Tag Archives: employee free choice act

1200 RNs Make House Call on Sen. Feinstein–Weds, 1:00 p.m.

You would think that Sen. Feinstein would be a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act, wouldn’t you?

Representing this state, coming from her city, in light of the broken union election system we face and the heartbreak it inflicts on American workers…she should.

RNs are especially invested in the Employee Free Choice Act because unionized nurses save lives, and because hospital owners are some of the most vicious, unethical, and criminal union-busters out there.

So tomorrow, 1200 RNs will make a house call to Sen. Feinstein’s house, demanding that she cosponsor this life-saving, long-overdue legislation. They’ll leave a rose with a personalized note explaining their story of how being a unionized RN has changed their life…or saved someone else’s.

Deborah Burger, RN, co-President of CNA  says:

“In the past, Senator Feinstein has said she supported the bill, but appears to be wavering.  1,200 RNs are making this house call to let her know that employers are trying to silence us when we advocate in facilities, and that patients end up paying the price for this union-busting.  Employers are breaking the law in their harassment of nurses, and we deserve a free choice and a fair chance to speak up for ourselves.”

Trade unionists and supporters are invited to attend:

WHAT: 1,200 RNs leave roses and notes demanding

          Sen. Feinstein sponsor labor law reform

WHERE: Senator Feinstein’s residence

            2460 Lyon Street in San Francisco

WHEN: Wednesday, September 9 at 1:00 p.m.

FOLLOWED BY: Nurses rally outside Feinstein’s office

                       One Post St., at 2:00 p.m.

Broken News: DiFi Doesn’t Support The Same Thing Today She Didn’t Support Yesterday

If Dianne Feinstein really was backing away from supporting the Employee Free Choice Act, I’d be the first to blast her.  But she never supported it in the 111th Congress to begin with.  She remains the only Democratic member of the California delegation, in the House or Senate, not to co-sponsor the bill.  And she signaled her support for a compromise bill, which has a kind of “early voting” card check where workers mail in their cards to the NLRB, and if 50% return they get a union, three weeks ago.  So some reporter got fooled today by a Chamber of Commerce press release suggesting that DiFi “pulled her support” of the Employee Free Choice Act in a meeting with CoC folks from the Santa Clarita Valley.

Yeah, we get it. You want to break news. But at bare minimum, one Jon Dell should have:

Looked up the meaning of the word “cloture,” which apparently he does not know, since Feinstein’s vote for the bill isn’t needed for its passage

Asked Feinstein for comment instead of taking the word of an organization spending millions of dollars to defeat the bill, and

Done a simple Google search to determine Feinstein’s history with the bill, and discovered that she offered up her own compromise three weeks ago:

[Diane Feinstein’s] proposal would replace the card-check provision, which would allow workers to unionize if a majority signed authorization cards and strip a company’s ability to demand a secret ballot election. “It’s a secret ballot that would be mailed in … just like an absentee ballot. The individual could take it home and mail it in,” Feinstein said. If a majority mailed the ballots to the National Labor Relations Board, the NLRB would recognize the union.

What about that? Did she say anything about her own “compromise” bill? Well, we don’t know, because a bunch of “breathless” delegates from the Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce who know nothing about the history of the bill or Feinstein’s position apparently didn’t ask her about it, they just told their story to an equally incurious reporter who quickly decided that they “broke national news” in a “major turn of events.”

This doesn’t take Feinstein off the hook or anything – she ought to support the perfectly reasonable provisions of the bill as they stand right now.  The California Labor Federation is engaging in a two-day hunger strike in front of her San Francisco office (1 Post Street) to bring attention to DiFi’s position on Employee Free Choice.  But this “breaking news” is, um, broken.

DiFi’s Dishonest Spin on Employee Free Choice

At The Plum Line, Greg Sargent takes a look at Dianne Feinstein’s lack of support for the Employee Free Choice Act.  She remains the only Congressional Democrat from California not to co-sponsor the bill, and according to her spokesman, she’s looking for the mythical bipartisanship pony.

