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In a week dominated by the Republican National Convention, most silly quotes were related to the presidential campaign. Indeed, this entire page could have consisted of Clint Eastwood’s bizarre one-man sketch at the convention. (Best headline belonged to Wonkette: Fox News Suddenly Loves Hollywood Elitists After Clint Eastwood Yelled at a Chair.) Still, there was a bit of silliness for everyone.
Local government issues may not appear to be on the Presidential ballot this November. But the national elections, for President and Congress, will affect our local governments and our daily lives for years afterward.
Like all governments, local administrations are funded by tax revenues. A small number of municipalities and counties across the U.S. have their own income taxes, usually under one percent, but sometimes higher. Every county in Indiana, Kentucky and Maryland, 560 cities and villages in Ohio, and big cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York, Birmingham, and St. Louis receive funds from local income taxes. Most municipal and county governments, however, rely on property and sales taxes.
But a sizable chunk of local government spending comes from federal and state tax revenues that are then given to local governments as grants. Decisions about the federal budget thus have a major direct impact on our home towns.
Like any holiday, Labor Day comes with some inevitable scenarios. Number One is that most Americans will take a well-deserved day off, courtesy of the efforts of the labor movement. Next, many of us will barbecue on grills that were paid for by middle class jobs that only exist because of the success of that movement.
But this holiday comes with another inevitability: The Sunday morning newspaper or Web stories proclaiming that people don’t want to join unions anymore. However, despite what the editorial writers and columnists say, the real reason people don’t join unions is that U.S. labor laws are so weak that they are nearly worthless – and the right to join a union is a joke.
When I went to work for my first employer after high school I was part of an organizing drive and a strong majority of the workers – 43 out of 62 – signed cards asking for a union to represent us.
After a 4½ hour hearing, including strong testimony from members of the Don’t Waste LA coalition, the L.A. City Energy & Environment Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee on Waste Reduction & Recycling unanimously approved pushing a policy framework for an exclusive franchise system with strong standards. Yesterday, I posted the testimony I provided at the hearing.
This is a big moment for L.A. waste policy because at the conclusion of the hearing, these committee members determined that an exclusive franchise model has the best likelihood of success to achieve environmental objectives. Despite claims otherwise, after careful deliberation, the committees decided that they want to create a national model for sustainability in the waste collection for multi-family and commercial properties.
Overall, I was happy these council members were not duped by proposals of opponents of strong reform who promised benefits overnight.
For hundreds of warehouse workers like Daniel Lopez of Riverside, working in unsafe conditions for up to 16 hours a day, for months at a time, is not uncommon. Asking for safe and clean working conditions or a reasonable work schedule could mean losing his job. (Watch Daniel’s video, above, about his experience in the warehouse.)
Last week, Daniel and I, along with other workers, went to Sacramento to urge the California Senate to pass AB 1855. They did, and if signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, AB 1855, sponsored by Assembly member Norma Torres and Senator Juan Vargas, will extend basic protections to tens of thousands of warehouse workers.
Fly-by-night contractors dominate the warehousing industry and provide a buffer between retailers like Walmart and the workers who move their goods. We have seen it many times; staffing agencies that supply workers in warehouses disappear overnight and leave workers without a job and without a paycheck.