Selected Articles, December, 2013
Labor Council’s Election Work Gets Results
The efforts of San Mateo County Central Labor Council union members to get out the vote paid off with positive results in many races November 5. Over 200 volunteers made phone calls, walked precincts, and talked to fellow union members to urge votes for labor-endorsed candidates and measures. Read More
Union Members Meet with State Senator Jerry Hill
State Senator Jerry Hill met with representatives of several unions November 20 at the Plumbers Local 467 union hall in Burlingame. Sen. Hill talked about his work on Enterprize Zone reform and his support for labor-backed legislation. Union members discussed concerns about the use of non-union workers by contractors on trade shows at the San Mateo County Events Center, ensuring that building trades union members are employed on construction projects in San Mateo County, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the attacks on public sector workers’ pensions, and education funding.
State Senator Jerry Hill met with representatives of several unions November 20 at the Plumbers Local 467 union hall in Burlingame.
Workers’ Combined Pennies Fight Billionaires’ Efforts to Silence Workers
Through all my years as an Ironworker, I made regular contributions to our political action committee. My contribution was at first three, and then five cents per hour. I contributed those pennies every hour of every day that I worked to support our cause. So did my brothers and sisters in our trade, and all the workers in all the Building Trades affiliates. Working in unity, all of us combined our pennies together for a common purpose, into enough dollars to fight effectively for a decent quality of life for workers. That is who we are. That is how we do things. Read More
Selected Articles, October-November, 2013
Stationary Engineers Local 39 On Strike at Sequoia Hospital
Members of the Stationary Engineers Local 39 rallied at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City October 17 to call on Dignity Health to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair and equitable agreement. Local 39 members went on strike October 1 at Dignity Health’s four hospitals—Sequoia Hospital, St. Mary’s Medical Center, St. Francis Hospital, and Dominican Hospital—after rejecting the company’s last, best, and final offer. Read More
BART Unions End Unfair Labor Practice Strike
After more than five months of contentious negotiations, BART’s largest unions reached a tentative agreement with the transit agency October 21 and announced the end to a four-day unfair labor practice strike. SEIU 1021 and ATU 1555 issued statements after the tentative agreement was reached. Read More
SJ Mayor Teams Up With Enron Billionaire to Gut Californians’ Retirement
It’s official. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, a career politician with backing from a Texas billionaire and former Enron trader, has filed a ballot measure to strip away retirement security from current teachers, firefighters, sanitation workers and other public servants. Read More
Unions Seek Community Benefits in South City Plan
Dozens of union members from the Building Trades and public sector unions participated in a public workshop on South San Francisco’s Downtown Station Area Plan (Downtown SAP) September 17. The community meeting featured presentations from city leadership, staff and the Citizens Advisory Group on the city’s plans to develop the downtown area, and interactive workshops on the specifics of the plan. About one quarter of the participants were union members, most either residents of South SF or city employees. Read More
AFL-CIO Calls for Broad, Inclusive Labor Movement & Assisting All Workers to Organize
In a culmination of months of listening sessions and reflection, the AFL-CIO announced September 9 that any U.S. worker can join the labor movement and that the labor federation will develop several new pathways for workers to join the labor movement, either through affiliate unions, AFL-CIO’s community affiliate Working America, worker centers or as students. In addition to opening the labor movement to all and the commitment to building enduring community labor partnerships, the AFL-CIO passed two other important resolutions in the Monday morning session at its quadrennial convention in Los Angeles. Read More
Legislature Passes Historic Minimum Wage Increase
California made history last month. With the support of California’s unions, the Legislature voted to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10 an hour, the highest minimum wage in the country. The wage will be implemented in two steps: an increase to $9 per hour in July of next year, followed by another one-dollar increase to $10 in January of 2016. Read More
CA Legislative Session Delivers Big Gains for Workers
Big things are happening in California. The end of the California legislative session brought huge gains to workers and their families that boost our state’s economy and bolster the middle class. Read More
Selected Articles, September, 2013
Hundreds of building trades union members rallied at the jobsite of the new housing development in Redwood City being built by BRE. The developer has gained notoriety for using non-union contractors and construction crews and paying well below the area standard wages to build hundreds of units in Redwood City and around the Bay Area. Read More
The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) announced August 8 that it is affiliating with the AFL-CIO. UFCW President Joe Hansen said, “We join the AFL-CIO because it is the right thing to do for UFCW members, giving them more power and influence. It is about fostering more opportunities for workers to have a true voice on the job. It is about joining forces to build a more united labor movement that can fight back against the corporate and political onslaught facing our members each and every day.” Read More
Candidates for local office heard from union members at a candidate orientation meeting organized by the San Mateo County Central Labor Council and Building and Construction Trades Council August 15 at the IBEW Local 617 union hall in San Mateo. Over 40 candidates for City Councils, School Boards and Special Districts attended. Read More
by Paul Burton
In the Labor paper’s office, a framed copy of the August 5, 1938 edition our predecessor, Volume I, Number I of the San Mateo County Union Gazette, proclaims in its first headline, “UNION SCALE BECOMES PREVAILING WAGE RATE.” This and other front-page stories from 1938 still resonate 75 years on. And the newspaper’s motto of that time. “That community thrives best when Labor prospers most,” certainly still has relevance today. Read More
by John Logan,
San Francisco State University
The sixty-day cooling off period in the BART dispute has resulted in a temporary break in contract negotiations—we don’t yet know at this writing when the parties will meet again—but it is less likely to end BART management’s relentless P.R. campaign against its own employees. If one believes BART management’s media campaign, the problem at the heart of the contract dispute is straightforward: its employees are overpaid, greedy, strike happy, inflexible, uneducated, and unworthy of middle-class wages and benefits. Read More
The Labor paper is celebrating 75 years as the voice of labor in San Mateo County; at its founding the country was eight years into the Great Depression. California was crowded with hungry, unemployed workers; economic and environmental refugees from the dust bowl states hoping to find relief from the stock market crash. The Great Depression of the 1930’s inflicted a great deal of pain and suffering on working people but it also provided a foundation we have built on locally. Read More
LABOR NEWS BRIEFS
Senate Confirms NLRB Nominees; Board at Full Strength
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is now fully staffed and able to continue to function to protect workers’ rights after the U.S. Senate confirmed five members July 31. The votes end a months-long blockade on President Obama’s nominees by Senate Republicans who threatened to shut the board down Aug. 27.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the confirmations are, “good news for all workers seeking to exercise the rights they are guaranteed by law. Those essential rights include the ability to bargain together for fair wages and living standards and a workplace safe from abuse, harassment and intimidation.”
The five members are current NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce; Nancy Schiffer, a former AFL-CIO associate general counsel; and NLRB attorney Kent Hirozawa, currently the chief counsel to Pearce; and attorneys Philip Miscimarra and Harry Johnson, who represent management in labor-management relations.
Earlier in July, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was set to change Senate rules that would have eliminated filibusters against certain executive branch nominees, Republicans ended their obstruction tactics on the NLRB nominees, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez and several others.
Trumka said the obstructionism by extremist Republicans “delayed the confirmation of a full Board and caused unnecessary anxiety and pain for working families.” Trumka said that with the vote to confirm the NLRB nominees, “our country has qualified public servants on duty to defend America’s workers, businesses and families. We congratulate all of the nominees and look forward to having a functioning NLRB that will fairly and impartially oversee the workplace rights of millions of Americans.”
