Labor Secretary Hilda Solis: A Champion for All Workers

Art Pulaski

After four years in President Obama’s Cabinet, Hilda Solis recently announced she’s stepping down from her position as Secretary of Labor. As those of us in California know, Hilda is a lifelong champion for workers. As Secretary of Labor, she used her position to advance workers’ rights in many ways, never forgetting her humble roots as the daughter of a union family in Southern California.

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Bad Karma at Hyatt Regency San Francisco

Carl Finamore

Each year some 2000 yoga enthusiasts assemble at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in San Francisco, California for “a great convergence of yogis of all ages and backgrounds” states convention sponsor Yoga Journal. The extremely liberal and tolerant “city by the bay” seems the perfect spot to spiritually and intellectually delve into yoga principles of social service and physical purification.

“But there is one huge problem,” according to 19-year veteran yoga instructor Sri Louise. “There is a huge disconnect with our ethical values by scheduling a convention at a union boycotted hotel that has a lousy safety record and mistreats it employees.”

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Cal/OSHA Cracks Down on Walmart Warehouse Contractors

Elizabeth Brennan

The state of California has cited two companies at a Walmart-dedicated warehouse in the Inland Empire for a number of safety violations after employees lodged complaints in July with Cal/OSHA.

The citations, which total about $60,000 and include several serious violations, are against the warehouse operator, NFI, and the temporary staffing agency, Warestaff, that supplied most of the warehouse workers at the facility. (Download the NFI Citations and Warestaff Citations.)

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3.5 Million Jobs at Stake if Infrastructure Continues to Crumble

Mike Hall

What would it cost if the nation’s crumbling infrastructure of bridges, roads, rails, sewer systems, power grids, airports and more is allowed to deteriorate at its current pace? Some 3.5 million jobs and $3.1 trillion in lost economic output by 2020. What would it cost to avoid that? About $1.1 trillion in additional investment.

Sure sounds a like a great return on the investment and it is, according to a new report from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

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U.S. Senate Rules Reform—Why It Matters

While discussions about Senate procedures sound esoteric, the truth is anything but – the basic functioning of our democracy is under assault by continued, partisan obstruction aided by abuse of the Senate’s rules.

Obstruction, especially in the form of the filibuster and the threat of the filibuster, is at an all-time high during the Obama presidency. This imperils our country’s ability to rise to the significant challenges of our time and has blocked progress on a host of issues that have majority support but failed to cross the 60-vote threshold in the Senate.

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Warehouse Workers Blast Walmart’s Proposed Domestic Monitoring Program

Elizabeth Brennan

In an open letter to Walmart’s Board of Directors and other top leadership, warehouse workers raised serious concerns about a new plan to monitor domestic warehousing facilities. Read the open letter to Walmart leadership.

Walmart announced plans for a new program modeled after its flawed global monitoring program without any detail in The Wall Street Journal Dec. 28. A Walmart spokesman said only that they take the issue “seriously.”

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TSA Union Defeats Effort to Privatize Security at Sacramento Airport

Emily Ryan

Last year, the Sacramento Board of Supervisors authorized the Sacramento airport to apply for the Transportation Security Administration's controversial Screening Partnership Program, which would allow the airport to privatize its security and replace its skilled and trained Transportation Security Officers with a private, for-profit company. The privatization plan has the potential to open up air travellers to serious security risks, and would led to job losses and de-professionalization of airport screening.

But thanks to a swift response from the TSOs and their union, AFGE local 1230, the Sacramento Board of Supervisors reversed their position this week, voting 4-1 to not to proceed with the privatization plan.

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Toll Group Truck Drivers Clinch New Power with First Union Contract at L.A. Ports

Victor Cuevas

A set of truck drivers who haul shipments of imported merchandise from our shores to America’s brand name stores will kick start 2013 with a raise that doubles their hourly pay. The extra $6+ change is part of a first-ever contract that shifts a bulk of their health care costs to their employer, grants overtime, paid sick leave and holidays, offers guaranteed hours and other terms for job security – not to mention a pension plan. The collective bargaining gains in an otherwise union-free private sector rival 21st century agreements in long-organized markets.

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“Gonna Take Us All”—Remembering Jon Fromer

Legendary musician, union activist, Emmy-winning producer, skilled soccer player and social justice hero Jon Fromer passed away on January 2nd at his Mill Valley home after a long battle with cancer. He was 66 years old. Jon leaves behind his dedicated trade-union and social activist wife, Mary Fromer, who stood side by side with Jon throughout his career, and was a life partner who did everything in her power to defeat the cancer that took her husband.  In addition, their son Mark and other family members who surrounded Jon with love in his struggle are mourning the loss of the hero who brought joy to all their lives.

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Rhee’s Education Report Card Focuses on Everything But Results

 card grading state school sytems by their adherence to her anti-teachers’ union, pro-charter school policies. None of the states receive a passing grade, but what’s notable about the report is the negative correlation between highly rated states and actual student achievement.

Louisiana ranks highest on the Students First report card, scoring a B grade. The state also happens to rank near the bottom on 8th grade reading and math scores, coming in 49th on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores for Reading and 47th for English.

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