Explaining Southern California's economy

1 in 6 California construction jobs part of underground economy, study finds

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The study found informal construction workers earn half of what their formal counterparts bring home.

California's construction industry is sinking underground. That's the conclusion of a new study from the Los Angeles-based Economic Roundtable that found more than 143,900 jobs – or one out of six jobs –in California's $152 billion construction industry were part of the so-called underground economy in 2011. Of those, 104,100 jobs were unreported by employers and more than 39,000 employees were misclassified as independent contractors. 

The study, unwritten by  the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, found the number of construction workers in the underground economy has skyrocketed 400-percent since 1972.

Researchers defined the underground or informal economy as workers who were not protected legally or socially in their jobs. Particularly vulnerable are immigrants, who made up 43-percent of the California construction labor force in 2012. 

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Gov. Brown, legislators reach deal to boost CA film tax credit

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Jeff Walters/Mike Gatto's Office

Assemblyman Mike Gatto and Gov. Jerry Brown as they negotiated AB 1839.


Gov. Jerry Brown and leaders of the California legislature have reached a deal to increase the funding of California's film and television production tax credit program to $330 million per year.

The amount is more than triple the $100 million the program currently offers each year, but it is lower than the $400 million many advocates were hoping for. The higher dollar amount also appeared likely almost two weeks ago, when the Senate Appropriations committee passed the most recent version of AB 1839.

“This law will make key improvements in our Film and Television Tax Credit Program and put thousands of Californians to work,” Brown said in a statement announcing the deal. 

Despite a trim down to $330 million from the $400 million hoped for, Senate President Pro-Tem-elect Kevin De Leòn (D-Los Angeles) insisted the deal is a major victory. 

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Dockworkers and shipping companies reach tentative deal on health care

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Cranes pick up containers from cargo ships in the Port of Los Angeles .

Negotiators of a labor contract covering 20,000 dockworkers at West Coast ports have made progress on a key issue: health care.

Late Tuesday, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) announced they'd reached a tentative agreement on terms for health benefits. A joint statement announcing the agreement said it's contingent on agreement on the other issues still being negotiated. Both sides also said they'd agreed not to discuss the terms of the tentative agreement publicly. 

West Coast dockworkers, including 10,000 at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been working without a contract since the last one expired on July 1st.  Both sides vowed to keep negotiating, and neither has raised the possibility of a strike or lock-out.

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Garcetti raises concerns about Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger, breaking with other mayors

Cable Giant Comcast To Acquire Time Warner Cable

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File: A Comcast sign is seen at one of their centers on Feb. 13, 2014 in Pompano Beach, Florida.

The Federal Communications Commission has received tens of thousands of comments weighing in Comcast's proposed $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable, including one letter from a group of 51 mayors — and another from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Those two letters offer starkly different views on the deal.

The letter from 51 mayors is signed by Comcast's hometown mayor, Philadelphia's Michael Nutter, as well as Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, among others. It strikes the tone of love-letter to the proposed deal.

"The combination of these two American companies will bring benefits to every affected city," the mayors gushed. "Time Warner Cable has been a responsible corporate citizen whose efforts will only be enhanced by joining forces with Comcast’s community investment programs."

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Squadrons organize in election campaign over the future of Santa Monica Airport

Santa Monica Airport 3

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Neighbors of Santa Monica Airport have complained about noise from the aircraft taking off and landing, and they post signs asking pilots to fly quietly.

Santa Monica residents will consider two rival ballot measures this fall regarding the future of Santa Monica Airport, and backers of each are preparing for what could be a costly ground war.

The presidents of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and National Business Aviation Association are expected to speak tonight at a Town Hall-style gathering at Justice Aviation,  a flight school and aircraft rental service at the airport.  The two national associations are the main financial backers of a successful effort to get "Measure D" on Santa Monica's November Election Ballot. According to the Santa Monica Daily Press, each has spent more than $100,000 on the initiative. 

As reported a month ago, Measure D would change the City Charter to require a public vote on major decisions involving the airport, including: closing all or part it, changing how airport land is used, or imposing new restrictions on fuel sales or use of aviation facilities.

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