Workers at an LA Starbucks file petition to unionize

They allege low wages, erratic scheduling, unsanitary conditions and workloads that leave employees exhausted

Low wages, erratic scheduling, unsanitary conditions and heavy workloads are the chief complaints driving workers at a Starbucks in Los Angeles to unionize.

Employees filed a petition Friday with the National Labor Relations Board to join Starbucks Workers United.

“We expect to hear back from the labor board in six weeks,” said Andrew Gillespie, a shift supervisor at the store, at 5757 Wilshire Blvd. near the La Brea Tar Pits. “Then we’ll hold our election and hopefully win our union.”

The employees are joining a nationwide movement that has seen more than 9,000 baristas organizing for better working conditions, fair wages and consistent schedules.

Starbucks Workers United has gained considerable traction in recent years, unionizing more than 360 Starbucks stores in 41 states and Washington, D.C. since December 2021.

Locally, that includes three LA locations and two in Anaheim, with additional stores in Long Beach, Lakewood, Huntington Beach, La Quinta, Barstow, Encinitas and San Diego.

Gillespie, 26, who has worked at the Wilshire Boulevard store for a year and a half, said management has been “unsupportive” in its scheduling.

“They’re focused on trying to cut labor costs wherever possible,” he said. “Business is always heavy in the morning, but it’s busy in the afternoon, too and employees will end up doing the work of two, three or even four people.”

Gillespie said the store has also had an ongoing problem with ants, cockroaches and mosquitoes.

“They come from the Miracle Mile drainage system,” he said. “I’ve tried to get them to bring in an exterminator, but they just give us DIY tips on how to address it ourselves.”

In a statement issued Monday, Nov. 20, Starbucks said it’s encouraged by the progress it’s seen toward first contracts at stores where union representatives have approached bargaining with “professionalism and an actual interest in discussing partner priorities with our bargaining committees.”

“Wherever we can quickly and broadly improve partner benefits and perks, our history demonstrates we have,” the company said.

Starbucks Workers United said the coffee chain has launched a “ruthless union-busting campaign.”

“We demand change in our workplace and do not deserve retaliation for trying to speak up,” said Hailie Muro, a barista at the LA location.

Administrative judges have issued 37 decisions finding Starbucks committed more than 300 federal labor law violations, the union said, including unlawful firings, refusing to bargain and giving nonunion workers higher wages and better benefits than employees who have sought to unionize.

decision last month by Judge Mara-Louise Anzalone marked the first nationwide ruling against the coffee giant amid its resistance to a unionization wave that began two years ago.

Anzalone noted that Starbucks has rolled out new wage rates and expanded benefits to employees, but only to its “entire hourly, nonunion workforce.” She ordered the company to compensate thousands of unionized workers for the wages and benefits they were unlawfully denied.

Starbucks said it recently announced annual pay raises of 3-5% for “all eligible U.S. hourly retail partners, differentiated for tenure — further enhancing our current average U.S. hourly partner pay of $17.50 per hour.”

Gillespie said workers at the LA store are seeking a base wage of $20 an hour.

Click here to read the full article at OC Register

CHP officers get biggest raise in 20 years as hiring challenges drive up California police pay

California’s state police for the second year in a row will enjoy a salary bump that far exceeds the raises Gov. Gavin Newsom has offered to other public employees thanks to a state law that grants them automatic pay increases.

California Highway Patrol officers are getting a 7.9% wage increase, marking their biggest raise in 20 years. Last year, they received a 6.2% general salary increase. Both are historically high raises for the officers.

Raises for CHP officers by state law are based on the average compensation at five other law enforcement agencies: The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office and the police departments in Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland and San Francisco. 

The formula includes base salary, retirement benefits and add-ons like longevity pay and educational incentive pay. It does not include overtime.

An annual compensation survey released late Monday by the state department of Human Resources found the average take-home pay for those agencies is $118,164 while the average net pay for CHP officers is $109,476.

The new salary increase for CHP officers is expected to bring their base wages up to what the other agencies are paying.

According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the 7.9% increase is the biggest pay bump for the California Highway Patrol since at least 2003, when they were given a 7.7% increase. 

Police salaries are increasingly competitive and a source of friction among agencies seeking to fill growing vacancies with a shrinking pool of eligible applicants — sheriffs and police chiefs have said that a significant percentage of applicants fail background tests.

The state, meanwhile, isn’t making it any easier to hire police officers — particularly those who leave larger departments with shoddy disciplinary or criminal records and find employment at smaller organizations. New laws have raised the minimum hiring age of law enforcement officers to 21.

That has led to bidding wars among law enforcement agencies, who use anything from signing bonuses to gym memberships to lure in recruits

The Los Angeles City Council and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in the past year each approved lucrative new law enforcement contracts in the interest of retaining officers.

CHP’s new recruiting plan

The CHP has had its own challenges hiring. Last year, the agency embarked on a hiring campaign called the CHP 1000 in which it committed to hiring hundreds of new officers. Its early ads highlighted pay, namely that entry-level officers could expect to earn $100,000 in their first year on the job.

Newsom in October vetoed a bill that aimed to help the CHP find more recruits. It would have raised the agency’s top enlistment age from 35 to 40. 

