Rants & Raves for the Week of June 7th, 2010
Meg Whitman launched her first general election TV ad this week, in which she claimed that she understands the “human cost” of unemployment because she sees it “every day.” Please. It's patently offensive that a billionaire like Whitman would even suggest she understands what families that have been devastated by unemployment are going through. Whitman’s life of wealth and privilege means she’s never had to worry about losing her home, paying household bills or affording to put her kids through college. These are the issues California families struggle with every day. We need real solutions to the jobs crisis, not slick sound bytes that fit neatly into a 30-second TV ad. And we certainly don't need a billionaire telling our state's unemployed that she understands the “human cost” of joblessness.
The rise of Internet commerce has made it easier for retailers to evade paying sales tax, starving the state of badly needed resources. A new study published in the National Tax Journal singled out one company’s sellers for egregious noncompliance with sales tax laws. eBay – the company run former CEO and current gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman – has sellers with “alarmingly low” sales tax compliance rates. Under Whitman’s leadership at eBay, less than 19 percent of their consumer electronics sellers complied with state sales tax laws. The study estimates that eBay sellers’ noncompliance cost California $56.4 million in lost revenue per year based on 2007 sales. Whitman proposes slashing state worker jobs and programs as a solution to the budget crisis. Maybe she should look closer to home for filling the budget hole—like making eBay sellers pay what they owe the state in taxes.
Carly Fiorina, the GOP candidate for Senate, showed her true colors when she was caught on camera making fun of opponent Senator Boxer’s hair. Sounding like a catty teenager, Fiorina called Boxer’s hair “so yesterday” and goes on to cackle at her joke. The clip quickly became news and Fiorina attempted damage control making the rounds of the news shows. However, instead of taking responsibility for her comments, Fiorina shifted blame, saying that she was only quoting a friend. Is this what we want in our U.S. Senator? Someone who puts the blame on other people for her own mistakes and criticizes her opponent not on her record, but on her hair?
This week’s primary election produced a strong slate of working family candidates seeking statewide office in June. The “Main Street Slate” includes Jerry Brown for Governor, Gavin Newsom for Lieutenant Governor, Kamala Harris for Attorney General, Dave Jones for Insurance Commissioner, Bill Lockyer for Treasurer, Debra Bowen for Secretary of State, John Chiang for State Controller and Tom Torlakson for State Superintendent of Schools. Congratulations to all of those candidates for advancing to the general election. The California Labor movement looks forward to working hard to make sure these candidates get into office and start putting working families’ priorities first in Sacramento.
The Independent Expenditure Committee Working Families for Jerry Brown for Governor 2010, which is co-chaired the California Professional Firefighters, SEIU State Council and the State Building and Construction Trades Council, launched its first ad this week to counter Meg Whitman’s expected avalanche of campaign spending. The ad focuses on Whitman’s indefensible voting record. She failed to cast a vote in many important elections over 28 years. And now she wants to be Governor? Check out the ad here.
Arkansas Lt. Gov Bill Halter, a strong supporter of workers’ issues, ran a spirited campaign to unseat DINO (Democrat in Name Only) Blanche Lincoln in the Democratic primary for US Senate with significant support from the Labor Movement. Though Halter fell just short in his bid to defeat her in the primary, the fact that working families helped him come within a few percentage points of unseating an incumbent sends a powerful message to Democrats everywhere: Don’t take Labor’s support for granted. If you don’t support working family issues like health care reform and the freedom to join unions, you’re not going to get our support, regardless of what letter is next to your name on the ballot.
A largely immigrant workforce, domestic workers work in private homes, out of the public eye and largely outside of the law’s protections. They are specifically excluded from many minimal labor standards including overtime pay, are routinely exposed to harmful cleaning chemicals and are frequently injured on the job. Over ninety percent of domestic workers are women and the majority are single mothers. But these women are also fighters. They have organized a statewide coalition to demand better working conditions and are sponsoring ACR 163 (V. Perez/Ammiano) a resolution calling for increased legal protections. This week, the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee held an informational hearing around the resolution. Domestic workers from all over the state travelled to Sacramento and packed the hearing room to make sure their voices were heard, and the Committee members were clearly impacted the womens’ testimony. The Committee is set to hear the resolution on Wednesday, June 23.
In the face of increased attacks on teachers coming from the Governor and some in the legislature, the California Federation of Teachers, the California Teachers Association, and the California Labor Federation co-sponsored a staff briefing on teacher due process rights and the fight to improve education for all. The well-attended briefing gave legislative staff the chance to hear from local union leaders and experts in education law about how seniority and due process work, the tremendous flexibility districts have under existing law, and the need for increased education funding to address educational inequality. This briefing follows the introduction of SB 955 (Huff), a bill that would strip teachers of due process rights and create a favoritism-based system, while doing nothing to actually improve education. That unjust bill passed out of the Senate Education Committee thanks to the support of two Democratic Senators, Gloria Romero and Elaine Alquist.