Making America Work for Working People


This Labor Day, remember the millions of Americans who don’t know the next time they’ll get called in to their jobs.

By Sarita Gupta / OtherWords

For millions of working parents like me, the juggling act between our homes and offices gets even more frantic as our kids head back to school.

My daughter just started kindergarten. Some days, I’m proud of how my husband and I manage the demands of our jobs while also taking care of her and my parents. Other days, life happens — the train’s late, a deadline surfaces, a meeting gets rescheduled ­— and it all falls apart.

This Labor Day, I’m grateful that I’ll be able to spend time with my family and take a break from the demands of this time of year. But I’ll also be thinking about the working people across the country who don’t know the next time they’ll actually be working.   [Read more…]

Cal Pensions Cutting Coal Stock Called an “Emotional” Response to Climate Change


By Doug Porter

You would think that losing $5 billion in pension fund investments in fossil fuel companies in 2014 would cause the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) to change course.

But Republican reaction to passage of SB 185, also called “Investing with Values and Responsibility,” beginning an eighteen month process to disinvest in any holdings of thermal coal is quite the opposite.

Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City decried the measure, saying, “We need to make (investment) decisions based on good, sound financial decisions, not based on emotions.”

So there you have it. Global climate change is simply an emotional issue.   [Read more…]

Postcard from Puerto Rico: Someone Gave Us a Cistern. Thank God.

PR- tile detail thumbnail

By Anna Daniels

Hola My Tia. Yes they r talking about closing schools. It’s really scary my niece writes from the municipality of Carolina, which neighbors Puerto Rico’s capital of San Juan. The bagmen who are now running the show have proposed laying off teachers and closing schools as one solution to the island’s financial crisis.

There was a time when we could agree that our children’s public education was a collective responsibility and one of the best investments in their future and our future as a democracy. That time seems to have passed as hedge fund managers, investors and banks demand to be paid today.The future be damned.

And now with the water issues the schools r closing half a day.   [Read more…]

Loss of Community Is Greatest Threat From Airbnb and Short-Term Vacation Rentals


Short-term vacation rentals are on the minds of a lot of people these days, especially with those who live at the coast in San Diego.

The issue bubbles up at community meetings. An OB resident brought it up at a recent Ocean Beach Planning Board meeting. And it was the subject of a panel discussion organized recently by the Point Loma Democratic Club. Also, back in February of this year, residents of Pacific Beach made their complaints about them heard publicly.

Then it came up at the most recent OB Town Council meeting last week, during the non-agenda comment period, where folks on both sides on the issue contended for audience sympathy. And it’s certainly a hot topic among callers to District 2 Councilwoman Zapf’s office.
  [Read more…]

Choosing Real Citizen-Led Advocacy to Preserve Carlsbad’s Open Space

Strawberry fields in Carlsbad, April 2010, closeup

By Richard Riehl / The Riehl World

After vowing never again to sign a petition, my wife and I are headed to Alga Norte Park to sign one. It’s our attempt to make up for foolishly falling for the pitch to support an initiative to “save the strawberry fields.” The man with the clipboard at my door claimed he was a member of a group of concerned citizens, rallying to save them.

A day later I learned how I had been sweet-talked into abandoning my skepticism of California’s bogus initiative campaigns. He was far from the public-spirited do-gooder he represented himself to be. The guy walking away with my signature was paid for its delivery to the developer who was rallying to bring a strip mall to the strawberry fields.   [Read more…]

Disposable People: Obama, the TPP, and the Betrayal of Human Rights

tpp slavery

By Jim Miller

During the lead-up to the vote on the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP) that the President narrowly won, Obama and his surrogates consistently suggested that those in labor and other allied groups opposing the deal were “fighting the last war” and were against “the most progressive trade agreement the world has ever seen.” Indeed, he even went so far as to accuse critics like Senator Elizabeth Warren of “making stuff up”.

