Sacramento Bee: “California labor unions react to Supreme Court dues debate”
While the outcome of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association could end compulsory payments to government unions, maintain the status quo or fall somewhere in between, the labor leaders interviewed by The Sacramento Bee remained optimistic regardless of the outcome that their associations would adapt.
“We’ll continue to exist,” said Dave Low, executive director of the California School Employees Association, “but it would weaken us.”
Sacramento Bee: “Dan Walters: Supreme Court could hit unions in wallets”
The decision won’t come down for months — too late for it to make a difference in union political activities this year. However, if the court rules as expected, it could make a big dent in the future political power of California’s public unions. …
But those representing low-paid workers — some of them earning no more than minimum wages — such as janitors, gardeners and home care aides, could take big hits. And it could make organizing child caregivers and other service workers much more difficult.
Read this week’s 3-part coverage of Friedrichs v. CTA:
Gov. Jerry Brown released his FY 2016-17 budget plan last week. Here are some initial reactions:
California Budget & Policy Center: “Budget Proposal Misses Opportunity to Invest in Californians, Focuses Instead on Adding to Reserves” (PDF)
Despite this stronger-than-expected revenue growth, the Governor’s proposed budget misses a chance to boost investment in broadening Californians’ economic opportunity and security while still saving for a rainy day and paying down state debts. …
While heavily emphasizing growing the reserves, the Governor’s proposal misses several opportunities to strengthen vital public services and systems. … Despite a strong revenue outlook, the Governor’s budget proposal falls short of presenting a plan that adequately prepares the state for future growth by striking a balance between saving for a rainy day and addressing the state’s biggest challenges: stagnating wages for low- and middle-income Californians, widening income inequality, and public supports weakened by years of disinvestment.
Gov. Jerry Brown, issuing a $170.6 billion state spending plan Thursday, proposed billions of dollars in new funding for schools, climate change programs and services for the elderly and disabled.
But the fourth-term governor, who took office amid a crippling recession, repeatedly warned of the possibility of another economic downturn, rejecting calls for more robust spending increases.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday introduced a record $122.6 billion budget for 2016-17, calling for spending increases in education and a boost in the earned income tax credit for the poorest working families, and providing the first cost-of-living increase for the elderly, blind and disabled since 2006.
By now, it could easily be called Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget doctrine — an insistence on only modest expansions in state services but liberal payments for one-time expenses and accumulated government debt.
Orange County Register: “California’s schools, roads gain in Gov. Brown’s proposed budget”
Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled a $170.5 billion state budget proposal Thursday that divides a projected revenue boon among bolstering reserves, paying down debt, increasing funding for education and roads, and restoring some social services cuts made during the recession.
It can generally be characterized as a “good news” budget for counties. The proposal balances a variety of competing needs with fiscal responsibility to create budget stability for the state. In turn, this proposal provides greater stability for counties that remain responsible for delivering numerous state programs and services.
Gov. Brown delivers his 2016 State of the State address before both houses of the California State Legislature on Thursday, Jan. 21, at 10 a.m. Watch it live on the California Channel.
Several thousand people took to the streets of Oakland on Saturday, Nov. 21, to show support for successful climate change agreements at the global climate conference opening in Paris next week. The action began at Lake Merritt’s amphitheater, festively festooned with colorful costumes, banners and signs. The throng marched through downtown to Oscar Grant Plaza for a rally in front of City Hall.
The 2015 United Nations Conference of Parties — also know as COP21 — takes place Nov. 30-Dec. 11, and is the 21st yearly gathering attempting to find a fair consensus on how governments and people around the world can adopt measures that would limit global warming to less catastrophic levels.
For the first time in more than 20 years of UN negotiations, the aim of this conference is to reach a universal and legally binding agreement on climate. The conference is expected to attract 50,000 participants, including 25,000 official delegates from government, intergovernmental organizations, UN agencies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
We’ll always have Paris
Among the participants will be SEIU 1021. The local’s Executive Board is sending Martha Hawthorne (pictured above at 11/21 Oakland rally), an SEIU 1021 retired nurse and activist, to represent the local at the Conference of Parties. We’ll be bringing you her reports in the 1021 NewsWire.
“The state of emergency following the terrorists attacks in Paris last week may close down the huge street marches planned for the opening and closing of the conference, demonstrations that are projected to have hundreds of thousands participating and showing their support for strong agreements,” said Hawthorne. “So this action in Oakland, and many more planned in cities around the world this coming weekend, are needed to show the breadth of support.”
