By: Dalet Valles and Phoebe Vrable
Published By: The Chimes Newspaper
In July, the California legislature passed a bill to improve internet access and Gov. Gavin Newsom signed it into law. The estimated budget for the high-speed internet to be implemented is $3.25 billion, with a total budget of $6 billion. San Diego hosted a ceremony for the groundbreaking of the internet network. This project, called “Broadband For All,” is alleged to provide high-speed internet access to remote or underserved areas as part of the Affordable Connectivity Program.
According to the Office of Gov. Gavin Newsom, the $3.25 billion will “operate and maintain an open access, state-owned middle mile network – high-capacity fiber lines that carry large amounts of data at higher speeds over longer distances between local networks.” The developments are not expected to be complete until the late 2020s.
AMAZON WORKERS ORGANIZE TO JOIN UNION
After standoffs in the streets during a union rally in Castleton-On-Hudson, New York, the Amazon warehouse in Moreno Valley will file for union election. This startup union known as Amazon Labor Union (ALU) received considerable pushback from Amazon headquarters who claims ALU is unproven and untested.
30% of the 800 workers at the ONT8 fulfillment center in Moreno Valley would need to sign authorization cards — a figure that ALU is still verifying. If an electronic vote is taken and passed, workers believe they would not be “overlooked, overworked and underpaid.”
“We’re just trying to do right by our workers,” said Nannette Plascencia, an organizer for the union movement. Plascencia said that another motivation for joining ALU is the freedom to negotiate working conditions and compensation without fearing retaliation. Amazon spokesman Paul Flanningen continues to advocate for direct conflict communication and conflict navigation with employees, stating, “As a company, we do not think unions are the best answer for our employees. We are focused on working directly with our team to continue to make Amazon a great place to work.”
CALIFORNIA INFLATION RELIEF
The Middle Class Tax Refund, also known as inflation relief, began rolling out to California residents in early October. Around 23 million Californians are eligible to receive relief ranging from $200 to $1,050. Those who qualify should have filed their 2020 tax returns by Oct. 15, 2021.
Individuals who make less than $75,000 per year and couples who make less than $150,000 per year, and file joint taxes, will receive $350 per taxpayer. Those with dependents can expect $350 per dependent. On the other hand, California residents with higher income will receive $100 less for themselves and for dependents. Californians with higher income should expect a limit to the amount received.
The relief comes from a $17 billion relief package that accumulated from a suspension on fuel sales tax. Almost 20 other states have approved for the relief in order to aid their residents during the time of rising prices. The first set of refunds were already distributed and is set to continue until January 2023.
GAS PRICE DECREASE AND ACCOUNTABILITY
As the relief continues to roll out, Gov. Newsom took action to lower high prices of gas. As of Oct. 24, gas prices have decreased an average of $0.24 per gallon after prices passed over $5 per gallon. This was in addition to President Biden’s Three-Month Federal Gas Tax Holiday dating from July to September. However, Gov. Newsom switched to winter-blend gasoline earlier than usual. Winter blend gas results in lower gasoline prices because it evaporates at a quicker rate and is cheaper to produce.
Along with the plan to decrease gas prices, Gov. Newsom has moved toward holding ‘greedy oil companies’ accountable for high prices. After Newsom switched gasoline blends and dropped prices, oil companies saw a one-day decrease in prices. Consumer Watchdog reported that between April and June, oil refiners made a profit of three to ten percent per gallon. On Dec. 5, 2022, Gov. Newsom plans to hold a legislative session to address the issue with the goal of putting oil companies’ profits back into the pockets of customers.