- Mike Hall, www.aflcio.org/Blog
Selected Articles, July 2013
Former Obama Administration Labor Secretary Hilda Solis was introduced as the COPE Banquet keynote speaker by Labor Council president Lamoin Werlein-Jaen as “the peoples’ Secretary of Labor.” He said she had been a champion for labor and in particular had advocated strongly for the Hyatt Hotel workers. “She is living proof that good people can do good things in public office,” Werlein-Jaen said. Read More
The Transportation Security Administration on June 5 dropped a new policy change that would have allowed knives on planes for the first time since the 9/11 hijackings.Read More
Selected Articles, Mar.-June 2013
The all-union construction crew at the new 888 San Mateo Apartments project in San Mateo was recognized at a worker appreciation event May 16, hosted by the AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust (BIT), in partnership with the San Mateo County Building Trades and Sares Regis Group of Northern California. The $69.9 million development that broke ground in June 2012 is funded by the BIT, which invests union pension funds in building projects around the country. Read More
Understanding the impacts of the federal Affordable Care Act on union health care plans was the subject of a training session on May 18 conducted by California Labor Federation Public Policy Coordinator Sara Flocks. “Obamacare”—the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)—goes into full force and effect on January 1, 2014. Read More
The San Mateo County Central Labor Council passed a resolution May 13 supporting efforts of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) to prevent the re-introduction of knives on planes and pass HR 1093, the “No Knives Act of 2013.” The AFA resolution states that the Flight Attendants at 20 airlines strongly believe that potentially dangerous items like knives and club style sporting equipment should never be allowed in the cabin of an aircraft. Read More
State Senator Leland Yee made a surprise visit to the Labor Council delegates meeting May 13, where he announced that he had named Shelley Kessler as 2013 Woman of the Year for the 8th Senatorial District. Read More
Hundreds of workers descended on the Capitol April 16 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. Read More
A delegation of union members from the San Mateo County Central Labor Council met with local staff of Congressmembers Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo last month to share concerns about the proposed immigration reform legislation. Read More
Over the past couple of months, lead stories on every media outlet across this nation have covered the “gloom and doom” angle of six-day postal delivery. But on Sunday, March 24, thousands of Letter Carriers, union members and allies came out to set the story straight on the real crisis that is facing the United States Postal Service. In San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno and San Francisco, rally participants let the communities they serve know that if the overzealous plan by Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to eliminate Saturday mail delivery is allowed to happen, it would be one of the biggest mistakes our government would ever make.Read More
State Senator Jerry Hill unveiled his new legislation to fix the enterprise zone system at a press conference outside the old VWR facility in Brisbane March 26. The location held significant meaning for the laid-off workers in attendance, many of whom worked at that facility for several decades. Read More
The 68 employees of VWR in Visalia voted affirmatively February 14 to join Teamsters Local 948 in an election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board. The election punctuates a very high profile and controversial move by the company from the Bay Area to Visalia and continues the Teamsters struggle with the company. Read More
Selected Articles, Feb. 2013
The South San Francisco City Council voted January 23 to extend a moratorium on new permits for large format retail stores for another 16 months. The City Council voted December 12 to impose a 45-day moratorium—slowing a potential move by Walmart to bring one of its supercenter big box stores to South City. Read More
The New Priorities Network recently launched the Jobs Not Wars campaign. The effort includes an online petition calling on the President and Congress to end the Afghanistan war, bring the money home, and invest in good jobs, hurricane Sandy reconstruction, social programs, and diplomacy. Read More
Other Labor News:
California Labor Embraces Governor’s Bold Vision for Future
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis: A Champion for All Workers
“Gonna Take Us All”
Remembering Jon Fromer, May 11, 1946-Jan. 2, 2013
Selected Articles, Dec. 2012 - Jan. 2013
The South San Francisco City Council voted December 12 to impose a 45-day moratorium on new permits for large format retail stores—slowing a potential move by Walmart to bring one of its supercenter big box stores to South City. Read More
Walmart workers were joined by union members and elected officials at a rally at Walmart’s San Leandro store on Black Friday—the biggest shopping day for U.S. retailers. Read More
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1574 held a day of action to promote public transportation and to urge people to “vote transit” in the November 6 election by supporting candidates and ballot measures that enhance transit. ATU 1574 represents more than 700 SamTrans bus drivers, mechanics, customer service representatives and Paratransit operators on the Peninsula, who serve thousands of the county's transit riders, including the elderly, disabled and youth. Read More
Members of the Pacific Media Workers Guild at the San Francisco Chronicle picketed the newspaper October 25 to call on the Hearst Corporation to bargain in good faith. The union, which represents reporters, editors, librarians, graphic artists, office workers, salespeople, and other SF Chronicle employees pointed out that “while our union’s negotiating team has presented proposals to Hearst Corp. in several meetings about our healthcare plan, Hearst Corporation negotiators have cancelled bargaining sessions FIVE times.” Read More
Selected Articles, Oct.-Nov. 2012
The Amalgamated Transit Union recently kicked off a campaign to urge voters to support ballot measures to fund public transit and candidates who support increasing access to mass transit. The union is part of the Votetransit coalition of transportation advocates and riders who have launched a national movement to promote public transit in the United States. Read More
Registered nurses at Sutter Mills-Peninsula have voted to accept a new collective bargaining agreement, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United announced October 4.
Key to the two-year agreement was the decision by local hospital officials to withdraw more than three dozen substantial reductions in patient care protections and nurses’ economic and contract standards, as well as agree to improvements in safe staffing, the RNs said. CNA represents some 750 RNs in the health system, which has facilities in Burlingame and San Mateo. Read More
Candidates for local office heard from union members at a candidate orientation meeting organized by the San Mateo County Central Labor Council and Building and Construction Trades Council August 29 at the IBEW Local 617 union hall in San Mateo. About 40 candidates for City Councils, School Boards and Special Districts attended. Read More
You may remember VWR International as the now-infamous chemical supply company in Brisbane that was bought by private-equity firm Madison-Dearborn, which promptly cut a sweetheart deal to move the company to Visalia. The deal meant the company would recieve numerous public subsidies and tax breaks, including hefty Enterprise Zone hiring credits, which put state taxpayers on the hook to pay for. Read More
Selected Articles, Aug. - Sept. 2012
Registered nurses at seven San Mateo and Alameda county hospitals operated by the Sutter corporation held a one-day strike July 3, once again protesting a long list of concession demands that they say would undermine patient care protections as well as health and living standards for the RNs. Read More
On July 24, I joined hundreds of California labor activists, along with U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Communications Workers of America (CWA) President Larry Cohen, in San Francisco’s Union Square, where we rallied, chanted and danced to get our simple message across: Bring Our Jobs Home. Read More
Selected Articles, June - July 2012
Elected officials and county transportation leaders spoke up in support of modernizing Caltrain at a press conference at Caltrain’s Sequoia Station in Redwood City June 12. The event coincided with the release of a new study by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute that found that electrifying the Caltrain system at a cost of $1.5 billion would generate as much as $2.5 billion in benefits to the region while creating thousands of new jobs. Read More
United Airlines’ Machinist union (IAMAW) members and retirees picketed an appearance by United CEO Jeffery Smisek in Burlingame May 9 to protest the company stalling contract negotiations for almost three years and to call attention to the airline’s cuts to retiree benefits. Read More
Registered nurses went on strike May 1 at eight hospitals that are part of the wealthy Sutter corporate chain to protest Wall Street-type demands for reductions in nurses’ standards and workplace conditions. The members of California Nurses Association had offered to call off the strike if Sutter agreed to withdraw the concession demands. In addition to the concession demands, the strikers protested Sutter’s reductions in patient care services throughout the region. Read More
Members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 were joined by elected officials and other labor union allies for a day of action May 17. Read More
Selected Articles, May 2012
Over 1,000 people marched to the Wells Fargo shareholders meeting in San Francisco April 24 to protest the bank’s business practices. Activists from housing rights organizations, labor union members, and faith leaders converged on the Merchant’s Exchange Building after a rally at Justin Herman Plaza near the site of the former Occupy San Francisco encampment. Read More
A delegation of union members met with Congresswoman Anna Eshoo last month to discuss a range of issues and concerns. Read More
Selected Articles, April 2012
Union members and other activists protested at a fundraiser Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney at the Sofitel Hotel in Redwood City March 26. The former Massachusetts Governor has openly attacked unions and the working class in his campaign speeches and proposed policies that would harm working families. Read More
After months of consistent pressure from Occupy Redwood City, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Occupy San Jose, and concerned community members, JPMorgan Chase has offered a trial loan modification for Redwood City homeowner Gloria Takla. Read More
Selected Articles, March 2012
Over the objections of the San Mateo County Building Trades Council and affordable housing advocates, the City Council upheld the Redwood City Planning Commission’s approval of a new residential development by Urban Housing Group. The 2.5 acre site at 2580 El Camino Real formerly occupied by Mel’s Bowl will become a 141 unit, four-story condominium complex. Read More
Members of Stationary Engineers Local 39 picketed Seton Medical Center last month after being locked out by hospital management February 15. Read More...