SEIU 1021 has taken a strong stand on climate issues, stepping out front with the San Francisco and Alameda Labor Councils to sponsor the “Nor Cal Climate Mob” in Oakland. Many other local unions, environmentalists, and a multitude of social justice activists joined the action Saturday. Labor is expected to take an active role in the Paris conference as well. The International Trade Union Confederation has called for the goal to be “zero carbon, zero poverty,” and ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow has repeated that there are “no jobs on a dead planet.”
See photos of the Oakland Climate Mobilization on our Facebook page.
Back in 2002, in the wake of the Enron-induced crash of California’s electricity system — which to this day has left rate-payers bailing out the utility companies — California passed AB 117, the Community Choice Aggregation law. …
The new program is a hybrid between a public agency and a private utility. The utility owns the distribution infrastructure, but the public is in the driver’s seat regarding energy decisions.
Watch this entertaining and educational short video for a great primer on the Paris climate conference. Is the end of the world coming? Grist will be reporting from Paris to let us know.
The Legislature may have scuttled the centerpiece of Gov. Jerry Brown’s climate change plans, but it still approved ambitious new environmental policies that will impact the economy and life of Californians. …
Brown and Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) will bring almost unparalleled accomplishments to a major international climate-change conference in Paris this December.
EcoWatch: “Get Ready for the Real Climate Wars”
There is no priority higher for the oil industry than blocking Brown’s goal of reducing the state’s oil consumption by 50% by 2030. It is an existential threat to the oil industry, because if the state that invented the freeway can do without oil, so can the world.
NY Review of Books: “The Pope and the Planet”
By Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org
On a sprawling, multicultural, fractious planet, no person can be heard by everyone. But Pope Francis comes closer than anyone else. … So no one could have considered more usefully the first truly planetary question we’ve ever faced: the rapid heating of the earth from the consumption of fossil fuels. …
Francis’s words fall as a rock in this pond, not a pebble; they help greatly to consolidate the current momentum toward some kind of agreement at the global climate conference in Paris in December. …
Above all, the empirical data about climate change make it clear that the moment is ripe for this encyclical. A long line of gurus, of whom Francis is the latest, is now converging with a large number of contemporary scientists; instead of scriptures, the physicists and chemists consult the latest printouts from their computer models, but the two ways of knowing seem to be making the same point. …
It’s quite possible — probable, even — that the pope will lose this fight. He’s united science and spirit, but that league still must do battle with money.
Pope Francis’ visit to the United States this week won’t include California. It’s a missed opportunity. Rarely has such a secular blue state had so much in common with a spiritual leader. …
We welcome him, and hope his presence brings more of the nation around to a more Californian viewpoint during his trip, which coincides with Climate Week.
University of California: “The war on climate change: Are we at a new tipping point?”
“I told him that the poorest 3 billion people are going to suffer the worst consequences of climate change, even though they had very little to do with that pollution,” he said. The pope asked what he could do about it, so Ramanathan asked him to please ask people in his speeches to be better stewards of the planet. …
“An alliance between science, religion and policy could be the tipping point we need toward real action on climate change,” Ramanathan said, and momentum seems to be building.
Sacramento Bee: “Dan Morain: How oil won the battle for SB 350”
Faced with demands made by industry and well-greased Assembly members from his own Democratic Party, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León concluded last week that he had no choice but to gut the most significant part of his Senate Bill 350, the sections that sought to force a 50 percent reduction in oil use. …
[Assemblyman Adam] Gray is one of 20 or so Assembly Democrats who call themselves moderates [see story below], and held out against the petroleum reduction in SB 350. As near as I can tell, being a moderate has little to do with their stands on social issues, or their willingness to challenge the core of Democratic support, public employee unions; they aren’t.
Rather, the definition seems to revolve around a willingness to accept campaign money from oil, tobacco or anyone else, and their malleability when donors come calling.
On the final day of the session Friday, Democrats who dominate the California Assembly labored to pass a watered-down measure expanding the state’s unpaid family leave policy. …
But the level of persuasion needed to advance even weakened legislation underscores the influence of moderate Assembly Democrats — a loosely formed group elected with the help of corporate interests. Their mark was most indelible on the just-completed session, where time after time they thwarted liberal legislation, from climate change to minimum wage. … Moderates significantly altered or blocked several bills.
The gutted cinder-block homes slated for demolition in the western Fresno County town of Five Points are a haunting symbol of [Diana] Toscano’s struggle during one of the worst droughts in California’s history: finding enough children to keep the local Migrant Head Start Center from shutting its doors. …
“The kids have left. Look at all the families that had to leave this area because there is no water,” Toscano said as she toured the abandoned homes. “They could have been at our center.”
