Thursday, June 4, 2009

No Budget Hostages

Environmental, consumer and labor leaders came together this week to call on legislative leaders to resist efforts to use California’s budget crisis to roll back vital safeguards:

June 1, 2009

Assemblywoman Karen Bass
Speaker, California State Assembly
State Capitol, Room 219
Sacramento, CA 95814
Senator Darrell Steinberg

President pro Tempore, California State Senate
State Capitol, Room 205
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Speaker Bass and President pro Tempore Steinberg:

In addressing this year’s budget crisis, you will be faced with heart wrenching decisions that will impact the lives of every Californian. The budget solutions that have been proposed balance the budget entirely on the backs of the most vulnerable in our state. We understand the magnitude and difficulty of the task you face. As you struggle to craft a budget solution, we urge you to reject any attempts to leverage fundamental policy protections.

In every legislative session, business groups sponsor bills to take away the eight-hour day and weaken basic environmental standards. These bills do not make it through the Legislature because they are bad for workers and bad for California. But some are not satisfied by the results of the democratic process and seek to use the urgency of the budget process to leverage policy changes they cannot otherwise win. Rolling back the eight-hour day, taking away meal periods, scaling back environmental protections, or contracting out services without any standards do nothing to balance our budget. Instead, they cut worker pay, jeopardize health and safety, and cause irreparable harm to our communities. We cannot allow our core values as a state to be used as bargaining chips.

Proposals to strip away basic labor and environmental standards hurt the very people who are already being harmed most by the budget. Working people and the poor face drastic cuts to healthcare and social services. These are the same workers who will see their wages cut from an overtime takeaway, will lose their lunch breaks in the face of employer coercion, and will see their neighborhoods polluted if environmental regulations are reversed. In the midst of record unemployment, reckless contracting out simply means more layoffs with less oversight for our tax dollars. These layoffs will hit low-wage workers the hardest and will exacerbate the problem by trapping more families in poverty.

For these reasons, we urge you to reject policy rollbacks as part of any budget deal.


Angie Wei
Legislative Director, California Labor Federation

Bill Magavern
Director, Sierra Club California

Warner Chabot
CEO, California League of Conservation Voters

Christine Spagnoli
President, Consumer Attorneys of California

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