Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

In Step with California’s Evolving Energy Policy, PG&E, Labor and Environmental Groups Announce Proposal to Increase Energy Efficiency
By Pacific Gas and Electric Company, June 21, 2016, Business Wire
Reflecting California’s changing energy landscape, PG&E today announced a Joint Proposal with labor and leading environmental organizations that would increase investment in energy efficiency, renewables and storage beyond current state mandates while phasing out PG&E’s production of nuclear power in California by 2025. The Joint Proposal would replace power produced by two nuclear reactors at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP) with a cost-effective, greenhouse gas free portfolio of energy efficiency, renewables and energy storage. (read article)

Perfect storm rains money on California legislative races
By Laurel Rosenhall, June 20, 2016, CALmatters
Some of the outsized money spent on California legislative races this year came pouring through the mail slot of voter Michael Johnson’s home, arriving in the form of two or three glossy ads a day in advance of the June primary. Most of the ads weren’t from candidates. They were from interest groups that have business before the Legislature, running their own campaigns to elect a favored Assembly contender. “Literally this felt like an election not between these candidates but between these special interests,” said Johnson, a former health insurance director who lives in Hollywood. Interest groups have more at stake this year than usual, and they are spending accordingly. (read article)

Justices rap Labor Dept. over change in overtime pay rules
By Editing Team, June 20, 2016, Albany Times Union
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Labor Department must do a better job of explaining why it is changing a longstanding policy on whether certain workers deserve overtime pay. The justices asked a lower court to take another look at whether federal law allows the agency to require overtime for people working as service advisers at auto dealerships. The 6-2 ruling came in a case involving Encino Motorcars, a California auto dealership that claims its service advisers are similar to car salesmen or mechanics who are exempt from overtime requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act. A federal district court sided with the dealer. But the federal appeals court in San Francisco deferred to a 2011 Labor Department rule stating that service advisers are not exempt from overtime. (read article)

Grocery workers union votes to strike during labor talks
By Jeffrey Thomas DeSocio, June 20, 2016, FOX 11 Los Angeles
Unionized grocery workers across Southern California will cast ballots Monday in a strike-authorization vote as labor negotiations drag. Thousands of members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 will cast ballots throughout the day. If the workers vote in favor, it does not necessarily mean a strike will be held, only that the union’s leaders have the backing of members to call for a walkout if a deal can’t be reached. Voting is expected to begin at 8 a.m. and continue to 8 p.m. The union represents workers for Ralphs and Albertsons — including Vons, Pavilions and Safeway. Ralphs officials said the company is hopeful of achieving a labor deal. (read article)

California Democratic Party Supports Legalizing Marijuana
By Chris Jennewein, June 20, 2016, Times of San Diego
The California Democratic Party‘s executive board voted Sunday to support a measure expected to be on the November ballot that would legalize marijuana and hemp. The board voted to support measures on the November ballot that would repeal the death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for convicted murders and increase the required vote to two-thirds for the Legislature to amend a law related to federal Medi-Cal matching funds. The board also voted to support a $9 billion bond measure for elementary, middle school, high school, charter school, vocational education and community college facilities on the November ballot. (read article)

Labor union declares newspaper downsizing due to ‘right wing plot’
By Rick Moran, June 19, 2016, American Thinker
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) is one of the most far left labor unions in the country, having supported the idea of “community radio stations” and a “living wage.” Now, a petition on the union’s website accuses a large media company of taking part in a “far right conspiracy” because the newspapers owned by the company are downsizing. The Communications Workers of America is fighting efforts to cut staff at the Denver Post and other newspapers by accusing Alden Global Capital, which controls Digital First Media, of a “far-right” conspiracy that involves jettisoning unfriendly reporters. (read article)

