Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

From the Desk of Executive Director Tim Paulson

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Richard Leung, 62, former President of SEIU Janitors Union Local 87 and for many years an executive board member of the San Francisco Labor Council, passed away this weekend after a long battle with cancer. During his leadership at Local 87 Richard led the passage of the Displaced Workers Protection Act, legislation that provides job security and organizing rights for janitors and security officers in San Francisco.

Mr. Leung was born in Hong Kong and after immigrating to the Bay Area earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley. At Berkeley he became an active member of the Asian American student movement and the next three decades of his life were committed to advocating for the rights of service workers in multiple California unions.

Richard was a founding committee member of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO and has served on the executive board of the Service Employees International Union.

After his diagnosis with cancer, Richard arranged to leave legacies for the social causes closest to his heart. He sponsored an essay contest for children of Local 87 janitors. He also established a fund through Give2Asia that supports scholarships for children of migrant workers and grants for labor research. Finally, Richard contributed to the construction of a museum at Donner State Park in Truckee, California, where an accurate history of Chinese laborers in the U.S. is featured.

Richard is survived by his wife, Katie Quan, Senior Scholar at the University of California Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, his stepson Eric, Eric’s partner Melynee, and his step-granddaughter Ella-Rayne. He is also survived by his sisters Wiana Choy, Linda Cheung, Beverley Chan and their families.

He has designated and provided for the San Francisco Labor Council, in conjunction with the UC Berkeley Labor Center, to host a labor forum to educate and highlight the legislative and organizing campaigns that San Francisco Bay Area unions have undertaken during the last twenty years.

Information on services to follow.

From the Desk of Executive Director Tim Paulson

Monday, June 15th, 2015

Paulson_Leroy_MLK2009


Leroy King, International Union of Longshore and Warehouse Workers (ILWU) leader and longtime San Francisco Labor Council delegate, has passed away at 91 years old. He died of natural causes at his home in Saint Francis Square in San Francisco’s Japantown, a cooperative complex he helped found to provide homes for union members and their families during a time in the 1960’s when housing discrimination against minorities was still an issue – even in a progressive city like San Francisco. Leroy King joined ILWU Local 6’s warehouse union after WWII and was soon appointed a regional Director for the International Union where he served during the leadership of the legendary Harry Bridges.

Even in retirement Brother King was a friend to the San Francisco Labor Council and helped me personally as Executive Director in our policies and duties. He brokered political tensions at our Martin Luther King Day celebrations; he was a reliable labor steward on the Redevelopment Commission where he served under six mayors from Diane Feinstein to Ed Lee. Leroy King was always available as a mentor to young leaders in our many unions and he had to be a little proud that some of the devastating redevelopment and gutting of the Fillmore District that displaced so many in the African American community, started to make a bit of a return with some of the build out of the Fillmore corridor in the Western Addition.

During my tenure at the Labor Council Leroy stopped by my 2nd floor office in the ILWU headquarters almost every month after doing business on the 4th floor. If I didn’t have to answer more than ten questions about the many legislative and political campaign we were working on I would be relieved. I’d often drive him back to his house in Saint Francis Square.

Leroy King was a legend and historic part of San Francisco labor history.

We will miss our friend.

 

Victory to Edgewood Workers in San Francisco!

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Victory to Edgewood Workers in San Francisco!

Edgewood LogoCongratulations to the workers at Edgewood Center for Children and Families who voted to join  Teamsters Local 856 last night! The perseverance of Edgewood professionals who simply wanted a voice at work was rewarded with this majority of workers who voted to join a union.

From their Unionize Edgewood Facebook page:

Tonight we stood together and showed confidence in each other. With every YES vote we cast we affirmed that we can achieve more by standing together than by going it alone.

We voted for us, for our coworkers and for a better Edgewood for our clients. And we won the vote!

Want to congratulate these workers? Stop by their  FacebookTwitter pages today.

Interview about Organizing with Executive Director Tim Paulson & Other Affiliate Leaders

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Unions make strides among Silicon Valley workforce

Recently passed legislation could ensure even more tech shuttle companies become unionized

In “The other Silicon Valley,” Al Jazeera takes a look at how California’s tech boom affects the working class. This is part four of a seven-part series.

