Smith, Steve


Steve Smith is communications director at the California Labor Federation, which represents more than 2.1 million workers in 1,200 unions across the state. Visit www.calaborfed.org to learn more.

FPPC Levies Record Fines Against Dark Money Groups

By Steve Smith

California Labor Federation

Last Thursday California’s Fair Political Practices Commission sent a strong message to shadowy out-of-state special-interest groups and donors trying to influence our state’s elections by levying record fines for contributions to committees that supported Prop 32 and opposed Prop 30.

According to the Sacramento Bee:

In a campaign finance case watched around the country, California's political watchdog has levied a $1 million fine against two non-profit groups for inappropriately laundering money during last year's ballot initiative wars.

AB 880: "Walmart Loophole" Bill Faces Vote This Week

Steve SmithBy Steve Smith

When AB 880 comes up for a vote this week in the California Assembly, lawmakers will be given a rare (and dare we say golden) opportunity. California has the chance to lead the nation in ensuring that large corporations like Walmart pay their fair share of health care costs under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Because of what's known as the "Walmart Loophole," large corporations are able to skirt their responsibility by pushing workers onto taxpayer-funded Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California). Walmart's army of accountants knows exactly how to reduce the company's costs by violating the spirit of the ACA: just cut workers' hours and wages low enough, and taxpayers pick up the tab for health care - while Walmart gets off scot-free.

End Enterprise Zone Abuse: Support Gov. Brown's Good Jobs Proposal

By Steve Smith

You've probably seen the stories by now: Enterprise zone tax breaks, which are supposed to provide incentives for good jobs, are instead going to strip clubs and low-wage mega corporations like Walmart.

The current enterprise zone program is shrouded in secrecy, with virtually no accountability or transparency. Study after study shows the program is a massive failure, wasting $750 million a year without doing much of anything to create new jobs.

Statewide Tour to Close the "Walmart Loophole" Kicks Off in West Sacramento

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.

Unions, Environmental Groups and Tribal Leaders Join Together to Defend CEQA

By Steve Smith

Yesterday, a growing coalition of labor unions, environmental groups and tribes made clear that protecting the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), our state's landmark environmental protection law, is essential to California's future.

Wealthy developers and corporate special interests have attacked CEQA as a hindrance to job creation, and are pushing to "reform" (i.e. gut) the law. But the facts just don't support their claims. At an event on the steps of the Capitol Tuesday morning, the Labor Management Cooperation Trust released a report that finds that since CEQA became law in 1970, California's manufacturing output, construction activity, per capita GDP and housing (relative to population) all grew as fast or faster than the other 49 states.

Sequestration Cuts Threaten California's Comeback

By Steve Smith

It's been a good start to the year for California. We lead the nation in job creation. Our budget is balanced. Unemployment is dropping. Prop 30 stopped devastating cuts to our schools. While we still have a lot of work to dig out from the recession caused by Wall St. greed and excess, there's no question that California is enjoying a major comeback.

But the California comeback could be short-lived if Republicans in Washington, D.C. continue this insane game they are playing with the so-called "sequestration" cuts. These automatic spending cuts would sap $500 million in federal funding from California putting priorities like education, health care and public safety at risk. The cuts could cost California 225,000 jobs.

The Prop 32 Effect

By Steve Smith

As the election results came in late Tuesday night, it became abundantly clear that the handful of billionaires and CEOs who sought to silence our voice were in for a rude awakening. Their deceptive measure, Prop 32, didn't just fail, it tanked - by a 12-point margin.

Labor, Business, Environmental Leaders Support Job-Creating Prop 39

By Steve Smith

With California's unemployment rate still over 10%, we should be using all available resources to strengthen our economy and create jobs. That's why it's so frustrating to see a wasteful corporate tax loophole draining resources that ought to be putting people back to work. But Prop 39 aims to change that, and anyone who truly cares about creating jobs in California should sprint to the polls on November 6th to pass this commonsense measure.

Last week in San Francisco leaders from California's labor, business and environmental communities stood together to close the loophole that's costing tens of thousands of jobs and slowing our economic recovery.

California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski:

Koch Brothers' Spending Exposes the Real Agenda Behind Prop 32

By Steve Smith

To many, the billionaire Koch Brothers are the embodiment of a problem that plagues our electoral system in an era of Citizens United: big money from anonymous sources manipulating elections. The Kochs web of Super PACs and front groups are expected to spend $400 million on elections this year alone to promote their anti-worker, big corporate agenda. The Kochs are known for many things, but "campaign finance reform" sure isn't one of them. In fact, most observers point to the Kochs' free-wheeling campaign spending through shadowy front groups as THE REASON we need real reform.

Behind the Prop 32 Curtain

By Steve Smith
California Labor Federation

Many ballot propositions are deliberately written to be confusing. There’s usually a hidden agenda. Case in point: Prop 32.

Its backers say it’s about “stopping special interests.” That sounds nice, right?  But, as usual, the devil’s in the details. When you take a closer look, it’s clear that Prop 32 isn’t what it seems. While it eliminates the collective voice of union members in politics, it’s riddled with exemptions for corporate CEOs, billionaires and corporate special interests.

In a recent op-ed in The Guardian (UK), San Francisco State professor John Logan wrote Prop 32 isn’t genuine reform, rather a “bill of rights for billionaires.”