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Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Bethany Khan

Mon, 2021-05-10 09:30
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Bethany Khan

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Bethany Khan.

Bethany Khan is the director of communications and digital strategy at the Culinary Workers Union, UNITE HERE Local 226. She graduated from the University of Minnesota and used the skills she learned in college to fight for justice. Khan has family members who are undocumented immigrants and this has inspired her to work with the Culinary Workers Union to fight for comprehensive worker-centered immigration reform. Khan was named one of "40 under 40" to watch at the American Association of Political Consultants in 2018. She serves as a board member for Planned Parenthood of Nevada, the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada Advisory Board and the Las Vegas Sun’s Community Editorial Review Board, where she represents the interests of the 57,000 members of the Culinary Workers Union and their families.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 05/10/2021 - 09:30

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: AFGE Local 2328: Union Holds Workers Memorial Day Event at VA Medical Center

Mon, 2021-05-10 08:30
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: AFGE Local 2328: Union Holds Workers Memorial Day Event at VA Medical Center

 

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.

Dozens of workers from AFGE Local 2328 showed up and showed out for a rally at the Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Virginia commemorating those who lost their lives on the job, while urging U.S. Sen. Mark Warner to pass the PRO Act, in an April 28 rally.

“[We honor] all workers who died over the past year in the line of duty, committing and doing their jobs,” said Local 2328 President Sheila Elliott in an article by the Virginia Daily Press. “We are working on regulations and guidance that are many years old, and a lot of this stuff needs to be updated. We still have a long way to go.”

“At the very beginning of the pandemic, it was chaos. There was mixed messaging, there was not enough equipment,” added Local 2328 Vice President Stacy Shorter. “It’s been a horrible, horrible year. And we’ve been suffering and struggling in this constant battle. We really were trying to make sure that our staff had adequate protections in the workplace. It took us a while to really get to the place where we feel comfortable right now.”

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 05/10/2021 - 08:30

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Economy Gains 266,000 Jobs in April; Unemployment Little Changed at 6.1%

Fri, 2021-05-07 12:42
Economy Gains 266,000 Jobs in April; Unemployment Little Changed at 6.1%

The U.S. economy gained 266,000 jobs in April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 6.1%, according to figures released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In response to the April job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs said: "There was no progress in reducing the number of long-term unemployed, they remained nearly unchanged at 4.2 million and are 43% of the unemployed. That number will be difficult to clear by September when key provisions of federal support for unemployed workers will lapse." He also tweeted:

@BLS_gov reports those unemployed fewer than 5 weeks grew by 237,000, another sign of layoffs being an issue. Labor force participation remained about flat at 61.7% So this data shows the labor market is still sluggish and reports of labor shortages exaggerated. @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) May 7, 2021

More signs the labor market is sluggish because of job losses, the only continued growth was in leisure & hospitality (mostly restaurants) which is the lowest wage industry. Temporary Services job losses led to big losses for higher wage Business Services. @AFLCIO #JobsReport pic.twitter.com/sL4xJOao2q

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) May 7, 2021

Another sign the labor market doesn't have shortages, the unemployment rate went up for those with less than a high school education to 9.3 in April from 8.2%. But that's still lower than THE Black unemployment rate that edged up from 9.6 to 9.7%. @AFLCIO #JobsReport

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) May 7, 2021

Another reason to not believe the hype on tight labor markets. Black labor force participation rose from March to April, so did Black employment. But, successes were offset by job match failures, so the Black unemployment rate rose. That's not a tight market. @AFLCIO #JobsReport pic.twitter.com/adt1FPCGzj

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) May 7, 2021

With the slow transition of unemployed workers to jobs, and weak growth in sectors outside the recovering restaurant sector, long term unemployment is at levels that will be hard to unwind by September when support for unemployed workers is set to fall. @AFLCIO #JobsReport pic.twitter.com/tuGAQcKlyR

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) May 7, 2021

April numbers do not show a scarcity of workers, but a weak labor market. New job entrants (who don't get unemployment benefits) had less luck finding jobs in April, the number unemployed up almost 130,000 and permanent and temporary layoffs were up. @AFLCIO #JobsReport pic.twitter.com/qjxnyo6KyZ

