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A Model for the Labor Movement: The Working People Weekly List

Tue, 2020-09-29 12:22
A Model for the Labor Movement: The Working People Weekly List

Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s the latest edition of the Working People Weekly List.

Organizing Wins in Minneapolis Serve as a Model for the Labor Movement: "More than six months have passed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., and more workers across America are joining together in solidarity to create changes in our workplaces. Minneapolis is one city that has seen a wave of worker actions and organizing wins in the hospitality sector, and the labor movement’s successes there will undoubtedly inspire workers in other parts of the country who are looking to form a union."

National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Dora Cervantes: "Throughout National Hispanic Heritage Month, the AFL-CIO will be profiling labor leaders and activists to spotlight the diverse contributions Hispanics and Latinos have contributed to our movement. Today's profile covers Dora Cervantes."

50 Reasons the Trump Administration Is Bad for Workers: "As a candidate, Donald Trump promised to protect workers and fight for us. President Trump hasn't lived up to that noble rhetoric. The Economic Policy Institute reports on 50 ways that the Trump administration has been bad for workers." 

SMART Members at Wolf Metals Integral to Creating Units That Sanitize PPE: "On a Thursday in March, when much of the country was being told to shelter in place due to the effects of COVID-19, members of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 24 in Ohio were beginning to modify and transform Critical Care Decontamination System (CCDS) units to disinfect personal protective equipment (PPE), including N95 masks for health care workers. By Monday, SMART members at Wolf Metals had created four units, with more created since then, to help combat the spread of COVID-19 among front-line health care workers."

Trump Administration Moves to Suppress the Proxy Voting Rights of Working People’s Retirement Plans in Corporate Elections: "In a partisan 3-2 vote, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved rule changes that will make it harder for investors to hold corporate CEOs accountable by filing shareholder proposals on environmental, social and governance issues. The AFL-CIO strongly opposed these rule changes as a threat to shareholder democracy."

California Labor Federation Wins New Protections for Workers: "Last Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a package of bills to expand worker protections. The new state laws will provide a workers’ compensation presumption for front-line workers who are afflicted with infectious diseases on the job and a requirement for employers to give timely notification of COVID-19 cases in the workplace. The California Labor Federation, under the leadership of Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski (IAM), took charge of the fight for these new policies."

CDC Continues to Choose Politics Over Science: "On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finally acknowledged airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the COVID-19 disease. But this long awaited recognition was promptly retracted from its website Monday morning with the message, 'Posted in error.'”

Solidarity and Cookies Lift Spirits at Operation Feed Atlantic City: "Nurses bring their healing touch with them wherever they go, and on Thursday members of Shore Nurses Union/NYSNA in New Jersey added a touch of sweetness to the Operation Feed Atlantic City food-distribution program with a donation of 500 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies that will help lift the spirits of laid-off union members and the Atlantic City community."

National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Ernesto Galarza: "Throughout National Hispanic Heritage Month, the AFL-CIO will be profiling labor leaders and activists to spotlight the diverse contributions Hispanics and Latinos have contributed to our movement. Today's profile features Ernesto Galarza."

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: United Steelworkers: "Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the United Steelworkers."

IFPTE Backs Corporate Bankruptcy Reform: "Members of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) are putting their weight behind the Protecting Employees and Retirees in Business Bankruptcies Act of 2020 (H.R. 7370), a bill to rebalance America’s corporate bankruptcy laws to protect workers."

UFCW Prompts Largest Citation Over Coronavirus-Related Health and Safety Violations in California: "Following a comprehensive complaint filed by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 770, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has issued its largest coronavirus-related citation in the state, fining food processing company Overhill Farms and its staffing agency more than $200,000 for serious health and safety violations."

New COVID-19 Protections In Las Vegas: Worker Wins: "Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with an important victory in the fight against COVID-19 for Las Vegas' workers and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life."

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 09/29/2020 - 12:22

#ExtendPSP: What Working People Are Doing This Week

Mon, 2020-09-28 14:22
#ExtendPSP: What Working People Are Doing This Week

Welcome to our regular feature, a look at what the various AFL-CIO unions and other working family organizations are doing across the country and beyond. The labor movement is big and active—here's a look at the broad range of activities we're engaged in this week.

Actors' Equity:

Justice has not been served - Not for Breonna Taylor, not for her family or for the community of Louisville. Her death was a tragedy and Wednesday’s decision acts as a reminder of the systemic racism that still plagues our country.

