Labor - And A Whole Lot More

A Legislature Shows Congress How

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Forget for a moment what's happened –– or not happened  –- in Congress.
Concentrate instead on what's meanwhile gone on in California's State Legislature, much of it for the benefit of California's working people.
The State AFL-CIO cites, for instance, the Legislature's passage this year
of more than a dozen decidedly worker-friendly bills sponsored by the labor
federation and strongly backed by the federation's Democratic Party allies.
The most important of the bills will raise the state's minimum wage from
$7.25 an hour to $10 an hour by January of 2016. Other key laws:
*Require overtime pay for domestic workers, who are currently excluded from
most labor laws nationwide.
*Will make it easier for immigrant workers to get drivers' licenses and
protect them from retaliation when they speak out about poor pay and working
*Should make it easier for workers with criminal records who are denied jobs
despite their rehabilitation.
*Give corporate tax breaks to employers who create jobs.
*Increase the legal protections for the state's notably exploited farm
workers and car wash employees.
*Strengthen current laws that require builders holding state contracts to
pay their crews the prevailing wage for construction work in their areas.
*Encourage Employers and workers "to identify and minimize the risk of
workplace violence."
*Expand the law granting paid family sick leaves to workers caring for ill
parents and children to also include work time lost while caring for sick
parents-in-law, siblings, grandparents  and grandchildren.
*Ease the unjust impact of current immigration law enforcement on workers
and families by limiting the state's cooperation with the federal "Secure
Communities" program.
Art Pulaski, the State AFL-CIO's chief officer, rightly claims that with
passage of the laws, California undoubtedly has become "the national leader
in supporting workers and their families."
If only we could expect even a fraction of such important work from our
squabbling federal legislators.
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