christine's blog

Scoring the California Legislature: Who Stood With Consumers In 2010?

By Zack Kaldveer
Consumer Federation of California

The Consumer Federation of California released its 2010 Scorecard for State lawmakers today. The scorecard rates legislators on their votes cast on key consumer rights bills.

State Assembly members and Senators were evaluated on a number of issues, including prohibiting private for-profit post-secondary schools from making false job placement claims to prospective students, requiring lenders to provide mortgage modification information BEFORE initiating foreclosure proceedings, establishing a universal, government run health insurance program, prohibiting the manufacture or sale for use by infants or toddlers of food containers that contain bisphenol A (a toxic chemical), requiring large manufacturers and retailers to disclose their efforts to eliminate human trafficking, and prohibiting a retailer from charging a fee for debit card purchases, among others.

NLRB Judge Finds Kaiser Permanente Guilty of Violating the Law

By Leighton Woodhouse
National Union of Healthcare Workers

On Tuesday, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Judge William Schmidt announced that Kaiser Permanente brazenly violated federal labor law by withholding scheduled raises and tuition reimbursements from workers who voted to leave the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) earlier this year, and ordered immediate remedial action.

In the plainest of rebukes, Judge Schmidt referred to the “massive damage done” to workers' rights by Kaiser, characterized the company's justification for its actions as “lack(ing) merit” and “without legal foundation,” and called its cited legal precedents “misplaced.” Judge Schmidt ordered Kaiser to “immediately restore and apply” the scheduled wage increases plus interest, tuition reimbursement benefit, and steward training benefit provided under the workers' prior union contract.

The Fight of Our Lives

By Robert Cruickshank

At Tuesday's education budget meeting in Los Angeles, educators from across the state took to the microphone to tell Governor-elect Jerry Brown that schools cannot accept more funding cuts without the system collapsing. And Brown, along with Treasurer Bill Lockyer and other state officials, explained that while they understood full well that California's schools have already been cut to the bone and are funded worse than in almost every other state, there's not going to be any avoiding those cuts - unless new revenues are approved.

Court Reverses Decision That Would Have Jeopardized California Water Quality

By David Beckman
Natural Resource Defense Council

When it rains in Los Angeles, billions of gallons of water pour into the city’s storm drains and, carrying bacteria, pathogens, animal waste, metals, oils, and other pollutants, flow untreated into the Pacific Ocean and onto our beaches. A recent NRDC report found that in 2009, stormwater runoff was the primary known source of pollution at beaches nationwide, consistent with past years.  

On Tuesday the California Court of Appeal reversed a trial court decision that threatened clean water standards protecting Southern California waters, including its world-famous beaches, and millions of people who use them every year. The unanimous 3-0 ruling restores the water board’s authority to implement health-protective measures reducing California’s worst source of water pollution, stormwater runoff, in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

California Teaching Workforce is Running on Empty

By Margaret Gaston
Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning

Cumulative cuts of more than $20 billion from California’s schools over the past three years have made it tougher for teachers to help students meet increasing expectations for academic achievement and have badly damaged the state’s ability to recruit and prepare new teachers needed for the future, according to the annual report on California’s teaching workforce released this week by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning.  

The report makes clear that California’s teaching workforce is running on empty. The disinvestment in building a top quality teacher workforce is at odds with rising demands for students’ academic success, and the fiscal crisis has so severely damaged the pipeline for recruiting and training new teachers that teaching quality may be put at risk for many years to come.

On Human Rights Day, Workers Ask, "What's Gone Wrong At Chase?"

By Katie Gjertson

In Solidarity with International Human Rights Day (Dec 10), AFL-CIO Central Labor Councils, the UAW, and FLOC (Farm Labor Organizing Committee) organized more than 100 events at Chase bank branches across the country. In California, the Alameda Labor Council, Contra Costa Labor Council, LA County Federation of Labor, Sacramento Central Labor Council, and San Mateo Central Labor Council organized handbill actions highlighting Chase bank’s bad practices and banking relationship with Reynolds Tobacco.

Union members and community partners educated Chase bank patrons and passersby with a flyer that said “Chase Bank: What’s Gone Wrong?”. Chase wants to be seen as a socially responsible corporation stating that its business practices are guided by the UN Declaration of Human Rights. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, Chase is Number 1 in foreclosures, many processed improperly, causing great harm to American homeowners. Chase is also a lead banker for Reynolds Tobacco.

Obama Cements the Reagan Legacy

By Paul Hogarth

In January 2008, right before the Nevada Caucus, Hillary Clinton slammed Obama for making comments to the conservative Reno Gazette Journal that appeared to praise Ronald Reagan. Specifically, Obama said Reagan “changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not, and in a way that Bill Clinton did not.” Of course, it was merely a benign – and not-very-controversial – observation that Reagan had indeed been a transformative President (while a back-handed swipe at the Clintons.). But it actually made me hopeful that Obama knew how unremarkable Clinton was as President, and that he would be a transformative President.

Then last week, Obama not only surrendered to Republicans on Bush tax cuts for the rich – he cemented the Reagan legacy by tying tax cuts with “job growth,” as if there are no other ways to create jobs. Then he brought Bill Clinton to come sell the deal. Clinton mastered the art of “triangulation” in the mid-1990’s – by throwing progressives under a bus with DOMA and Welfare Repeal, so it was no surprise that he would endorse this capitulation. But when Clinton sold us out, it was over things that were politically popular – and here it’s indefensible.

House Democrats Introduce Standalone DADT Repeal

By Dave Dayen

It’s pretty late in the session, but House Democrats have introduced a bill that would repeal the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, and could vote on it as soon as this week.

Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) — a long-time supporter of repeal — will introduce the legislation, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced at his daily press briefing and on Twitter. Hoyer also said he would co-sponsor the bill.

The move mirrors an attempt in the Senate to repeal the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy via a stand-alone bill after the upper chamber failed to advance the defense authorization bill that contained repeal language.

When California Rejected A Bad Tax Deal

By Robert Cruickshank

Over the last week, President Barack Obama's deal on the tax cuts - where he caves in to right-wing hostage taking and agrees to deficit-exploding tax cuts for the rich in order to get a few more months of unemployment benefits - has gotten a lot of criticism from progressives, who correctly see it as a very bad deal.

Many of those critics are here in California. And that is fitting, because we have faced this situation before - and we made the correct choice, to reject a bad deal designed to promote right-wing goals and instead keep fighting for progressive solutions.

Cap and Trade Could Generate Billions for California

By Ngoc Nguyen
New America Media

In November, Californians chose to move forward with, not derail, the state’s sweeping climate change law when they defeated Proposition 23, which would have suspended it. A key milestone in the implementation of that law will take place next week, when officials adopt regulations for a cornerstone emissions trading – or cap and trade – program.

With the economy in the tank and what some call a jobless recovery, there’s much at stake in the ultimate design of an emissions trading program that could generate billions in revenue annually and create jobs.