The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors voted February 14 to not renew a five-year lease to run the Burlingame Long-Term Care center. Many residents, family members, health care workers, and union leaders spoke at the Board meeting to urge the Supervisors to keep the facility open in its current location. More than 55 supporters of keeping the facility open spoke at the meeting. Read More..
Selected Articles, January - February 2012
The Redwood City Planning Commission voted December 13 to approve the final environmental impact report for a new residential development by Urban Housing Group. The 2.5 acre site at 2580 El Camino Real formerly occupied by Mel’s Bowl will become a 141 unit, four-story condominium complex. The San Mateo County Building Trades Council filed an appeal of the decision. Read More ...
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is urging the Justice Department to lead a comprehensive investigation with state Attorneys General to prevent banks from engaging in future unlawful and deceptive practices that could exploit homeowners and put the economy further at risk. Read More ...
The Occupy Oakland Day of Action drew ver 20,000 people who participated in what is reported to have been the biggest protest in the East Bay since the Vietnam War. Read More ...
Thousands of postal workers and their supporters held rallies in 492 locations across the country September 27 to protect the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and save 120,000 jobs. Read More ..
Selected Articles, October 2011
Dozens of Registered Nurses staffed a soup kitchen at the San Francisco federal building September 1 to call attention to the need for new priorities that help Main Street, not Wall Street. The nurses’ union said it would call on legislators, Republicans and Democrats alike, to sign a pledge to support a Wall Street transaction tax that will raise sufficient revenue to make Wall Street pay for the devastation it has caused on Main Street, and help create jobs. Read More ...
San Mateo County union members leafletted at San Mateo and Burlingame stores September 9 in a show of support for the striking workers. They passed out leaflets and urged consumers to not shop at the stores until the Verizon workers are treated fairly. Read More ...
The San Mateo County Central Labor Council hosted a breakfast meeting with Congressmember Jackie Speier in San Mateo September 1. Several union members were able to ask the Congresswoman about labor issues and hear her thoughts about President Obama, defense spending, job creation efforts, and her efforts to ensure pipeline safety. Read More ...
Selected Articles, September 2011
Seniors, students, union members and disabled people rallied in San Francisco August 17 in front of the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Activists presented the senator’s staff over 1,000 personal stories about how Social Security helps her constituents survive in tough economic times. Read More ...
Members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) at Verizon Communications returned to work on August 23 after the unions reached an agreement with the company on renewing contract negotiations. The union members went on strike August 6 after the company refused to budge from the same list of unreasonable concessionary proposals it put on the table when contract talks opened in June. Read More ...
Assemblymember Jerry Hill Sought to Close Corporate Tax Loophole You’d think the priority of the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy would be creating and protecting jobs. You’d never know it after a committee vote August 23 on AB 1278. By voting against AB 1278, Committee Chair V. Manuel Perez (D-Imperial Valley) stalled important legislation that would have prevented companies from laying off workers to claim big tax breaks as part of the flawed Enterprise Zone program. The bill, authored by Assemblymember Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), sought to protect jobs in today’s harsh economic environment while helping end the practice of rewarding companies that lay off workers with taxpayer subsidies. The bill failed to get out of the committee on a 3-3 vote. Perez joined the two Republicans on the committee in voting against the bill. Read More ...
Candidates for local office heard from union members at a candidate orientation meeting organized by the San Mateo County Central Labor Council and Building and Construction Trades Council August 22 at the IBEW Local 617 union hall in San Mateo. About 40 candidates for City Councils, School Boards and Special Districts attended. Read More ...
The Saltworks Project in Redwood City has received a lot of attention in recent months, both from media outlets and from various unions. The San Mateo County Central Labor Council, within whose jurisdiction the project lies, has only taken the position to support the Environmental Impact Review (EIR) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process. After a great deal of discussion in council meetings, we feel it is important to have an analysis that actually examines the plan and reveals additional issues that will need to be addressed if the project is to move forward. Once completed, we can review the results to determine what, if any, the position of our council should be. Read More ...
Hotel Workers Protest Hyatt
Over a 1,000 hotel workers and community allies protested Hyatt’s unfair treatment of workers at the Grand Hyatt in San Francisco’s Union Square July 21. A group of 80 hotel workers and supporters were arrested after engaging in non-violent civil disobedience—blocking the street in front of the hotel
As part of a nationwide action, thousands of hotel workers protested at Hyatt hotels in nine cities. The union said that Hyatt is abusing housekeepers by cutting jobs, replacing experienced employees with minimum wage temporary workers and imposing dangerous workloads on the remaining housekeepers.
The actions followed months of strikes, public demonstrations and boycotts, which show no signs of slowing down. The Hyatt workers have been supported by community allies, faith groups and members of other unions. Several members of San Mateo County unions participated in the march and rally at the Hyatt.
According to the Hotel Workers union, housekeepers at some Hyatts clean as many as 30 rooms a day, nearly double what is typically required at union hotels. This leaves room attendants as little as 15 minutes to clean a room, resulting in fewer jobs and dangerous working conditions for housekeepers.
In a statement, the union noted that, “Hotel workers are the invisible backbone of the hotel industry. The grittier aspects of our jobs—scrubbing toilets, changing sheets, cleaning dishes—are the hidden foundation on which the atmosphere of luxury and comfort are built.”
Demonstrations took place in San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, San Antonio, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Honolulu. The San Francisco demonstration was organized by UNITE HERE Local 2.
The union has called on the public to boycott the Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf, and Hyatt Regency Embarcadero.
For more information and updates, check www.onedaylongersf.org/.
Selected Articles, July 2011
For more than 50 years, members of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 6 have worked at a liquor bottling plant in Menlo Park that packages some of America’s best-known drinks. They include Johnny Walker, Hennessy, Jose Cuervo, Smirnoff, and Captain Morgan—plus Guinness and Red Stripe beer and wine labels Rosenblum Cellars, Blossom Hill, Sterling Vineyards, Chateau and Estates, & Moet Chandon. Diageo is the British-based corporation behind all these and other brands. Read More ...
Representatives of Teamsters Local 856 spoke out against plans by the Town of Atherton to privatize the Building Department and the Public Works Department at the Atherton City Council meeting June 15. Town workers, former Mayor Malcolm Dudley, and members of the public also called on the Council to reconsider the move. Read More ...
A broad coalition of Bay Area and state-wide single payer advocates rallied in favor of “Medicare-for-all” and in opposition to the health insurance industry in San Francisco June 16. Over 200 single payer supporters protested at the American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) Conference to call for removing private insurance companies from the nation’s health care system. Read More ...
Selected Articles, June 2011
The San Carlos City Council voted unanimously April 25 to merge its Fire Department with Redwood City, rejecting a bid to privatize the department and outsource fire services to the private security firm Wackenhut Services Inc. Read More ...
Teamsters Local 856 union members presented testimony at a hearing in Brisbane May 9 on the impacts of the planned move by the medical supply firm VWR from Brisbane to Visalia. The hearing—billed as “A Federal-State Inquiry Into Job Losses and Misdirected Tax Policy”—enabled workers at the Brisbane distribution center to make the case to state and federal officials that the state’s Enterprise Zone program subsidizes a race to the bottom. Read More ...
