuming that she was inquiring for her grandchild, I told her that those interested in signing up for IBEW Local 18’s Utility Pre-Craft Trainee position must be at least 18 years old, have a valid California driver’s license and be proficient in math and English.

Just as I was about to continue with my tutorial about the academic and physical fitness requirements, the woman interrupted me with another question.

“Do you have any jobs that I can do?”

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The Fix: Restoring the Rights of Misclassified Workers

An illegal practice as systemic and widespread as independent contractor misclassification suggests a collective failure of enforcement. Given the huge fiscal, human and environmental costs, what can be done to ameliorate this failure?

The problem is not that the practice is permitted under current law. On the contrary, the phenomenon is referred to as misclassification precisely because it involves the systematic violation of employee protection laws, justified by re-labeling employees as independent contractors.

Employers misclassify workers essentially because 20th century mechanisms of enforcement have not caught up with this spurious 21st century “business practice.”

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SB 1161: A Real-Life Telecommunications Horror Story

In horror movies, you always know the victims are in big trouble when they pick up the phone to call for help and the line is dead. When there’s no way to call for help, the audience knows that the victims better get out of there ASAP, or else all hell is going to break loose.  

Unfortunately, California is the hapless victim in a real-life horror movie going on right now. AT&T, Verizon, and their corporate cronies are the villains in this particular horror movie, and they’re cutting the phone lines with SB 1161 (Padilla)—a bill currently on the Assembly floor. We all know what happens next. California consumers and workers are in big trouble and are going to pay the price if this bill makes it into law.

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National Federation of Independent Businesses: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing on Prop 32

The National Federation of Independent Businesses (N.F.I.B.) came to our attention last week because it endorsed the Billionaires' Bill of Rights in California, aka Prop 32. The BBR is just another attempt to destroy our union, and our western brothers and sisters are fighting hard against it.

Anyhoo, a credulous Sacramento Bee reporter wrote a story about NFIB's endorsement of Prop 32, saying “small businesses endorse California measure affecting unions.”

Reports the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, the group often lobbies for policies that benefit big business at the expense of small. The NFIB supports a higher tax on the income of independent businesses and families so that big national chains can avoid paying state taxes.

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Behind the Prop 32 Curtain

Many ballot propositions are deliberately written to be confusing. There’s usually a hidden agenda. Case in point: Prop 32.

Its backers say it’s about “stopping special interests.” That sounds nice, right?  But, as usual, the devil’s in the details.  When you take a closer look, it’s clear that Prop 32 isn’t what it seems. While it eliminates the collective voice of union members in politics, it’s riddled with exemptions for corporate CEOs, billionaires and corporate special interests.

In a recent op-ed in The Guardian (UK), San Francisco State professor John Logan wrote Prop 32 isn’t genuine reform, rather a “bill of rights for billionaires.”

To understand what’s really going on, you have to pull back the curtain to see who these billionaires are and what they really stand for.

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One Big Union: Q and A with SAG-AFTRA’s Gabrielle Carteris

When we think about professional performers, we generally assume they’re living the glamorous life, all day, every day. But that’s not always the case. Indeed, the life of an actor, broadcaster or recording artist can be glamorous. But it can also be incredibly difficult for working performers when it comes to the everyday things, like purchasing health care insurance, or taking a rest break during a 20-hour shoot… even something as basic as removing the elaborate body paint we see so often in music videos these days can be a serious challenge.

That’s why, for decades, performers have been coming together in unions to bargain for fair protections and decent working conditions. And this year, actors and performers took their collective voice to the next level by voting overwhelmingly to merge the two biggest entertainment and media industry unions – Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) — into one big union, SAG-AFTRA.

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AFGE, TSA Reach First-Ever Contract for Airport Screeners

, the Bush administration, citing so-called “national security” concerns, terminated the screeners’ collective bargaining rights.

Today, after a nearly 10-year battle, AFGE and the TSA have reached their first-ever labor contract that covers the TSA’s 45,000 workers. Says AFGE President John Gage: “For 10 long years, AFGE has fought hard so that Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) would have collective bargaining rights. We have often looked back and wondered why it was taking so long. Today, we begin to look forward.”

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