Tag Archives: Labor

STUDY: Prevailing Wage Adds 17,500 Jobs to California Economy

Prevailing Wage policies add 17,500 jobs and $1.4 billion in output across California’s economy, according to a new study released by Smart Cities Prevail – a leading construction industry education and research organization.  

Entitled, Building the Golden State-The Economic Impacts of California’s Prevailing Wage Policy, the first-of-its-kind report was co-authored by Colorado State University-Pueblo Economist Dr. Kevin Duncan and Smart Cities Prevail Researcher Alex Lantsberg. The study was conducted using IMPLAN software (the industry standard for analyzing the effects of government policy choices on the economy) to model the impact of eliminating California’s prevailing wage standards.

In addition to measuring the policies’ impact on job creation and overall economic output, the study also concludes that prevailing wage policies facilitate broad improvements to the construction industry as a whole–including substantial reductions in materials waste and dramatic increases in both local hiring and overall workforce productivity.

To Download the Full Report, Click Here.

“While past research has already concluded that prevailing wage promotes workforce development, safer job sites, less dependence on public assistance, and has only negligible impacts on project cost, these new findings show the value of these standards both to the construction industry and our economy as a whole,” said Dr. Kevin Duncan.  “From creating jobs to increasing efficiency, it is clear that prevailing wage policies provide taxpayers with a far better return on investment than the less beneficial alternative.”

While California has recently enacted new legislation (SB 7) to encourage more of its cities to enact prevailing standards, several other states-including Nevada, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan–are either considering or have recently passed laws to weaken prevailing wage requirements on public works.

“This study provides important context for the recent changes to California’s prevailing wage laws, but also for the debates that are happening in other states across our country,” Lantsberg said.  “The data shows that the decision to weaken or eliminate prevailing wage is a choice that can increase poverty, export more tax dollars out of state, and eliminate thousands of jobs in the process.”  

Lantsberg added, “It’s important to note that this study focuses on the benefits of the state prevailing wage policy, but does not analyze the additional positive benefits that come from federal and local policies.  For example, the state and federally funded high speed rail project in California is estimated to create 20,000 prevailing wage construction jobs in the first 5 years of construction, and tens of thousands more in the years that follow.”

Consequences of Prevailing Wage Elimination in California:

– Gross job losses of 48,500 and net job losses of 17,500

– 3%-5.5% increase in out-of-state contracting

– State Economic output reduced by $1.4 billion

– Real income reduced by $1.5 billion

– More construction professionals living at or near the poverty line.

– 12% decline in workforce productivity and 5% increase in materials waste

Kevin Duncan, Ph.D. is a nationally recognized economist specializing in labor and regional economics.  Dr. Duncan currently works as a Professor of Economics in the Hasan School of Business at Colorado State University – Pueblo and Senior Economist at BCD Economics, LLC.  he teaches regional economics where his students learn economic impact analysis.

Alex Lantsberg is a researcher with Smart Cities Prevail specializing in economics, land use, and urban planning.  Mr. Lantsberg holds a Master’s Degree in City Planning from the University of California, Berkeley and an undergraduate degree in finance from Northern Illinois University.

Prevailing Wage is the standard rate paid on publicly funded projects to a worker in a given trade, in a given region.  Prevailing wage laws were first established federally and in some states in the 1930s – and supported by leaders from both political parties – in order to raise the quality of government funded construction projects and encourage more local hiring.  

Smart Cities Prevail is a non-profit 501(c)(4) organization and California’s leading research and informational resource on prevailing wage.   For more information, visit www.smartcitiesprevail.org.

Speaker Atkins Unveils Critical Plan to Rebuild Transportation Infrastructure, Create Good Jobs

by Steve Smith, California Labor Federation

About 1/3 of all the bridges and overpasses in our state are showing signs of deterioration (i.e. crumbling). Seventy percent of our urban roads and highways are congested. California has the second-highest share of roads in “poor condition” in the nation.

Given the amount of commuting and traveling Californians do, these are pretty alarming stats. But you get what you pay for. And, quite frankly, California’s lack of infrastructure funding is embarrassing, and downright dangerous to all of us who spend so much time on the road every week.

Today California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) announced a long-overdue proposal to rebuild our run-down roads and bridges, ease traffic congestion and create a lot of good, middle-class jobs doing it.