The CHP union advocated for the bill, telling lawmakers that “raising the maximum age from 35 to 40 will widen the pool of applicants, increase the number of cadets, and ultimately the number of officers committed to serve and protect the public.”

Newsom in his veto message wrote that CHP’s recent recruitment efforts had paid off, with the agency “on track to double” the number of cadets at its academy. 

The California Association of Highway Patrolmen, which represents about 7,000 officers, is the only state worker union that does not have to bargain over wage increases because of the law that sets officer compensation based on what other agencies pay. 

A bill this year would have given a similar perk to firefighters at the California Department of Forestry and Protection — or Cal Fire. It died in September without reaching Newsom. 

The bill would have compelled the state Human Resources Department to calculate wage increases for the 8,000 or so state firefighters every year based on what other 20 local fire departments pay.

The union representing Cal Fire firefighters has said that the state is losing firefighters to other departments because the state has not kept up with competing organizations’ salaries.

Salary increases for California state workers

The biggest general salary increase Newsom has offered to a public employee union during contract negotiations is 4%. That salary hike for the 100,000 employees represented by SEIU Local 1000, is scheduled for July 1, 2025, and the contract allows the governor to knock it down to 3% if the Finance Department finds the state can’t afford the full raise.

Although Newsom has held the line under 4% for general salary increases, his administration has offered a mix of bonuses and special pay raises for workers in hard-to-fill positions to retain employees in a period of high inflation. 

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

Disneyland workers primed for big salary bump after winning living-wage legal battle

Marlene Hackett works most days in Disneyland at food stands in Critter Country, where she rolls the theme park’s famed churros in brown sugar and shovels buttery popcorn into buckets before handing them out to eager parkgoers.

But with an hourly wage of $21.25 after 13 years as a Disney “cast member,” Hackett, 53, struggles to keep her own cupboards full. So, shortly after dawn on a recent Friday, she was among scores of theme park workers picking up boxes filled with canned goods, pasta, bread and tortillas at a monthly food bank hosted by Workers United Local 50, Disney’s largest labor union.

Throughout the morning, a steady flow of cars pulled up in the alley behind the union’s office, about a mile and a half from the theme park. Disney workers, some wearing double-breasted white chef’s jackets, others in aprons, scanned their employee ID cards at a check-in desk and humbly accepted the donated staples before heading off for morning shifts at the “happiest place on Earth.”

Local 50 represents 8,500 food and beverage workers at Disneyland and the adjacent California Adventure Park. Many, like Hackett, are grateful for the pantry. She said the effort helped keep her family fed when she was out for several months for knee replacement surgery. And now that she’s back at work full time, inflation has continued to eat at her food budget.

“It’s crazy, but the food bank helps a great deal,” Hackett said.

So, too, will a major legal victory handed down last month by the California Supreme Court that is expected to boost pay for thousands of low-wage Disney workers.

On Oct. 25, the justices said they would decline to hear an appeal by the Walt Disney Co. in a long-running class-action lawsuit that alleged Orange County’s largest employer was wrongfully skirting a living-wage ordinance passed by Anaheim voters in 2018. The decision cemented a July appellate court ruling that found the law indeed applied to Disney’s two Anaheim theme parks and resort workforce.

“We don’t have a precise measure of the damages,” said Sarah Grossman-Swenson, an attorney representing workers at Disney’s Anaheim properties, “but we do expect that it will be in the tens of millions of dollars.”

A Disney spokeswoman said the company is still trying to determine exactly how many workers will be affected and how much back pay is owed. But she said raises in line with the city’s living-wage ordinance would show up in the paychecks of eligible workers starting this week.

Javier Terrazas works as a banquet server at the Disneyland Hotel and was a plaintiff in the class-action suit. Disney workers such as Terrazas, eligible for patron tips, are currently paid an hourly rate of $15.50 an hour, the state’s mandated minimum wage. As a group, this category of workers stands to benefit the most from the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case — and Disney’s decision to stand down.

“I have multiple jobs, because I can’t make ends meet with what Disney pays me,” Terrazas said. “With this victory, I’ll be able to spend more time with my family and I can just focus on my main job with Disney.”

According to MIT’s living-wage calculator, a working adult with no children needs to earn $21.53 an hour to cover basic living expenses in Southern California. The minimum wage required under Anaheim’s 2018 ordinance is now $19.40 an hour. That’s slated to rise another 50 cents next year.

For eligible Disney workers, back pay will date to January 2019, when the law took effect.

The cessation of the legal battle marks a watershed moment in a tortuous five-year effort to raise the standard of living for resort workers in Anaheim.

In 2018, the Coalition of Resort Labor Unions launched a living-wage movement for Disney workers that included calls for a local ballot measure to raise minimum pay. At the time, the lowest-paid workers at Disney’s Anaheim properties were making $11 an hour, then the state-mandated minimum for large employers.

In an effort to sidestep the ordinance, Disney negotiated a new pay scale that raised the minimum salary to $15 an hour for employees covered by the Master Services Council, an alliance of four unions that together represent 9,500 workers, about a third of Disney’s unionized workforce.