— Actors' Equity (@ActorsEquity) September 25, 2020

AFGE:

“We feel like our Com­man­der in Chief has waged war on his troops. The staff is burned out and liv­ing in fear.” https://t.co/3ty6yPqjPr

— AFGE (@AFGENational) September 25, 2020

AFSCME:

To ensure Election Day runs smoothly, AFSCME launched a new poll worker program during a tele-town hall last night. https://t.co/NGqzqBFRr0

— AFSCME (@AFSCME) September 25, 2020

Air Line Pilots Association:

Time is running out to save pilots’ jobs and livelihoods. Have you called your Members of Congress? Go to https://t.co/0OeHLQWLud to take action now! #ExtendPSP pic.twitter.com/9HoVXwXpOs

— ALPA (@WeAreALPA) September 24, 2020

Alliance for Retired Americans:

Postmaster General DeJoy has one mission: destroy the Post Office. We need to remove him before he causes more damage. Sign our petition to #FireDeJoy NOW: https://t.co/S1SjIwQXcP pic.twitter.com/68pO2t1ix9

— Alliance Retirees (@ActiveRetirees) September 25, 2020

Amalgamated Transit Union:

This morning and tonight IP John Costa joined Local 1462-St. John’s, NL, President Paul Churchill & IVP Manny Sforza via zoom for two meetings to discuss a possible strike as management continues to offer zeroes to ATU heroes on the COVID frontlines. #TogetherWeFightTogetherWeWin pic.twitter.com/zwvBxYS9ph

— ATU, Transit Union (@ATUComm) September 25, 2020

American Federation of Musicians:

Thank you @Cher! Join with our brother and sister TV Musicians — tell the Networks (@ABC, @CBS, @NBC) it's time for a fair deal on streaming, healthcare, and wages. #RespectUs #FairDeal #TVmusicians https://t.co/A21HRdvP9f

— AFM (@The_AFM) September 25, 2020

American Federation of Teachers:

The $1.6 trillion student debt crisis is hitting Millennials & Gen Zers more than any other generation. It’s preventing young folks from:

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Western Kentucky Labor Movement and Faith Community Demand McConnell Support Workers and Racial Justice

Mon, 2020-09-28 11:37
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Western Kentucky Labor Movement and Faith Community Demand McConnell Support Workers and Racial Justice

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

J.W. Cleary remembered his friend and union brother, the late W.C. Young, a national labor and civil rights leader from Paducah, Kentucky. “W.C. always said, ‘I’ve got my union card in one hand and my NAACP card in my other hand,’” said Cleary, the Paducah-McCracken County NAACP branch president and a retired member of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 550. “The unions and the NAACP have always walked hand in hand.” Cleary was one of several dozen union members who joined a 30-vehicle caravan sponsored by the Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival that converged on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office in Paducah on Sept. 21 to protest his “meanness, mayhem and misery.” Benny Heady (UA) said, “McConnell is not for the working people. I came out today because we need a change. We need somebody in there who will do things to help the people as a whole.” Read the full story of how union members, civil rights activists and faith leaders are coming together in Kentucky to fight for workers and racial justice.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 09/28/2020 - 11:37

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Dora Cervantes

Fri, 2020-09-25 13:38
National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Dora Cervantes IAM

Throughout National Hispanic Heritage Month, the AFL-CIO will be profiling labor leaders and activists to spotlight the diverse contributions Hispanics and Latinos have contributed to our movement. Today's profile covers Dora Cervantes.

In nearly 30 years in the labor movement, Cervantes has participated in nearly every aspect of the fight for the rights of working people, and she has a distinguished career that is still going stronger than ever. Cervantes joined the labor movement in 1989, when she became a reservations agent for Southwest Airlines in Houston. Before long, she was an active member of Machinists (IAM) Local 2198, serving as an organizer, shop steward, recording secretary and then vice president.

After a decade of dedicated service, she was chosen to serve as an apprentice organizer for Air Transport District 142 and then became a general chairperson for the district the following year. Tom Buffenbarger, then-IAM international president, later appointed her to serve on IAM's 2002 Blue Ribbon Commission. In the following years, she served as a special representative in the Transportation Department of the IAM Grand Lodge and then Grand Lodge representative.

In 2012, Cervantes was chosen to serve as assistant secretary to then-IAM General Secretary-Treasurer Robert Roach Jr. The next year, she became the first Hispanic woman to serve as a general vice president for IAM. In 2015, she became IAM's 12th general secretary-treasurer, the first woman to direct the union's finances. She continues in this capacity today.

She also serves as a national board member for the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, is an active member of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, is a member of United Against Human Trafficking and is a trustee for the National IAM Benefit Trust Fund and the IAM National 401(k) Plan.

Cervantes holds a bachelor of arts degree in labor studies from the National Labor College and helps teach the Spanish leadership series for the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center and the IAM-Aviation High School Partnership Program.

Cervantes spoke to IAM's ViewPoints program in 2015:

This post originally appeared on the AFL-CIO blog in 2018.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 09/25/2020 - 13:38

Organizing Wins in Minneapolis Serve as a Model for the Labor Movement

Thu, 2020-09-24 14:29
Organizing Wins in Minneapolis Serve as a Model for the Labor Movement

More than six months have passed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., and more workers across America are joining together in solidarity to create changes in our workplaces. Minneapolis is one city that has seen a wave of worker actions and organizing wins in the hospitality sector, and the labor movement’s successes there will undoubtedly inspire workers in other parts of the country who are looking to form a union

As the Minneapolis hospitality sector moved to reopen this past spring, many service workers began to harness their collective voice to protect their health and safety on the job. Workers at Tattersall Distilling (pictured above) were the first to announce their intention to unionize in June, citing concerns over coronavirus protections as well as pay and benefits. After a series of well-attended community rallies in support of their organizing attempt, Tattersall’s front-end and bottling workers voted to form a union with UNITE HERE Local 17. Employees at Stilheart Distillery, Lawless Distilling and Fair State Brewing followed shortly after, announcing earlier this month that they too had voted to form unions at their respective workplaces.

Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou (UFCW), president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation (MRLF), pointed out that the murder of George Floyd and the nationwide grief over his death prompted many of these workers to fight against disparities in their workplaces. Despite words of condemnation about Floyd’s death from local restaurant and bar owners, workers in many establishments believed that not enough action was being taken to foster equality at work. “What I’m hearing from workers, it’s not just about health and safety. It’s about disparities in our workplaces as well,” Glaubitz Gabiou explained. “These bosses would pay lip service, but their words weren’t living up to their actions.”

The renewed effort to organize workers in the Minneapolis hospitality and entertainment sectors was started in part by a unique program to support laid-off workers. The MRLF-led community services program uses organizers to help workers in need access unemployment benefits and health insurance, while also engaging them in organizing conversations and developing potential organizing leads. The relief effort for laid-off workers in the hospitality and entertainment sectors is a partnership between the labor council and its affiliates, including Local 17.

The Minnesota AFL-CIO has also been involved in these campaigns, sharing its expertise and working behind the scenes to help drive turnout in support of workers’ actions. “Worker safety is community safety,” said state federation Organizing Director Todd Dahlstrom (SEIU).

UNITE HERE Local 17 has taken the lead on these organizing wins, and the local and state labor bodies have been working closely with the union’s officers and members. Local 17’s secretary-treasurer, Sheigh Freeberg, said that working in partnership with the MRLF and the Minnesota AFL-CIO has allowed his union to extend its resources. “It’s been really helpful to brainstorm with them on safety provisions and keep each other updated,” Freeberg said. “What we’ve been able to accomplish can be attributed to them, too.”

Last weekend, workers at Spyhouse Coffee went on a one-day unfair labor practice strike over their safety concerns. Organizers on the ground report that progress is already underway at their cafes across the city. Further organizing leads are being pursued, and with such outstanding progress across Minneapolis, there are likely to be more victories for workers in the days and weeks ahead.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 09/24/2020 - 14:29

50 Reasons the Trump Administration Is Bad for Workers

Thu, 2020-09-24 13:23
50 Reasons the Trump Administration Is Bad for Workers

As a candidate, Donald Trump promised to protect workers and fight for us. President trump hasn't lived up to that noble rhetoric. The Economic Policy Institute reports on 50 ways that the Trump administration has been bad for workers. 

The authors of the study said:

The Trump administration’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic marks the administration’s most glaring failure of leadership. However, the administration’s response to the pandemic is in no way distinct from its approach to governing since President Trump’s first day on the job. The administration has systematically promoted the interests of corporate executives and shareholders over those of working people and failed to protect workers’ safety, wages and rights.

Read the full report to find out all 50 of the ways Trump has been bad for working people.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 09/24/2020 - 13:23

Tags: President Donald Trump

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: SMART Members at Wolf Metals Integral to Creating Units That Sanitize PPE

Thu, 2020-09-24 09:05
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: SMART Members at Wolf Metals Integral to Creating Units That Sanitize PPE

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

On a Thursday in March, when much of the country was being told to shelter in place due to the effects of COVID-19, members of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 24 in Ohio were beginning to modify and transform Critical Care Decontamination System (CCDS) units to disinfect personal protective equipment (PPE), including N95 masks for health care workers. By Monday, SMART members at Wolf Metals had created four units, with more created since then, to help combat the spread of COVID-19 among front-line health care workers. Local 24 Business Manager Rodney French credited the local union’s partnership with Wolf Metals and noted, “This is the kind of work sheet metal workers were built to do as we stand on the leading edge of the response to this deadly pandemic.” He added, “No matter what the consequences, the men and women of this organization will stand ready to serve our local communities through thick and thin.”

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 09/24/2020 - 09:05

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Trump Administration Moves to Suppress the Proxy Voting Rights of Working People’s Retirement Plans in Corporate Elections

Thu, 2020-09-24 08:42
Trump Administration Moves to Suppress the Proxy Voting Rights of Working People’s Retirement Plans in Corporate Elections

In a partisan 3-2 vote, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved rule changes that will make it harder for investors to hold corporate CEOs accountable by filing shareholder proposals on environmental, social and governance issues. The AFL-CIO strongly opposed these rule changes as a threat to shareholder democracy.

"Corporate CEOs are rejoicing in reaction to Trump’s SEC vote to restrict the ability of investors to file shareholder proposals,” explained AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA). “As a result, working people’s retirement plans will be disenfranchised from having a voice for corporate accountability. This will not stand!”

Today’s SEC vote is not the only effort by the Trump administration to undermine the voting rights of working people’s retirement plans. Earlier this month, the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration proposed new regulations to suppress proxy voting by retirement plans in corporate elections.

Proxy voting is the right to vote at shareholder meetings. It includes voting on important issues such as the election of directors, executive compensation and shareholder proposals on environmental, social and governance issues. For more than three decades, the Labor Department has recognized that the right to vote is a valuable asset.