PLLoopBusHybridSAN FRANCISCO — The labor movement is carving a path straight through the heart of Silicon Valley. In early March, unions won two key victories in the area within days of one another. First, Apple bowed to pressure from the labor union SEIU-USWW and agreed to directly employ the security guards on its Cupertino, California, campus, instead of hiring the work out through a subcontractor. Then, Facebook shuttle drivers gained final approval for their union contract with Loop Transportation, the shuttle company that carries employees to and from Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters.

The Loop drivers are now members of Teamsters Local 853 — which just the previous month had also successfully organized drivers for Apple, Yahoo, eBay, and Evernote, among others. Sean Hinman, one of the recently unionized Facebook shuttle drivers, said he was glad to join the Teamsters, in part because the cost of living in the Silicon Valley area is so steep.

“If you’re asking me to work here, I’m asking for at least the bare minimum to give me something to survive on,” Hinman told Al Jazeera. “The bare minimum for a studio [apartment] here is $1,600″ per month.

As in nearby San Francisco, housing costs are soaring in Silicon Valley, driven largely by the ongoing deluge of tech sector capital. Average wages are on the rise as well according to a recent study from Joint Venture Silicon Valley, but the income gap remains vast: Joint Venture found that jobs it classified as “high-skill, high wage” earned a median annual income of $118,651, compared to $26,847 for “low-skill, low-wage” jobs and $54,892 for jobs classified as “middle-skill, middle-wage.”

That disparity is both a challenge and an opportunity for the labor unions of California’s Bay Area. Silicon Valley’s largest companies have the available wealth to better compensate their low- and middle-wage workers. If regional labor unions compel the companies to do so, the unions may be able to significantly expand their membership — and power — in the process. That’s why unions have spent recent years pouring resources into local organizing efforts. Those efforts, along with a crucial assist from San Francisco’s city council equivalent, the Board of Supervisors, are now beginning to pay dividends for the shuttle driver and security guard campaigns.

Tim Paulson, executive director of the San Francisco Labor Council, said California unions are focusing on new organizing in large part because — while they’ve become very adept at winning electoral victories and fending off potential legislative attacks — “a lot of us are sick of being defensive.”

The state’s labor movement has been “very good at being the opposite of Wisconsin,” Paulson said. Unions have traditionally been strong in Wisconsin, but over the past few years a state government has dealt a series of crushing blows to the labor movement, including passing a law restricting collective bargaining for public employees and a law that bans union shops. Labor in California has remained strong enough to make such attacks unlikely, but Paulson said he and others in the movement have tired of focusing so much on simply avoiding disaster.

“Over the last few years, some of us have just said, fuck that,” Paulson told Al Jazeera. “Let’s do what we want to do to fight for workers. And so the state federation of labor in particular decided that we are going to put our resources into organizing. Into real organizing, that is going to result in a collective bargaining agreement at some time or another, and people being in a labor union, and officially having a voice at work.”

The California Labor Federation selected three particular campaigns on which to combine resources: The SEIU-USWW drive to organize Silicon Valley security officers, as well as a UFCW-backed campaign to organize workers at Walmart and a similar Teamster-driven campaign at food processing plants in California’s Central Valley. Every union in the federation is expected to contribute something to those three campaigns, regardless of whether the campaigns have anything to do with their immediate interests, Paulson said.

“Even school employees, we’re going to send them to the Walmart campaign,” he said. “We’re going to send them to food processing and help the Teamsters out in Central Valley. All of us central labor councils, we’ll organize civil disobedience and actions outside of Google and Apple in order to reinforce organizing for security officers.”

After the security officers campaign began to pick up supporters and public attention, the labor movement started throwing itself behind other organizing drives in the Silicon Valley area, according to SEIU-USWW organizing director Sanjay Garla. The most prominent of those campaigns is the Teamsters’ effort to unionize shuttle drivers — but, Garla said, “there’s a lot of talk about how food-service workers are also part of this fight.”

“Everyone sat down and said, ‘How do we back up these security officers that are going up against these major giants?’” he said. “It was really about supporting the security officers, and it’s turning into something more.”

