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Labor's Edge: Views from the California Labor Movement

Labor's Edge Articles by Steve Smith


3/24/15

AB 32 Supports Clean Environment, Good Jobs and Safer Workplaces

By Steve Smith

There’s an undeniable link between workers’ rights and environmental protections. It’s pretty difficult to work safely if environmental standards don’t exist to prevent the pollution of air and water in our communities. That’s why unions steadfastly support California’s landmark environmental climate change law, AB 32. In an op-ed in the San Bernardino Sun last week, Laura Reynolds of the Communications Workers of America and Fernando Losada of the California Nurses Association write about the importance of safeguarding and expanding AB 32 so we can all live and work in safe, healthy communities in the future.


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3/5/15

Time for California to Fully Fund Higher Education

By Steve Smith

Budgeting is a matter of priorities. Just ask any family who budgets monthly. The necessities always take priority. In that sense, state budgeting is no different. Education, infrastructure, health care, public safety and the safety net, among other essential services, should all be paramount.  And the workers who deliver those services ought to be able to count on a living wage and decent benefits.


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3/2/15

Oakland Workers Get a Raise Today (And Paid Sick Days Too!)

By Steve Smith

Nearly 48,000 workers in Oakland got a raise today. No, this wasn’t a gift by altruistic corporate CEOs (now there’s an oxymoron). Today’s raise is courtesy of Measure FF, which voters passed in November due to the strong support of Bay Area labor unions and community groups. And not only do workers get a bump in pay to $12.25 an hour beginning today, the measure also provides for paid sick days, which will impact more than 56,000 workers in Oakland. The minimum wage is indexed to inflation, ensuring it will rise as the cost of living does.


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2/4/15

Speaker Atkins Unveils Critical Plan to Rebuild Transportation Infrastructure, Create Good Jobs

by Steve Smith

About 1/3 of all the bridges and overpasses in our state are showing signs of deterioration (i.e. crumbling). Seventy percent of our urban roads and highways are congested. California has the second-highest share of roads in “poor condition” in the nation.

Today California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) announced a long-overdue proposal to rebuild our run-down roads and bridges, ease traffic congestion and create a lot of good, middle-class jobs doing it.


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1/16/15

We’re Not Buying the Pension-Busting Hype

By Steve Smith, California Labor Federation

Chicken little is alive and well. Those who seek to undercut the retirement security of hard-working public servants are once again trying to whip up mass hysteria about pensions, cherry-picking data from  a website recently created by State Controller John Chiang in an effort to fool the public. As usual, the fact-challenged pension-busters -- and a number of media outlets -- totally missed the mark in their shallow analysis of pension data, which Dave Low of Californians for Retirement Security notes in a San Diego Union-Tribune op-ed.


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10/30/14

Why We #StandWithTom for Superintendent of Public Instruction

By Steve Smith
Walmart heirs. An oil tycoon. An Texas-based Enron trader. Venture Capitalists. It’s not surprising that this motley group is using their millions to try to influence our elections. What is surprising to some is where they’re putting their avalanche of campaign cash this fall. They’re pouring millions into the State Superintendent of Public Instruction race.


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10/29/14

Voting Gives Workers a Seat at the Table


By Steve Smith

Just six days to go. We’ve heard a lot about the low-turnout projections. But in this final week, labor unions are out in force doing what we do best: talking to workers face to face and on the phone about the importance of exercising our fundamental right to vote. Voting gives a voice. It gives us a seat at the table. It’s the great equalizer to money and power.


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10/13/14

AFL-CIO President Touts Prop 47 in LA, Urges Californians to Lead Way on Sentencing Reform

By Steve Smith

Mass incarceration isn’t a topic most of us are comfortable discussing. But it’s a problem that affects every Californian on many levels. When non-violent, low-level offenses are treated as felonies resulting in extensive prison time, it wastes taxpayer money that could be going to schools and services. It fuels the cycle of poverty and imprisonment. It siphons resources from fighting dangerous crime. It’s an affront to justice.


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9/29/14

Gov. Brown Signs Landmark Bill to Protect Temp Workers

By Steve Smith

As Vice President Joe Biden might say, this is a BFD. Last night Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law AB 1897, a landmark bill to curb abuses against temporary workers.

The new law simply requires that companies securing workers through labor contractors or temp agencies must take responsibility to ensure that workers are getting paid, that they have a safe work environment, and that the contractor is paying state and federal taxes.  Given the recent explosion of temp work, this law provides a measure of protection to workers that often are vulnerable to exploitation.


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9/18/14

Gov. Brown Signs Expanded Film Tax Credit Measure, Protecting Hundreds of Thousands of CA Jobs

By Steve Smith

For generations, film and television production has been a driving force of California’s economy. This iconic industry not only entertains millions around the world every year, it provides hundreds of thousands of good middle-class jobs for California workers.


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