If adopted, the Labor Department’s new proposed rule making will require that retirement plans first conduct an expensive economic analysis before casting any proxy vote. In effect, the proposed rule’s cost-benefit analysis requirement will act as a deterrent to proxy voting by retirement plans—a form of voter suppression.

Even more radically, the proposed rule encourages retirement plans to always vote with corporate management or to refrain from voting altogether. Such a rule will effectively urge retirement plans to violate their fiduciary duty to cast votes in the best interests of retirement plan participants and beneficiaries.

The AFL-CIO strongly believes the retirement savings of working people are our deferred wages and should be voted in our long-term interests. As the corporate scandals of the Enron and WorldCom era showed, the corporate governance of a company is arguably just as important as a company’s financial performance.

Comments on the Department of Labor’s proposed rule on Fiduciary Duties Regarding Proxy Voting and Shareholder Rights are due on Oct. 5.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 09/24/2020 - 08:42

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: California Labor Federation Wins New Protections for Workers

Wed, 2020-09-23 09:50
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: California Labor Federation Wins New Protections for Workers

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Last Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a package of bills to expand worker protections. The new state laws will provide a workers’ compensation presumption for front-line workers who are afflicted with infectious diseases on the job and a requirement for employers to give timely notification of COVID-19 cases in the workplace. The California Labor Federation, under the leadership of Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski (IAM), took charge of the fight for these new policies. “Since the pandemic began, the California labor movement has strongly advocated for the most robust worker protection policies in the country. Today’s signing of a package of bills to bolster worker protections as the COVID-19 crisis continues shows our commitment as a state to policies that put the health and safety of workers first,” Pulaski said. “While more work must be done in 2021 to strengthen protections to ensure essential workers putting their lives at risk return home safely to their families after each shift, today the governor gave a much-needed boost to all workers across the state.”

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 09/23/2020 - 09:50

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

CDC Continues to Choose Politics Over Science

Tue, 2020-09-22 11:39
CDC Continues to Choose Politics Over Science

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finally acknowledged airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the COVID-19 disease. But this long awaited recognition was promptly retracted from its website Monday morning with the message, “Posted in error.”

The initial, quiet posting on Friday was not an error; they were facts, based on evidence that reflects our current state of knowledge and supported by scientists and occupational safety and health professionals throughout the world. Early in the pandemic, evidence suggested SARS-CoV-2 spread distances through the air, and the current science is now overwhelming. 

In basic terms, “airborne” transmission means that small virus particles we emit when we cough, speak or breathe can travel distances through the air, linger in the air and make others sick, compared to person-to-person contact and “droplet” transmission, which refers to the large, heavy particles that fall down after they are exhaled. Airborne viruses can spread rapidly throughout groups and are much more contagious than those limited to droplet transmission. Environments that put workers at greater risk of airborne viruses include: 

  • Indoor environments.
  • Poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Crowded conditions.
  • Settings with individuals known to be infected (e.g., health care).

Viruses like the one causing COVID-19 can be transmitted through contact, droplet and airborne routes, which have very important implications for protecting workers on the job. Cleaning measures are useful to protect against “contact” and some simple personal protective equipment like face shields and gowns are useful to protect against “droplet” splashes, but the airborne aspect requires stronger workplace protections, including: 

  • Reducing the number of people in a setting.
  • Spacing people far apart.
  • Reducing the time that people spend in the same spaces.
  • Ensuring adequate ventilation.
  • Reorganizing the workplace, break times and schedules.
  • Using certified respirators that filter small aerosolized particles for workers in high-risk settings.

In addition to elements that are critical for workers no matter the transmission:

  • Early identification and reporting to local health authorities of COVID-19 cases in the workplace.
  • Notification of COVID-19 cases to employees and non-punitive leave protections.
  • Adequate training programs.

The CDC is ignoring airborne transmission because they don’t want to admit there is evidence that:

  1. Soundly supports strong, comprehensive and enforceable safety protections that go beyond sanitation recommendations, generic masks and the “six-foot rule.”
  2. Soundly supports the critical need for certified respiratory protection that filters out small, aerosolized particles for many high-risk workers.

The labor movement has been advocating for these strong workplace safety protections throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue calling on the Donald Trump administration to issue a strong, comprehensive OSHA emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 to require and enforce those safety protections, and to use the Defense Production Act to produce more certified respirators needed to protect workers in high-risk settings since there is a continuing shortage. The Trump administration's CDC has once again let working people down, caving to Big Business pressure instead of issuing clear information on transmission that would save lives and improve livelihoods. More than six months into the pandemic, workers still do not have the protections we need and the Trump administration is still playing political games with workers’ lives.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 09/22/2020 - 11:39

Tags: COVID-19

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Solidarity and Cookies Lift Spirits at Operation Feed Atlantic City

Tue, 2020-09-22 09:41
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Solidarity and Cookies Lift Spirits at Operation Feed Atlantic City

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Nurses bring their healing touch with them wherever they go, and on Thursday members of Shore Nurses Union/NYSNA in New Jersey added a touch of sweetness to the Operation Feed Atlantic City food-distribution program with a donation of 500 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies that will help lift the spirits of laid-off union members and the Atlantic City community. Operation Atlantic City, hosted by the New Jersey State AFL-CIO and now in its eighteenth week, is one of the largest labor-sponsored food relief efforts in the United States. “We’re proud that our unions are part of the largest continuous food-distribution program in the state since the pandemic started,” said state federation President Charles Wowkanech (IUOE). “We're here because the need is still great. We still have thousands of people out of work, struggling to keep the roof over their heads and food on the table.”

