A proposed California law would require the attorney general to conduct immediate investigations of immigrant-detention deaths.
A proposed California law would compel companies seeking public contracts to deliver the high-quality wages that they promise.
Also this week: The public school racial wealth gap, charter school operators indicted for stealing millions and CSU applicants may be hit with higher fees.
Co-published by the American Prospect
The strike by Uber and Lyft drivers came amidst highly anticipated initial public offerings from the two rideshare giants.
The stories of the more than 800,000 men, women and children working in California’s fields—one-third of the nation’s agricultural work force—are rarely heard. A new book, Chasing the Harvest, presents oral histories of people whose lives have been shaped by California agriculture.
Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, a social earthquake in which dozens of people were killed and over a thousand buildings burned. Even before it erupted, the combustible material was obvious to many living and working in South Los Angeles.
Interviews with a range of thinkers reveal the likely shape of things to come during a Trump presidency.
Maria Elena Durazo knows about immigrant workers, labor and civil rights. She has headed up the hospitality union UNITE HERE’s Immigration, Civil Rights, and Diversity program since 2014.
(Yesterday David Bacon examined a decades-long labor war being fought by Gerawan Farming against the United Farm Workers — a union against which the company has been accused of orchestrating a decertification campaign. His reporting concludes today with a look at Gerawan’s political allies and the company’s attempt to overturn a key California labor law.)
As this fight unfolds, national anti-union organizations are moving in. The far-right Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence joined the appeals case. In recent years the Center has joined the Harris v. Quinn suit against the Service Employees International Union in Illinois, sued the California Labor Commissioner on behalf of employers, argued for Hobby Lobby stores against providing birth control for their employees, and supported the initiative to end affirmative action in Michigan.
Furthermore, the Center for Worker Freedom, headquartered in the Washington, D.C. offices of Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform (ATR),
When hundreds of people marched to the Los Angeles City Council last October, urging it to pass a resolution supporting a farm worker union fight taking place in California’s San Joaquin Valley, few had ever heard the name of the company involved. That may not be the case much longer. Gerawan Farming, one of the country’s largest growers, with 5,000 people picking its grapes and peaches, is challenging the California law that makes farm workers’ union rights enforceable. Lining up behind Gerawan are national anti-union think tanks. What began as a local struggle by one grower family to avoid a union contract is getting bigger, and the stakes are getting much higher.
The Gerawan workers got the City Council’s support and, on February 10, the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education passed a resolution that went beyond just an encouraging statement. The LAUSD purchases Gerawan’s Prima label fruit through suppliers for 1,270 schools and 907,000 students.
Nearly a decade ago, L.A. labor leader María Elena Durazo organized the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, a national caravan that brought immigrants and their supporters around the country to Washington, D.C., to push for immigration reform. In the ensuing years, there has been much talk but no action on extending legal protections to the country’s millions of undocumented immigrants.
All that changed yesterday, when President Barack Obama announced that he would sign an executive order granting temporary protection to as many as 5 million immigrants. Advocates were elated, while critics sharpened their knives and prepared for a PR counteroffensive.
Capital & Main spoke by phone with Ms. Durazo this morning shortly after she arrived in Las Vegas to join the President as he signs the executive order into law.
Capital & Main: What do you think of President Obama’s executive order granting temporary protection to undocumented immigrants?
María Elena Durazo announced today that she will leave the LA County Federation of Labor, which she has led for more than eight years.
“I feel that the Los Angeles labor movement is very strong, very progressive, very proactive,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “Altogether, we have accomplished a lot. And there is a passion I have always had for immigration and civil rights. So I have the opportunity to do this and completely focus on those issues.”
Durazo will take a new post as international vice-president for immigration, civil rights and diversity at UNITE HERE, whose Los Angeles-based Local 11 she led before joining the County Fed.
The Partnership for Working Families Summit kicked off Tuesday in Los Angeles as activists from around the country convened at the Biltmore Hotel for three days of workshops and talks focused on creating good jobs, sustainable industries and strong unions.
The Partnership includes such groups as the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), Puget Sound Sage and the Alliance for a Greater New York (ALIGN). While attendees came from a range of organizations and campaigns, the idea that cities can be platforms for change provided a common thread. As Leslie Moody, the Partnership’s outgoing executive director, put it in her opening remarks, “Cities matter.”
Moody pointed to the new set of progressive mayors taking office across the U.S., but added that elected leaders do not act alone. She cited the way communities have pushed new civic officials to follow through with constructive policies.
“We’re not going to wait for federal change,” Moody said,
There was a time when we listened to science, leaned forward when its experts spoke about smoking, clean air and water, or the need for something called a seatbelt. But that was long ago, before corporate interests convinced us that the best policy for just about any social crisis was to do nothing. Today research surveys that statistically demonstrate the benefits of raising the minimum wage have about the same chance of being heard above the denial din as climate change papers.
Nevertheless, the authors of Effects of a Fifteen Dollar an Hour Minimum Wage in the City of Los Angeles, a new study conducted by the Economic Roundtable and funded by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, hope to open some very closed minds about these economic benefits. Tuesday the two groups released the study at a media event held on a corner of Lafayette Park.
In 2004, after a long string of Republican governors and the shockingly narrow defeat of Prop. 72—which would have ushered in the most progressive health care reform ever implemented in the United States—California labor leaders got mad. And then they got organized.
“We said, we’re never going to lose that bad again—what do we have to do to change?” said California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski, who moderated [last] Wednesday’s AFL-CIO 2013 Convention panel discussion “Winning and Building Over Time: Winning in California and You Can, Too.”
The federation decided to do an extensive poll of all of their unions and labor council affiliates, asking members how they voted, who they voted for and what kinds of actions they took, and then conducting an analysis. They discovered that some unions and locals were vastly out-performing others, and that if each affiliate had carried their own weight,
Maria Elena Durazo serves as Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, which represents more than 600,000 union workers. She is also the Chair of the National AFL-CIO’s Immigration Committee and recently spoke to Frying Pan News about the pending immigration bill in Congress, as well as a new student film competition that her organization and UNITE HERE are sponsoring. (Part 1 of this interview appeared yesterday.)
Frying Pan News: Is there something in particular that bugs you about the immigration bill?
Maria Elena Durazo: Yes! We want to make sure that there’s an alternative to the past guest worker model. We’re hopeful that we can fix the language through what’s commonly referred to as the Labor-Chamber agreement. There are three elements to it. One, that there be an objective, data-driven analysis of the future needs of workers in this country.
Seven years ago María Elena Durazo, the head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, stood on a stage erected at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, facing a sea of demonstrators who had just paraded miles in support of immigrant rights. In the twilight of that May Day, as Durazo addressed several hundred thousand people, the march for immigration reform seemed unstoppable – an irresistible historic tide that was poised to sweep away any objections.
Then came an angry backlash that saw anti-immigrant legislation passed in Arizona and Alabama that made Proposition 187 – California’s 1994 ballot initiative curbing immigrant rights – seem tame by comparison. Frying Pan News sat down with Durazo to discuss the pending immigration bill in Congress, as well as a new student film competition that her organization is sponsoring with UNITE HERE, a union whose members are largely immigrants.
Rainey’s story is generally a good one, filled with facts and figures. He’s even careful to use his data to set the record straight when it contradicts what one of his interviewees says. For example, after the County Federation of Labor’s Maria Elena Durazo says “that the average city worker receives $32,000 in retirement,” Rainey writes, “The website for the city’s civilian retirement system puts the average pension benefit for 12,000 current retirees about 40 percent higher than Durazo’s figure.”
Okay, so he checks Durazo’s stats and she appears to be mistaken.