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Fun fact: L.A. leads the nation in jobs—just the kind that most people don’t think of as jobs. We’re the national leader in “nonemployers:” entities relying on independent contractors rather than employees. As economist Jack Kyser explained in 2006, “a lot of people want to have a business but don’t want the headaches of actually having to employ people.” The Times cited Kyser in explaining that “businesses become nonemployers to avoid the costs of workers’ compensation, paid leave, health insurance and state taxes.”
In many cases this sort of practice is, not to put too fine a word on it, illegal. Starting in just a few weeks, though, the state has a powerful new tool to deal with these lawbreakers. SB 459 goes into effect on January 1, 2012, and it levies large fines against employers who willfully misclassify workers as independent contractors to avoid their legal and tax responsibilities.
(This feature first appeared on L.A. Progressive. Reposted with author’s permission.)
Having captured the public’s rapt attention in just two short months but now facing increasingly well-coordinated and sometimes brutal police crackdowns, the Occupy Movement faces hard questions about its lasting impact. What will Occupy 2.0 look like, many want to know, and how will it get there?
If a meeting this past weekend between representatives from a half dozen Occupy encampments in California and perhaps 200 members of the California Progressive Caucus is any guide, the Occupy Movement has already enlisted several generations of progressive activists who are eager to support, leverage, and amplify the Occupiers’ ground-breaking work.
The meeting was, indeed, a kumbaya moment, one that suggests that the movement has embedded itself deeply into the progressive political psyche.
Gathering at the California Democratic Party’s Executive Board meeting this past weekend in Burlingame,
Earlier this month, 36 House Republicans filed an amicus court brief to support corporate America’s war on workers’ rights. They are embracing a suit filed by the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Restaurant Association , and other business lobbies to block a new ruling by the National Labor Relations Board.
This ruling, by one of those out-of-control federal government agencies, could be devastating to the job-creating corporations that are the engine of the American economy. Just listen to those who should know:
“The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is causing great uncertainty among manufacturers at a time when our economy is struggling to recover,” Jay Timmons, President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, recently warned.
“Just when we thought we had seen it all from the NLRB, it has reached a new low in its zeal to punish small business owners,”
A recent weekend became a lesson in the new global economy. For two days I emptied out much of the accumulated “stuff” from my garage – dishes, pots and pans that my kids used in their student days; excess furniture; framed posters, old clothes and much more. Some of it went to the Salvation Army, while I took broken things to a recycling center. Obviously I had too many possessions.
On a Saturday afternoon I ventured to Costco for the first time in 10 years. Hundreds of shoppers were busy filling their super-sized carts with large quantities of…..well…everything. Household supplies, bulk food, cleaning fluids, soda, clothing, electronics, furniture. But in quantities you never dreamed you needed (and probably don’t) and for amazingly low per-unit prices. Most of the manufactured goods seemed to come from China.
That Sunday night I rented Last Train Home,
In 1985, my parents began their journey from the rural mountains of Honduras to the United States of America—the land of opportunity. They endured six months of starvation, loneliness and fear of la migra in order to realize their own American dream of stability and prosperity.
My parents took their first job opportunities the moment they came their way — when they did not understand English, had only a Honduran elementary education and needed a source of income fast. My dad became a full-time auto mechanic and my mom a part-time waitress. Although both jobs paid relatively low, had no benefits and called for exhaustingly long hours, my parents continued to keep their heads high and managed to provide the basic necessities for my siblings and myself.
As a first-generation Honduran-American living in Northeast Los Angeles, I am constantly reminded of the struggles and injustices workers face daily. I see discrimination,