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News From the Frontlines

What Working on the Frontlines Looks like: Legislative Wins and Setbacks

ROC LA

Liberty Hill grantees have been advocating for legislation that addresses systemic injustices, often working in state and national coalitions. It is always our goal to keep our friends and partners abreast of legislative movement as it pertains to the fight on the frontlines.  Here are recent wins and setbacks:

• WIN: Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC-LA) and Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) were among the backers of AB 1522, the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014. This new law allows most workers in California to earn up to three days of paid sick leave per year. It was signed by Governor Brown on September 10 and will help 40% of the workforce in the state, more than six million workers.
• SETBACK: Excluded from AB1522 are 350,000 In Home Support Service workers (93% of whom are women), who provide personal care for elderly and disabled people.
• WIN: Brothers, Sons, Selves, Liberty Hill’s strategic partnership with The California Endowment, won passage of the Equity is Justice Resolution by LAUSD on June 10, which will send millions of dollars to the highest-needs schools in the district.
• PROGRESS: The Clean Up Green Up campaign to establish “Green Zones” in three pilot neighborhoods of Los Angeles has moved steadily ahead in the LA Department of City Planning. This unprecedented policy to address the health impacts from toxic pollution combines land use planning with targeted technical and financial assistance to small businesses to help them “clean up and green up.” A draft ordinance is expected by the end of this year, and represents one of the City’s most important equity policies.
• WIN: Recent studies show that less than a quarter of the 60,000 young people released annually from detention were enrolled in their local schools within a month of release. Youth Justice Coalition successfully worked for passage of the “Successful Transitions for Youth” act, and now education and probation agencies are required to have transition policies to coordinate the paperwork, information and records needed for formerly incarcerated youth to enroll in school.
• WIN: LA Voice PICO’s members, who represented congregations of several faiths, lobbied successfully in Sacramento for passage of SB1010, signed by Governor Brown. This bill addresses one of the failed, racially unjust “war on drugs” policies—the huge disparity in sentencing, probation, and asset forfeiture between convictions for possession for sale of crack cocaine vs. powder cocaine.
• WIN: Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) and Pomona Economic Opportunity Center (PEOC) were among the civil rights groups that won an August 27 settlement of a suit brought on behalf of migrants who were pressured into signing “voluntary departure” (deportation) forms by Border Patrol agents who had pre-checked boxes, or had not advised migrants of their rights to legal advice or options for hearings. The settlement spells out new requirements to ensure that migrants understand the consequences of signing and are not harassed.
• WIN: Several immigration integration bills backed by Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) became law. One that’s been in the news quite a bit is SB1159 (Lara), which allows qualified individuals to obtain professional licensing regardless of immigration status. Another bill, SB1210, creates the "Dream Loan Program" for undocumented students attending a participating campus of the University of California or California State University.
• WIN: Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE) negotiated a commitment from the L.A. Department of Water and Power to invest $1.25 billion over the next 10 years to help ratepayers use 15% less power. This victory will help to continue to cut ties to out-of-state coal plants, lower high electricity bills, and create new jobs for low income residents.
• WIN: Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC United-LA) reached an historic agreement with the employer El Mercadito, a landmark mariachi restaurant in Boyle Heights. The accord for $220,000 in back pay and other benefits for workers has gone to the Labor Commissioner for approval.
• WIN: Coalition for Economic Survival supported AB 2222, an important affordable housing bill recently signed by Governor Brown that closes a loophole in state law that will result in the creation of more affordable housing. It also increased the affordability requirement of all low and very low income units from 30 years or longer to 55 years or longer.

• SETBACK: The 2014 Wage Theft Recovery Act, which would have made it possible for workers who had won a court claim for wage theft to put a lien on property of scofflaw bosses, failed to win passage in the California Senate in the recent legislative session.
• PROGRESS: In July, the LA City Council voted 13-0 in favor of a motion to draft a Wage Theft Ordinance to criminalize and enforce penalties on wage theft in the city of L.A., where every week, 655,000 low wage workers experience at least one wage violation such as having overtime pay withheld. Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA) is a lead organization in this work, along with Instituto de Educación Popular del Sur de California (IDEPSCA), Pomona Economic Opportunity Center (PEOC), Restaurant Opportunity Center (ROC United-LA), Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles (CHIRLA), and CLEAN Carwash Campaign.

• PROGRESS: L.A. Voice PICO, Black Worker Center and All of Us or None are among the grantees in the Coalition to Ban the Box in Los Angeles pushing the L.A. Fair Chance Initiative. There was significant progress in June, when the City Council moved a proposal for a city ordinance to the next level. A Ban the Box ordinance would eliminate requirements for city job applicants to disclose criminal convictions until their job qualifications were verified, so they could have a chance to be considered, not automatically eliminated.

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