Rants & Raves for the Week of July 19th, 2010
This week, a state appellate court struck down two California laws that protect union members’ rights to rally, picket and leaflet at work when there’s a dispute between the workers and the employer. The ruling allows business owners to kick people off their property if those people are speaking out against the employer in a labor dispute. This ruling resulted in a lower court issuing an injunction to prohibit UFCW 8’s peaceful long-term picketing that has been going on at Ralph’s Foods Co., a non-union grocery store in Sacramento, ever since it opened 2007. Local 8 president Jacques Loveall said the union would appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.
Meg Whitman seems to have abruptly changed her position on immigration in a transparent effort to court Latino voters for the general election. She’s now telling Spanish-language media that she opposes both Prop 187 and Arizona's SB 1070, and in her new Spanish TV ads, Whitman talks about wanting to improve opportunities for Latino children. All this is coming from the same woman who promised during the primary to be “tough as nails” on undocumented immigrants and hired Governor Pete Wilson, the architect of Prop 187 (which attempted to deny just about every state service and program to undocumented immigrants, including public and higher education) to be her campaign chair. Guess Whitman thinks that if she says she one thing in Spanish no one will ever know she said the complete opposite in English.
Whitman makes the list twice this week, because when she tells the truth, its no less scary than when she’s lying about her position on immigration. In a televised interview on NBC in LA over the weekend, Whitman said that she would have never signed the historic legislation that granted collective bargaining rights to state workers. In fact, Whitman would get rid of collective bargaining rights for state workers if she had the chance – which she might just try if she is elected governor. She went on to say that she would also eliminate 40,000 state worker jobs if elected governor, despite the California unemployment rate being at Depression-era highs. If you really want to get mad, watch the interview here.
Last night, President Obama signed into law the essential unemployment insurance extension bill to provide much-needed jobless aid for people out of work for longer than six months, including more than 400,000 jobless Californians whose unemployment assistance ran out in May. The Senate GOP had effectively blocked the bill for six weeks, but finally on Tuesday the blockade was broken when Maine Republican Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe stood up for jobless workers and voted to end the filibuster. The bill quickly passed through the Senate and House, and President Obama wasted no time in signing it into law. “Americans who are working day and night to get back on their feet and support their families in these tough economic times deserve more than obstruction and partisan game-playing that happens too often here in Washington,” Obama said before signing the bill into law.
A bill that would extend overtime pay to California farm workers recently reached Governor Schwarzenegger’s desk. The bill, SB 1121 (Florez), would get rid of a loophole in state labor code that excludes farm workers from getting overtime pay after an eight-hour day or a 40-hour week, as other California workers do. Under current law, the more than a half-million farm workers in California get overtime pay only after 10 hours of work in one day or a 60-hour week. On Tuesday, a group of farm workers and supporters led United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez, Monsignor James Murphy from Sacramento’s Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament and Sen. Dean Florez gathered outside the Governor's office, where they knelt and prayed for the Governor to sign the bill, then hand-delivered the official copy of the bill to the Governor’s spokesperson. Schwarzenegger now has nine days to sign or veto the bill.
The Sacramento City Council stood up to Governor’s Schwarzenegger’s directive to reduce state worker pay to the federal minimum wage this week passing a resolution “strongly” opposing the order. The Council resolution stated that one in five state workers lives in the Sacramento area and that the Governor’s pay reduction order would cost the region $60 million a week in lost wages. They go on to estimate that the pay reduction would cost the state $1.1 billion per month—an enormous blow to California’s struggling economy. The final resolve of the resolution calls on Schwarzenegger to rescind his minimum wage order.