Will Millennials Come Back to Labor?

Carmen Berkley

As we approach International Workers' Day, also known as May Day, it's hard not to wonder about the future of the labor movement, and whether or not young people in the United States will wake up and see that joining labor unions could be a part of the solution to the nation's 22.9% youth unemployment rate.

Somewhere between the hate propaganda promoting the “dangers” of joining labor unions (including bringing us a weekend and the 40-hour work week), and outsourcing millions of jobs overseas, the millennial generation has been raised to turn our backs on labor, and pray for a job at Google where we might be able to get fair working standards like a free bowl of Cap'n Crunch or a bike share program.

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New Report: Taxpayers on the Hook When Corporate Giants Dump Workers onto Medi-Cal

Steve Smith

For years, we’ve known big companies like Walmart have been shifting their health care costs onto taxpayers. Now a new report from the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research shows just how widespread the problem is, projecting that as many as 380,000 workers for big companies will end up on the state’s Medi-Cal program by 2019.

For taxpayers, that’s a pretty tough pill to swallow. In 2011, Walmart made $477 billion in profits. The company’s CEO raked in nearly $21 million last year. And yet, Walmart and other large companies don’t think twice about cutting workers’ hours and wages to such a low level that workers have to get health care through taxpayer-funded Medi-Cal.

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Stop AB 1309: Because Professional Athletes Deserve Workers Comp Too

Rachel Hooper

There is no question that the game of football is dangerous.  NFL players get injured on the job – so many that an “injury report” section is ubiquitous in our sports page.  In fact, a study run by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that the risk of death associated with neurodegenerative disorders is about three times higher among NFL players than the rest of the population.

NFL athletes are not merely players, they are also employees.

Their employers are now trying to take away their collectively bargained right to Workers Compensation Benefits in California. It is not right, and it sets a dangerous precedent.

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Special Event: Understanding The Art and Science of Organizing

William Shields

Why do we organize? How do we link workplace, community and electoral campaigns? How do we connect internal and external organizing?  How does member-organizing fit into a comprehensive campaign? How should we use the social media?

All these questions and more will be addressed at “ORGANIZE! The Art and Science of Organizing,” and exciting conference on organizing for labor and community power in the 21st century.

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Fired for Speaking Out: Why I’m Still Fighting for Justice

Javier Rodriguez

One month ago, my son Alex was born. Yesterday, I was fired from my job as a forklift driver at a warehouse where we move 100 percent Walmart merchandise.

I am outspoken. I defend my coworkers. I alert management to broken and unsafe equipment. I teach my coworkers about their rights, like what minimum wage is and what they should do when they are injured on the job.

I have been a target of management for awhile. They watch everything I do, but it’s not my nature to be silent or scared. I know when I am right. Last year, I went on strike to protest the retaliation my coworkers experienced when they spoke to the media and the public about the dirty water (if we had any water at all) that we were given to drink, the brakeless forklifts and the extreme temperatures inside the warehouse.

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Nurses & Firefighters Join Forces to Fight Emergency Room Danger at Inland Valley Medical Center

Christy McConville

Yesterday in Murrieta, about an hour north of San Diego, nurses and firefighters launched a campaign seeking local elected official support for a dedicated dispatch nurse at Inland Valley Medical Center. The nurses are members of the Southwest Riverside Nurses Association, who are being organized by the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP).

“For months now, nurses and firemen have been asking the hospital to put patients first by ensuring a dedicated MICN in the emergency department. A Mobile Intensive Care Nurse needs to focus on working with paramedics to save lives in emergency situations. Inland Valley Medical Center must put patient safety first and ensure that MICNs are not assigned emergency patients as well as being responsible for answering paramedic calls,” said Inland Valley MICN Dave Colmer.

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Preventing Falls Through Skylights — A New ‘Digital Story’ for Workers Memorial Day

Barbara Materna

“Everybody seems to think that we’re invincible.  At least I used to think that.” So begins a digital story about Joe, a roofing supervisor in California who died tragically after he fell through a warehouse roof skylight while on the job.

The California Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (CA/FACE) program produced a five-minute ‘digital story’ with two of Joe’s co-workers highlighting the events that led up to his death and what could have been done to prevent it.

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On Workers Memorial Day, Think About the Kids

Hunter Stern

Serious work-related accidents can have a devastating impact on families, especially children. The financial impact can be life shattering.  The future can look frightening to someone whose parent or spouse has been seriously or fatally injured at work.  Already confronting difficult emotions, they often must confront the hurdle of funding their education—the key to their future and ours.

Each year, hundreds of kids face this challenge. This year, as we commemorate Workers Memorial Day on April 28th, we can make a difference for the children of California workers who have been fatally or seriously injured on the job.

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Musicians to Marvel: Stop Outsourcing Our Work!

Linda Rapka

Yesterday (April 23) marked the latest in a string of protests staged by the American Federation of Musicians against Marvel Entertainment for outsourcing film music work overseas.

Musicians distributed informational leaflets to employees and passers-by outside the entrance of St. Vincent Medical Center at a 6 a.m. location shoot for “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which the studio plans to score in Europe.

Later that afternoon a group of more than 20 musicians demonstrated outside the El Capitan Theatre in advance of the following day's premiere of Marvel's “Iron Man 3,” scored in London.

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New Legislation Would Make it Harder for Employers to Threaten Immigrant Workers

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

A California legislative panel yesterday approved a bill that would bar employers from threatening workers about their legal status when they file complaints with the state or try to organize. It's a big win for immigrant workers who speak out against wage theft and dangerous work conditions.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee approved AB 263, sponsored by Assemblymember Roger Hernández (D-West Covina). The bill would prohibit employers from asking for more paperwork from workers after they have been hired. Union-busting companies have been using this egregious practice — requesting additional paperwork — to intimidate employees and frighten them out of organizing or filing complaints.

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