Thousands of teachers, students, school employees, public sector workers and others joined together for the “State of Emergency”—a week of action aimed at preventing the devastating budget cuts that have decimated public schools and vital public services. Read More ...
Air Line Pilots Association members from United and Continental Airlines marked the one-year anniversary of the announced merger between the two airlines May 3 with rallies at several airports around the US. Read More ...
Selected Articles, May 2011
Local unions and community organizations join workers across the country for April 4 “We Are One” solidarity rally
A spirit of solidarity sparked by the resistance to attacks on public sector workers in Wisconsin, Indiana, Florida, Ohio, and California was on display April 4 in Redwood City. San Mateo workers and community members packed into Courthouse Square, demonstrating local support for the national movement rising up across the country to fight in defense of collective bargaining rights as a tool for social justice. Read more ...
The Millbrae City Council delayed approval of Safeway’s plan to expand their Millbrae store April 12. Four council members expressed concerns about the increased number of vehicles and asked for further study of traffic impacts. Read more ...
The San Mateo County and San Francisco Labor Councils hosted a series of meetings with Bay Area legislators March 22 along with the San Francisco and San Mateo County Building Trades Councils. State Senators Mark Leno, Joe Simitian, and Leland Yee and Assembly members Tom Ammiano, Rich Gordon, Jerry Hill, and Fiona Ma were asked to support the labor-backed bills. Read more ...
The Campaign for New Priorities brings together organizations and individuals from diverse constituencies, communities and movements to demand of our public officials a change of direction for the U.S. — one that prioritizes putting people back to work, restoring and fully funding essential public services, rebuilding and repairing infrastructure, funding the development of new alternative energy technologies, cleaning up and protecting the environment, developing a sustainable peace economy, reducing poverty and inequality, and generally meeting important social and other human needs. Read more ...
Report on Living Wage Policies & Big-Box Retail
A new report: “Living Wage Policies and Big-Box Retail: How a Higher Wage Standard Would Impact Walmart Workers and Shoppers,” is available from the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education
The study uses the most recent data available to update the 2007 report on the impact to workers and shoppers if Wal-mart increased its minimum wage. It finds that a $12 per hour minimum wage would provide substantial benefits to Wal-mart workers in low-income families, while the costs would be dispersed in small amounts among many consumers across the income spectrum.
Download the report from http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/.
Selected Articles, April 2011
The Labor Council’s Airport Labor Coalition met with Congresswoman Jackie Speier in February to discuss issues of concern to airline unions. Read more ...
The South San Francisco Unified School District Board voted unanimously March 10 to enter into a Project Stabilization Agreement with the San Mateo County Building Trades Council for work done under the Meaure J bond passed by voters last November. Read more ...
Hotel Workers, Hilton Reach Settlement in San Francisco
UNITE HERE Local 2 and Hilton San Francisco Union Square announced a tentative agreement March 7 to end an 18-month labor dispute in San Francisco. The settlement comes as similar agreements were reached in Chicago and Honolulu with Hilton Worldwide, and signals a major breakthrough in citywide hotel negotiations.
“Hilton has shown itself to be a real leader in San Francisco’s biggest industry,” said Mike Casey, President of UNITE HERE Local 2. “With this agreement, workers and the company alike can look forward with confidence as the hospitality sector continues to emerge from the recent recession.”
The contract settlement—which is subject to a ratification vote March 11—was reached during negotiations March 3 and finalized over the weekend. The four-year agreement goes back to August 2009 (when the last contract expired) to August 2013.
While terms of the settlements vary in each city, the contracts include wage increases, improved job stability language and reduced workloads for housekeeping staff and others. Significantly, the new contracts also preserve low-cost, high-quality health care and pension benefits for Hilton workers and their families at a time when, nationwide, these employee benefits are being cut. The three tentative agreements cover nearly 4,000 workers.
With this settlement, UNITE HERE has called an end to the boycott of the Hilton San Francisco Union Square and is encouraging customers to book events at this property.
The union continues to seek contract settlements with other employers in the hospitality industry, and maintains a boycott at several Hyatt and Starwood hotels.
“This is a big step forward for us,” said Guadalupe Chavez, a room cleaner at the San Francisco Hilton and executive board member of Local 2. “I’m so glad the contract is settled with Hilton, but we’re going to keep on fighting for our brothers and sisters at other hotels.”
UNITE HERE President John Wilhelm said in a statement: “We are pleased to have achieved a fair settlement for all sides—one that allows workers to move forward and share in the robust recovery that the hotel industry is experiencing.”
Nationwide, the hotel industry is already rebounding faster and stronger than expected. PKF Hospitality projects that hotel revenues will rise an average of 8 percent annually from 2010 through 2014.
For a list of hotels to patronize or to boycott, check the union’s website: www.unitehere2.org
Selected Articles, March 2011
Health care activists, led by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU) rallied outside Blue Shield’s San Francisco corporate headquarters Feb. 1 to protest the health insurance giant’s premium hikes of as much as 59 percent for California consumers. Read more ...
Assemblymember Jerry Hill of San Mateo County introduced legislation Feb. 11 in response to San Francisco’s “local hire” ordinance. Joined by several local elected officials and labor union members at a press conference just south of the San Francisco International Airport, Hill said his bill (AB 356) would prohibit the use of state funds on local hire projects in counties within 70 miles of San Francisco. Read more ...
A recent article in the Economist magazine titled “Tough Times for Everyone – Except Public Sector Workers” states that taxpayers are now learning about “the banquet public sector workers have been having at the expense of everyone else” and that many public employees can “retire in their mid-50s on close to full pay.” Read more ..
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Call 2-1-1 to get the services you need
With the launch of 211 San Mateo County, the 211 Bay Area network now serves 12 counties, connecting people in need with health and human services.
“This easy-to-remember, round-the-clock service will help San Mateo residents quickly navigate the maze of government and nonprofit agencies that serve their county,” said Anne Wilson, CEO of United Way of the Bay Area, which operates 211 in San Mateo and four other counties. She noted that without 211, people often call several agencies before getting through to the correct service, while many give up before finding the help they need.
Callers to the 211 service can quickly and easily reach a trained, caring specialist who will match their needs with local community services and help individuals find food, housing, health care, senior services, child care, legal aid and much more.
At the event celebrating the launch of the service on Feb. 11, County Sheriff Greg Munks said that the service was also important for public safety and a tool that can be used in case of a disaster. He said that when 911 phone lines were overwhelmed with calls during the San Bruno fire last summer, the 211 service was used to get information out to San Bruno residents. “It is a tremendous tool in the event of a disaster, and in our day to day work police can use it to give out information and referrals to connect people to important services,” he said. “It frees us up to do other work.”
SMCLC Executive Secretary-Treasurer Shelley Kessler, a United Way board member, said that for people in a crisis, having one phone number to call was important and the follow-up done by call center staffers was of great help. Learn more at www.211BayArea.org/san-mateo.
Menlo Park Firefighters Local 2400 participated in the launch of the 211 service in San Mateo County, donating the use of an antique fire truck that was driven along El Camino Real February 11 displaying the 2-1-1 banner. Pictured here at the celebration to publicly launch 211 San Mateo County are SMCLC Executive Secretary-Treasurer Shelley Kessler, firefighter Tom Neylan, SMCLC Community Services Director Rayna Lehman, firefighter Jeff Barile, and on the truck, firefighters Lance Lutticken and John Wurdinger.
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Selected Articles, February 2011
United Airlines Flight Attendants represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA Council 11) held a rally at San Francisco International Airport January 7 to protest the failure of United Airlines management to negotiate a new contract a year after their contract became amendable. United pilots from the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA Council 34), as well as members of other unions who stand in support of Flight Attendant efforts to secure an industry-leading contract, joined the picket line. Read more ...
