Judging Janus: What Happens to California’s Progressive Legislation?

California’s 1.4 million-member public-sector unions are the key force that has pushed the state toward increasingly progressive policies. The Supreme Court could seriously diminish that force.

Gabriel Thompson,

http://prospect.org/article/what-will-become-californias-progressivism-if-court-sides-janus

Capital and Main

American Prospect

 

 

 

http://prospect.org/article/what-will-become-californias-progressivism-if-court-sides-janus

Capital and Main

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Janus: Organizing 79 Million Milenials

by Judith Lewis Mernit

https://capitalandmain.com/judging-janus-organizing-79-million-millennials-1116

Milenials are interested in unions. From Capital and Main.

 

Historic Farmworker California Exhibit

 

HISTORIC STATE FAIR EXHIBIT RECOGNIZES FARMWORKERS
by David Bacon
Capital & Main, 7/25/17
https://davidbaconrealitycheck.blogspot.com/2017/07/historic-state-fair-exhibit-recognizes.html
https://capitalandmain.com/historic-state-fair-exhibit-recognizes-farmworkers-0725Cutting the ribbon at the farmworker exhibition (left to right): Assemblymember Blanca Rubio, United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez, State Sen. Ben Hueso, Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty and Freddie Rodriguez, Cesar Chavez Foundation President Paul F. Chavez, Assemblymember Anna Caballero, State Fair CEO Rick Pickering (partially obscured), Sacramento City Councilmember Eric Guera, State Sen. Ed Hernandez (partially obscured), State Treasurer John Chiang and Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna.For over 160 years the California State Fair/Cal Expo has been run by growers to showcase the wonders and wealth of the state’s agriculture. And for over 160 years the fair did this without mentioning the people whose labor makes agriculture possible: farmworkers.This year that changed. Rick Pickering, chief executive officer of the California Exposition & State Fair, and Tom Martinez, the fair’s chief deputy general manager, asked the United Farm Workers to help put together an exhibit to remedy this historical omission. As a result, for the first time the fair, which runs through July 30, has an exhibition that not only pays tribute to field laborers, but also acknowledges the long history of their struggle to organize unions.

Growers are not happy, and fair organizers got some pushback. But at the ceremony inaugurating the exhibition, State Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), the head of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, explained why they no longer have veto power. “We wouldn’t be here without the work of farmworkers,” he said. “The legislature now includes members who worked in the fields themselves, or have family who did, who know what it’s like to work in 100 degree heat, to suffer the hardest conditions and work the longest hours. We want our families to work in better conditions and earn more money.”

Some of the farmworkers who came as guests of the fair were veterans of that long struggle. Efren Fraide worked at one of the state’s largest vegetable growers, D’Arrigo Brothers Produce, when the original union election was held in 1975. However, it was only after the legislature passed the mandatory mediation law, forcing growers to sign contracts once workers voted for a union, that the first union agreement went into force at the company in 2007, covering 1,500 people.

D’Arrigo workers maintained their union committee through all the years between 1975 and 2007, organizing strikes and work stoppages to raise conditions and wages. “I’m very proud to see that we’re included here,” Fraide said, gesturing toward the photographs on the walls in the cavernous exhibition hall. “It shows who we are and what we went through. Si se puede!”

As the workers were introduced by UFW President Arturo Rodriguez, they stood up from their seats to applause. Rodriguez noted that some farmworkers, like those working at Monterey Mushrooms’ sheds near Morgan Hill and Watsonville, now make a living wage of between $38,000 and $42,000 in year-round jobs with benefits. “This exhibition recognizes that farm labor is important work, and that it can be a decent job if it includes labor and environmental standards. It can come with job security, and can be professional work,” he emphasized.

“What’s been lacking is an acknowledgment of the people who do the work,” charged Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna, son of the capital city’s late mayor, Joe Serna, and nephew of former UFW organizer Ruben Serna. “This exhibition documents their political activism. We wouldn’t be here if it were not for the farmworkers movement.”


