In an effort to stimulate the California economy Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing to spend $500 million on worker training. The administration believes such an injection of funds, borrowed from a surplus in the state’s disability insurance fund, could create as many as 100,000 jobs. The proposal includes limits on lawsuits that can be filed against small businesses and weakening of environmental regulations when applied to major construction projects.
While some economists are projecting that when job numbers are announced tomorrow we’ll likely see plus or minus 25,000 jobs, but the Economic Policy Institute warned on Wednesday that it won’t mean the country is out of the woods. Jesse Russell reports:
This Friday marks the two years since the recession officially started. Heidi Shierholz with the Economic Policy Institute said on Wednesday that while the last few months have seen improvements it hasn’t been enough to signal a healthy growth:
By Doug Cunningham
National Nurses United, America’s largest nurses’ union, is calling on House members to hold the line in opposing a tax on working family healthcare benefits. The union says it is unconscionable that workers and their families would have their coverage highly taxed and seriously eroded. National Nurses United Co-President Deborah Burger says advocates of the healthcare benefits tax have made it clear that the intent is to force working people into cheaper, higher-deductible plans that provide less coverage while shifting more of the costs to workers.
By Doug Cunningham
AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler says the labor federation still has leverage as it fights to improve the final version of health care reform.
After meeting with several unemployed San Diego workers this morning, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka spoke at a rally of workers, union, community and faith leaders calling for creation of a local jobs program.
What I’ve seen here this morning as I sat with some of the hard-working people of this great city—people who through no fault of their own are without jobs—is another grim reminder of the ever-present struggles of working families in this city, this state, this country.
He said the labor movement and the nation’s leaders must “respond as never before to create a different kind of economy.” Click here to read his entire speech.
The San Diego rally was one of several stops on Trumka’s California tour to spotlight the need to create good jobs for America’s workers and to call for justice and fair contracts for hotel workers engaged in a bitter contract struggle with several national hotel chains.
The rally highlighted the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council’s Local Jobs Agenda, which emphasizes hiring local workers for public works projects. The central labor council is pressing the City Council to adopt the agenda.
Before the rally, Trumka met with several long-term unemployed workers, including a laid-off hotel worker and single mom. The woman’s son has hemophilia and she not only lost her health coverage when she lost her job, but she cannot afford the premiums to keep her health care through COBRA.
In an example of what can be done to address the jobs crisis, Trumka spent part of the morning with students at the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council’s pre-apprenticeship training program that helps prepare students for construction and building trades unions’ apprenticeships. The program focuses on at-risk youth. Trumka praised it for
taking kids who had no where to go—kids who many folks had given up on them—and giving them the school and job skills they need to have a future.
Later today, Trumka will meet with union members, labor leaders and Orange County officials to discuss job creation projects and prospects there, especially a massive construction project in Irvine dubbed, “The Great Park.”
Tomorrow in Los Angeles, he will meet with students at the Electrical Workers (IBEW) Training Institute, where they are learning skills to prepare for family supporting jobs—with a special emphasis on green jobs. He also will join workers for a rally and picket in front of the Hyatt Century Plaza in Los Angeles.
Mining deaths fell to an all-time low last year, and two of the key reasons, says the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), are stronger enforcement of mine safety laws and the tougher mine safety rules passed in 2006 after a series of explosions, fires and other deadly incidents.
MSHA figures show 18 coal miners were killed on the job in 2009 and 16 workers in metal/nonmetal mines were killed—a drop from 2008’s total of 53 deaths. Says Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis:
No one should have to die for a job. Our nation’s miners, like all workers, deserve jobs that allow them to provide for themselves and their families. No job is truly good unless it is safe.
Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, says while the number of mine deaths were at a record low, they still “represent a tragic loss to the families and friends of the 34 victims.”
He says a key factor contributing to the record low number of deaths include enforcement of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 and continued implementation of the MINER Act, enacted by Congress in 2006.
That’s quite a change from MSHA under the Bush administration. According to the Charleston Gazette, MSHA failed to issue more than 4,000 fines for recorded safety violations and Bush threatened to veto the MINER Act.
In 2009, MSHA assessed 173,000 civil penalties for violations of mine safety and health legal requirements. The dollar amount of assessed penalties totaled $140.7 million in 2009. Twenty-five flagrant violations were assessed at a total of $3.4 million.
Main emphasized that while the numbers indicate vast improvements in safety, much work remains to be done on the health side. Last month, MSHA launched a comprehensive program to end new cases of black lung among the nation’s coal miners. Black lung case are increasing and even younger miners are showing evidence of advanced and debilitating lung disease from excessive dust exposure.
More than 100 union members, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and UNITEHERE! President John Wilhelm were arrested at a sit-in demanding justice and a fair contract for San Francisco hotel workers last night. The workers have been without a contract since August.
The sit-in in front of the Hilton San Francisco followed a march by nearly 1,000 members of UNITEHERE! Local 2, other union members and community and political supporters. Says Ingrid Carp, a cook for 29 years at the Hilton:
“We’re determined as ever to win a good contract. It’s wrong for corporations to position themselves to make billions with the coming economic recovery, and expect us to go backward.”
The action is part of a campaign to win fair contracts at several national hotel chains, including Hilton, Hyatt and Starwood. The profitable chains are using the recession as an excuse to demand health care benefit cuts in contract talks with more than 16,000 workers at dozens of hotels in San Francisco, Chicago and other cities.
At the rally before the march, Trumka told crowd:
“A job is a good job because working people fight to make it one. It doesn’t matter if the job is in a coal mine or a hotel, a classroom or a car wash.
“That’s why the struggle of hotel workers here in San Francisco and across our country is so important. If we don’t protect the wages and benefits and health care of hotel workers no job is safe, no worker is safe no family is safe.”
Tomorrow, Trumka will join workers for a rally and picket in front of the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles. Along with the demand for justice for hotel workers, Trumka is in California this week to spotlight the need for job creation. We’ll have more on that later today.