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Protect Essential Workers Now: In the States Roundup

Tue, 2020-04-07 10:27
Protect Essential Workers Now: In the States Roundup AFL-CIO

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.

Find state-by-state COVID-19-related resources here.

California Labor Federation:

| ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ |
| HAZARD PAY |
| PPE & PAID |
| SICK LEAVE |
| FOR ALL |
| ESSENTIAL |
| WORKERS |
|________ |
(\__/) ||
(•ㅅ•) ||
/   づ

— California Labor Federation (@CaliforniaLabor) April 6, 2020

Colorado AFL-CIO:

#COVID19Colorado #COVID19 #UnEmploymentClaims pic.twitter.com/ya90TRNHay

— Colorado AFL-CIO (@AFLCIOCO) April 2, 2020

Connecticut AFL-CIO:

At least 3 @UFCW members in CT have contracted #COVID19. These workers are tired and scared. Please remember to keep 6 feet from these workers and other customers and when possible, send only one family member to the store at a time. https://t.co/TlC21YBBzT

— Connecticut AFL-CIO (@ConnAFLCIO) April 6, 2020

Florida AFL-CIO:

Florida has one of the worst Unemployment Systems in the country, thanks to Rick Scott.

With thousands of Floridians out of work,Governor DeSantis must act now to fix our broken system.

Click here to sign the petition: Florida workers need relief!https://t.co/mUkkYDYyfU pic.twitter.com/zL3OCZC4sS

— Florida AFL-CIO (@FLAFLCIO) April 6, 2020

Georgia AFL-CIO:

#wearethefrontline and the workers who are keeping our state healthy and safe need strong protections. Thank you @StateRepRhondaB for standing work workers!! https://t.co/N964NwtDHR

— Georgia AFL-CIO (@AFLCIOGeorgia) April 3, 2020

Indiana State AFL-CIO:

Our #FrontlineWorkers are vulnerable because the Trump administration squandered nearly two months when they should have been bolstering our national inventory and increasing the production of personal protective equipment (PPE). https://t.co/tCybFiwDbC

— Indiana AFL-CIO (@INAFLCIO) April 7, 2020

Iowa Federation of Labor:

Has your employer offered you extra leave due to COVID-19? pic.twitter.com/qUb01ZjkKX

— Iowa AFL-CIO (@IowaAFLCIO) April 6, 2020

Maine AFL-CIO:

Do you have a question about applying for unemployment insurance? Do you need help filing? Our experienced staff members can help! Just click the link, fill out the form and we will be in touch. https://t.co/8a9juKj8LO

— Maine AFL-CIO (@MEAFLCIO) April 1, 2020

Massachusetts AFL-CIO:

Please contact your State Rep and Senator to ask them to sign on and help slow the spread of #COVID19. #1u #Solidarity https://t.co/GBtxe0gxQd

— Massachusetts AFL-CIO (@massaflcio) April 2, 2020

Metro Washington (D.C.) Council, AFL-CIO:

Contractor cuts cleaning staff during pandemic https://t.co/b3dovlRgxP

— streetheat@dclabor.org (@DCLabor) April 7, 2020

Michigan AFL-CIO:

There's plenty you can still do while following @GovWhitmer's #StayHomeStaySafe order: pic.twitter.com/JPMFFkY06E

— miaflcio (@MIAFLCIO) April 2, 2020

Minnesota AFL-CIO:

Shutdown of music venues sidelines musicians https://t.co/0YhJZQw0v7 #1u pic.twitter.com/TMVeC8te7b

— Minnesota AFL-CIO (@MNAFLCIO) April 6, 2020

Missouri AFL-CIO:

Researchers have long known that unionized workplaces – whether in mining, construction, manufacturing or warehouses – are significantly safer for employees than non-union workplaces. https://t.co/oRdtJmxVs6

— Missouri AFL-CIO (@MOAFLCIO) April 7, 2020

Montana AFL-CIO:

.@SteveDaines spiking the football for legislation he voted against is pretty on-brand. https://t.co/9PGtU9pIrr

— Montana AFL-CIO (@MTaflcio) April 3, 2020

Nebraska State AFL-CIO:

Tell Trump to use the National Defense Production Act to produce desperately needed protective equipment healthcare and other workers need to keep themselves, patients and the public safe.
Sign here: https://t.co/ukfLR0Lz6q

— Nebraska State AFL-CIO (@NE_AFLCIO) April 3, 2020

New York State AFL-CIO:

Opinion | The federal government has an agency with the power to protect doctors, nurses, delivery workers and other “essential personnel” on the pandemic front lines. It’s time to use it. https://t.co/zrAn1SwBJ7 via @politico

— NYSAFLCIO (@NYSAFLCIO) April 7, 2020

North Carolina State AFL-CIO:

SHAME: Mission Health seeks second union hearing delay, blames pandemic https://t.co/LuU8ZitDiA. #COVID19 #AVL #1u

— NC State AFL-CIO (@NCStateAFLCIO) April 6, 2020

Ohio AFL-CIO:

Need a quick and easy way to navigate questions about unemployment compensation benefits? The #Ohio @AFLCIO has you covered.

Click here: https://t.co/bzaQsjPckC

— Ohio AFL-CIO (@ohioaflcio) April 7, 2020

Oklahoma State AFL-CIO:

Five Years and Counting: Online Voter Registration Won’t Be Ready in 2020https://t.co/JkbZqVucLj

— Oklahoma AFL-CIO (@OK_AFL_CIO) April 3, 2020

Oregon AFL-CIO:

New #podcast episode! How the spread of #Coronavirus is impacting working people, and what you can do, right now, to help frontline workers.https://t.co/4xWYxvrpzP

— Oregon AFL-CIO (@OregonAFLCIO) April 5, 2020

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO:

President @RWBloomingdale gives his state of the unions speech at our 44th Constitutional Convention! #Solidarity #PPENow pic.twitter.com/GFvLVUj2XO

— PA AFL-CIO (@PaAFL_CIO) April 6, 2020

Rhode Island AFL-CIO:

Firefighters fear coronavirus-fueled supply shortages soon https://t.co/yHR4YMIWcO via @nbcnews #1U #Unions #UnionStrong #IAFF #Firefighters

— Rhode Island AFL-CIO (@riaflcio) April 6, 2020

Texas AFL-CIO:

Workers need immediate intervention from Congress. Their livelihoods are on the line.
The CARES Act does not go far enough. Congress must ensure frontline workers are protected on the job and workers are kept on the payroll. https://t.co/bmdKz6jME9

— Texas AFL-CIO (@TexasAFLCIO) April 6, 2020

Virginia AFL-CIO:

.@GovernorVA Maybe we have to say it a little louder, Twitter is a little crowded today *clears throat*:

Fighting the Coronavirus: Service and Solidarity

Mon, 2020-04-06 09:08
Fighting the Coronavirus: Service and Solidarity

Meet Shekina Givens. She is an AFGE member and lead transportation security officer for the Transportation Security Administration and works at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport. She and her co-workers are in constant danger of getting COVID-19, but they show up for work to protect the traveling public every day. Learn more about her and other TSA workers during these dangerous times. 

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 04/06/2020 - 09:08

Tags: COVID-19

Economy Loses 701,000 Jobs in March; Unemployment Jumps to 4.4%

Fri, 2020-04-03 12:24
Economy Loses 701,000 Jobs in March; Unemployment Jumps to 4.4%

The U.S. economy lost 701,000 jobs in March, and the unemployment rate jumped by nearly a point to 4.4%, according to figures released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

In response to the March job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs said:

Though the recent spikes in unemployment claims were not captured in the March report, we experienced our steepest monthly decline in payrolls in this report since March 2009. Especially hard hit were the lowest wage sectors of the economy: leisure and hospitality and brick and mortar sections of the retail industry. Going forward, based on the unemployment claim numbers, things will get worse.

He also tweeted:

Bad news, @BLS_gov reports drop of 701,000 in March (for the week that ended before the increase in crowd reduction orders) boosting the unemployment rate to 4.4%. The household survey reported 1.048 million increase in temporary layoff versus a smaller 172,000 permanent job loss

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) April 3, 2020

The average hourly earnings gain of 3.1% over last year is tainted because of the 701,000 jobs lost, 417,000 were in food and drinking service establishments and another 29,000 in accommodations. Leisure & hospitality is the lowest wage industry. @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) April 3, 2020

Payrolls dropped (moving leftward on the graph) in almost all industries, with the biggest losses in leisure & hospitality. Higher wage industries (moving up in the graph) had fewer job losses. This change, in part boosted average wage growth to 3.1% over last year. @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/gfSTYtcKmh

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) April 3, 2020

There was a big spike in the household survey of people reporting being on temporary layoff (the aqua colored line at the bottom) compared to permanent job losses (darker blue line). @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/438erLf8Fw

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) April 3, 2020

The biggest job loss, 459,000 jobs, was in leisure & hospitality. The frustration is that back in January and February it was well known that it may become necessary to limit public gatherings and to shut down this industry. So, this is not a shock. It is poor planning. @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/hLEZzEVyMu

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) April 3, 2020

For those who do not understand American workers, and think that boosting the replacement rate of wages lost by increasing unemployment insurance, note that when Americans see massive job losses, they stop leaving jobs. This current job loss is planned, we have to plan better. pic.twitter.com/5GYf1eixgj

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) April 3, 2020

The monthly labor report is two separate surveys, one of households and one of payrolls from establishments. So, they don't have to always agree. The establishment survey reported a drop of 701,000 people on payroll, households (shown here) reported 1,223,000 people lost jobs pic.twitter.com/QZ6YWKrmqE

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) April 3, 2020

Last month's biggest job losses were in leisure and hospitality (-459,000), health care and social assistance (-61,000), professional and business services (-52,000), retail trade (-46,000), construction (-29,000), other services (-24,000), manufacturing (-18,000) and mining (-6,000). Federal government employment added 18,000 jobs, primarily 2020 Census workers. Employment in other major industries—including wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, and financial activities—changed little over the month.

