By Sheri Williams
With the November election only days away, the Sacramento Central Labor Council is fighting to get union members to the polls despite challenges from the coronavirus.
Since hosting a virtual campaign kickoff via Zoom, union members have been working phone banks from their homes, hosting drive-thru events to gather campaign materials and networking online to ensure that voters are informed and committed to voting despite a challenging campaign season.
“There’s no doubt this has been a difficult year when it comes to advocating for candidates and causes that protect working Americans,” said SCLC executive director Fabrizio Sasso. “But the fight is more important than ever, and we are all in.”
With the pandemic making in-person events hazardous, the Labor Council and Labor allies have gotten creative, hosting caravans instead of marches, making sure rallies are socially-distanced and turning to technology to try new ways of gathering.
For the first time, the Labor Council held candidate interviews and endorsement voting through online meetings. Sasso said while it presented challenges, it also allowed more people to participate. In coming years, the Council may continue to offer the option of tuning in remotely to encourage more people to take part in delegate meetings.
“Doing our endorsements and interviews online really opened up an opportunity to participate for some of our sisters and brothers who may not have been able to make it in person,” he said. “As union members, we know our strength is in our numbers, so it was really gratifying to see that involvement, and it is something I hope to continue.”
While the presidential race has been top of mind for most, the Central Labor Council is also working to raise awareness on a number of other issues.
Labor is strongly against Proposition 22, an attack by so-called gig companies like Uber and Lyft on workers’ rights. The Proposition would undo Assembly Bill 5, the recently-passed law that forbids companies like those from misclassifying workers as independent contractors to avoid paying fair wages and benefits.
“Proposition 22 is trying to confuse voters into undoing important protections for all workers,” said Sasso. “Our job is to make sure not a single voter is fooled by their disingenuous tactics.”
Labor is also fighting in favor of Proposition 15, which would require commercial properties to pay their fair share of taxes while protecting homeowners.
“For more than 40 years the state of California has been robbed of billions of dollars a year by a corporate tax loophole,” said the California Labor Federation in a recent blog post. “Unlike in virtually every other state in the country, here commercial property owners don’t pay taxes on current market rate assessments of their property’s value. Instead, they pay based on what the property was worth when they purchased it.
For large corporate property owners — think Disney, Apple, Chevron — this means they pay taxes on a fraction of the actual worth of their properties. It is estimated that Chevron alone lines its shareholders’ pockets with $100 million each year in stolen tax savings. Ever wonder why public education and local services like transportation and health are perpetually starved of funding in the richest state in the richest country in the world? Look no farther.
The Labor Federation said that making this simple change to commercial property assessments would increase state revenues by some 10 to 12 billion dollars a year.
The money will go to public schools (40%) and local services (60%).
“Don’t be conned by the lies,” the Labor Federation said. “Don’t let corporate greed, squeezing every last penny out of a tax loophole, continue to rob students of a quality education and local residents of their public transportation, health, and safety.”