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 09/22/2020 - 09:41

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Ernesto Galarza

Mon, 2020-09-21 13:41
National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Ernesto Galarza

Throughout National Hispanic Heritage Month, the AFL-CIO will be profiling labor leaders and activists to spotlight the diverse contributions Hispanics and Latinos have contributed to our movement. Today's profile features Ernesto Galarza.

Ernesto Galarza was born in Jalcocotán, Nayarit, Mexico, in 1905 and immigrated to California with his family after the Mexican Revolution began. As a youth, he assisted his family during harvest season, gathering his first experience as a farmworker. Because he had learned English in school, other Mexican migrant workers asked him to speak to management about polluted drinking water, providing him with his first experience in organizing and activism.

Galarza attended Occidental College on a scholarship and worked summers as a farm laborer and cannery worker. After graduation, he attended Stanford University and earned a master's degree in history and political science. He continued his graduate studies while on a fellowship at Columbia University, where several of his research reports were published. 

Because of his experiences and education, he began to focus his efforts on improving the living conditions of working-class Latinos. This led to him being hired by the Pan American Union (later the Organization of American States) as a research associate. When the union created a Division of Labor and Social Information, Galarza was chosen to lead it. 

In the late 1940s, he was recruited by the National Farm Labor Union, which later became the United Farm Workers, to be director of research and education. Over the next several years, he helped direct numerous strikes and fought back against "right to work" laws. He became a leading figure in exposing abuse of Mexican American workers in government. 

In the ensuing years, Galarza became a leading writer on the plight of Mexican and Mexican American workers and the abuse of farmworkers. During his career, he wrote more than 100 publications and was a professor at the University of Notre Dame, San Jose State University, University of California, San Diego, and University of California, Santa Cruz. 

As an activist, scholar and organizer, it is hard to overstate the impact Galarza had on working-class Mexican American families and our broader culture.

This post originally appeared on the AFL-CIO blog in 2018.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 09/21/2020 - 13:41

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: United Steelworkers

Mon, 2020-09-21 12:54
Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: United Steelworkers

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the United Steelworkers.

Name of Union: The United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW)

Mission: The values upon which the USW was founded in 1942 still guide the organization today. These include: 

  • Uniting in one organization, regardless of creed, color or nationality, all workmen and working women eligible for membership.
  • Increasing the wages and improving the conditions of employment of members by legislation, joint agreements or other legitimate means.
  • Securing equitable statutory old-age pension, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance laws.
  • Enforcing existing just laws and to secure the repeal of those which are unjust.
  • Securing, by legislative enactment, laws protecting the limbs, lives and health of members, protecting their right to organize and other legislation as will be beneficial.

Current Leadership of Union: Thomas M. Conway has served as the international president of the USW since July 15, 2019. Prior to that, he served as the international vice president (administration) since 2005. Born to a New Jersey union household, Conway began his union career in 1978 after serving in the U.S. Air Force.

John E. Shinn serves as international secretary-treasurer, David McCall as international vice president (administration), Fred Redmond as international vice president (human affairs), and Ken Neumann as national director for Canada. Roxanne Brown and Leeann Foster also serve as USW international vice presidents.

Number of Members: 850,000.

Members Work As: USW members work in the steel, aluminum, iron ore, cement, glass, rubber, paper and paper products, oil, chemical and manufacturing industries, as well as in mining and other metals. They work as health care workers, professors, bank workers,  grocery workers, security guards, electricians, pharmaceutical workers, public servants and much more.

Industries Represented: Atomic, chemical, education, energy and utilities, glass, molders, pottery, plastics, health care, pharmacies and pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, metals, mining, oil and petroleum, paper and forestry, public employees, rubber and tires, transportation and more.

HistoryWatch this video or read more at the USW website.

Current Campaigns/Community Efforts: Solidarity Works PodcastUSW @ Work and Other PublicationsFair Trade and various ways to engage in activism with USW.

Learn More: WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 09/21/2020 - 12:54

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IFPTE Backs Corporate Bankruptcy Reform

Mon, 2020-09-21 10:41
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IFPTE Backs Corporate Bankruptcy Reform

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Members of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) are putting their weight behind the Protecting Employees and Retirees in Business Bankruptcies Act of 2020 (H.R. 7370), a bill to rebalance America’s corporate bankruptcy laws to protect workers. In a letter to representatives, IFPTE International President Paul Shearon (pictured above) and IFPTE Secretary-Treasurer Matthew Biggs wrote: “The bill aims to reduce worker and retiree losses by making it more difficult to reject collective bargaining obligations during a bankruptcy; providing better protections against reducing or eliminating retiree benefits; mandating that court approval of bankruptcy sales is contingent on maintaining existing jobs and retiree pension and health benefits; and, further [defining] that the priority of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy process is to maintain as many jobs as possible….For too long employers have utilized the bankruptcy courts as a means of abrogating their pension, retiree health benefits and earned wages of their employees. This must come to an end.”

