With our unemployment rate at the highest rate since the Great Depression, it’s no wonder that politicians are talking about jobs 24/7. But who is serious about putting Californians back to work, and who is just paying lip service?
The Governor and legislative Republicans say jobs are the top priority, but brief look at their policy proposals reveals just the opposite.
- As unemployment has steadily crept up, Governor Schwarzenegger has done basically nothing to stop it. Rather than investing in creating new private-sector jobs or keeping good public-sector jobs, he has demanded more and more tax giveaways to big corporations, with no requirement that that money go towards creating or keeping jobs in California. Sadly, the Legislature has given the Governor just about every tax boondoggle he has demanded over the last few years. And the result? increased unemployment.
- Here's a recipe for continuing recession — Republican Assemblyman Steve Knight (R-Antelope Valley) introduced AB 2577, to exempt employers from paying payroll taxes if they bring in temporary aerospace workers from other states. Seriously? We have skilled workers in every industry who have been laid off and are pounding the pavement looking for jobs, and Steve Knight actually wants to make it easier to import out-of-state temporary workers. How exactly is this supposed to help our jobs crisis?
- Meanwhile, Senator Dave Cox (R-Fair Oaks) is at it again with SB 1335, yet another attempt to roll back the 8-hour day. Not only does this hurt the many families who depend on overtime to make ends meet in this economy, but it also discourages employers from hiring new workers. If the boss can make existing employees do more work for less pay, there is no need to bring on new employees. In fact, this proposal could even trigger layoffs, as employers would need fewer shifts of workers.
- We all want to help out small businesses, but SB 1267 by Senator Sam Aanestad takes that idea and turns it on its head. It actually exempts small businesses from penalties for labor law violations! That means any small business can skirt the law when it comes to worker protections (including providing workers' compensation coverage), and pay no price whatsoever. What is the rationale for giving law-breakers a competitive advantage? All this bill would do is grow the underground economy, harming low-wage workers, undermining good businesses, and taking much needed revenues away from all Californians.
- Finally, let’s see what billionaire candidate for Governor Meg “Wall Street” Whitman suggests for job creation: 40,000 new layoffs, and even more tax breaks for her rich corporate cronies. Really, is this the best she could come up with?
We think there is a better way to revive our economy — by actually creating good jobs and keeping them here. Next week, the Senate Governmental Organization Committee will hear two bills sponsored by the California Labor Federation:
- SB 967 (Correa) would create a 5% bid preference in state contracts for companies who hire at least 90% California workers. Why should we pay to send jobs to other states or overseas when we could be using our tax dollars to put Californians back to work?
- SB 1259 (DeSaulnier) would create an Office of Economic Development and Job Creation. Right now, there are nearly 100 offices, across state agencies, responsible for economic development, with very little coordination. Rather than cut wages or repeal worker protections, the way to bring new good jobs to California is to have a clear economic vision and an effective strategy to attract and keep jobs here.
So the next time you hear a politician claiming to create jobs, be sure and check the fine print. Those jobs might be for temporary, out-of-state aerospace workers, not you or your out-of-work neighbor.