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) May 7, 2021

The #Shecession update. Women gained 161,00 of the 266,000 (60.5%) new payroll slots in April, mostly in leisure & hospitality (+150,000). There was some good news in public sector jobs (+45,000). The majority of public sector workers are women. @AFLCIO #JobsReport pic.twitter.com/yJnw8tZDvX

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) May 7, 2021

Last month’s biggest job gains were in leisure and hospitality (+331,000), other services industry (+44,000), local government education (+31,000), social assistance (+23,000) and financial activities (19,000). The biggest job losses were seen in manufacturing (-18,000), retail trade employment (-15,000) and health care (-4,000). Employment changed little in other major industries, including construction, mining, wholesale trade and information.

In April, the unemployment rates for teenagers (12.3%), Black Americans (9.7%), Hispanics (7.9%), adult men (6.1%), Asian Americans (5.7%), adult women (5.6%) and White Americans (5.3%) showed little or no change.

The number of long-term unemployed workers (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) barely changed in April and accounted for 43% of the total unemployed.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/07/2021 - 12:42

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Jeffrey Omura

Fri, 2021-05-07 09:28
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Jeffrey Omura

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Jeffrey Omura.

Jeffrey Omura was recently elected to his second term as a councilor of Actors’ Equity Association. Omura came to labor leadership through his work in member organizing as one of the creators and leaders of the #FairWageOnstage campaign. Realizing that arts workers were being forgotten in pandemic relief efforts at every level of government, Omura helped create the Be An #ArtsHero campaign to organize the industry to collectively lobby Congress for arts relief. He is currently running for New York City Council.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/07/2021 - 09:28

Fighting for Worker Power: What Working People Are Doing This Week

Thu, 2021-05-06 11:15
Fighting for Worker Power: 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.

A. Philip Randolph Institute:

pic.twitter.com/aF814euF9x

— APRI National (DC) (@APRI_National) April 27, 2021

Actors' Equity:

Members looking for notices for video audition submissions for chorus parts can now find them in the Auditions section of the member portal.

Visit the member portal to learn more about these updated audition submission steps - https://t.co/pEqingpoQ0 pic.twitter.com/2QuFKXPszl

— Actors' Equity (@ActorsEquity) May 5, 2021

AFGE:

The latest edition of the Government Standard has arrived – and it’s packed with information! Inside this issue, you’ll read about locals that are capitalizing on this momentum to recruit more members NOW and learn what you can do to get involved! https://t.co/3ilWusjJMe

— AFGE (@AFGENational) May 5, 2021

AFSCME:

Thank you to @SecCardona for lifting up the contributions of school support workers who’ve gone above and beyond in providing vital services to students throughout the pandemic, people like @CSEALocal1000 member Elizabeth Ramos in White Plains, NY. https://t.co/M2PGuxBmq4

— AFSCME (@AFSCME) May 4, 2021

Alliance for Retired Americans:

Millions of older Americans struggle to afford lifesaving medicine.

Enough is enough.

Congress must pass #HR3! https://t.co/4hsG7tzC5I

— Alliance for Retired Americans (@ActiveRetirees) May 5, 2021

Amalgamated Transit Union:

Congratulations to @ATULocal987-Lethbridge, AB members at #Airdrie for ratifying a strong first contract. https://t.co/ftPS2W7NeP #TogetherWeFightTogetherWeWin #Labour

— ATU, Transit Union (@ATUComm) May 5, 2021

American Federation of Musicians:

Rockers, orchestral musicians, freelance and recording musicians can rest a bit easier now knowing the AFM-EPF plan to reduce benefits has been negated. https://t.co/ulukTyF30h #UnionMusician

— AFM (@The_AFM) March 30, 2021

American Federation of Teachers:

This week, we're honoring teachers, public employees, and nurses as part of #TeacherAppreciationWeek, #PSRW2021, and #NationalNursesWeek with our new video tool!