Major Labor Group to Endorse Clinton as Sanders Holdouts Dwindle
By Alex Seitz-Wald, June 16, 2016, NBC News
The AFL-CIO is set to endorse Hillary Clinton Thursday, but a handful of unions within the massive labor federation are holding out support for the presumptive Democratic nominee and instead backing Bernie Sanders – with some even vowing to stick with her challenger until the bitter end. The executive committee of the AFL-CIO, which represents more than 12 million active and retired workers, will vote on a presidential announcement during a meeting at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. Sanders has refuses to concede the race, but Clinton is expected to easily secure the necessary support from the federation’s 56 affiliate unions to win the endorsement — including from several that had previously backed Sanders. (read article)

The fight isn’t over for farm worker overtime
By David Bacon, June 17, 2016, Peoples World
For the state’s first hundred-plus years, certain unspoken rules governed California politics. In a state where agriculture produced more wealth than any industry, the first rule was that growers held enormous power. Tax dollars built giant water projects that turned the Central and Imperial Valleys into some of the nation’s most productive farmland. Land ownership was concentrated in huge corporate plantation-like farms. Agribusiness kept farm labor cheap, at wages far below those of people in the state’s growing urban centers. When workers sought to change their economic condition, grower power in rural areas was near absolute-strikes were broken and unions were kept out. (read article)

California Legislature approves $171 billion state budget
By Chris Megerian, June 15, 2016, Los Angeles Times
With concerns about the potential for another recession casting a shadow over this year’s budget negotiations, California lawmakers approved a new $170.9-billion spending plan on Wednesday that increases some funding for social services but stashes more away in a rainy-day fund. Although lawmakers are finishing their work on this year’s budget, some of the most consequential decisions for the state’s financial future may not be made until the November election. Voters will likely be asked whether to extend higher taxes on the wealthy, increase the levy on cigarettes or borrow billions of dollars to build and renovate schools. (read article)

California’s Bullet Train Was Born Doomed And Will Never Be Completed
By Chuck DeVore, June 15, 2016, Forbes
In November 2008 California voters approved borrowing $10 billion to build a high-speed rail system from San Francisco to Los Angeles. In the official ballot pamphlet, proponents claimed that the rail project would be funded with a combination of federal dollars and private investment “WITHOUT RAISING TAXES.” Now, almost eight years later, not a penny of private money has been secured, federal funds are increasingly scarce, and California tax money is drying up as well, meaning that the project will never be completed. California’s high-speed rail project is a textbook case of crony corporatism—where powerful interests convince lawmakers to bestow valuable favors at taxpayer expense. The ballot initiative had been scheduled for the 2004 election, but was delayed twice by liberal lawmakers over fears that California voters, concerned for the state’s often precarious finances, would reject the project as a costly luxury. (read article)

Slow job growth, Brexit vote make Federal Reserve cautious about hiking interest rate
By Jim Puzzanghera and Don Lee, June 15, 2016, Los Angeles Times
Federal Reserve policymakers on Wednesday held a key interest rate steady to take more time to determine if a surprising slowdown in job growth last month was an anomaly or a warning sign of trouble ahead for the U.S. economy. Fed Chairwoman Janet L. Yellen also said officials were worried about the potential economic effect of next week’s vote by Britain on whether to remain in the European Union. A decision to exit the EU – dubbed Brexit – could rattle financial markets. Still, Yellen tried to convey continued optimism about the U.S. economy, saying a rate hike could come as soon as next month if job growth rebounds. (read article)

US Department of Labor Asking Federal Court to Order New Election of Leadership at WMATA’s Major Union
By Scott MacFarlane, June 14, 2016, NBC Washington
The U.S. Department of Labor is asking a federal court to order a new election of union leadership at WMATA’s major union, the Local 689 Amalgamated Transit Union. The agency is questioning the legitimacy of the process used to elect union leaders in December 2015, which re-elected union president Jackie Jeter. The Department of Labor alleges Local 689 failed to allow other candidates a proper opportunity to run for her job. The Department of Labor, in court filings Tuesday, said Local 689 membership sought and voted to hold a re-election for leadership positions in January 2016, but were denied the opportunity to do so. The federal government is asking the court to order a re-vote for union leaders, personally supervised by the U.S. labor secretary. (read article)

 

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