Brown traveled to the scorched hillside at Cowboy Camp, just off fire-ravaged Highway 20, and, as helicopters circled nearby, said the fire illustrates that climate change is both real and destructive. The message, he said, isn’t getting through. Asked what he would tell presidential candidates on the day of the Republican debate, Brown was emphatic.
“California is burning,” he said. “What the hell are you going to do about it?
“This is a wake-up call. We have to start coming to our senses. This is not a game of politics. We need to limit our carbon pollution. These are real lives and real people. This problem cannot be solved year by year.”
Following the bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, the Western Water and American Food Security Act, U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) have introduced similar legislation entitled the California Emergency Drought Relief Act, to address the drought while including more specific environmental protection provisions. …
The legislation, which has a focus on compliance with the existing Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act, has some of the provisions that originated in the largely-Republican House drought bill which seeks to address the drought with short and long-term provisions.
Sac Bee Editorial: “Feinstein-Boxer water bill offers some hope”
For all the pain this miserable drought has caused, perhaps some good could come of it. …
Although Republicans who control Congress will have their say, the Feinstein-Boxer 147-page opus includes plenty to embrace, not the least of which is that it offers $1.3 billion for California’s water system, an important though modest sum in this large and thirsty state.
Mercury News: “Cap and trade: Is California a leader or a loner?”
Cap and trade is among the most pioneering — yet controversial — elements of California’s multi-layered approach to combating climate change. The program covers most major polluting industries and is generating billions of dollars for the state, money that must be poured into efforts to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Courts have so far upheld the approach in the face of legal challenges.
Yet the national reach of the program has fallen short of expectations. One Canadian province has joined, and another is working on it. But California remains the only state that charges almost every industry a price for emitting carbon.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way, said former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, who carried Assembly Bill 32, the 2006 measure that led to cap and trade.
“The environmental community said, ‘Look, the reason why this has to be the most progressive bill is because once California passes a law, all of these other states are going to follow suit. All of them,'” Núñez said in a recent interview.
“The irony of this is that once the law passed in California, no one followed suit. No one.”
Tucked around the corner, however, was an unassuming and unmanned booth that, although less familiar, was promoting what may be the most extreme, chillingly ambitious and potentially far-reaching ALEC initiative yet imagined — an attempt to trigger Article V of the United States Constitution in a historically unprecedented call for a national convention of states to amend the foundational document that is the supreme law of our land.
And that prospect, labor economist and veteran ALEC-watcher Jane Carter told Capital & Main on the final day of the meeting, is “terrifying.” …
“A constitutional convention could open the floodgates to destroying the Constitution in and of itself,” Carter explained, “and they’re this close to getting it done. I mean it’s just a matter of getting a few more states on board.” …
Of particular concern to her is its newest, more localized arm, the American City County Exchange (ACCE), which retargets ALEC laws at the municipal and county levels through so-called preemption legislation. Those bills override local controls on everything from fracking bans to Living Wage ordinances, while curiously allowing localities to pass city and county right-to-work measures.
Capital & Main: ALEC Conference Coverage
Press Enterprise (Riverside): “California serves as ATM for candidates”
When the billionaire Koch brothers and several hundred mega-donor allies roll into Dana Point this weekend, the conservative coalition will have more on its agenda than the usual screening of favored presidential candidates and discussions about policy. …
The gathering is another reminder of California’s role as an ATM in national politics. The state is strongly Democratic. But Republican and Democratic candidates regularly head west in search of campaign dollars.
“They’re not here for the votes. It’s all about the Benjamins,” said Jack Pitney, a professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College. … The Kochs’ network of free-market advocates is easily the largest private financial force in politics.
Daily Kos (Dartagnan): “ALEC Crawls Out From Under Its Rock To Declare War On The Rest Of Us”
More than anything else, this shows why the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision was such an abomination: it allowed people just like this to take over our country by buying out our political system. This time, however, what they’re doing has life-altering consequences for us all. …
It means corporations have devised a way to make the surplus population pay for the slow death of the planet, and all of the human suffering that will come with it.
The left’s bête noire — the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — held its three-day annual conference in San Diego last week. As Capital & Main’s man-on-the-scene Bill Raden reported, it was not unlike a pack of wild animals feeding: It “would be hard to imagine an audience hungrier for the red meat Governor Walker threw out to it,” he wrote.