In the Fields of the North / En los Campos del Norte
Photographs and text by David Bacon
University of California Press / Colegio de la Frontera Norte

302 photographs, 450pp, 9”x9”
paperback, $34.95

 

Trump, Right-Wing Populism, And the Future of Labor

Bill Fletcher jr.

How to Raise US Labor Unions from the Dead

How to raise US labor unions from the dead — tomorrow — practically and practicably:

In BALLOT INITIATIVE states, it typically takes only 5% of signatures of registered voters of the number who voted in the last governor’s election to put your initiative on the ballot. (OR, CA, MO, MI, OH, OK, CO, NE ND, SD, MT)

Check the numbers of who should line around the block to sign an initiative making union busting a felony:
— nationally, 45% bottom income share has dropped from 20% to 10% over two generations (while per capita income has doubled).

Does that mean the bottom 45% are back where they started in absolute terms: half of twice as much? Not across the board; incomes are on a slope. 20-25% are lower in absolute terms: which is why we have a $7.25/hr fed min wage — down from $11/hr (adjusted) in 1968.

Check the numbers who should line up around the block to sign for a higher state minimum wage:
— nationally, 45% of employees earn less than $15/hr.

We could conceivably get 5% of registered voters out there collecting signatures!

 

Some states like California put a winning initiative on the law books immediately. Most, allow the legislature one shot at approval. If it doesn’t approve the measure goes back to voters for final decision.

In California you write in plain language what you want your initiative to say and a state legal office will put it into proper words for a state law.

In California circulators (signature collectors) may be paid employees. This has led in recent years to initiatives becoming the play thing of billionaires — the opposite of the original intention.

If initiatives can quickly and easily take our world back, then, Fight for 15 and labor unions and others now have a new, all critical mission: register and sign up as many voters as possible.

Raising the issue of making union busting a felony to a high level of national consciousness should prompt legislatures in progressive states to finally wake up and face what they need to do — what we all need them to do. (WA, IL, MN, NY, MA, VT, CT, RI, PA, MD, VA, etc.)

http://elections.cdn.sos.ca.gov/ballot-measures/pdf/statewide-initiative-guide.pdf

Denis Drew
Chicago

ALEC and the Minimum Wage

ALEC and the Minimum Wage
By Seth Sandronsky

The American Legislative Exchange Council is against raising the
minimum hourly wage. We turn to Missouri’s statehouse. Lawmakers there
passed bills barring every past and future law to hike the minimum
wage recently.

“By enacting legislation today to prohibit all past and future local
minimum wage laws in Missouri, the Missouri state legislature dealt a
blow to democracy and workers in the state,” said Christine Owens,
executive director at the National Employment Law Project.
“Legislators have stripped Missouri communities of their long-standing
rights and taken away all hope for cities like St. Louis of addressing
low wages that deny people the opportunity to support themselves
through work.”

Missouri’s anti-minimum wage legislation mirrors a bill that Iowa
state lawmakers passed. In Iowa, that bill reverses local minimum wage
hikes that counties approved, while prohibiting cities and counties
from changing the standards for wages and benefits.

What is going on, and why? According to the NELP, state legislatures
are responding to popular sentiments to increase minimum wage rates.
Over 40 cities and counties have enacted increased minimum wages.
However, 24 states have approved laws to roll back these minimum wage
increases. Continue reading

$1.4 Trillion With Earned Income Tax Credit

Paul Krugman: ” … we can limit the human damage when they do happen. We can guarantee health care and adequate retirement income… We can provide aid to the newly unemployed. And we can act to keep the overall economy strong — which means doing things like investing in infrastructure and education, not cutting taxes on rich people and hoping the benefits trickle down.”

We can rebuild union density so half the workforce isn’t getting paid way less than they would be paid if we had, say, German union density.

If McDonald’s can pay $15 an hour with 33% labor costs, Target pay pay $20 with 10-15% labor costs, Walmart can pay $25 an hour with 7% labor costs. At least that’s the hope — and labor being able to flex its bargaining muscles in the (truly) free market is the only way we are going to find out.

Labor unions are the only way to end punishing just-in-time work scheduling. Continue reading