On Sunday, November 25, 2012, we witnessed a terrible tragedy in the garment district of Dhaka in Bangladesh, a fire in a nine story garment factory that killed more than 100 people. After hearing about this fire and the descriptions of what happened, I couldn’t help but think of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, a fire that occurred in a ten story building over 100 years ago on March 25, 1911. The descriptions of exits being blocked, supervisors telling the workers that nothing was wrong and finally people jumping out of the building in an attempt to save themselves were all reminiscent of the fire in New York City that took the lives of 146 people, most of them young women.
Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid aren't just numbers on a budget line, they're vital family protection lifelines for working people. Working families understand how important these lifelines are and reject benefit cuts.
We have five weeks to tell Congress to let the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2% expire and reject any benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Visit www.aflcio.org/ProtectOurFuture for all the information you need on the upcoming budget showdown.
In the wake of the monumental 15-day strike and six-day, 50-mile “WalMarch” for safe jobs from the Inland Empire to the steps of city hall in Downtown L.A., workers at Walmart-contracted warehouses have seen a few improvements in their working conditions. They now have water coolers to drink from instead of a hose, they can cool off with fans, and some dangerous broken equipment has been fixed. But they still have a major uphill battle ahead of them as they continue thier fight for justice.
As the election results came in late Tuesday night, it became abundantly clear that the handful of billionaires and CEOs who sought to silence our voice were in for a rude awakening. Their deceptive measure, Prop 32, didn’t just fail, it tanked — by a 12-point margin.
But our victories didn’t stop there. Labor’s ground game also played a huge role in Prop 30, the sorely-needed school funding measure, much to the chagrin of the anti-worker billionaires who thought shifting our attention to Prop 32 would be bad news for Prop 30. And that strong pro-worker turnout had ripple effects all the way down the ballot, particularly in state races.
On Tuesday, San Jose voters overwhelmingly approved a measure to increase the minimum wage in the city from $8 to $10 an hour. Measure D drew 58% of the vote in a race where opponents outspent supporters by more than 2 to 1. The San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce pledged to raise more than a million dollars to keep businesses from having to pay their minimum wage workers $2 more an hour, but San Jose residents proved the increase was the right thing to do.
San Jose State sociology students, led by their professor, Scott Myers Lipton, came up with the idea and quickly drew the support of labor, non-profits and community leaders to bring the initiative to the ballot box.
Long Beach hotel workers and community activists made history Tuesday, passing a living wage ballot measure that will help lift 2,000 people in that city’s tourism industry out of poverty.
Long Beach was one of three cities nationwide that passed minimum wage measures (San Jose and Albuquerque were the others), and the only one that enacted a law with paid sick leave. Workers at Long Beach’s large hotels will now earn at least $13 per hour and will have five paid sick days a year.
to a committee supporting Prop 32 and opposing Prop 30, voters knew the money was connected, in some vague sense, to the Koch Brothers. That group at least had some history to look back upon, and while the relationship wasn't perfectly clear, the Koch connections were there.
However, when an $11 million check floated down from a hitherto obscure group, “Americans for Responsible Leadership,” (ARL) the source was a complete mystery. The group also was in a fight against Top 2 primaries, and some of the board had GOP connections. But, the source of the money was far from clear. The Fair Political Practices Commission, California's campaign finance regulator, sued for information on where the money came from. ARL fought like the dickens, even taking the court to the United States Supreme Court before reluctantly handing over the information this morning.
to back the deceptive Prop 32. Billionaire Charles Munger Jr. kicked in $35 million
against Prop 30 and for Prop 32. A shady Arizona group that refuses to disclose its donors funneled $11 million
into our state to attack California schools and workers.
But now, there’s only one number that matters: 35,000. That’s the number of union volunteers fanning out across the state, in communities big and small, to fight the big money interests behind the attacks on Prop 30 and the fraudulent ads backing Prop 32. The California labor movement has mounted its largest Get Out the Vote effort in history this year, contacting millions of voters one-on-one about the stakes in this election.
funded by very large corporations and vey few individuals. These corporations are so panicked that 37 will affect their bottom line that they are willing sacrifice our democracy and manipulate workers, small business owners, and the public at large to get them to vote against their own interests.
One instrument of this confusion is Ray Martinez, owner of an Inglewood market who in interviews with outlets in English and Spanish and now in a heavily-aired TV ad has repeatedly made the same deliberately misleading claims about food costs and the effects of 37 on retailers, slighting the truth in an effort to keep Californians from voting for the right to know what’s in our food. He purports to care about his customers like family, but wouldn’t you want your family to know what they are eating? And wouldn’t you want them to know the truth?
We may not find out who’s really behind the Americans for Responsible Leadership's money in time for Tuesday’s election, but it’s safe to assume these dark-money mystery donors from out of state simply do not have California’s best interest at heart. They don’t understand what it’s like to see your kid’s school close before your very eyes. They’ve never struggled to make a tuition payment that’s ballooned 100% or more. And in all likelihood, their children will probably never even set foot inside a California classroom.
This isn’t their election. These aren’t their schools. And they can’t prevail if we harness the grassroots power of millions of working women and men.