In ensuing months, other unions, including Workers United Local 50, negotiated similar deals. But even as those contracts were being negotiated, Anaheim voters approved Measure L, the November 2018 ballot measure requiring resort businesses that receive a city subsidy to pay a minimum wage that rises along a set tiered schedule. Under the ordinance, the local minimum wage started at $15 in January 2019, then rose by $1 an hour each year until 2022, when it hit $18. After 2022, raises are based on the cost-of-living index.

In the lead-up to the election, Disney asked the Anaheim City Council to shred two major tax break deals the company had been granted, one involving taxes on gate revenue, the other involving bed taxes on a luxury hotel project. With those agreements canceled, Anaheim’s city attorney said Measure L would not apply to Disney.

But a class-action lawsuit filed against Disney in December 2019 on behalf of 25,000 resort workers said the ordinance did apply because of another complex agreement Disney had with the city involving bond sales to fund an ambitious 1996 theme park expansion.

An Orange County Superior Court judge originally sided with Disney before a three-judge panel overturned that ruling, saying the bond sales agreement qualifies as a city subsidy. Disney appealed the case to the state Supreme Court in August. After justices declined to hear the case, Disney said through its attorneys that the company would comply with Anaheim’s ordinance.

Although the court victory has lifted spirits, for many Disney workers pressing concerns remain. In recent months, discontent has bubbled beneath the surface in Local 50 and other union shops, with members accusing union leaders of failing to effectively represent their interests. Along with higher wages, workers say they want changes in a pay scale that does not reward seniority and sets a high bar for paid sick time.

Rafael Rendon, a custodian at Disney’s California Adventure Park, has talked to fellow SEIU-USWW members as a shop steward to see what matters most to them ahead of the Master Services Council’s upcoming contract negotiations. Thanks to the court victory, many custodians, bakers, ride operators and retail workers represented by the union will see raises and back pay. Rendon estimates that at least half of SEIU-USWW’s membership will benefit.

But pay remains an urgent issue.

“Inflation is hitting very hard,” Rendon said. “Members want to see a very large wage increase to upward of $30 an hour.”

Workers United Local 50, which is not part of the Master Services Council, did not count on the court fight ending any time soon and negotiated a new contract in August. Union leaders touted an immediate 30% average boost in pay, with an overwhelming majority of workers set to earn additional raises throughout the five-year life of the contract.

But a razor-thin ratification of that contract — and an ugly act of vandalism the day voting began — underscored the internal tensions. Graffiti scrawled across the back walls of the Local 50 office appeared to call out the union president and vice president by name with vulgar taunts and slurs. Anaheim police are investigating the incident as felony.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

California union rifts burst into open over leader’s consultant hire

Lorena Gonzalez, head of the powerful California Labor Federation AFL-CIO, has run afoul of some union leaders for hiring her personal consultant who recently ran statewide campaigns opposing unions.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The leader of the influential California Labor Federation rocked Sacramento’s political establishment last fall when she suggested a blacklist for consultants who run afoul of unions.

Lorena Gonzalez, a progressive powerhouse who had stepped down as a state lawmaker to head the venerated Labor Federation AFL-CIO, argued consultants can’t get paid to bust unions and take on fights against workers and then expect to benefit from members’ money. And her stance won praise from some allies in labor.

So it was a head-snapping development inside several of the unions when Gonzalez quietly tapped her own longtime political strategist, one-time Willie Brown fixer Richie Ross, to formally consult for the Labor Federation. Ross had helped some of the state’s biggest corporate employers defeat a generational union-backed push in 2020 to raise property taxes on big businesses, which would have sent billions a year to schools and local governments.

In the weeks and months since he joined the Labor Federation, no fewer than eight high-level people directly connected to the group and broader labor world aired their discomfort and frustration with the arrangement to POLITICO. Several contend Gonzalez’s decision to hire Ross smacked of hypocrisy, arguing his past work makes him a poster boy for any boycott members had contemplated.

“She has put on the Labor Federation’s payroll a guy who has worked against the Labor Federation — just because she wants him there,” said a high-ranking labor official in Sacramento, who was granted anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic. “And she’s doing this as she’s vilifying everybody else in town about their lack of purity.”

Gonzalez said in an interview that the Labor Federation has a formal process for placing consultants on its so-called “Do Not Patronize” list. If any of the unions want to put Ross on the list, she said, they can propose to do so.

“No one has done so,” Gonzalez added. She declined further comment.

Ross offered a three-word quote, in Spanish, to express how little the backlash mattered to him.

“No me importa,” he said.

Anxiety over Ross’ hire represents an exceedingly rare public eruption among California’s guarded labor unions. Disputes over personnel and strategy are often closely held, and several union leaders and advisers described their decision to speak out as a last resort to convey their exasperation — albeit mostly anonymously. Their moves also hint at broader tensions among leadership, and with Gonzalez, as unions collectively flex their political muscle amid another banner year in California’s Democratic-controlled statehouse.

Balding and bespectacled, Ross is the quintessential Sacramento throwback, patrolling the marble halls of the Capitol to coax, cajole and outright bully staffers and lawmakers alike into supporting his favored bills. With his unusual dual roles as lobbyist and political consultant, sometimes the legislators he is trying to influence are his own clients.

His deep institutional knowledge has yielded results for labor clients, like winning health care coverage for members of the United Farm Workers. Among his other union ties are the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFSCME, UNITE HERE, California Nurses, and several union-oriented lawmakers.

