News headlines often depict the growing economic divide in our nation as a tug of war between workers and business, but in one critical sector of our economy - franchise enterprises -- entrepreneurs and workers are both being pushed into economic peril. Workers and franchise business owners are both being squeezed by giant corporations like McDonald's, having critical decisions that affect their livelihoods and their dignity forced on them by a faceless corporate headquarters. Workers and franchise owners alike face retaliation and the loss of their income if they speak out. For these reasons, both workers and franchise owners are coming together to fight for AB 525 (Holden), a bill that protects jobs by giving franchisees a fair shake so they can keep and grow the businesses they've nurtured.
A generation ago, McDonald's valued its franchisees as partners who built the strength of the brand in communities across the country. Now, McDonald's and other corporations built on the franchising model have gone the way of so many other industries that look to post short-term gains rather than build real value, even if it means driving franchise owners and workers into poverty.
Today, franchise agreements are so one-sided, franchisees have virtually no say in the businesses they've risked their life savings and dedicated years of their lives to build. Corporate headquarters control nearly every aspect of the business, can force new and unexpected costs onto franchise owners, and franchise owners can be punished for speaking out or joining with other franchise owners to improve business conditions. Franchises can even be shut down for arbitrary reasons, as Kathryn Slater-Carter experienced firsthand after working 30 years to build her Bay Area McDonald's franchise.
A survey of 1,100 franchise owners released in April found Kathryn's case is far from an isolated incident. Dissatisfaction with franchisors -- the parent corporations of franchise businesses - is widespread, and retaliation against franchise owners who speak out about problems is frequent. More than half of franchisees say they can't earn a living from their business. Four in 10 reported threats of having their franchise agreements terminated for taking actions they thought were appropriate for their business, and nearly 20% said their franchisor increased the frequency of inspections after the franchisee raised questions or spoke out about problems.
California franchisees and workers are both striving to be a part of California's economic future and AB 525 brings us one step closer to stabilizing small businesses so they can continue serving the needs of California's communities and strengthen the jobs that build our economy and provide for families.
The bill, the Small Business Investment Protection Act, would significantly expand the rights of franchisees and establish stronger protections against unfair termination or nonrenewal of contracts by franchisors. California workers support the bill because they know when franchisees can make decisions that are in the best interest of their businesses, they can invest in their employees.
Franchise owners and workers want the same thing - a fair shot at the American Dream. That's why we've formed an unlikely alliance to support AB 525. By ensuring franchisees have a fair shot at surviving as corporations squeeze more and more from franchisees and workers, AB 525 protects California small businesses and jobs.
Kathryn Slater-Carter was a McDonald's franchise owner for more than 30 years. Jon Youngdahl is the Executive Director of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California, which includes 700,000 private and public sector workers as members.
The annual state budget process, which began in January, comes into focus later this week when the Governor releases the May Revision of his proposed 2015-16 budget. Health and community advocates are urging the Governor and the Legislature to include funding for critical health programs in upcoming budget negotiations. These investments continue the Affordable Care Act's momentum by removing barriers to coverage, ensuring those covered in Medi-Cal get access to care along with important benefits, and extending coverage to the remaining uninsured.
The deadline for the Legislature to pass and the Governor to sign a budget is June 15. The Governor's May Revision sets the stage for a short month of negotiations, shaped by information about how much of a surplus is available given the state revenues that came in during April tax time, and constitutional formulas that limit the use of these funds.
Recent Budget Subcommittee Hearings: Since introducing the budget in January, the legislature's budget subcommittees have reviewed the Governor's proposed budget along with budget requests from advocates. In recent days, the Senate and Assembly Budget Subcommittees on Health and Human Services completed their reviews of the Governor's proposed budget, along with a range of urgent and needed health investments that were not included in the Governor's proposed budget, from expanding coverage without regard to immigration status to limiting estate recovery in Medi-Cal to restoring Medi-Cal benefits. The subcommittees left most of these items open for further discussions pending the May Revision. Many consumer and community organizations including Health Access California were on hand to strongly support these critical investments.
Prevailing Wage policies add 17,500 jobs and $1.4 billion in output across California's economy, according to a new study released by Smart Cities Prevail - a leading construction industry education and research organization.
