You get the basics in high school. The federal government is divided into three branches (executive, legislative, judicial). Locally you’ve got the mayor and the city council. Etc. Most of us don’t graduate with enough knowledge so that as adults we truly grasp how even the most well-known governmental power structures really work (what percentage of Americans can actually explain the Electoral College?), let alone more obscure power centers.
The Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community is aiming to redress this lack of knowledge through a series of Power Analysis Workshops (or PAWs), which the coalition says are intended “to build collective knowledge of the power of local government [, …] of where branches of government get their power, how they impact the community and how residents can ensure local government works for all residents.”
“It’s important that all residents are engaged in the political process and understand how the decisions their representatives make impact their daily lives,” says Christine Petit,
Barack Obama’s nomination of Penny Pritzker as Commerce Secretary was a poke in the eye of the American labor movement. The niece of the founder of the Hyatt Hotel chain and current member of the company’s board, Pritzker is a key player in what UNITE HERE calls “the worst hotel employer in America.”
But even if this appointment can be turned into a tactical advantage for the union campaign, the Pritzker family brand as notorious union busters has many progressives irritated or worse by Obama’s choice. (Recently workers at two Hyatts in Long Beach California won union representation after a tough three-year battle which included the passage of Proposition N,
Pastor Nestor Gerente welcomed the overflow audience of nearly 350 Long Beach activists at last week’s People’s State of the City gathering and said, “This is a great crowd. Where are you on Sunday mornings?”
The 23 organizations sponsoring the event, under the tent of the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community, are still buoyant from victory in last November’s election. That’s when Measure N, the Hotel Workers’ Minimum Wage Law, passed by 64 percent of the voters, raised wages to $13 an hour for some of the lowest paid hotel workers in L.A. County. The stunning triumph was made possible by a grassroots mobilization and door-to-door campaign of union and community members.
Grace United Methodist Church’s beautiful sanctuary was filled with people of every racial and ethnic background now living in California’s seventh largest city. Long Beach has nearly half a million residents —
On Sunday the Los Angeles Times published a story about the important successes of campaigns to pass local minimum wage and living wage laws. However, while highlighting new developments that will impact local economies and the lives of workers, the Times missed the real story and forces behind this growing trend.
The piece focused on two ballot-box victories for living wage laws: a minimum wage for hotel workers in Long Beach and a citywide minimum wage increase in San Jose.
“The victories put these two California cities on the cusp of an emerging trend,” wrote Wesley Lowery. “Ballot initiatives, labor experts say, have the potential to rewrite labor’s playbook for how to win concessions from management.” Throughout the piece, Lowery presented the minimum wage ballot measures as a tactic put in place and managed from behind the scenes by labor leaders.
Sustainable economies are built on good jobs. If people don’t earn enough money, they can’t keep the economy growing by buying goods and services.
This basic fact is lost on opponents of minimum-wage increases, who for decades have been arguing that these pay hikes hurt businesses, cause job loss and therefore are bad for the economy.
Repetition of an argument might keep it in the news, but it doesn’t make it factually credible. So it is with minimum-wage rejectionists, who have succeeded in getting at least equal time for their assertions with every proposed wage increase, even though their claims have been debunked over and over again.
It is no surprise, then, that the Reason Foundation’s Adam Summers in his op-ed in the Business Journal predicts dire consequences if California were to increase its minimum wage law (“Higher Minimum Wage Will Lower Job Prospects,” February 11).