Here's how YOU can #ThankATeacher, #ThankAPublicEmployee, and #ThankANurse. #Thread https://t.co/Wr8Jh91Edh pic.twitter.com/76S4kn4zzQ

— AFT (@AFTunion) May 4, 2021

American Postal Workers Union:

Yesterday the @SenateHomeland moved the BOG nominees forward! Now they are moving to the Senate floor. Make your voices heard & demand your Senator approve today! https://t.co/jNvDfqrMqA

— APWU National (@APWUnational) April 29, 2021

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance:

Support AAPI workers this Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Betty Tam

Thu, 2021-05-06 10:28
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Betty Tam

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Betty Tam.

Betty Tam works as a marketing data analyst at Union Plus and is a member of the Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU). Tam is an essential asset at Union Plus and always has an uplifting, positive attitude, and co-workers say it is a joy to work with her. Tam's expertise in data analysis helps Union Plus promote union benefits to the right union audiences across many platforms. Her hard work deserves much praise and respect.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 05/06/2021 - 10:28

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: SMART and AFSA Team Up to Tackle Indoor Air Quality in Schools

Thu, 2021-05-06 09:32
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: SMART and AFSA Team Up to Tackle Indoor Air Quality in Schools

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.

Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools not only can get students and educators sick, but it also impacts the teaching and learning of our children. The COVID-19 crisis has put a spotlight on decades of neglect and the growing deficiencies of school infrastructure, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning, also known as HVAC systems. The vast majority of classrooms in the United States fail to meet minimum ventilation rates, and those inadequacies have a major impact on our ability to provide safe learning environments as the virus remains in our communities.

Working with the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), the School Administrators (AFSA) union is educating school leaders on what can be done in our communities. State federations and central labor councils can play a vital role in state capitols and with local governments to make sure the needed resources are allocated to help rebuild school infrastructure. To get involved, email takeaction@TheSchoolLeader.org. To read more about this issue or watch a webinar, click here.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 05/06/2021 - 09:32

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Don Villar

Wed, 2021-05-05 09:28
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Don Villar

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Don Villar.

Don Villar was born into the labor movement and the spirit of social justice. His father was on strike at the time of his birth, fighting for better wages and benefits for bank workers in the Philippines. During his nearly 25-year broadcast journalism career at WLS-TV (ABC) Chicago, Villar won an Emmy for his breaking news coverage. Villar became a member of NABET-CWA Local 41 in 1991, was elected vice president in 2010 and then president in 2015. He became secretary-treasurer for the Chicago Federation of Labor in 2018 and continues to build solidarity across Chicago, Cook County and beyond.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 05/05/2021 - 09:28

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: AFM Members Rally for a New Contract in Fort Wayne

Wed, 2021-05-05 08:33
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: AFM Members Rally for a New Contract in Fort Wayne

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.

With wages, benefits and working conditions on the line, members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) rallied in Fort Wayne, Indiana, over the weekend to draw attention to their fight for a new contract with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. AFM International President Ray Hair spoke at the rally in support of the orchestra musicians, who have been furloughed because of the pandemic since August 2020. “Why are these musicians out on the street? Why haven’t they had paychecks since last summer? It’s because the management doesn’t want them to,” Hair told WPTA21. “They’re lining their own pockets. Nobody in management would have a job if it weren’t for us.”

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 05/05/2021 - 08:33

Tags: Organizing

Nurses at Maine Medical Center Vote to Form First-Ever Union

Tue, 2021-05-04 12:40
Nurses at Maine Medical Center Vote to Form First-Ever Union

A lengthy campaign to organize the registered nurses (RNs) at Maine Medical Center (MMC) in Portland, Maine, culminated in an overwhelming victory last Thursday, April 29. The RNs at MMC voted 1,001 to 750 in a mail-ballot election, counted by the National Labor Relations Board, to form their first-ever union.

The Maine State Nurses Association, an affiliate of National Nurses United (NNU), will now represent the nearly 2,000 registered nurses at Maine Medical Center. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Maine Med nurses to the labor movement. Their solidarity, courage and strength throughout this pandemic and in the face of an expensive, divisive anti-union campaign by hospital management is remarkable and an inspiration to all workers,” said Maine AFL-CIO President Cynthia Phinney (IBEW) in a statement from the state labor federation.  