Speaker Atkins:

California cannot have a strong middle class or a thriving economy if our roadways are congested and people and goods cannot move efficiently throughout the state. The Assembly is stepping up and proposing $10 billion for transportation infrastructure-$2 billion per year over the next 5 years-starting in 2015-16.

Labor has long been sounding the alarm on the need to fix our eroding infrastructure. It’s a no-brainer. We can create tens of thousands of jobs by upgrading our roads, bridges and transportation system. And fixing our infrastructure makes California more competitive, which creates even more jobs.

California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski:

Years of neglect have rendered many of our roads and bridges unsafe, leaving California families at risk. Rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure would create good jobs that strengthen our middle class and spark our economy. It’s time we invest in a transportation system that makes us safer while supporting workers, small businesses and all California families.

Robbie Hunter, President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California:

California is paying a heavy price for having underfunded highway and bridge infrastructure for decades. Years of massive budget deficits resulted in billions of transportation dollars being diverted elsewhere. California’s growing population and economy depends on the efficient movement of people and goods from our factories and ports throughout the state.  Investment in repairing and re-building our roads is critical to our economy and quality of life and also creates tens of thousands of good new construction jobs.

The Assembly plan includes:

• $1 billion per year by returning truck Weight Fees to transportation instead of using them to repay general obligation debt.

• $200 million per year for transportation funding by accelerating repayment of transportation loans.

• $800 million per year in new net funds for transportation by establishing a new Road User Charge.

The Road User Charge is estimated to be only about $1 per week for most drivers. A pretty small price to pay for keeping our families safe on the roadways.

Speaker Atkins:

This is the right proposal at the right time. California has overcome a dangerous recession in our very recent past, the present is fiscally stable and looking stronger every day, so now we need to look ahead and help fix the future. And addressing transportation funding so we can have better, safer, and faster infrastructure is a key part of fixing the future.

The Speaker has shown real leadership in proposing this bold plan.  If we’re at all concerned about the future, we need to turn this proposal into reality.

California Labor Unveils New Policy Platform to Boost Struggling Veterans

by Rebecca Band, California Labor Federation

“Thank you for your service.”

It’s a line we hear and say a lot around Veteran’s Day, especially in California, home to 1.8 million veterans, more than in any other state.

But if we really want to show gratitude for our veterans, then we need to do more than utter a simple “thank you.” We need to help these brave heroes find a middle-class life when they return from serving our country.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs annual survey of veterans, jobs are the biggest concern for our returning veterans, and for good reason — the unemployment rate for veterans of recent conflicts is an unacceptable 10 percent, and 1.5 million young veterans – many with families to support — currently live under the poverty line.

It hasn’t always been like this. According to Nick Berardino, Vietnam Veteran and General Manager of the Orange County Employees Association:

When we came back from Vietnam, they spit on us, but at least we could find a job. Today, veterans get a hand shake and a thank you, but a future that includes unemployment, low wages and no way for them to care for their families. We can and should do much better for our veterans.

Those who serve our country in uniform risk their lives to defend and protect the freedoms we all value. That’s why leaders from the California Labor movement and elected officials joined together with veterans in Sacramento today to unveil a new seven-point plan to put our state’s veterans on the path to good jobs and a middle-class life.

California Labor Federation Executive-Secretary Treasurer Art Pulaski:

Far too often, our nation’s veterans don’t receive the support they’ve earned or the services they need when returning home. California’s labor unions are taking the lead to change that. WWII veterans, along with their unions, helped build our nation’s middle class brick by brick. Veterans and labor unions are poised once again to partner to strengthen our economy and preserve the American Dream.

The seven-point plan focuses on:

1.    Creating and growing good jobs for veterans. Among states that receive grants for vets from the U.S. Department of Labor, California has one of the lowest rates of placing veterans in jobs. We must align our state resources – incentives, contracts, purchasing, hiring – to encourage and reward the hiring of veterans, who represent the best in possible employees.

2.     Matching training and skills to veterans. Veterans come out of active duty with significant skills that can be translated into a variety of careers. Too often, the language used to describe military job duties doesn’t match the language of those hiring in the civilian world. We support policies that capture and maximize the skills vets have acquired to gain them the best jobs in growing fields that pay living wages.

3.     Protecting jobs for veterans. Workers should be rewarded, not disadvantaged, when they go into active or reserve service. Vets should have guarantees that their jobs will be there when they return, that they be able to maintain their health care coverage, and that they will have recall rights should their jobs get eliminated.