As we know, Obama defeated labor and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and, in concert with Republicans and just enough New Democrats like San Diego’s own Scott Peters and Susan Davis, he succeeded in forwarding the multinational corporate agenda.

Since that time the gaze of the national media has turned elsewhere and, as negotiations have encountered difficulties, the administration has sunk to new lows in its zeal to finish the deal on the TPP.   [Read more…]

NLRB Ruling Could Be a Game Changer for Unions


By Doug Porter

A Reagan-era standard allowing corporations to maintain an arms-length relationship with their workforces fell by the wayside yesterday as the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of the Teamsters in a dispute with California recycler Browning-Ferris Industries.

The bottom line here is that big companies may be held responsible for what goes on in the workplace. Organized labor is pleased with the decision. Wall Street isn’t. The actual ruling concerned the use of temporary employees. What people are reacting to are its game changing implications.

There are lots of poorly informed (meaning full of crap) analyses being passed off in various media accounts.  To use a baseball analogy, just because a team acquires a high performance player doesn’t mean they’ll have a winning season. Just ask the San Diego Padres.   [Read more…]

Street Repairs Could Jump Start Municipal Internet


By Jose Caballero

It’s no secret that when it comes to streets San Diego has a rough ride. We were recently ranked 8th worst in the nation for our roads, costing drivers $843 a year in maintenance costs. Mayor Faulconer has said he will fix them over the next 5 years. However, he’s missing a major opportunity if they just put down new pavement.

In February, the Federal Communications Commission preempted state laws banning municipal internet services, allowing cities, meaning San Diego could build networks featuring lightning fast, gigabit, fiber to the premise (FTTP) service, which would be among the fastest anywhere in the world. This has been done successfully in Chattanooga, TN and Wilson, NC, with other cities from Seattle to Baltimore considering making their own systems.
  [Read more…]

Nail Salon Workplaces Need A Touch Up


By Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez

Today I am convening an informational hearing in the Capitol as Chair of the Select Committee on Women in the Workplace, bringing together stakeholders to discuss the challenges faced in the industry and to hear personal testimony from nail salon workers. I’m encouraged to be joined by the Chairs of four other Assembly Committees and other legislators to begin the collaborative process we need to achieve the change these workers need.

Recent in-depth coverage in the New York Times revealed shocking, systematic abuse going on right under the noses of thousands of nail salon customers every day. The reports found employees living in squalor and isolation, underpaid or completely unpaid, and ravaged by health problems possibly connected to chemicals they handle on the job. It echoed and expanded upon reporting done recently in California, drawing new attention to deeply troubling working conditions in the nail salon industry across the country.

Today’s hearing is an important start to ensure that the employees of these salons are effectively covered by California’s workplace safety and wage and hour laws. These laws should guarantee all workers fair treatment and safe working conditions, and it’s our responsibility to make sure they work.   [Read more…]

Privatizing Pensions and Idolizing Profit in the 21st Century


By Doug Porter

Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik has been on a tear recently, rolling out essays challenging the validity of claims made by those who claim privatizing retirement is the way of the future.

At the core of these conservative/libertarian arguments against public support for defined pensions is a fundamental belief in the supremacy of the “market” as a force in society. 

The problem with this viewpoint comes when actual results for those programs participants are measured. The market has no obligation other than profit, which is only guaranteed for those managing the transactions.   [Read more…]

Are the NFL Chargers Causing the NCAA Aztecs to Lose?


By Bill Adams /UrbDeZine

Are the San Diego National Football League (NFL) Chargers causing the San Diego State University Aztecs football team to lose games and fans?  If so, which is worse for San Diego, losing its NFL franchise to another city, or sub-optimal performance and attendance at Aztecs football games?

While these question at first appear both absurd and provocative, there have been several studies that can answer these questions  – at least to some degree.  Moreover, the studies go further. The studies indicate that the success of a college sports team has an effect on the regional economy.