“I have thought for some time that the way to approach this issue is by trying to see if there can’t be a compromise between the business community, the agriculture community and labor. This is an extraordinarily difficult economy and feelings are very strong on both sides of the issue. I would hope there is some way to find common ground that would be agreeable to both business and labor.”

This is complete nonsense.  Employers are firing workers who try to organize.  They intimidate workers into voting against their better interests.  One out of every four unions elections were marred by illegal firings in 2007.  I don’t know how you can possibly reconcile the two sides given that scenario.

Furthermore, the invocation of the “difficult economy” is another red herring.  Sen. Tom Harkin has already done away with this nonsense by pulling out his history book.

The bill’s supporters are pointing to the downturn as the ultimate proof of their arguments that labor’s decline has helped put the economy out of balance and that only by restoring workers’ purchasing power can the nation return to broadly shared prosperity.

“In 1935, we passed the Wagner Act that promoted unionization and allowed unions to flourish, and at the time we were at around 20 percent unemployment. So tell me again why we can’t do this in a recession?” said  Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), invoking the pro-labor changes of the New Deal. “This is the time to do it. This is exactly the time we should be insisting on a fairer playing field for people to organize themselves.”

Because of Sen. Specter’s announced opposition, the Employee Free Choice Act faces an uphill battle.  But at the very least, Californians should expect that all of their representatives in Washington would understand the need to strengthen unions as a means to strengthening the overall middle class, increasing wages and BOOSTING, not hurting the economy.  Feinstein has a choice to make, and you can sign this letter from the Courage Campaign to let her know you’re watching her.

Time To Play A Game

Here’s a list of all the co-sponsors of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to join a union and harder for union-busting companies to intimidate and harass their own employees.  Since it was introduced on Tuesday, it has gained 223 co-sponsors in the House and 40 in the Senate.  If you click on California, you’ll get a rundown of every lawmaker in the state who has endorsed.

Do you notice who’s missing?

Her name rhymes with Schmeinstein.

And yes, she’s the ONLY ONE of the entire Democratic delegation who hasn’t endorsed.

Senator Feinstein’s Los Angeles office may not be aware of this fun fact.  Give them a call at (310) 914-7300, and ask why she’s the only California Democrat to withhold her support of the Employee Free Choice Act.

(what’s more, if you’re a union member, call your local supervisor and make sure they let their superiors know.  I’m sure the California Labor Federation would be interested in the news.)

Workers Explain Why We Need Employee Free Choice

At Wednesday’s rally in support of the Employee Free Choice Act, a number of brave workers who have been hurt by our broken labor law system spoke out to explain why we badly need this vital new law to protect the freedom of workers to form a union and bargain.

These workers are just a few of the nearly 30,000 workers who are harassed, discriminated against and fired every year for trying to exercise the freedom to bargain for health care, pensions and fair wages and treatment. Their stories illustrate, on an honest and personal level, the real problem with the nation’s current labor laws: People who want to form unions are at the mercy of corporations because the laws are badly tilted toward companies, not workers.

A long-time journalist and mother of a young child, Sara Steffens met with her co-workers to try and form a union at the newspaper where they worked in Contra Costa County, Calif. Workers hoped that with a union they could have job security and more of a say in how the newspaper operates. Despite gathering the support of two-thirds of the paper’s employees, they were met with a hostile response.

Our employer reacted the way a lot of companies do. They hired an anti-union consultant and began a pretty aggressive campaign to scare us into voting against the union. Despite all of that, we did win our election…A few weeks later, they announced a major layoff, and I was one…I had been the co-chair of our organizing committee.

