Shutdown Shut Down

Mike Hall

After 16 days of a government shutdown that kept vital services behind locked doors for the public, paychecks out of the pockets of hundreds of thousands of federal workers and pushed the economy to the brink of disaster, the Republican government shutdown ended last night when the Senate (81–18) and House (285–144) passed, and President Barack Obama signed, a bill to fund and reopen the government and raise the nation’s debt ceiling.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, “While it is good news that we have avoided a crisis, we all know that it should never have happened.  No party or faction inside a party should hold our economy hostage to extract political gains.”

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Having it All: The Absurdity of the False Choice Frame for Pensions

Dave Low

The most recent alarmist language from pension opponents is that Californians must make a choice between providing a secure retirement for our state's seniors and paying for every other social service and progressive cause. The warning bells are earsplitting, as fear mongers go to such extremes as to tell us that California won't be able to tackle climate change unless we overhaul the pension system.

But it's not education or pensions, it's not climate change or pensions. These are false choices that continue to be put forward by the same millionaires and hedge fund managers that got us into this mess.

It's not one or the other, because budgets are made up of thousands of decisions. There are several reasonable ways that the state could raise revenue without impacting social services, without impacting taxes, and without crippling the retirement system that so many of our friends and neighbors have paid into and now rely on for retirement security. 

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TPP Is a Race to The Bottom—We Need a Race to the Top

 is, as Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison (D) described so well, the “largest corporate power grab you never heard of.”

After 19 rounds of negotiations between the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, TPP remains a mystery to everyone except government trade negotiators and the corporate lobbyists who get to read all the proposals.

Even Members of Congress have real no idea of what's involved in the negotiations.

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Educators Take a Stand During National Bullying Prevention Month

, an annual campaign that brings educators, schools, and communities together to combat the damaging impact that bullying can have on students. With nearly one-third of students reporting being bullied in school and nearly half of adolescents and teens saying they have been bullied online, bullying has reached epidemic levels, especially as some studies connect bullying with suicidal thoughts.

At the first ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention in 2011, President Obama discussed the scope of the bullying epidemic in schools across the country.

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Career Politician Teams Up With Enron Billionaire to Gut Californians’ Retirement

Steve Smith

It’s official. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, a career politician with backing from a Texas billionaire and former Enron trader, has filed a ballot measure to strip away retirement security from current teachers, firefighters, sanitation workers and other public servants.

According to the Sacramento Bee: “The Pension Reform Act of 2014 would alter California's constitution to allow state and local government employers to cut pensions for current workers.” Essentially, this means politicians would have the power to unilaterally slash the retirement of current workers, breaking a promise made to those workers when they were hired.

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Close of Legislative Session Brings Real Gains to California Workers

Steve Smith

It’s easy to be pessimistic about the future these days. Tea Party extremists are threatening to push our federal government into default. Federal immigration reform is on the back burner until the shutdown and debt ceiling messes are sorted out. In a host of states, anti-worker governors are hell-bent on gutting workers’ rights while giving more power to corporate special interests.

But in California, a decidedly different story is playing out. The end of the legislative session here brought huge gains to workers and their families that boost our state’s economy and bolster the middle class.

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Report: Fast Food Corporate Greed Costs All of Us

Beau Boughamer

Fast-food restaurants are serving their workers an “unhappy meal” of poverty wages, leaving workers struggling to make ends meet and making all of us underwrite corporate profits by transferring the costs of workers' health care and other basic needs to taxpayers, according to a report released today by researchers at the UC Berkeley Labor Center.

The study counts the cost to society of an industry that pays its employees poorly and its CEOs millions. It summarizes the major challenges faced by fast-food workers:

  • Low wages: “core front-line fast-food jobs pay an average of $8.69 an hour.”
  • No benefits: 87 percent of fast-food workers do not receive health benefits from their employer.
  • Not enough hours: fewer than 3 in 10 employees (28 percent) work 40-hour weeks.

 

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Adjunct Faculty: Straddling the Poverty Line

Driving a 15-year-old car 70 miles a day between three different college campuses took a toll on my ride – and on me. I was teaching as adjunct professor at three different L.A. community colleges. An adjunct is a part-time professor who is hired on a contractual basis rather than being given tenure and a permanent position. Many universities hire large numbers of adjunct faculty members because they are flexible and cheaper to maintain than traditional full-time faculty members.

I had no health insurance, no savings and no other financial resources, so every penny went to rent, car repairs and food. I was expected to hold office hours, but the colleges where I taught did not provide office space for adjuncts – I had nowhere to meet students or grade papers on campus. This compromised my students’ educational experience and placed a burden on my health, car and finances

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Are American Transit Manufacturers Afraid of American Jobs?

Rachele Huennekens

“Frankly, I’m surprised that American jobs are so controversial.”

These words, spoken by Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) senior researcher Linda Nguyen-Perez, hung in the air of a Chicago hotel conference room last week during the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Annual Meeting.

Linda and I attended the conference on behalf of the new Jobs to Move America campaign, explaining our effort to transit agency officials, consultants and transportation equipment manufacturers from across the nation. The budding coalition behind this movement unites community, small business, labor, faith, small business, philanthropy, academic and environmental groups, including LAANE, all of whom want to maximize the 5.4 billion American taxpayer dollars that public transportation agencies spend every year, to improve transportation systems, create good American jobs and generate opportunities for such struggling unemployed American workers as veterans, single parents and residents of low-income neighborhoods.

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FCC Should Revoke KCOP’s License

Steve Ross

An era quietly ended in Southern California last month, one that should not go unnoticed by the public, broadcasters or the Federal Communications Commission.

For the first time in over 50 years, KCOP-TV in Los Angeles doesn’t have a newscast. Fox Television, which owns the station, pulled the plug on its 7 pm and 11 pm news programs on September 22nd.

Throughout its history, KCOP’s newscasts were never more than a blip in the ratings, but they did help launch and further extend the careers of many fine broadcasters, including George Putnam, Regis Philbin, Hal Fishman, Warren Olney, Larry Atteberry, Rick Garcia, Sylvia Lopez, Ellen Leyva and Rick Chambers.

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