Winning for workers in California's battleground districts

As we enter the home stretch of what just might be the most exciting campaign season in history, working people have never been more energized for change. Voter registration has skyrocketed, volunteers are turning out in droves, and new national leadership is on the horizon.

California's working families are dedicated to getting a new wave of lawmakers to Sacramento. By securing a two-thirds majority in the state legislature, we can win important worker protections, override gubernatorial vetoes, get a fair state budget and pass the legislation we need to help our families through these difficult times.

That's why we're working hard to win important races in the state Senate and Assembly this year, bringing us closer to a worker-friendly majority in the state legislature. We're just six seats shy in the Assembly and two seats away in the Senate, and this year we have the opportunity to win as many as five new seats in the Assembly, as well as new seat in the Senate. Below are our top races in 2008.

Assembly District 10 (Amador, Sacramento and San Joaquin counties). Although new to politics, labor-endorsed candidate Alyson Huber believes that common-sense solutions can help us tackle many of the problems facing our state. As a lawyer, she is fighting to promote justice and equality within our legal system, and, as a working mother, she understands the pressures that working families face every day.

Assembly District 15 (Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Sacramento counties). A former school board member, Joan Buchanan understands school finance, facilities, curriculum, and the need to work with the entire education family to realize sustained improvements. Her expertise in budgeting and organizational development has served the community well, and would be a decisive asset in Sacramento.

Assembly District 26 (San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties). A veteran, farmer, and former school board member, John Eisenhut has vowed to advance our commitment to quality education, control healthcare costs and increase access to quality health care. John has pledged to work to bring borrowers and lenders together so that as many loans as possible can be salvaged to save homes from foreclosure.

Assembly District 78 (San Diego County). Marty Block is a retired union member, active community volunteer and respected elected official with a strong background in advocating for working people. Marty has vowed to expand educational opportunities for Californians by keeping community colleges affordable, in order to promote job training, career advancement and higher education.

Assembly District 80 (Riverside and Imperial counties). Manuel Perez has fought for health care for farm workers, seniors and working families. He also worked to create new school-based health clinics to ensure kids are healthy and ready to learn. Manuel is dedicated to expanding workforce development and job training, bringing new technology to the community and creating well-paying green-collar jobs.

Senate District 19 (Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties). An experienced legislator, Hannah-Beth Jackson has worked hard to restore excellence in our schools. Hannah-Beth is dedicated to sensible health care reform, conserving our environment, consumer protections and standing up for the victims of domestic violence.

Assembly District 30 (Fresno, Kings, Kern and Tulare counties). Fran Florez is hoping to capture the seat being vacated by Nicole Parra. As Mayor of Shafter, Fran has worked aggressively to bring good jobs to the community in the fields of communications, technology and manufacturing.

Senate District 5 (Yolo, Solano, San Joaquin and Sacramento counties)- After 6 years in the Assembly, Lois Wolk is running to succeed Michael Machado in Senate District 5. Lois has voted to ensure workers have the freedom to join the union, and she stood up for our jobs when she voted to prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to create jobs in another country.

We've got a lot on the line this election. Our jobs, homes, health insurance, pensions and college funds are all at risk. Now is the time to work for positive change for our state, and every single individual can make a difference. If you haven't already, register to vote today at http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_vr.htm (the deadline for voter registration is October 20). Talk to your co-workers and neighbors about voting, and remind them what's at stake. Phone banks and precinct walks are in full swing across the state. To find a labor-sponsored event in your area, visit http://www.calaborfed.org/events/Election2008.html

Art Pulaski is executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation.