In closed a closed door session this afternoon, California Assembly Democrats decided to give the nod to Assemblywoman Karen Bass to succeed termed out Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez.

Bass was not in the Assembly in 2004 and did not vote on SB 899, the Schwarzenegger workers’ comp reform bill.

Generally Bass has supported labor interests in the Capitol. She received a 0% rating from the California Manufacturers and Technology Association. You can see that group’s scorecard here:

Bass, an African-American whose term expires in 2010, represents a Los Angeles area district. She has worked as a physicians’ assistant at the Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center and has taught at USC. Her expertise in healthcare issues will probably be a big plus as the legislature addresses healthcare reform and workers’ compensation reform issues. Her bio is found here:

More analysis in the days to come. Check out my post from earlier today on Senate passage of the anti-bias bill.

Julius Young

Earlier today the California Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee voted in favor of SB 1115, the bill that would ban age, race and gender discrimination in awarding disability compensation to California workers.

The bill will eventually have to make its way through the California Assembly on its way to the governor’s desk.

Among those testifying was Milton Jones of El Cajon. An African-American, Jones had his disability award slashed in half by a doctor who reasoned that since African-Americans have a higher incidence of hypertension, that must have caused one-half of his disability.

If you’re a Costco member you’ve undoubtedly tried their delectable rotisserie chickens. Yum.

Jones served as a relief clerk at Costco, cleaning ovens used to cook the chickens. Using chemical oven cleaners, he developed asthma, hypertension, and bronchitis.

Should he receive half an award on the basis of a race-based theory that his condition was partially “caused” by genetic predisposition as an African-American?

Should a Swedish-American who becomes depressed over events at work in the wintertime receive less because Nordic peoples seem to be susceptible to seasonal affective disorders?

Workers’ compensation should be about individuals, not about stereotyping.

Few will admit it publicly, but a number of insurance defense attorneys have told me privately that they are uncomfortable with the race, gender and age based apportionment stereotyping that is coming into vogue under SB 899.

Thanks should go to State Senator Carole Migden for her hard work on this bill. Workerscompzone will keep following its progress.

Julius Young

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The California State Senate Labor and Insurance subcommittee holds hearings Wednesday on the bill to prohibit discrimination in workers’ compensation.

Here’s the bill, SB 1115 (sponsored by State Senator Carole Migden): … oduced.pdf

The concept behind the bill is strikingly simple: there should be no discrimination in workers compensation based on gender, race, age, and other similar categories.

It will be interesting to see who lines up against the bill. Can opponents at least agree with the goal of a non-discriminatory comp system? Do the opponents believe that cost savings generated by SB 899 should trump
concerns that worker benefits are being denied based on race, gender and age-based considerations?

Here’s a link to the article by Sacramento Bee columnist Daniel Weintraub which endorses the need for fixing the comp system: … ck_check=1

Weintraub denounces the use of gender, age and race to reduce worker benefits.

Also worthy of attention is the piece by an injured worker, Sam Gold, in the California Progress Report, “A California Injured Worker Asks: What’s Wrong with Banning Discrimination in Workers’ Compensation?”: … _in_1.html

Stay tuned.

Julius Young

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on the bottom of the right column)

The Oscars.

Looks like “No Country For Old Men” has smoked the intense period piece “Atonement” and the social justice thriller “Michael Clayton”.

Oscars is a sacred night for many of us. Perhaps you grew up watching Doris Day flirt with Rock Hudson. Or trying to figure out what Michelangelo Antonioni was saying in all those art house films. Or watching Indiana Jones escape from the jaws of doom. Or you’re really from Gen Next…you cut your teeth listening to the South Park brats curse the bastards who killed Kenny again.

Me? Growing up in the Camel City, North Carolina (better known as Winston-Salem), labor themed films weren’t exactly the favorite for Saturday nights at the drive-in.

But unless you’re a cultural hermit, along the way you’ve probably seen a labor themed flick or two. Some of them are worth revisiting.

Lots of them were themed around labor-management strife. “On the Waterfront” . “Hoffa” . “Last Exit to Brooklyn”.

We love coal miner films. “Matewan”. “Harlan County”. More arcane is “Salt of the Earth”, about a New Mexico mining strike done by Herbert Biberman, one of the blacklisted Hollywood 10 in the McCarthy period of the early 1950’s.

Tales about struggling workers. “Norma Rae”. “9 to 5”.

Workers struggling to make sense of the corporate world. “Roger & Me”.

Workers who aren’t always heroic. “Clerks” (1994):

Bored and restless office workers. Mike Judge’s 1999 masterpiece, “Office Space”. Don’t know it? Here it is:

“Il Posto”, a flick about Italian youth trying to adjust to work in the corporate world:

Documentaries. “Rosie the Riveter”.

Here’s a good data base-“Blue Collar Filmography” by Julia Lesage- if you’re interested in checking out more labor themed cinema: … ovies.html

California’s disabled workers sometimes star in movies. Movies taken by undercover investigators, most of which don’t really show all that much.

Perhaps someday there’ll be a worthy script to get disabled workers’
stories on the silver screen.

What’s your favorite film featuring labor or disabled persons’ issues?

Stay tuned.

Julius Young

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