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Labor's Edge: Views from the California Labor Movement

07/2012 Labor's Edge Blog Articles


7/31/12

Citizens United: Brought to Us by the Lincoln Club

by John MacMurray

Just mentioning the Citizens United case is enough to boil some folks’ blood. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, No. 08-205 (U.S. Jan. 21, 2010) to use its full name, was the 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision that held that corporations and unions have the same political speech rights as individuals under the First Amendment.

The decision, equating campaign money with speech, opened the floodgates for, as some have put it, turning elections into auctions.

But, although a lot of us know something about the decision, mostly focused on its consequences, not enough of us know enough about the case itself—and some of the truly devious people behind it—and we should know.

But before we can begin connecting the dots, we need to identify the dots.


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7/30/12

Alliance Launches ‘Let’s Not Be the Last Generation to Retire’ Campaign

by Mike Hall

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are under attack by Republican lawmakers. Whether it is the Romney/Ryan budget that would end Medicare as we know it or proposals to privatize and cut Social Security, members of the Alliance for Retired Americans are pushing back and mobilizing with new "Let’s Not Be the Last Generation to Retire" campaign.


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More posts by Mike Hall

7/27/12

Proposition 32: Corporate Billionaires’ Quest to Force Workers to Shut Up

by Bob Balgenorth

Apparently we union workers are far too successful at affecting public policy in California. Why else would corporate billionaires be gathering and spending huge campaign war chests, for the third time in 14 years, to pass a law that would force us to shut up?

In 1998 it was Proposition 226. In 2005 it was Proposition 75. Now, in 2012, it is Proposition 32 that will silence workers’ voices and destroy our political clout, unless we beat it. Those previous measures would have prohibited unions from making political contributions with money collected from paycheck deductions. But after voters realized that corporate funds would continue to flow unabated, with workers left powerless to respond, Propositions 226 and 75 were defeated.

So now in 2012, the greedy bastards have gotten sneakier. They claim that Proposition 32 bans contributions from both unions and corporations. Sound fair? It isn’t, because it exempts their secret Super PACs, which can raise unlimited amounts of money from corporate interests.


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More posts by Bob Balgenorth

7/26/12

Labeling Genetically Engineered Foods: Whose Side Are You On?

by Zack Kaldveer

This November, California voters will have an opportunity to vote on a simple, yet important ballot initiative called Prop 37 – the California Right to Know Act. If approved, it would require food sold in California supermarkets be clearly labeled if it has been genetically engineered.

What many probably don’t yet know is there is no clearer David versus Goliath fight on this year’s ballot. On one side, is a truly grassroots people’s movement that generated over a million signatures in just 10 weeks, easily qualifying for the November ballot. On the other stands the largest anti-union, pro-pesticide, agrichemical interests in the world dedicated to saying and spending whatever it takes to hide the fact that some of our most important crops are being genetically engineered in a lab without our knowledge or consent.


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7/26/12

Notable Leaders Join Union Delegates to Get Ready for November at Labor’s Biennial Convention

by Rebecca Band

The people, united, will never be defeated! This age-old saying is more than just a union chant. It’s the core philosophy of the labor movement. . And that was on full display this week at California Labor’s 2012 Biennial Convention.

In one of our biggest conventions in recent history, upwards of 700 union delegates and leaders convened in San Francisco to learn, plan, vote and strategize on the November 2012 election and defeating Prop 32, the Special Exemptions Act.

The convention was packed with notable leaders, each one emphasizing the absolute necessity of defeating Prop 32 -- not just for union members, but for the whole working class. National labor leaders from CWA, UFCW and SEIU, as well as Governor Jerry Brown and California Democratic Party Chair John Burton all addressed the convention to educate and motivate the delegates about this incredibly deceptive ballot measure.


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More posts by Rebecca Band

7/25/12

US Secretary of Labor, Union Leaders and Workers Call on Congress & Legislature to Bring Jobs Home

by Danielle Tipton

There is no issue more important in California and America right now than jobs. All of us know someone struggling to find one- you might even be struggling to find one yourself.  So why is our tax money helping to ship jobs to other countries?

Yesterday, I joined hundreds of California labor activists, along with U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Communications Workers of America (CWA) President Larry Cohen, in San Francisco’s Union Square, where we rallied, chanted and danced to get our simple message across: Bring Our Jobs Home! It’s time to get rid of tax breaks that reward corporations that outsource jobs and ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent on creating American jobs, not shipping them overseas.


