For years, the California Chamber of Commerce has put out a list of so-called “job killers.” It’s never been clear to us what qualifies a bill as a job-killer. Last year, our sponsored bill to keep your boss from using your personal credit report to deny you a promotion was on that so-called “job killer” list. Seriously, protecting your privacy kills jobs? Businesses are fleeing the state because…they can’t review their employees’ credit reports? That seems a bit far-fetched…
They also named AB 350 (Solorio) a “job killer.” That bill simply extended existing worker retention provisions to building services workers. That means that when a contract for building services changes hands, the workers who have been doing the job have 60 days to persuade the new contractor that they should be retained. How does keeping people in their jobs kill jobs? It simply makes no sense.
The job-killer list reflects the right-wing belief that the only way to create jobs and build our economy is a race to the bottom. That’s clear from the Chamber’s latest list: so-called “job creators.” That is really just the same Big Business wish list they’ve been pushing for decades. According to the Chamber, this is how you create jobs:
- Get rid of the 8 hour day (SB 1114-Dutton)
- Take away meal breaks from truck drivers (AB 2176-Logue and SB 1362-La Malfa)
- Make it harder for workers to get justice when their rights are violated (AB 2043-Wagner and SB 1374-Harman)
- Delay implementation of regulations to protect worker health and safety (AB 1982-Wagner and SB 1099-Wright)
- Keep local governments from even considering the use of project labor agreements (AB 1804-Valadao)
Apparently, according to the Chamber, the problem for the California economy is that working people are too successful. They are earning too much money, taking too many breaks, and working in sites that are so safe no further protections are needed. That may be true for the Chamber's CEO cronies, but that certainly isn't the casee in my neighborhood lately. Here, we have families barely hanging on, and as jobless benefits run out, home foreclosures continue to plague our community.
The reality is that California working families have been pushed to the breaking point. Wages have stagnated for decades. City employees in places like Stockton have all taken wage cuts of 15-30 percent over the last few years. Construction workers face sky-high unemployment due to the collapse of the housing market and the lingering recession. In this bleak economy, workers are particularly vulnerable to pressure to work off the clock, without breaks, and in dangerous conditions. Most people will do just about anything to keep a job — which makes it even more important to protect basic workers rights.
While corporations sit on record profits, we have lost the dream of home ownership for a generation. We have made higher education unaffordable and cut k-12 to the bone. We continue to subsidize Enterprise Zone tax credits for low-road employers paying poverty wages while letting our roads and bridges. Shoot, we even give tax credits to companies to move jobs to other states and other countries while skilled workers here stand in the unemployment lines.
It is this California that needs a real jobs plan, not just a list of takeaways. So that’s what we have offered. We have a different vision of California. Rather than destroy the middle class in a race to the bottom, let’s rebuild and broaden our middle class and create good jobs for all Californians.
That’s why our jobs plan is based on investing in California’s future. Get bond funds out and get shovels in the ground. Let’s put construction workers back to work rebuilding this state so that our infrastructure helps attract businesses. Let’s use project labor agreements so taxpayer funds are protected and workers make a decent wage. Fair wages puts money in workers’ pockets, which is actually the best way to stimulate the economy. Once he or she can take the family out to dinner or buy a birthday present for a child, that restaurant or store can afford to hire another person, and the multiplier effect starts to breathe life into our economy.
Let’s stop subsidizing low-wage jobs and paying companies to eliminate jobs or move them overseas. Those corporations should refund the taxpayers, and we should put that money right into keeping jobs here. We can train the workers of tomorrow, partner with universities, create manufacturing hubs and develop low-interest loan funds. We have neglected our manufacturing capacity and lost those good jobs, but it is not too late to reverse that trend.
To invest in California’s future, we need adequate revenue to revive our economy. With the greatest level of income inequality on record, it makes policy sense to tax the millionaires to revive our economy and rebuild our middle class.
We agree with the Chamber on one thing: Job creation is top of the list. But while their ideas for job creation take us backwards and exacerbate inequality, ours invest in the future and rebuild the middle class. Hopefully that’s a concept that will someday make their list.