Thursday, December 29, 2022

DSA and Los Angeles City Council

LA City Council Lurches Even Further Left With Democratic Socialists of America Members

Can they pull so far to the left, Los Angeles ends up in the Pacific Ocean?

By Thomas Buckley, December 29, 2022 9:12 am

With the swearing-in of Hugo Soto-Martinez and Eunisses Hernandez just a couple of weeks ago, the Los Angeles City Council officially became 20 percent socialist.

Soto-Martinez and Hernandez join fellow Democratic Socialists of America member Nithya Raman to now give three of the 15 council seats to DSA members.

Not – for a very long time – known as a hotbed for what could be called conservative policies, the Council now may actually be the most officially Socialist governing agency in the country.

Soto-Martinez in particular stands out. As a potential suspected leaker of the now-notorious audio tape of then-City Council President Nury Martinez, etc. using racist language while discussing how to carve up the city to solidify their power, the DSA greatly benefited from the ensuing uproar. This is the portion of the (poor audio quality) tape that refers to Soto-Martinez as “entitled” and this is a discussion of how the tape got out – .

Soto-Martinez, seen here at the People’s Summit in July as a United Teachers of Los Angeles union discusses “transnational organizing for labor justice, has spent his career as a labor and community organizer, fighting – along with Hernandez – for such causes as Measure J, which forces Los Angeles County “(T)o allocate 10 percent of its County’s locally generated unrestricted funding to address the disproportionate impact of racial injustice…”

He was one of three DSA members endorsed in the November election – two won.  The DSA also supported Measure ULA – a tax to create more money for the homeless-industrial complex, and Measure R – a rent control ordinance in Pasadena. Both measures passed, as did two – both school board offices – of the three other candidates they supported.

Soto-Martinez spouts the typical woke/left/progressive buzzwords and platitudes, with words and phrases like “centering” and “listening” and organizing” and “equity” and “doing the work” and “root causes” and “systemic” littering his speeches. Read this for a deeper dive on the woke co-opting the language of therapy.

The new councilmember also believes that homelessness is caused first and foremost by financial hardship (not being able to pay the rent because not enough affordable housing exists) and second by addiction issues – a position that beggars the truth and depth and mental health component and human tragedy of the issue.

Capitalism itself also gets a nod as a “root cause” of homelessness and the “commandeering” of hotels is discussed by Soto-Martinez.

Other issues are also at top-of-mind for Soto-Martinez, from public transit to how to get young workers to buy into the idea of “Medicare for All.”

While it may be heartening to some that all, save but one of the videos above have only a few hundred views apiece, the question of outsized influence remains – can the DSA and Hernandez, Raman, and Soto-Martinez pull so far to the left, Los Angeles ends up in the Pacific Ocean?

From: very conservative media source. 

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Thomas Buckley is the former Mayor of Lake Elsinore and a former newspaper reporter. He operates a small communications and planning consultancy and can be reached directly at Read more of his work at his Substack ‘The Point.’ 

Thursday, December 22, 2022

UC Strike Moves Toward Settlement

 But, not yet.

Last week, when the University of California and negotiators for striking academic workers announced a tentative agreement to end the work stoppage that began on Nov. 14, union representatives praised the proposed contract.

It was “a huge deal,” they said, with “incredible wage increases” that would finally give starving students a shot at paying the notoriously high rents, from San Diego to Berkeley.

Starting pay for graduate student researchers would leap nearly 57 percent to about $35,500 annually from about $22,000 over the next two years. The lowest-paid teaching assistants would start at about $34,000, far more than the current $23,000 or so. Pay for more experienced academic workers and those in particularly expensive areas would be substantially higher and come with broader workplace protections and greater benefits for health care, transportation and child care.

Not everyone on the 40-member bargaining team was on board, though.

Fifteen members voted against the deal, contending, among other issues, that the pay bumps and cost-of-living provisions were insufficient. They also felt that workers could win more given that they were part of the largest university-based walkout in national history. This week, as 36,000 rank-and-file teaching assistants, researchers and tutors voted on ratification, an opposition campaign emerged.