First, winning by a university’s sports teams increases both the number and the quality of its student applications.  It hardly needs be said that the number and quality of student applications facilitates everything from funding to prestige, and ultimately the growth of a university.  This explains in large part why university administrations continue to fund even money-losing or scandal-ridden high profile sports like football and basketball.   [Read more…]

Preserve Carlsbad Open Space the Right Way: Let Us Vote


By Richard Riehl / The Riehl World

When it comes to air pollution, the Carlsbad City Council’s report on the Agua Hedionda Initiative, the “9212 Report,” reads a little like “close enough for guv’ment work.” When it comes to traffic congestion, it’s a developer’s faith-based initiative. But when it comes to the city’s projected $2.6 million a year tax revenue windfall it’s, “Whoopee, we’re gonna be rich!”

City staff took 2 ½ months to write the August 7 report. The Council and general public will have had 17 days to read and think about what’s in its 254 pages, and the 542 additional pages of supporting documents, before next Tuesday, August 25, when the Council will decide whether to approve the plan with no further review, put it on the ballot for voters to decide, or take more time to think it over.   [Read more…]

‘Out of Step’: Investigation Uncovers Striking Paid Leave Divide in US

In the United States, only about 13 percent of U.S. workers have access to any form of paid family leave. (Photo: Corrinne Yu/cc/flickr)

By Lauren McCauley / Common Dreams

With the idea of paid maternity leave gaining traction as a means of recruiting workplace “talent” or used as a talking point on the campaign trail, an In These Times investigation published on Tuesday reveals the sad reality for millions of U.S. families.

In the United States, only about 13 percent of U.S. workers have access to any form of paid family leave, which includes parental leave and other time off to care for a family member, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.   [Read more…]

Stolen Pay, Stolen Lives: It’s Time to Beef Up Enforcement for Wage Theft in California


By Doug Porter

On the eve of an assembly committee hearing, the California Fair Paycheck Coalition and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) have released a new video showing the link between human trafficking and wage theft.

The state Senate has already passed SB 588, authored by Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, enhancing the ability of the state labor commissioner to fight wage theft and help workers collect stolen pay.

Currently only 17% of workers receiving judgements for stolen wages are able to collect payment. Research indicates low-wage workers lose, on average, 12.5% of their annual income to wage theft.   [Read more…]

This New Federal Rule Will Bring Secretive Corporate Tax Breaks to Light

100 Dollar Bills

Every year, governments spend tens of billions of dollars on tax breaks for private companies. Now, state and city governments will have to start reporting it as lost income.

By Puck Lo / Yes! Magazine

In 2013, Chicago’s Board of Education announced that due to a $1 billion deficit, the city was closing some 50 public schools. The same year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave more than $55 million in public tax money to build a new basketball arena and hotel. Many outraged students took to the streets to protest. Asean Johnson, nine years old at the time, was one of them.   [Read more…]

Bernie Sanders, American Socialist


By John Lawrence

Bernie Sanders has been drawing huge crowds to his rallies. The American media cannot ignore that. But they will never use the S word to describe Bernie even though that is how he describes himself. Bernie represents those who would tax Wall Street to preserve social security and a host of other common sense proposals. He dares to suggest that college should be free rather than the first stage of a life of indentured servitude and indebtedness.

People are listening – especially young people. Bernie has been saying these things for years but the media for the most part has been ignoring him. Now he has a bigger megaphone. His decision to run for President in order to get his message out there is paying off.