Right now, the main focus of the security officers campaign is getting major companies to either directly employ their security officers, or to agree “to use contractors that have a track record of respecting the rights and the work that service workers do,” Garla said. In other words, SEIU-USWW is trying to make sure security work goes to contractors who compensate their employees relatively generously — and who are less likely to fight unionization. In addition to persuading Apple to directly employ its security guards, SEIU-USWW has successfully pressured Google to bring its officers in-house.

The Board of Supervisors Steps In

The Teamsters are taking a different approach. In addition to organizing workers at both Loop Transportation and fellow contractor Compass Transportation, the Teamsters have won an important legislative coup in San Francisco. Due to a resolution unanimously passed in late March by the Board of Supervisors, the city’s main transit authority now has a mandate to get directly involved in shuttle bus unionization campaigns.

Tech shuttle buses in San Francisco are privately operated, but they use public bus stops to pick up and drop off their passengers. For this the shuttle companies must obtain permits from the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA); the resolution passed by the Board of Supervisors asks the MTA to factor “labor harmony” into its deliberations when deciding whether to award such permits.

The resolution defines “labor harmony” vaguely, but reasons that the MTA has an interest in preventing any company facing labor unrest from utilizing public, or Muni, bus stops because of the likelihood that protests could “result in the disruption of the orderly operation of SFMTA buses.” Board of Supervisors member Scott Weiner, who sponsored the resolution, said explicitly that the resolution was developed in concert with the Teamsters and was intended to support organizing efforts.

“Obviously the Board can’t require any company to allow unionization, but what we can do as a city is say we want some showing of labor harmony,” he said. “Because if these shuttles are using our Muni bus stops, any kind of labor discord would disrupt not just the shuttle service but the Muni service and traffic generally.”

The MTA is a quasi-independent agency, meaning the Board of Supervisors cannot directly dictate its policy, but Weiner said he is “cautiously optimistic that the MTA will be receptive to our request.” If it does, the MTA could withhold permits from shuttle companies that resist unionization. Doug Bloch, political director of Teamsters Joint Council 7, said the legislation could also apply to a shuttle company locked in a contract dispute with its already unionized workforce.

“It leaves it up to the executive director of the MTA how to enforce it,” he said. “We, the Teamsters, aren’t telling them how to enforce it. But we are going to be telling them when there are companies we think they need to enforce it on.”

In a response to a query regarding the labor harmony resolution, Loop Transportation CEO Jeff Leonoudakis said in a statement that his company has “a culture of always trying to get better and being good members of the community.”

“We are committed to providing our drivers with the best possible working conditions, and we continue to explore ways to deliver one of the best wage and benefit packages in the Bay Area, including negotiating with our drivers who have union representation,” he said.

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Nation should follow SF’s lead on minimum wage 

Monday, May 4th, 2015

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Published in the San Francisco Examiner on May 1, 2015

Tim Paulson on Belva Davis

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Belva.PaulsonOn Monday Labor & Community honored Belva Davis at the annual Labor & Community MLK Day breakfast organized by the San Francisco Labor Council and the NorCal MLK Foundation. The last time Belva Davis interviewed me was at the Democratic Convention in Charlotte last fall. I was feeling guilty because she asked that I meet her early in the morning in the lobby of the hotel where the California delegation was staying so she could complete her “This Week in Northern California” special edition, but I later found out that AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka wanted all labor delegates to get together for breakfast in another hotel for a briefing and rally on the other side of town.

As a labor representative I rarely compromise the work I do in order to make statements to the press.  If we are smart we don’t “negotiate” through the press. We might “communicate” through the press, but if we are really doing our jobs we do them sitting at the table with unions and workers, where we build power and represent the positions our unions empower us to enjoin.

Belva Davis has been an exception. In her illustrious career she has worked her way through every job and avenue of journalism that you can imagine, from beat reporter to, probably, copywriter. But her legacy, in my opinion, rests with her roundtables of writers, pundits and policy experts discussing the important topics of the day in the Bay Area and California every week. No entertainment journalism and ideological baiting. No preconceived agendas. Just a place on Sunday morning where some knucklehead like me could flip on the TV and watch Belva Davis ask all the questions that I might have asked if I had the time that week to catch up on what was happening in Sacramento, San Francisco or DC.

