After the top three Democrats running for the US Senate answered questions from union leaders for an hour on Sunday night, the California Federation of Labor’s executive secretary and treasurer Lorena Gonzalez spoke to the crowd in the conference room about choosing who to support to replace the Senator. Dianne Feinstein will become difficult.
The appearance is the first Reps. Barbara Lee of Oakland, Katie the porter by Irvine and Adam Schiff Burbank’s have come together since launching their 2024 senate campaigns, underscoring how essential the union’s support is in next year’s California primaries.
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Crowds gathered inside the Sheraton Grand ballroom just a few blocks from the state Capitol heard little difference between the candidates on their pro-worker rights, pro-democracy agreements. project labor in federal spending agreements and expect the government to further promote industry consolidation and automation in everything from groceries to steel mills.
Gonzalez said twice on stage to the three candidates: “We have a wealth embarrassment here.
The California Federation of Labor is an umbrella group for approximately 1,200 unions representing approximately 2 million workers in both the public and private sectors. Last year, it appointed Gonzalez, a former state congressman, as its new leader. She replaced longtime executive secretary and treasurer Art Pulaski.
Gonzalez and her team. Work with a nearly 50-member executive board that includes statewide labor and union leaders. These groups constitute a powerful organizing force in state politics. Their endorsement is coveted as it comes with the abundant organizational and financial strength of the federation to help the candidates.
She said the federation’s endorsement decision won’t be made until the end of the year after their executive board meets.
However, the conversation is an opportunity for each candidate to polish the fruits of their labor. Each sought to voice their ties to the unions and touted the union endorsement they had secured.
In March, Alameda County’s Building and Construction Trade Council endorsed Lee — drawing support from 40,000 workers who are members of 28 unions affiliated with Lee’s current congressional district. She has also been endorsed by the labor icon Dolores Huerta, Who Co-founder of United Farm Workers union nearly 60 years ago.
One of Gonzalez’s first big strides last year is to bring workers and farmers into the Labor Union after leaving the umbrella group in 2006.
The three candidates were asked when they first stood on the fence, and Lee, 76, recalled solidarity with dock workers from the International Warehousing and Coastal Union in the 1970s during the Anti-apartheid protests in South Africa.
At one point, Lee likened the transition from fossil fuels to green energy and its effect on workers to a time when the federal government closed military bases around the country.
“We have to do it in a way that eases worker anxiety,” she said, adding that the federal government must have good ways to retrain workers and ensure them jobs. sustainability in the future.
Schiff agreed, saying it must “guarantee income for those affected by that disruption in the workforce.”
This moment caused Porter to react sharply.
“The one thing that Washington has a lot of buzz about,” Porter said, adding that a green economy can’t just lead to union contracts where people get a job for a paycheck. 15 dollars an hour. Federal investment in green industries like solar panels, she said, must be accompanied by worker protections to ensure union labor is used and people are not exploited. exploitative labor.
“So I wanted to push back a little bit this idea of a fair transition and have some simple talk about what that means. … Just talking about a transition is not enough. You have to make sure you include it in every tax dollar we spend,” said Porter, who brought Gonzalez as his guest to this year’s State of the Union address.
The candidates were asked about the most difficult moment they experienced while standing in childbirth.
Schiff said it can sometimes be difficult to explain to large employers or voters why siding with labor groups is important. He joined the fence during a recent strike by thousands of support workers at the Los Angeles Unified School District.
“You have thousands and thousands of parents who are suddenly having to figure out what to do with their children and they are asking why you are supporting the strike,” he said.
“Because it’s the right thing to do.”
This received applause from the standing room-only ballroom.
Porter followed up by noting that she had never received campaign donations from super corporationThe PAC – political action committee – which Schiff has done in the past even though he has promised not to do during the Senate campaign.
Both she and Schiff have been strong supporters of the recent writers’ strike in Hollywood – with congresswoman Irvine tweeting her solidarity by saying: “All workers should be compensate fairly, even in a changing economy.”
Schiff said in a declare that the Writers Guild of America’s struggle “for better pay and wage protection in the age of streaming content is critical to securing the livelihoods of those who make the entertainment industry a such a creative powerhouse.”
Lee said she hopes to join the queue next time she’s in Los Angeles.
The trio have been major advocates for legislation in Congress to expand worker protections. The Right to Organize Act passed the House of Representatives but died in the Senate in the past two sessions of Congress. It was reintroduced in February, with Porter, Schiff and Lee as co-sponsors.
During the event, all three said finding a way to pass the legislation would be a top priority.
Then Bill Shaver, political director of Los Angeles-based Sheet Metal Worker Local 105, said that hearing from three candidates made a tough decision even harder. more difficult.
“The hard thing for us in the labor movement is that we have three friends. Who do we vote for? Which friend are we back with?” Shaver said.
He said at this point it’s hard to imagine that all member unions in the California Federation of Labor would support the same candidate because they have a relationship with each of them.
Shaver said: “Organized labor is broken, we don’t know who to support. “So that’s the dilemma we’re in, about where we all come from. We all have a personal connection to those candidates. So it will be difficult.”