On February 25, 2011, a bipartisan group of over 270 state legislators representing 44 states voicing their solidarity with the “Wisconsin Fourteen” state senators and urging them to stand firm in their fight.
.As we reported last week, legislators and advocates in several states are gearing up to oppose legislation that would roll back long-accepted labor standards and weaken prospects for a meaningful economic recovery. Proponents of those measures are polarizing the political climate by vilifying unions and public sector workers. While, in most of these cases, the subject legislation may never be enacted, there is a danger that under cover of such divisiveness, other major anti-labor initiatives could quietly squeak through by being packaged more moderately.
On the heels of December’s tax-breaks-for-unemployment-insurance hostage crisis and news of record levels of profit-making failing to result in job creation, conservatives are planning a slew of attacks on workers’ rights and labor standards in 2011. This exploitation of anger about unemployment and economic insecurity must be exposed as an effort to ensure that everyone becomes a have-not and to guarantee that the Great Recession only ends for a select few.
This week, New York Governor David Paterson signed the Wage Theft Protection Act into law, ending a long grassroots and legislative campaign to address the myriad ways workers are routinely cheated out of a fair day's pay by their employers, all in direct conflict with federal and state wage and hour laws. The problem is widespread, and of colossal proportions in many low-wage industries, including the garment, retail, and service sectors.
Arizona continues to focus on catering to its rightwing ideological zealots rather than addressing its devastating revenue and economic crisis. The most recent example is Arizona Governor Jan Brewer calling the legislature into special session to revise Proposition 108, a controversial ballot measure that was ruled unconstitutional in its original form by the State Supreme Court last week.
April has seen two major industrial accidents that have captured the national eye. Explosions at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia and the Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the coast of Louisiana claimed the lives of forty workers and injured thirty-eight. Much of the media attention
on these tragedies has focused on the culpability of employers and enforcement capacity at federal agencies responsible for regulating mine and offshore
drilling safety. However, there are proactive steps states can take to address occupational safety hazards and ensure people do not have to sacrifice their personal safety in exchange for a paycheck.