4.     Streamlining veteran job services. According to multiple studies, California does not provide a coordinated, integrated system that streamlines employment-related services to veterans, and has failed to meet veteran employment goals set by federal grants. It’s time to streamline the delivery of job services to veterans and that tailor services to the special needs and skill sets of veterans.

5.     Providing more housing for veterans. Vets make up a disproportionate share of the homeless population and are significantly more likely than the general population to become homeless. No one should be forced to live on the street after serving our country, which is why we support policies and funding to build more housing, including rental units, for veterans.

6.     Ensuring veterans receive their benefits. California lags behind other states in the amount of benefits claimed by veterans. Even though veterans are eligible for federal pensions and health benefits, many California vets rely on public state programs rather than collecting the benefits they’ve earned and deserve. A 2013 Little Hoover Commission report estimates that California leaves between $500 million and $1 billion in federal dollars on the table due to veterans not signing up for benefits.  

7.      Providing services for diverse veteran populations. Currently, 70 percent of veterans in California are age 50 or over, but at the same time, large numbers of younger veterans — many of whom are women and minorities — are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Different groups of veterans will need different services for their transition to civilian life, which is why we support tailoring programs and policies to the needs of the diverse veteran populations in the state.

Yvonne Walker, U.S . Marine Corps Veteran and President of SEIU Local 1000:

We owe every man and woman who goes into service for their country a debt of gratitude. But gratitude isn’t enough. At the very least, they have earned the peace of mind that their jobs will be there when they return, that they be able to maintain their health care coverage, and that they will have recall rights should their jobs get eliminated.

In addition to the policy agenda, Labor groups also have identified needed projects and local opportunities where are coming together to provide service for veterans such as renovating, painting or improving the grounds at local VFW or American Legion halls; hosting food and supply donation drive to support veterans in need; and assembling care packages along with letters to be sent overseas.

Orange County unions led by the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA), along with veterans and community leaders, will hold a large Veterans Day special event to pay tribute to Veterans and their families following the “Day of Service” volunteer projects.

For more details on service projects and others actions taking place around the state, go to www.veteransandlabor.com

Three Things You Need to Know about the BART Strike

by Steve Smith, California Labor Federation

After months of negotiating in bad faith, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) management last night left BART workers no other option but to go on strike. What a shame. It didn’t have to come to this.

With all the misinformation swirling about on the BART strike, there are a few things to clear up.

Here are the three things you need to know about the BART strike (h/t to Pete Castelli of SEIU 1021):

1) The strike is NOT about wages or benefits. BART workers made concession after concession on the economic proposals with the goal of averting a strike. BART workers and management agreed to a deal yesterday on wages, health care and pensions.

2) BART management pulled the rug out from under workers at the last minute by insisting on new workplace rules that infringed on the rights of workers. These new rules included changing the 8-hour workday and curtailing overtime pay and removing protections for workers from punishment and retribution when they report favoritism, sexual harassment and other problems in the workplace.

3) The new rules are NOT needed. BART became the top-rated transit system in America with its current work rules. BART increased ridership from 270,000 riders to 400,000 riders per day with its current work rules. BART management never focused on performance or efficiency issues during bargaining and repeatedly acknowledged that productivity in the system had increased. The fact is that the system is carrying more passengers than ever with fewer frontline workers than ever.

As unfair as the proposals were, the unions didn’t reject them out of hand. They asked for a neutral arbitrator to make the final decision on these new rules. Management flatly rejected that offer. As last night turned into this morning, there was no other option left for workers but to go off the job and onto the picket line.

This is BART management’s strike. They own it. And they can put a stop to it at any point in time by simply being reasonable. If management pulls its unreasonable demands on workplace rules or even agrees to let a neutral party decide on them, the strike is over. It’s that simple.

California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski:

Today’s strike was not an outcome workers wanted. But it was the only outcome management would allow. The California labor movement will continue to support BART workers in their fight for a fair contract. We urge BART management to quickly negotiate a fair settlement that allows workers to get back to doing what they’ve done for years — serving the Bay Area community with professionalism, dedication and commitment.


Leadership Needed from BART Directors to Avert Strike

by Art Pulaski, California Labor Federation

Whether BART closes down this week will come down to one issue and one issue only: whether the BART Board of Directors shows leadership or continues to act to hold Bay Area transit riders hostage by using the same playbook a small minority of elected officials in Washington, DC have used to close down our federal government.

No one in the Bay Area-whether they ride BART or not-wants to see a BART strike. This is especially true of BART workers, who live in one of the most expensive regions in the world and do not receive a paycheck while they are on strike.

To demonstrate their commitment to reaching a deal before cooling-off period expires tonight, BART workers have put a proposal on the table that is fair and affordable and incentivizes BART workers to keep the system one of the nation’s best.

But while BART workers have made three new public proposals in the past 10 days, management has offered zero.  In fact, they haven’t put out a new wage proposal publicly for more than 50 days.  Here’s where negotiations stand:

Just last week, BART workers agreed to cut their wage demands in half and pick up additional costs for their pensions and health care coverage. BART workers reached a deal with management that would have workers contribute an escalating share of their pensions over the next four years. They also have offered to increase their monthly payments for health coverage by 15 percent.

BART workers also proposed linking future additional pay raises to increased ridership. Workers proposed an innovative plan to link future additional pay increases to projected increases in ridership. Daily BART ridership has increased from 270,000 riders in 1999 to nearly 400,000 riders today. At the same time, there are fewer BART workers in vital frontline positions serving more passengers. Under the new proposal, BART workers would receive a small fraction of a percent raise for increases in ridership over budget projections.

Finally, BART workers have proposed real-world improvements to key safety and service issues, like safer procedures for working on the third rail, better lighting on tracks and in tunnels and open restrooms in stations.

This issue is not a smokescreen. BART’s actions have put workers and riders at risk, and workers are justifiably angry.  For example, over the past 10 years, state safety regulators repeatedly fined BART for directing district workers without electrician training or certification to work near the electrified third rail. Instead of reforming its procedures, BART management responded by authorizing more than $300,000 for attorneys to fight state safety regulators.

This deal is smart, fair and will result in better BART service and BART directors should tell district management and negotiators to accept it.

At this point, the burden of leadership is on BART management to strike a deal that puts riders and workers first.

Those ultimately accountable for the situation-BART’s elected Board of Directors-must step in and act responsibly before it’s too late. The Directors can no longer remain silent as BART management and its negotiators dismiss fair and reasonable proposals because of their opposition to labor unions. It’s time that the Board of Directors lead as they were elected to do and to help bring a resolution to these drawn-out negotiations.

Take action to support the hard-working men and women at BART — sign the petition to the BART Board of Directors today!

BART Management’s Refusal to Compromise Will Have Dire Consequences for Bay Area

by Art Pulaski, California Labor Federation

Negotiating a fair contract is a complex process that involves hard work and commitment from both labor and management. When both sides bargain in good faith and share a goal of securing a deal, a deal eventually gets done. I’ve personally been involved in many tough negotiations that ended with a fair deal that both parties could live with. It takes patience and willingness from both sides to compromise.

In the BART negotiations, unfortunately that hasn’t been the case. BART management paid Thomas Hock, an out-of-state lawyer with a history of driving disputes to a strike, nearly $400,000 to lead negotiations. Hock and his company have been responsible for seven strikes, 47 unfair labor practice charges and nine discrimination lawsuits. Not exactly a history of committing to compromise in order to secure a deal.

True to form, Hock hasn’t been serious about negotiating a resolution at BART that would spare the Bay Area a strike. Instead, he’s taken several vacations since he’s been on board. When he has bothered to show up at the negotiating table, he’s stonewalled. And now Hock and BART management have stopped negotiating altogether and are preparing for a strike.

Even worse, BART is saying that it will run a number of trains during a strike operated by managers who lack the minimum requirements to safely get BART riders to and from their destinations. In essence, BART is willing to sacrifice the safety of riders by pushing this dispute to a strike so that they ultimately get their way. There’s no regard for workers. No regard for riders impacted by a strike. It’s BART management’s way or — literally — the clogged highway.

The BART unions have made significant compromises in recent days with the goal of averting a strike, including last week’s concession on wages. The unions have come to the table seeking honest, good-faith negotiations to broker a deal before the 60-day cooling off period ends. They’ve proposed a modest 4.5 percent wage increase over three years after a five-year wage freeze, while offering to contribute more to their health care and retirement. It’s a fair proposal given BART’s relatively strong financial position. The unions have also sought important safety protections for riders and workers including opening more restrooms and providing for more secure stations at night, only to be rebuffed time and time again by Hock and the BART management team.