Entitled, Building the Golden State-The Economic Impacts of California's Prevailing Wage Policy, the first-of-its-kind report was co-authored by Colorado State University-Pueblo Economist Dr. Kevin Duncan and Smart Cities Prevail Researcher Alex Lantsberg. The study was conducted using IMPLAN software (the industry standard for analyzing the effects of government policy choices on the economy) to model the impact of eliminating California's prevailing wage standards.
In addition to measuring the policies' impact on job creation and overall economic output, the study also concludes that prevailing wage policies facilitate broad improvements to the construction industry as a whole--including substantial reductions in materials waste and dramatic increases in both local hiring and overall workforce productivity.
There's been a lot of attention lately on California's turnaround. As it turns out, that nonsense about all our jobs moving to Texas was a just Texas-sized whopper. Last year California created about 500,000 jobs to lead the nation in job growth, outpacing the conservative darling Texas.
Basically, the corporate narrative about California has gone up in smoke. In the last several years, California has done a litany of things that the corporate crowd claims kill jobs. We raised the minimum wage. We raised taxes on the rich with Prop 30 to better fund schools and public safety. We guaranteed paid sick days for all workers. We eliminated the wasteful enterprise zone tax credits for big businesses that cost the state nearly $1 billion per year. We got rid of another tax giveaway to business with Prop 39 and instead funneled those funds into clean energy projects that create good jobs. We strengthened regulations that protect workers and the environment. The list goes on and on.
So imagine my surprise when I read Joel Fox's blog on Fox & Hounds claiming that the Chamber of Commerce was actually responsible for the job growth in California. Oh, ok. Sure. That makes total sense, Joel. The Chamber constantly derides California as the most anti-business state in the country and now wants to claim credit for our success? That makes about as much sense as that idiotic scheme you participated in during the 2012 election to help the Koch Brothers and their rich, out-of-state friends funnel millions into California to help pass the anti-worker Prop 32 and defeat Prop 30. But, I digress.
Hidden at the bottom of Fox's inane blog is the one line we should all pay attention to in the context of this argument.
The Chamber's goal is to keep business costs low to improve the economy statewide.
By lowering "business costs" he means eliminating protections for workers and the environment, shrinking wages for workers, while cutting taxes on CEOs and the wealthiest among us. California has roundly rejected this shortsighted notion, unlike, say, Kansas, which is seeing the disastrous effects of implementing the big business plan.
California, under Gov. Jerry Brown, has shown the real path forward. You can create jobs AND protect workers and the environment. You can put more money in the pockets of those at the bottom while creating shared prosperity that benefits the economy as a whole. You can make the rich pay their fair share to fund our schools, public safety and other important services without hurting job growth. You can protect immigrant workers against exploitation and strengthen the ability for all workers to stand together in unions without hurting competitiveness. In fact, when you do those things, jobs DO grow. Wages DO grow. The economy gets stronger. And most importantly, lives change for the better.
Still, too many workers are struggling today. Now isn't the time to go backward on workers' rights. Instead, it's time to step on the pedal so we raise standards for all workers to combat growing inequality. The last few years we've put to rest the narrative that says doing good things for workers and the environment kills jobs.
So let's not waste time and let's continue doing more of what we know works. More investment in California's working people makes California a better place to live and raise a family. More support for workers and their families lowers poverty while creating an economy that works for everyone. And we do this not with the help of the Chamber of Commerce and its corporate CEO funders, we do it in spite of them.
Dave Low, California School Employees Association (CSEA) Executive Director and Chairman of Californians for Retirement Security explains,
"John Arnold is the second youngest billionaire in America. John Arnold has decided to spend his billions to take hard earned retirement benefits away from school bus drivers, teachers, nurses, firefighters and other public employees. What is in the heart of someone who, having become one of the richest people on the planet, decides to use that wealth to undermine the retirement security of working class Americans who have dedicated their entire careers to public service?"
Arnold's spending has touched every facet of anti-retirement campaigning, including tainted research, political advocacy organizations, ballot initiatives, journalism, and the campaign coffers of extreme politicians. He is involved in battles to limit retirement security across the country through his foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, and his political PAC, Action Now.
"Lawmakers, workers, and the public at large deserve to know that the funding to dismantle retirement security for firefighters, nurses, teachers and other public employees across the country can be traced back to one source - Enron-billionaire John Arnold," said Bailey Childers, Executive Director of NPPC.
The truth about John Arnold:
- In 2013, Arnold was the leading financier of former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed's failed effort to put a statewide pension-gutting initiative on the ballot.