“This is a historic union victory at the largest hospital in northern New England," Phinney continued. “We hope other health care workers in Maine will become inspired and organize together to win a voice in their workplaces.”

For over a year, Maine Med RNs have been speaking out against inadequate staffing, overscheduling, a lack of adequate meal and break relief, and inappropriate staffing assignments, among other workplace concerns. 

When it became clear in January 2020 that the nurses at MMC would be heading toward a union election, Maine AFL-CIO Organizing Director Sarah Bigney McCabe leaped the action to garner as much community support as possible.

“We realized pretty quickly how this would be a historic opportunity for workers in Maine,” McCabe said. 

McCabe worked to form the Facebook group “Friends of Maine Med Nurses,” which gained more than 4,500 members who have been using it as a tool to share stories, photos and encouragement throughout the campaign. 

“The energy in the group just immediately took over, it was like wildfire and you couldn’t stop it,” McCabe said. 

Another great aspect of community support during the campaign came from state elected officials, especially from Senate President Troy Jackson and House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, who both spoke out against the hospital’s choice to vaccinate out-of-state union-busting consultants in January ahead of the hospital nurses.

“This hospital serves our entire state—all four corners,” McCabe said. “If you have a serious surgery or injury, you go to this hospital. We want the nurses to have a good staffing ratio, to be well taken care for, because the nurses are such advocates for their patients. That’s why so many people—nurses, patients, union members, felt a stake in this.”

Due to COVID-19 safety restrictions, MMC nurses did not have any in-person rallies. Alternatively, the Maine AFL-CIO worked with the campaign to produce lawn signs and window posters. 

“The lawn sign became the hottest-ticket item in Maine,” McCabe said. Throughout the campaign, union members and leaders from the Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Fire Fighters (IAFF) and several other unions came together to help distribute lawn signs as well as door-knock at homes and apartment buildings near the Maine Medical Center. According to McCabe, the nurses were overjoyed to see the solidarity from neighboring buildings as they commuted into work. 

“The statewide support that we received on this campaign was unbelievable,” McCabe said. “When we can all come together on these drives and support them, it’s for the better. Here in Maine, we stick together, we have each other’s back. All of our affiliates came out in support of the nurses, and the next time they have a campaign, we’ll be out there for them.” 

And next stop for the Maine AFL-CIO? 

“Passing the PRO Act,” said McCabe.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 05/04/2021 - 12:40

18 Important Things You Need to Know from the 2021 Death on the Job Report

Tue, 2021-05-04 09:40
18 Important Things You Need to Know from the 2021 Death on the Job Report

For the 30th year, the AFL-CIO has produced the 2021 edition of Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect report on the state of safety and health protections for America’s working families. Since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 50 years ago, federal job safety agencies have issued many important regulations on safety hazards, strengthened enforcement and expanded worker rights. The toll of workplace injury, illness and death remains too high, and too many workers remain at serious risk. There is much more work to be done.

Here are 18 important things from the 2021 Death on the Job report you need to know. In 2019:

1. 275 U.S. workers, on average, died each day from hazardous working conditions.

2. 5,333 workers were killed on the job in the United States.

3. An estimated 95,000 workers died from occupational diseases.

4. The overall job fatality rate was 3.5 per 100,000 workers, the same as the previous year.

5. Latino and Black worker fatalities increased; these workers are at greater risk of dying on the job than all workers.

6. Employers reported nearly 3.5 million work-related injuries and illnesses.

7. Musculoskeletal disorders continue to make up the largest portion (30%) of work-related injuries and illnesses.

8. Underreporting is widespread—the true toll of work-related injuries and illnesses is 7.0 million to 10.5 million each year.

9. States with the highest fatality rates in 2019 were: Alaska, Wyoming, North Dakota, Montana and West Virginia.

10. Industries with the highest fatality rates in 2019 were: agriculture, forestry, and fishing and hunting; mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; transportation and warehousing; construction; and wholesale trade.