Every time I talked with Belva she told me how much the union meant to her and her family. The security, the health care, the retirement benefits, the respect.  But you would never hear her pontificating about it on her shows – the way the anti-union pundits use it as a part of their reporting – because she was an objective journalist (remember them?). As a worker she knew which side she was on.

Belva has “retired,” but I know she will still be in demand and be called upon by many in the media to continue her work because the integrity of her life’s work is remarkable.

Her last interview with me took three takes because I’d run back to the California hotel after the AFL-CIO meeting in 99 degree heat and 99 percent humidity and I was a mess. I didn’t want to disrespect her and wanted to make sure she could ask the Labor Chair of the Democratic Convention a couple of questions. The producers gave me a couple towels. My glasses were fogged up. When I was done she said, “Great take, Tim, but you look like hell.”

Happy New Year 2015 from Executive Director Tim Paulson

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

E-Board-2014 copyThe San Francisco Labor Council’s last Executive Board meeting of 2014 was at Scoma’s Seafood Restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf on a cold but beautiful evening.

As Executive Director of this diverse Labor Council I will not be going out on a limb to say it was the most convivial meeting of the year. In my 10 years working for the Council this is the first time we met outside a boardroom.

We conducted our official business in an efficient manner. We argued about a few bills and then 30 affiliate leaders and Labor Council staff broke bread, grabbed a glass of wine and decided that in a crazy year where political and union disputes were sometimes impediments to full unity, in San Francisco we could still look each other in the eye and feel in our gut that every one of us was committed to not only fighting for our members but for all workers.

Without making official reports, leaders talked about their campaigns and imminent fights.

Unite-Here Local 2 announced their strike at San Francisco International Airport for job security and health care; Teachers talked about their fight to save City College; Building Trades leaders talked about their new PLA’s and the fight at the Housing Authority; UESF teachers announced their 12 ½ % contract settlement. Sign and Display 510 and IATSE 16 reminded us of their prevailing wage legislation.

We talked about the “Formula Retail Workers Bill of Rights,” which passed unanimously at the Board of Supervisors just a few days ago – led by Supervisors Eric Mar and David Chiu – which mandates 14 days of predictable scheduling and rights to more hours for part time workers. An incredible, often unwieldy, coalition fought for these rights with the UFCW and I will be writing more about this historic campaign in a subsequent article.

ILWU warehouse workers announced their organizing and bargaining victories for recycling workers; Teamsters commented on their food processing organizing in the San Joaquin Valley and the ongoing Edgewood private school organizing in the Sunset District; OPEIU reminded us about the ongoing work in Bayview-Hunters Point where, among other programs, some of our 10,000 union members who live in the district are taking City College classes to understand and help implement our historic Community Benefits Agreement. Another OPEIU board member talked about American union unity with Mexican workers over the murder and disappearance of teaching students in the southern state of Guerrero.

We’re still only into our salads and chowder!

Nurses reminded us of their organizing victory at the California Pacific Medical Center (Sutter) where over 1,000 nurses voted to join the union. Firefighters mentioned their fight with management and their outrage over the lack of full ambulance staffing and infrastructure in the City. SEIU USWW thanked us for coming to rallies and civil disobedience actions at Apple and Google facilities for security officers and described how Google now recognizes the union.

We toasted the re-appointment of Larry Mazzola to the Airport Commission and were reminded how many of us attended the Labor Council meeting with Mayor Lee to make sure that happened.

2014NovElectionProp J - Group PhotoWe are proud to be part of the Coalition for a Fair Economy (CFE) that reached the historic agreement with the Mayor, Supervisor Jane Kim and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors that put a consensus minimum wage measure on the November ballot that gets all workers to $15 with the cleanest non-exemption path in the United States.