A Zoom call assembling critics drew several hundred participants. Calls to prolong the work stoppage went out across the 10-campus system. “I am part of hundreds of rank-and-file workers at Davis, and thousands across the U.C. system, who are fighting for something more — a truly fair contract,” Cole Manley, a doctoral candidate at U.C. Davis, wrote to me in an email.

Significant opposition appeared to arise from U.C. Santa Cruz, where a “wildcat” strike — one conducted without the backing of the union — representing the workers statewide ended three years ago with the firing of more than 70 graduate students who had refused to turn in fall grades as part of the labor action. (Most were eventually reinstated.)

But pushback also materialized on high-cost campuses such as Santa Barbara and newer campuses such as Merced, where a substantial number of students are the first in their families to attend college.

“Now is not the time to settle — we must keep fighting and leverage our full might to win our demands!” a group of Berkeley students opposing ratification recently exhorted on a website under the logo “Strike to Win.”

Initial demands by the striking workers included cost-of-living agreements explicitly tied to housing costs in California and a base pay of $54,000 a year for graduate students. Base pay in the current proposal is much lower. Opponents of the deal also complain that too few of the benefits take effect in the first year of the agreement.

From. NYT. California Today 

Monday, December 19, 2022

Reading Opens the world


Reading opens the world

In this season of miracles for many faith traditions, Veronica Rubio, a middle school librarian in Pico Rivera, Calif., felt like she was experiencing a miracle of her own as she selected free books for her students—young adult fiction, Spanish language titles and Star Wars-themed books—at an AFT Reading Opens the World event last weekend. “It’s like a dream,” Rubio said. “I don’t want to wake up.”

In many ways, that book giveaway was the fulfillment of one dream and the start of another. This time last year, the AFT pledged to distribute 1 million free books to educators, students and their families to promote the joy of reading as part of our Reading Opens the World campaign. We gave away the 1 millionth book in Pico Rivera—and announced that our union will give away another 1 million books to continue to work toward creating a nation of joyful and confident readers.

Amid an alarming rise in efforts to ban and censor books, we are giving away books that are both mirrors and windows—titles that reflect students’ own identities and experiences, introduce them to the experiences of others, and inspire them with compelling stories and characters. Our goal is for students to love to read and to read well.

The challenge of helping all children read well has been exacerbated by misunderstandings of the science of reading, by conflicts over the best way to teach students to read and, recently, by the pandemic. The AFT has worked to improve reading instruction with research-based reading resources and courses that have helped tens of thousands of educators teach reading more effectively.

But it all starts with books and the joy that comes from kids having books of their own that they are excited to read. I will never forget a visit to McDowell County, W.Va., one of the poorest counties in the United States. I offered a book to a boy who clutched it to his chest, grinned and said, “I’m going straight home to put this in my library.” I asked him what other books he had in his library. Bubbling with excitement, he said, “This is the first one!”

And then there was Rafi, a student I met as we distributed books to schools in Puerto Rico. We took turns reading a bilingual book about Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. As I read in English and he read in Spanish, we acted out the words, smiling and laughing with each other, connected by a story.

Our book distributions are as varied as the books themselves. AFT members distributed free books at back-to-school events in Scranton and Syracuse, Nashua and New Haven, Lynn and Lowell, and many more places. The Detroit Federation of Teachers gave out 10,000 books by African American authors at a Juneteenth event. The Montana Federation of Public Employees distributed books at tribal schools. In New York, the AFT and the Public Employees Federation donated $5,000 worth of books to the Sagamore Children’s Psychiatric Center. The AFT and the United Federation of Teachers have hosted book events throughout New York City’s boroughs, with lines often snaking for blocks. And our events in Yonkers and Albany featured both books and bouncy houses. All these events offer fun and research-based tips for families to support literacy.

This weekend alone, the AFT distributed 120,000 books, including as we helped launch the Cleveland Reads Citywide Reading Challenge to collectively read 1 million books and/or 1 million minutes in 2023. 