In March, unemployment rates rose among all major worker groups. The rate was 14.3% for teenagers, 6.7% for blacks, 6.0 % for Hispanics, 4.1% for Asians, 4.0% for adult men, 4.0% for adult women and 4.0% for whites.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) showed little change in March and accounted for 15.9% of the unemployed.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 04/03/2020 - 12:24

Big Win on Back Pay: Worker Wins

Fri, 2020-04-03 12:03
Big Win on Back Pay: Worker Wins

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with a victory on back pay for NABET-CWA workers at CNN and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life. 

NABET-CWA Workers Win $76 Million in Back Pay from CNN: Locals 11 and 31 of NABET-CWA have negotiated one of the largest back pay settlements in the history of the NLRB. CNN is required to bay $76 million to hundreds of broadcast technicians who were fired when CNN terminated a subcontract with Team Video Services. NABET-CWA President Charlie Braico said: “After more than 15 years, this settlement agreement finally delivers justice for workers who experienced serious hardship in their lives due to CNN’s union-busting practices. This incredible settlement in workers’ favor should send a very clear message to CNN and to other employers that union-busting is illegal and has consequences.”

University of California-Santa Cruz Trades Workers End Strike with New Contract: Dozens of carpenters, plumbers, electricians and other trades workers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, ended a strike with victory as they ratified a new contract representing for the 49 AFSCME Local 3299 members. Electrician Joe Baxter said: “I’m just really proud of our people that we held the line and were able to get a fair and good contract. In the end, I felt like UCSC came through and gave us a fair contract.”

King County, Washington, Water District Workers Win New Contract: Members of the Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 302 capped months of negotiations with a victory as the commissioners of King County Water District 19 approved a union contract, the first in the district's history. Shop steward Dominic Jovanovich said: “It was definitely tense at first, but we knew our supporters would come out for us and show solidarity because we know that organized labor is strong together. We were happy the board made the right decision and we’re excited to move forward.”

Joliet Marijuna Workers Join UFCW: A majority of the 95 employees at the Cresco Labs marijuana cultivation facility in Joliet, Illinois, voted to join the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). This is the first successful organizing drive in Illinois since recreational marijuana use was legalized. The workers are seeking better pay and more comprehensive health benefits.

Sports Illustrated Editorial Employees Vote for NewsGuild Representation: More than 90% of the editorial employees have voted to join the The NewGuild of New York-CWA. The new unit covers some 80 writers, editors, producers and other editorial staff in print, digital and video. Top issues for the workers are job security, severance, layoff protections, pay equity, workplace safety, diversity in hiring and advancement, and a voice in editorial strategy. Senior writer Jenny Vrentas said: "As journalists, we hold the teams and athletes we cover accountable. It is our responsibility to do the same in our own workplace. We are unionizing to ensure that Sports Illustrated is a safe, inclusive place to work, where all employees are treated equally and can continue to perform our jobs at a high level.”

Google Cafeteria Workers Join UNITE HERE: Approximately 2,300 cafeteria workers at Google campuses in the California Bay Area have voted to be represented by UNITE HERE. The workers are technically employed by a subcontractor, Compass Group, through its subsidiary, Bon Appétit Management Co. Compass and UNITE HERE are negotiating the first contract for the unit.

NewsGuild Members at The New Republic Ratify Ambitious Contract: Newsroom workers at The New Republic unionized in 2018 in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Now those workers have secured their first contract, which contains ambitious diversity provisions, progressive policy to prevent sexual harassment, and industry-leading intellectual property and privacy rights. Unit Chair Alex Shephard said: “This contract solidifies an important goal behind why we organized: To protect and live the values that The New Republic has espoused in its pages for over 100 years. The strength of our union is reflected in this contract, and I’m proud to have stood alongside fellow Guild members in crafting an agreement that fosters an environment of collaboration, transparency, growth, and sustainability.” 

St. Louis Metro Workers Secure New Contract: The negotiations took months, but the members of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 788 won a new contract from St. Louis Metro Transit. Some 1,500 working people voted to approve the new contract, which includes higher starting pay, protections against rising insurance costs, and increased pay for night and weekend work. Overall, wages and benefits for the workers will see an increase of $26 million over three years. Reggie Howard, president of Local 788, said: “It was a long fight. But we feel really good about it.”

USW Members at Clearwater Paper Agree on New Contract: Workers at Clearwater Paper have been working without a contract since 2017. The members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 712 approved an agreement that would cover more than 800 employees. Contract negotiations have been long and contentious with the membership almost unanimously rejecting what Clearwater previously said was its last and best offer. The new contract runs through 2025.

Food and Water Workers' Union Voluntarily Recognized: Nearly 80 workers at Food & Water Action (and its affiliated organization, Food & Water Watch) from around the country voted to be represented by the Nonprofit Professionals Employee Union (NPEU), IFTPE Local 70. Management will voluntarily recognize the new unit. The workers said: “As an organization, we advocate for union power in the WATER Act and a real Green New Deal because we recognize the critical importance of protecting union labor and not leaving workers behind in our fight for a better world. We believe that a union will allow us to truly live up to our values; will give us a tangible way to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in our workplace; and will show the rest of the world how truly invested we are in the right of workers to make a fair living on a livable planet.”

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 04/03/2020 - 12:03

Tags: Organizing

In Memoriam: Union Members Lost in COVID-19 Pandemic

Thu, 2020-04-02 10:37
In Memoriam: Union Members Lost in COVID-19 Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the United States, our sisters, brothers and friends in the labor movement are among the first casualties. It is important for us to work together during this crisis to prevent further deaths. It is important to thank those who are doing the work to keep us safe and fed. It is important to remember those who we lost because of the coronavirus.

This list includes those deaths we have currently learned of. If you aware of additional union members we should include on this list, please send details to kquinnell@aflcio.org and we will add them to the list.

Rolondo “Sonny” Aravena of New York, Communications Workers of America: "Rolando 'Sonny' Aravena passed away on Sunday, March 29, due to COVID-19. It was the day of his twin daughters' 10th birthday. Sonny left behind his wife Melody Aravena and their five children: Amberly, Jayden, Ethan, Ameera and Olivia." His co-worker Marlon Escobar said: “He came from a big and loving community. People from a lot of different places all knew and loved him.”

Mark Blum of New York, SAG-AFTRA and Actors' Equity: "Though he was perhaps best known for the 1985 film 'Desperately Seeking Susan,' in which he starred alongside Madonna and Rosanna Arquette, he most recently appeared in supporting TV roles on the HBO series 'Succession,' the Netflix drama 'You' and Amazon's 'Mozart in the Jungle.' He was a staple in the New York theater community, frequently appearing on Broadway, including the revival of 'Twelve Angry Men,' though he appeared off Broadway much more often." SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said: “This is a painful loss to our SAG-AFTRA family. Mark Blum understood that all performers working in this industry share the same employers and that our strength depends on our unity. He was a visionary. Mark will be deeply missed, and our hearts go out to his wife, Janet Zarish, his friends and all of his loved ones.”

Alejandro Bustamante of Yonkers, New York, Transport Workers: "The union sadly announces the passing of Alejandro Bustamante, a school bus driver for the First Mile Square School Bus Co. in Yonkers. Brother Bustamante is the 11th Local 100 member, and first from our School Bus Division, to die of the Coronavirus plague."

Raul Clarke of New York, Transport Workers: TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano said: “I offer my deepest condolences to all of our Local 100 members at Big Bus here in New York and across the country. I can only hope and pray that this dark cloud over our country passes quickly.”

Priscilla Carrow of New York, Communications Workers of America: Priscilla was a member of CWA Local 1180 who worked at Elmhurst Hospital.

George Culetsu of Ohio, AFSCME: "OAPSE joins our sisters and brothers at AFSCME Ohio Council 8 in mourning the loss of George Culestu, a member of AFSCME Local 2493 at Trumbull County Maintenance Department, who died as a result of COVID-19. On behalf of the entire OAPSE/AFSCME family, we extend our heartfelt sympathies and prayers to the family of Brother Culestu."

Oliver Cyrus of Brooklyn, New York, Transport Workers: "We have lost a second union brother to the coronavirus. [Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority] Bus Operator Oliver Cyrus out of the Manhattanville Depot passed away today. Local 100 Vice President Richard Davis, who has known Brother Cyrus for most of his 21 years on the job, said he was 'a quiet, humble man. He was well liked by all his co-workers. The workers at Manhattanville are all very upset. There's a somber mood at the depot.'"

Karisma Dargan of New York, Communications Workers of America: Karisma was a member of CWA Local 1182 who worked in the New York City Police Department's Traffic Enforcement District.