11. America’s workplaces have been a primary source of COVID-19 outbreaks, with thousands of workers infected and dying. However, workplace infection and outbreak information is limited because there is no national surveillance system.

12. Workplace violence deaths increased to 841 in 2019, while more than 30,000 violence-related lost-time injuries were reported.

13. Workplace violence is the third-leading cause of workplace death. There were 454 worker deaths that were workplace homicides.

14. Women workers are at greater risk of violence than men; they suffered two-thirds of the lost-time injuries related to workplace violence, and were five times more likely to be killed by a relative or domestic partner in the workplace than men.

15. Deaths among all Latino workers increased in 2019: 1,088 deaths, compared with 961 in 2018. Some 66% of those who died were immigrants.

16. The Black worker fatality rate of 3.6 per 100,000 workers continues to be higher than the national average. In 2019, 634 Black workers died on the job—the highest number in more than two decades.

17. Workers 65 or older have nearly three times the risk of dying on the job as other workers, with a fatality rate of 9.4 per 100,000 workers in 2019.

18. The cost of job injuries and illnesses is enormous—estimated at $250 billion to $330 billion a year.

There is a lot we can do to address these numbers, which are much too high. Read the full report to learn more about the solutions.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 05/04/2021 - 09:40

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Lucela Watson

Tue, 2021-05-04 09:27
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Lucela Watson

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the U.S. Today's profile is Lucela Watson.

Lucela Watson is a porter at Excalibur and has been a member of Culinary Workers Union-UNITE HERE Local 226 since 2015. “Being a Culinary Union member has changed my life and my family’s lives,” Watson said. “For me, job security is the most important part of being a member. Without a job, you cannot survive. My daughter is in the Philippines, and I am working on bringing her here to Las Vegas to be with me. But because I have a union job, I can support her in ways I couldn’t before. I have rights at work, job security, health care and, when I retire, I will have a pension. I love being a Culinary Union member!"

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 05/04/2021 - 09:27

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Texas Labor Movement Speaks Out Against Voter Suppression Laws

Tue, 2021-05-04 08:29
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Texas Labor Movement Speaks Out Against Voter Suppression Laws

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.

Union members and labor leaders from across the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation gathered to denounce efforts to pass oppressive voter suppression laws in the Texas Legislature, standing across the street from the site of Houston’s first sit-in in 1960.

Voter suppression bills under consideration in the Legislature are squarely aimed at counties such as Harris and Fort Bend with majority Black and Latinx populations that have worked to expand voting rights during the pandemic. Instead of focusing on solving problems such as our failing energy grid, big-government conservatives are working to disenfranchise people of color and take away power from the local officials who ran the safest, most secure election in Texas history.

The Texas labor movement is united in opposition to H.B. 6, S.B. 7 and all efforts to suppress the right to vote.

Participants in the event included leaders from Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 6, Transport Workers (TWU) Local 260, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) Gulf Coast, Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU) Local 129, CWA Local 6222, Teamsters Local 988, United Steelworkers (USW) Local 13-1, Machinists (IAM) District 141, IAM Local Lodge 811, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) Council 42, Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 51, and Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 88.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 05/04/2021 - 08:29

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19

Empower Workers and Protect Rights: The Working People Weekly List

Mon, 2021-05-03 10:00
Empower Workers and Protect Rights: 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.

Pass the PRO Act to Empower Workers, Protect Rights: "The United States Senate should pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), five human rights and labor groups said today in releasing a question-and-answer document about the issue. The Senate should seize on a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle rampant economic inequality by empowering workers and building a more just and human rights-based economy."

Organized Labor Puts Heat on Democratic Holdouts to Support PRO Act: "Senators who haven’t yet voiced support for the Protecting the Right to Organize Act might soon hear from more constituents on the matter. The AFL-CIO labor federation says it’s spending seven figures on television and radio ads aimed at bolstering Senate support for the PRO Act, which would make it easier for workers to join unions. The ads will run in Arizona, Virginia and West Virginia―states with moderate Democratic senators whose support, or lack of it, could determine the bill’s fate."