But he’s also helped lead campaigns that were on the opposite side of labor’s biggest and most expensive priorities. And his firm has lobbied against legislation supported by unions.

Ross has spent decades working on behalf of the oil industry — a divisive force in labor regarded by certain trade unions and more conservative members as a crucial partner in creating jobs but viewed by progressives and some public sector workers as out of step with their values. In 2020, the year Ross worked on the successful campaign to fight commercial real estate tax hikes in Proposition 15, he also helped to block an initiative to end cash bail, another union priority.

In both cases, Ross was taking on two labor powerhouses: Service Employees International Union and the California Teachers Association. CTA’s Issues PAC and SEIU State Council spent a combined $25.3 million in support of Proposition 15, which received another roughly $5.3 million from SEIU Local 2015 and SEIU 1021. The measure also was backed by AFSCME, UNITE HERE and the California Federation of Teachers.

“CFT has been on the opposite [side] of Richie’s firm a few times on some very primary issues of CFT’s — teacher due process and Prop. 15,” Jeffery Freitas, president of the California Federation of Teachers, said in an interview.

“Under my leadership,” Freitas added, “CFT will never hire Richie Ross.”

SEIU spent another $500,000 on the failed bail reform effort.

Another top leader in the Labor Federation summed up Ross’ involvement in the organization as akin to inviting a stranger with mixed financial motives to a seat at the table.

“Richie has experience and knows the business. He has great relationships. He’s smart. He’s strategic. He’s thoughtful. So he’s not a bad person to have on your team,” the labor leader said. “But you can’t trust somebody on your team if they’re also playing with the other side.”

Concerns over Ross coming aboard the Labor Federation had been bubbling up for months earlier this year. On June 9, the secretary of state’s filings first listed him as a lobbyist to the sprawling labor organization where Gonzalez is executive secretary-treasurer. Filings through June 30, the latest available, show Ross was paid $2,000 for the three-week period.

By the time Ross officially came on board, Gonzalez had already publicly put Democratic consultants on notice: Work for companies that run counter to organized labor’s goals could land them on a union blacklist. That she was reviewing procedures to kickstart the process as head of the influential labor organization made up of some 1,300 unions and millions of members across manufacturing, retail, construction, health care and other industries grabbed the attention of Sacramento insiders.

Recent chatter about a union blacklist reached a fever pitch after Gonzalez came into her new role in 2022. Gonzalez reiterated her point when her organization defended Assembly candidate and Alameda labor leader Liz Ortega-Toro against campaign tactics by housing industry groups. “Strong women of color are too often the targets of this type of ugly politics,” Gonzalez said at the time.

The Labor Federation news release added that those who violate the basic values upheld by the labor movement will be held accountable by any means necessary, including being placed on a “Do Not Patronize” list.

“You can’t get paid to union bust or take on fights against workers and ALL of labor & expect to turn around and benefit from our members’ money,” Gonzalez wrote on social media weeks earlier. Despite the warning, the federation has not formally blacklisted anyone under her leadership and has received no formal proposals to do so.

“Do not hire” lists sit squarely at the intersection where ideological fissures and the lucrative business of politics collide. After a string of upstarts ousted congressional incumbents in the 2018 cycle, the House Democrats’ campaign arm refused to work with any vendor that had contracted with the challengers. The committee backed away from its policy after less than two years amid backlash from the party’s progressive wing.

Similar blacklists have cropped up sporadically in California. In one widely-publicized 2013 spat, the Labor Federation announced it was placing six consultants on a “Do Not Hire” list for their work for two Democrats who successfully beat Assembly incumbents from their party. Among them was now-state Sen. Steve Glazer, who managed former Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2010 campaign and worked the following cycle with the Chamber of Commerce.

Click here to read the full article in Politico

Oakland’s teachers union owes the district more than $400,000. Why hasn’t it paid?

The Oakland teachers union owes the city’s schools more than $400,000, a growing debt that the labor group has failed to pay for more than a year and during months of tense contract negotiations and a teacher strike in the spring.

The debt by the Oakland Education Association started to mount in the 2021-2022 school year, with a few missed payments for the salary and benefits of district staff on leave for union work. Then, during the last school year, the labor group made no payments, despite receiving invoices from the district.

District officials say the union owes $403,434 for missed payments over the previous two school years.

State law requires unions to reimburse public agencies within 10 days of receiving the confirmation of payment for worker salaries and benefits.

The union also owes the district for the compensation paid this quarter, which is expected to be close to $100,000 for the three educators typically on leave, including the union president and other executive positions.

The debt exemplifies continuing tension between the district and the union, a relationship that has been strained and often vitriolic in recent years as the two sides negotiated a contract — an agreement achieved only after a divisive nine-day teacher strike at the end of the previous school year.

The two sides have repeatedly banged heads over a wide range of issues, including school closures and the district’s fiscal health as well as the union’s demands for reparations for Black students and the use of Oakland Unified facilities for homeless families.

The lack of payments means the district paid the salaries and benefits of union leaders through the months of negotiations and the strike without reimbursement.

While it’s a relatively small sum owed compared with the district’s $800 million annual budget, it’s one that can’t be ignored given the district’s responsibility to the 34,000 students, said school board President Mike Hutchinson.

