Recycling Workers Convention to Expose “Dirty Secrets” Behind East Bay Recycling Operations

Roy SanFilippo

Most of us don’t know what happens to our recycling after we take it to the curb each week.

On Saturday February 2nd, hundreds of recycling workers will gather in Oakland to expose a host of serious problems — including an alarming number of injuries to recycling workers, rat infestations, poverty-level wages and illegal retaliation against a predominantly immigrant workforce — to an audience of elected officials and policy makers who oversee this supposedly “green” industry. On Saturday, come here the stories of these workers and their efforts make their jobs safer, improve services and win fair pay for the dangerous and difficult jobs that they perform.

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Federal, State and Local Lawmakers Join Workers and Retirees to Stand Up for the Social Safety Net

Rebecca Band

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (which we call Medi-Cal in CA) are literally a lifeline to our nation’s seniors, those with disabilities and low-income workers. Yet, Republicans in Congress are now threatening these vital programs by proposing devastating, unnecessary cuts as part of a manufactured “debt crisis.”

We all have someone in our lives who relies on some aspect of the social safety net to survive. Maybe it’s a grandparent who worked tirelessly for decades to support your family and is now able retire thanks to Social Security. Maybe it’s the sick child of a low-income family friend who wouldn’t be able to afford medical treatment without Medi-Cal. Maybe it’s a disabled neighbor who needs Medicare to pay for life-saving medications. Maybe it’s your spouse, or your child, or your parent… or you.

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California Orders Walmart-Contracted Warehouse to Pay Workers Over $1 Million in Stolen Wages

Elizabeth Brennan

The state of California has ordered a Southern California warehouse that processes merchandise for Walmart and other retailers to pay 865 workers more than $1 million in stolen wages.

The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement issued the citations Monday, Jan. 28 against Quetico, LLC, a large warehouse complex in Chino, California. Back wages and unpaid overtime total more than $1.1million and in addition the state issued about $200,000 in penalties.

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Obama Calls for Road Map to Citizenship in Immigration Reform

 platform President Obama unveiled today at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas shows, says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, “The president clearly shares the AFL-CIO’s commitment to a viable pathway to citizenship, meaning that seemingly innocuous conditions cannot be allowed to get in the way of a road map for citizenship that encompasses the dreams of 11 million people.”

Obama’s proposal for a comprehensive immigration plan for aspiring citizens in this country now follows Monday’s announcement by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators of their vision of immigration that also includes a path to citizenship.

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Have a Union-Made Super Bowl Party

(NFLPA) members on the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, but also buying union-made-in-America food and drinks for your party. Check out these union-made Super Bowl party products, compiled by our friends at Labor 411, the union business directory from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Food and drinks are brought to you by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), the UAW, Machinists (IAM), Teamsters (IBT) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

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Medi-Cal Expansion: Covering More Californians for Less

Laurel Lucia

Today, the California Legislature began a Special Session called by Governor Brown to implement aspects of the federal health reform law, including changes to Medi-Cal.

Under the Affordable Care Act, in 2014 California can expand Medi-Cal to low-income adults under age 65, including those without children living at home, a group not currently eligible unless they meet certain disability criteria.  An estimated 1.4 million California adults will be eligible for this expansion, of which between 750,000 and 910,000 are expected to enroll by 2019, according to a recent report I co-authored with colleagues from the UC Berkeley Labor Center and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

The federal government will pay all medical costs for these newly-eligible enrollees from 2014 to 2016 and no less than 90 percent in future years, bringing billions in new federal dollars to the California economy.

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California Unions’ “Silver Linings Playbook”

Steve Smith

Last week’s annual national union membership numbers were eye-opening, and well, pretty depressing. The relentless attacks on unions nationwide have caused overall union density to drop to a startlingly low 11.3%. The share of union members as part of the workforce is the lowest it’s been in 97 years.  That’s not just bad news for unions, that’s really bad news for everyone.

But despite last week’s bad news on a national level, there were silver linings. Not the least of which is the trend here in California.

Unions in California are growing. That’s right, growing. Last year, California union membership grew by more than 110,000 members and actually increased overall density to 17.2%. And that all happened whilw California's economy, which now leads the nation in job growth, has been expanding.

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California Labor Embraces Governor’s Bold Vision for Future

Steve Smith

There’s no question that California is on the rebound. Since Gov. Brown took office, our state’s unemployment rate has been trending downward. For the first time in years, we’re starting a year with a balanced budget. We have projected budget surpluses on the horizon. California now leads the nation in job creation and we’ve reclaimed our spot as the country’s  leading incubator for innovation. And with the passage of Prop 30, our schools and universities are finally seeing an increase in funding after years of cuts.

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Channeling Poverty: Broke v. Poor on TV

Matthew McDermott

In the present (increasingly precarious) workforce more young people with expensive humanities degrees are being forced to utter a phrase that couldn’t be further from the high language of the academy: “May I take your order?” In an awesome new piece in The Nation, Nona Willis Aronowitz draws an important distinction between workers who are forced to take low-paying jobs despite their education and those who are making ends meet the only way they know how.

Aronowitz uses the protagonists from several popular new shows to indicate larger workplace trends. From The Nation: “Watching the season premieres of HBO’s Girls and Showtime's Shameless this past Sunday put the contrast in stark relief. The two main characters, Girls’s Hannah and Shameless’s Fiona, are both penniless twentysomething women finding their way through big cities, but they live in completely different worlds.”

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Why We Can’t ‘Split the Difference’: The Case for Citizenship

Ana Avendaño

The prospects for comprehensive immigration reform are the highest in years. Politicians on both sides of the aisle are currently negotiating a bill, and President Obama has stated that it is one of his top legislative priorities in 2013. Speculation abounds as to what may be included in a final package but, generally speaking, comprehensive reform of our immigration system would consist of four interconnected parts: border security, internal and worksite immigration enforcement, a system to manage future immigration to the United States and a road map to citizenship for the undocumented population currently living here. The union movement has a unified framework, which addresses these points.


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