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Ed Padgett was driving in the rain to a union meeting when the L.A. Times called to tell him he was fired. The pressman, a third-generation Times employee, listened in shock last December to an HR woman’s voice explain he was being dismissed for “safety violations, dishonesty and suspicion of sabotage.”
That last charge had a bittersweet irony. Padgett had been at the paper for more than 39 years and had done everything he could to help it prosper – even as members of the corporate wrecking crew that drove the paper into bankruptcy were still counting their money.
“It was similar to jumping into an icy cold pool of water,” Padgett recalls. “I felt like crying because I’d been there so damn long, but I soon got over it.” He drove on to his meeting in La Mirada, but hasn’t been back to the Times printing plant on Olympic Boulevard to clean out his locker.
Sometimes a simple statement can provide a window onto a worldview; in this case, the arrogance of privilege.
The City of El Segundo, home to a huge Chevron refinery, is considering raising the oil giant’s taxes to help meet the demands of a growing town. Refineries around the state pay far higher taxes to their local governments than Chevron does. The proposal would bring Chevron in line with its competitors and in line with a common sense definition of fairness.
Chevron, of course, wants to hold on to its growing profits and is fighting hard against any tax increase. It is doing the same at its Richmond, California refinery. In 2011, the company asked Contra Costa County to lower its assessed property value from $1.8 billion in 2007 and $1.15 billion in 2008. Contra Costa assessed the property value at $3 billion. If an appeals board rules in Chevron’s favor,
It’s been a busy, contentious couple of weeks on the economic front. As part of an ongoing series of conversations about the economy, politics and the future of Los Angeles, Frying Pan News asked USC Professor and economist Manuel Pastor to separate the good, the bad and the ugly.
Frying Pan News: Did President Obama’s State of the Union speech reclaim his status as a progressive populist?
Manuel Pastor: It certainly seems that he has his mojo back. This speech was one of the first times he was able to frame what he is doing in a way that makes sense. One element of the speech that was important was the concept that success come from teamwork, wrapping the idea of interdependency into the national narrative. The second thing is he was very clear that concerns about inequality do not stem from people begrudging others’ economic success;
By Mark Naison
In preparation for my course, The Worker in American Life, I am reading about the broad-based assault on industrial labor that took place during the 1980 and ’90s in a broad swath of the United States from New England through the Pacific Northwest.
Plant closings, transfer of family businesses to international conglomerates, union busting, and finally, the destruction of a wage scale and union rules that allowed factory workers to live in comfort and security and have dignity on the job hit the nation with the force of a juggernaut. In industrial cities, and in small towns which depended on industrial production, the results were devastating. These communities where then beset by a host of social ills – drug epidemics,