This past weekend the California Democratic Party held its annual convention in Sacramento and labor was prominent at every event. Our Labor Caucus on Friday night was jam packed with union workers and leaders. The Women’s Caucus met just before us and Christine Pelosi took over as Chair from the wonderful Karen Weinstein, who is stepping down. Christine made a motion to adjourn and encouraged all to attend the Labor Caucus and handed the gavel to me to convene for our business.
I was honored that Speaker John Perez spent the entire two hours with us. The Speaker informed us of the irresponsible Assembly and Senate Republicans who have abandoned their jobs and refuse to vote for anything in order to extract cuts that would decimate California’s economy even further than it has already been by the economic collapse.
I was re-elected as Chair of the Party’s Labor Caucus and the first order of business I conducted after being re-elected was to appoint the Speaker as Parliamentarian of the caucus. (Perez was a longtime member and political director of the Southern California UFCW before being elected to the Assembly.)
I was proud to introduce 10 other Labor Council leaders in attendance from San Jose, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, Sacramento, Stockton, Santa Rosa, Orange County, Butte-Glenne Counties, and Napa-Solano cities and counties. Two of our SFLC Executive Board leaders, Conny Ford from OPEIU 3 and F.X. Crowley from IATSE 16, also joined us. (F.X. is close to Senator Burton, our Party chair.)
Tefere Gebre, my counterpart and friend at the Orange County Central Labor Council, was invited to inform us of the Wisconsin-like measures beginning to take place in Costa Mesa, where the city council and mayor have put a measure on the ballot to contract-out all city services, including the fire department. The director of the Orange County Employees Association, Nick Berardino, told us about one worker, who after getting his pink slip and being told to report to work to teach the contractor his job, jumped to his death from city hall.
Art Pulaski, our leader of the California Federation of Labor, addressed the Caucus and announced the State of Emergency actions taking place in Sacramento during the week of May 9-13 to save education and vital state services. (In San Francisco, we will be supporting the teachers and public workers on Friday, May 13 at 4 pm with a large protest and rally at Civic Center Plaza across from City Hall.)
Brother Pulaski also informed us that the push now is for a 2/3 majority of both houses to pass a budget that stops the decimation of education and public schools. It has become non-strategic to call a special election to vote for tax extensions.
We were also honored to hear from Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, whose Aunt Cindy gave me tons of grief because he had to wait a while to get to the stage.
One of the 10 resolutions passed at the convention was a call to oppose the NAFTA-like Korea and Columbia Free Trade (sic) Agreements and I thank the South Bay Labor Council’s Steve Preminger for leading the charge at the Resolutions Committee.
It was a productive and invigorating Caucus meeting and Convention and I’m looking forward to continuing our work to improve the lives of Californians.