Op-Eds

Op-Eds

When I joined the Assembly, one of the first issues I started working on was making diapers more affordable and accessible to parents. The lack of sufficient supply of diapers to keep an infant or toddler clean, dry, and healthy has ripple effects through the community, and with nearly 5.3 million babies in the U.S. age three or younger living in poor or low-income families, and one third of infants and toddlers with at least one parent working full time living in low-income families, it's a problem that demands real action.

We know diaper need is a serious, widespread problem, but while our existing government support programs work around the edges to define the problem, we still don't actually address it. California alone is home to about 2.5 million children under age five. One third live in single parent households, and the number of low income working families with children is more than one-in-five and rising. Medicaid currently covers over 1/3 of all births in the U.S. each year, and perhaps not surprisingly 1 in 3 U.S. moms report suffering from diaper need.

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Op-Eds

Our economy is changing. We call it different things: the sharing economy, the gig economy, the new economy. But, it's clear that we are entering a new era of work and our old paradigms of labor laws that neatly addressed employee-employer relationships might not necessarily fit with what we're seeing.

We often think of Uber or Lyft when we think of this new economy, but this sector is exploding and now there are apps for nearly any job, like TaskRabbit or Handy. You can hire a maid, a plumber, even a lawyer, with a touch.

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Op-Eds

Forty-seven years ago, Robert Kennedy cautioned that "too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things." But this Thanksgiving, while most of us will enjoy a day off and a home-cooked meal with our families, even a four day weekend away from work and time to get a start on holiday shopping, millions of Americans will be hard at work in major retail outlets instead of home celebrating. They're losing their holiday just so we can go shopping on Thanksgiving Day instead of the next morning, and that sacrifice should count for something.

Realistically, there will be no blue laws to keep these businesses closed on Thanksgiving, but the Legislature should mitigate consumerism's impact on this nationally-recognized family holiday by providing extra compensation to workers who are making this sacrifice so billion-dollar companies can start their Black Friday sales early. This is my goal in authoring Assembly Bill 67, the Double Pay on The Holiday Act.

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Op-Eds

Voting is at the core of a free society. It is an opportunity to make our voices heard and influence the direction of our state and our nation. In a democracy, each of us is a steward of our democratic process. It's our responsibility to make registration and voting accessible and convenient for every citizen. Every vote should be counted and every ballot accounted for. The greater confidence the public has in our elections, the more likely they are to participate. That's good for democracy.

Last year, voter participation slipped to historic lows in California and across the country. The dramatic downturn requires that we take action and do more to engage the public. California's New Motor Voter Act gives us the chance to increase voter registration and increase voter turnout in California. It also promises to be a stark contrast to those states that have sought to impede and undermine voter access.

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Op-Eds

AS the National Football League starts a new season, millions of Americans will settle in for the next five months to enjoy the thrill of pro football. Forty-five percent of those fans are female, and the league has spent millions of dollars in recent years trying to increase its appeal among women.
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And yet, one high-profile group of women in the multibillion-dollar N.F.L. is still waiting for fair treatment. Cheerleaders are often paid well below minimum wage and aren't given the most basic protections that every employee deserves.

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Op-Eds

Today I am convening an informational hearing in the Capitol as Chair of the Select Committee on Women in the Workplace, bringing together stakeholders to discuss the challenges faced in the industry and to hear personal testimony from nail salon workers. I’m encouraged to be joined by the Chairs of four other Assembly Committees and other legislators to begin the collaborative process we need to achieve the change these workers need.

Recent in-depth coverage in the New York Times revealed shocking, systematic abuse going on right under the noses of thousands of nail salon customers every day. The reports found employees living in squalor and isolation, underpaid or completely unpaid, and ravaged by health problems possibly connected to chemicals they handle on the job. It echoed and expanded upon reporting done recently in California, drawing new attention to deeply troubling working conditions in the nail salon industry across the country.

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Op-Eds

When we think of California, visions of sandy beaches, Silicon Valley and snowcapped mountains above fertile golden valleys spring to mind. When thinking of widespread American poverty, however, it is easy to consider it someone else's problem.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, however, approximately 8.9 million Californians, roughly one quarter of the state's population, live in poverty. This is by far the highest rate in America. Unemployment is well above the national average, yet according to a recent study, five of the top 10 most expensive American cities are here in the Golden State. It is time we come to terms with the poverty epidemic in our own backyard.

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Op-Eds

We woke up at 4:30 a.m. to be at the old wrestling gym at 5 a.m. every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. We practiced until 6:30 in the unheated, chalky old gym with no mats. On Mondays and Wednesdays, we ran a few miles in the afternoon before joining other athletes in the weight room. We had a two-hour run-through at the stadium on Friday, then on game day Saturdays we started performing for alumni tailgates two hours before kickoff, cheered a full game, then returned home around dusk. That was outside of competition season.

We were called many things: Cheerleaders, pom-pom girls, song leaders. Just not athletes.

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Op-Eds

This Thanksgiving, while many of us enjoyed a day off and a home-cooked meal with our families, millions of Americans were hard at work at major retailers, hotels, restaurants and movie theatres. Nationwide, that included nearly 1 million people who were required to work at Walmart stores alone.

In fairness, some workers volunteer to work on holidays. My daughter, stuck in New York, took the Thanksgiving shift at the coffee shop where she works so her co-workers could be home with their families. But as more retail establishments open on the holidays for longer hours, the demand for workers on those days also increases. As a result, we’ve heard example after example of workers threatened with firing if they did not come in.

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Op-Eds

It's true. While the rest of the nation has been working hard to erode worker protections during an era of historic corporate profits, California has taken a more balanced approach.

Forty years ago, a vast majority of middle-class workers and nearly every member of the working class earned overtime pay. Today, that's just not the case.

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