San Franciscans passed Measure J by 77%. This was more than just an agreement to get $15 on the ballot, but also changed the culture of how labor unions and community organizations can fight together for equity, fair wages, and a voice at work. Organizations involved in the coalition were UNITE-HERE Local 2, SEIU Local 1021, the California Nurses Association, the San Francisco branch of ACCE, Jobs with Justice, Young Workers United, the Chinese Progressive Association, Progressive Workers Alliance and SF Rising (the last two are worker of color & LGBT coalitions of 9 community organizations).

As with the Formula Retail Workers Bill of Rights coalition, the CFE coalition will also advocate for full enforcement. Years ago, working with the Building Trades Council, we helped the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement to monitor and enforce all our worker laws (sick days, living wage, etc.) and we will continue to fight for resources to empower this valuable department.

Scoma’s union servers were passing out the crab cakes and salad when we revisited a long simmering loophole in the 2006 San Francisco’s landmark universal healthcare law, the closest thing the United States has to universal health care with the public option, which required employers to make minimum expenditures towards their employees’ healthcare for each hour worked. (This was the model legislation that our legislative leader Nancy Pelosi used as a template for moving the Affordable Care Act as far as the Congress was able before the United States Senate riddled it with compromises.)

Since the law’s passage, a minority of San Francisco employers have avoided paying hundreds of millions of dollars in required spending by exploiting an unintended loophole.  In 2013 alone over $90 million dedicated to employees was not used to meet workers’ healthcare needs and was, instead, clawed back by employers.

We finally closed that loophole thanks to the leadership of Supervisor David Campos, five other co-sponsors, and the thoughtful coalition of Supervisors London Breed and Mark Farrell. The crux of the legislation was to make the employer spending requirement irrevocable, meaning employers will not receive credit for having met the spending requirement if they reclaim unused money.

The incredible research and policy team guiding this campaign was led by Ken Jacobs from the University of California, Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education; Paul Kumar, Health Care Consultant to the San Francisco Labor Council; and Ian Lewis, Research Director for Unite-Here Local 2. The full coalition included the San Francisco Labor Council, Unite–Here Local 2, SEIU 1021, OPEIU 3, California Nurses Association, Young Workers United, NUHW, Health Access, Chinese Progressive Association, Jobs with Justice, ACCE, and the San Francisco Organizing Project (PICO), with support from many other community and labor partners.

Here is the San Francisco Chronicle article that outlines these legislative victories.

Another labor achievement this year culminated with the Board of Supervisors passing an ordinance to require large hospitality industry employers to retain employees for up to 90 days upon a change in control of the hospitality establishment. This was passed without objection by all 11 supervisors. This legislation built upon an ordinance that was passed over 10 years ago to keep worker stability in the commercial real estate industry where building owners, upon changing janitorial and security officer companies, were required to keep the previous company’s employees for 90 days and not create instability, job turnover, and job insecurity for dedicated workers in service sector jobs who had no say in the building owners business decisions to change contractors.

This will ensure much-needed stability to key segments of the hospitality industry, one of San Francisco’s most important bases of employment.

We remembered and complained about the devastating losses in the U.S. Senate and governorships this November (Wisconsin – how could you?!), while California still elected all labor candidates to the constitutional offices and added one more Democrat to Congress.

TomTorlaksonEven Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who was attacked with millions of dollars from “privatizer” school “reformers,” won with his biggest margin (70%) in San Francisco because of our political outreach this November.

One big toast was given to President Obama who finally!! acted with an executive order on immigration policy. Millions will not be living in the shadows anymore. San Francisco and the Bay Area Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform never stopped fighting and advocating for reform for our members and all workers. We went to DC; we fasted; we marched; we lobbied; we got arrested. And we will still not stop until there is true immigration reform.

OlgaMirandaAgain, victories like these are rare in the new climate of national Tea Party anger and corporate attacks on immigrants and unions. We should applaud when the American Dream is advanced in our communities with policies to help workers stay in their homes by getting a raise, keeping their jobs, and achieving healthcare coverage. We in the Labor Movement are proud of our collective bargaining agreements that provide workers with a voice at work. We are also proud that we are now expanding collective bargaining in the legislative and political arena for all workers.

Nationally the rich are still getting richer and hoarding their profits and earnings while wages stagnate and health care costs continue to rise – but here in San Francisco the Labor Council can still look at 2014 and be proud of standing up for and winning many battles for workers.

