By Sheri Williams
California is not immune to the kind of ‘right to work’ attacks on working families that have hit Michigan, Missouri and other states in recent years.
That was the message from California labor leaders at a recent joint legislative conference in Sacramento where the Building Trades and public and private sector unions vowed to work in solidarity to protect California workers from federal attacks on their rights.
“We are taking this very seriously,” said Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation. “The right wing thinks this is their moment in history. They are prepared to go after us and to do us in.”
Pulaski said it was time for all labor organizations to “put down our differences and work together.”
Robbie Hunter, president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, echoed Pulaski’s call for unity.
Hunter said the trades would “try to work with (Trump) when it is in workers’ best interests to do so. But if and when he tries to make the super-rich even wealthier, by harming the interests of working people and their families, we will fight him tenaciously.”
Hunter continued, “We the California Labor Movement will hold our ground. We will represent workers including immigrants. We will oppose the deregulation of the financial markets. We will demand health care for all as a basic human right. We will defend public education and social security, and we will do it together.”
Pulaski said the California Labor movement would go on the “offensive” by organizing new members.
Pulaski cautioned that attacks against unions would hit all sectors in various forms. He said that federal workers might be the first hit, but education unions would see attacks through charter schools, vouchers and Supreme Court cases.
The Building Trades, said Pulaski, might see attacks on Davis-Bacon protections on prevailing wages.
“It’s a tribute to Robbie (Hunter) and the Building Trades that we are able to work so closely together and despite our differences, to work on our common goals,” said Pulaski.
The legislative conference also gave a preview of state legislation backed by California Labor. Legislators will be asked to consider a number of key bills to protect workers in various industries.
That legislation includes:
- AB 55 (Thurmond), helping to ensure skilled and trained workforces at refineries.
- AB 199 (Chu) and SB 418 (Hernandez), updating state prevailing wage law.
- AB 52 (Cooper) and SB 285 (Atkins), protecting the rights of workers in the public sector.
- SB 49 (De Leon) and AB 1565 (Thurmond), preserving federal worker protections.