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Best Candidates for Working People 2018: Gretchen Whitmer

Wed, 2018-07-25 11:30
Best Candidates for Working People 2018: Gretchen Whitmer Gretchen Whitmer for Governor

This November's elections are shaping up to be among the most consequential in recent U.S. history. Throughout the summer and fall, we are going to take a look at the best candidates for working people. Today we feature Michigan gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer.

Here are some of the key reasons why Whitmer is one of the best candidates for working people in 2018:

  • She has a record of standing up for Michigan's working people. She helped pass the Healthy Michigan law to expand Medicaid to cover 680,000 more Michiganders, including children, seniors and working-class families. She also fought back against Gov. Rick Snyder when he attacked workers and proposed education cuts.

  • When Snyder locked the people out of the state capitol so Republicans could pass "right to work" legislation, Whitmer not only joined working people in protest, she led the protests from her office.

  • She is an independent political voice and is willing to work with Republicans when it benefits working people. She worked with Republicans on expanding Medicaid through Healthy Michigan. She also negotiated a higher minimum wage and cost-of-living adjustments for Michigan's most vulnerable working people.

  • Whitmer released a detailed plan to reinvest in Michigan's infrastructure and create thousands of jobs. The plan focuses on important tasks such as fixing crumbling roads, ensuring access to clean and safe drinking water, and expanding broadband access to the entire state.

  • Her policies would build a Michigan economy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. Whitmer will do this by investing more in skills and job training programs that help working people get quality jobs.

  • As part of a robust plan to support veterans, she wants to focus on making sure that Michigan's returning service members can transition to good-paying jobs, fast-tracking certification programs and reducing barriers to opening small businesses.

  • The Michigan AFL-CIO endorses Whitmer "because she’s a strong progressive leader who’s always had the backs of working families, and she’s the only candidate in this race with a real plan to fix the damn roads and create more good-paying jobs for Michigan."

These are just some of the reasons why Gretchen Whitmer is one of the best candidates for working people in 2018. To learn more, visit her website.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 07/25/2018 - 11:30

Tags: Elections 2018

USW to House: Properly-Used Tariffs Protect Working People

Tue, 2018-07-24 15:21
USW to House: Properly-Used Tariffs Protect Working People AFL-CIO

The following testimony was provided to the House Ways and Means Committee:

My name is Roy Houseman and I am here on behalf of the United Steelworkers union, which is the largest industrial union in North America, representing workers not just in steel and aluminum but in many other industries too.

United Steelworkers sees first hand that the steel and aluminum 232’s are providing essential relief from global overcapacity, ensuring the domestic industry will be able to supply the necessary materials for our national security and critical infrastructure needs. The domestic, privately-owned industry in the world’s largest free market can remain competitive if we guide a course against an onslaught of what is all-too-often government-planned and financed, non-market driven expansion of steel and aluminum production.  

The steel and aluminum tariffs are working as intended. According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, 1.4 (1,401,000) million more tons of domestic steel have been produced so far this year than the year prior. In aluminum, our members and other workers are on track to aid in a domestic aluminum production increase of 60% by the end of year. While the increase in domestic operating capacity cannot all be attributed to just the tariffs, they are having the intended effect.

More personally, it is good to hear from local union leaders like James Sanderson at Steelworkers local union 7898 in Georgetown, South Carolina. After a three-year idle, their wire rod facility has restarted putting 125 workers back to work and producing up to 750,000 tons of steel per year. As orders rise, the company says another 195 people will be hired at the mill.

The same goes for Dan Simmons at USW Local Union 1899 in Granite City, Illinois. After more than two years, their facility is in the process of restarting both of their basic oxygen furnaces with 800 union members getting recalled and bringing close to 3 million tons of additional slab capacity for the domestic market.

