Essential California: Why L.A. construction jobs pay less

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, April 21, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Good jobs are disappearing

The stories of Eddie Ybarra and Francisco Martinez, two construction workers in their 40s, show the hollowing out of blue-collar jobs in Los Angeles and America writ large. Ybarra is a union worker and makes $40 an hour with pension, healthcare and unlimited vacation, while Martinez works for a nonunion contractor, makes $12.50 less with no insurance and gets just five vacation days a year. As immigrants like Martinez flooded California’s job market, pay sank. But which came first? Los Angeles Times

Charting a course of ‘bold action’ for L.A.

In a State of the City speech that focused heavily on homelessness and creating new revenue streams, Mayor Eric Garcetti struck a hopeful tone. The speech — his fourth as mayor — presented Los Angeles as a compassionate counterpoint to what’s coming out of Washington and focused on pledges and programs to protect immigrants. The 45-minute address was delivered on the same day the mayor unveiled the budget. Los Angeles Times

Education as a way out

In California’s prisons, inmates are teaching each other how to start over as they hope and plan for a life on the outside. California corrections officials unveiled new regulations last month that will expand the credits some inmates earn for demonstrating good behavior and completing educational programs. The highly anticipated — and fiercely debated — guidelines could help trim the sentences of nearly 2,000 inmates over the next fiscal year. Los Angeles Times


Be aware: Lead poisoning is prevalent in hundreds of areas across Los Angeles County, from affluent hubs to low-income or gentrifying areas. The results shocked some local leaders and showed how lead hazards persist even in a health-conscious region. Reuters

March for Science: On Saturday, Los Angeles’ streets will fill for the March for Science, which was organized by a stay-at-home mom in Temple City who launched a Facebook group that spawned the march. Los Angeles Times

Who rides those bikes? The L.A. Metro bike-sharing program has drawn about 130,000 riders since July, but “numbers released thus far show that the L.A. County transit agency has a way to go before reaching its mid-summer goal to have two rides every day for each of its 800 bikes.” KPCC

A school closes: Whittier College trustees have made the surprise decision to close the college’s law school, angering students at the Costa Mesa campus. Los Angeles Times


The cutters: Migrant workers in Mendocino County are making thousands of dollars trimming marijuana. “Many trimmers in the county looking for work this season have come from all over the U.S. and all over the rest of the world, including Spain, France, Portugal and…

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