First, the good news: Virginia’s workers are among America’s most productive. The state ranks in the top 10 in terms of worker productivity. More Virginians are
working and rates of participation in the labor force outstrip those of the United States as a whole and those of its nearest state neighbors.
Now, the bad news: Virginians are working harder and longer than ever, but are paid far less than they contribute. The growing gap between high and low wage earners in our economy has remained at the highest levels recorded since 1979. To make matters more challenging, coverage for health insurance and pensions has shrunk. And for those who do have health insurance, premiums in Virginia are among the highest in the country. Unemployment rates are on the rise, but the number of unemployed covered by the unemployment insurance system continues to lag.
The 2000 to 2010 decade was a hard one for America’s and Washington’s working families. While the top fifth gained wealth despite two recessions and sharp stock market swings, for most people the dream of attaining the hallmarks of the American middle class grew further out of reach. Holding a steady job, owning a home, sending the kids to college, affording medical care, saving for a secure retirement, each generation having more opportunity than the previous – these now all seem like relics of the 20th century.
This report reviews the current state of working Washington, including gains and losses in employment by sector and region, trends in income and wages, and changes in the workforce. It considers how unemployment affects the state and describes how increasing poverty levels impact families and communities. It evaluates the issue of economic security: what it means to have a job that provides a living wage and a home; benefits that include health insurance and time off to care for loved ones; access to high quality education, from pre-school through college; and retirement security – in short, the opportunity to work, save, and plan for the future. Finally, it suggests public policies that can begin to rebuild broadly shared prosperity for Washington’s working families.
Resolving our society’s trash problem is one of the major environmental challenges of our time. In Los Angeles County, this crisis has reached urgent proportions. As one of the largest waste markets in the country, Los Angeles County generates 23 million tons of waste and recyclable materials and sends over 10 million tons of waste to landfills each year. Many of the remaining landfills in the county will reach capacity and close in the coming years, and officials project that as early as 2014, we will be making more trash than our landfills can handle.
The City of Los Angeles creates a third of the county’s waste that goes to landfills and therefore has a major role to play in addressing this crisis. Recognizing this, the City has set an ambitious and worthy goal of becoming a zero waste city by 2030. However, reaching this goal will be impossible without reforming the dysfunctional and inefficient trash collection and processing system for the City’s businesses and large apartment complexes.
Reforming this system is key to reaching not only the City’s recycling goals but also its goal of creating new green jobs in the recycling sector. In the midst of one of the worst economic crises in modern history, the City of Los Angeles’ unemployment rate stands at an alarming 14 percent. By raising standards for the waste industry, the City can create good green jobs to put people back to work, bring families out of poverty and rebuild the local economy.
The trucking system at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is broken. As currently structured, this industry fails workers, businesses, neighbors, and anyone who breathes the air and drives the highways in Southern California. Port trucking is a chaotic, fragmented market, dominated by hundreds of tiny, undercapitalized motor carriers and brokers who earn profits only by undercutting market standards, creating a race to the bottom. Motor carriers at the Ports overwhelmingly misclassify drivers as
independent contractors rather than employees, allowing the trucking companies to disclaim responsibility for the conditions of the drivers and their trucks.
The key to solving this long-festering problem lies in the Ports’ role as landlords and proprietors of these valuable public assets. The Ports have an interest in clean, safe, sustainable growth, as well as a stable and secure Port complex and a continuing source of revenue. The Ports can achieve these goals by entering into a direct contractual relationship with responsible motor carriers who meet higher standards. This market-based approach will ensure fair competition based on efficiency and quality of service.
This report examines the benefits to workers and communities of a Clean Trucks Program.