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 09/21/2020 - 10:41

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: UFCW Prompts Largest Citation Over Coronavirus-Related Health and Safety Violations in California

Fri, 2020-09-18 09:36
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: UFCW Prompts Largest Citation Over Coronavirus-Related Health and Safety Violations in California

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Following a comprehensive complaint filed by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 770, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has issued its largest coronavirus-related citation in the state, fining food processing company Overhill Farms and its staffing agency more than $200,000 for serious health and safety violations. “It should not be so dangerous to go to work every day. I commend the leadership of the workers at Overhill for speaking up in the face of atrocious safety violations at the plant and for creating an innovative safety committee at Overhill. Without their leadership, even more workers would be sick,” said John Grant, president of Local 770. “Now the state of California has weighed in with meaningful citations that show just how dangerous the working conditions were.” One worker at Overhill died from COVID-19 in April, and more than 1,100 members of Local 770 have tested positive for the virus. Cal/OSHA specifically cited Overhill because its employees have been unable to maintain physical distance at several points at the jobsite.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 09/18/2020 - 09:36

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

New COVID-19 Protections In Las Vegas: Worker Wins

Fri, 2020-09-18 08:40
New COVID-19 Protections In Las Vegas: Worker Wins

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with an important victory in the fight against COVID-19 for Las Vegas' workers and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life. 

Las Vegas Unions Negotiate New COVID-19 Protections: Workers at MGM Resorts and Caesars hotels and casinos in Las Vegas represented by Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165 successfully negotiated new protections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new agreement will provide more than 36,000 workers with extended health benefits, paid time off for quarantines and other protections. “Behind every worker is a family, and we are proud to have partnered with MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment during this difficult time to ensure workers are protected during this pandemic and are not left behind when the economy recovers. These new historic agreements mean workers will have their family health benefits in place until next year, even if they are currently laid off, and that workers will be able to return to their jobs as business recovers with full seniority rights,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, the secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Union.

Feminist Majority Foundation Staff Join NPEU: Staff at Feminist Majority Foundation voted to join Nonprofit Professional Employees Union (NPEU) and have asked management for voluntary recognition. Said NPEU President Kayla Blado: “We are excited to welcome Feminist Majority Union to NPEU and the labor movement. Women’s rights are union rights, and with their union, FMF staff will be able to more effectively advocate for feminism and the rights of women. We look forward to FMF management promptly recognizing its staff union.”

New American Leaders Staff Join NPEU: Staff at New American Leaders (NAL) voted to be represented by NPEU and have made a formal request to management for voluntary recognition. NAL Workers United and NPEU said in a statement: "We believe that unionizing is integral in the fight to eradicate the oppressive structures of white supremacy, systemic racism, and capitalism. We see unionizing as a way to live our progressive values internally; a union will help us use democratic principles to root out white supremacy, colonialism, patriarchy, heterosexism, ableism and classism within the workplace, which will only strengthen our ability to serve our communities better and with more authenticity."

Meow Wolf Staff Ask Management to Recognize Union: Meow Wolf employees have asked management to voluntarily recognize their unionization and intent to be represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA). Meow Wolf Writer Bill Rogers said: "Once we're recognized, we will work with the company to negotiate a contract that represents the well-being of all workers in Meow Wolf. We believe this will set Meow Wolf apart from its peers in the immersive entertainment industry. Meow Wolf has been a beacon for working artists all around the world. That ideal drew many of us to Santa Fe [New Mexico] in the first place. We want to help the company achieve that yet again."

SAG-AFTRA Members Ratify Television Animation Contract Overwhelmingly: More than 87% of members voted to approve the 2020 SAG-AFTRA TV Animation Contracts with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The new contract includes wage increases, improved residuals for streaming services and other gains. SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said: "This is a strong, future-focused agreement with significant gains for our members. It applies scale wages to more productions, lowers budget thresholds for half-hour HBSVOD programs and delivers additional money for the use of interstitial programs in new media.”

Philadelphia Museum of Art Workers Overwhelmingly Vote to Join AFSCME: With 89% voting in favor of unionization, workers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art will be represented by AFSCME District Council 47. The victory establishes the first wall-to-wall union at a major museum in the United States. The yearlong campaign was delayed by COVID-19 and management's "attempts to discourage unionization."

Largest Strike in U.S. Ends as IAM Members Overwhelmingly Ratify New Contract: After nearly 10 weeks, the strike by Machinists (IAM) Local S6 members who work at Bath Iron Works is over, with 87% of the membership approving the new contract. The contract includes protections against expanded subcontracting and preserves seniority rights. IAM Local S6 President Chris Wiers said: “This strike was a testament to the culmination of Local S6 leadership, our negotiating committee and the incredible power of solidarity shown by our membership. Now that we successfully protected our contract language with respect to subcontracting and seniority, we need to get back to work and continue to prove to the U.S. Navy that ‘S6 built is best built.’”

