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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Labor Leaders Warn Wisconsin Is Coming To California

ASSAULT ON WORKERS’ RIGHT IS COMING TO THE LOCAL LEVEL, LABOR CONTENDS
By Steven Tavares

Leaders of the California labor movement rang the bell Saturday morning calling attention to a growing assault on workers’ rights in Orange County, they say brings the fight for collective bargaining in Wisconsin to the state.

Labor-friendly Democrats who rule the state houses and major elected offices are too strong for Republicans looking to roll back decades of labor gains, said Art Pulaski, chief officer of the California Labor Federation. Instead, they are aiming for local governments with the advice from Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers. “We see them taking rights away from the bottom up in Costa Mesa like they are doing in Wisconsin from the top down,” said Pulaski.

The situation in Costa Mesa gained statewide attention in February when a city employee committed suicide after receiving a layoff notice. The entire city’s workforce other than public safety received the notices. The death drew remarks from the mayor that some found insensitive and emblematic of a ideology at odds with serving residents.

A group of four conservatives on the Costa Mesa City Council has proposed outsourcing city services to private companies to the consternation of labor unions and readied an attack on eliminating collective bargaining.

“The enemy of all Americans are at our gates,” Nick Berardino of the Orange County Employees Association. He told conventioneers Saturday in Sacramento, the Republican plan against organized labor is “an attack on democracy.”

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