I think it’s important that workers feel like they can step up and tackle problems in their workplace, and not have to be afraid that if they speak out they’re going to lose their jobs for it.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Asela Espiritu, a nurse who works for Kaiser Permanente in Orange County, Calif., discussed how Kaiser Permanente stayed neutral and allowed nurses at Espiritu’s facility to pursue a union through the legal majority sign-up process. Thanks to her and her co-workers’ successful efforts, the people who have the most direct experience in patient care have a voice when it comes to how the company operates. That’s good for nurses, for patients and for the company.

With us being unionized, we’re on the same page with management on how we can deliver the best care for our patients. The Employee Free Choice Act will empower workers of all kinds of industries….They will be able to be part of the solution to the crisis we have.

The high-dollar corporate attacks on the Employee Free Choice Act rely on the fiction that unions are sinister outside forces, separate from and unwanted by workers. That myth is leveled by the stories of real people like Steffens, Gares, Lawhorn and Espiritu, who are honest, hardworking people who just wanted the freedom to have a say in their workplace and the ability to bargain for a better life for themselves and their co-workers.

It’s stories like these that illustrate why the Employee Free Choice Act is so urgent and necessary to restore the balance for workers.

(Cross-posted from the AFL-CIO Now Blog.)

Solis Nomination Stalled Out Again, Over Husband’s Tax Issue

Hilda Solis’s confirmation in the Senate HELP Committee was abruptly cancelled today after a report surfaced about her husband paying $6,400 to remove a tax lien on his business.

The report, by USA Today, came just before the Senate’s Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee was slated to meet to consider Solis’s nomination, which had been delayed by questions over her role on the board of the pro-labor organization American Rights at Work. A source said that committee members did not learn about the tax issue until today.

“Today’s executive session was postponed to allow members additional time to review the documentation submitted in support of Representative Solis’s nomination to serve in the important position of Labor Secretary,” read a joint statement issued by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), the panel’s chairman, and Mike Enzi (Wyoming), the committee’s ranking Republican. “There are no holds on her nomination and members on both sides of the aisle remain committed to giving her nomination the fair and thorough consideration that she deserves. We will continue to work together to move this nomination forward as soon as possible.”

No new date has been set for the hearing. The disclosure about Solis’s husband comes after tax problems caused trouble for three of Obama’s top appointees, leading two of them — HHS-nominee Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer, who was to be chief performance officer — to withdraw.

Senate Republicans have been slow-walking this nomination for weeks, and this revelation gave them another reason to do so.  To be clear, we’re talking about her husband’s business.  Given that she’s in Congress and is in Washington most of the time, I doubt very highly that she has anything to do with it.  In addition, by paying the taxes, Solis and her entire family are adhering to Obama’s ethical standards, not subverting them.

So this is the latest in a months-long obstructionism.  The LA Times reported today that some GOP members were trying to put a gag order on Solis:

Underscoring the bitter debate over a proposal to make it easier for workers to form unions, Republican senators are suggesting that President Obama’s pick for Labor secretary must recuse herself from lobbying for the bill’s passage.

In a written exchange with Solis, Republican senators indicated they are wary of her ties to a tax-exempt group dedicated to helping workers unionize […]

Solis’ Cabinet nomination is in the crossfire. She was a co-sponsor of the bill in 2007 and has served for the last four years on the board of American Rights at Work. Solis receives no salary as a board member or treasurer […]

In their questionnaire, the senators noted that American Rights at Work has lobbied for passage of the bill. They asked Solis whether she would seek a waiver from the Obama administration or avoid any role in passing the legislation.

Solis replied that she does not need a waiver and has no intention of stepping back. She said she was only a member of Congress exercising her powers.

“I am not a registered lobbyist, nor do I in any way meet the statutory requirements for registration as a lobbyist,” she wrote.

The American Rights at Work thing is a complete red herring.  She was a representative figure for those who supported Employee Free Choice in Congress.  She is not a lobbyist.  She supported a bill.  And so denying her free-speech rights seems ridiculous to the extreme.