Management Voluntarily Recognizes Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Staff Union: Staff at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law voted to join NPEU, and management voluntarily recognized the union after a majority was confirmed through card-check. The LC United organizing committee statement said: “Every day, the Lawyers’ Committee staff works hard to protect the civil rights of our country’s most vulnerable populations. We are excited to be recognized and work with management to ensure better workplace protections and conditions for our deserving and dedicated staff.”

Staff at Educational Site Chalkbeat Join WGAE: Reporters, story editors and other staff at educational website Chalkbeat voted to join the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). Management voluntarily recognized the union. In a statement, the staff said: "We are thrilled to take this step in concert with Chalkbeat management, which swiftly recognized our union. We believe that every child deserves an excellent education and that sustaining vital newsrooms is crucial to that mission. As Chalkbeat continues to grow, it is imperative that those closest to the journalism we produce have a greater role in the decisions that affect us. Our decision to unionize and negotiate a contract reflects our desire to help strengthen this news organization."

USW Members at Former Briggs & Stratton Ratify Contract: Members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 2-232 ratified a new contract with the successful bidder for the company Briggs & Stratton. The engine maker filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and an affiliate of investment firm KPS Capital Partners submitted the successful bid to buy the company, subject to approval by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. “The USW supports the KPS bid, and we look forward to a long and productive partnership with the company here. The company has a solid track record of success in running manufacturing facilities like this, and this contract will put the company and the workers on that same track,” said Michael Bolton, director of USW District 2.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 09/18/2020 - 08:40

Tags: Organizing

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: New Jersey State AFL-CIO Celebrates Legislative Victory on Workers’ Compensation

Thu, 2020-09-17 11:36
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: New Jersey State AFL-CIO Celebrates Legislative Victory on Workers’ Compensation AFL-CIO

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

The New Jersey State AFL-CIO, led by President Charles Wowkanech (IUOE), issued a statement Monday commending Gov. Phil Murphy for signing into law a bill that shifts the burden of proof from the employee to the employer in workers’ compensation claims for essential workers who interact with the general public and contract COVID-19 during the declared state of emergency. “Front-line essential workers who were required to come in and work during the stay-at-home order and continue to perform services that put themselves and their families at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 at their jobs deserve the benefits of workers’ compensation and peace of mind this law provides,” Wowkanech said. The presumption of infection at the workplace is rebuttable by the employer or the insurance company if evidence exists that the worker contracted the virus outside the course of their employment. The state federation said that essential employees’ claims of workers’ compensation are routinely rejected by employers because the employees can’t prove they contracted COVID-19 at their place of work.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 09/17/2020 - 11:36

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IATSE Members Rally in Texas for Extended Unemployment Insurance

Wed, 2020-09-16 09:43
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IATSE Members Rally in Texas for Extended Unemployment Insurance

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) locals in Texas are pushing to extend the $600 enhanced unemployment benefit to not only entertainment workers, but also to the 30 million families across a wide array of industries who continue to rely on these benefits to make ends meet during the pandemic. IATSE members rallied outside the state Capitol in Austin on Sept. 15 to demand passage of the HEROES Act, which remains stalled in the U.S. Senate.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 09/16/2020 - 09:43

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Labor and Faith Forge Partnership for Social, Racial and Economic Justice

Tue, 2020-09-15 11:29
Labor and Faith Forge Partnership for Social, Racial and Economic Justice

Today, The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and the AFL-CIO marked the 57th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, where four girls were killed after white supremacists bombed the church on Sunday, Sept. 15, 1963, with a virtual candlelight vigil and commitment to a 10-point pledge for social, racial and economic justice.

At this moment in history, labor and faith must come together, stand together and act to stop the injustices that plague the nation—institutional racism and racist violence, the immoral response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the deepening economic crisis driven by division and greed.

Barber and Trumka called on the labor and faith communities to come together in the spirit of the four girls killed in the bombing to rededicate and recommit to rebuilding our powerful and historic coalition for social, racial and economic justice.

Here is the 10-point pledge:

