Labor and Immigrant Groups Can Move Forward Together

Neal Sweeney

One of the most oft-repeated lessons of the 2012 election is that America's growing population of immigrants is a force to be reckoned with. While many of us in the labor movement have known this for a long time, recently released figures drive this lesson home – bucking the national trend, California has witnessed rising union membership largely due to organizing drives in sectors with high immigrant populations, including home care aides, car wash workers and scientific researchers. This powerful partnership between the labor and immigrant communities is key to strengthening the worker's rights movement and will be a major factor in immigration reform.

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What’s So Great About Unions, Anyway?

Liz Shuler

Let’s be honest. Sometimes, outside of election campaign seasons, even progressives wonder what’s so great about unions. Sure, we had a role to play before job safety laws, the eight-hour day, Social Security and civil rights laws were passed. But today?  

Even our friends aren’t immune to the relentless attacks on unions from the right and the stereotypes that come with them: union thugs, lazy workers, relics of the past, self-absorbed, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Most of you know that as union strength has declined over the past three or so decades, so has the middle class. That's because unions are just regular working people who come together to balance power with employers and bargain for better living and working standards. And when unions are weakened by corporate and right-wing politicians, all working people feel the squeeze

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On the Road to Freedom: DREAM Team LA Mobilizes for Fair & Just Immigration Reform


We woke up early, way before the sun was up. We rode our bikes or the bus; we drove or got rides from other people so that we could come together and express our discontent with the current immigration policy. It was Monday, January 21. About 10 us gathered on the corner of Alameda and Aliso, in Downtown Los Angeles, still shivering from the cold dawn breeze.

As we stood there we exchanged glares with those driving Homeland Security vans into the nearby Federal Detention Center, all the while thinking about just who might be inside those vans. Was it a father trying to earn some honest money to support his family? Was it a mother who is in tears, not knowing when she'll see her kids again?

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An Invitation to Rick Perry to Come Back to California

Angie Wei

You have to feel a little bad for Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He came all the way to California this week to “poach jobs” and left empty-handed. Maybe Perry hasn’t read the studies that show very few jobs move from California to other states. Or maybe he wasn’t aware that California is on the rebound in a big way, now leading the nation in job creation. At the end of the day, Perry’s trip really was all hat, no cattle.

Over the last week, there’s been a lot of silly media coverage comparing Texas to California. It’s almost like a sports rivalry at this point. Perry says his low-regulation, low-government service, low-wage economic model is the way to go. As a native Texan, I know better.

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Let’s Stop Making Migration a Crime

David Bacon

We need an immigration policy based on human, civil and labor rights, which looks at the reasons why people come to the US, and how we can end the criminalization of their status and work. While proposals from Congress and the administration have started the debate over the need for change in our immigration policy, they are not only too limited and ignore the global nature of migration, they actually will make the problem of criminalization much worse. We need a better alternative.

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Take Action: Urge the White House to Award Presidential Medal of Freedom to Fred Ross Sr.

Randy Shaw

Activists, organizers and elected officials across the United States have come together to urge President Barack Obama to award posthumously the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the legendary organizer, Fred Ross Sr. The first to organize people through house meetings, a mentor to both Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, and a pioneer in Latino voter outreach since 1949 when he helped elect Ed Roybal as Los Angeles’s first Latino council member, Ross’ influence on social change movements remains strong two decades after his death in 1992. If there were a Mount Rushmore for community organizers, Ross’s angular face would be on it. Here is a brief summary of Ross’s remarkable legacy, along with instructions on how to get your message of support to President Obama in time for the February 28 deadline.

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Foreclosures Drop by More Than 75% Following Passage of Homeowners Bill of Rights

Rebecca Band

This time last year, hundreds of California families were losing their homes to foreclosure every day. 700,000 families were on the brink of foreclosure, and one-third were underwater in their mortgages, due in large part to shady lending practices that Big Banks employed to rob families of their homes.

But a lot can change in a year, and a new report released this week has found the number of foreclosures in California has dropped dramatically.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “On Tuesday, the real estate website reported a 60.5% decline in the number of default notices issued in California in January compared with December. The number of default notices – the first formal step in the state's foreclosure process – that were issued fell 77.7% from January 2012. A total of 4,500 such filings were logged last month, the lowest number since at least September 2006, when the website's records begin.”

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Report: Unemployment Insurance Fund Needs Overhaul

Steve Smith

There are few experiences in life as traumatic as losing a job. Often the only thing standing between workers who have lost a job through no fault of their own and complete financial ruin is an unemployment insurance check. But, as a new report details, the unemployment insurance lifeline for California workers is threatened by structural flaws that have forced the system billions of dollars into the red.

The California Labor Federation report, “Unemployment Insurance: Underfunded and Undervalued,” calls for immediate action to put the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Fund on a path to solvency that ensures families experiencing sudden unemployment will continue to be able to count on unemployment insurance benefits.

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KTTV and KCOP Workers Say Turn Off Fox 11!

Steve Ross

Since May of 2011, the producers, editors, photographers and other NABET-CWA workers at KTTV and KCOP-TV in Los Angeles have been trying to negotiate a fair and reasonable contract with the owner of the stations, Fox Television – but the company has something else in mind.

Fox wants to end the standard 40-hour work week by putting NABET members on a seven and a half hour work day, and the management also wants to eliminate the paid meal period — which has been an industry standard for decades. Cutting back employees to a 37.5 hour work week effectively amounts to a 6.25% wage cut.

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California Labor Unites to Protect California Environmental Quality Act

Steve Smith

Environmental protection laws are fundamental to California’s communities. California, through the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), is a national leader in safeguarding our environment and promoting smart and sustainable development.

But now, there’s an effort by some corporate special interests to weaken CEQA, which would put our environment and the health of our communities at risk. In response, California’s labor movement united recently to reject any efforts to eliminate the important protections this provides. At a recent meeting of its Executive Council, the California Labor Federation passed a resolution calling for the preservation of CEQA.

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