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Retirement Security for All

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iAmerica: #ImmigrationAction

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Social security alone is not enough to live on and afford even the basics.

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2014 One Voice Endorsements

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A message from SEIU California President Laphonza Butler on #FastingForChildren

laphonzaButler-ChildrenOverPoliticsToday, eight young leaders, ages 15 to 22, from diverse backgrounds, launched a week-long fast in support of immigrant children and their families fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. The fasters are calling on Congress and President Obama to treat the the children and their families with compassion and to grant them refugee status.

The youth fasters will consume only water during the fast, which lasts until Friday at noon. They will stay at Father Serra Park near La Placita Olvera during the day. At night they will sleep at the adjacent La Plaza United Methodist Church.

Although I cannot join them in Father Serra Park or La Plaza United Methodist Church, I am #FastingForChildren in solidarity on this day. And I want you to know why:

Children forced from their country because of violence, poverty, and gang warfare are victims, not criminals – they should be treated with compassion and humanity.

Congress and President Obama should recognize this as a humanitarian crisis and grant refugee status to the children fleeing violence and poverty in Central America, because we are a nation founded by immigrants seeking refuge in a land of opportunity and our best values shine when we care for people in need.

This fast is called “Children Over Politics” because our priority must be to put politics aside and put children first. It is time to move past what has been an ugly, divisive debate and instead focus on the children and how we can help them.

This fast is not about immigration reform, partisan politics or the divisive fights we are seeing around the country. It’s about the urgent need to help these kids.

This fast is about the need to pay attention to the needs of immigrant children fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. By fasting, for one meal, one day, or one week, it is possible to stand in solidarity with immigrant children; to see ourselves in their stories.

Here’s how you can help:

1. Join the fast as a solidarity faster for one day.

2. Bring clothes, food, blankets and other items needed to aid the children to the fast location at Father Serra Park (near historic Olvera Street) in Los Angeles

3. Donate online at FastingForChildren.org or KidsOverPolitics.org All donations will go directly to help immigrant children at the border.

4. Share the stories of fasters and send them messages on Facebook www.facebook.com/KidsOverPolitics

5. Follow @KidsOvrPolitics on Twitter and tweet your support using the hashtags #FastingForChildren and #KidsOverPolitics

Thank you for all you do to bring dignity to all children and families.

Sincerely, Laphonza Butler, President ULTCW and SEIU California State Council

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Fasting for Children

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LA Youth Launch Fast to Support Immigrant Children Fleeing Violence

FastingForChildren.org | #FastingForChildren

LOS ANGELES, CA – Today, seven young leaders, ages 15 to 22, from diverse backgrounds, launched a week-long fast in support of immigrant children and their families fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. The fasters are calling on Congress and President Obama to treat the the children and their families with compassion and to grant them refugee status.

The youth fasters will consume only water during the fast, which lasts until Friday at noon. They will stay at Father Serra Park near La Placita Olvera during the day. At night they will sleep at the adjacent La Plaza United Methodist Church.

“I know how it feels to not be born here and to be treated like an ‘alien’ from another planet,” said Edgar Gonzalez a 22 year old faster originally from Mexico. “These are children we are talking about. Someone needs to stand up for them.”

Fasters will be collecting supplies and monetary donations for the immigrant families, who have fled from violence, at the fast location in Los Angeles and online at FastingForChildren.org. The fasters will be visited and joined by immigration reform advocates from across the nation throughout the week.

“I was 10 years old when I first came to this country, so I can relate to what these children are going through,” said Sungwon Hong, a Korean American college student who is joining the fast. “I came here with my parents for a better life. It was hard at first but now I am attending college and able to reach for my dreams. I want the same for the kids escaping violence in Central America.”

“I am proud to stand in solidarity with these young people,” said Alease Wilson a 18 year old African-American faster. “I am fasting to support children that were forced from their country. They should be treated with compassion and humanity.”

“When I see the children suffering and being mistreated at the border, I think about my mom who came here from Honduras when she was 20,” said Janio Alvarado, a 15 year old faster. “I see myself in those children. If my mom didn’t come to this country before I was born, I might have been forced into the choice of risking my life coming here or staying behind to face violence and poverty.”

“My heart broke hearing stories on the news of all the children forced to leave their country because they did not feel safe. I understand how scared they must be because 12 years ago, I was one of them,” said faster Yamilex Rustrian a faster and recent high school graduate who left Guatemala at age seven with her younger sister after their father was killed by gang-members.

Organizations supporting the fasters include the Dreamers Action Network, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Bending the Arch, the Center for Community Change, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE-LA), the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Community Coalition, the Korean Resource Center, the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA), the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Mi Familia Vota, the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California State Council and SEIU Locals.

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Tragedy at LAX: Support Cesar’s widow and children

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No Such Thing As Minimum Wage

California Employers Steal Billions From Low-Wage Workers Every Year

low-wage-worker-deserves-wage-protection-1Many workers won’t see the changes the legislature intended by increasing the minimum wage. Instead, they will continue to struggle with a problem that is beyond the reach of current labor laws: exploitation through wage theft. Wage theft keeps millions of Californians working below the minimum wage, and while it affects all low-wage workers, immigrant and women workers are most likely to be exploited.Fully one-half of Latina immigrants make less than minimum wage. (57% of Undocumented Latinas; overall it’s 50%.)

Support AB 1164: Pay Workers Their Due Wages

AB 1164 (Lowenthal) looks at how other state and industries have handled the problem of worker exploitation and provides some of these same tools to all workers in California:

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  • AB 1164 Expands California’s existing Mechanic’s Lien to all sectors. Currently, construction and farm workers can put a temporary hold (a lien) on the property of an employer who owes back wages while the case is being decided. AB 1164 expands this tool to all sectors.
  • Wisconsin’s wage lien law helps 80% of workers recover payment for wages owed, compared to fewer than 20% in California. Alaska, Idaho, Maryland, New Hampshire, Texas, and Washington have also enacted wage lien laws.
  • Including the beneficiaries of workers’ labor in the law allows workers to hold the responsible party accountable, even if that relationship is technically obscured through a subcontracting relationship. This is known as third party liability. California’s Mechanics Lien also includes such third party liability – the owner of the property is ultimately responsible for all improvements made to his or her property.

How Wage Theft Works

Wage theft comes in many forms, including:

  • Being paid less than the minimum wage
  • Being paid for fewer hours than worked
  • Not being paid for overtime in violation of the law

The most rigorous study on the subject of wage theft, published in 2010 by the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at UCLA, documents the extent and impact of wage theft in Los Angeles.

Researchers found that:

  • 30% of Los Angeles low-wage workers were paid less than the minimum wage in the week prior to completing the survey.
  • Wage theft is pervasive in 26 industries with low-wage workers, from car washes to garment factories to restaurants, but also including retail, and even banking and education.
  • Researchers calculated that low-wage workers lose 12.5% of their income to wage theft, over $2,000 on average on an income of $16,536.
  • In Los Angeles County alone, workers have $1 billion in wages stolen from them every year – money that would otherwise support families, our communities, and local businesses.
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A Call for Immigration Reform & Citizenship

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