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.
Local governments are increasingly turning to living wage policies as a means to improve job quality for low-income workers. To date, more than 100 local governments around the country have passed living wage ordinances. Living wage laws set wage and benefit standards for workers employed by government contractors or other firms that have a financial relationship with the government. These laws have, in part, been a response to the stagnation of state and federal minimum wages, which have failed to keep pace with
inflation. In addition, these laws represent a reaction to the growing interest in contracting out city services as a means to cut costs, a strategy that advocates argue penalizes the low wage workers who perform city services. However, despite the prominence and continued growth in the number of living wage ordinances, only a handful of retrospective studies of firms have been published on the impacts of these laws. This study is the first to combine a random sample survey of affected firms and workers, a control group analysis of low-wage employers, and a matched firm and worker dataset. These elements make us confident that our survey results both isolate the effects of the living wage and accurately represent the experiences of living wage workers and firms.
As living wage laws have grown in popularity, so have debates about their effectiveness. Although these laws typically raise standards for just a small segment of jobs in a local labor market, they can focus public discussion on the issue of job quality. Proponents of
the law argue that the city should not be a low-wage employer, and that living wage policies put much-needed money in the pockets of low-income families, while also setting standards that have an impact beyond those directly affected by the law. Business groups have made similar arguments as those made against minimum wage hikes: that living wage laws will result in job reductions, harm small businesses, and will hurt the very population the policy is intended to serve. This study evaluates the experience in Los Angeles in order to determine what actually occurred after the living wage went into effect in that city, as well as provide broader lessons that contribute to the national debate.