I am grateful to our wonder Labor Council staff: Financial Manager Hang Le To, Community Services Liaison Tom Ryan, sfCLOUT Organizer Conny Ford, Political Director Amber Parrish-Baur, and my Assistant and Labor Council Communications Director Emily Nelson.

Happy 2015! Keep up the good organizing!

Board of Supervisors Unanimously Passes Retail Workers Bill of Rights

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

The San Francisco Labor Council was proud to work with a great coalition on the Retail Workers Bill of Rights, which the Board of Supervisors passed on November 19th. Read all about it in this blog post from Jobs With Justice SF.

Board of Supervisors Unanimously Passes Retail Workers Bill of Rights on First Vote

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Retail Workers Bill of Rights, a potentially precedent-setting package of legislation to address abusive scheduling practices at corporate retailers. The legislation is expected to pass a second vote by the board and be signed into law by the mayor in the next few weeks.

The package of bills, advanced by community-labor coalition Jobs With Justice San Francisco, is a commonsense approach to help employees of massively profitable chain stores and restaurants achieve fair and consistent schedules with enough hours to plan their lives and take care of their loved ones.

In a city boasting the second highest income inequality in the nation, these policies could usher in reliable and sufficient schedules for more than 40,000 people working in San Francisco’s chain stores and restaurants. Building upon the $15 minimum wage increase approved by voters earlier this month, these bills will mark significant progress toward making San Francisco a great place to live, work and raise a family.

Gordon Mar, executive director of Jobs With Justice San Francisco, issued the following statement after the vote:

“All families need strong wages, stable hours and sane schedules to build a good life. But too many of our neighbors who serve our food, stock our shelves and sweep our floors have jobs that grant too few hours on too short notice and require them to be at the beck and call of their employer.”

Unpredictable schedules and inadequate hours are not unique to retailers in San Francisco. Companies like Walmart and McDonald’s have rigged the rules by intentionally denying employees more hours and implementing scheduling systems that wreak havoc on their ability to take care of their families.

Despite a huge step forward for San Francisco, retail workers in other cities around the country continue to struggle. Tiffany Beroid worked at a Walmart store in Laurel, Maryland, for almost three years as a customer service manager. She earned $10.70 an hour, but she was only given an average of 20 hours per week, despite being classified as a full-time employee. Without adequate hours, Tiffany was not able to earn enough to pay for child care for her two daughters. She was eventually fired by the company after going on strike with OUR Walmart.

To protest Walmart’s unlawful retaliation against employees like Tiffany, last week, Walmart associates announced they are going on strike on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year.

The company’s retaliatory response to members of OUR Walmart is one reason groups like Jobs With Justice San Francisco are turning to policymakers to address scheduling practices in the retail industry. Just as minimum wage increases and paid-sick days are gaining traction in several cities and states, the movement for “jobs with just hours” will continue to gain steam as more of us demand that America work for those who work for a living.

In response to growing outrage over the turbulence families are experiencing due to the rise of inflexible and erratic schedules, community and labor advocates in a half dozen cities are planning to move similar reforms in 2015 that could potentially be modeled off of the Retail Workers Bill of Rights.

Reposted from Jobs With Justice

Gov. Brown Signs Landmark Bill to Protect Temp Workers

Monday, September 29th, 2014

By Steve Smith, California Labor Federation

BrownBillSigningAs Vice President Joe Biden might say, this is a BFD. Last night Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law AB 1897, a landmark bill to curb abuses against temporary workers.

The new law simply requires that companies securing workers through labor contractors or temp agencies must take responsibility to ensure that workers are getting paid, that they have a safe work environment, and that the contractor is paying state and federal taxes. Given the recent explosion of temp work, this law provides a measure of protection to workers that often are vulnerable to exploitation.

Last night’s signing was hailed as a monumental victory by California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski: AB 1897 is a historic new law that holds corporations accountable when workers hired using labor contractors are cheated out of wages or forced to work in unsafe conditions. By holding corporations jointly liable with subcontractors and staffing agencies, the governor closed a loophole in the law that many big companies were using to violate the basic rights of workers with impunity.