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7/23/12

California Labor Gears Up to Stop Prop 32 at Statewide Convention

by Rebecca Band

This week, nearly 700 representatives from hundreds of unions around the state will gather in San Francisco for the all-important Biennial Convention, where they will be participating in intensive campaign planning, message training and hands-on workshops to prepare for the fight to stop Prop 32. They will also be voting on Labor’s official endorsements for the November 2012 election, in addition to hearing from special guest speakers including U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. The convention delegates will also participate in a rally in Union Square in support of the Bring Jobs Home Act and other companion bills aimed at curbing outsourcing and bringing jobs back to the U.S.


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7/19/12

Taxi Drivers Unite with San Diego Labor Council

By Lorena Gonzalez and Mikaiil Hussein

At the San Diego-Imperial Central Labor Council, our mission is to create more jobs, better jobs and better lives for all of San Diego's workers — union and non-union. For years, we have proudly worked on policies that bring up the standard for our entire community; things like a living wage ordinance, paid family leave, worker retention policies, and healthcare access for working families.

But until now, as the AFL-CIO umbrella organization for the San Diego region, our 192,000 members have consisted of only unionized workers, retirees, and their families. Today, for the first time in our local history, we are excited to be welcoming a group of non-union workers into our fold — the United Taxi Workers of San Diego (UTWSD).


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7/19/12

Is Change Really Coming?

by Dr. Christina McCale

Recently Cenk Uygur noted that when President Obama inspired the nation with the notion of “change,” none of us thought about what did that “change” really mean.

While it’s true that change might mean a lot of things to a lot of people, I think it’s probably safe to say that change, in its most simplest form, would mean that things would be different than from what they were at the time of the election.

So what might we want “changed” today? What “change” are we still waiting for?


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7/18/12

Furthering the Vision of High-Speed Rail

by Sara Flocks

The voices of doom and decline say that high-speed rail cannot be built in California. They’ve tried to stop the forces of progress by calling high-speed rail "a boondoggle" and "a waste." This is not a new phenomenon. Enemies of progress said the same thing about the Golden Gate Bridge, built in the middle of the Great Depression. They screamed “boondoggle” at every major public works project in the 20th century while California was constructing a world-class infrastructure of freeways, dams, bridges and aqueducts that fostered a golden age of middle-class growth.

The Labor Movement rejects the voices of doom, because we have a vision for California. We know it’s time to invest in California’s future, starting with construction of high-speed rail.


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7/18/12

The Middle-Class Wrecking Ball: Wal-Mart and the Waltons

by Sylvia Allegretto

The destruction caused by the bursting of the housing bubble and the subsequent Great Recession continues to wreck havoc on our economy, communities, families and workers. Last month, the Federal Reserve released 2010 data from its Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF). This triennial survey, one of the best sources on net worth (assets minus liabilities) for the U.S., just happened to coincide with the recession.

During a period of massive destruction of wealth for typical families and even when their peers lost some ground, the Waltons were able to cash in. It seems what has been bad for the vast majority of Americans has been very good for the Waltons. As the company’s then CFO said right before the start of the great recession “Tough times are actually a good time for Wal-Mart.” Looks like he was right.


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7/17/12

Tracking Occupational Health in California

by Barbara Materna

A day laborer falls off an unsafe scaffold and dies.  A custodian gets work-related asthma from cleaning products.  A painter is tested and found to have lead poisoning.  Every year, thousands of California workers are injured on the job or become ill as a result of health hazards at work.

Twelve workers tragically lose their lives on the job each day in the United States, with 409 workplace deaths in California in 2009. Latino workers are particularly at risk. In Los Angeles County, where nearly one quarter of the state’s fatalities occur, Latino workers have a 50% higher fatality rate than non-Latino workers.


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7/17/12

What It Really Takes to Create a Green Economy

by Daniel Villao

One central challenge to building a green economy is that for many, the inner workings of a key pillar of that economy — the construction industry — are a mystery. Understanding construction helps us move beyond simply creating green “jobs,” which could be temporary or even dangerous, to building a new green economic sector that generates permanent construction careers.

Construction is one of the largest sectors of the U.S. economy, with a dollar value approaching $800 billion and more than 7.2 million workers. It brings together people from all different walks of life. For community members that the economic downturn has hit the hardest — low-income workers, minorities, women, those returning from the military or from prison — construction offers a chance at a middle-class career.


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7/13/12

Thank a Superhero Worker at San Diego Comic-Con

by Lorena Gonzalez

Every summer, San Diego welcomes more than 100,000 people to town for Comic-Con to celebrate “the largest comic book and popular arts convention in the world.” For the better part of the week, downtown is transformed into a fantastic celebration of comics and art, with creative costumes and parties for every taste.

A celebration this elaborate doesn’t just happen though – it takes thousands of workers to make everything go. That includes the San Diego Convention Center decorators, electricians, stagehands, banquet servers, hotel workers, janitors, parking lot attendants and more who keep the show running.


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