California has long been committed to ensuring that anyone employed on a public works construction project earns a living wage. That just means the wages paid to women and men who build the public structures we all use aren't driven into poverty. The wages are set by region based on cost of living and other factors to ensure that both workers and taxpayers are protected. It's this kind of stability and fairness that ensures these important projects are completed on time by skilled professionals who do the job right.
But, like with many laws, there are loopholes. Drivers of ready-mix cement trucks who are employed by manufacturers are not covered under the state's prevailing wage law, meaning those drivers don't receive the same fair wages that other drivers doing the exact same work receive.
We've all seen a line of cement trucks preparing to pour on a construction project. Imagine that the first and third drivers are receiving a fair wage as required by law, while the second and fourth are receiving a substandard wage that makes it extremely difficult to support a family. Because of a loophole in the labor code, this isn't just a theoretical scenario. It plays out daily on construction projects throughout the state. As a result, public dollars are used to suppress the pay of hard-working men and women without rationale.
But today, the state legislature took an important step to rectifying this inequity by voting to close the loophole with AB 219 (Daly) so that all cement truck drivers working on public projects earn the same fair wage. Earlier this week, dozens of workers from the State Building and Construction Trades unions and the Teamsterslined the halls of the Capitol to urge legislators to close this loophole and support good jobs. Their message was simple: all workers on a construction site deserve fair treatment on the job and a decent wage to support their families.
While passing this bill may seem like a no-brainer to most, it's no shock that corporate lobbyists were coming out of the woodwork to oppose. Some big corporations like the loophole because it allows them to underbid responsible contractors who do the right thing by paying their employees a decent wage and offering healthcare and retirement benefits.
While there will always be corporations who try to get around the spirit of the law to cheat workers and pad their own bottom lines, taxpayers shouldn't subsidize this inherently unfair practice. When workers are mistreated, it endangers the entire project. It's in all of our best interest to ensure that workers doing the exact same work earn the same pay.
Governor Brown now has the opportunity to close the labor code loophole that treats workers differently solely based on who their employer is. By signing AB 219, the Governor would ensure that public works projects are completed by skilled professionals who earn a decent wage for a hard day's work.
Unless you've been living under a rock lately, you know that San Francisco is facing an affordable housing crisis. This crisis is not new. It's been around for at least 40 years, and the city has faced a housing shortage for at least 70 years.
The question that many are asking is not only "how do we fix this?" but, in order to jockey for position in how to answer it, they're also asking "whose fault is this crisis?" Too often, the SF housing crisis is used to attack progressives from the right, in the service of free market solutions - even though, as the historical evidence makes clear, this crisis was not their fault.
Progressives have spent the last two decades fighting to make SF more progressive. Had they been listened to, perhaps SF might still be affordable today.
While SB277 may have drawn a lot of attention and vocal minorities to the Capitol (and anywhere else legislators congregated). But after the recent passage of the legislation, Governor Brown wasted no time in signing the bill yesterday.
SB 277 requires all children entering day care, kindergarten or 7th grade to be vaccinated, although the legislature included a specific exemption if a child's physician concludes that immunization is not recommended for reasons including family medical history. ...
Sen. Pan, speaking on KPCC's AirTalk on Tuesday, said he was pleased that Brown had "listened to the science, listened to the facts about vaccination." Brown, he said, has "taken a very important step in assuring we stop the erosion of community immunity in California and that we prevent diseases that should stay in the history books."(KPCC)
Decision makes marriage equality the law of the land across the nation.
by Brian Leubitz
You can find many words on the marriage decision plastered all over the interwebs. But I wanted to point out the closing of Justice Kennedy's decision in the 5-4 Obergefell decision.
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.
As many have stated, marriage equality isn't the end of the fight for LGBT rights or civil rights more broadly, there isn't such thing as the end of that fight. We've seen too much over the past weeks and months to think that is the case. Even within the LGBT community, there are a litany of lines that are arbitrarily drawn, yet the results are all too real.
Yet, for one day, love wins. And that makes this a good day. And for my fellow San Franciscans, what a happy #SFPride this will be.
Legislature passed bill yesterday with $750mil over Gov.'s budget
by Brian Leubitz
Yesterday, the Legislature passed a budget as was required by the Constitution (and 2010's Prop 25) to keep their paychecks coming.
Senate Budget Chair Mark Leno acknowledged there's no deal yet with Gov. Brown but says he'd challenge anyone who calls this spending plan a "sham."
"This budget, fiscally responsible, pays down more debt - faster; puts more money in our rainy day fund; puts more money into public education; and begins - if minimally - to reinvest in the needs of the people of the state of California," Leno said on the Senate floor Monday. (Capitol Public Radio)
That was all well and good, but both the Senate and Assembly leaders acknowledged that the budget they passed wouldn't actually become law. The Governor wanted to slice a few million off of their budget, and wasn't going to sign the measure they passed.
But they may have now reached a deal:
The Democratic governor is expected to hold a news conference at the Capitol on Tuesday afternoon. ...
The deal is expected to include additional money for child care and preschool programs, but likely not as much as legislative Democrats originally sought, a source said.(David Siders / SacBee)
Details are still emerging, but it appears that the Legislative Democrats got at least some portion of what they wanted in their own budget. How much still remains to be seen.
The Senate and Assembly adjourned Thursday, one day ahead of the June 5th deadline to pass all bills out of the first legislative chamber. The good news is that most key bills of interest to health care consumers have passed out of the house of origin, while one bill, opposed by public health groups, was defeated. Bills moving forward deal with limits and protections against unfair out-of-pocket costs; efforts at improving Medi-Cal; and most notably a significant expansion of access to coverage for all regardless of immigration status.
Below the fold, full reports on:
* SB 4 To Take Historic Steps to #Health4All & Cover the Remaining Uninsured
* Patient Protection Bills To Limit Out-of-Pocket Costs
* Additional legislation on transparency, Medi-Cal, tobacco control, and more
When you spend $6.5 billion on something, you expect it to last a few years, even if it is one of the world's widest bridges. (That $6B+ price tag also set a Guinness record!)
Caltrans officials downplayed the failure, stressing that 99 percent of the 407 rods that underwent testing passed, and said that the cause will need to be determined by further tests in a materials lab. But the failure of a second rod leaves the possibility that more rods could eventually fail.
"Hydrogen embrittlement and corrosion occurs over time," said Steve Heminger, executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and one of three people on a committee overseeing the east span construction. "They could last 20 years or 50 years, but with this bridge, we want 150 years." ...
"This bridge is safe, and it's going to perform well in a major seismic event," he said. "The engineers are saying it's terrific."
Some independent experts are not convinced, however.
"That would suggest it did not strip, but that it fractured," said Bernard Cuzzillo, a Berkeley mechanical engineer. "Because a fracture results in a sudden release of elastic energy, which causes a pop or a bang sound. Stripping is a slower failure and typically does not result in an audible sound." (SF Gate)
Tollpayers will now be paying for a few million dollars worth of additional testing to give us all confidence, but doubt abounds. The rods are intended to grant additional stability during a seismic event, so perhaps it is natural that even one failure brings about a little nervousness in drivers using the bridge.
But the one certainty we have with the new eastern span is that this won't be the last we hear about corrosion and botched grouting.
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.