Unions Applaud Biden OSHA for Advancing COVID Safety Standard to Protect Workers: "'Make no mistake, an emergency OSHA standard will save lives,' AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in response to the move. 'We're grateful for the Department of Labor's work in getting the standard to this point, and we urge swift issuance of the rule.' 'Strong enforceable standards that require employers to develop workplace COVID-19 safety plans, implement science-based protection measures, train workers, and report outbreaks are necessary for reducing infections and deaths, and beating this virus,' Trumka continued."

Biden to Raise the Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors to $15, Giving Roughly 390,000 Workers a Pay Bump: "'This is a victory for working people across the country, but we can’t stop fighting until everyone has the same guarantee,' John Weber, AFL-CIO spokesperson tells CNBC Make It in a statement. 'Building a just recovery means giving workers a fair return on our hard work and finally raising the federal minimum wage to $15.'"

Biden Names Former AFL-CIO Official Celeste Drake as 'Made in America' Director: "President Joe Biden on Tuesday named Celeste Drake, a former AFL-CIO official, as the first 'Director of Made in America' at the Office of Management and Budget. The White House said in a statement that Drake would shape federal procurement policy, to help carry out Biden's vision for a future 'made in all of America by all of America's workers.' One of Biden's early executive orders as president tightened 'Buy American' rules in government procurement. Drake joins the administration from the Directors Guild of America and was the trade and globalization policy specialist for the AFL-CIO."

President Biden Will Promote Unions Through a White House Task Force: "President Biden will sign an executive order on Monday creating a task force to promote labor organizing, according to a White House fact sheet. The task force, to be led by Vice President Kamala Harris and populated by cabinet officials and top White House advisers, will issue recommendations on how the federal government can use existing authority to help workers join labor unions and bargain collectively. It will also recommend new policies aimed at achieving these goals."

Labor Experts: The Power of Unions Could Be Rising Again: "Steven Tolman, the president of the AFL-CIO of Massachusetts, an umbrella union group, has seen unions’ longtime challenges firsthand. The former state senator was a railroad worker in the early 1970s, and he said he watched as businesses’ increasingly hardline stances toward unions became more common. Today, he said, unions remain critical for their ability to improve the lives of their working members. 'We are the only ones able to fight inequality,' Tolman said. 'If you have a union, you have the right to stand up against injustice, the right to advocate for safer working conditions, and most importantly, the right to good wages.' A bill, the Protecting the Right to Organize, or PRO, Act, would limit employers’ ability to stand in the way of union organizing and strengthen the government’s powers to punish companies violating workers’ rights. It faces a daunting challenge in the Senate, but experts nonetheless see a shift in place."

President Trumka Talks Infrastructure and PRO Act: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka joined Bloomberg Radio to discuss the importance of passing the PRO Act and a complete infrastructure package."

What This Workers Memorial Day Needs: "[Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill] Londrigan said it is undeniable that OSHA has greatly improved worker safety and health for all workers. 'Indeed, multiple studies bear out the fact that union workplaces have been far safer because unions provide a voice on the job where workers can join with management to address workplace hazards and implement solutions jointly.' Added Londrigan: 'Recognizing the linkage between worker safety and strong trade unions is another critical reason for Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. For the past 50 years, trade unions and our members have been under constant attack from anti-union multinational corporations and politicians bankrolled by big business.'"

It’s All Too Easy for Employers to Interfere in Union Elections: "Earlier this month, we saw a more prominent example of this phenomenon, when workers at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, voted by more than 2 to 1 against joining a union. (Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.) It followed several other high-profile organizing defeats in recent years, including autoworkers at Volkswagen in Tennessee and Nissan in Mississippi, as well as Boeing employees in South Carolina."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 05/03/2021 - 10:00

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Tina Chen

Mon, 2021-05-03 09:00
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Tina Chen

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Tina Chen.

Tina Chen serves as secretary-treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 2 in San Francisco. Chen is a first-generation immigrant from China who first joined the labor movement as a hotel housekeeper. She has helped lead victorious campaigns in San Francisco for good jobs, affordable health care and respect for a diverse workforce.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 05/03/2021 - 09:00

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Honoring the Fallen Workers at the Foundation Food Group Poultry Plant on Workers Memorial Day

Mon, 2021-05-03 08:37
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Honoring the Fallen Workers at the Foundation Food Group Poultry Plant on Workers Memorial Day

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 Atlanta-North Georgia Labor Council was joined by GA Familias Unidas, Sur Legal Collaborative, Atlanta Jobs with Justice, and the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health for a vigil in Gainesville, Georgia, to commemorate the workers of Foundation Food Group who have died. Last Wednesday marked the three-month anniversary when six workers lost their lives during a deadly nitrogen leak at the plant.

“This is a crisis across Georgia,” said Executive Director Sandra Williams (RWDSU-UFCW) of the Atlanta-North Georgia Labor Council. “The figures from the [U.S.] Bureau of Labor Statistics show a 15% increase in deaths from workplace trauma from 2015 to 2019, and we mourn over 207 Georgians who died in work incidents in 2019, that’s not accounting for the pandemic’s toll on the lives of working people.”

In coming together to remember the fallen workers of Georgia, we urge our elected officials to support the PRO Act, a piece of legislation that will expand protection for workers in multiple industries by expanding coverage under the Fair Labor Standards Act and protecting workers’ rights to form unions, and we demand the White House and [the Occupational Safety and Health Administration] to stop delaying the emergency temporary standard to make COVID safety guidelines specific and mandatory.

Atlanta-North Georgia Labor Council President James Williams (IBEW) added:

January’s tragedy at Foundation Food Group should have been prevented, and those workers should be with us here today. All workers have the right to be safe on the job. Wednesday’s event in Gainesville for Workers Memorial Day was both to mourn those we have lost, but also to reaffirm that we are going to keep fighting like hell for the living.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 05/03/2021 - 08:37

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19

In Honor of International Workers' Day, We Must Pass the PRO Act

Sat, 2021-05-01 09:00
In Honor of International Workers' Day, We Must Pass the PRO Act

May 1 is International Workers' Day, a symbolic time to conclude our PRO Act National Week of Action. To mark the occasion, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) sends the following message:

Every year on May Day, working people and our unions across the country and around the world take action to show that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. All working people are entitled to living wages, basic rights and dignity on the job—regardless of where we were born, what language we speak and what faith we practice. This International Workers’ Day, we are rising up and calling on senators to immediately pass the PRO Act and immigration reforms that will ensure all workers can join together to demand rights at work.

To fix the systems that have failed working families, we must be united across borders. Together, we can rewrite the rules of the global economy and ensure that workers are no longer treated like disposable commodities. America’s unions are fiercely committed to transforming the lives of working people through bold, structural changes that remove all barriers to the right to organize. In order to build worker power to lift standards in our workplaces, we must finally enact meaningful immigration and labor law reforms.

This includes the protection of and expansion of civil rights. The right to vote, and the right to have that vote accurately counted, is a fundamental building block of democracy and one of the most important ways for working people to express our voices. Just as it is important to fight for fairness in the workplace, it's also important that working people can vote for candidates who will work on our behalf. Protecting every working person's right to vote is a critical part of any labor reform effort.

As we mobilize this May Day, America’s labor movement and our allies are engaged in a full-scale, national campaign to win a long overdue path to citizenship and pass the PRO Act, which would give the tens of millions of workers who want to form a union a fair path to do so. There is much more we need to do to ensure all people are able to live and work safely and with dignity, which is why we are fighting for our right to join together and demand changes to the rules of our rigged system. We will continue to mobilize to demand reforms that uplift the standards and rights of all workers, with no exclusions.

Kenneth Quinnell Sat, 05/01/2021 - 09:00

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: What Solidarity Means to the NFLPA and the Labor Movement

Thu, 2021-04-29 09:47
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: What Solidarity Means to the NFLPA and the Labor Movement

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.

