Raise the California Minimum Wage Now

Martin Bennett

The New York Times recently characterized the economic recovery that officially began in 2009 as a “golden era for corporate profits.” Indeed, corporate profits doubled between 2008 and 2011 and reached a record high.

However, these increased profits have fueled inequality and come at the expense of worker compensation. Profits are now a larger share of total national income, and wages and benefits are a smaller share than at any time since the 1960s.
Over the last four decades productivity gains have overwhelmingly accrued to business and not labor. The Economic Policy Institute calculates that between 1973-2011 productivity increased by 80 percent, but median hourly compensation by only 11 percent.

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East Bay Parks Workers Gear Up to Strike on the 4th of July

Cliff Rocha & Cheryl Brown

The East Bay Regional Parks wouldn’t be an award-winning park system in California without dedicated rangers, naturalists, lifeguards, firefighters, trades workers, supervisors, clerical and other professional workers. AFSCME Local 2428 members watch over swimming areas, provide programming that introduces the public to nature and animals, and make sure that trails and picnic areas are maintained to provide an overall positive park experience. Parents with small children, the elderly and disabled users from every community in the East Bay are able to access the parks because of the work they do.

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California Labor Makes a Splash at Netroots Nation in San Jose

Rebecca Band

The 8th annual Netroots Nation conference took place last week in San Jose, drawing more than 2,500 activists, leaders, field and online organizers to the Bay Area for the preeminent nationwide conference for cutting-edge progressives making a difference. In recent years, the conference has expanded far beyond its “Netroots” roots, and now it serves as an annual gathering of some of the most effective and notable progressive change-makers and leaders in the country.

The California Labor Federation was pleased to be a first-time sponsor of this year’s conference, where we welcomed attendees from all over the country to the Bay Area with some delicious, union-made chocolate from Ghirardelli, manufactured locally by members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) union.

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Unions Celebrate Supreme Court Rulings on Marriage Equality

Rebecca Band

Today’s historic Supreme Court rulings supporting marriage equality marked an important step forward for justice for all workers. Labor unions in California and across the nation have been strongly united for marriage equality for years. In fact, the California Labor Federation and 50 other labor organizations signed on to an amicus brief in support of marriage equality back when the challenges to Prop 8 first began nearly five years go.

Tim Paulson of the San Francisco Labor Council, which was one of the most vocal parties to the amicus brief, celebrated the announcement, which coincides with the 43rd annual San Francisco Pride celebration that kicks off this weekend.

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We Can’t Let Walmart Win—Time to Pass AB 880

Steve Smith

When AB 880 comes up for a vote this week in the California Assembly, lawmakers will be given a rare (and dare we say golden) opportunity. California has the chance to lead the nation in ensuring that large corporations like Walmart pay their fair share of health care costs under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Because of what’s known as the “Walmart Loophole,” large corporations are able to skirt their responsibility by pushing workers onto taxpayer-funded Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California). Walmart’s army of accountants knows exactly how to reduce the company’s costs by violating the spirit of the ACA: just cut workers' hours and wages low enough, and taxpayers pick up the tab for health care — while Walmart gets off scot-free.

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Enterprise Zone Reform at a Critical Juncture

Kristin Schumacher

Deliberations over the future of the Enterprise Zone (EZ) Program — California’s controversial economic development program — are entering a pivotal stage. Assembly Bill 93, which would substantially reform the program, passed out of the Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review yesterday and is scheduled to be heard on the Senate floor this afternoon.

Earlier this month, we released a report detailing the escalating costs and serious shortcomings of the EZ Program. This report included a set of policy recommendations for improving the EZ Program and making it more cost-effective, with a focus on how EZ hiring tax credits are awarded. AB 93 would move California in the right direction on enterprise zones and economic development by improving the tax credit in ways that could eliminate the most severe program inefficiencies.

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The California Bill That Leaves Injured Workers to Fend for Themselves

Sarita Gupta

Over the last several years, state legislatures around the country have waged an all-out assault on working people. The latest takes place in California, where the State Assembly is holding hearings on AB 1309, a bill that would effectively prohibit professional football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and hockey players at the major and minor league levels from accessing the state's workers compensation system. Currently, California has one of the only systems in the country that doesn't restrict filing a claim to within a certain time after an injury, thereby allowing players to file claims for cumulative trauma, i.e., injuries that build up over a career of intense physical strain and often don't manifest until decades later. Introduced by Assemblyman Henry Perea (D-Fresno), this bill would limit the time frame for submitting claims and is supported, of course, by the usual big corporate suspects: owners of professional sports teams and insurance companies.

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CSU-East Bay Dining Hall Workers Join UNITE HERE 2850

Sarah Norr

Dining workers at California State University, East Bay are now members of UNITE HERE Local 2850! After an exciting spring of organizing, speaking out and building campus support, the workers won union recognition on June 16th.

“I can’t hide the excitement – I feel like I’m starting a whole new job,” said six-year CSU-EB worker and organizing committee member Tatiana Lam. “I was waiting for this for so long. Now I feel like our voices will be heard.”

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California Newspapers Agree: Time to Scrap Broken Enterprise Zone Program

Steve Smith

California’s newspaper editorial pages rarely agree on anything, but when it comes to the state’s broken enterprise zone program, the consensus is clear: it’s time to scrap it and re-direct taxpayer dollars to real job creation programs.

As the state legislature prepares to vote this week on the governor’s plan to flip enterprise zones into good jobs that help build the middle class, here’s what leading newspapers are saying.

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Retirees Take Action to Stop Koch Brothers From Taking Over LA Times

Rosalia Tenorio

A bus full of retirees traveled around Los Angeles, Thursday, June 20th, as senior citizens delivered letters to the Tribune Company Board Members in their offices. The letters ask Tribune Co. not to sell the Los Angeles Times to the Koch brothers. The billionaire duo hopes to acquire eight Tribune Co. newspapers around the country, and use them to advance their extremist right wing agenda.

The letter delivered by the group cited three specific reasons why a sale of the Tribune newspapers to the Koch brothers is not in the best interests of retirees, including public employee retirees. First, the Koch brothers’ long history of aggressively opposing Social Security, as well as pursuing policies to weaken public pension funds and, and the likelihood that they would use the Tribune newspaper platform as a powerful political and advocacy tool to promote their anti-Social Security and public pension fund policies.

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