California

Amazon Delivers Low-Paying Jobs and Dirty Air to California

By Jess Clarke

Bloomington residents and environmental advocates gather outside the San Bernardino County Government Center in February 2018 to protest warehouse development plans. ©2018 Anthony Victoria

Amazon, long known for its low pay and bad labor practices at the company’s fulfillment centers, is starting to feel some heat. One of the largest trade unions in the United Kingdom, GMB, is staging ongoing protests, the SEIU has launched a “Warehouse Workers Stand Up” campaign in New Jersey and Sen. Bernie Sanders has introduced the Stop BEZOS Act. The legislation would recapture the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars provided by the US Treasury for health coverage, food stamps and other government payments to Amazon workers.

Fresno Residents Choking on Amazon’s Dust Demand Rights

Leo Macias ©2018 Leadership CounselAn   interview by Jess Clarke with Leo Martinez Macias

As the online retail market continues to expand, massive warehouse and distribution facilities are being plopped down in communities already overburdened by hazardous wastes, industrial and agricultural pollution. In Fresno California the city council recently permitted three million square feet of construction in what the California EPA measures as the most environmentally burdened census tract in California. Neighbors weren’t notified about the project until construction had already begun. Jess Clarke sat down with a local resident, and an attorney advocate who have been battling this new pollution source in their community.

Governor Brown is Not Green

California EJ Communities Bear Brunt of Bad Policies
By Eric K. Arnold

Governor Brown at 2014 press conference on budget allocations. Courtsey of business.ca.gov.At the Paris climate summit, California Governor Jerry Brown played up his reputation as a progressive visionary—one of America’s most experienced politicians on environmental issues. He met with world leaders, did a photo-op with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and gave a speech to graduate students about climate awareness, saying, “we’re talking about a different kind of life, a life not based on oil, and a life not based on so much emphasis on the individual as opposed to the common good.”1

Farmworkers—The Basis and Bottom of the Food Chain

Events in recent years have triggered a reawakening across the United States of a movement that acknowledges the importance of worker rights and of protecting the livelihoods of this country’s working class. Historically, however, one group of workers has routinely been excluded from the gains made by the larger labor movement, i.e. farmworkers—the people who weed, pick, harvest, and pack, often in 100 degree weather, while routinely being exposed to hazardous chemicals.

Approximately 700,000 farmworkers reside in California at any given time. Farm employment is unstable and the average farmworker is employed for only seven months of the year (nine months in California). For female workers the employment season is even shorter. Jobs are scarce, even during high season. In California, about 350,000 jobs are available from April to October and 275,000 from November to March. Historically, migrant workers returned home during the winter months. However, with the increased militarization of the border, this practice has become harder and many migrants remain in the U.S. out of fear even in the rainy season when they have little or no income. And although a majority of farmworkers are male, women and children are increasingly crossing the border and entering the workforce, as men can no longer maintain a seasonal migration.

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Ban the Box

Prince White, Jahmese Myres and John Jones. Courtesy of Jahmese Myers.By Jahmese Myres with John Jones III

When John and I first met in 2014, I was working with Lift Up Oakland, a coalition of community and labor organizations leading a ballot initiative that would raise Oakland’s minimum wage to one of the highest in the country and provide sick time to all workers. John was working as a security guard at a fast food restaurant downtown and had recently been released after spending one-third of his life in prison. He was committed to creating a stable home for his son, and we bonded over a shared belief that obtaining a good job is a critical component of realizing this commitment.

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Santa Ana’s Sanctuary Struggle - We Will Not Leave Anyone Behind

By Carolina S. Sarmiento

“Permanecer  y Prosperar” Remain and Flourish,  (cc) 2017 Equity for All.

On January 18th, 2017, three days before Donald Trump assumed the presidency, Santa Ana, California enacted a law making it a sanctuary city. Santa Ana is Orange County’s second largest city, but stands in sharp contrast to the white affluent and conservative portrait that is most often represented in the media. Unlike larger cities like Los Angeles and New York that are also at the forefront of the sanctuary movement, Santa Ana is a mid-sized city with approximately 350,000 people, of which over 85 percent identified as Latino in the US Census. It stands out as one of the largest Mexican and immigrant cities and despite the county’s Republican political history, Santa Ana has an all-Latino all-Democratic Party city council.

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Oxnard Battles Dirty Power Plant

Existing Oxnard Power Plant. Photo courtesy of VLULAC http://vclulac.org

By Lucas Zucker

It would be fitting for Oxnard to be the last stand of fossil fuel power plants in California. Like so many other low-income communities of color who live in the shadow of power plants, oil refineries, and drilling sites, burdened by the nation’s insatiable appetite for dirty energy, the residents of Oxnard are fighting back, pitting high school students from farmworker families against Fortune 500 company lobbyists in a power struggle whose effects could ripple across the state

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