Oscar Davila of Los Angeles, Boilermakers: "Nineteen years ago—just four years after emigrating to the U.S. from Mexico—Oscar Davila was working a job to nowhere in the Los Angeles area when he heard about the Boilermakers from an unlikely source—an Ironworker. That conversation changed the direction of his life. Since then, Davila, president and acting business manager of Los Angeles’ Local 92, has worked hard and smart, with both determination and ingenuity."

Larry Edgeworth of New York, NABET-CWA: Larry was a member of NABET-CWA Local 51011 who worked at NBC News.

Scott Elijah of New York, Transport Workers: In addition to his work for New York City Transit, Elijah was pastor of the Bethany AME Church in Yonkers. President Utano said: "I wish I had the words to say to bring comfort to Brother Elijah’s family, his friends and co-workers in Track. But I don’t. I can only wish that the support our union will bring to his family now and into the future will bring them strength in their moment of grief."

Alan Finder of New York, The NewsGuild-CWA: Alan was a member of TNG-CWA Local 31003 who worked at The New York Times.

Garrett Goble of New York, Transport Workers: "A viewing will be held [April 3] for hero Train Operator Garrett Goble, who gave his life serving the people of New York City."

Lev Golubov of New York, Transport Workers: "The Local 100 Car Equipment Department has lost its second union brother to the coronavirus scourge. Road Car Inspector Lev Golubov, 58, died on April 5, 2020 after being hospitalized with the virus on March 24. He had seven years on the job at Corona Barn."

Jason Hargrove of Detroit, Michigan, Amalgamated Transit Union: Passed after coming in contact with an infected person on his bus route. He posted in a video before his passing: "Ya’ll need to take this serious. This is real."

Ernesto Hernandez of New York, Transport Workers: Transit Authority Surface Vice President J.P. Patafio called Hernandez "a kind man who was loved and respected by his co-workers and [he was a] hard worker. His death is a shock to us all."

Araceli Buendia Ilagan of Miami, nurses union, SEIU: Roy Buendia said: “My dearest sister, we admired you for your dedication on your profession….You’re a true ‘hero’ in this fight against COVID-19.”

ARon Jordan of Boyd County, Kentucky, Bricklayers: "Sarah Jordan wants you to know her father’s name. She wants you to know his face. She wants you to know that the father of seven—and grandfather to seven more—had a kind heart, an unrelenting sense of humor and a passion for glam-bands like KISS. She wants you to know he loved his wife and their home in Ashland, Kentucky. Most importantly, Sarah Jordan wants you to know that her dad, ARon Jordan, just 49 years old and in otherwise good health, died Tuesday after testing positive for the novel coronavirus."

Leilani Jordan of Largo, Maryland, United Food and Commercial Workers: "Jordan’s mother, Zenobia Shepherd, tried to explain the risks of working. But she said Jordan, who had a disability that caused 'cognitive delays,' impaired her vision and left her reliant on a service dog, probably did not fully understand the potential dangers of the coronavirus. And her daughter’s desire to help others, Shepherd said, was overpowering."

McMillan Kihamahana of Colorado, Bricklayers: Bricklayers Mountain West ADC posted: "Thank you doesn’t express how grateful we are to this brother for his service and dedication to his union and its industries. For always being committed to growing the unionized masonry-trowel trades industry for current and future generations. Our thoughts and prayers are with Brother Kihamahana’s family and friends. This was such unnecessary loss. COVID-19 has taken away a dear friend, brother and family man. Our hearts are broken."

Rakkhon Kim of New Jersey, National Association of Letter Carriers: "NALC is deeply saddened to learn that 50-year-old letter carrier Rakkhon Kim, a member of Branch 36 in New York City, passed away Wednesday, March 25, from complications related to COVID-19. Brother Kim was a resident of Northvale, New Jersey, and he worked at the West Farms Station of the Bronx, New York, Post Office. He recently celebrated his 23-year anniversary as a letter carrier in November."

Frank Leong of New York City, National Association of Letter Carriers: "Sixty-three-year-old letter carrier Frank Leong, a member of Branch 36 in New York City, passed away recently from complications related to COVID-19. Brother Leong was a 25-year letter carrier who worked at the Church Street Station in Manhattan. NALC mourns with Brother Leong’s family, friends, co-workers and members of Branch 36."

Joseph Madore of Rocky Hill, Connecticut, Amalgamated Transit Union: Madore, a member for two years, was a paratransit operator for First Transit.

Ellis Marsalis of New Orleans, American Federation of Musicians: Marsalis was a pianist and educator who put four musician sons on a path toward successful careers in music as well as teaching many students over decades. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said: “Ellis Marsalis was a legend. He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz.”

Patrick Patoir of Coney Island, New York, Transport Workers: TWU Local 100 Vice President Shirley Martin, who worked with Patoir for 29 years: "Patrick was one of the most beautiful souls I have ever known. He was always the first to help. If you wanted something done, ask Patrick. Everyone at Pitkin is in mourning. Many of his co-workers where in tears when they found out." Patrick’s brother, Wendell, is a Machinist at the Coney Island Wheel and Axle Shop. Patrick leaves behind his grieving wife and four children.

Peter Petrassi of Long Island City, New York, Transport Workers: Interim New York City Transit President Sarah Feinberg said: "Our hearts are absolutely broken. Peter was a vital member of our team, and a valued friend. We are honored to have worked with him, and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones."

Isaac Robinson of Detroit, Teamsters: Robinson served the state of Michigan as a representative in the Metro Detroit area. Prior to contracting the virus, he led the fight in Wayne County to protect the most vulnerable from the outbreak. He called for a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, formed a Coronavirus Urban Response and Workers' Rights task force, and fought for utility rights.

Dez-Ann Romain of Brooklyn, New York, School Administrators: Allison Farrington, principal of Research and Service High School in Brooklyn, said: “She loved her kids, she loved her community, she loved service. You could see it in how she and her students would look at each other. I can’t imagine what they are dealing with now.”

Scott Ryan of Everett, Washington, Amalgamated Transit Union: ATU International President John Costa said: “The tragic reality of this devastating and deadly pandemic has now taken the life of one of our own. I hope the entire continent will join us in a moment of silence tonight at 7:10 p.m. ET to remember Local 1576 shop steward Scott Ryan, who was just 41 years old. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Brother Ryan and his sisters and brothers of Local 1576 in Lynnwood, Washington.”

Steve Rybkin of New York, Transport Workers: "Local 100 President Tony Utano offered his condolences to the family and Brother Rybkin’s friends and co-workers on the job. 'Every death of one of our Brother and Sister Transit Workers from this terrible disease gets more and more difficult to comprehend.  With Thursday being Passover and Holy Thursday, and Sunday being Easter, I am hoping that this week will be the beginning of the end of this fight.'"

Caridad Santiago of New York, Transport Workers: IB ImageStations Division Vice President Lynwood Whichard said Santiago's passing is a "terrible loss to the Local 100 family. She was a wonderful mother, loved by everyone. We are all praying for her family to get through this time of grief."

Richard Steward-Johnson of New York, Communications Workers of America: Richard worked as a parking production assistant in New York. He also was a musician and actor who worked on movies like "Crackdown Big City Blues" and "The Prince of Tides."

Virgil Sutton, Gaston County, North Carolina, UAW: UAW Local 5286 President Scott McAllister said: "I not only lost one of my childhood friends, but a UAW Local 5286 brother. Please keep Virgil Sutton's family and friends in your prayers! Rest in peace, my brother, you will be so missed by so many."

Warren Tucker of New York, Transport Workers: IB ImageStations MTA Bus Vice President Peter Rosconi said that Tucker's passing was "tough to take. All of MTA is in mourning." Division Vice Chair Mike Capocci said, "He was such a sweetheart. This is such a shame."

Elton Washington of Everett, Washington, Machinists: Elton's son, E.J., wrote of his father: “My dad loved his family and friends but he really loved my mom. That was his best friend, and I know that he’s back with her and they’re both watching me.”

Four autoworkers (names withheld), UAW: UAW President Rory Gamble: "Sadly, with every one of these messages I write, there is always tragic news to deliver. Today, we lost a committee person at the FCA Warren [Michigan] Stamping Plant; a member who worked at AK Steel in Dearborn, Michigan; a brother from GT Technologies in Toledo, Ohio, and a sister who worked at the Department of Corrections in Detroit, Michigan."

An autoworker (name withheld) from Wayne, Michigan, UAW: President Rory Gamble said: "I’m very sad to report that we had one more UAW member fall to the virus yesterday, from Ford Michigan Assembly in Wayne, Michigan. I want to extend our sincere sympathies to family and friends."

An autoworker (name withheld) from Sterling Heights, Michigan, UAW: Gamble said: "Today, I am so sorry to report that one of our members at FCA Transport in Sterling Heights, Michigan, has died from the virus. I, along with Vice President Cindy Estrada and the entire International Executive Board extend our heartfelt sympathies and prayers to our dear brother’s family and friends."

Two autoworkers (names withheld) from Dearborn, Michigan, UAW: Gamble said: "We have been notified today that two more members of our UAW family have fallen to the virus. One member worked at Ford Motor Company's Dearborn Stamping [plant] and a skilled trades brother who worked at the Ford Data Center in Dearborn, Michigan. Our prayers and support go out to their families and communities."

