By Eric Sunderland
IBEW 1245 members participated at Labor’s Joint Legislative Conference on April 15-16 in Sacramento.
The conference began with an overview of organized Labor’s legislative agenda for 2013. Some of the topics on the agenda included:
- Ending the Corporate Gravy Train
- Fair Share Health care
- Stop Billionaires from Buying Ballot Measures
- Penalties for Companies that Subcontract
- …and many other corporate activities that aim to break the back of our hard-working Brothers and Sisters in unions throughout the state.
At afternoon sessions, participants broke out into workshops that focused on specific legislation and messaging. The workshops I attended in the afternoon were on Enterprise Zones, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA,) and Charter Cities.
In the Enterprise Zone session I learned that enterprise zones reward corporate fat-cats, i.e. Wal-Mart, and are a bad deal for labor. Mega-Businesses are receiving tax credits for jobs they created over four years ago. In addition, they abuse this credit by creating low-wage high-turnover jobs to repeatedly receive the credit for the same job.
In the CEQA session I learned that CEQA has directly enhanced California’s economy. A recent analysis of the Act titled “The Economic and Environmental Impact of CEQA” showed that under CEQA, California’s GDP per capita growth has exceeded US per capita growth and California’s share of manufacturing and construction in general have matched or exceeded national results, indicating that by promoting a cleaner environment we have done better economically in California than elsewhere without a comparable law.
In the Charter Cities session I learned about SB7, which if passed will prohibit cities from using state funds or receiving state financial assistance without the city instituting a law which requires contractors to comply with the state’s prevailing wage law requirements.
Monday evening, participants attended a dinner with many supportive state legislators and officers, including Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Attorney General Kamala Harris, and Controller John Chiang, among others. Afterwards, attendees were invited to a networking event organized by the Young Workers Council and sponsored by the Building Trades Council.
Tuesday began with “Labor Lobby” events around the Sacramento area, which included walk-abouts at the Capitol visiting legislators and a breakfast organized by the Sacramento Central Labor Council. The afternoon continued with a rally on the Capitol steps themed as “End the Corporate Gravy Train” and concluded with more visits to legislators—this this time including the delivery of jars of real gravy!