I don’t know if a family member’s tax issue is enough to sink this nomination (like the last Labor Secretary’s spouse, one Mitch McConnell, has no ethical issues to speak of), but I for one think Solis should be confirmed.  And as for the Employee Free Choice Act, the battle for a fair workplace goes on.  Thousands of people are marching in the streets of Los Angeles today in support of free choice.

Solis Finally Gets A Committee Vote Tomorrow

Good news: Hilda Solis will get a long-awaited confirmation vote to be the Secretary of Labor tomorrow in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.  The hold-up was ridiculous, based on “confusion” on Solis’ stand on the Employee Free Choice Act, when it was extremely clear where she stood (in full support), and even more clear that as a legislative issue she would have little to do with the legislation until it was enacted.  Earlier in the day, Think Progress noted that the right wing was attempting to Daschle-ize Solis for completely bogus reasons:

In the wake of Daschle’s departure, the right-wing is gunning for another Cabinet victim – Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), the nominee for Labor Secretary. The Heritage Foundation writes, “Hilda Solis: The Next Tom Daschle?”

According to The Hill, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) “has questioned whether Solis had done lobbying work while she was both a House member and an official at a pro-labor group, American Rights at Work” (ARW) […]

As for the “conflict of interest” that the right wing is highlighting? Solis wasn’t paid for her activities with ARW, and as the Washington Independent pointed out, her role was well-known and ceremonial:

“What would be the charge? Either that she participated in lobbying by being a leader with ARW, or that she erred by originally not mentioning this job in her disclosure documents. Two reasons this might not work: Solis’ role in ARW was well-known and ceremonial (it’s on their Website), and no congressman has hinted that he/she would file a complaint that could make a splash but not be deemed frivolous and politically motivated.”

This is typical right-wing obstructionism designed to score political points.  Let’s hope Solis is confirmed be a wide margin tomorrow.  It’s beyond ridiculous.

Related: CA-32 candidate Emanuel Pleitez, one of at least three to declare for Solis’ seat, has some good thoughts about the culpability of credit rating agencies in the financial meltdown.

CA-32: No Labor Getting The Labor Secretary Confirmed?

So after huffing and puffing for weeks, Arlen Specter got what he wanted out of the Eric Holder nomination hearings (his main potential primary opponent declined to run against him) and decided to back the Attorney General nominee.  After all the talk of principle and judgment, it just took improved electoral prospects for Specter to have a change of heart.  Funny how that goes.

But there’s another nominee that is languishing, perhaps the only true progressive in Obama’s cabinet, and many of us would like to know why.  Greg Sargent at his new digs reports on Hilda Solis’ nomination:

Why hasn’t Hilda Solis been confirmed as Labor Secretary yet, and why haven’t we heard from the unions or from the Obama administration about it?

Some top operatives in the labor movement are frustrated with the Obama administration for not giving them the go-ahead to publicly target Republicans who appear to be stalling Solis’ confirmation, people in the labor movement familiar with the situation tell me.

The silence from Obama aides on Solis is ominous to some labor officials, because they view the Republican efforts to hold up Solis as a first shot in the larger coming war over the Employee Free Choice Act, a top labor priority. Some labor officials worry that the Obama administration’s refusal to make an issue of the hold-up on Solis is a sign that the Obama team won’t act aggressively on Employee Free Choice.

“The anonymous hold on Solis is a clear proxy fight for Employee Free Choice,” says a top operative at a prominent union. “And from the Obama Adminisitration … crickets.”


Solis’ confirmation hearing was January 9 (you can track cabinet nominees here).  If anyone from the Obama team or in the entire Democratic Party has said two words about her since then, I’ve missed it.  Her position on the Employee Free Choice Act is well-known (she voted for it last year, after all) and so the talking point that she wasn’t “forthcoming” in her hearing is bogus.  Labor is apparently willing to make a lot of noise about this, but want a go-ahead from the Administration, according to Sargent.