Two poultry workers (names withheld) from Camilla, Georgia, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union: "At the Tyson facility in Camilla, Georgia, where the RWDSU represents 2,000 members, two members have died from the virus and many are sick or in quarantine. Tyson employs a largely black workforce that commutes from Albany, Georgia and surrounding cities to the facility daily. Workers debone chickens elbow to elbow with no access to masks. They work at speeds of upwards of 80 chickens per minute, while upper management, largely white and clad in protective gear, oversees production."

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 04/02/2020 - 10:37

Tags: COVID-19

On the Front Lines: What Working People Are Doing This Week

Wed, 2020-04-01 11:23
On the Front Lines: What Working People Are Doing This Week AFL-CIO

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:

We are proud to do our part in support of the actors & stage managers out of work due to COVID-19, and have established the #CurtainUpFund. We hope that anyone who is able to support @TheActorsFund's vital social services and financial aid will join us - https://t.co/dbAvIoWxUM pic.twitter.com/6qfBHH7WIg

— Actors' Equity (@ActorsEquity) March 24, 2020

AFGE:

We've been requesting better protection for TSA officers since January.

We urge all agencies to follow TSA's example and take the necessary steps to protect front-line workers. #COVID19 #1u via @hugomartin @latimes https://t.co/vSuCmZrpjy

— AFGE (@AFGENational) March 30, 2020

AFSCME:

In Arizona, paramedic Seth Cribb and his co-workers, members of AFSCME Local 2960, wait.

“There is a sense that it’s the calm before the storm.” But when the storm hits his community, those on the #COVIDfrontlines with Seth will need the proper equipment to fight this pandemic. pic.twitter.com/SmKhzfWfac

— AFSCME ✊

The New Front-Line Workers: The Working People Weekly List

Tue, 2020-03-31 11:27
The New Front-Line Workers: The Working People Weekly List AFL-CIO

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.

The New Front-Line Coronavirus Workers: Grocery Clerks, Delivery Drivers: "Much of the American workplace has shut down, sending millions of employees home to wait out the coronavirus pandemic. Among those still on the job are grocery-store clerks, prison guards and delivery drivers. 'Who would have ever thought that we would be on the front lines?' said Joyce Babineau, a 67-year-old supermarket supervisor in Dartmouth, Mass., a coastal village 60 miles south of Boston."

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Discusses the Labor Movement’s Respose to the Coronavirus Pandemic: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka joined Bloomberg TV this morning to talk about the labor movement's response to the coronavirus pandemic and why we need to invoke the Defense Production Act."

What Grocery Store Workers Need: "As of this writing, supermarket workers in Denver, Oregon and Washington state have tested positive for COVID-19. Here in New York City, two Trader Joe’s supermarkets have suddenly faced temporary closures after workers at the Soho and Union Square stores became confirmed cases of the disease. The closures at these stores, which have seen huge increases in customer traffic since the onset of the crisis, highlight the dangers grocery store workers—performing their jobs in close quarters with other workers and customers—are facing, typically for low pay and benefits. The situation is set to become even more precarious as more New Yorkers become ill, with the peak of the pandemic apparently still awaiting us weeks or even months in the future."

AFL-CIO's Trumka: Coronavirus Relief Package 'Not Perfect' but 'Going to Do a Lot of Good': "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka expressed support for the coronavirus stimulus package moving through Congress, although he said it's 'not perfect'."

‘Just Keep the Faith’: Workers Are Stepping Up to Beat Coronavirus: "The Machinists union and the AFL-CIO have circulated a brief video of [Trevar] Smedal as part of an effort to highlight the role union workers have played in addressing the coronavirus outbreak. Looking into the camera, he tells an anxious America, 'Just keep up the faith. I know that my co-workers, we’re going to show up every day and we’re going to get out as many as we can.'"

Nurses Call for More Protective Gear, Training in the U.S.: "In some parts of the country, nurses are already struggling to secure the equipment and training they need to safely care for their patients, while protecting themselves from the infectious disease. Without the proper protection or training, the risk is high for nurses, especially since they have the most direct contact with patients. To understand the impact this pandemic is having on nurses, The Takeaway spoke to Jean Ross, the president of National Nurses United, the largest organization of registered nurses in the United States, and Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, a registered nurse at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and the president of the New York State Nurses Association."

Who Is Most at Risk in the Coronavirus Crisis: 24 Million of the Lowest-Income Workers: "This week, unemployment claims soared as state and federal officials restricted public gatherings and shuttered stores to prevent the spread of the COVID-19. Using wage data from the U.S. Department of Labor and working conditions surveys from O*NET, we analyzed those who are most vulnerable."

Unions: “Essential” Workers Need More Coronavirus Protection: "Union leaders, representing workers that have been deemed 'essential' as Illinois battles the coronavirus, called Monday for more protective gear to guard members against infection."

Women's History Month Profiles: Roxanne Brown: "For Women's History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various women who were, and some who still are, leaders and activists working at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Today, we are looking at Roxanne Brown."

Fighting the Coronavirus: Making Ventilators: "Trevar Smedal is a member of Machinists (IAM) Local 1406 employed at General Electric's Datex-Ohmeda in Madison, Wisconsin. He and his co-workers are in a race against the clock to produce ventilators needed in the worldwide fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch the video to hear Trevar's story."

Put Workers First: In the States Roundup: "It's time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states."

Women's History Month Profiles: Jessie Lopez de la Cruz: "For Women's History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various women who were, and some who still are, leaders and activists working at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Today, we are looking at Jessie Lopez de la Cruz."

Talking About COVID-19: Labor Podcast and Radio Roundup: "In addition to the AFL-CIO's own 'State of the Unions,' there are a lot of other podcasts out there that have their own approach to discussing labor issues and the rights of working people. Here are the latest podcasts from across the labor movement in the United States."

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 03/31/2020 - 11:27

Coping with Coronavirus: Labor Podcast and Radio Roundup

Tue, 2020-03-31 10:48
Coping with Coronavirus: Labor Podcast and Radio Roundup

In addition to the AFL-CIO's own "State of the Unions," there are a lot of other podcasts out there that have their own approach to discussing labor issues and the rights of working people. Here are the latest podcasts from across the labor movement in the United States.

The Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO, and Chris Garlock have launched a new show, the Labor Radio/Podcast Weekly, which includes clips from various radio shows and podcasts that talk about labor, unions and working people's issues. If you are interested in getting your clips onto the show, contact cgarlock@dclabor.org for more details.

Building Bridges: "Nurses Blast Government and Hospital Readiness for Coronavirus," with Deborah Burger, practicing nurse, co-president of National Nurses United (NNU) and president of the California Nurses Association. 

CTU Speaks!: Co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros speak with Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) officers, President Jesse Sharkey and Vice President Stacy Davis Gates, about the COVID-19 pandemic and its far-reaching impact on schools, the union, the city and the world. Then they interview Emily Hecht, the CTU delegate at Vaughn Occupational High School about how the school community is responding to the urgent needs of students and parents.

Heartland Labor Forum: Talking with members of the League of Women Voters about their 10 recommendations for assuring that tax giveaways actually serve the public good, not private greed.

Labor History Today: Talking to Kurt Stand about his last days of work before the COVID-19 shutdown, Carl Goldman about the 1913 textile strike in Haldeon, New Jersey, and Jessica Pauszek about Tough Annie, a wealthy woman who supported working women in London during the struggle for women's suffrage.

Union City Radio: Union City Radio is aired seven days a week during the COVID-19 crisis. Recent episodes have interviewed teachers, transit workers, firefighters and hotel workers.

Union Strong: A day in history that changed workplace safety.

Willamette Wake-Up: Talking about labor and the Green New Deal with Mike Ellison and Marty Hart-Landsberg. 

Workers Beat: The show airs 9 a.m. every Saturday morning on KNON 89.3 FM in Dallas. Hosted by Gene Lantz.

Your Rights At Work: Helping D.C. workers cope with COVID-19 and discussing whether or not the stimulus bill is good news for America's workers.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 03/31/2020 - 10:48

Tags: Podcast

Women's History Month Profiles: Roxanne Brown

Mon, 2020-03-30 11:03
Women's History Month Profiles: Roxanne Brown AFL-CIO

For Women's History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various women who were, and some who still are, leaders and activists working at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Today, we are looking at Roxanne Brown.

Roxanne Brown currently serves as international vice president at large for the United Steelworkers (USW). She has served USW's membership for more than two decades.

During her career, she has helped advance legislation to strengthen U.S. defense procurement laws and shape environmental policies to benefit USW members with jobs. She helped build bridges between USW members and the Environmental Protection Agency to achieve mutually beneficial goals. She worked to rally 20,000 people to protect the steel industry from foreign dumping.

She was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and raised in New York. Through the And Still I Rise program, Brown wrote about her work. Here are some key excerpts.

On the challenges of moving to clean energy:

Much of the work that we’re trying to do is to help design good, sensible and reasonable clean energy policies that take my members into account on the industrial side, and in the building and construction trades. We want to ensure that all of us play a role in this new, emerging economy.

On the gender wage gap:

We have to create that equality across the board. Every wage gap that exists is money that’s leaving the pockets of women all over the country. I grew up in a single-family household. My mom was a single mom. Every penny counts when you’re a single mom. The labor movement understands that. This is why wage equality has been one of its biggest fights.

