As if anyone still had doubts, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has again made his allegiance to the state’s giant corporations crystal clear. On Oct. 7 the governor finished acting on the 961 measures the Legislature sent him this year.

Among his 232 vetoes were bills of great importance to the state’s working families.

In a statement issued Oct. 10, California Labor Federation head Art Pulaski singled out AB 89 by Assemblymember Jerome Horton (D-Inglewood), which would have required the state Department of Health Services and Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board to report to the Legislature and the public all employers who have 25 or more workers benefiting from or supporting others benefiting from state health care programs such as Medi-Cal.

“By vetoing Assembly Bill 89, dubbed by some the ‘Wal-Mart Accountability Act,’ Gov. Schwarzenegger has decided to shelter greedy corporate interests, keeping the public in the dark about how much of a burden taxpayers must swallow to subsidize the health care costs of low paid workers,” Pulaski said.

“Wal-Mart has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the governor’s special election campaign funds,” he added. “Is it OK with Arnold for government to pick up the tab for employee health care when the employer is contributing generously to the governor’s special election coffers?”

Pulaski pointed out that a 2004 study by the University of California at Berkeley found health care for Wal-Mart workers was costing California taxpayers $32 million.

Among other labor-related bills Schwarzenegger vetoed:

• Senate Bill 174 to make it easier to file class action lawsuits against employers who don’t pay the minimum wage or violate overtime laws.

• Assembly Bill 524 to require companies working for the state to reveal how much work is to be done by employees or subcontractors outside the country.

• AB 55, to require the state to pay back $500 million the Legislature cut from the teachers retirement fund in 2003.

• AB 755 to make garment and agricultural employers pay piece-rate workers during breaks, according to their average piece-rate wage.

• SB 1023 to increase penalties to employers who refuse or delay paying workers compensation claims.

• AB 391 to provide unemployment benefits to locked-out workers during a labor dispute.

• AB 363 to require hospitals to avoid back injuries to workers by providing equipment or teams of workers to lift patients.

• AB 1184 to outlaw mandatory overtime for nurses at state


Meanwhile, the governor’s ratings continue to fall. A San Jose State University poll this month put Schwarzenegger’s job approval rating at 36 percent, and found that only 36 percent of California voters plan to vote to re-elect him next year.