This new law will serve as a model to other states grappling with the negative effects of business outsourcing. When workers are hired through labor contractors to perform core functions of a business, it creates an unequal playing field in the workplace that often leads to abuses of basic worker rights.

In the outsourced economy, it’s not unusual for two workers doing the same job at the same company to be compensated vastly unequally. Subcontracted workers are often paid far less than their non-contracted peers, ranging from a 7 percent “wage penalty” in janitorial wages, to 30 percent in port trucking, to 40 percent in agriculture, according to a recent National Employment Law Project report. Adding insult to injury, labor violations are routine in the low-wage sectors that service the outsourced economy: 25 percent of low-wage workers experience minimum wage violations, and more than 70 percent of those who work overtime don’t receive overtime pay.

With AB 1897 on the books, workers like Jose Gonzalez at Taylor Farms in Tracy will have an important new tool to fight back when labor law is violated by unscrupulous labor contractors.

Over the course of many months, California unions including the Labor Federation, Teamsters, UNITE HERE and others brought countless stories to members highlighting the need for the law. Hundreds of temporary workers flooded the Capitol to share those powerful stories in person, which, at the end of the day, proved more persuasive than the intense lobbying against the bill waged by corporate interests.

Assemblymember Roger Hernandez (the bill’s author): In recent years, we have seen a growing trend across many industries to shift what used to be good paying, middle class jobs to this ‘subcontracted’ employment model. This model erodes our middle class and disproportionately affects minority and immigrant workers. AB 1897 is also good for business. Legitimate employers cannot compete against unscrupulous actors who seek to cheat and exploit their workers. This measure levels the playing field for good actors and makes bad contractors follow the letter of the law.

Executive Director Tim Paulson Shares Tom Hayden’s Comments on President Obama’s Speech

Friday, September 12th, 2014

THaydenThe San Francisco Labor Council is frequently asked to weigh in on foreign policy issues in ways that are often never presented to promote reasonable debate or establish organizational policy. We are often submitted “resolutions” to take uniquivocable positions that usually divide the movement. I often joke that the San Francisco Labor Council’s “State Department” is quite understaffed and that these resolutions to the President might be so late to get in the mail that Obama will be irritated with me because I know he cannot act until he hears from the San Francisco Labor Council.

I wish that our activists who spend so much time writing policy statements from 30,000 feet in the air would lead and help organize street and work actions to bring more people into the labor movement. I beg for real organizers that we can count on to bring co-workers, friends and family to legislative hearings, civil disobedience actions and picket lines and make phone calls five days a week and walk precincts on Sunday afternoons.

In that light I am willing to risk and share some thoughts from a stellar friend of mine who has devoted much of his life to the anti-war movement. Tom Hayden, one of the leaders of the student movement in the 1960’s and 70’s who turned the American debate about Vietnam, served for many years as an elected California Assemblymember and state Senator to improve the lives of working Californians. Along with Tom Ammiano I would be hard pressed to find any two friends who have consistently fought more for blue collar worker values in California during the last 35 years.

Tom Hayden writes everyday. Here are his recent thoughts on President Obama’s speech on Syria, Iraq, and the Middle East.

Hayden: Where is Obama’s Exit Strategy?
Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 9:00PM

Tom Hayden on Afghanistan, Drones, Foreign Policy, Iraq

A disturbing omission in President Obama’s proposed Iraq War speech was its lack of an exit strategy. Spokesmen for the White House and Pentagon speak of the mission taking years beyond Obama’s tenure.

Once again our country has been invited to support the “long war” doctrine outlined by key Pentagon officials as lasting as long as 50 to 80 years. This long war is probably both unwinnable and unaffordable, but no president and few politicians have the political willingness to acknowledge failure and end it.

So they escalate just enough to pass it along to their successor. It’s war on an installment plan.

As to blame, the current crisis is not due to President Obama’s “premature” withdrawal or short-sightedness by the anti-war movement. It’s the direct consequence of the U. S policy of abandoning the Sunni population of Iraq to a sectarian, oppressive Shiite regime in Baghdad, which we armed, funded and installed in power.