On how she got into union work:

I grew up around unions, but didn’t know what they were. I’m from Jamaica. My family settled in New York. The women in my family worked in healthcare and food services. An aunt who worked for the county hospital was a member of the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA). She would take me to union picnics and union parties, but I had no idea what CSEA was. I just thought it was the hospital party. That was my very first experience with unions. I started with the Steelworkers when I was 19 years old. 

On why she loves her fellow union members:

My very first day with the Steelworkers, I met a group of legislative interns who were members. That is when I fell in love with my union, because I fell in love with our members. They were nontraditional and diverse. They were from all walks of life. We’re the largest union in the paper sector; the oil sector; chemicals and rubber; and the auto industry. We actually have more people working in the auto industry than the United Auto Workers because our members make the components for automobiles—steel, aluminum, seats, glass and tires—literally everything.

On diversity in the labor movement:

It is very helpful for the future and growth of our union for our members to be more comfortable with diversity, particularly as more and more public sector workers are organized and we get more nurses, bus drivers, and cab drivers in the fold. For our union to fully move into the 21st century, it needs to be inclusive. I’m part of us moving in that direction.

On the purpose of unions:

I want young people, people of color, immigrants, and women to know that unions are about power. They are about economic power. They are about educational power—because those wages allow people to send their kids to school. They are about financial power for the future, because a lot of these union jobs have very strong retirement benefits associated with them.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 03/30/2020 - 11:03

Fighting the Coronavirus: Making Ventilators

Fri, 2020-03-27 14:37
Fighting the Coronavirus: Making Ventilators

Trevar Smedal is a member of Machinists (IAM) Local 1406 employed at General Electric's Datex-Ohmeda in Madison, Wisconsin. He and his co-workers are in a race against the clock to produce ventilators needed in the worldwide fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch the video to hear Trevar's story.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 03/27/2020 - 14:37

Tags: COVID-19

Put Workers First: In the States Roundup

Thu, 2020-03-26 09:03
Put Workers First: In the States Roundup AFL-CIO

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.

Find state-by-state COVID19-related resources here.

Alaska AFL-CIO:

Here’s what we are watching today as part of our #AtHomeAction.#akleg #akgov pic.twitter.com/PLARNXmQnU

— Alaska AFL-CIO (@AKAFLCIO) March 24, 2020

Arizona AFL-CIO:

Our @afscme2384 Brothers and Sisters need Personal Protective Equiptment (PPE’s) to SAFELY do their jobs! @MayorGallego @CityofPhoenixAZ @PHXDistrict5 @PhxDistrict8 @Pastor4Council @PhxDistrict7 https://t.co/eXU1DPpU1T

— Arizona AFL-CIO (@ArizonaAFLCIO) March 23, 2020

Arkansas AFL-CIO:

Please call your Senators and ask that they put workers FIRST. Workers are keeping this nation together right now. Workers MUST stick together. #1u #ARLabor #ARUnions https://t.co/hKTYwa3eO6

— Arkansas AFL-CIO (@ArkansasAFLCIO) March 23, 2020

California Labor Federation:

.@Uber's proposal drew sharp criticism from labor unions. “A ‘third way’ is just a euphemism for creating a new underclass of workers with fewer rights and protections,” said @ArtPulaski executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation https://t.co/TBauHtnKBs

— California Labor Federation (@CaliforniaLabor) March 25, 2020

Colorado AFL-CIO:

With the freedom to join a union, public service workers have the voice on the job they need to advocate for better resources & training to respond to #Covid_19. Call your Representative @ 1-877-682-6145 & tell them to support the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act #PSFN

— Colorado AFL-CIO (@AFLCIOCO) March 12, 2020

Connecticut AFL-CIO:

The #COVID19 pandemic has exposed the shortcomings of our worker protection and health care systems. Contact the Governor and your legislators to urge them to ensure the health and economic security of all working people in Connecticut: https://t.co/KhyvtS14Wi pic.twitter.com/3IbNEXxMq9

— Connecticut AFL-CIO (@ConnAFLCIO) March 23, 2020

Florida AFL-CIO:

The current administration has quietly pushed for rules making it harder for public sector unions during the pandemic.

There’s nothing more disgusting than union busting, especially during a crisis!https://t.co/ZL4R9lfIXr

— Florida AFL-CIO (@FLAFLCIO) March 24, 2020

Georgia AFL-CIO:

.@BrianKempGA grocery store, pharmacy, and food production workers ARE emergency service providers. Include us in your emergency declaration so we can keep on feeding America during this crisis. Send a message to Gov Kemp & share this link: https://t.co/8Sal2ukE8r #1u #gapol

— AFL-CIO Georgia (@AFLCIOGeorgia) March 25, 2020

Indiana State AFL-CIO:

Using power and privilege to exploit the weak and vulnerable in the face of a common threat is morally repugnant. #1u #coronavirus https://t.co/SMUUbQ41Tz

— Indiana AFL-CIO (@INAFLCIO) March 25, 2020

Maine AFL-CIO:

How many will die before @GDBIW & the @USNavy begin taking the #COVID19 crisis seriously?

Tell Assistant Navy Secretary James Geurts, GD CEO Phebe Novakovic, BIW President Dirk Lesko & BIW VP @jonfitz207 to protect workers & the public! https://t.co/Q7rlmQRdmz #mepolitics

— Maine AFL-CIO (@MEAFLCIO) March 24, 2020

Massachusetts AFL-CIO:

A message from President Steve Tolman regarding the working people's priorities during COVID-19 response efforts: https://t.co/jYlMqrMdlk

(1/x) #mapoli #1u pic.twitter.com/tYJVFgq9BJ

— Massachusetts AFL-CIO (@massaflcio) March 24, 2020

Metropolitan Washington (D.C.) Council, AFL-CIO:

“It’s very bad”: DC hotel workers cope with COVID-19 - Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO https://t.co/wlHcfAkOTC

— MetroDCLaborCouncil (@DCLabor) March 25, 2020

Michigan AFL-CIO:

Please help our brothers and sisters fighting on the frontlines to #stopthespread. If you have any of these critical materials, please ship or drop them to the regional emergency management coalition site that’s closest to you: https://t.co/WUENUtfiML #coronavirus #COVIDー19 pic.twitter.com/5hcy3OTCor

— Michigan AFL-CIO (@MIAFLCIO) March 23, 2020

Minnesota AFL-CIO:

With N-95 collection drive, @mnnurses gear up for challenge ahead https://t.co/6L3GqqUMU8 (via @unionadvocate) #1u #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/meufG4X1ZS

— Minnesota AFL-CIO (@MNAFLCIO) March 25, 2020

Missouri AFL-CIO:

Women's History Month Profiles: Jessie Lopez de la Cruz

Wed, 2020-03-25 11:03
Women's History Month Profiles: Jessie Lopez de la Cruz AFL-CIO

For Women's History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various women who were, and some who still are, leaders and activists working at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Today, we are looking at Jessie Lopez de la Cruz.

In 1919, Jessie Lopez was born in Anaheim, California. Her family was poor enough that she began working in fruit and vegetable fields at five. Her family soon began working as migrant farmworkers, and they were hit hard by the Great Depression. 

While working in San Juan Capistrano in 1932, Jessie was asked to help translate during a strike of Mexican workers, as she had the best English of the workers, who were mostly Mexican. In 1938, she married another farmworker, Arnold de la Cruz, and they went on to have six children.

She continued as a farmworker for decades before becoming inspired to start organizing workers. She wouldn't become an organizer until she was in her 40s. Her husband, Arnold, began working with César Chávez and the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) in 1965. Meetings were held in the couple's home, and soon Jessie began to volunteer as well.

After the NFWA became the United Farm Workers (UFW), Jessie became the top recruiter in the union. She led or participated in a variety of actions, such as picketing stores, to advocate for the safety of Mexican American workers and against employer corruption and abuse. 

UFW established its first hiring hall in 1968 and Jessie became the manager. Her tireless efforts led her to even more exposure and activity in organizations like the Fresno County Economic Opportunity Commission, Central California Action Associates, California's Commission on the Status of Women.

Jessie worked to improve UFW as well. Her advocacy led the union to expand opportunities for women in leadership positions, despite strong opposition.

She retired from UFW in 1993 and spent her retirement working with California Rural Legal Assistance and her local Catholic charity. After she died in 2013, her biography was adapted into a television miniseries.

Watch a video with more about the story of Jessie Lopez de la Cruz:

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 03/25/2020 - 11:03

Talking About COVID-19: Labor Podcast and Radio Roundup

Tue, 2020-03-24 09:10
Talking About COVID-19: Labor Podcast and Radio Roundup

In addition to the AFL-CIO's own "State of the Unions," there are a lot of other podcasts out there that have their own approach to discussing labor issues and the rights of working people. Here are the latest podcasts from across the labor movement in the United States.

America’s Work Force: The Benefits of Mechanical Insulation: Insulators Union Labor Management Cooperative Trust Executive Director Pete Ielmini talking about the benefits mechanical insulation offers to mechanical systems and the companies where it is properly installed and maintained.

Belabored Podcast #193: Work in the Time of Coronavirus: As the coronavirus spreads across the world, we discuss what it means for workers in health care, the gig economy and other front-line industries.

Building Bridges: What Is to Be Done: Forging a systemic response to address the health and economic crisis of the pandemic, with Dean Baker, senior economist and co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Heartland Labor Forum: It's been 55 years since Selma: How far have we come? Also updates on how the pandemic is affecting Kansas City workers.