I am so grateful for the work AFT members do to heal, help, educate and make a difference in people’s lives. And I am angered by the baseless attacks they endure, particularly the attacks on educators, who have risen to the overwhelming challenges of teaching during the pandemic and meeting students’ surging needs. The truth about teachers stands in stark contrast to critics who denigrate them and blame teachers and their unions for a pandemic and other factors outside their control—yet do nothing to help.

The last few years have been hard on everyone. Reading not only helps kids improve their literacy skills but can provide respite, connection, growth and pleasure. Take it from Mason, a seventh-grade student from Macomb County, Mich., who said, “I don’t know what happened to me, but I hated reading before. This year, my teacher had all these books and I just wanted to read constantly and now I love it.”

Reading truly opens the world, and it paves the way for dreams to be realized. That is why we do what we do—donating 2 million free books in two years to children, families and educators across America to help us become a nation of joyful and confident readers. Join the AFT in making that a reality at

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Monday, December 12, 2022

Rail Workers Deserve Sick Leave


Rail Workers deserve sick leave. 


We have heard terrible and tragic stories from rail workers who have been penalized for spending the day in the hospital with their sick children. A locomotive engineer, who, out of fear of being fired, was forced to skip his doctor’s appointment after experiencing unusual symptoms, suffered a heart attack and died in an engine room just weeks later. There is absolutely no reason why these workers should have to deal with these conditions in the richest country in the history of the world. 

Over 115,000 rail workers in this country are looking to you to guarantee them the dignity at work they deserve and to ensure that our rail system is safe for its workers and for millions of Americans who cross rail tracks every day. Through Executive Order, agency rulemaking, and any other applicable authority, we ask that you take quick and decisive action to guarantee these workers paid sick leave. 

We look forward to working with you to make this a reality. Sincerely, 

Bernard Sanders United States Senator 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Member of Congress 

Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. Member of Congress 

Donald M. Payne, Jr. Member of Congress 

Rashida Tlaib Member of Congress 

And 20 more.  Sacramento area Congress persons have not signed.  Contact your congressperson. 

See letter. 


President Joseph R. Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Biden:

December 8, 2022

Thank you for your hard work in negotiating a rail labor agreement to prevent a lockout that would have caused severe damage to the economy during the busy holiday season. While this agreement was much better than the disastrous proposals put forward by the rail industry, it still does not guarantee a single paid sick day to rail workers who work dangerous and difficult jobs, have risked their lives during the pandemic to keep our economy moving and have not received a pay raise in over three years. That is unacceptable and must be rectified.

As you know, a majority in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives voted for legislation to guarantee seven paid sick days to every rail worker in America. Tragically, because of the arcane rules of the Senate, this legislation was filibustered by just 42 Republicans and one Democrat and did not make it to your desk for signature. It is literally beyond belief that rail workers are not guaranteed this basic and fundamental human right. Therefore, we urge you and your administration to do everything within your authority to guarantee rail workers the seven paid sick days that they desperately need through executive action.

The American people are sick and tired of the extraordinary corporate greed that has been taking place throughout our country. At a time when corporate profits are soaring, working families throughout this country are struggling to keep their heads above water economically. There is no better example of this corporate greed than what we are seeing in the rail industry. In the first three quarters of this year, the rail industry has made over $21 billion in profits while providing their CEOs with huge compensation packages. Meanwhile, in the year 2022, workers in the rail industry receive zero paid sick days. What this means is that if a rail worker comes down with COVID, the flu, or some other illness and calls in sick, that worker will not only receive no pay, but will be penalized and, in some cases, fired. We cannot allow that to continue.

Guaranteeing seven paid sick days to rail workers would cost the industry a grand total of $321 million – less than two percent of their annual profits. If the rail industry can afford to spend $25.5 billion in stock buybacks and dividends to enrich their wealthy shareholders, they can afford to treat their workers with the respect and the dignity that they deserve.

As President, you and your administration have a number of tools at your disposal to make sure rail workers are guaranteed paid sick leave. For example, in 2015, President Obama signed an executive order establishing paid sick leave for Federal contractors which ultimately did not cover rail carriers despite the fact that the Federal Government has hundreds of contracts with freight rail carriers. You can and you must expand this executive order.