In January, Governor Jerry Brown released his plan to address the estimated $25.4 billion gap in the state budget through the end of fiscal year 2011-2012. It is a mixture of cuts, a five-year extension of tax measures set to expire this year, and realignment of many services currently shared by the state and counties to full administration by county governments. Brown is expected to call a Special Election to seek voter support for extending certain taxes that were part of the previous budget deal. His budget reduces the state’s $25.4 billion deficit by about $13 billion. Unless the tax extension measures pass, the state will face a $12 billion deficit, resulting in more cuts to services. Read more ...
Members of Engineers and Scientists of California, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 20, who create manuals and work documents for mechanics and engineers at United Airlines, will retain their jobs now that the airline has backed off from its plan to outsource the work. The engineers, technologists and specialists who would have lost their jobs are part of a team that works with about 3,000 mechanics at the UAL maintenance base to ensure that proper designs and plans are applied when building and repairing aircraft there. Read more ...
NAFTA-Style Korea Trade Deal Protested
Kim Kyng Ran, of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, right, spoke about the impacts of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement on Korean workers. Alexandra Suh of the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance in Los Angeles, left, served as translator.
Union members, fair trade advocates, environmentalists, and representatives from Korean trade unions held a rally to stop the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement at the Federal Building Annex in San Francisco January 14.
The Korea-U.S. FTA will be the second largest trade agreement since NAFTA. Not only will it cost tens of thousands of jobs and weaken worker rights, the FTA strengthens the rights of corporations over public interest laws intended to protect our health and environment.
Speakers included Kim Kyng Ran, director of external relations for the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, Anuradha Mittal of the Oakland Institute, Tim Robertson of the California Fair Trade Coalition.
Robertson said that President Obama had campaigned on a promise to negotiate new trade deals with protections for workers, farmers, and the environment. He said that the Korea-U.S. FTA (KORUS) was bad for workers in both countries, bad for consumers, farmers, and the environment.
Kim Kyng Ran of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions spoke about the impacts of the trade deal on Korean workers. She said that, “Only a small minority of capitalists benefit from this agreement. At a time of grave financial crisis, do we really want a trade agreement that deregulates financial markets in our countries?”
Kim said that there are 85 million “irregular workers” in South Korea who lack the protection of union contracts and have no job security. She said the lives of those workers will get worse if KORUS passes.In San Mateo County, Congressmember Jackie Speier has voiced opposition to the deal; the fair trade coalition is urging Congressmember Anna Eshoo to do the same. For more information, check www.citizenstrade.org/.
Tim Robertson of the California Fair Trade Coalition.
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Selected Articles, January 2011
Members of UNITE HERE Local 2 who work for LSG Sky Chefs rallied December 2 at the Sky Chefs Kitchen in Burlingame, along with other union allies. Similar rallies have been held at Sky Chef facilities around the U.S. as part of a national effort to highlight the Sky Chefs workers’ fight for a contract. Local 2 members in San Mateo are part of national contract covering In-Flight Kitchens across the country, which expired in April 2010. The workers prepare and deliver meals, beverages and snacks to aircraft for domestic and international flights. Read more ...
Redwood City hosted a series of meetings in November seeking public input on the planned development of the Saltworks site in Redwood City. For nearly four years, developer DMB Associates has been engaged in a community outreach process to help plan the future for the Redwood City Saltworks site—a 2.2 square mile salt factory. Read more ...
Lending a Helping Hand for the Holidays
Volunteers helped to distribute food for union families at the San Mateo County Central Labor Council’s annual holiday food distribution at IAM Local 1781 in Burlingame December 17.
Many volunteers helped to organize toys for the San Mateo County Central Labor Council’s annual holiday toy distribution. Pictured, left to right at IAM Local 1781 in Burlingame December 16 are Jackie Watkins, and Local 1781 members Brenda Hattin, DJ Smith, Natalie Carrillo, and Natasha Carrillo.
Volunteers help distribute food to out of work union members at the Labor Council's food distribution at IAM Local 1781 November 19.
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Selected Articles, December 2010
Members of the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) picketed at Seton Medical Center in Daly City November 17 to protest the hospital’s plan to lay off 44 health care workers. The hospital, operated by the Daughters of Charity, is poised to lay off 44 nurses and other caregivers just before the Christmas holiday. Read More ...
The work of union members to get out the vote was a crucial factor in the victories of labor-endorsed candidates November 2, and the defeat of Republican CEOs Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina. Worker power helped to elect Jerry Brown to a third term as Governor and return Barbara Boxer to the U.S. Senate—over the big bucks campaigns of their opponents. Read More ...
Selected Articles, November 2010
Bill Approved to Assist San Bruno Fire Victims
The California State Senate approved a bill to assist victims of the San Bruno fire. The deadly gas pipeline explosion and fire devastated a neighborhood in San Bruno September 9 and left 49 families without homes and killed seven people.
The San Bruno relief bill is similar to previously approved legislation to assist other communities such as those impacted by the fires in southern California.
The bill would allow a continuation of the $7,000 property tax exemption for homeowners who would have qualified for the exemption if their home had not been damaged or destroyed. In addition, the bill allows taxpayers (personal and business) to deduct income loss as result of the incident.
It also includes assistance to the County of San Mateo, City of San Bruno, and local schools by providing a one-year reimbursement from the State for any tax losses related to the lower property assessments of damaged or destroyed homes. The state would be reimbursed by the entity responsible for the fire once the National Transportation Safety Board completes its investigation to determine who is responsible for the fire.
The bill was originally authored by State Senator Leland Yee, but after he voted against the state budget that includes cuts to education, social services, and health care, the Senate killed his bill in order to remove his authorship of the legislation. A new bill was introduced without Yee’s name and was passed with bipartisan support after Yee told his colleagues the issue was too important and that the bill should still be approved despite being stripped from him.
On October 4, KCBS news reported that, “In the nearly one month since the San Bruno pipeline explosion, a number of lawmakers and city leaders have expressed frustration about the seeming lack of information from PG&E about its network of gas lines throughout the Bay Area. In response, some elected officials launched an aggressive push for changes.”
After a series of meetings with officials from PG&E that revealed that there were only two automatic shutoff valves in the Peninsula region, Rep. Jackie Speier introduced legislation to mandate automatic shutoff valves in residential areas so gas could be turned off more quickly. Fighting the San Bruno fire was delayed by the amount of time it took to turn off the gas in the neighborhood.
San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane testified before a Senate Committee in Washington at the end of September.
Rebuilding U.S. Transportation Could Create 3.7 Million Jobs
By rebuilding our nation’s transportation infrastructure, we could create 3.7 million jobs, 600,000 alone in manufacturing, according to a new action plan released by the Apollo Alliance.
The Clean Transportation Manufacturing Action Plan (TMAP) calls for an investment of $40 billion a year over the next six years to modernize and shore up our nation’s roads, bridges, mass transportation and advanced vehicles. The plan was developed by a bipartisan group of union members, business owners, environmental and community activists and political leaders.
For decades, the United States has all but ignored mass transit. In fact, since 2005, U.S. companies and governments have spent more than $10 billion to purchase rail cars, tracks and other mass transit equipment overseas, United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo Gerard said. That $10 billion is money that should have been spent here.
Today, existing U.S. public transit bus, rail vehicle and clean truck supply chains support some 40,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs. There are more than 375 existing companies that could scale up to meet expanded demand if Congress is willing to put TMAP into action, Gerard said. “This is an opportunity to rebuild the important transportation infrastructure of this country….The benefit we get from this—the triple bottom line—is that we get to create good, family supporting jobs, we get to spend dollars in a way that’s going to grow the economy, we take carbon out of the air.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said that the nation risks losing middle-class jobs and weakening our national defense if we don’t have a national manufacturing strategy, with rebuilding transportation as a key part of the plans.
