March 6, 2014
Special Guest Post From http://www.ufcwwest.org/
UFCW members and locals were out in force yesterday at the state Capitol in Sacramento wearing UFCW blue and gold and handing out reusable plastic bags to show California legislators that we will be paying attention to issues that affect working families this year.
The States Council, along with members and leaders from locals 135, 1167, 1442, 324, 1428, 648, 770, 5 and 8 met at the offices of the California Labor Federation at 9:15am for a quick rallying point before making our way to Speaker Perez’s caucus room for an address and update by legislators’ staff on issues that union members care about. UFCW then filtered out to the halls of the Capitol for meetings with key district legislators and their staff on two important bills that UFCW will be pushing for this year: SB270 and AB1792.
SB270, which would ban single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and pharmacies across California, is a bill co-authored by Senator Kevin de León and Senator Alex Padilla and supported by UFCW in partnership with the California Grocers Association. The bill creates a statewide standard for banning plastic bags, rather than the patchwork of existing local ordinances, and will reduce costs, protect jobs and help cleanup the environment. As UFCW met with lawmakers on this important bill, members and leaders passed out reusable plastic bags with our UFCW brand and CGA’s logo, and there were many sightings of the bag across the Capitol as the day went on.
UFCW also put out the word about AB 1792, the Public Benefit Disclosure Bill authored by Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez. AB1792 is a bill that would be a step in the right direction for the State, capturing data about the number of workers receiving public assistance in both the private and public sectors in order to create accountability. The Council believes that some very large employers — Walmart being the biggest — are taking advantage of a loophole in the President’s Federal Health Insurance Program that encourages bad players to reduce workers’ weekly hours, pay low wages and deliberately push their workers unto the state’s Medi-Cal program for health insurance. UFCW members and leaders asked their legislators what they would be doing to ensure that these companies pay their fair share and protect individual taxpayers from increased taxes, and our hope is that lawmakers will feel accountable to this question in the months to come.
The day was a big success for the union, and we feel that by coming out early and often on these issues, we can push lawmakers to support our priority bills and future UFCW-sponsored legislation. Stay tuned for an announcement of the next States Council lobby day in March, and for updates on these bills and upcoming political fights coming soon.