IAFF Podcast: Managing Your Retirement Accounts in the Era of COVID-19: "IAFF [Fire Fighters] Financial Corp Chief Financial Officer Carrie Tucker sits down with Mark and Doug to discuss the recent stock market volatility, how it is affecting retirement accounts and what firefighters should be doing during this unprecedented time."

Labor History Today: The Great Postal Strike, Watergate and “Casey Jones, the Union Scab.”

Labor Live@5 (D.C.): A D.C.-based women's social justice a cappella group, SongRise, encourages perseverance, raises awareness, breaks down barriers, touches hearts and inspires action through song. 

State of the Unions: A discussion with Matt Morrison, executive director of Working America, about how the affiliate union is mobilizing millions of workers from all demographics who otherwise lack representation at work.

UCOMM: Understanding the NFLPA Contract Battle: Plus, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) on the PRO Act, teachers fight for more funding and more.

Union City Radio: Resources to help survive the economic impact of coronavirus.

Union Strong: COVID-19 relief for working people.

Willamette Wake-Up: The crisis in private sector pensions with Don McIntosh.

WorkWeek: The San Francisco housing and homeless crisis with San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston, port safety with ILWU Local 10 President Trent Willis and more. 

You Are the Current Resident (NALC): A discussion with Executive Vice President Brian Renfroe and Mark Sims, COVID-19 updates and more.

Your Rights At Work (D.C.): The latest on workers and the coronavirus.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 03/24/2020 - 09:10

Tags: Podcast

Our Response to the Coronavirus: The Working People Weekly List

Mon, 2020-03-23 14:28
Our Response to the Coronavirus: The Working People Weekly List AFL-CIO

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.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Talks About the Coronavirus’ Impact on America's Workers: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka talks about the coronavirus’s impact on American workers and what he expects ahead. He talks about the U.S. economy more widely as well, labor’s relationship with Congress and the administration and presidential politics."

AFL-CIO President Trumka on Our Response to the Coronavirus: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was on Bloomberg Radio discussing our response to the coronavirus and our demands moving forward."

AFL-CIO Calls on Federal Government to Protect Entertainment Industry Workers: "With hundreds of thousands of entertainment industry workers suddenly unemployed by the coronavirus shutdown, unions and guilds affiliated with the AFL-CIO’s Department for Professional Employees are calling on President Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Congress to quickly pass emergency relief legislation to enhance and expand state unemployment benefits and send direct cash to the impacted workers they represent.” 

‘At War with No Ammo’: Doctors Say Shortage of Protective Gear Is Dire: "With coronavirus cases soaring, doctors, nurses and other front-line medical workers across the United States are confronting a dire shortage of masks, surgical gowns and eye gear to protect them from the virus."

The Delivery Workers Who Risk Their Health to Bring You Food: "As New Yorkers barricade themselves in their homes to practice “social distancing,” delivery workers, typically an overlooked group, have now taken on outsized significance and are on the front lines of the outbreak. With demand for deliveries surging, a largely immigrant work force has become a critical link, providing food, groceries, medication and many other items that many people can no longer easily access or are unwilling to go out and purchase. Beside risking their own health, workers typically earn meager salaries and have no health insurance or any other labor protections."

Airline Union Leader: ‘The Casualties Are Starting to Pile Up’: "The airline layoffs that began this week will snowball and cripple the industry’s ability to recover once the novel coronavirus pandemic is contained unless federal lawmakers act swiftly to prop up payrolls, the leader of the nation’s top flight attendants union said Friday."

Trumka Praises Workers, Slams Trump and Profiteers on Coronavirus Pandemic: "Workers, union and non-union, are responding magnificently to the coronavirus pandemic, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says. Business and GOP President Donald Trump are another matter."

'I Can’t Overstate How Devastating This Crisis Has Been': "Karen Kent, head of UNITE HERE Local 1, estimates that three-fourths of the 16,000 hospitality workers her union represents are out of work or laid off as a result of coronavirus-related cancellations and cutbacks."

How to Keep U.S. Workers Safe During Coronavirus: "Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka join 'Morning Joe' to discuss safety for U.S. workers and what the labor movement is doing in this time of crisis."

As Coronavirus Deepens Inequality, Inequality Worsens Its Spread: "As the coronavirus spreads across the globe, it appears to be setting off a devastating feedback loop with another of the gravest forces of our time: economic inequality. In societies where the virus hits, it is deepening the consequences of inequality, pushing many of the burdens onto the losers of today’s polarized economies and labor markets. Research suggests that those in lower economic strata are likelier to catch the disease. They are also likelier to die from it."

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on the Coronavirus Pandemic: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was on Bloomberg Business discussing the coronavirus pandemic and its effect on the American worker."

Gig Economy Workers Are Our Newest First Responders: "These low-paid, unsung workers—Instacart shoppers but also the Amazon delivery folks and everyone else who is doing gig work today that helps other people engage in self-protective social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic—are now the equivalent of first responders."

Women's History Month Profiles: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn: "For Women's History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various women who were, and some who still are, leaders and activists working at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Today, we are looking at Elizabeth Gurley Flynn."

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Answers COVID-19 Questions on Facebook Live: "In a Facebook Live event Wednesday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) spoke about working people's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and answered questions from union members."

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Working America, AFL-CIO's Community Affiliate: "On the latest episode of 'State of the Unions,' podcast co-host Julie Greene Collier and guest co-host Carolyn Bobb sit down with Matt Morrison, executive director of Working America, the 3.5 million-member community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, to discuss how the affiliate is mobilizing millions of workers from all demographics who otherwise lack representation at work."

Transit Workers Win Organizing Victories: Worker Wins: "Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with a series of wins for transit workers and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 03/23/2020 - 14:28

The Response to COVID-19: What Working People Are Doing This Week

Mon, 2020-03-23 13:10
The Response to COVID-19: What Working People Are Doing This Week AFL-CIO

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:

Thank you @SenGaryPeters for introducing this legislation. This would protect arts workers by allowing them to apply for unemployment insurance for jobs they had accepted but had not yet started due to postponement by the coronavirus. https://t.co/IZqyXvuPEG

— Actors' Equity (@ActorsEquity) March 20, 2020

AFGE:

Thank you @FederalNewsNet for recognizing federal employees who continue to make our government work during these uncertain times. #1u #COVID19 https://t.co/uIvVYpgz09

— AFGE (@AFGENational) March 20, 2020

AFSCME:

“When things like these episodes break out, we’re on the front lines.” – Leo Laffitte, a custodian for 18 years at the Hartford Public Library, a member of AFSCME Local 1716 and a district vice president for @AFSCMECT4. https://t.co/H6yOxL9LfE

— AFSCME (@AFSCME) March 20, 2020

Air Line Pilots Association:

READ: ALPA signs on to #aviation labor #union letter to Cong. "It is imperative that any relief package focus on the workers ...Any federal aid must keep employees on payroll, protect labor rights & come w/ statutory guarantees that the money will go to the frontline workforce" pic.twitter.com/j373hH293P

— ALPA (@WeAreALPA) March 19, 2020

Alliance for Retired Americans:

Election workers are wary. Fearing infection, voters aren't showing up at the polls. #COVID19 has made it even more important for all 50 states to have the option to vote by mail. Sign our petition to demand action: https://t.co/pQW6jlhT89 pic.twitter.com/xKmb0kwtWF

— Alliance Retirees (@ActiveRetirees) March 19, 2020

Amalgamated Transit Union:

ATU Coronavirus (COVID-19) Alert. To download and share with your fellow ATU members, please click here: https://t.co/Wxn91VBhUP #TogetherWeFightTogetherWeWin #1u #OneATU pic.twitter.com/dwnM64hwhX

— ATU, Transit Union (@ATUComm) March 16, 2020

American Federation of Musicians:

The Coronavirus Response Act helps many working people, but it does not help all of us. Many musicians can't qualify for unemployment or other benefits. Tell your legislators to provide relief NOW. #1u #CoronavirusResponse https://t.co/lq075gxbDp

— AFM (@The_AFM) March 20, 2020

American Federation of Teachers:

We want to take a moment to thank all the nurses, healthcare professionals, educators, faculty, support staff, public employees, and all others who are on the front lines to keep our communities safe during this pandemic. #ThankAFirstResponder pic.twitter.com/RNIxHNMUT4

— AFT (@AFTunion) March 19, 2020

American Postal Workers Union:

Today the union signed two memoranda of understanding with USPS temporarily expanding paid leave for PSEs and expanding the use of dependent care leave for postal employees with unexpected childcare needs as a result of the pandemic. #APWUnited https://t.co/e1GHBiOcEd

— APWU National (@APWUnational) March 18, 2020

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance:

APALA releases guidance on how to protect AAPI workers in light of the outbreak of COVID-19!

>>>TAKE ACTION<<<
1. Share the guidance on how to protect AAPI workers!
2. Print out and hang the poster in your workplace or place of business to show support!https://t.co/e2kl7jRfc5 pic.twitter.com/guW1vDfOWN

— Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (@APALAnational) March 5, 2020

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA:

We've seen catastrophe before. We know what didn't work & we won't let that happen again. We need relief that focuses on REAL people.

Tell Congress: Any public relief plan should be #PeopleFirst plan w/ legally-binding rules, incl paycheck continuation. https://t.co/mkAhaRIVn4 pic.twitter.com/uty29doZkG

— AFA-CWA (@afa_cwa) March 20, 2020

Boilermakers:

We can all use a little good news right now. If you or a #Boilermaker you know has stepped up in a special way during this pandemic crisis, share your story with the Boilermaker Reporter at https://t.co/DVYXDyb37i. We are #unionstrong in this together.

— Boilermakers Union (@boilermakernews) March 19, 2020

Bricklayers:

In response to questions from those in the #construction industry, @CPWR has developed guidance on #COVID-19. Check it out: https://t.co/iuZQVmvIlM #coronovarius #1u

— Bricklayers Union (@IUBAC) March 19, 2020

California School Employees Association:

Nearly all of California schools are closed or have announced that they will close because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Governor Newsom has indicated that they may not reopen before the summer break. Please view this thread for more information.
1/5 https://t.co/xClLPU2Dyw

— CSEA (@CSEA_Now) March 18, 2020

Coalition of Black Trade Unionists:

NEW: Statement by CBTU President Terry Melvin on the coronavirus and CBTU’s convention in May. https://t.co/ImGddZtpPW

— CBTU (@CBTU72) March 17, 2020

Coalition of Labor Union Women:

In EVERY state, public service workers are on the frontlines of fighting #COVID19. But in 24 states, they lack the freedom to collectively bargain for improvements that protect all of us. Tell your Rep. to pass the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act 1-877-682-6145 #PSFN

— CLUW National (@CLUWNational) March 12, 2020

Communications Workers of America:

Nearly all of California schools are closed or have announced that they will close because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Governor Newsom has indicated that they may not reopen before the summer break. Please view this thread for more information.
1/5 https://t.co/xClLPU2Dyw

— CSEA (@CSEA_Now) March 18, 2020

Department for Professional Employees:

"Elected officials have a moral responsibility to ensure emergency relief packages address these workers’ unique circumstances." - DPE President @J_Dorning #1u https://t.co/d0Ru1Ryeqr

— Department for Professional Employees (@DPEaflcio) March 20, 2020

Electrical Workers:

Message from @IBEW_CCO James Barry regarding recent updates and Government response to COVID-19 Pandemic https://t.co/D4LkDB4mKl

— IBEW (@IBEW) March 20, 2020

Fire Fighters:

Listen to Episode 1 of our #COVID-19 Podcast https://t.co/B4ZlrG3JrI
Please subscribe, like and share! pic.twitter.com/5AB6MlRRZF

— IAFF (@IAFFNewsDesk) March 19, 2020

Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers-USW:

The General Executive Board is placing a suspension on all Local Union Meetings until such time as the COVID-19 virus national emergency quarantine and isolation recommendations are lifted.
Read more from the General Executive Board here: https://t.co/BDJBz5aMWZ

— Insulators Union (@InsulatorsUnion) March 20, 2020

International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers:

Great resource for Californians from the amazing staff at @LegalAidAtWork !! https://t.co/yEYuxeGMeO

— IFPTE (@IFPTE) March 19, 2020

International Labor Communications Association:

Bookmark this @AFLCIO #COVID19 resource page #1u https://t.co/RwKBsHT4n4

— Labor Communications (@ILCAonline) March 18, 2020

Ironworkers:

The growing COVID-19 crisis has roiled the U.S. construction industry from coast to coast, with contractors large and small mired in uncertainty and wondering what their next steps should be. #SocialDistanacing #ThursdayThoughtshttps://t.co/gLVVVj7SX1

— Ironworkers. (@TheIronworkers) March 19, 2020

Jobs with Justice:

Like so many other working people, minor league baseball players are struggling to make ends meet. A brand new organization just launched with aims on changing that. Excited to see what @MiLBAdvocates has in store! https://t.co/GiFdMDr6aQ

— Jobs With Justice (@jwjnational) March 20, 2020

Labor Council for Latin American Advancement:

¿Qué debo hacer protegerme del coronavirus? ¿Cómo puedo evitar el contagio? ¿Quiénes son las personas que corren mayor riesgo? Mantengámonos informados! pic.twitter.com/W2iA08kLdL

— LCLAA (@LCLAA) March 16, 2020

Machinists:

We have updated our #COVID19 resource center.

Women's History Month Profiles: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

Fri, 2020-03-20 13:17
Women's History Month Profiles: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn AFL-CIO

For Women's History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various women who were, and some who still are, leaders and activists working at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Today, we are looking at Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was born in 1890 in Concord, New Hampshire, to a radical, activist working-class family. When she was 10, the family moved to the South Bronx, where she attended public school. By the time she was 15, Flynn was active in socialist groups. At 15, she gave her first public speech, and the next year she was expelled from high school. She became a full-time organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

In the years leading up to World War I, Flynn was active on women's rights, free speech for IWW speakers and organizing textile strikes in places like Lawrence, Massachusetts, and Paterson, New Jersey. She also worked to organize garment workers in Pennsylvania, silk weavers in New Jersey, restaurant workers in New York City and miners in Minnesota. 

Flynn opposed the war when it broke out, and like many war opponents, she was charged with espionage. The charges were dropped and Flynn began working to defend immigrants threatened with deportation for their opposition to the war.

In 1920, Flynn helped found the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and was elected to the national board. From 1927-1930, she chaired International Labor Defense. During that time she was active in trying to free jailed labor organizers Thomas J. Mooney and Warren K. Billings. For the first half of the 1930s, she withdrew from public life because of bad health, but she returned to public life in 1939 and was re-elected to the ACLU board. When Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin signed a nonaggression pact, the ACLU expelled all Communist Party members from its ranks, including Flynn.

Flynn ran for the Communist Party of America's Central Committee successfully, and ran for a seat in Congress unsuccessfully. During World War II, Flynn fought for women's economic equality. After the war, as communism grew more unpopular in the United States, Flynn shifted back to defending free speech rights for radicals. In 1951, she was arrested for conspiracy to overthrow the government based on the Smith Act of 1940. She spent more than two years in prison.

She returned to political action once she was out of prison, and in 1961, she became the first woman elected national chair of the Communist Pary. A critic of the Soviet Union, Flynn traveled behind the Iron Curtain and was stricken ill. She died in the USSR and was given a state funeral in Red Square.

In his autobiography, journalist Eugene Lyons described Flynn as "the most brilliant woman I had ever met. A veteran of the front trenches in the labor struggle since fifteen, she was, at thirty, attractive, winsomely Irish in her wit and her savor of life, with a remarkably cool intelligence behind her fiery oratory and personality. In the Mesaba Range strike, the Paterson and Lawrence strikes, her eloquence and courage and sweetness had won her tens of thousands of worshipful friends among the workers."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 03/20/2020 - 13:17

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Answers COVID-19 Questions on Facebook Live

Fri, 2020-03-20 12:49
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Answers COVID-19 Questions on Facebook Live AFL-CIO

In a Facebook Live event Wednesday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) spoke about working people's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and answered questions from union members. 

Lisa, a member of the Ohio Nurses Association/AFT, asked about getting N95 respirators and other vital supplies into the hands of front-line nurses.

Michael, an AFT member in New York, asked what message we can send to ensure that the rich and corporations don’t use this public health crisis to further erode the middle and working classes.

Garrett, a letter carrier in Seattle, asked whether or not this crisis may be an opportunity for the labor movement to increase the number of union jobs in the United States.

Watch the video below to see Trumka's answers to these questions and more discussion of our response to COVID-19. You also can read a transcript of his remarks.

Did you miss the live address that @AFLCIO President @RichardTrumka just gave on Facebook? No worries, we have it here for you. #StateofOurUnions #1u #CoronavirusResponse

Watch now: pic.twitter.com/ByahDOLUwy

— AFL-CIO ✊

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Working America, AFL-CIO's Community Affiliate

Wed, 2020-03-18 10:38
‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Working America, AFL-CIO's Community Affiliate

On the latest episode of "State of the Unions," podcast co-host Julie Greene Collier and guest co-host Carolyn Bobb sit down with Matt Morrison, executive director of Working America, the 3.5 million-member community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, to discuss how the affiliate is mobilizing millions of workers from all demographics who otherwise lack representation at work.

Listen to our previous episodes:

  • A discussion with M.K. Fletcher, AFL-CIO Safety and Health specialist, about all things COVID-19, what the labor movement is doing and how we are responding to ensure that front-line workers' needs are taken care of.

  • Talking with AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre (UFCW) about his journey from being an Ethiopian refugee to success in the labor movement in Orange County, California, and in Washington, D.C., and the people and institutions that helped him along the way.

  • A conversation with the Rev. Leah Daughtry, CEO of "On These Things," about Reconnecting McDowell, an AFT project that takes a holistic approach to revitalizing the education and community of McDowell, West Virginia, and how her faith informs her activism.

  • Talking to Fire Fighters (IAFF) General President Harold Schaitberger about the union’s behavioral health treatment center dedicated to treating IAFF members struggling with addiction and other related behavioral challenges. The discussion also addresses the toll of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on firefighters and their families, the response of the IAFF in its wake, and the life of a firefighter.

  • A chat with the podcast team on their favorite episodes of 2019.

  • A discussion with Cas Mudde, a political scientist at the University of Georgia, on the resurgence of right-wing politicians and activists across the world, much of it cloaked in populist, worker-friendly rhetoric.