Gerard pointed out that those who are concerned about the deficit should back this plan: “The best way to eliminate the deficit is to put people back to work [so that] they’re contributing to the system that we’ve got. [And we have] employers who are producing something that can be sold and create some real wealth as opposed to importing stuff we used to make that is now being made in China and then borrowing money from China to pay for what we used to make.”
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka urged President Obama and Congress to use the TMAP blueprint as a blueprint for rebuilding our infrastructure “and get America back to work. The TMAP will transform the legacy of our past into a practical vision and plan for the 21st century,” Trumka said. “Their plan will foster innovation and new technology while creating good jobs and ensuring that our manufacturing sector is competitive in a dynamic global economy.”
Inspired by the Apollo space program, the Apollo Alliance is a coalition of labor, business, environmental and community leaders working to start a clean energy revolution that will put millions of Americans to work in a new generation of high-quality, green-collar jobs.
-James Parks, http://blog.aflcio.org/
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Selected Articles, October 2010
Approximately 200 hundred union members turned out to protest a fundraiser for Republican Meg “Megabucks” Whitman in Burlingame September 21. While billionaire CEO Whitman and her special guest of honor—Bush Administration Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice—greeted guests who shelled out $2,500 to $25,900 for the dinner and reception, attendees were greeted by the chants of workers protesting Whitman’s corporate agenda. Read More...
Hotel workers with HERE Local 2 held an informational picket at the Hyatt Regency SFO in Burlingame September 2, to “give the hotel operators a taste of what to expect if they do not deal fairly with the union,” according to Local 2 President Mike Casey.The Local’s contract with the Hyatt expired at the end of August; the union has not called for a boycott of the hotel while negotiations are underway. HERE has called for a boycott of the three Hyatt hotels in San Francisco—the unionized Hyatt Regency and Grand Hyatt, and the non-union Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf. Contracts for the union hotels in San Francisco expired in August 2009. Read More...
The deadly gas pipeline explosion and fire that devastated a neighborhood in San Bruno September 9 left 49 families without homes and killed seven people.
As some families returned to their homes once they were declared to be safe, many local agencies offered assistance to the families. In the short term, PG&E has set up several funds to assist these families. Several community agencies are providing information, referral and other assistance. The Labor Council’s Community Services program is also working to identify affected union families, assess needs, and provide case management, advocacy and hardship as needed. Read More...
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Selected Articles, September 2010
California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski presented Mateo County Central Labor Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Shelley Kessler a Resolution from the California State Assembly honoring her for 25 years with the Labor Council September 13. Kessler was hired by Pulaski when he was SMCLC Executive Secretary-Treasurer.
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Members of the San Mateo Labor Council’s Airport Labor Coalition were given an update on the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) at the group’s July meeting by Brandy Davis, policy coordinator for the Labor Project for Working Families. Ms. Davis explained the changes to the FMLA that apply to airline industry workers. Read More...
An official groundbreaking ceremony for the new Transbay Transit Center at First and Mission in San Francisco was held August 11. Officials from the Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) said that the event was the beginning of the creation of the “Grand Central of the West,” connecting the San Francisco Bay Area to the rest of the State. The new Transbay Transit Center will replace the outdated Transbay Terminal and serve as a hub for local and regional public transit systems, linking busses, trains, and BART—centralizing the region’s transportation network by accommodating nine transportation systems under one roof. It will also serve as the first modern High-Speed Rail station in the nation as the terminus of the high-speed rail line from southern California to San Francisco. Read More...
Members of UNITE HERE Local 2 who work for LSG Sky Chefs rallied August 11 at the Sky Chefs Kitchen in Burlingame, along with other union allies. Similar rallies have been held at other Sky Chef facilities around the U.S. as part of a national effort to highlight the Sky Chefs workers’ fight for a contract. Local 2 members in San Mateo are part of national contract covering In-Flight Kitchens across the country, which expired in April 2010. The workers prepare and deliver meals, beverages and snacks to aircraft for domestic and international flights. Read More...
LABOR NEWS BRIEFS:Report: More Poverty, Less Health Coverage In California
New numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show that California’s poverty rate jumped to 15.3 percent in 2009, the highest level in 11 years. That translates to one in seven—or 5.6 million—Californians living below the federal poverty level. The national average is a full point lower, at 14.3 percent.
Jean Ross, executive director of the California Budget Project, a nonpartisan public policy research group, said the report is proof of just how hard the recession has hit the Golden State: “The collapse of the housing sector in California was much deeper than in many other states; we still have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country; and a lot of what we’re seeing really results from the weakness in the labor market.”
As the number of people living in poverty increased, so did the number without health insurance; more than one out of five Californians under the age of 65 lacked coverage in 2009.
Meanwhile, California has now set a record for the longest the state has gone without a state budget plan in place. Ross says the new poverty report emphasizes the importance of making smart budget choices that help create jobs and move the economy forward.
“The governor, for example, proposes to eliminate all state child care assistance. That would hit the same families that we’re talking about here. Those child care programs allow families with incomes at or just above the poverty level to work.”
Ross says the report also highlights the need for policy changes and continued federal aid. She points to a study by her group that found unemployment insurance benefits kept 3.3 million people across the nation out of poverty in 2009.
-Public News Service
Real National Security Requires a Change in National Priorities.Delegates to the San Mateo County Central Labor Council passed a resolution July 12, “Real National Security Requires a Change in National Priorities.” The resolution, initiated by U.S. Labor Against the War, calls on Congress and the President to shift national priorities to meet human needs, restore vital social programs and public services, rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and create living wage jobs through developing sustainable alternatives to carbon-feul dependent technologies. The resolution notes that 58 cents of every tax dollar spent by the federal government on discretionary appropriations pays for past, present and future wars and military operations, consuming $30.25 billion in 2009. For every $1 billion spent on the military, 11,600 jobs are created, while $1 billion spent on clean energy development would create 17,100 jobs, $1 billion spent on education would create 29,000 jobs and $1 billion spent on funding healthcare creates 19,600 jobs. For more information, see www.uslaboragainstwar.org/ and www.nationalpriorities.org.
Help Available for Loan Modification & Avoiding Foreclosure
Union members who want more information on foreclosure process basics, predatory lending, alternatives to foreclosure (loan modification, short sales, and other workouts), foreclosure rescue scams, and legal rights and options can contact Housing and Economic Rights Advocates at (510) 271-8443, ext. 302. Mention that you were referred by the SMCLC. More information is online at www.heraca.org.
CA Workers’ Rights Handbook Available
The UC Berkeley Labor Center has released its latest version of the California Workers’ Rights Handbook, a basic overview of the legal protections for workers under California and federal law, designed for use by workers and those who represent them. California Workers’ Rights: A Manual of Job Rights, Protections and Remedies is a new and up-to-date 4th edition by David A. Rosenfeld, Miles E. Locker, and Nina G. Fendel.
Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, California Labor Federation, said the manual is, “One of the most useful books California workers will ever encounter…Union stewards, advocates, leaders and working people will find the answers to hundreds of burning questions. California Workers’ Rights always reminds me of how hard we fought for these rights, and why we must continue to defend them.”
Discounts are available for bulk purchases of the handbook. For more information, see http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/publications/cwr.shtml.
Online Information To Help Unemployed, Uninsured Workers
Through the combined efforts of government agencies and worker advocates, new information to help unemployed and/or uninsured workers find and receive assistance has been posted online.
The federal government has created an interactive website outlining the provisions of the Obama Administration’s new health care reform law. The site tailors information for a worker’s specific circumstances and location. It can be found at www.healthcare.gov.
Additionally, the Safety Net for the Unemployed Workgroup, a coalition of human service, labor, state department staff, and legislative staff, has produced a very useful document with a long list of resources for laid off workers whose benefits have exhausted. The document also describes the 2-1-1 assistance line that can direct people to various appropriate resources. (See article on page 3.) This document can be found at www.edd.ca.gov/unem.
