California Is Dependent on Prison Labor for Fighting Fires. This Must End.

On September 7, 2022, after many attempted delays from the City of Susanville, California, a Lassen County judge ruled in favor of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to close one of Susanville’s two prisons. The court case and public debate over the prison closure has been almost entirely based on the anticipated loss of 1,000 jobs in the prison, but the closure of this facility marks an enormous shift in the use of prison labor for public work. The California Correctional Center in Susanville is set to be closed by June 2023. It is one of two remaining training hubs for…

Chile: Rejection of new Constitution is just one step of a constitutional process that must continue

Chile will have to continue building upon its process for a new Constitution so that it can become a reference point in the field of human rights, said Amnesty International, following a plebiscite that resulted in the rejection of a proposed new Constitution. The result of the vote means that the Constitution originally enacted under […] The post Chile: Rejection of new Constitution is just one step of a constitutional process that must continue appeared first on Amnesty International.

LA Ballot Measure Would Let Unhoused People Stay in Hotels Past Pandemic

Image Credit: Los Angeles County Newsroom The housing crisis is worsening in Los Angeles, where an estimated 60,000 people remain unhoused in Los Angeles County and thousands more are on the cusp of evictions, even as 20,000 hotel rooms remain vacant across the region. This comes as a new ballot measure could require hotels to house homeless people in vacant rooms. The measure is backed by California’s largest hospitality union, UNITE HERE Local 11, and attempts to revive a statewide pandemic policy known as Project Roomkey, which, now set to end, provided vouchers for people experiencing homelessness to use at…

California Passes Historic Fast Food Worker Bill. Will Newsom Sign It?

In the face of fierce corporate opposition, the California Senate on Monday passed a landmark bill aimed at giving the state’s roughly 550,000 fast food workers a say over their working conditions, hours, and wages in an industry rife with abuse. If Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signs it into law, the Fast Food Recovery Act (AB 257) would make California the first state in the U.S. to establish a council tasked with setting industrywide workplace standards for the fast food sector. The 10-member council would include workers and worker advocates as well as business representatives and state officials. Newsom has…

Detained Immigrants in California Strike Over $1 a Day Pay, Working Conditions

At two federal detention centers in California, more than 50 immigrant workers are on strike over unsafe working conditions and low wages. “We are being exploited for our labor and are being paid $1 per day to clean the dormitories,” said strikers at a central California detention center in a June statement received by public radio station KQED. Detained workers, known as “housing porters,” participate in a supposedly volunteer working program while locked up. They use their earnings to pay for the exorbitant cost of phone calls and commissary items like dental floss and tortillas. “They are compelled to do…

California and Maine Are Implementing Universal Meal Programs for All Children

When Erin Primer first heard the news that California was implementing a Universal Meal Program, she didn’t think it was true. For Primer, the director of food and nutrition services at San Luis Coastal Unified School District (SLCUSD) and a long-time advocate of universal meals, the announcement came as a colossal victory. “It’s been something that we never thought was actually possible, especially at the beginning of the pandemic,” Primer said. “It’s allowed me to be incredibly hopeful about school food.” On July 9, 2021, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law the Free School Meals for All Act, which…

Hundreds of California Farmworkers Are Marching for Union Voting Rights

On Wednesday, around 250 farmworkers and their supporters took their first steps of a 24-day Delano-to-Sacramento march to demand more voting options for farmworkers when casting a ballot on unionization. The march, organized by United Farm Workers, or UFW, has been billed as the “March for the Governor’s Signature,” a reference to demands that California Gov. Gavin Newsom sign a new bill meant to protect farmworkers from voter suppression by employers. “California is a very wealthy state and agriculture contributes to that wealth, but farmworkers continue to be poor and their families suffer — that’s what we need to change,”…

Hundreds of Thousands of Incarcerated People Are in Danger Amid Scorching Heat

This summer is set to be among the top 10 hottest on record with heat waves melting roads across Europe, causing thousand-acre fires in Texas and California, scorching people across the globe. Across the country, as temperatures soar, people behind bars describe feeling as if they are melting or being baked alive in units that frequently lack air conditioning or cooling mechanisms. Temperatures in parts of Texas have soared to over 100 degrees every day for the past week — with no relief in sight. The state has the tenth-highest incarceration rate in the nation, with 840 of every 100,000…

Biden Mulls Climate Emergency Declaration as Wildfire Sweeps California

Thousands of emergency workers in California struggled to fight a rapidly growing wildfire near Yosemite National Park on Sunday as President Joe Biden continued to mull whether to declare a national climate emergency, a move that campaigners say is needed to respond to the immediate threat of extreme weather and lay the groundwork for a livable future. Dubbed the Oak Fire, the California blaze was completely uncontained as of Sunday afternoon, having tripled in size since it began on Friday. The fire has now burned more than 14,000 acres, making it California’s largest wildfire of the season. “Explosive fire behavior…

Reparations for Racist Laws Are Gaining Traction at State and Local Levels

Georgia state Sen. Kim Jackson has pretty much given up on the idea that Black Georgians might some day receive reparations for past injustices. “In Georgia, the concept of reparations is a politically dead issue. It will not move,” said Jackson, a Black woman who comes from a farming family and sits on the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee. But leap across the country to California, a leader in this regard. The state launched a Reparations Task Force last year, and is compensating survivors of state-sponsored sterilization. While California is looking comprehensively, advocates in Republican-controlled states like Georgia are…

Newsom Announces California Is Going to Start Making Its Own Low-Cost Insulin

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday that California is going to begin making its own insulin, in an effort to expand access and ensure that the people who need the drug can still afford it. “California is going to make its own insulin. Nothing, nothing epitomizes market failures more than the cost of insulin,” Newsom said in his announcement, adding that some patients have to spend $300 to $500 per vial, which typically only last a patient about 30 days. The state will allocate $100 million to produce the drug “at a cheaper price, close to at cost, and to…

High Voter Apathy and Amped-Up Fears About Crime Shaped California Primaries

There are three main takeaways from California’s elections this week. First, the level of voter apathy ought to send a shudder through the political establishment. Voter turnout was shockingly low. Despite all 22 million registered voters in the state being sent mail-in ballots weeks ago, as of Election Day, only 18 percent of ballots had been returned early. Voters’ fury at high inflation and, in particular, high gasoline prices, as well as the sense of lingering anxiety unleashed by the pandemic, didn’t necessarily translate to a tsunami against California’s Democratic state leadership; but it did result in a mass abstention…

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