“People are just frustrated because they are not getting a clear signal of when and where to fight,” the official says, though he adds that a second school of thought within labor holds that there’s nothing to worry about, and that labor should be “comfortable” with Obama’s “timing on the Solis nomination.”

Still, some in the labor movement were already worried about the administration’s commitment to acting on Employee Free Choice in his first year, as Sam Stein recently reported. And for these people, the administration’s silence on Solis is making it worse.

(Actually, the UFCW is demanding confirmation.  Good for them.)

If this is more of that post-partisanship and Obama’s team not wanting to tear down bridges to the business community though “divisiveness,” consider that those same businesses have no problem being divisive on their end.

Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S. labor community’s top legislative priority.

Participants on the October 17 call — including at least one representative from another bailout recipient, AIG — were urged to persuade their clients to send “large contributions” to groups working against the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), as well as to vulnerable Senate Republicans, who could help block passage of the bill.

Bernie Marcus, the charismatic co-founder of Home Depot, led the call along with Rick Berman, an aggressive EFCA opponent and founder of the Center for Union Facts. Over the course of an hour, the two framed the legislation as an existential threat to American capitalism, or worse.

“This is the demise of a civilization,” said Marcus. “This is how a civilization disappears. I am sitting here as an elder statesman and I’m watching this happen and I don’t believe it.” […]

“This bill may be one of the worst things I have ever seen in my life,” he said, explaining that he could have been on “a 350-foot boat out in the Mediterranean,” but felt it was more important to engage on this fight. “It is incredible to me that anybody could have the chutzpah to try and pass this bill in this election year, especially when we have an economy that is a disaster, a total absolute disaster.”

Remember that “decline of civilization” line the next time you need some hardware and have a choice of purchasing options.

Corporate titans are going to fight for their interests.  We can’t wait for others to fight for ours.  Yesterday thereisnospoon launched a citizen lobbying campaign to find out who is holding up Solis’ nomination.  He has numbers for a bunch of Republicans, but the calls should really go to Harry Reid, who had no problem ignoring Senate holds last year when Chris Dodd was threatening them.  Another good phone call would be to the White House switchboard, so Mr. 78% can expend a smidge of political capital to get his own nominee confirmed.  Hilda Solis is completely qualified to be Labor Secretary, and in this economic climate the Labor Department needs to be running at full speed.

Our Political Media Crisis and the Disclosure Problems Of The LA Times

I’ve noticed a strain of thought which believes that all that is needed to achieve Democratic goals in the state is better framing and messaging, because that can get into the media and convince more Californians of the need to restore sanity to the budget process and reform state government.  This assumes that there’s any kind of substantial political media to begin with.  There’s shockingly little on local news and radio, and even the newspapers have scaled back their local political coverage.  What is currently out there reaches at most 1% of the electorate, and cuts to Capitol bureaus in Sacramento have decreased that gradually over the last year.  No media outlet is willing to carry information to the public, a dangerous scenario for a state in crisis.

And because of this breakdown, this provides an opportunity for those with an agenda, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and right-wing think tanks (or even the false equivalent nonsense of a California Forward) to pursue their goals under the cover of “news.”  They infect what little coverage there is and provide ready-made content in the form of editorials for papers to print.  A sorry example of this showed up in yesterday’s LA Times, when Bret Jacobson wrote a screed about Hilda Solis’ choice as Labor Secretary.

Solis regularly sides with organized labor’s demands, including the biggest of them all: union leaders’ desperate campaign to boost their membership by getting rid of secret ballot elections. That privacy allows millions of American workers to vote their conscience when deciding whether to start paying dues to a union boss. Consequently, it’s easy to see why union bosses prefer “card check” — a dubious method that requires employees to sign a legally binding card stating their preference in a way that would allow anyone to know if they are pro-union or not.

The fight over card check has already been a precarious affair. And this week, with the announcement of Obama’s pick of Solis, the situation got even stickier. Solis has a hypocritical history of demanding secret ballots for herself but not for working Americans.

