May/June/July 2010 -- Volume 55, Number 2
The state’s looming deficit and struggling economy have become the most important issues facing the state legislature. Nonetheless, each year lawmakers address numerous issues that impact our lives—at work and at home. And, each year, Labor’s core statutory protec- tions must be protected against constant attack. Who’s sitting in those legislative chambers makes all the dif- ference between getting laws that support Teamster industries and members, and laws that work against our interests. Here are some of the good and bad bills we’re dealing with this year.
We are making every effort to ensure that the policies of this state work to promote the creation and maintenance of good jobs here in California. That’s why we have sponsored SB 967 by Senator Lou Correa, (D-Orange County) and AB 1778 by Assembly Member Ted Lieu, (D-Torrance).
SB 967 would provide a bid preference for any business that wants to provide goods or services to the state that agrees to ensure that 90% of the work- ers performing under the contract are residents of California. It provides the same bid preference for the use of Federal funds that have been sent to the state to help stimulate our economy and employment. This bill comes as a result of Delta Dental choosing to move good Teamster jobs out of California.
AB 1778 would require state agencies that film commercials promoting California or California products, film them in California. This measure is designed to get the most out of our public dollars. We should be creating jobs with state expenditures, not sending them elsewhere.
We are also co-sponsoring AB 155 by Assembly Member Tony Mendoza, (D-Artesia) with the California Labor Federation and the California Professional Firefighters. As more and more cities and local governments face financial dire straights, this bill would require state approval before a municipality could go into bankruptcy. This is designed to prevent what happened in the City of Vallejo where there was a rush to bankruptcy for the sole purpose of abrogating union contracts.
Most of these attacks come as measures to “assist” our struggling economy. But make no mistake, the goal is to get rid of the workers’ voice on the job— the union. Here are a few bills we are fighting:
Alcohol tax: Assembly Member Jim Beall, (D-San Jose), introduced AB 1019 and AB 1694, both to increase the excise taxes on beer, wine, and spirits. The tax increase has been looked at as a way to raise revenue and pay for alcohol-related programs in a really bad deficit situation. Unfortunately, Teamster jobs would be put in jeopardy so we vigorously opposed them and both bills died in committee.
Sweetened beverage tax: A proposed tax on sugar-sweetened beverages by Senator Dean Florez (D-Bakersfield) and Assemblyman Joe Coto (D- Alameda) will greatly affect Teamster families. SB 1210 and AB 2100 would impose a one cent tax per teaspoon of sugar added to sweeten beverages, likely increasing the tax on each 12 oz. can by 10¢. While the object of these bills is to reduce obesity, Teamsters are concerned that fewer sales will result in job losses for Teamster drivers, merchandisers, and plant employees. These bills are still in committee.
Union busting: Finally, when things aren’t good, people need someone to blame. The right wing likes to blame unions. In that spirit Senator Robert Dutton, (R-Inland Empire), introduced SB 1180 which would have made California a right-to-work state. This bill never got out of committee, but we know it will be back.