Know Your Rights! Family Leave Laws in California
A new guide for unions will help Shop Stewards, Union Representatives and Organizers to get the facts about California’s family leave laws, understand the difference between federal and state laws and how they interact with each other, and advocate for members’ rights. To order a print copy or for information on family leave law training for your union, contact Jenya Cassidy: (510) 642-5498 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Download a FREE copy at www.working-families.org/learnmore/ca_paidleave.html.
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Selected Articles, August 2010
Union members and their families, community allies, and elected officials celebrated the contributions of Adrienne Zanini and Carl Bunch to the betterment of working people in San Mateo County at the San Mateo County Central Labor Council’s 31st Annual COPE Banquet July 9. Read More...
In the face of major cuts to public transit services across the country, transit workers and community supporters have formed the national “Save Our Ride” alliance, to advocate for federal legislation to address the nationwide transit crisis. Read More...
The Labor movement has stepped up its campaign against Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman and her anti-worker agenda. The California Labor Federation has launched a website, WallStreetWhitman.com, that exposes Whitman’s Wall Street agenda and her support of corporate economic policies that have harmed California’s families. The federation has also begun to mobilize union members in a grassroots effort to register new voters, educate union members about the threat that Whitman’s policies pose to workers’ rights, and get union voters to the polls in support of Democrat Jerry Brown. Read More...
Selected Articles, July 2010
Representatives from labor, faith, environmental, fair trade, family farm and fishing groups joined elected officials in San Francisco June 14 to call on President Obama and his trade negotiators to replace the NAFTA-style approach to trade deals with the promised new American trade policy designed to create jobs and protect the environment, food safety, and human rights. Read More...
Selected Articles, June 2010
A coalition of labor, faith and community groups led a march of over 1,000 people through San Francisco’s financial district April 27 to rally outside the shareholders meeting of Wells Fargo. The action was part of a series of protests organized by the AFL-CIO and community allies to “bring Main Street to Wall Street” and demand accountability from the big banks responsible for their actions that led to the economic ruin of millions of American families. Workers across the country spoke out against Wall Street’s corporate greed. The aim of the San Francisco march and rally was to highlight the role of Wells Fargo and hold the big bank accountable for its role in the loss of 5 million homes and 8 million jobs during the economic meltdown. Read More...
Over 40 local elected officials attended a presentation on public employee pensions organized by the San Mateo County Central Labor Council May 8. The seminar featured presentations by Terry Brennand, Senior Policy Analyst for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Bob Brownstein, Research and Policy Director of Working Partnerships USA. Read More...
Selected Articles, May 2010
United Airlines Flight Attendants picketed at San Francisco International Airport April 6, an international “Day of Action” that marked one year since Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) began negotiations at the airline. Over the past year, United has refused to address the deep cuts flight attendants agreed to accept in 2003 to help their airline stay afloat as it entered bankruptcy. After the airline filed for bankruptcy protection several years ago, the union accepted cuts of more than $3 billion in pay and health care coverage. The airline also used the bankruptcy to terminate workers’ pensions. Read More...
After triggering a financial meltdown that caused historic job losses and required a taxpayer bailout, big banks said they had learned their lesson. Instead, they paid out $145 billion in total 2009 compensation, spent millions of dollars lobbying against meaningful financial reform and have cut back on lending to consumers and small businesses, according to a new online database and case studies released by the AFL-CIO. First launched in 1997, this year’s AFL-CIO 2010 Executive PayWatch exposes the egregious compensation and lobbying efforts against reform from the ‘big 6’ Wall Street banks: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup. Read More...
Selected Articles, April 2010
A mass rally to support public education and oppose state budget cuts drew over 12,000 students, educators, unionists, and families to the San Francisco Civic Center March 4th. The rally was organized by United Educators of San Francisco (UESF), the California Faculty Association, American Federation of Teachers Local 2121, and the San Francisco Labor Council. It was part of a Day of Action that was proposed last fall by students and educators during the UC campus mobilizations, and supported by the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), Cal. State University, community college, and K-12 educators, as well as other UC employee unions. Read More...
The California Labor Federation and State Building and Construction Trades Council held their annual Joint Legislative Conference in Sacramento March 8 and 9. This gave union members an opportunity to learn about Labor’s legislative priorities for 2010 and meet with local legislators to advocate for bills that benefit California workers. Read More...
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Labor News Briefs
Building Green Skills:
Construction Unions and the Green Economy
A new video from the State Building and Construction Trades Council shows how union workers are leading California into the new green construction economy, and that with their superior training, are best positioned to continue to build a greener state. Federal and state laws designed to stem global warming are mandating that buildings be retrofitted to be more energy and water efficient, and that new sources of energy must be utilized.
Audiences who should see the nine-minute video include: union contractors, who should know that the green economy is here to stay, local and municipal governments and project owners, who should make their projects union, and environmentalists and community based organizations who need to know the role unions are playing.
The video takes viewers across California to see the different kinds of green work being done by every union construction craft, including Insulators who keep the pipes at a constant temperature, saving energy; Plumbers and pipefitters installing gray water systems, motion-activated sinks and waterless urinals; Cement Masons installing pervious concrete, and are doing concrete polishing; Boilermakers and Laborers manufacturing wind towers; Roofers installing living roofs, reflective roofs and solar shingles; Plasterers using new products made of recycled materials; Iron Workers installing wind turbines and structures for solar power; Electricians installing advanced lighting and motor controls, as well as solar systems; Sheet Metal Workers installing smart HVAC systems; and Glaziers installing new types of windows, including solar windows.
The video also looks at how workers get trained in union apprenticeship programs to do the work of the green economy.
To see the video on-line, see www.sbctc.org. For a DVD, email your name and mailing address to: email@example.com. For more information about the video, call Debra Chaplan at 510-832-6450.
New Online Degree, Training Programs for Working Families
Organized labor has been a leader in helping workers gain college degrees and the latest in career training through affordable online degree programs.
The AFL-CIO and the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Md., are expanding educational opportunities for working families through a new “College for Working Families” will offer a range of degree programs and will allow union members and their families to build on their previous training, education and job experience. Read more about the National Labor College at www.nlc.edu/
Selected Articles, March 2010
Profits for the nation’s 10 largest health insurance companies increased 250 percent between 2000 and 2009—10 times faster than inflation—but that hasn’t stopped the private insurance industry from trying to reach even deeper into consumers’ pocketbooks with huge premium increases. According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the nation’s five largest insurance companies took in combined profits of $12.2 billion last year, up 56 percent over 2008. Read More...
By Leah Sugarman,COPE chair, AFT 3267 Jefferson Elementary Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO On March 5th in Los Angeles, the California Federation of Teachers will hold a demonstration to kick off an unprecedented six-week long march to demand better funding for California’s public schools. The March for California’s Future will begin in Bakersfield on March 6 and end with a rally in Sacramento on April 21—bringing teachers and our community allies together to maximize public awareness of three urgent issues: the need to restore the promise of public education, the demand for a government and an economy that works for all people, and the assurance that our government will promote a fair, progressive taxation policy to fund California’s future. Read More...
Selected Articles, February 2010
Union members turned out in force for the State Senate Committee hearing on High Speed Rail January 21 in Palo Alto. State Senators Joe Simitian and Alan Lowenthal from the Senate Joint Budget and Transportation committees heard public input from proponents and opponents of siting the rail line on the Peninsula. When built, it would move passengers from Los Angeles to the Bay Area. Read More...
United Airlines Flight Attendants picketed at San Francisco International Airport January 7 as part of an international day of action to protest the failure of United Airlines management to negotiate a new contract on time. The company and the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) at United Airlines had agreed last year that January 7, 2010 would be the date for having a new flight attendant contract in place. In a press release announcing the action, AFA United president Greg Davidowitch said that, “Negotiations began last April, but United has shown no interest in discussing improvements or reaching a new contract unless we agree to concessionary demands. Flight attendants are angry because management seems only interested in delaying a new contract, refusing to discuss any improvements.” Read More...
