THE BLOG

Spark the Future With Us This Labor Day Weekend

08/29/2013 10:01 am ET | Updated Oct 29, 2013

Over the last several weeks, there has been a lot of attention paid to the negotiations between IBEW Local 18, which represents DWP workers and the City of Los Angeles. The outcome of this process was a new DWP contract agreement that saves money for the city and ratepayers and is fair and respectful to hardworking men and women. That's understandable. Contract negotiations are seldom easy. There's always healthy give and take and sometimes sparks fly, even among people who all have the best interests of our city at heart. That's just the nature of the beast.

With those negotiations behind us, and Labor Day approaching, it seems like the right time to direct attention to some other sparks -- sparks we hope will bring badly needed opportunity and social and economic change to Los Angeles.

Throughout our country's history, electricity -- along with the men and women who produce it, harness it and deliver it into our homes and businesses -- has been a vital part of America's progress.

But it hasn't always been easy making sure America's progress lives up to our principles.

That's why the Labor movement, including the working families of IBEW, has always been there to help make sure that even if electricity and other innovations mean you can work 24/7, nobody in our society should be forced to work 24/7.

From the eight-hour day and the minimum wage to on-the-job safety and letting kids be kids instead of miners, Labor has always fought the fights that benefit every family. Labor has also been a proud partner for advancing civil rights, social justice and environmental protection because working families know we are all in this together.

That's the reason we have started a new non-profit organization, Working Californians, dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship and helping new businesses succeed throughout Los Angeles, new businesses that we believe will flourish through the innovative yet common-sense notion of having strong worker-management partnerships.

Working Californians will bring together working families, businesses, educators, media and anyone with an interest in making Los Angeles thrive, to focus on economic recovery, social innovation, entrepreneurship and affordable housing.

If you're wondering the kind of approach we want to take, take a look at Idea Village in New Orleans. Idea Village brought together a diverse group of thinkers and doers in that city to answer these questions: What if you could generate economic and social change in New Orleans? What if you could do it in a way that not only inspired entrepreneurs but those who believed in them as well? What if you could generate jobs for many and optimism for all?

Los Angeles needs committed people coming together to answer those same questions.

Since it started, the Idea Village has helped more than 3,000 entrepreneurs, helping create 2,000 jobs and generating $100 million into the economy every year. Given the wealth of talent and resources we have here in Los Angeles, we are confident Working Californians can do even better.

There are always a lot of important messages to share about Labor Day -- stories of struggle, perseverance and victory. This year, one of the best Labor Day messages we can think to share is "get off your seats and come dance." To help move Working Californians forward, this Labor Day weekend we're holding a downtown concert with multi-Grammy Award winning artists Aaron Neville and Lucinda Williams, roots rock band The Iguanas and Jamaican reggae singer Etana. Looking at the success of last year's concert, this event promises to deliver significant resources to help Working Californians bring about the economic and social change we need to see in Los Angeles.

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