Jobs Crisis the Focus as California Labor Opens Joint Legislative Conference

The focus of Labor’s Joint Legislative Conference this year can be summed up in three words: jobs, jobs, jobs. Today more than 600 California union members and leaders from across the state gather in Sacramento to discuss the California labor movement’s legislative agenda for the year, which will be focused heavily on stemming California’s ongoing jobs crisis.

This year’s conference will feature several exciting keynote speakers to offer insight from both the federal and state perspective on California’s jobs crisis. Sen. Barbara Boxer, State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and new Speaker of the California Assembly, John Perez, will address the conference today.

Union members will also participate in a variety of workshops focused on job creation, the state budget and the political action.

The overarching goal of this year’s conference is to develop strategies and an action plan to address the state’s ongoing jobs crisis. With California unemployment ticking up in January to 12.5% — a post World War II record – it’s clear that the state continues to wallow in deep recession even as the rest of the country begins to recover. According to January’s unemployment figures, more than 2 million California workers are without a job. In addition to the drag on the economy that’s created by persistent high unemployment, the human toll is staggering.

While other states have used a combination of federal stimulus and state and local public investment to spark job creation and spur economic recovery, Gov. Schwarzenegger has taken the opposite approach. His devastating budget cuts are killing California’s chances of recovery and eliminating safety net programs for workers at a time when they need us most.

The California Labor Federation’s 2010 Legislative Agenda focuses on putting Californians back to work by utilizing federal funds for infrastructure projects, attracting new businesses to California, holding large corporations accountable for taxpayer dollars they take and repairing the safety net. Hundreds of union members will descend upon the Capitol Tuesday to lobby on these bills and other working family priorities.

We’ll post updates on Labor’s Edge throughout the conference, and we’re live Tweeting from the conference, so make sure you’re following us on Twitter and Facebook.