There’s still time to come to a deal that would avert a strike and ensure the safety of BART riders isn’t jeopardized. But the unions can’t negotiate by themselves. It’s going to take a commitment from both sides to negotiate non-stop, if necessary, to get that done. If Hock and the BART management team continue to refuse to negotiate, there’s only one option: a strike. Elected officials and BART directors must demand that management joins the unions at the negotiating table for round-the-clock, good-faith negotiations until a fair settlement is reached.

There’s a lot at stake for BART workers and their families as well as the hundreds of thousands of riders that count on BART to get to work, school and other destinations. Workers want to continue doing the job they’ve done exceedingly well for years. Riders want the trains to keep running. The only thing preventing a deal from getting done is BART management’s unwillingness to compromise. To avert a strike, that needs to change.

California Legislature Passes Historic Minimum Wage Increase

by Steve Smith, California Labor Federation

California made history last night. With the support of California’s unions, the Legislature voted to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10, the highest minimum wage in the country. The wage will be implemented in two steps: an increase to $9 per hour in July of next year, followed by another one-dollar increase to $10 in January of 2016. Gov. Brown has agreed to sign the bill, AB 10, authored by Assemblymember Luis Alejo.

The wage increase will affect more than 2.3 million California workers, according the Economic Policy Institute. It means that single moms will have a little extra to support their families. It means seniors who’ve been forced to re-enter the workforce will have a little more to help pay for prescription drugs. And it means that all low-wage workers have received validation that their work is worthy of dignity and respect.

California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski:

Raising the minimum wage isn’t just an economic necessity. It’s a moral imperative. For far too long, low-wage workers have toiled for far too little.

The minimum wage deal came together with the strong support of Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders.

Gov. Brown:

The minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs. This legislation is overdue and will help families that are struggling in this harsh economy.

The wage increase is expected to provide a significant economic boost to California. By providing an estimated $2.6 billion in additional wages to the state’s lowest-paid workers, California will reap $1 billion in new economic growth as workers spend their increased wages. Job growth will expand as businesses hire to meet the increased consumer demand.

Even at $10, low-wage workers will still struggle. We must continue to do everything possible to decrease economic inequality and provide opportunities for low-wage workers to move up the ladder. But the wage increase that passed last night establishes California as the national leader in supporting low-wage workers. That’s exactly where we should be.

Senate President pro Tempore Steinberg:

For millions of California’s hard-working minimum wage employees, a few extra dollars a week can make a huge difference to help them provide for their families. They deserve a modest boost and after six years; an increase in California’s minimum wage is the right thing to do.

Check out our Top 10 Reasons to Support a $10 Minimum Wage.

As We Celebrate Labor Day

As we celebrate Labor Day this week, we wanted to take a moment to thank the hard working construction workers who literally built our state.

Recently, the Los Angeles Times published a list of the 10 most dangerous jobs in America.  Four of the 10 were jobs in construction related fields.

Just last week, The San Francisco Chronicle reported on the fatality of a worker in Berkeley while laying asphalt at a school.  This and stories like it are why our fight to protect prevailing wage is so important.

We all know about the benefits of prevailing wage to families who find a ladder to the Middle Class and the higher quality of buildings built by prevailing wage workers, but often the safety argument doesn’t get enough attention

The fact remains that construction jobs are dangerous, and prevailing wage leads to training and standards that make the jobs much safer. .  Apprenticeship programs supported by prevailing wage provide a framework for years of training so that workers learn the most efficient and safest possible way to practice their tradecraft.

A study of what happened when the State of Kansas repealed prevailing wage statewide, and the results were grim.  Serious injury rates increased by 21%.  If that wasn’t enough, income fell by 10%, apprenticeship training fell by 38% overall, and 54% for minorities.

Given these facts, it’s not surprising that three recent polls showed overwhelming support for prevailing wage in California – both statewide and in San Diego where projects covered by prevailing wage were just expanded.

When opponents argue to repeal prevailing wage, they fail to mention the staggering risk to workers, their families, and their community.  Right now, they are lobbying to eliminate prevailing wage city-by-city by convincing cities across California to pass hastily crafted, unnecessary charters – even though the facts are stacked against them.