“It is hard to accept that we are now subsiding OEA leadership,” noted Hutchinson, who said he was surprised when he recently learned of the default in payments. “This is money that should be used for classrooms or other educational purposes.”

Hutchinson said he is unaware of any reasons offered for the nonpayment, but said the requirement to reimburse the district is clear in the contract negotiated with the union.

Union officials declined to respond to specific questions about why the payments to the district haven’t been made, if they lack the funds to pay the amount owed, whether they would owe interest on the debt, and whether they dispute how much is owed. They instead criticized the district over unrelated issues.

“OEA is committed to working with the OUSD administration to rectify all billing errors, including the ongoing, alarming and significant District payroll errors that impact classroom teachers and school staff daily,” said union president Ismael Armendariz. “This school year alone, we’ve heard from more than 200 teachers, school psychologists, nurses, speech therapists who have had significant errors in their pay, including not receiving pay at all.”

Armendariz said the union will continue to meet with district officials on those issues and “hope to come to a resolution soon so that we can work together to provide the best possible education to Oakland students.”

District officials said the accounting team discovered the lapse in payments from the union during the year-end reconciliation process. 

Click here to read the full article in the SF Chronicle

23,000 Kaiser Workers in Southern California Prepare for 3-Day Strike

The two sides have until 6 a.m. Wednesday to forge a contract before the walkout begins

More than 75,000 Kaiser Permanente workers, including 23,000 in Southern California, are poised to launch the biggest healthcare worker strike in U.S. history beginning Wednesday, Oct. 4 if the two sides fail to reach a labor agreement.

The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions and the healthcare giant have until 6 a.m. Wednesday to forge an 11th-hour contract before a three-day walkout begins.

The contracts for thousands of employees ranging from nurses to ER techs, respiratory therapists, dietary workers and home health aides expired Saturday, Sept. 30. A walkout will affect scores of Kaiser hospitals and facilities in California, including 23 facilities in Southern California, in addition to Colorado, Oregon and southwest Washington.

Also see: What to know if you’re a Kaiser member

Kaiser, which serves 9.4 million members in California, said it will keep all hospitals and emergency departments open. It operates three dozen hospitals and more than 500 medical offices in the state.

“Our facilities will continue to be staffed by our physicians, trained and experienced managers, and staff,” Kaiser said, adding that it could bring on “professionals contracted to serve in critical care roles specifically for the duration of a strike.”

Replacement workers began filtering into San Diego-area hotels this week. Kaiser employees told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the healthcare provider ordered a temporary workforce of about 10,000. Kaiser has 60,000 union employees in the state.

In an email to members, the healthcare provider acknowledged it may need to reschedule some non-urgent appointments and procedures.

“We’ll contact you in advance if your appointment needs to be rescheduled,” Kaiser wrote. “It’s possible that you could experience longer wait and hold times during a strike. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your patience.”

Other labor news: $20 minimum wage coming to California fast food workers

The key sticking points in the negotiations have been staffing and wages with the coalition seeking a 25% raise over four years and a $25-per-hour minimum wage for all workers across the U.S. Kaiser in earlier negotiations offered 13%-16% raises over four years depending on the state and a $23 minimum wage for California workers.

The coalition also alleges Kaiser is behind unfair labor practices and unsafe staffing levels, all of which have undermined patient care.

Hollywood update: Late-night TV shows plan their returns after Hollywood writers strike ends

“I see my patients’ frustrations when I have to rush them and hurry on to my next patient,” said Jessica Cruz, a licensed vocational nurse at Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center. “We’re burning ourselves out trying to do the jobs of two or three people, and our patients suffer.”

Employees are prepared to picket hospitals and other facilities in Los Angeles, Anaheim, Baldwin Park, Moreno Valley, Antelope Valley and the South Bay, among other Southern California locations.

Angelica Mateo, a Kaiser licensed vocational nurse in Pasadena, said she’s ready to walk out.

“Everyone is pumped up,” the 37-year-old West Covina resident said. “No one wants to go on strike, but if this is the only way we can make Kaiser executives listen to us, we’ll do what we have to do. Our coalition represents a third of Kaiser’s workforce, so even a three-day strike will make a huge impact.”

In a statement issued Monday, Kaiser said its goal is to reach a “fair and equitable agreement” that strengthens Kaiser as a “best place to work,” while ensuring affordable and easy-to-access quality patient care.

“A strike is not inevitable, and it is certainly not justified,” management said.

Kaiser acknowledged things are tough in the healthcare industry.

“Healthcare is still under great stress,” the company said. “More than 5 million people have left their health care jobs and burnout is at record highs.”

Employees say they’re grappling with skeletal staffing.

In a recent “Crisis in Care” survey of 33,000 Kaiser employees by SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, two-thirds said they’d seen care delayed or denied due to short staffing.

“We need to keep working together to get through this because the reality is that we are still in a health care crisis in this country,” Kaiser said. “Access to care is stretched thin and it will take time to recover as an industry and stabilize the US health care system.”

Kaiser isn’t the only healthcare business facing a strike.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Gov. Newsom Signs New Law Raising Fast Food Minimum Wage To $20

‘We’re seeing more and more of these automated kiosks pop up, and this is why’

A bill to raise the fast food minimum wage to $20 an hour in California was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom Thursday, with the new wage change to take effect in January 2024.