Solidarity is about teamwork, togetherness and toughness in the face of adversity. “Anytime someone asks our men to become less of a man, less of a person merely because they put on the uniform, I’d rather they not wear that uniform,” said NFL Players Association (NFLPA) Executive Director DeMaurice Smith (pictured above). “Why should our members not see an inextricable line that goes between what they are doing when they take a knee on the sideline to what men and women have done for hundreds of years, standing up for what they think is right?” Watch this new video from the AFL-CIO and the NFLPA about what solidarity means to our unions. And hear from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA), NFLPA President JC Tretter and others as they discuss the connections between the affiliated unions of the AFL-CIO.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 04/29/2021 - 09:47

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

5 Ways the PRO Act Will Help Address Systemic Racism

Thu, 2021-04-29 09:30
5 Ways the PRO Act Will Help Address Systemic Racism

Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.) and Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (Va.) have introduced the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which restores the right of workers to freely and fairly form a union and bargain together for changes in the workplace. The PRO Act is landmark worker empowerment, civil rights and economic stimulus legislation and an essential part of any plan to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic and recession. The provisions of the PRO Act will help all working families, but in particular, the PRO Act will help address systemic racism.

Here are five ways it does that:

1. The union advantage is greater for Black, Latino, women, immigrant, LGBTQ and other workers who have experienced workplace discrimination. Black, Latino and women workers are paid 13.7%, 20.1% and 5.8% more, respectively, when they belong to a union. Union contracts pay women and men the same for doing the same job. You cannot be fired for your sexual orientation or gender identity under a union contract.

2. The latest research shows that the rapid growth of unions in the 20th century dramatically reduced inequality by extending the union advantage to more workers, particularly lower-income workers and Black workers, while at the same time raising standards for nonunion workers across entire industries. Growing today’s labor movement is the only policy that has the scale necessary to take us off our current trajectory of ever-growing inequality. Without it, broadly shared prosperity that extends to most working people has virtually no chance.

3. Another consequence of declining worker power and economic failure is that more and more people lose confidence in the system as a whole. To restore that confidence and strengthen our democracy, we need to make the economy work for working people. The more our democracy functions properly, the more of a voice Black, Latino, women, immigrant, LGBTQ and other workers will have.

4. A union contract is the single best tool we have to close racial and gender wage gaps, and to ensure dignity and fair treatment for all workers, regardless of where we were born, who we are, or what industry we work in. More than 65% of union members are either women or people of color, and Black workers are the most likely of any demographic group to be union members (13.5%). The decline of unionization has played a significant role in the expansion of the racial wage gap over the past four decades, and an increase in unionization would help reverse this trend.

5. The PRO Act would reduce inequality, ensuring that workers share in the benefits of future economic growth and the rising productivity that will be fueled by technology, and give workers a say in how technology is deployed in the workplace. The PRO Act also includes specific provisions to correct trends that may be troubling in the future such as employers washing their hands of responsibility toward the workers who make them profitable. 

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 04/29/2021 - 09:30

Tags: PRO Act

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Ohio AFL-CIO Calls on Business to Pay Fair Share to Repair Ohio Unemployment Compensation System

Thu, 2021-04-29 09:00
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Ohio AFL-CIO Calls on Business to Pay Fair Share to Repair Ohio Unemployment Compensation System

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.

For the past decade, Ohio Republicans have yet to fix Ohio's broken unemployment system. Last week, Governor Mike DeWine has called on the legislature to tackle the issue, but rather than adjust the corporate taxable wage base to be in alignment with the national average (which is lower than any of Ohio’s neighboring states), the business lobby is calling on Republican legislators to limit eligibility and cut needed benefits to workers.

In an interview with WCBE’s Andy Chow, Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga (USW) said, “When you look at how front-line workers have put their health on the line to get us through this pandemic, I think we’re going to see an opportunity where the employers will understand that they need to step up and just do the average with what the rest of the country is doing to help move the system into a solvency place.”

In the interview, the business community believes workers should take a decrease in benefits. Burga disagrees, saying Ohio has a long history of extending a helping hand to workers laid off through no fault of their own, and this gives our state a competitive workforce advantage.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 04/29/2021 - 09:00

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19