All We Are Saying…Is Give Students a Chance

David Lyell

No one wants an adult who abuses children in the classroom, and existing laws and policies work when adults actually enforce them. In fact, in the wake of several high profile cases in Los Angeles Unified School District, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing admonished District officials for failing to do just that—follow existing reporting guidelines.

Nowadays in LAUSD, when teachers assigned to “teacher jail” pending investigation of an accusation (any accusation—even a hearsay accusation without any evidence) have been cleared by police of wrongdoing, our School Board and superintendent frequently refuse to return these professionals to the classroom

Read More

Fighting for Respect at Taylor Farms

Food Processing Workers, Teamsters and Community Take Action Against Workers’ Rights Violations and Call for the Reinstatement of Unjustly Fired Workers

When workers express a desire to stand together to improve wages and job conditions, far too often the employer responds with a vicious retaliation campaign. That’s the case at Taylor Farms in Tracy, where the immigrant workforce is being subject to threats, harassment and even firings simply for standing up for their rights. Today, the workers are fighting back.

Teamster members and fired Taylor Farms workers were joined today by community allies, faith leaders and elected officials to launch a one-day Unfair Labor Practice strike to demand respect for workers and the reinstatement of those who were fired unjustly.

Read More

The Antidote to Income Inequality? Workers Standing Together

Steve Smith

Earlier this month, President Obama called rising income inequality the “defining challenge of our time.”  The gap between the rich and everyone else is now the largest since the Great Depression. But many people still view income inequality in the abstract, because it can be tough to put a finger on how it impacts our everyday lives.

In a new Associated Press report, leading economists spell it out clearly. The income gap hurts us all and poses a major threat to the United States economy: “A key source of the economists' concern: Higher pay and outsize stock market gains are flowing mainly to affluent Americans. Yet these households spend less of their money than do low- and middle-income consumers who make up most of the population but whose pay is barely rising.”

Read More

“Unfathomable”: Why Is One Commission Trying to Close California’s Largest Public College?

Gary Cohn

To appreciate the value of a community college education, consider the transformation of Shanell Williams. By the time she was a teenager, Williams was constantly getting into trouble on the streets of San Francisco’s Fillmore District. Her abuse of drugs and alcohol, along with a difficult family life, would lead her into the juvenile justice system, drug treatment centers and foster homes.

“I was a juvenile delinquent,” she admits.

Today Williams, now 29, hardly resembles that troubled youth. She is a hard-working student at City College of San Francisco, taking urban studies courses and hoping to transfer to Stanford University or the University of California at Berkeley. She has served as president of the student council at CCSF’s Ocean campus and was elected to be the student representative on CCSF’s Board of Trustees.

Read More

Trucking Companies to California: Your Puny Laws Don’t Apply to Us

Jon Zerolnick

Several leading port trucking companies have taken a bold new position in the ongoing battle over whether or not they are misclassifying drivers as independent contractors. In recent filings with the U.S. District Court, they have attempted to position themselves as beyond the reach of California’s employee protection laws. In effect, they are saying that whether or not they are misclassifying drivers there is nothing the State of California can do about it.

Some background: Of the approximately 12,000 port truck drivers in Southern California – about 110,000 nationwide – the overwhelming majority are improperly classified as “independent contractors.” This has dramatic repercussions, as these low-income, mostly immigrant drivers are thereby denied basic workplace rights and protections: no minimum wage or overtime or OSHA protections, no disability or workers comp or unemployment insurance, no legal right to organize a union.

Read More

11 Days for 11 Million — From L.A. to Bakersfield, Fighting for Immigration Reform

Emmelle Israel

On International Human Rights Day, business and labor came together to make a statement: Economic opportunity is a human right.

Nearly seventy union members travelled from Los Angeles to join small business and community leaders in Bakersfield to tell Rep. Kevin McCarthy that without comprehensive immigration reform, too many immigrant workers are taken advantage of and are denied the opportunity to truly make a better life for themselves and their families.

Read More

Why I Support the LA Social Workers Strike

Thao Lam

The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) strike has been on my mind. Prior to leaving this April after nearly 12 years of service, I thought I would retire from DCFS. Even though I am no longer employed by DCFS and no longer in Los Angeles, I still feel connected to the social workers that do this work.

The strike started on December 5 when contract negotiations stalled. An unresolved issue is that of the Children’s Social Worker caseload for children and families who have abuse or neglect issues. High caseloads have been a long-standing issue even before this round of negotiations. One child is counted as one case. A child’s case goes through several service phases – from investigation to adjudication to offering services to maintain a child safely at home, or to reunify a the child with his parents once a family interfaces with DCFS. I was a Supervising Children’s Social Worker for the later phase, called Continuing Services.

Read More

Another Missed TPP Deadline Calls Pact’s Agenda into Question

Lance Simmens

As negotiators for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) missed yet another deadline for completing the pact in Singapore early on December 10th, labor, environmental, consumer and Congressional leaders held a media briefing that called the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR’s) agenda for the pact into question.  Pointing to the TPP’s significant threats to jobs, the environment and consumer safety, they called for release of TPP texts and voiced strong opposition to “Fast Track” authority for the pact.

Read More

Union-Made-in-America Holiday Gift and Stocking Stuffer Guide

Jackie Tortora

Going searching for that perfect holiday gift? Make sure it's union made in America. Check out this Made in America, union-made gift guide. Here are some highlights from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor's resource site, Labor 411. Gifts include those made by members of UNITE HERE, Boilermakers (IBB), Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), Machinists (IAM), United Steelworkers (USW), Teamsters (IBT), UAW, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union/UFCW (RWDSU/UFCW) and United Farm Workers (UFW).

Read More

11 Days for 11 Million — The First Six Days

Rob England & Emmelle Israel

Over the last week, a broad coalition of California business, labor, community, and faith groups have been ramping up the pressure on House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), to allow a vote on immigration reform (HR 15) by camping out at his office all day, every day, from sun up to sun-down. Check out highlights from the first half of the “11 Days for 11 Million” campaign, which is still going strong in Bakersfield through December 13th.

Read More