Assembly Bill 1228, authored by Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), became one of the most contentious bills this session during the summer, with only a compromise between the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and fast food companies managing to keep the bill alive earlier this month.

Originally, the bill had planned to raise the minimum up to $22 an hour and hold franchise corporations accountable for labor law violations at individual locations. In addition, thanks to a new Fast Food Council created from a new law signed last year (AB 257), benefits like paid leave and predictive scheduling would be introduced. Faced with drastically increased costs, fast food companies took action. The number of electronic kiosks instead of cashiers swiftly climbed across the state, with a ballot referendum that would overturn AB 257, as well as put the law on hold until at least November 2024, getting enough signatures earlier this year.

With both sides ready to take even more drastic action, and the end of the legislative session looming, lawmakers brought together unions and fast food companies to work a compromise. Earlier this month, it was agreed the AB 1228 would be altered to have minimum wages for fast food workers going up to $20 an hour rather than $22 starting in April 2024, with local governments prohibited from raising them even further. The raise would only apply to chains with 60 or more nationwide locations and would not apply to chains that also operate an on-site bakery, such as Panera Bread.

The Fast Food Council, meanwhile, would be able to raise the minimum wage each year through 2029, but would no longer have the power to set workplace standards, only recommendations. They would also be prohibited from implementing paid leave, vacation, predictive scheduling, and other standards wanted by the SEIU and other unions.  Also under the agreement, Franchise corporations would no longer be held for labor law violations at individual locations.

With a compromise reached, AB 1228 passed both the Assembly and Senate on September 14th, albeit with divisive votes of 53-17 and 32-8 respectively. This led the way for Governor Newsom to sign the bill into law on Thursday.

“California is home to more than 500,000 fast-food workers who – for decades – have been fighting for higher wages and better working conditions,” said Newsom at the signing on Thursday. “Today, we take one step closer to fairer wages, safer and healthier working conditions, and better training by giving hardworking fast-food workers a stronger voice and seat at the table.”

AB 1228 signed into law

Assemblyman Holden added, “Today, we witnessed the signing of one of the most impactful fast food wage laws that this country has ever seen. We did not just raise the minimum wage to $20 an hour for fast food workers. We helped a father or mother feed their children, we helped a student put gas in their car, and helped a grandparent get their grandchild a birthday gift. Last month, when we were knee deep in negotiations, hundreds of workers slept in their cars and missed pay days to come give their testimony in committee and defend their livelihood. Sacrifice, dedication, and the power of a government who serves its people is what got us to this moment. My goal for AB 1228 was to bring relief and solutions where they were needed and together with my colleagues and Governor Newsom, that is what we have done. Thank you to the SEIU and all who supported this important effort. We, as a state, should be proud.”

Despite some praise for the bill, others responded to the bill in a more negative light on Thursday. Many pointed out that the higher wages would only further push companies to hire less people overall and could lead to the pull out of several locations because of the higher costs.

“The worst parts were thankfully taken out of the bill,” explained fast food restaurant consultant Linda Medina. “The liability part was a no-go and what they wanted to put on these locations was harsh. They forget that these aren’t these big corporations running them directly. They are franchises, and the risks can be similar to running a stand alone restaurant. Pushing higher wages on them is pretty bad.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

WGA, Hollywood Studios Close to a Deal on Ending Writers’ Strike, Sources Say

The Writers Guild of America and the major Hollywood studios are closing in on a deal that would end a 145-day strike that has roiled the film and TV business and caused thousands of job losses.

Lawyers for the two sides were haggling over the details of a possible agreement on Saturday during a meeting that began mid-morning, according to people close to the discussions who were not authorized to comment.

However, the union and studio alliance had not announced a deal as of early Saturday evening.

In a joint statement, the WGA and the studios said they would meet again Sunday.Studio sources told The Times the two sides hoped to finalize a deal then.

“Thank you for your continued encouragement as we press ahead to secure the best deal we can for writers,” the WGA’s negotiating committee said in an email to members Saturday night.

Saturday marked the fourth straight day of talks, which kicked off Wednesday with the heads of four major studios participating directly.

Should the companies reach a pact this weekend, they won’t immediately restart productions. The entertainment company leaders still must turn their attention to the 160,000-member performers union, SAG-AFTRA, to accelerate those stalled talks in an effort to get the industry back to work.

The thorniest issues in the long-running labor dispute have included language governing the use of artificial intelligence, minimum staffing in writers rooms and the establishment of residuals to reward scribes based on viewership of streaming series.

The work stoppage began in early May and gained momentum as actors led by SAG-AFTRA joined writers on the picket line in mid-July, further shutting down film and scripted television productions and hobbling studios’ ability to promote would-be blockbuster movies.

Any agreement on a new three-year film and TV contract would have to be ratified by a vote of the WGA’s 11,500 members, who have strongly supported the walkout and have enjoyed unusual levels of solidarity from fellow unions amid the nation’s “hot labor summer.”

There has been significant pressure on both sides to reach an agreement in recent weeks. Many Hollywood industry workers have struggled to pay their rent and bills, with some moving out of state to make ends meet. Studios have also felt the financial pain, modifying their film slates and leaning on live sports and unscripted television.