I don’t think I have to go too much further with Jacobson’s propaganda.  As I’ve argued elsewhere, what he calls a “secret ballot” is actually a flawed system of union elections that needs to be fixed.  If labor elections were legitimate, there wouldn’t be the need for legislation.  Instead, think of it as your “secret ballot” Presidential election marred by: mandatory pro-McCain training sessions held across the country, mandatory meetings where “Obama is a Muslim” propaganda is foregrounded, threats to take away your job if you vote for Obama, and threats to close your workplace entirely if Obama wins.  There is nothing democratic about these one-sided farces characterized by intimidation and harassment.  That’s why we need a new system for determining whether workers want to collectively bargain, and majority signup is simply the best practice out there.

But that’s not my biggest beef with Jacobson’s argument.  It’s that, at the bottom of his editorial, the LA Times credits him by writing “Bret Jacobson is founder and president of Maverick Strategies LLC, a research and communications firm serving business and free-market think tanks.”  What they don’t say is that he has a long history of union-busting, partnering with the man who is leading efforts to fight the Employee Free Choice Act.  Matt Browner Hamlin discloses the lack of disclosure:

Here’s what the highly-informative BretJacobson.com has to say:

“Prior to founding Maverick Strategies, Bret co-founded the Center for Union Facts, overseeing that organization’s research activities, guiding its communications, launching its new-media capabilities, and helping plan its strategic national advertising and earned-media campaigns.”

And just for those not paying attention at home, here’s Sourcewatch:

“The Center for Union Facts is a secretive front group for individuals and industries opposed to union activities. It is part of lobbyist Rick Berman’s family of front groups including the Employment Policies Institute. The domain name www.unionfacts.com was registered to Berman & Co. in May 2005.” […]

In short, the Center for Union Facts is the key organization in Big Business efforts to stop the progress of labor in America, most notably through fighting against the Employee Free Choice Act. One of their co-founders, Bret Jacobson, was given license to push the Center’s anti-union, anti-worker agenda in an op-ed against the nominee for Labor Secretary, while the Times failed to disclose the only informative part of his biography. He’s the founder of a research firm? What is that supposed to tell the Times’ readers? Pretty much every person I know who works in politics does some level of consulting. The most important piece of Jacobson’s biography – his professional connection to one of the biggest anti-union groups in America – is left out of a column that specifically pushes the Center’s agenda. In an AP article three days ago, a spokesman for the Center attacked President-elect Obama’s pick of Solis for Labor Secretary (though, amazingly, the AP cited the Center as “a group critical of organized labor”).

Matt works for the SEIU.  There, I just disclosed that.  Congratulations to me for having more integrity than the Los Angeles Times!

The Employee Free Choice Act is a national issue.  But when you have a corporate-run media (the LA Times editorial board has a history of anti-worker pontificating) combined with a nearly invisible political class so that Californians have no base of knowledge about their government, the ease with which propagandists can place their beliefs into what little political media exists is frankly breathtaking.  There is plenty of blame to go around in California’s current crisis, but the lack of any responsible (or even present) certainly contributes to it.

…And You Will Know Him By The Trail Of Dead (Bills)

I saw Bill Maher on Friday in an interview with former Mexican President Vicente Fox, lamenting that Bill Clinton and Arnold Schwarzenegger wouldn’t be able to face off as Presidential candidates due to Constitutional violations.  “Isn’t that sad,” he said.  For all his conceits as a free thinker, Maher represents a kind of baseline Hollywood groupthink when it comes to Arnold, reading the headlines and the magazine covers but never bothering to uncover the whole story.  That story can be easily divined from this weekend’s veto massacre.  In addition to stopping the California DREAM Act, he vetoed needed legislation for the state’s migrant farm workers, allowing them to organize through a “card check” system.  He even disabled a bill that would have added a sunset clause to the card check system, making it ever harder for them to organize and support themselves and their families.  Here’s another bill that went down the drain:

On Saturday, another bill was vetoed, AB 377, by Assemblymember Juan Arambula (D-Fresno). It would have required an employer who is a farm labor contractor to disclose in the itemized statement furnished to employees up to five names and addresses of the legal entities that secured the employer’s services.