So as we consider Labor Day, we thank those who put their life on the line to build California’s future, and recommit our efforts to help community leaders and the public understand what is at stake in our fight to protect and grow the Middle Class, and I can think of no better way for you to show your appreciation than to sign our petition to protect prevailing wage.

A Labor Day Reflection

By CTA President Dean E. Vogel

Labor Day is the one day of the year when we celebrate the historical achievements of the labor movement and honor those who contributed to the social and economic achievement of workers and the middle class. For me, though, this Labor Day is not only a chance to acknowledge what the labor movement has done in the past, but to reflect on what it can do in the present.

Last year at this time, teachers, firefighters, nurses and public servants came together to do something that had been unthinkable for 20 years. We persuaded voters to pass Proposition 30, a temporary tax increase to prevent drastic budget cuts to students and public schools and to keep our economy strong.

That vote was no fluke, because in the same election, voters also rejected Proposition 32, a third try at a ballot proposal that would have silenced middle-class workers and immobilized unions while strengthening the power of billionaire businessmen.

Working families may not have the billions of dollars and deep pockets of big tobacco, oil companies or Wall Street brokers, but last November, we showed that Californians want to invest in public education, their communities and their future. They want to see our economy restored so that more can work their way into the middle class, not fall out of it.

As an educator I know that reinvesting in our state means reinvesting in the education of our students. I’ve seen on a personal level what a quality public education can do. As the son of a farmhand and a waitress who moved around the state a lot, I was able to make that leap into the Middle Class because I had access to a quality education. I’ve seen that happen to the students whom I’ve taught as well.

This state’s prosperity goes hand-in-hand with the guarantee of free quality education for every student, and in 2013 that includes the children of immigrants.  In fact, it has always included children of immigrants. California, after all, is a state built by immigrants.  Providing all students equal access to quality public schools and colleges is why the California Teachers Association supports a pathway to citizenship for children of immigrants – the “Dreamers.” It would be disingenuous not to.

CTA’s commitment to the principle of educating all children goes back to our founding 150 years ago by John Swett, California’s fourth superintendent of public instruction. When leaving office in 1867, Swett said, “If one state in the union needs a system of free schools more than any other, that state is California. Her population is drawn from all nations… Nothing can Americanize these chaotic elements and breathe into them the spirit of our institutions but the public schools.” How prophetic was that?

One can look at Proposition 30 solely as a temporary tax increase, but I see it as so much more.  The passage of Prop. 30 opens the door, at least a little, to the possibility of restoring California’s  great middle class and expanding it to a new generation, of renewing our commitment to tax fairness and of taking a step toward achieving economic justice for all.

Dean Vogel is president of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association.

The Rising Tide that Isn’t: BART Goes on Strike

BART strike brings visible face to declining conditions for workers

by Brian Leubitz

The BART strike was certainly preventable, but it was equally certainly no surprise.  Following a long line of government employees facing pay cuts and furloughs, BART workers have the strongest weapon: a transit strike that makes the public sit up and notice.  And unfortunately, that has happened:

The final trains of the Sunday shift will finish up their runs. But there will be no service Monday, with the transit system’s workers and management agreeing only on the fact that the two sides remain far apart in contract negotiations. Instead of reporting to work, BART union employees will carry picket signs and distribute leaflets at most stations. (SF Chronicle)

KQED Forum had an interesting program on the strike this morning, and the number of vociferous anti-union comments were somewhat surprisng. Now, you have to discount for the fact that conservatives always dominate this kind of program, but the angst is real.

For years, workers have been getting the raw deal. But this is universal, both public and private sector workers have seen wages stagnate while productivity is driven to higher and higher levels. However, for whatever reason, labor gets the negative press at every negotiation. The saying goes that workers should be happy to just have a job at all.

However, while the stock market rises and the wealthy grab an ever increasing level of income, how much longer can we continue to think this way? A rising tide, and a more equitable distribution of income is sure to yield better results for economy. But, the rich have the larger megaphones, and so labor frequently gets drowned out. But unless more income trickles down to the middle class, our economy will face some very serious challenges and questions of long-term sustainability.

There will be recriminations in both directions with this strike. And while there may be some uncomfortable moments, we cannot let the media create a false equivalence. We need to stand with BART workers, for worker safety and for living wages for all Californians. But BART workers aren’t the only ones on fighting for fair treatment of workers: AFSCME 3299 workers are fighting the UC system for good patient care and living wages for low-wage workers. Click here to get more information about their actions.