Capital & Main: “ALEC Confidential” – Complete Conference Coverage
Capital & Main: “Labor Rally Sends ALEC Conference Into Lockdown Mode”
For the 1,300 state legislators and corporate lobbyists gathered inside, the perceived security threat turned out to be from those who stand the most to lose from ALEC attacks on workplace rights, minimum wage laws and state health and environmental standards — California workers.
Capital & Main: “Inside the San Diego Conference”
ALEC, a secretive rightwing bill mill that gets its funding from the Koch Brothers and global multibillion dollar corporations, has been described as a legislative dating service that arranges hookups between mostly Republican state lawmakers and corporate lobbyists.
Capital & Main: “Scott Walker Talks the Walk”
Scott Walker couldn’t have asked for more. … his audience was ravenous for any vision that included destroying unions and cracking down on America’s criminal underclass. … Every key bill Walker has been associated with, since his get-tough-on-crime heyday as a state assemblyman in the 1990s, has been a plagiarism of an ALEC model bill.
The Nation: “Meet ALEC’s Little Brother, ACCE”
The right-wing lobby’s newest offshoot is equipping city and county officials with the tools to promote special-interest bills at the local level.
With Congress and the states gridlocked and dominated by special-interest spending, America’s cities have emerged as engines of policy innovation. … So how has the American Legislative Exchange Council, a powerful lobby serving right-wing interests at the state level, responded to this resurgence of local democracy? With a systematic effort to destroy it. …
ALEC has launched a new offshoot aimed at city and county government called the American City County Exchange. … By asking cities and counties to risk costly lawsuits with the passage of local right-to-work laws, while simultaneously warning of the “threat” posed by cities that have the authority to raise the local minimum wage, ACCE seems to be walking a tightrope. …
Reconciling these seemingly contradictory positions is easy, says Mark Pertschuk of the group Grassroots Change. “What ALEC stands for is not local control. It is money. The guiding principle to their astonishing hypocrisy is protecting the profits of ALEC’s funders.”
Learn more at ALEC Exposed
Capitol Public Radio: “Climate Change Meets Drought in California”
“Religion deals with the fundamentals,” he said. “When you deal with the fundamentals of what makes the atmosphere, and the weather, and whether that permanently or radically changes, that’s very similar to a fundamental principle of right and wrong.”
But as much as their visit will highlight shared concerns about the environment, the politician and the pontiff come at climate change from very different points of view. Like many Democrats, Brown argues that governments can enact greenhouse gas reduction policies without inhibiting economic growth.
The pope? … The unfettered pursuit of money, he said, is the “dung of the devil.” In particular, he appeared to criticize a central part of California’s greenhouse gas reduction program known as cap-and-trade, … [which] “may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.”
How Stuff Works: “Why can’t we manufacture water?”
Water is made of two hydrogen atoms attached to an oxygen atom. This seems like pretty basic chemistry, so why don’t we just smash them together and solve the world’s water ills? Theoretically, this is possible, but it would be an extremely dangerous process, too. …
The orbits of each atom’s electrons must become linked, and to do that we must have a sudden burst of energy… . Since hydrogen is extremely flammable and oxygen supports combustion, it wouldn’t take much to create this force. Pretty much all we need is a spark …
But we also have an explosion… . The ill-fated blimp, the Hindenburg, was filled with hydrogen to keep it afloat. … static electricity … caused the hydrogen to spark. When mixed with the ambient oxygen in the air, the hydrogen exploded, enveloping the Hindenburg in a ball of fire that completely destroyed the ship within half a minute.
KQED: “Growing Labor Movement Shakes Up Silicon Valley” (Part 1)
Called Silicon Valley Rising, this coalition of labor unions, faith leaders and community-based organizations is orchestrating a campaign to raise families out of poverty by pushing for a livable wage, affordable housing and corporate responsibility. They are now highlighting the plight of service workers, the majority of which are immigrants.
KQED: “Silicon Valley Firms Beginning to Make Labor Concessions” (Part 2)
Corporations won’t talk about their wage policies and the current labor campaign in Silicon Valley. But observers say that Silicon Valley companies know they can’t ignore the organizing activity and public opinion.
Jesus Solorio’s stubbornness serves him well. Instead of winding up a victim of the surging income inequality in Silicon Valley, he has become a tireless labor activist, refusing to let go of the American Dream.
“I like being a champion of raising the minimum wage,” said Solorio in Spanish. “I like being around other people, helping them so they can have better salaries and live a better life.”