San Francisco hotel workers kicked off the New Year with a spirited march and rally January 5 to highlight their struggle for a fair contract with the city’s hotels. Members of UNITE-HERE Local 2 were joined by members of many unions who marched in solidarity with the hotel employees whose contracts expired last August. About 1,000 hotel workers and another 500 union members and supporters from community organizations rallied at the Local 2 Plaza between the Marriott Hotel and Four Seasons Hotels, and marched to the San Francisco Hilton, where 142 union members and labor leaders were arrested after blocking the entrances to the hotel, including UNITE-HERE International President John Wilhelm and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Read More...
Selected Articles, January 2010
While holiday shoppers bustled joyously around San Francisco’s busy Union Square shopping district, a diverse group of religious leaders and health care advocates stood in stark contrast as they quietly gathered in the center of the square to solemnly commemorate the 45,000 Americans who lost their lives this year because they didn’t have health insurance. Read More...
With the Senate’s version of health care revision apparently going from bad to worse for workers, unionists on Dec. 10 rallied and lobbied on Capitol Hill against one of the worst ideas in it: Taxing their health benefits. Read More...
Gary Saunders, Plumbers, Steamfitters and Refrigeration Fitters Local 467 Business Manager and Labor Council Executive Board member, announced his retirement last month. Saunders represented that union for 8 years as a business agent, and 22 years as the Business Manager. Read More...
Selected Articles, November 2009
More than 500 union members and health care activists packed the sidewalks in front of and across the street from the meeting of the giant health insurance lobby group, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) in Washington, D.C., October 22 in support of health care reform. Read More...
Despite recent negative news reports, the activist group ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) continues to advocate for poor and working class people in California and around the U.S. Read More...Labor News BriefsHelmets to Hardhats Launches ‘Good to Go’ Site for Returning Troops
Making the transition from military life to a civilian life is not easy. Many veterans and their families are unprepared when that day comes. Now Helmets to Hardhats, a nonprofit program of the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD), has launched a new website to help veterans better prepare for re-entry into civilian life.
Good to Go (www.areyoug2g.com) provides service members with customizable checklists that cover everything from employment and housing to setting goals for the future. “The best welcome home for a returning service member is a seamless transition into a quality civilian career,” said Darrell Roberts, executive director of Helmets to Hardhats. Helmets to Hardhats helps match vets and soon-to-be vets with apprenticeship and training programs offered by the BCTD’s 15 unions. Veterans can use their G.I. Bill education benefits as they complete the certified apprentice programs. Helmets to Hardhats has helped more than 5,000 military vets find new careers as electricians, plumbers, roofers and other skilled trades.
Selected Articles, October 2009
President Barack Obama had a strong, inspiring message for delegates to the 2009 AFL-CIO Convention: We’re going to make this country work again. Read More...
In a historic vote that adds the nation’s leading voice of American workers to a broad national campaign, the AFL-CIO voted unanimously at its national convention to endorse the enactment of single-payer, universal healthcare for all Americans. Read More...
The last day of the AFL-CIO Convention September 17 opened with a big bang as newly elected AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka stood on stage with UNITE HERE President John Wilhelm to make the dramatic announcement that UNITE HERE is reaffiliating with the federation. The 250,000-member UNITE HERE was one of the unions that left the AFL-CIO in 2005 to form a new federation. Read More...
Candidates for local office heard from union members at a candidate orientation meeting organized by the San Mateo County Central Labor Council and Building and Construction Trades Council August 20 at the IBEW Local 617 union hall in San Mateo. About 40 candidates for City Councils, School Boards and Special Districts attended. Read More...
Selected Articles, September 2009
Hotel workers and their allies took UNITE-HERE! Local 2’s contract campaign to the streets of San Francisco Aug. 14. Over 1,700 union members and supporters from community organizations rallied at the Local 2 Plaza between the Marriott Hotel and Four Seasons Hotels, marched along Market Street and made a loop to Union Square, passing the Parc 55, Hilton, St. Francis, Grand Hyatt and other hotels along the way. Read More...
California workers have been hit hard as the national economic crisis has resulted in layoffs, home foreclosures, bankruptcies, and declining revenues for the state and local governments. The recent state budget deal cuts billions of dollars from education and state programs that provide vital services to Californians. Line-item vetoes by the governor will reduce those essential services even further. And as the state’s unemployment rate approached 12 percent and state workers are ordered to take unpaid furlough days, California families have less money to spend, with the resulting ripple effect of more businesses closing, and further declining tax revenues for the state. Read More...
The active participation of union members helped to change the tone of the health care reform town hall meetings held during the August congressional recess. What began as forums for anti-Obama propaganda become platforms for real debate over what kind of reform is needed. Read More...
For most working families, the idea of a health care public option is just a notion. But in San Francisco, it’s reality. And it works. Read More...
After a protracted battle, striking members of the International Association of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) Columbus, Ohio Local 12 and Knoxville, Tennessee Local 197 reached a settlement agreement in July with the George Fern Company, a general service contractor with warehouse facilities in seven major cities. Read More..
The San Mateo County Central Labor Council honored retired Glaziers Local 718 Business Representative Doug Yamamoto, the UC Berkeley Labor Center, and striking mechanics and service reps at Grace Honda in San Bruno at its annual COPE Banquet August 7. The COPE (Committee on Political Education) banquet is the Labor Council’s fundraiser for the political work. Funds raised at the banquet enable the Labor Council to produce campaign materials, pay for phone banking operations, and provide meals for volunteers. Read More..
Selected Articles, August 2009
Union Leaders Meet with President Obama on Employee Free Choice Act, Health Care Leaders of the 11 member unions of the National Labor Coordinating Committee met with President Obama in July to discuss the status of health care reform and the Employee Free Choice Act. This group includes leaders of the National Education Association, AFSCME, SEIU, United Steelworkers, United Food and Commercial Workers, Laborers’ International Union of North America, American Federation of Teachers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Communication Workers of America, AFL-CIO and Change to Win labor coalition.
Read More...Thousands Protest Gov’s Mismanagement of Budget On July 15 a diverse coalition of workers, educators, health care advocates, people with disabilities, students, community leaders, legislators and others who are effected by the Governor’s draconian budget cuts joined in a state-wide protest outside each of Schwarzenegger’s five offices in Sacramento, San Francisco, Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego.
Read More...Airport Workers, SFO Officials Speak Out Against Increased BART Surcharge Employees at San Francisco International Airport and SFO Commissioners spoke out against an increase in the fares BART riders pay to commute to the SFO BART station at the Airport Commission meeting July 7 and a press conference at the airport July 8. On July 1, BART raised fares by 6.1 percent and increased the one-way surcharge levied on riders using the SFO station from $1.50 to $4. Read More...
Selected Articles, July 2009
Assemblymember Jerry Hill:Labor’s Voice Needs to be Heard in Sacramento
About 50 union members attended the meeting to discuss labor issues and legislation with Assemblymember Jerry Hill May 29. Read More...
Workers Hungry for Justice, Fast for Employee Free Choice Act
As part of the labor movement’s campaign to win passage of the Employee Free Choice Act in Congress, workers congregated outside the offices of Sen. Dianne Feinstein across the state June 3 to urge her stand up for workers and get behind the Employee Free Choice Act. Read More...
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Study Finds State’s Green Policies Bring Job Growth
California’s energy-efficiency policies created nearly 1.5 million jobs from 1977 to 2007, according to a new study from UC Berkeley’s Center for Energy, Resources and Economic Sustainability.
California’s green energy policies also improved overall compensation in the state by $44.6 billion, including $1.2 billion in the light industrial sector, $11.2 billion in wholesale and retail trade and $17.8 billion in the service sector. According to the study, the energy-efficient policies have allowed consumers to reduce energy spending, and the savings are being diverted to other sectors.
To learn more, see http://are.berkeley.edu/~dwrh/CERES_Web/index.html.
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