Laborers Union Apprenticeship Program Trains a New Generation of Workers

Paul Burton

Like other Building Trades apprenticeships, the Laborers’ (LIUNA's) training program prepares men and women for careers in construction. The apprenticeship program at the Northern California Laborers Training Center in San Ramon is relatively new and has been providing training for new laborers for just 12 years. Apprenticeship coordinator Manny Carrillo said as the work that Laborers do has become more specialized and the workers need to learn more skills, the program is now mandatory.

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Labor-Sponsored Food & Toy Drive Brings Holiday Cheer to Hundreds of San Diego Families

Lorena Gonzalez

My favorite event of the year was on Tuesday this week, when the San Diego Labor Council and United Way’s Labor Participation co-hosted the annual Food and Toy distribution here in San Diego. Dozens of our unions and community supporters came together to donate food and toys for unemployed and underemployed local families, we were able to help nearly three hundred local families this holiday season. Their commitment and generosity are truly an inspiration for our entire year of hard work.

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Why Someone Like Me Should Have a Say at Hyatt

Cathy Youngblood

There are many positive things about being a housekeeper.  I get to meet the world.  I have a real bond with the other women I work with. I also take pride in working in a field where I give comfort and pleasure to people when the travel.

There are also challenges to being a housekeeper. Everyday the work is exhausting and physically debilitating.  And management doesn’t always really listen when we have ideas about how to make the work safer or more efficient.

I care about my job, but also I see how things could be better. That’s why Hyatt needs someone like me on its Board of Directors. The current corporate officers might have business sense, but I have common sense. They push paper, I do the physical labor.

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Chained CPI: The Younger You Are, the Bigger the Cut

Kenneth Quinnell

One of the proposals floated for months in the fiscal bluff debate in Washington, D.C., is a change to the formula used to measure inflation for Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs) called the “chained” CPI. Let's be clear: This is a benefit cut. These COLAs make sure seniors' income keeps pace with the rising costs of housing and food. The “chained” CPI would cut future Social Security benefits by as much as $2,432 for someone who is 17 years old today. Studies from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) show that not only is the “chained” CPI a benefit cut, it eventually will lead to higher taxes for most working people.

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Koch Brothers & ALEC Top Conservative Forces Behind Right-to-Work in Michigan

John Logan

On Tuesday, Michigan became the nation's 24th state, and the most unionized state, to enact right-to-work legislation. Thousand of protesters failed to dissuade Republican governor Rick Snyder from signing a law that will likely weaken unions and lower wages, but do nothing to help the state's economy. Along with anti-union legislation in other Midwestern States, however, it could transform the national political landscape.

For the past two years, the Governor had publicly stated that “divisive” right-to-work legislation was “not on his agenda.” Then, at the last minute, he endorsed the bill because it would protect “worker choice” on union membership and help to grow the Michigan economy – both highly questionable claims.

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Occupational Health Watch: Preventing Worker Deaths from Solvents Containing Methylene Chloride

Barbara Materna

A 62-year-old paint maker died while cleaning a paint tank.  A 24-year-old maintenance worker died while stripping a church baptismal font.  Both were using paint strippers containing methylene chloride, a widely used solvent that can cause death and serious illness among workers and consumers in enclosed spaces. 

Methylene chloride is a cancer-causing chemical also used in the production of polymer foams and as a degreaser. Methylene chloride most often affects the central nervous system (the brain) causing headaches, nausea, dizziness, clumsiness, drowsiness, and other effects like those of drinking alcohol. At very high levels it can cause unconsciousness and death.

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AFT’s Weingarten: ‘Schools Have to Be Safe Sanctuaries’

eachers President Randi Weingarten told “Meet the Press” yesterday, “Schools have to be safe sanctuaries…[there] has to be a conversation and action about both mental health as well as gun laws. We can actually do things in schools, we can actually have more guidance counselors, we can have more social workers, psychologists, all of whom have been cut because of the [budget] cuts. We can do wraparound services. We can do more of these things…to destigmatize mental illness and to have more access as well as a whole package of sensible gun laws.”

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Pricing Carbon, Growing Jobs in California

Kirsten Snow Spalding

The looming fiscal cliff has prompted renewed debate over the idea of a carbon tax – a way of putting a price on the carbon pollution that leads to climate change. Some say a carbon tax would raise funds that would create jobs and boost the American economy while helping to tackling climate change. Others warn it would give government too much control over the energy sector

Here in California, we didn’t wait for the folks in Washington to make up their minds – we’re already implementing a carbon price. Our landmark clean energy and climate law, AB 32, led to a successful first auction of greenhouse gas pollution credits that raised $290 million for the state in November. These funds will go to a variety of investments in energy efficiency, greener infrastructure, clean energy jobs, and other priorities that focus on making life better for all Californians.

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No Public Input & Signed in Secret, Michigan ‘Right to Work’ for Less Law Goes into Effect in April

Mike Hall

It seems appropriate that after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) shepherded through the state House and Senate the right-wing extremist and corporate CEO backed  “right to work” for less legislation—that he had long-called “too divisive to pursue”—without any public input, that he would sign the measure in secret yesterday.

With as many as 15,000 people swarming the state Capitol in Lansing denouncing Snyder and the legislature for bowing to the likes of the Koch brothers, Grover Norquist, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the extremes of the Republican Party, Snyder retreated behind closed doors to sign the legislation and, only after the fact, announced his signature. Here are some details of the legislation that, if it follows the pattern of “right to work” laws in other states, will lower the standard of living for Michigan workers.

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