Labor's Edge Articles by Steve Smith
Effort to Stop Koch Brothers’ Takeover of LA Times Gains Momentum
“Don’t sell out to the Koch brothers / Don’t let the brothers in the door/ We don’t want them taking over / That is what we’re marching for.”
That was the message, as sung by acclaimed musician Ry Cooder, carried by hundreds of Los Angeles residents who marched and rallied today to urge Oaktree Capital Management not to sell the respected Los Angeles Times to right-wing extremists David and Charles Koch. The “No Koch Hate in LA” rally was sponsored by the LA County Federation of Labor and community allies.
The brothers have expressed interest in buying the Times and other media holdings of the Tribune Co., threatening the journalistic integrity of some of the nation’s most venerable media outlets and providing an unprecedented megaphone to the Kochs to push their radical agenda.
Governor’s May Revise Proposes Important Fixes to Broken Enterprise Zone Program
While there were lots of complicated formulas on things like health care funding and education in today’s May Revise of the California budget that will take some time to fully analyze, one thing is clear: The Governor is no fan of the broken enterprise zone (EZ) tax giveaway program. At least not in its current form.
Today’s Budget Revise proposes a major overhaul of the EZ program that would likely do away with some of the worst abuses that are costing the state hundreds of millions without producing jobs in return.
According to the May Revise, “Created over 25 years ago, the Enterprise Zone program should be reshaped to meet the needs of the current economy. In its current form it fails to encourage the creation of new jobs and instead rewards moving jobs from one place to another within the state."
Statewide Tour to Pass AB 880 & Close the “Walmart Loophole” Kicks Off in West Sacramento
Walmart shoppers probably didn’t expect to be greeted this morning at 5am by a lively group of taxpayers protesting the “Walmart Loophole,” which allows large companies like Walmart to avoid their responsibilities to pay their fair share for their workers' health care. But that’s exactly what they encountered in West Sacramento.
About 30 demonstrators launched a statewide tour today aimed at educating shoppers and the media about Walmart’s practice of paying its workers so little that they are pushed into taxpayer-funded programs like Medi-Cal. The group also handed out information about AB 880 (Gomez), which would mandate that the state’s largest and most profitable companies pay their fair share when their workers end up on taxpayer-funded Medi-Cal.
New Report: Taxpayers on the Hook When Corporate Giants Dump Workers onto Medi-Cal
For years, we’ve known big companies like Walmart have been shifting their health care costs onto taxpayers. Now a new report from the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research shows just how widespread the problem is, projecting that as many as 380,000 workers for big companies will end up on the state’s Medi-Cal program by 2019.
For taxpayers, that’s a pretty tough pill to swallow. In 2011, Walmart made $477 billion in profits. The company’s CEO raked in nearly $21 million last year. And yet, Walmart and other large companies don’t think twice about cutting workers’ hours and wages to such a low level that workers have to get health care through taxpayer-funded Medi-Cal.
Pulaski in OC Register: “Enterprise Zone Boondoggle”
What’s wrong with California’s enterprise zone (EZ) program? In today’s Orange County Register, California Labor Federation leader Art Pulaski lays it out. And it’s a long and ugly list.
In an op-ed titled “Enterprise Zone Boondoggle,” Pulaski blasts the EZ program as a “bloated mess of wasteful government spending” that’s costing taxpayers more than $700 million a year without creating new jobs. "Tax credits can make California more competitive, if done properly. But when a wasteful government program like enterprise zones picks winners and losers, takes money out of our schools, encourages low-wage hires over middle-class jobs and does nothing to provide incentive to create new jobs, we call that a boondoggle," Pulaski wrote.
Workers Rally at State Capitol to End Corporate Gravy Train
Hundreds of workers descended on the Capitol yesterday as part of the California Labor Federation’s legislative conference lobby day with a simple message for both Democrats and Republicans in office: “End the Corporate Gravy Train.” They were referring to the state’s wasteful enterprise zone program, which takes money away from schools, infrastructure and other valuable services to line the pockets of corporate CEOs at Walmart and other large, profitable corporations.
Assemblymember Hernández Announces Investigation of Marquez Brothers After Worker Firing
Marquez Brothers International, a cheese facility, is about as anti-worker as they come. The company has a repeatedly harassed its employees for standing up for basic rights like safe working conditions and fair pay.
The situation at Marquez Brothers got so bad that last month Assemblymember Roger Hernández, chair of the Labor and Employment, held an oversight hearing on the harassment of immigrant workers by unscrupulous employers like Marquez. Marquez responded to the scrutiny by doubling down on their anti-worker campaign. One of the Marquez Brothers workers who attended the hearing was fired earlier this week.
Unions, Environmental Groups & Tribal Leaders Join Together to Defend CEQA
Today, a growing coalition of labor unions, environmental groups and tribes made clear that protecting the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), our state’s landmark environmental protection law, is essential to California’s future.
Wealthy developers and corporate special interests have attacked CEQA as a hindrance to job creation, and are pushing to “reform” (i.e. gut) the law. But the facts just don’t support their claims. At an event on the steps of the Capitol this morning, the Labor Management Cooperation Trust released a report that finds that since CEQA became law in 1970, California’s manufacturing output, construction activity, per capita GDP and housing (relative to population) all grew as fast or faster than the other 49 states.
Time to Stop Abuse and Exploitation of Immigrant Workers
The abuse and exploitation of immigrant workers must stop. Today, the California Labor Federation joined Assemblymember Roger Hernandez, other elected officials and immigrant rights advocates at the Capitol to announce legislative action to stop unscrupulous employers from retaliating against immigrant workers who stand up for themselves.
"Immigrant workers are often fired, there wages are stolen, they are threatened and they even suffer sexual abuse because unscrupulous employers know they can get away with it," said California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski "If they speak up, the threat is they will be deported and separated from their families."
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