By Steve Smith
Walmart shoppers probably didn't expect to be greeted Friday morning at 5 AM by a lively group of taxpayers protesting the "Walmart Loophole," which allows large companies like Walmart to avoid their responsibilities to pay their fair share for their workers' health care. But that's exactly what they encountered in West Sacramento.
About 30 demonstrators launched a statewide tour aimed at educating shoppers and the media about Walmart's practice of paying its workers so little that they are pushed into taxpayer-funded programs like Medi-Cal. The group also handed out information about AB 880 (Gomez), which would mandate that the state's largest and most profitable companies pay their fair share when their workers end up on taxpayer-funded Medi-Cal.
By Rev. Jim Conn
My friend pastors a vibrant congregation in the Mid-City area of Los Angeles. Her people reflect the neighborhood and the church worships in both Spanish and English. In a conversation this week I asked her how her folks were doing. Her voice dropped, and she shook her head. "There are no jobs," she said, "and the ones who work can only get part-time hours." With dismay, she said, "I don't know how they are making it."
By Dana Woldow
Last year, when Congress failed to pass a new farm bill, an often-repeated claim was that the version of the bill proposed by the House Agricultural Committee would throw 280,000 children off the free school lunch rolls. Less clear was who exactly these kids would be, why some members of Congress thought it was a good idea to literally take food out of the mouths of low income children, and whether those families could just work around such legislation and still get free school lunch.
By Mark Naison
Is Diane Ravitch the George Ball of our generation and education reform our Vietnam?
In the spring and summer of 1965, as US policy makers debated whether to send large numbers of US ground troops to Vietnam to insure that the South Vietnamese government not collapse, a longtime Washington insider named George Ball issued a fierce warning that the policy being recommended would be disastrous. Declaring that the conflict in Vietnam was a “civil war among Asians” not a front of a global struggle against Communism, Ball warned that sending US ground troops would lead to national humiliation no matter how large the force sent or the technological advantage it possessed, because it would cement the character of the war, from the Vietnamese side, as a struggle against a foreign invader.
Ball’s advice needless to say, was disregarded, and the result was exactly as he predicted - a humiliating defeat for the US which extracted a terrifying toll in deaths and ecological damage on the Vietnamese people.
By Dick Meister
Here's some good news for the new year: Ten states are set to raise their minimum wage rates on January first.
The National Employment Law Project (NELP) calculates that the increased rates will boost the pay of more than 850,000 low-income workers in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
The rates, raised in accord with state laws requiring automatic adjustments to keep pace with the rising cost of living, will go up by 10 to 35 cents an hour depending on the state. NELP figures that will mean $190 to $510 more a year for the four million workers who are paid at the minimum in those states.
By Tina Dupuy
Wal-Mart is the biggest retailer in the world. It boasts of having 1.2 million Americans on their payroll. Its reported annual profits are around $13 billion. So it’s safe to say since it is so big - and so ubiquitous - and so obviously successful - the government can now stop subsidizing it.
By Diane Lefer
The problem isn’t a secret: California schools suspend more students than they graduate, tracking them to jail instead of to success. But Ramiro Rubalcaba was surprised when he found himself being part of the solution.
Rubalcaba told his story at a forum on school discipline held in Los Angeles on September 10, sponsored by the California Endowment, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torkalson, and the Office of Attorney General Kamala Harris.
By Jessica Bartholow
The 2012 State Legislature adjourned on August 29th and now hundreds of bills sit, awaiting the Governor’s signature. One of those bills, Assembly Bill 2508 by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D – Concord), will call back hundreds of jobs into California’s economy.
Current state law allows state public benefit contracts, including call-center contracts, to be awarded to contractors that perform the work outside of California, and even the United States. AB 2508 would prohibit state agencies that manage public benefit programs from contracting for call center services outside the state.
By Sarah Jaffe
This past week marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of the first Wal-Mart store. From Rogers, Arkansas, Wal-Mart has sprawled across the globe, opening some 10,000 stores and becoming the world's second-largest corporation—amassing a fortune for the Walton family, and gutting the American middle class.
With all their money and power, it might seem that Wal-Mart's hold on the country is unshakeable. Yet the retail giant is facing a bit of a perfect storm in terms of its reputation right now. Revelations of horrific abuses at one of its U.S. suppliers and of bribes the company paid in Mexico, as well as communities fighting fiercely against Wal-Marts in their neighborhoods, are pushing the big-box giant into damage control mode.
By Viji Sundaram
New America Media
Latanya Wolf, a slim 64 year-old, didn’t tiptoe around the issue of cuts to services for women and families during a protest rally in Oakland last week.
“I am living on $160 a month,” Wolf asserted during the rally, held Friday. “But for the food bank, I would be starving. I am living the budget cuts, my family is living the budget cuts. My 2-year-old niece died of hunger.”
In recent years, California’s budget woes have been decimating school and health care programs, and other public safety nets. The cuts have affected children, adults and seniors.
“What is happening is not a Democratic or Republican issue,” Wolf declared. “It is a human rights issue.”