- Arnold was the lead financier ($150,000) of an effort to end public pensions in Ventura County. A judge declared the effort unconstitutional.
- Arnold spent more than $1 million dollars on a ballot initiative in Phoenix to close the pension system. That effort was defeated by voters in 2014.
- The Laura and John Arnold Foundation underwrote a PBS series called "Pension Peril." The PBS Ombudsman declared the $3.5 million contribution inappropriate. The grant was returned and the series pulled from the air.
- Arnold underwrites Pew Charitable Trusts' pension work with a $4.85 million contribution.
There's trouble brewing in Washington D.C. for American workers. In the coming weeks, our congress will decide whether or not to pass Fast Track legislation that will allow trade deals to be made behind closed doors and without any oversight from the people most impacted: American workers.
In a recent opinion piece in the Sacramento Bee Art Pulaski, Executive-Secretary-Treasurer of the California Labor Federation, cautioned against turning a blind eye to Fast Track:
In the case of pending legislation authorizing fast-track authority for trade agreements, politicians and corporate lobbyists are pushing to eliminate transparency in favor of expediency. That's a dangerous course with major implications for our economy. Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority has resulted in secretly negotiated agreements that benefit big corporations at the expense of workers and their families.
Fast Track legislation will allow trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) to be negotiated by a select few, without any attempt to represent the people who may lose their livelihoods as a result. If we've learned anything from history, similar deals have created more harm than good for generations of American workers. Pulaski emphasizes:
The job-loss numbers directly related to seriously flawed trade deals are staggering. Between 2000 and 2014, American manufacturing employment dropped by 4 million jobs. And these were family-supporting jobs that strengthened communities. Since Congress approved permanent normal trade relations with China, the growth in the U.S. trade deficit with China has resulted in the net loss of more than 3.2 million jobs, including nearly 600,000 in California, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
That's 3.2 million hardworking Americans who, through no fault of their own, found themselves ripped from the middle class and forced into low-wage jobs or, even worse, long-term joblessness.
It's imperative for our representatives in Congress to withstand significant political pressure to pass Fast Track and uphold their duty to the represent hard working families who voted them into office. Pulaski underscores the need to reach out to your elected representative and insist they vote no on Fast Track:
We must do better. Stopping the outsourcing of good, American jobs should be a top priority for our nation's leaders. It's time to reform trade negotiations so that workers in California and around the country are no longer getting the short end of the stick. Fast track needs to be replaced with a new process for negotiating and approving trade deals that increases congressional and public oversight so we can harvest the benefits of expanded trade without gutting the middle class and undermining basic tenets of American democracy.
We urge Reps. Doris Matsui and Ami Bera and all members of Congress to reject fast-track authority so that future trade deals help, not harm, California's economy.
Click here to tell your member of the House of Representatives you oppose Fast Track, or dial 855-712-8441 and we'll connect you. Learn more about Fast Track here.
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.
Given the amount of commuting and traveling Californians do, these are pretty alarming stats. But you get what you pay for. And, quite frankly, California's lack of infrastructure funding is embarrassing, and downright dangerous to all of us who spend so much time on the road every week.
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.
California cannot have a strong middle class or a thriving economy if our roadways are congested and people and goods cannot move efficiently throughout the state. The Assembly is stepping up and proposing $10 billion for transportation infrastructure-$2 billion per year over the next 5 years-starting in 2015-16.
Labor has long been sounding the alarm on the need to fix our eroding infrastructure. It's a no-brainer. We can create tens of thousands of jobs by upgrading our roads, bridges and transportation system. And fixing our infrastructure makes California more competitive, which creates even more jobs.
California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski:
Years of neglect have rendered many of our roads and bridges unsafe, leaving California families at risk. Rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure would create good jobs that strengthen our middle class and spark our economy. It's time we invest in a transportation system that makes us safer while supporting workers, small businesses and all California families.
Robbie Hunter, President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California:
California is paying a heavy price for having underfunded highway and bridge infrastructure for decades. Years of massive budget deficits resulted in billions of transportation dollars being diverted elsewhere. California's growing population and economy depends on the efficient movement of people and goods from our factories and ports throughout the state. Investment in repairing and re-building our roads is critical to our economy and quality of life and also creates tens of thousands of good new construction jobs.
