By Sheri Williams
The joint conference of the California Labor Federation and the State Building and Construction Trades Council was held in Sacramento in May, drawing union members from across the state to meet with California’s top political leaders.
Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed the crowd of more than 700, telling them, “The future happens here first for the American worker.”
“So all across the country in those right to work states where they are making it harder for people to organize, making it hard for people to come together despite the fact that unions have never been more popular across the United States,” Newsom continued. “They are looking to your leadership here in the state of California. Take nothing for granted on collective bargaining, nothing for granted on PLAs, nothing for granted as it relates to prevailing wage.”
California Attorney General Rob Bonta also spoke to voice his support of unions.
“Workers are the foundation of our state and our nation and we need to do everything our power to protect them,” Bonta said. “Unions made my life and my family’s life better.”
Leader of the Assembly Anthony Rendon and Senate leader Toni Atkins also spoke at the gathering.
The event also brought together all three candidates vying to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the U.S. Senate: Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee. Labor organizations have not made endorsements yet in that race, but all three have long track records in supporting working Californians and voiced their continuing support of Labor.
During the event, union leaders met at the Capitol to endorse SCA7, also known as the Right to Organize and Negotiate Act, which would enshrine the right to organize for California workers.
“Every worker from every sector in our economy is going to be protected with this measure. That’s what we want for the next generation of workers—equity and representation in the workplace,” said SBCTC President Andrew Meredith at a rally introducing the measure.
That act, according to legislative information, “would ensure that all Californians have the right to join a union and to negotiate with their employers, through their legally chosen representative, and the right to protect their economic well-being and safety at work.”
It would also prohibit the passing of any statute or ordinance that interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively over their wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment and workplace safety.
“If big businesses can protect their property taxes in the constitution and politicians can protect their salaries from cuts in the constitution, then why shouldn’t workers be protected in the constitution too?” said Gonzalez-Fletcher.
Senator Dave Cortese said, “The alternative is to continue a tale of Two Californias, a tale of Two Bay Areas, a tale of Two San Joses. We need to make sure this is a CA for all. It’s about equity and fairness.”