Report on 2015 West Coast Protective League Meeting Spring Meeting and 2015 Labor’s Joint Legislative Conference.

Gov Jerry Brown
Gov Jerry Brown

The Labor’s Joint Legislative Conference

West Coast Protective League

On April 10th and 11th 2015 I attended the West Coast Protective League Meeting held at the Red Lion Woodlake Hotel in Sacramento Ca. Among the guest speakers was Sara Flocks from the California Labor Federation, who discussed the labor’s current legislative agenda, which included SB 546 (Leno) which will require health plans and insurers to justify rates before they increase premiums for large employers and joint Labor-management trust funds. We also discussed AB 465 (Hernández) which will prohibit employers from requiring workers to waive basic rights as a condition of employment, and AB 219 (Daly) will close a loophole in prevailing wage law to cover ready-mix drivers on public works projects. Mike Falasco from the Wine Institute discussed AB 1435 (Alejo), which would remove glass containers from the state toxics in packaging statute. I made it a point to study up on this bill so I could discuss it when we meet our representatives at the state capitol. Lynn Bragg, President of the Glass Packaging Institute discussed their campaigns for getting millennials informed about the advantages glass has as a container for wine and other products.GMP President Bruce Smith was present and recognized that GMP President Carlos Contreras was recently elected as president of the Stanislaus/Tuolumne Central Labor Council.

California Labor Federation

The Labor’s Joint Legislative Conference took place April 13th and 14th at the Sheraton Hotel in Sacramento. Among the speakers was Guadalupe Salazar, who is a leader in the Fight For 15 movement, who spoke about how much raising the minimum wage in Oakland improved her life “Before the minimum wage increase we won in Oakland went through, I struggled to pay the rent every month and often had to choose between paying bills and buying necessities. I’ve been hungry and not able to buy food, let alone go to the movies or do something simple and fun with my children. But this month was the first month I could pay rent and have a few extra dollars because I am now earning $12.25 per hour.” Among the other speakers were Congressman George Miller, Attorney General Kamala Harris, and Governor Jerry Brown.

Another topic of conversation was Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement (TPP). I suggest all union members become aware of this issue. We all know how NAFTA screwed over the American worker. TPP has been described as “NAFTA on Steroids” by many labor activists.

Tuesday the 14th was Legislative Lobby Day, when union members and labor activists, including the North Valley Labor Federation, which the Stanislaus/Tuolumne Central Labor Council is associated with, descend into the capitol to talk to our elected representatives. Tim Robertson from the North Valley Labor Federation arranged visits with State Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), Assembly member Susan Eggman from the 13th Assembly District, and Senator Cathleen Galgiani who represents the 5th District, which includes Stockton, Tracy, and Modesto. We discussed Labor’s Legislative objectives, and I made sure to discuss with each representative the importance of passage of AB 1435 (Alejo), which has a negative impact on the glass industry. Senator Cannella was already familiar with the bill and assured me of his support, and Assembly member Eggman and Senator Galgiani both assured me they would give the bill a fair and thorough review. I plan to write all three representatives a follow up letter and hopefully when AB 1435 comes to the floor we will have a letter writing campaign in place to help assure its passage.

One of the benefits of events like these is the chance for education and this event was no different. I also got to meet Andrew Dillon, who is a Steelworker at the Gallo Glass Mold Shop. Discussing politics and labor issues with Andrew over dinner was one of the highlights of the trip for me, and it was great to see a young leader like Andrew getting involved in their union and the California Labor Federation. In one of those “Small World” coincidences, Andrew’s Mom and Dad lives across the street from me, and I know his mom as Mrs. Dillon who runs the after school program my step-son Max attends.