The Assembly plan includes:
• $1 billion per year by returning truck Weight Fees to transportation instead of using them to repay general obligation debt.
• $200 million per year for transportation funding by accelerating repayment of transportation loans.
• $800 million per year in new net funds for transportation by establishing a new Road User Charge.
The Road User Charge is estimated to be only about $1 per week for most drivers. A pretty small price to pay for keeping our families safe on the roadways.
This is the right proposal at the right time. California has overcome a dangerous recession in our very recent past, the present is fiscally stable and looking stronger every day, so now we need to look ahead and help fix the future. And addressing transportation funding so we can have better, safer, and faster infrastructure is a key part of fixing the future.
The Speaker has shown real leadership in proposing this bold plan. If we're at all concerned about the future, we need to turn this proposal into reality.
By Jason Rabinowitz, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 2010
More than 80 percent of University of California (UC) support staff employees are paid wages too low to provide the basic necessities of life in the areas where they live and work, according to preliminary findings of a study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute.
As Governor Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano meet to discuss the financial future of the UC, it's imperative that they recognize the dire financial situation of many UC employees. The UC is the third largest employer in California, employing nearly 200,000 workers, directly creating 1 in 46 jobs in the state, and generating $46.3 billion in economic activity annually. The 14,000 administrative and essential support services workers in the UC system are 81% female and over 50% people of color, and include administrative assistants, collection representatives, childcare assistants, and 911 dispatchers.
Between 2007 and 2011 these essential support workers received no pay increases, while student tuition skyrocketed. The workers have also fallen behind due to substantial increases in costs for retirement and healthcare, parking fees, and inflation. During the same period, the state slashed funding to UC, and currently contributes $460 million less per year in funding than it did in 2007. On a per-student basis, state funding for UC has decreased by more than half since 1991.
"Our voices have been silenced for too long, and need to be heard," said Catherine Cobb, President of Local 2010 and former employee at UC Irvine. "The answer is not more pay-cuts and tuition increases. The time has come for the state to fund the University of California."
Elise Gould, Senior Economist with EPI explains:
The Economic Policy Institute has calculated basic family budgets for every area of the United States for over a decade now. Our methodology is so respected that the family budget data has been used and cited by groups ranging from living wage advocates to private employers to academics to policymakers. These basic family budgets measure how much it costs various representative family types to have an adequate but modest standard of living in over 600 local areas across the country. Applying the basic family budget data to the reported wages of University of California union workers indicates that 82.5 percent of University of California support employees in the clerical and related classifications would not earn enough from their wages, even if they worked full-time, to exceed the basic family budget for a family with one adult and one child in their respective metropolitan areas.
It's unfortunate that the University is contributing to the national problem of declining middle-class wages and increased income inequality. The UC is one of the leading economic forces in California, and has a tremendous impact on the economy of our state. We need UC to be a force for good jobs in our communities and a fair economy. The Legislature and the Governor must renew California's commitment to adequately fund higher education.
With Senator Boxer's term expiring in 2016, now is the time to talk about the future. With all the time required to build a strong campaign in California, prospective candidates are anxious for word, not wanting to step on any toes before making any moves. But, the chatter is that a decision could come soon:
Sources close to Boxer, 74, say the outspoken liberal senator will decide over the holidays whether to seek reelection in 2016 and will announce her plans shortly after the new year. Few of her friends believe she will run for a fifth term. Boxer has stopped raising money and is not taking steps to assemble a campaign. With Republicans taking over the Senate, she is about to relinquish her chairmanship of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.(Politico)
The article goes on to point out the parade of candidates, but you can probably guess at the names. Harris, Newsom, Garcetti, Villaraigosa, and a slew of Congressional Democrats. Plus, there is always the discussion of whether Tom Steyer wants to put his millions on a candidacy of his own.
With the Democratic lean of the state, a Republican challenge would have to be something of the superstar variety, one that wouldn't require vast support of the Republican crazy-base. I'm not sure who that would be, but with an open seat, you would have to expect at least some sort of well funded Republican.
But, until Sen. Boxer says something, one would have to expect at least Democrats to lay low. After an announcement, who knows?
Below the fold you will find the full list of committee chairs. All in all, given the big number of committees, most Democratic legislators who aren't in leadership get a chair. I think the exceptions were Lorena Gonzalez, who is the vice-chair of the Local Government committee with Republican Brian Maienschein getting the chair, and Nora Campos, who is on rules. And Rob Bonta has two chairs, keeping PERS and getting the Health Committee this year.
