Capital & Main’s Latest News Section.
(This post by the California Labor Federation’s Steve Smith first appeared at Labor’s Edge.)
A new report released today by the AFL-CIO shows that more than 305,000 Californians will lose their unemployment benefits on December 31 if Congress fails to act to extend unemployment insurance.
Electrician Alexander Stewart, who has been out of work since July 2010 and will lose benefits if Congress fails to act by the end of the year:
We elect Congress to look out for the interests of everyday people. It’s appalling that elected officials would let petty politics stand in the way of extending unemployment insurance, the only thing keeping my family and so many others afloat in these tough times.
In California as well as across the country, jobless workers and their communities will be holding actions Thursday to call attention to the ongoing jobs crisis and to urge Congress to take immediate action to extend unemployment benefits.
More than one million Americans work at Walmart. I am one of them. I started at the Mount Vernon, Wash., store in November of 1999 as a sales associate in sporting goods and worked my way up to an assistant manager. After a couple of years I no longer had any pride in my job. I felt like I was treating people like property instead of employees. Now I work as a sales floor associate and a front-end cashier.
Many of my co-workers became homeless because they had their hours cut. Many associates are living in poverty and are afraid to speak out and ask for more hours. They fear retaliation.
You’ve heard that story before. But here’s something new. I have joined the Organization United for Respect at Walmart, OUR Walmart for short. It is a new organization of former and current Walmart associates who are coming together to get respect at work from one of the nation’s largest employers.
Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster and messaging guru, gave a recent talk where he described his 10 biggest Do’s and Dont’s for talking about the economy in the post-Occupy Wall Street environment. It’s worth reviewing these 10 points and reflecting on what Luntz’s insights on behalf of the 1% tell us about how we can successfully talk about the issues we care about, on behalf of the 99%.
The main thing – the frightening thing – is that Luntz has a history of actually succeeding at changing the debate in America. Why? Because Republicans like Luntz are masters of the reductive fear phrase and it comes out all over his suggestions. These are the guys, after all, who turned inheritance duties into “death taxes” and from that, advisory health committees into “death panels.” But they’re clearly on the defensive here – for the time being.
Luntz begins his talk to the Republican base by admitting,
A little while ago, after the Long Beach City Council’s Elections Oversight Committee decided to consider revising the city’s lobbying ordinance to include the kind of 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations that I work with, nonprofits and their members filled the Council chambers to defend the ordinance as it was written, nonprofit exemption intact.
The distinctions between our work of and that of paid lobbyists seemed obvious. For starters, nonprofits are working for people not – um – profit. From the arts to autism, good jobs to good mental health, sustainable food to affordable housing, nonprofits representing a broad swath of Long Beach residents and issue areas drove the message home: “We’re not lobbyists.”
Beyond wearing stickers saying “people are our special interest,” each speaker teased out more of the things that set us apart from lobbyists. Unlike lobbyists, nonprofits have several federally regulated checks in place to ensure that the issues we work on and our funding streams (among many other things) are transparent to the public.
What is the trucking industry response to claims that port drivers are actually employees who have been stripped of their basic rights by trucking companies? Robert Digges, a spokesman for the American Trucking Associations, tripped on his own tongue on a CBS national news segment when he tried protesting the idea that trucking companies are cheating workers – and it’s getting picked up on blogs like the Daily Kos.
“They (trucking companies) believe they get a more productive employee – excuse me a more effective worker – a worker who is efficient, who has some skin in the game.”
So, the industry that dismantled the Los Angeles Clean Truck Program finally lets the truth slip: port truck drivers are actually employees who have had their rights stripped from them by greedy port trucking companies seeking to pad their bottom line.
“As long as we are independent contractors (the company) doesn’t have to cover benefits,