WGA negotiators met with studio representatives Wednesday for the first time since a disastrous meeting in late August. This week, top executives joined the proceedings: Walt Disney Co.’s Bob Iger, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav and NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley.

Friday’s marathon session started at 11 a.m. at the headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — which represents the big entertainment companies — in Sherman Oaks. The meeting ended at about 8:30 p.m., amid growing hopes that the sides would be able to reach an accord before the Yom Kippur holiday.

The apparent progress marked a stark contrast with the last round of talks, which started in August after three months of striking.

Negotiations fell apart after an Aug. 22 meeting with the four leading CEOs — Iger, Zaslav, Langley and Sarandos — which writers’ representatives described as a “lecture” and a browbeating session in which they were pressured to accept an Aug. 11 proposal from the AMPTP.

After the meeting, the alliance released a summary of its proposal, causing an uproar among writers who saw it as a tactic to go around the WGA’s negotiating committee. The effort deepened the mistrust between the two sides.

Studio brass thought the move would allow writers and the larger community to see that the AMPTP had given substantial ground in an effort to reach a deal.

The studio’s proposal offered wage increases and signaled a willingness from the alliance to negotiate on topics it previously considered off the table, such as sharing of viewership data with the WGA and staffing in writers rooms.

But the WGA’s negotiating committee felt the proposal did not go far enough. Writers on the picket lines were not impressed, calling the studios’ proposals “half-measures.”

Frustration among workers, including film crew workers, continued to build as the strikes stretched beyond Labor Day.

Political leaders including Gov. Gavin Newsom, L.A. Mayor Karen Bass and state Treasurer Fiona Ma also weighed in, urging the parties to settle the dispute.

For weeks, the two sides remained at a standstill, arguing over whose turn it was to make a counteroffer. The WGA’s negotiating committee even suggested that some studios might be willing to break from the alliance and negotiate separately with the guild, exploiting potential fractures in the alliance. The AMPTP rejected that notion.

This week, though, talks got serious.

Studios wanted to get a deal done by early October to salvage their 2024 film slates, which would require them to be back in production soon. They’re also hoping to salvage what they can of the 2023-24 television season.

Click here to read the full article in LA Times

Teamsters Union March Shuts Down Sacramento Streets; Demanding Gov. Newsom Sign AB 316

‘F**k Gavin Newsom’ was the Teamsters chant of the day

Tuesday in downtown Sacramento, police blocked off North/South streets near the Capitol all the way from 16th Street down to 3rd Street for a Teamsters Union Protest, causing a massive backup and forcing drivers trying to head south on the numbered streets onto northbound Interstate 5. I was stuck in it following a press conference with the Sacramento District Attorney just a few blocks away. What should have taken 5 minutes ended up taking 30 minutes after being forced onto the freeway. (I’m still irate…)

This was a debacle of epic proportions. But I want to know, who authorized the closure of all of these streets? The Mayor? The Capitol? Assembly Speaker or Senate President? Both?  And why do the Teamsters get to shut down Capitol City streets for a march?

The teamsters want Newsom to sign AB 316 to require a human driver in the cab of all autonomous trucks over 10,000 pounds. This could make the new driverless car technology obsolete in California, according to some business groups. Many tech companies in the industry have said if the bill passes they will leave the state as 22 others have already started implementing regulations to begin testing on roads. With no pathway for autonomy in California they don’t see why they would stay here, one business association representative told me.

The Teamsters’ concern is for their jobs, which is understandable. As the Globe reported:

While AB 316 was authored by Assemblywoman Aguiar-Curry, it was introduced with a bipartisan group of legislators, including Assemblymen Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) and Ash Kalra (D-San Jose). Both parties have also had a few members each oppose the legislation throughout the year, leading to strange non-party coalitions. Democrats have largely been in favor of the bill because due to alleged safety benefits of the bill as well as massive support of the bill coming from unions such as the Teamsters. Republicans, meanwhile, have been mostly for AB 316 because of many rural areas wanting to keep trucking jobs.

“Lawmakers aren’t against technology, but we see the bill as a safer way for companies to test self-driving trucks,” said Lackey. “We want balance because we believe in people, and we believe in public safety. When surprises happen, physics is not your friend.”

Former Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, now with the California Labor Federation, was a prominent figure at the rally/protest, but she was overshadowed by Lindsay Dougherty, Western Regional VP Teamsters Local 399 who warned, “The governor should know he is in big trouble. We had to bring the General President out here to make him do the right thing.” She goes on: “Gavin Newsom would not take a meeting with our General President.” The crowd booed.

Dougherty lathered up the crowd as she called out Gov. Newsom for his “Bullshit.”

“You’re about to see some fucking rage if you don’t sign the bill,” Dougherty said.

“So, I’m going to end this with a chant,” Dougherty said. But it wasn’t the old leftist trope “Hey Hey Ho Ho, Gavin Newsom’s got to go…”  Lindsay yelled “Fuck Gavin Newsom” repeatedly. Some in the crowd joined her.

The rally/protest was video recorded and posted to Facebook – At the 27.30 minute mark you can hear Lindsay’s lovely chant – HERE ahead of introducing Lorena Gonzalez who commented, “I love having Lindsay around because nobody can complain about me saying ‘Fuck’ anymore.”