New term limits mean more changes now, more stability later
by Brian Leubitz
With the new term limits structure amendments of a few years ago, Sacramento is seeing a lot of change. Lots and lots and lots of change. In the Legislature convening today, 72 of the 120 legislators have less than two years of experience at the state level. That's a staggeringly high number, and rather frightening for the institutional memory of both chambers. If you look at the new leadership team in the Assembly, you'll find freshmen legislators David Chiu, Evan Low (Both pictured to the right), Jim Cooper and Miguel Santiago all in prominent positions.
"When the voters approved term limits they voted to limit the amount of experience the Legislature had," said former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles. "Institutional memory is found outside of the building and the staff, which is not the best thing for democracy."
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In the past, new members looked to their veteran colleagues to ease an initiation process that Kathy Dresslar, who was chief of staff to former Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, likened to a "drink from the fire hose." As term limits force those more seasoned members from the Legislature, Dresslar said, newer members are increasingly taking their cues from staff or from lobbyists.
"The new legislators today are still learning from the former members, but the former members are more likely to be lobbyists here in town," Dresslar said. "So that perspective is passed down from the former members' clients." (SacBee)
Not to say that there aren't great staff in the Legislature, but they weren't elected to anything. And certainly the lobbyists that are crawling all over Sacramento were never elected. And for the next few years, staff and lobbyists will have an outsized role in governance.
But, all that being said, we have the opportunity for something of a "Pax Sacramento" where a Legislature will, for the most part, remain consistent for the better part of a decade. The new term limits allow for twelve year terms in either chamber, and those 72 members will be joined by another big class in 2016. After that, the changes will dwindle to a trickle for the better part of a decade. Now, that isn't to say that all will go swimmingly, but the merry go-round will certainly decrease. I tend to be a bit skeptical that stability alone can create real change.
But with strong Democratic majorities for the foreseeable future, one could hold out hope for a functional Legislature.
With almost every vote counted across the state, it appears about 42 percent of the state's 17.8 million registered voters cast ballots. That shatters the previous low of 50.5 percent set in 2002, when Gov. Gray Davis won re-election over Republican businessman Bill Simon.(SF Chronicle)
It was something of a perfect storm here in California. No major statewide contests and nothing national to draw voters in combined with some rather boring statewide measures. But still, yikes.
It is hard to argue that California has made it hard to vote, but we could still make the process smoother. Same-day registration comes to mind first, but there are certainly several other measures that could be considered.
I suppose I'm preaching to the choir here, but come on people, democracy is a use it or lose it proposition.
Will join a block of young Brown-appointed justices
by Brian Leubitz
Governor Brown is making judicial appointments for the long-term. After appointing now Justices Liu and Cuéllar, he has appointed Deputy Assistant Attorney General Leondra R. Kruger to replace Justice Joyce Kennard. Here's the quick bio:
Leondra R. Kruger, 38, of Washington, D.C., has served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel since 2013. She served as an Assistant to the Solicitor General and as Acting Principal Deputy Solicitor General in the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Solicitor General from 2007 to 2013. While serving in that office, she argued 12 cases on behalf of the federal government before the U.S. Supreme Court.
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Kruger was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School in 2007 and an associate at Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr LLP from 2004 to 2006. She served as a law clerk to the Honorable John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court from 2003 to 2004 and to the Honorable David S. Tatel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 2002 to 2003. Kruger was an associate at Jenner and Block LLP from 2001 to 2002.
Beyond the CV details, the press release highlights some very impressive credentials for somebody under 40. Praise from solicitor generals under both Bush-43 and Obama is nothing to scoff at.
But it is interesting that Brown, in his fourth term, is picking for the long-haul on the Supreme Court. Justices Liu and Cuéllar are 44 and 42 respectively, meaning that with an additional retirement in the next four years, there could be a Brown-selected majority on the California Supreme Court for 30 years. Think about that, 30 years is several lifetimes in politics. But Brown is in the process of laying his fingerprints all over one branch of California government for those lifetimes.
It would be hard to argue that any of these picks were anything less than completely qualified for the job, while bringing additional diversity to the Court that already had a minority-majority. Kudos to the Governor for the pick, and congratulations to the future Justice Kruger.