  1. We call on all of us here in the United States of America to reject death, whether by racism or economic injustice, and unite to fight for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for everyone. And as we embrace life, we remember those Americans who gave their lives that we might be free—from the beaches of Normandy to the coal camps of West Virginia to the churches of Birmingham and Charleston.
  2. We call on every person, regardless of race, creed, color, sexual orientation or gender identity, to demand that those whom we the people have granted authority—our elected leaders, our government officials and our law enforcement officers, from the president of the United States to the police officer on the beat—to uphold the Constitution and to honor the oaths you took on the Holy Bible to establish justice, provide for the common defense and the general welfare and, in this time of pandemic, to place the lives, health and safety of our people above the greed of the wealthy and the ambitions of the powerful.
  3. We call on the president of the United States to stop lying, to stop stoking hate and racism, and instead to turn his attention and the full power of the federal government he leads to address the physical and economic fear and pain so many now endure. We further call on him to come to the aid of the essential worker, the unemployed, the poor and the vulnerable, whether in nursing homes, in meatpacking houses or on the unemployment lines.
  4. We call on every person of conscience to reject our country going backward. We call on our nation and our elected leaders to embrace America’s promise, to have the courage to embrace the future that we can build together, not the divisive legacies of our past.
  5. We call on the U.S. Senate to address the intertwined crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic pain and structural racism by taking up and passing the HEROES Act and the Justice in Policing Act.
  6. We call on both houses of Congress to go beyond the bills still sitting on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk and take bold action to give all of us, but especially the poor among us, all we need to live and thrive and bring a new day for our country, starting with a good job with rights and economic security for all who want to work.
  7. We call on the authorities who have the responsibility of protecting our democracy, and on every person who believes in America, to come together to stop every attempt at voter suppression, and we call on every citizen of our republic to make every sacrifice needed to vote.
  8. We call on every employer—every business, nonprofit and government body in America to give all workers the day off, or at least time off (with pay), to vote on Election Day.
  9. We call on every person who believes in civil rights and economic justice to take action to defend our right to vote and our democratic republic—to work with your church, your union and your civic organization to stand up for solidarity and to reject death. We can begin by joining in a digital gathering and training on Sept. 14 jointly hosted by the Moral Mondays movement and the AFL-CIO on the theme of “Voting Is Power Unleashed.”
  10. On Sept. 15, we call on every person in this nation to join us virtually at noon to declare that:

We the people, with deep conviction and determination, declare our commitment to defend our republic, won by the blood and sacrifice of those who came before us, by exercising our right to vote. We truly have nothing to fear but fear itself. We will move forward together and we will accept nothing but freedom. We will not take one step back, and we will bring a new day to our beloved country.

Sign the pledge today.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 09/15/2020 - 11:29

No Friend of Working People: In the States Roundup

Tue, 2020-09-15 10:45
No Friend of Working People: In the States Roundup

It's time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states. Click on any of the links to follow the state federations on Twitter.

Alaska State AFL-CIO:

Day 14 of Labor Month kicks off Education Week. Our union siblings @LIUNA Local 71 are working hard to ensure that the schools in the Anchorage School District are safe for students if and when they reopen.#alaskaunionstrong
Read Jordan Adams’ op-ed: https://t.co/AbW7E2z29x

— Alaska AFL-CIO (@AKAFLCIO) September 14, 2020

California Labor Federation:

"Don’t let corporate greed continue to rob students of a quality education and local residents of their public transportation, health, and safety." Say YES to putting our schools & communities first! Vote YES on Prop 15. Read more here: https://t.co/E7FYQgAHOQ #YESon15 @fglass57 pic.twitter.com/fWoEVKf3zj

— California Labor Federation (@CaliforniaLabor) September 14, 2020

Connecticut AFL-CIO:

.@AFTCT Vice President John Brady: "If we had enacted the Defense Production Act in the beginning, we would have all the PPE we need now. We can put a man on the moon – we can make PPE." @AFTunion @jb5591 @AFLCIO https://t.co/pmCRdVSgK8

— Connecticut AFL-CIO (@ConnAFLCIO) September 8, 2020

Florida AFL-CIO:

“We know from the states own data, every dollar paid out in benefits generates a $1.64 in local economic activity. This is also a boon for the economy,” said Dr. Rich Templin with the Florida AFL-CIO.https://t.co/6jywkBqE4n

— Florida AFL-CIO (@FLAFLCIO) September 10, 2020

Georgia State AFL-CIO:

“We want to make sure that the (bus and train) operators are protected,” said Britt Dunams, president of @atu732. “They’re driving on a daily basis at a heightened risk of contracting the coronavirus or another disease.” #1u #gapol https://t.co/AWGwsAkk5k

— Georgia AFL-CIO (@AFLCIOGeorgia) September 12, 2020

Illinois AFL-CIO:

Union workers now have a voice as Illinois looks to build more clean energy projects. Thanks for your work, @climatejobsil. #twill

— Illinois AFL-CIO (@ILAFLCIO) September 14, 2020

Indiana State AFL-CIO:

Trump is no friend of working people. https://t.co/O0vtp9xdkI

— Indiana AFL-CIO (@INAFLCIO) September 11, 2020

Iowa Federation of Labor:

Request Your Ballot Day: Voters Shouldn't Have To Choose Between Their Health and Their Vote - Ms. Magazine https://t.co/SQ4VyzfKf0

— Iowa AFL-CIO (@IowaAFLCIO) September 13, 2020

Maine AFL-CIO:

One of many reasons we are enthusiastically supporting @SaraGideon for US Senate! https://t.co/W0MpiPS1k4

— Maine AFL-CIO (@MEAFLCIO) September 9, 2020

Maryland State and D.C. AFL-CIO:

"What has also been laid bare is the failed response to this pandemic by the Hogan administration. Their actions have crystallized the importance of our union movement and should force people to ask, “which side are you on?”" - Patrick Moran#LaborDay2020 https://t.co/nEY09mlyvd

— Maryland State and DC AFL-CIO (@MDDCStateFed) September 7, 2020

Massachusetts AFL-CIO:

The @massaflcio is proud to be with @RaiseUpMA at the Labor Day Workers Rally.

Stand with workers on #LaborDay2020. ✊