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Union power on display in California’s just-completed legislative session

Excerpts from the Sacramento Bee:

Labor is a major player at the Capitol, where Democratic lawmakers are sympathetic to its issues and some are former union members themselves. The party achieved two-thirds’ control of both houses of the Legislature last fall with the help of millions of dollars in union campaign contributions and get-out-the-vote efforts.

Labor officials say they have to work hard to make their case to lawmakers of all stripes, adding that they’re often the underdog against other influential Capitol interests, including oil companies and the pharmaceutical industry.

“We win some and we lose some,” said Barry Broad, a longtime lobbyist whose clients include the Teamsters, longshore and warehouse union, and Screen Actors Guild. “Sometimes our arguments are more persuasive than others. The notion that we always win is certainly not true.”

Labor also left its imprint on legislation to spend nearly $1.5 billion in revenue generated by the state’s cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and diesel pollution.

A pair of union-friendly conditions prohibit the purchase of fully automated zero-emission equipment at the state’s ports and declare the Legislature’s intent to, beginning next summer, exclude zero-emission vehicle manufacturers from state rebate programs unless they treat their workers in a “fair and responsible” manner.

Business groups, meanwhile, have objected to the strings attached to the ports money. “If they want to spend their own money, let them go out and do it,” Broad said.

More at the Sacramento Bee

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