Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics /

The California Assembly has approved a bill that would make it easier for farm workers to obtain union contracts with their employers.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the measure passed Monday with the bare minimum votes needed – despite strong opposition from growers.

Congressional Reps. Urge Brown to Sign TRUST Act

Aug 14, 2013
Jerry Brown
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Nearly 30 California congressional representatives have written to Governor Jerry Brown urging him to sign legislation that would reduce deportations of undocumented immigrants. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

The TRUST Act would limit when local law enforcement agencies could hold undocumented immigrants before turning them over to federal immigration officials for possible deportation. Members of California’s congressional delegation, including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, are urging Brown to sign the measure if it gets to his desk.

As the supply chain that delivers our food to us gets longer and more complicated, many consumers want to understand — and control — where their food comes from.

Jackets bearing a logo that is similar to the one used by the United Farm Workers labor union will be removed from Urban Outfitters stores after a dispute over the trademark.

Capital Public Radio

After spending a month working around their home districts, California Assembly members are back at the Capitol to finish up final the six weeks of the legislative session. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, there’s no shortage of things to get done.

Members of the California Assembly buzz around the chamber like kids just back to school after a long summer break. Colleagues greet each other and catch up, having spent a month away from Sacramento on summer recess. And like a stern teacher, Speaker pro Tem Nora Campos had to ask everyone to settle down.

Farm Worker Shortage Hits California Ag Industry

Jul 29, 2013
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

For the second year in a row, California farmers are complaining of a worker shortage.  Ben Adler reports from Sacramento on how the state’s $43.5  billion agriculture industry is feeling the squeeze – and how consumers might, too.

Last year, nearly two-thirds of farmers in a California Farm Bureau Federation survey said they didn’t have enough workers to pick their crops.  This year, says the Farm Bureau’s Brian Little, it’s a problem again.  For farmers, that means…

The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

A workers’ compensation bill that’s provoked a high-stakes lobbying fight between professional sports teams and players unions has passed a key hurdle in the California legislature.

The bill would prevent out-of-state athletes from filing claims in California’s workers’ comp system.  Under a deal reached to move the measure forward, athletes who spend part of their career in the state would be eligible only if they play a certain amount of time for California teams. 

Why Unions Oppose Overhauling CEQA

Mar 13, 2013
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

The coalition of groups that will fight efforts in the state legislature this year to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act is taking shape.  It includes environmental groups, some Democratic lawmakers … and labor unions.  Ben Adler reports from Sacramento on why unions are on this side of the CEQA debate.

GOP Bill Would Allow Flexible Work Schedules

Mar 7, 2013

A California lawmaker is reviving a proposal that’s stalled in previous years that would allow employees to work flexible schedules – such as four 10-hour days each week.

Republican State Senator Tom Berryhill says his bill would let individual workers ask their companies for more flexibility.

“If the employees went to the owner and wanted to make it a little bit different on their work hours for their families, then it’d be okay.  And I don’t think it’s government’s place to get in the way of employees spending more time with their families,” says Berryhill. 

California State Controller's Office

A new report shows the unfunded liability for state retiree health benefits in California has grown to more than $63 billion.

As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, State Controller John Chiang says some increases in future liability could be prevented.

Chiang says the unfunded obligation for state retiree benefits has grown almost two billion dollars from 2011 to 2012. That’s less than expected because of fewer and less expensive healthcare claims.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The hustle and bustle of downtown Visalia, a place alive with activity. Local residents point to it with pride. City Manager Steve Salomon says it has a lot to do with the community’s vision for its city.  

“The city council in this city for decades and decades has been able to have a long term view of what they thought this city should be, and done things that were not necessarily going to have an immediate result for them, but a long term result,” says Salomon.

Federal Transit Administration

Drivers who operate the city of Fresno’s bus service, known as Fresno Area Express will tell you that despite that some may thing, theirs is not a cushy job.

"It’s the equipment, it’s riding in a seat. You’re constantly bouncing up and down, you’re constantly turning the steering wheel. There’s a number of knee problems, shoulder problems, hand problems, by repetitive motion,"  says Rick Steitz, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1027.

National Parks Service

President Obama announced today that he will visit Kern County next Monday to declare the headquarters of the late United Farm Workers union co-founder César Chávez a national monument. The Chávez compound in the small community of Keene, located in the Tehachapi hills east of Bakersfield served as the home for both the UFW and Chávez for several decades. 

New Field Poll on Prop 32 Shows Measure Trailing

Sep 21, 2012

For the second time this week, a new poll shows Proposition 32, which would change rules on union and corporate political donations, faces a tough road to passage on California’s November ballot.

The latest Field Poll conducted with UC Berkeley shows Prop 32 losing 44 percent to 38 percent.  The six-point margin is similar to this week’s Public Policy Institute of California survey, where the measure trailed 49 percent to 42 percent.

A new UC Berkeley study says temporary workers in California are more likely to live in poverty than their co-workers.

Miranda Dietz is with the university’s Center for Labor Research and Education. She says “temps” hired through staffing agencies to work in data entry, nursing, accounting and other jobs, earn an average of 18 percent less per hour than their co-workers.

What’s the value of a typical worker’s contribution to a company’s success compared to that of CEOs of the largest companies? The CEO’s contribution is about 380 times more valuable, according to the AFL-CIO’s 2012 annual report on pay disparity.

380 times more valuable! Not only it is more valuable, but its value rises faster than inflation. Last year CEO pay rose 14% to nearly $13 million. What was your pay raise last year?

Pension Deal Nears; Unions Furious

Aug 27, 2012

A proposed overhaul of California’s pension system is angering public employee unions, as Democrats get set to unveil the details. The specific details are being kept as quiet as can be, but all signs point to a deal emerging by Tuesday at the California State Capitol. 

Democrats are promising “comprehensive pension reform” that will save tens of billions of dollars over the next few decades. Assemblyman Warren Furutani says the deal won’t please everyone.

California disabled workers and their attorneys are angered by a new workers’ compensation bill circulating through the Capitol. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the groups argue it harms severely injured workers the most.

Kern County Leads Nation in Employment Gains

Aug 7, 2012
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Employment in California’s largest counties rose between December of 2010 and December of 2011, but paychecks got smaller in most large counties. 24 of the 26 large counties in California saw employment increase. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics defines large counties as those with employment of 75,000 or more.

Kern County posted a 5.3 percent increase, followed by San Francisco County at 3.3 percent. Kern County’s increase was not only the largest increase in the state but in the country as well. Los Angeles County has the highest number of employed at more than 3.9 million.

California Labor Commissioner Julie Su has filed a lawsuit against a Valley farm labor contractor for unpaid wages. The case filed in Fresno Superior Court on Monday alleges Javier Diaz of Diaz Contracting committed multiple violations, including failure to provide minimum wage and overtime to employees. The lawsuit seeks over $600,000 in unpaid wages, penalties and damages affecting 129 workers.