State of the Unions” is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and anywhere else you can find podcasts.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 03/18/2020 - 10:38

Tags: Podcast, Working America

Transit Workers Win Organizing Victories: Worker Wins

Mon, 2020-03-16 10:34
Transit Workers Win Organizing Victories: Worker Wins

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with a series of wins for transit workers and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life. 

St. Louis Metro Transit Workers Agree to New Contract: After a months of difficult negotiations, working people at St. Louis Metro Transit won a new three-year deal that increases wages and benefits by more than $26 million. More than 1,500 Metro workers are members of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 788 who work as vehicle operators and mechanics.

Southern Poverty Law Center Employees Vote for NewsGuild-CWA Representation: Employees of the Southern Poverty Law Center voted to join the Washington-Baltimore News Guild/TNG-CWA. The members will now move forward on setting a "foundation for a legacy of equal rights, respect and dignity for all workers, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical ability, and national origin."

UNITE HERE Members at The Modern in Hawaii Win New Contract: Members of UNITE HERE Local 5 at The Modern Honolulu reached an agreement with Diamond Resorts, which owns and operates the property. The agreement includes a significant pay raise.

Editorial Employees at NBC News Digital Join NewsGuild-CWA: Some 150 editorial workers who create digital content for NBC News have voted to join The NewsGuild of New York/TNG-CWA. The unit includes reporters, video journalists, editors, social media strategists, designers and editorial staff from various NBC digital properties.

Registered Nurses at University of Chicago Hospitals Join NNOC/NNU: Nurses at two University of Chicago hospitals overwhelmingly voted to join National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU). More than the 90% of the 320 registered nurses voted to join NNOC/NNU. Kathy Haff, a RN for 27 years in the emergency department, said: “Joining the union means that we will now have a real voice in patient care decisions. We can be better advocates for our patients and make sure we have a say when policies are implemented.”

UAW Members Ratify New Fiat Chrysler Deal: After nearly five months of negotiations, UAW members approved a new four-year deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The deal decreases health care costs for lower-paid production employees, a key goal of the UAW.

New York MTA and Largest Union Reach Agreement: After six months without a deal, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and members of Transport Workers (TWU) Local 100 reached a tentative deal. Local President Tony Utano said: “I am happy to report that we have reached a negotiated settlement with the MTA that I believe the Local 100 membership will ratify in overwhelming fashion.” Previous proposals from management sought to cut back overtime payments, increase worker health care costs and limit vacation accruals for new employees.

Jews United for Justice Join NPEU: Working people at Jews United for Justice (JUFJ) announced they are unionizing with the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union (NPEU), an affiliate of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE). The organization focuses on advancing economic, racial and social justice in the Baltimore-Washington area by mobilizing local Jewish communities into action. Rianna Lloyd, a JUFJ staffer, said: “We have campaigned for the rights of all workers in Maryland and [Washington,] D.C., including nonprofit employees. We know the importance of keeping dedicated, talented people on the job, and in negotiations we are going to focus on the well-being of JUFJ staff. We want to create a work environment that workers want to stay in.”

Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art to Voluntarily Recognize Employee Union: Two weeks after workers at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) launched a campaign to join AFSCME, MoCA agreed to voluntarily recognize the new union. The new unit will represent more than 120 staffers. The workers sought to unionize in order to obtain higher pay and better benefits.

Fairfax Connector Strike Ends with ATU and Transdev Reaching Agreement: A strike that shut down service for Fairfax Connector bus rides ended with a victory for Transdev employees. The tentative agreement allows workers to go back on the job while details of a bigger deal are negotiated. ATU International President John Costa said: “Our strike was a victory, sending a loud and clear message to Transdev that we won’t tolerate their unlawful tactics at the bargaining table. We do reserve the right to walk off the job again if the good faith bargaining by Transdev disappears."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 03/16/2020 - 10:34

Tags: Organizing

Government Must Act to Stop Spread of Economic and Financial Consequences of Coronavirus

Tue, 2020-03-10 13:31
Government Must Act to Stop Spread of Economic and Financial Consequences of Coronavirus

The stock market fell 7% at the open Monday morning. That may not sound like a lot, but it’s a catastrophic collapse—a financial crisis type number. Typically, the market might gain or lose in a whole year the value that was lost by the time the sound of the opening bell faded.

The collapse appears to be the result of a combination of the spread of coronavirus and falling oil prices—two events that are themselves connected. But it needs to be interpreted as an alarm bell, because we are dealing with the threat of two deadly kinds of contagions—one biological and the other economic and financial—both of which pose serious but manageable threats to the well-being of working people.

We have heard a lot about biological contagion and how to stop the spread of coronavirus in our workplaces and our communities. You can get up-to-date information on workplace safety and coronavirus at www.aflcio.org/covid-19 and at the websites of our affiliated unions. But what about financial and economic contagion? This is something elected leaders, economic policymakers and financial regulators must take action to stop.

How does it work? Coronavirus is a shock to the global economy. It stops economic activity of all kinds—shutting down factories, canceling meetings, sending cruise ships into quarantine. The only way to prevent that is to stop the spread of the virus (see above). The consequence of economic activity slowing down or stopping is that businesses lose revenue, and generally with loss of revenue comes loss of profits.

People who trade on the stock market usually price stocks by making projections about the future profits of the companies whose stocks trade on the public markets. The stock market reacts instantaneously to changing expectations about what may happen in the economy and to specific businesses. The stock market itself doesn’t create or destroy jobs, but it does contribute to the overall financial health of companies and of people. When stock prices fall rapidly, they can create their own kind of contagion—exposing fragile financing structures for both companies and people. That can in turn lead to retreat—companies pulling back on investments or, in the worst case, going bankrupt.

So the stock market can create contagion all by itself. But the much more serious kind of contagion has to do with corporate debt. We have had low interest rates for years, and businesses around the world have gone on a borrowing spree. This spree has been one of the causes of relatively healthy economic growth in the last few years, but it has also led to businesses carrying a lot of debt relative to their earnings and growth. 

Here is where the danger gets very real, because, as we all know, if you borrow money, you have to make payments on that debt. What if businesses that have borrowed a lot of money suddenly don’t have anywhere near the revenue they expected to have? This is what empty planes and blocked supply chains mean.  

If no one does anything and the coronavirus leads to months of revenue shortfalls in overleveraged companies, there is a real risk of pullbacks in investments by those companies or, worse, bankruptcy. Falling stock markets and debt defaults can lead to weak business balance sheets and to weak financial institutions. That is what financial contagion means. We saw that in 2008 when first mortgage intermediaries failed, then hedge funds and stock brokerages, and then major banks.  

Even more seriously, once investment pullbacks, bankruptcies and layoffs start, that leads, like a spreading virus, to more losses of revenue to other businesses—in other words, economic contagion. Economic contagion, once it starts, is even harder to stop than financial contagion. Economic contagion means recession, unemployment, falling wages. What makes this crisis different is that it starts with a kind of layoff—shutdown of economic activity and quarantines to stop the spread of disease. 

We need government to act to stop financial and economic contagion until the worst of the coronavirus passes and, most importantly, until everyone has a better sense of the exact nature of the threat—that is, until the uncertainty diminishes. Working people must demand that government act, or we and our families will pay the price for others’ lack of action, as we so often have in the past.

What should government do? First, it should directly address the source of economic contraction by dealing effectively with the coronavirus itself and making sure people who are sick or need to be quarantined are able to do what they need to do for themselves and for society without being impoverished. This means emergency paid sick leave for all who need it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have proposed comprehensive emergency paid sick leave for all workers; this is an urgent medical and economic necessity. We need to recognize that until the coronavirus is contained, it will be very challenging to contain the economic consequences of the virus.

Second, government should deliver financial support credit on favorable terms to sectors of the global economy that are threatened by the coronavirus and vulnerable due to overleverage. The U.S. Federal Open Market Committee took a first step in that direction last week by lowering short-term rates by 0.5 percentage point, but that is unlikely to be enough. Central banks need to work with major financial institutions to target cheap credit to vulnerable businesses—airlines, hotels, manufacturers paralyzed by broken supply chains and the like. It is time to discard the old neoliberal idea that we should let banks lend to whomever they want when we appropriately subsidize them with cheap public assets.

Third, government should provide support to the economy as a whole. Congress cannot leave this job to the Federal Reserve. We need to look at bigger emergency appropriations to support our weakened public health infrastructure, particularly hospitals; if the Chinese experience is any indication, we are going to face serious strains to the system as the coronavirus spreads. We need to look at macroeconomic stimulus—public spending to help the economy. This would best be done in the form of investment, such as finally funding infrastructure. But we also need immediate spending; that is why universal paid sick days would be such a good idea, as would be steps to improve the effectiveness of our social safety net—Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—and make it easier for everyone to get the health care they need right now.

What we don’t need is the standard right-wing response to any and all problems—tax cuts for the rich. Even more than in a normal downturn, that would do harm, diverting desperately needed public resources to those who don’t need them at all.

Most of all, we need leadership and coordination among federal, state and local governments, between the U.S. government and the Fed and governments and central banks around the world, and with multinational bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Health Organization. This is critical, because neither the coronavirus nor the world financial system respects borders, and because people will succumb to fear in the absence of credible leadership.  

If Monday morning tells us anything, it’s that we need that leadership now, because once fear becomes contagious, it may be the hardest thing to stop.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 03/10/2020 - 13:31