Here’s a question for candidates who hate non-income taxpayers but love moms, hate beneficiaries of government programs while hailing personal responsibility: Why not embrace a government program that helps moms – and dads, and sons and daughters and partners – take care of their loved ones and then return to their jobs, so they can take responsibility for themselves, support their families, contribute to the economy and earn enough to pay income taxes?
The Paid Family Leave program in California is exactly this kind of program. On September 23, we celebrate its tenth anniversary.
by DeAnn McEwen
Trust me when I say that politics has become very personal this year; I’m a nurse. As nurses we ask our patients to “tell us where it hurts.” There are those who are too young and too medically fragile who don’t have the ability to utter a word; yet we see the result of an eroding social safety net etched on their faces.
Far too many of the patients and people in the community that I care for are suffering as a result of our broken economy. There is hope for them, and we all have the ability to help if we make an informed decision and vote wisely. Before we’re handcuffed by lethal cutbacks and before we become accomplices of injustice and the erosion of our right to protect one another, please join nurses in voting “NO” on Proposition 32; and, “YES” on Proposition 30.
Last weekend, more than 750 people took to the streets in San Diego’s largest ever rally and march against Wal-Mart. The coalition of community, faith and labor groups organized this spring to defend Sherman Heights when Wal-Mart snuck into the community and took over the historic Farmer’s Market building.
When news broke in the spring that Wal-Mart was planning to move in, the community mobilized and made a simple request of Wal-Mart: Sit down with the community to discuss what a new market would mean for the neighborhood and how everyone could be sure it would provide a benefit. Instead, Wal-Mart responded by importing labor from outside San Diego and demolishing the historic Farmer’s Market Building without public notice or hearings.
? It’s so convoluted that even some of the people who helped put it on the November ballot are now opposed to it. Several members of the California Forward Action Fund, which has spent $4.5 million so far in support of the initiative, resigned from the organization out of protest, saying the proposition “contains serious flaws” and “will further harm California.”
That’s because Proposition 31 was jam-packed with so many political theories and provisions that it will result in new layers of bureaucracy, more expensive government, continued gridlock in Sacramento, and less money for classrooms and kids.
Over the last several months, warehouse workers have drawn attention to serious problems with their working conditions and subsequent retaliation against those who have spoken up.
Warehouse work is strenuous and hard on the body. For hours on end, workers lift heavy boxes in the same pattern as they load and unload shipping containers and trailers. Workers are asked to do the humanly impossible or risk losing their jobs every day. It is more common to meet a warehouse worker who has been injured than one who is healthy.
This week, workers took action to address serious injuries associated with this repetitive motion. Warehouse Workers United on behalf of workers filed a complaint with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Monday Sept. 24 detailing a high rate of injury associated with unreasonable quotas. They are seeking an immediate investigation of the facility.
Both Democrats and Republicans stress that the ability for people to move up the economic ladder to build better lives is at the heart of the American Dream. But new data from the Pew Center on the States pits the Republican tenet on economic mobility against another deeply held Republican belief that unions are a heavy and evil anchor on the economy that must be cut away.
Where there is a strong union movement, there is more economic mobility. If unions are strengthened, upward mobility will increase. The 10 states with the highest unionization rates—New York, Hawaii, Michigan, New Jersey, Washington, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin and Oregon—perform considerably better on a range of measures of mobility than the 10 states with the lowest levels of unionization.
Labor and community groups are gearing up to defeat a measure that is on the November ballot in California aimed at crippling the ability of unions to financially support election campaigns. Proposition 32, put on the ballot by wealthy conservative corporate leaders, claims it will stop “special interest” groups from funding politics. Yet, Prop 32 targets only unions, and not corporations.
Proposition 32 sounds fair on the surface. It calls for prohibiting corporations and unions from deducting money from workers' income for political campaigns. But only unions deduct money from its members' income, in the form of union dues, which is the only source of income for most unions. A small portion of union dues are donated to political campaigns. Corporations don’t raise money by deducting money from their employees' pay, so Proposition 32 has no impact on corporations.
On September 14 the Web exploded with news that billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch had donated $4 million in support of Proposition 32. A San Francisco Chronicle editorial noting the donation labeled the brothers “conservative ideologues” – a moniker often applied to the Kochs. This description, however, gives the Kochs far too much credit for their supposed philosophical purity—particularly as it relates to the Prop. 32 battle.
Despite their reputations as libertarian true believers, the Koch brothers are nothing if not practical businessmen, who have no trouble taking advantage of government subsidies when it bolsters their bottom line. (Koch Industries, for instance, was for years heavily invested in the $6 billion, federally subsidized ethanol industry.)
All too often, when people talk about labor unions, they focus on the past. Unions served a purpose, won some important rights, and ceased being relevant. That narrative has been repeated so often, far too many people have come to see it as true.
It is hard to believe that at a time when the middle class has never been so battered, and the gap between the rich and poor has never been so great, that anyone could argue unions are obsolete. In fact, the decline in union density directly parallels the decline in the middle class and the rise of income inequality. As fewer workers had unions, fewer workers could provide a decent standard of living for their families. It seems clear that rebuilding the middle class requires a strong union movement to prevent what is already being called “the low wage recovery.”
You may remember VWR International as the now-infamous chemical supply company in Brisbane, California that was bought by private-equity firm Madison-Dearborn, which promptly cut a sweetheart deal to move the company to Visalia. The deal meant the company would recieve numerous public subsidies and tax breaks, including hefty Enterprise Zone hiring credits, which put state taxpayers on the hook to pay for VWR to turn good, union jobs in Brisbane into low-wage, dead-end, no-benefit jobs in Visalia.
This week, after a months-long legal battle, the workers and the union won an incredible victory when the 5th District Court of Appeals in Fresno reversed a Tulare court’s ruling on the city's approval of a 500,000-square-foot VWR warehouse in Visalia.