Californians need tools like SB749 to hold corporations accountable to workers and communities. Take action with us to #PassSB749 here.
Across the country, layoffs and furloughs are turning into permanent job losses. The impact of this pandemic on working families has been crushing, and this is just the beginning.
To recover from this crisis, we need to turn the tide on an economy that puts profit over people, and make sure our public investments create good jobs and healthy communities.
But right now, we have no real guarantee that our public investments will actually create the most public good for workers and communities.
Tesla, a company that has received nearly $5 billion in government subsidies, is a “perfect example of what can go wrong when we give public dollars to private companies with little accountability,” writes the United Auto Workers union.
Despite receiving billions of public dollars to create jobs, Tesla regularly lays off workers to cut costs. Beyond layoffs, Tesla has a long track record of low-road labor standards. The company’s Fremont factory has racked up more OSHA fines in five years than 10 other major auto manufacturing plants combined, according to UAW. California also fined Tesla for omitting hundreds of workplace injuries from official logs earlier this year. In New York, the company is facing fines for failing to fulfill a commitment to create 1,460 jobs in return for a $950 million public investment in its Buffalo factory.
Tesla isn’t the only company turning a profit off of public dollars while stiffing workers and communities. And in California, where a loophole in state law allows corporations with public subsidies and contracts to hide jobs information from the public, it’s even harder to hold companies like Tesla accountable for doing so.
Take, for example, the largest bus manufacturer in North America, New Flyer. New Flyer won a $500 million contract to build buses for LA Metro, in part because the company said it would create good jobs in California. But New Flyer didn’t follow through on that promise, and paid workers less than outlined in its contract. When our coalition asked for access to that information, New Flyer hit LA Metro with an expensive lawsuit, claiming information about job creation was a “trade secret.”
We pushed forward, filing a lawsuit to hold New Flyer accountable. But New Flyer kept trying to skirt accountability, and tried to get the suit thrown out. Luckily, the court ruled on the side of workers and communities last week, confirming that our push to hold New Flyer accountable can go ahead.
“We will not stand by and allow corporations to benefit from lucrative public contracts and not follow through with their commitments to good jobs,” said Melanie Jamileh Prasad, JMA’s California Director. “New Flyer has defrauded the taxpayers of California, and [we] will hold them accountable for that.”
But the reality is that if California doesn’t close this loophole for good, we’ll continue to see our millions of recovery dollars doled out to corporations in the form of public subsidies and contracts — without any real mechanism for public accountability.
Which is why we’re asking you to support California Senate Bill 749 — a common-sense bill that will close the loophole in California law by clarifying that all jobs information in public contracts or subsidies is public record.
Image: Giorgio Trovato/Unsplash