As Bernie himself has said: “the ideas and the points that we are making are reverberating very strongly with the American people.” Whoever would have thought that Bernie Sanders, Socialist, would be reverberating with the American people, the American people who love freedom and think that society should be set up in such a way that everybody has a chance, no matter how small, of getting rich?   [Read more…]

The Trump Immigration Plan, Like His Candidacy, Mostly Smoke and Mirrors

Donald Trump (painting)

By Richard Riehl / The Riehl World

After weeks of generalizations about his positions on the issues, Donald Trump released his first policy paper last weekend, Immigration Reform That Will Make America Great Again. Its three core principles are building a wall that can’t be scaled or tunneled under, enforcing current law, and “improving jobs, wages and security for all Americans.” It’s clear that applies only to citizens. He lists a series of solutions to problems he believes he can solve, citing sources to support them. But following the links provided to those sources reveals the distortions and exaggerations that serve as the smoke and mirrors of his proposal. Here are a few of the more dishonest examples.   [Read more…]

A Driving Force: Electric Vehicles are on the Verge of Disrupting Energy Markets

Don McCullough/Flickr

By Emily Schwartz Greco /OtherWords

Back in 1898, New York City hosted a global environmental summit. Flummoxed, the assembled experts disbanded early without agreeing on workable solutions.

What daunting crisis brought about this precursor of today’s big UN climate conferences?

Fast-growing cities were propelling travel via horse-drawn buggies and wagons to unprecedented and unsustainable levels. Staggering quantities of equine manure and urine made urban life hazardous and stinky, Clemson University assistant professor Eric Morris explains in his colorful essay From Horse Power to Horsepower.
  [Read more…]

August Tales from America’s Finest Tourist Plantation


By Doug Porter

Two seemingly unconnected stories popped up as I made my morning media rounds today, pointing out the underlying reality of a city governed by the few at the expense of the many.

An article in City Beat described the pressures being brought to bear to exclude elected officials from decisions on a taxpayer-funded development scheme… A former city councilman wrote an essay refuting a narrative published in the Union-Tribune denigrating local lifeguards…

These disparate tales are connected by a business ethos fostered by former and present elected officials claiming to have the public interest in mind. I’m talking about a Plantation Overlord Mentality as opposed to a backroom conspiracy. Business as usual in San Diego, in other words.   [Read more…]

USC Report: Inequality Threatens San Diego’s Future


By Doug Porter

A report by the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) says long term prospects for San Diego’s economy are challenged by widespread inequality.

I could dazzle you with charts and figures (and there are plenty in the report), but here’s the bottom line: the way public policy is and has been made in San Diego benefits a few at the expense of the many. Trading short term greed for long term growth would be better for the overall economy and the environment.

The authors of the report point to metropolitan areas around the country where public and private entities have opted to work together on economic and environmental issues and are building platforms for sustainable growth. They also point to emerging data demonstrating that “greater economic and racial equality in regions corresponds with more robust growth in terms of employment, output, productivity, and per-capita income.”   [Read more…]

Buying America: Shopping Can Be an Ethical Act


The Many Astounding Ways You Can Express Your Values with Your Pocket Book

By David Morris / Alternet

“Every person ought to have the awareness that purchasing is always a moral – and not simply an economic – act,” Pope Francis announced early this year. How can we spend our money as if our values matter?

In some sectors and for some values this is fairly easy. Food is an obvious example. Those who want to protect the environment and human and animal health will find abundant labels guiding them to the appropriate product: USDA Organic, free range, hormone free, grass fed. For those who want to strengthen community, shrink the distance between producer and consumer and support family farmers a growing number of grocery stores label locally grown or raised.   [Read more…]

Economic Growth Doesn’t Make a Wealthy Nation, Safety and Happiness Do

Still frame from Growth Is Not Enough

By Araz Hachadourian / Yes! Magazine

Worldwide economic wealth has quadrupled since 1970, and experts say it will continue to grow exponentially. But at the same time, poverty and economic inequality are on the rise.

Most countries use measures such as gross national product (GNP) and gross domestic product (GDP) to assess the health of their economies. But these only take into account economic activity and material wealth, leaving out factors like distribution of resources and quality of life.

In this video, Kate Raworth, economist and senior visiting research associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, explains how economies aimed only at growth are not enough.   [Read more…]