In addition, the Secretary of Labor has the authority under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to set mandatory occupational safety and health standards for businesses affecting interstate commerce. We can think of few things that threaten the safety and health of workers more than being required to come into work sick and exhausted and we can think of few industries more quintessential to interstate commerce than freight rail.

Moreover, under the Federal Railroad Safety Act, the Secretary of Transportation has a duty to promote safety in all areas of railroad operations, to reduce railroad-related accidents, and to reduce deaths, injuries, and damages caused by rail carriers. Guaranteeing that workers are not operating trains or inspecting rail signals while sick or tired would fundamentally improve the safety of our national rail operations.

We have heard terrible and tragic stories from rail workers who have been penalized for spending the day in the hospital with their sick children. A locomotive engineer, who, out of fear of being fired, was forced to skip his doctor’s appointment after experiencing unusual symptoms, suffered a heart attack and died in an engine room just weeks later. There is absolutely no reason why these workers should have to deal with these conditions in the richest country in the history of the world.

Over 115,000 rail workers in this country are looking to you to guarantee them the dignity at work they deserve and to ensure that our rail system is safe for its workers and for millions of Americans who cross rail tracks every day. Through Executive Order, agency rulemaking, and any other applicable authority, we ask that you take quick and decisive action to guarantee these workers paid sick leave.

We look forward to working with you to make this a reality. Sincerely,

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Bernard Sanders United States Senator

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Member of Congress

Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. Member of Congress

Donald M. Payne, Jr. Member of Congress

Rashida Tlaib Member of Congress

Cori Bush
Member of Congress

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Tammy Baldwin United States Senator

Sherrod Brown United States Senator

Martin Heinrich United States Senator

Edward J. Markey United States Senator

Elizabeth Warren United States Senator

Nanette Diaz Barragán Member of Congress

Richard Blumenthal United States Senator

Robert P. Casey, Jr. United States Senator

Mazie K. Hirono United States Senator

Jeffrey A. Merkley United States Senator

Sheldon Whitehouse United States Senator

Donald S. Beyer Jr. Member of Congress

Cory A. Booker United States Senator

Kirsten Gillibrand United States Senator

Ben Ray Luján United States Senator

Alex Padilla
United States Senator

Ron Wyden
United States Senator

Suzanne Bonamici Member of Congress

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André Carson Member of Congress

David N. Cicilline Member of Congress

Steve Cohen Member of Congress

Lloyd Doggett Member of Congress

John Garamendi Member of Congress

Al Green
Member of Congress

Kathy Castor Member of Congress

Yvette D. Clarke Member of Congress

Danny K. Davis Member of Congress

Adriano Espaillat Member of Congress

Jesús G. "Chuy" García Member of Congress

Raúl M. Grijalva Member of Congress

Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick Member of Congress

Emanuel Cleaver, II Member of Congress

Debbie Dingell Member of Congress

Dwight Evans Member of Congress

Jimmy Gomez Member of Congress

Sheila Jackson Lee Member of Congress

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Pramila Jayapal Member of Congress

Marcy Kaptur Member of Congress

John B. Larson Member of Congress

Ted W. Lieu Member of Congress

Grace Meng Member of Congress

Eleanor Holmes Norton Member of Congress

Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr. Member of Congress

Ro Khanna
Member of Congress

Barbara Lee Member of Congress

Carolyn B. Maloney Member of Congress

Jerrold Nadler Member of Congress

Ilhan Omar
Member of Congress

Mondaire Jones Member of Congress

Rick Larsen Member of Congress

Andy Levin
Member of Congress

Betty McCollum Member of Congress

Marie Newman Member of Congress

Chellie Pingree Member of Congress

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Mark Pocan Member of Congress

Jamie Raskin Member of Congress

Jan Schakowsky Member of Congress

Ritchie Torres Member of Congress

Susan Wild
Member of Congress

Katie Porter Member of Congress

Tim Ryan
Member of Congress

MARK TAKANO Member of Congress

Bonnie Watson Coleman Member of Congress

Ayanna Pressley Member of Congress

Mary Gay Scanlon Member of Congress

Dina Titus
Member of Congress

Peter Welch Member of Congress

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