The Baghdad regime built by the Bush and Obama administrations is an ally of Iran and a mortal enemy of the Sunnis, who previously were the privileged class under Saddam Hussein. It’s no accident that the Shiites would take revenge against the Sunnis. The only question is why we maintained the illusions of “pluralism” and “democracy” while the ethnic cleansing of the Sunni population went on under our gaze.

The disenfranchisement of the Sunnis led to the sweeping military counter-attack by the Islamic State and elements of Iraq’s former Baath Party. They cannot be stopped by the Shiites even with U.S. air power. Nor are they likely to be stopped by tinkering with Baghdad politics and rhetoric about token “inclusion.” Only a grant of virtual autonomy to the Sunnis, similar to the autonomy of Iraqi Kurdistan, will provide for the representation, security and power-sharing that Sunnis need in a new confederated and pluralistic state.

The Islamic State (also known as ISIS) grew from the U.S.-funded dungeons in Anbar Province, just as its predecessor, al Qaeda, arose before in the same desert region. There is a key difference between those Sunnis who seek an autonomous role within a new Iraq and those who fighting for a religious Caliphate in which all borders disappear. Those Western officials who want to preserve an Iraqi national state must pay attention to this fundamental ideological difference among the Sunnis and make substantial concessions as rapidly as possible. Otherwise, the future is one of a sectarian civil war in which the American people have no interest.

The Islamic State offensive is also made possible by Syria having become a vast rear base for the insurgency in Iraq. That rear base is made possible by years of Sunni resistance to the minority Alawite regime in Damascus. While calling for the end of the Assad tyranny, the United States has been ambiguous about its desire to overthrow the Assad regime. As a result, the Islamic State has gained power in Syria in a factional proxy war against other anti-Assad elements supported by the West. The demise of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad might divide the ranks of the insurgency between those who demand a change in the Syrian state and those who wish to impose a Caliphate without borders, erasing Syria and Iraq in the process.

Too much commentary has been spent on the violent threat suddenly posed by the Islamic State and virtually none on the question of how to confront the Islamic State at its core political weakness: its rise to preposterous claims of being the new center of the entire Muslim world. That claim to legitimacy is rejected by millions of Sunnis in multiple states, and will lead to internal differences, which will weaken the Islamic State from within.

The reason that the Islamic State wants the Americans and the West to bomb and invade its territory is because they know that foreign aggression is the surest way to unite all Sunnis factions.

So what should Obama be asked to consider?
1) To seek congressional authorization and the widest possible policy debate. Do not go it alone. While claiming sole authority in his speech, the president left the door open to serious Congressional debate, especially if he seeks funding for his plan. Nothing might be more helpful than serious hearings and debate. No matter the outcome, the pubic will be drawn into making choices.

Even if the war is authorized, Congress can debate important conditions: what timelines, whether to fund the one side of a sectarian civil war, or to fight without support from a majority of Islamic countries, among them. Congress can begin by enforcing the Leahy law barring US assistance to any military units committing human rights violations.

2) The president should state, over and over, that there is no military solution. That is a red line, which will be tested by the steady introduction of more American “advisers” in zones of combat. Already at least 1,500 have arrived and their numbers will grow if the Humpty-Dumpty Baghdad regime continues to crack.

3) He should acknowledge that any “boots on the ground” should be Sunni and supported across the Arab world. If that coalition is unwilling, U.S. policy will crater or US troops will be dispatched. There was no announcement of such allied support in the speech, but it’s too early to tell.

4) To conduct aggressive diplomacy at the United Nations, especially including contacts with Iran and Russia.

Above all, remember that the U.S. purpose in Iraq was to “disrupt, degrade and derail” al Qaeda – yet, and after killing thousands of people, the network not only exists but has spread far across the Middle East and North Africa. Oddly, the president gave Yemen and Somalia as examples. Both countries are the scenes of savage, tribal and sectarian conflicts where the American secret war is reviled.

Obama is wrong in asserting that America’s domestic agenda can move forward despite US involvement in multiple battlefields. The greatest tragedy of this conflict is that it will undermine “nation-building at home.”

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