According to the sponsor of the bill, the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation more than 40,000 California farms grow fruits and vegetables on almost four million acres in this state, so it is not surprising that a 2006 survey of Central Valley farm workers found that 70% could not identify the name of the farm they were working on.

The same survey found that 56% had not been paid the minimum wage when working on a piece rate; 31% had not been paid all the overtime they were owed; and that 42% had unexplained deductions made from their pay. Between 60% and 80% of harvest work is done by labor contractors. Without being able to readily identify the farm who hired the contractor, enforcement actions against the contractor are unlikely to either make the worker whole for wages owed or to have any deterrent effect at all against a grower who shares legal responsibility for the contractor’s labor law violations.

So while Governor Schwarzenegger told the hundreds of farm workers who were at the Capitol in September that he was supportive of their goals, in the end, he vetoed these bills and sided with agribusiness.

Indeed, this is part of a persistent pattern by the Governor to make life harder for working families while protecting the corporate interests that helped get him elected.  Far from a governor of the people, he is simply a corporatist who has the backs of the elite.  Because we don’t have a functioning political press, this contempt for the average Californian will probably not make it too far off the blogs and insider political circles.  But they have real-world consequences that people will only discover when they are put in the situation that legislation could have covered, and they aren’t likely to connect the dots.  A sampling of the pro-worker legislation that was vetoed:

• SB 549 (Corbett)-this bill would have protected the job of a worker taking time off to attend to the funeral of a family member.

• SB 727 (Kuehl)-this bill provided that employees covered by family temporary disability insurance (FTDI) could take the leave to care for a grandparent, siblings, grandchildren and parent-in-law.

• AB 537 (Swanson)-this bill expanded the definition of family under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to allow eligible workers to take job-protected leave to care for a seriously ill adult child, sibling, grandchild, or parent in law.

• AB 435 (Brownley)-this bill would have addressed harsh limitation periods on bringing certain wage discrimination claims. These claims are frequently brought by working women who have been underpaid relative to their male counterparts, and many of these women are struggling to raise kids in single parent situations.

• AB 1636 (Mendoza)-this bill would have expedited a job retraining voucher to disabled workers unable to return to their former jobs; workers such as these are struggling to adapt to replace the income needed for the family to survive.

• SB 936 (Perata)-this bill would have increased the benefits paid to permanently disabled workers over a 3 year period. Since 2004 these workers have seen their benefits slashed by 50% or more according to studies by University of California researchers. At the same time, insurer profits have exceeded all benefits paid to or on behalf of disabled workers; it’s a concept that is clearly not family-friendly. The families and kids of disabled workers suffer as they struggle to keep pace with the financial devastation of injuries.

AB 435 is the state version of the Lily Ledbetter Pay Act, attempting to remedy a horrible Supreme Court decision from earlier in the year.  So Arnold is putting himself squarely in the position of Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Smuel Alito.  This is our post-partisan “leader.”

Furthermore, he vetoed meaningful health care reform in AB 8, and put forth flawed legislation of his own that has no chance of coming out of the legislature, partially financed by the stupid, shortsighted practice of leasing the lottery to private interests.

I’d like to say that there’s an “on the other hand,” a couple bills Arnold allowed through that provide aid or comfort to the working class.  But on these issues, he comes down squarely on the side of his corporate buddies.  It feels like spitting into the wind to keep noting this.  Maybe someday Bill Maher won’t have a big-time TV show, he’ll be working for his own retirement, and he’ll realize that he’s been screwed by this Administration.  But I wouldn’t bet on it.