Gov. Newsom and his administration oppose AB 316: “Our state is on the cusp of a new era and cannot risk stifling innovation,” said Office of Business and Economic Development Director Dee Dee Myers earlier this year.

Dougherty told the crowd Newsom said he won’t sign the bill.

As the Globe reported:

“However, the bill also saw increased opposition come from within Newsom’s office. The Department of Finance came out against AB 316 over the cost to the state of $1 million yearly to operate it. Transportation officials have said that regulations should be up to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Safety advisors said that self-driving cars were not causing many accidents. And, perhaps most critically, the Office of Business and Economic Development said that the state would be hurt economically, with driverless vehicle makers being more inclined to move out of state to develop and test new technology.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

California Fast Food and Health Care Workers Poised to Win Major Salary Increases

 Nearly 1 million California workers are poised to win major salary increases after labor unions flexed their collective muscle in the state’s Democratic-led Legislature on Monday following a summer of high-profile strikes in the entertainment and hospitality industries.

Most of the state’s 500,000 fast food workers would be paid at least $20 per hour next year under a new bill aimed at ending a standoff between the industry and labor unions over wages and working conditions. About 455,000 health care workers — not doctors and nurses, but the people who do everything else at hospitals, dialysis clinics and other facilities — will see their salaries rise to at least $25 per hour over the next 10 years in a separate bill.

Both proposals must first pass the state Legislature and be signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom. But the proposals have the blessing of both labor unions and industry groups, clearing the path for passage this week before lawmakers adjourn for the year.

An added bonus for voters: The November 2024 ballot will be a little less crowded. The fast food industry has agreed to withdraw its referendum on a fast food law that Newsom signed last year.

The bills, both introduced Monday, are just some of the impressive run of results for labor unions in the state Legislature this year. Also on Monday, the state Assembly voted to advance a proposal to give striking workers unemployment benefits — a policy change that could eventually benefit Hollywood actors and writers and Los Angeles-area hotel workers who have been on strike for much of this year.

“I think fast food cooks and cashiers have fundamentally changed the politics of wages in this country and have reshaped what working people believe is possible when they join together and take on corporate power and systemic racism,” said Mary Kay Henry, international president of the Service Employees International Union.

California’s minimum wage is already among the highest in the country at $15.50 per hour. The fast food bill would increase that minimum wage to $20 per hour for workers at restaurants in California that have at least 60 locations nationwide — with an exception for restaurants that make and sell their own bread, like Panera Bread.

The bill will affect about 500,000 fast food workers in California, according to the Service Employees International Union, which has been working to unionize fast food workers in the state. They include Ingrid Vilorio, who works at a Jack In The Box in the San Francisco Bay Area. She said the raise will help her family, who until recently was sharing a house with two other families to afford rent.

“A lot of us (in the fast-food industry) have to have two jobs to make ends meet. This will give us some breathing space,” said Vilorio, who also works as a nanny.

The $20 hourly wage would be a starting point. The nine-member Fast Food Council, which would include representatives from the restaurant industry and labor, would have the power to increase that minimum wage each year by up to 3.5% or the change in the U.S. consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers, whichever is lower.

The wage increase for health care workers is more complicated. Their salaries will rise gradually over the next decade, depending on where they work. Workers for large health care facilities and dialysis clinics will see their pay jump to at least $23 per hour next year, increasing to $25 per hour by 2026. Workers at rural hospitals with lots of Medicaid patients would have their salaries increase to at least $18 per hour next year, with 3.5% increases each year until it reaches $25 per hour in 2033.

Workers at community clinics will see their salaries rise to at least $21 per hour in 2024 before peaking at $25 per hour in 2027. Salaries at all other covered health care facilities will increase to at least $21 per hour next year before reaching $25 per hour by 2028.

“Everyone in the healthcare sector understands that we have a workforce crisis, and that wages are the essential prerequisite for any solution,” said Tia Orr, executive director of the Service Employees International Union-California. “With this increase, more workers will join and stay in the healthcare workforce, and as a result Californians will be safer and better cared for.”

It’s unusual, but not unprecedented, for states to have minimum wages for specific industries. Minnesota lawmakers created a council to set wages for nursing home workers. In 2021, Colorado announced a $15 minimum wage for direct care workers in home and community-based services.

In California, most fast food workers are over 18 and the main providers for their family, according to Enrique Lopezlira, director of the University of California-Berkeley Labor Center’s Low Wage Work Program. Just over 75% of health care workers in California are women, and 76% are workers of color, according to a study published earlier this year by the UC Berkely Labor Center.

Hospitals support the bill in part because it “ensures that wages for health care workers are set by the state, creating greater equity for all of California’s health care workforce,” said Carmela Coyle, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association.

The fast food industry benefits by stopping two proposals they say would have made it much harder for restaurants to operate in California. Labor unions agreed to withdraw a bill that would have held big fast food corporations like McDonald’s liable for the misdeeds of their independent franchise operators in the state.

And Democrats in the state Legislature agreed to strip funding for the Industrial Welfare Commission, an agency that has the power to set wage and workplace standards for multiple industries.

Click here to read the full article in AP News