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
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)
It wouldn’t be the Arizona Legislature without at least one attack on unions. This year’s union-busting bill is SB1268, from Senator Warren Petersen. (Not surprising.)
SB1268 is similar but worst than Petersen’s union-busting bill from 2020, which died due to the pandemic. It requires lots of unnecessary bureaucracy and redundant paperwork. Republicans are against bureaucracy — except when they can use it against people and groups they don’t like. SB1268 allows union members to go outside the contract and choose their own health insurance. This would be destabilizing on the union health plans because they are negotiated on behalf of large numbers of employees and can get better prices because of the volume.
Continue reading Unions: A Perennial Target in #AZLeg (video)
Three and a half months of sheltering in place — with the novel Coronavirus just one chance encounter away — have given us time to perfect our strategies for survival during the current government-created public health crisis and to make plans for a safe, more equitable, more enlightened future.
COVID19 turned the spotlight on the glaring disparities in our social and economic systems. The virus smashed open those broken systems and refused to let us turn away from the inequities of who gets sick, who lives, who dies, who goes broke, who loses their home, and who is forced to work in unsafe conditions. Blacks in the US have the highest death rates from COVID19 across all age groups, followed by Latinos, and with whites trailing behind. Your ZipCode, your income, and your race should not determine your healthcare access or your health outcomes.
On top of this outrage within the health care delivery system, we witness the unnecessary deaths of George Floyd (Minneapolis), Dion Johnson (Phoenix), Rayshard Brooks (Atlanta), Carlos Ingram Lopez (in Tucson) and others at the hands of law enforcement officers and the out-sized police response to the George Floyd/Black Lives Matter protests around the country. Also, don’t get me started about my fears for the widening achievement gap between K-12 students whose parents have a reliable Internet connection and adequate computing power for online learning and the students who don’t.
All of these systems were broken before COVID19. The pandemic and related system failures tell us we can no longer ignore and enable the structural racism, sexism, and widespread discrimination in our systems and laws. Excuse my language, but this sh*t’s gotta change. Now is the time to strategize for a better, more equitable, more inclusive future. Where are the wizards to help us re-imagine our country and create the vision?
Continue reading Where Are the COVID19 Wizards to Help Us Re-Imagine Ourselves & Our Future? (video)
Today was another wacky day in the Arizona House.
We are back in session and primarily debating and voting on unnecessary Republican bills, as if the COVID-19 virus had never happened.
Yesterday, I posted about the unnecessary and non-emergency insurance industry bills that were passed, primarily on a party line vote. Today, May 20, was a repeat but not quite so ridiculous.
My deciding factor in voting is: Is this bill good for the people of Arizona? For example, I voted for the bill that allows rural electric cooperatives to offer broadband to customers in their service areas. I think it’s the great way to expand Internet access to some parts of rural Arizona, and this will help rural Arizona fight COVID19 by improving communication. I also voted for the bill that offers suicide prevention training for teachers; a bill that allows crisis helpline numbers to be printed on the backs of the student IDs; expansion of teacher training for blind and otherwise impaired students; and some relief for people whose property has been foreclosed upon, a lien placed on it, and auctioned off. I voted against deregulation of drone delivery devices and a few other bills.
Everything blew up when Reps. Travis Grantham and Steve Pierce conspired to stop debate on S1397￼ by having Pierce call the question before Rep. Kelli Butler could propose her amendment to improve SB1397. It requires insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions in the future, if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed by Congress.￼ SB 1397 makes no mention of all of the other benefits from the ACA. Those are included in Butler’s amendment, but she was not allowed to present it, and we were not allowed to debate it at all.
Continue reading #AZ House Republicans Continue to Hear Pet Bills & Ignore #COVID19 (video)