Forty years ago, in the fall of 1981, when I told my Dad that I was leaving Ohio and moving to Arizona, the first words out of his mouth were, “Well, you know Arizona is a ‘right to work state,’ don’t cha? That means ‘right to work for less.’”
I grew up in a union household. Dad was a Steelworker for most of his work life. During the 1960s and early 1970s, he was in the thick of the struggle for better wages, better benefits, and better working conditions for factory workers in Northern Ohio. Technically, I knew what “right to work state” meant, but at the time, I had no idea how moving to a right to work state would affect my career and my children’s future opportunities.
My last job in Columbus was as a professional photographer working for a swanky graphic and product design agency. (It was a really cool place to work, and over the last 40 years, particularly when I a wage slave at the University of Arizona, I often wonder why I left!)
At my first job interview in Tucson at a much smaller advertising and graphic design agency, the owner asked about my salary history. I had more than six years of experience in design, photography, and printing production. I told him that I was making $8 per hour in Columbus (and as far as I was concerned, I was worth every penny!) He literally laughed in my face and said, “You’ll never make that kind of money here in Tucson!”
Continue reading Podcast: Fight for $15 in a Right-to-Work State (video)
Work has changed dramatically in the past 40 years.
In the 1980s, President Reagan busted the air traffic controllers’ union, corporations began closing factories and offshoring American jobs to countries with cheap labor, and trickledown economics dictated tax cuts for the rich and the dregs for the rest of us.
It the 1990s, banking deregulation paved the way for the Wall Street crash of 2008 by eliminating financial protections enacted after the Great Depression.
During the Great Recession, which dragged on for years, almost 9 million Americans lost their jobs. Unemployment hit its peak at 10% in 2009. Although, many governors tout robust recoveries from the 2008 Wall Street crash, the jobs Americans have today are dramatically different from jobs in the 1970s – before union busting, offshoring, and tax cuts for the rich became commonplace. Before politicians cared more about fundraising and getting elected, than about the people they claim to serve.
Continue reading Podcast: Labor Day, How Unions Are Organizing Arizona
Arizona House Democrats made a substitute motion to suspend the rules and bring HCR2010 Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to an immediate vote today (May 19, 2021). Republicans have been bringing us to the floor for one or two votes for several days in a row while they work their backroom budget deals, far from watchful eyes of voters, reporters and Democrats.
The Floor drama went a bit differently than the ERA vote has in past years. The newly elected Democratic women Legislators really wanted to propose the ERA. I agreed and said it would be better if someone else made the motion, this year since they’re on to me after four years of motions. Speaker Pro Tempore Travis Grantham didn’t recognize Rep. Melody Hernandez, but a few minutes later, just as Majority Leader Ben Toma made the motion to adjourn, Grantham recognized mild mannered, former school teacher Rep. Judy Schwiebert, who rose to make a substitute motion to suspend the rules to bring HCR2010 to a vote. Republicans didn’t try to substitute her substitute motion. Consequently, we voted on the Schwiebert amendment, unlike other years. (Later Grantham said he goofed on the parliamentary procedures; Toma’s motion to adjourn should have taken precedent.)
This has been a tough year for women in the Legislature with multiple attacks on our rights, passage of the Draconian anti-abortion bill SB1457, and no additional funding for housing, maternal and child health, or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). In this toxic, anti-woman environment, I think it is only fitting to propose ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
The vast majority of people living in poverty in Arizona and in the US are women and their children. Why are we purposefully shortchanging future generations by forcing working mothers to struggle to put food on the table and a roof over their heads?
Continue reading Arizona Republicans Vote Down ERA (video)
Republicans are attacking your rights at multiple levels — voting rights, reproductive rights, the right to protest, the right to sue a business, the right to citizens initiative, and the right to unionize.
On Tuesday, the first bill up for debate was SB1268, the anti-union ALEC bill. In committee, we were led to believe that one “concerned citizen” was the source of this bill idea. During COW we found out that, of course, Senator Warren Petersen got this bill idea from the American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC) not the “concerned citizen” who has testified in committee two years in a row. Besides being harmful to unions, this bill is unnecessary.
In a nutshell, SB1268 is based upon the lie that union members are kept in the dark about their healthcare benefits. This bill forces additional, duplicative and costly reporting by the unions, allows union members to buy insurance outside of the contract, and sets the state up for future court cases.
Continue reading Dems Fight Back as Republicans Attack Your Rights (video)
Republicans have spent weeks and employed multiple levels of parliamentary procedures to ram Senator Cathi Herrod’s … er … Senator Nancy Barto’s fetal personhood bill through both houses … twice. SB1457 died in the Senate earlier in April, but the Republicans brought the zombie bill back to life for a do-over.
SB1457 inserts BIG government into private medical decisions. It criminalizes doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas, and patients.
Government has the right and the duty to make and implement public health policy to keep us all safe and healthy — like mask mandates, vaccinations, inspections, etc. Government does not have the right to insert itself into personal medical decisions and impose felony charges against medical personnel and patients to enforce the Legislature’s will. SB1457 criminalizes the doctor/patient relationship if they discuss, recommend, refer or perform an abortion on a woman and they all know she is carrying a child with a disability or a child that is so medically fragile that it won’t live long after birth. It also makes ordering abortion-inducing drugs by mail illegal.
Besides the fact that government should not be meddling in this personally tragic decision, the woman and her partner have to thing long-term about raising a child with a severe disability or carrying a fetus to term that may not live 24 hours. This is a tough decision — emotionally, physically and financially.
Continue reading #AZLeg Vote Protects Fetuses, Criminalizes Doctors & Patients (video)
Nationwide and statewide, far too many women and their children are living in poverty. Those of you who follow my Legislative Updates and videos know that I have been beating the drum for improved maternal and child health and for tackling Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) like food, housing, and financial insecurity. During the pre-COVID19 pandemic, Arizona was #50 — worst in the country — for Adverse Childhood Experiences.
The Children’s Action Alliance (CAA), a watchdog group that lobbies the Legislature on behalf of children, recently published their 2020 Kids Count Book with data regarding the well-being of Arizona’s children. You can read the data book here. CAA also collects survey responses from candidates and electeds who are running for the Legislature. You can read the responses here.
To read more about the data book, check out David Gordon’s story in Blog for Arizona: Child Poverty and Food Insecurity are Major Concerns as the CAA releases the 2020 Arizona Kids Count Book.
Continue reading Child Poverty Report Reveals Failure of #Republican Leadership in #AZLeg to Care for Children (video)