These are local leaders striving to do the best for their communities and membership. They want to ensure we produce the steel and aluminum products this country needs to supply our defense and critical infrastructure needs while being commercially competitive. I highlight these sites because, the union also helped draft and secure their Trade Adjustment Assistance petitions not that long ago when they were idled, submitting them into a bureaucratic process that often takes months but can even go years to work through. So we can sympathize with businesses as they work through the exclusion process but we are quite frankly tired of being told that unilateral action to protect American industry from global overcapacity is a bridge too far.

And, as a TAA recipient myself, I know the pain and uncertainty that they have experienced.

From day one, the union has said that where there is insufficient domestic capacity or undeveloped market potential exclusions will be necessary. The last review of exclusion requests the union has seen indicates that close to 200 requests have been granted and just under 400 requests have been denied by the Department of Commerce. Our member companies have filed objections to product lines they know they have the capacity and capability to produce. Additional business opportunities are being pursued by our member companies and we welcome the opportunity to compete for that work.

And where products to meet our nation’s needs are truly unavailable, we do not object to waivers. Our members not only produce steel, but they are also users of that steel in fabrication and other downstream facilities.

The Department of Commerce still faces tens of thousands of exclusion requests and we support continued efforts to increase staffing and resources at the Department of Commerce to process these requests.

However, I do not work at the Commerce Department and USW urges the committee to bring in administration witnesses to give detailed updates on the exclusion process and use the oversight role this committee has over trade. USW does believe many of the issues related to 232 implementation can be remedied through providing additional resources.

The USW disagrees with the administration’s policies in a number of areas, but undermining the domestic steel and aluminum industry and our security interests by allowing a flood of excess capacity and foreign imports wash away our member’s jobs and devastate communities is not a solution. We will be the first to agree that the process must improve, but the union also cautions against efforts to undermine 232 tariff relief. We have been, and will continue to be a willing partner in seeking a solution to global overcapacity in steel and aluminum while ensuring a timely and fair exclusion process.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 07/24/2018 - 15:21

A War on the Working Class: In the States Roundup

Mon, 2018-07-23 12:40
A War on the Working Class: 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.

Arizona AFL-CIO:

Who are the "union busting" firms hired by employers to fight against us? Thanks to the Trump administration it's going to be even harder to find out. https://t.co/T86AnClEBC

— Arizona AFL-CIO (@ArizonaAFLCIO) July 19, 2018

California Labor Federation:

"There's a war on the working class. It's called exploitation. The only way that there's all this wealth, is that there's people not getting paid what they're worth." - @BootsRiley @fightfor15. ALL workers deserve fair wages and better working conditions. #1U #Unionstrong https://t.co/2a9kjf47N1

— California Labor Federation (@CaliforniaLabor) July 21, 2018

Colorado AFL-CIO:

Urge PPRM to to respect the choice of its care providers, to immediately withdraw the appeal to the NLRB, and to recognize and negotiate with the union its employees have chosen and voted for! https://t.co/Z06KWBhkGV

— Colorado AFL-CIO (@AFLCIOCO) July 19, 2018

Connecticut AFL-CIO:

.@UnionLori: Union members are standing up and making a difference this year. Hundreds of members across the country are running for office because it's clear, especially after Kavanaugh's nomination, that we need more working people holding elected office. #StopKavanaugh @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/C5hlul1fQ3

— Connecticut AFL-CIO (@ConnAFLCIO) July 13, 2018

Florida AFL-CIO:

Florida needs a Governor that puts worker interests first.

“Across Florida, working families are squeezed between flat paychecks and the rising cost of housing, gas and other necessities." https://t.co/g0hLS1vB06

Visit https://t.co/D9SwGWAXlV for more info.

— Florida AFL-CIO (@FLAFLCIO) July 18, 2018

Georgia AFL-CIO:

Could Missouri's right-to-work vote be a 'turnaround' for labor? Unions hope so. https://t.co/12BBSIPnBV

— AFL-CIO Georgia (@AFLCIOGeorgia) July 11, 2018

Idaho State AFL-CIO:

#Unions help level a very uneven playing field, not just for their members, but for everyone who works for a living. https://t.co/YGyfF0Nxt2

— Idaho State AFL-CIO (@IdahoAFLCIO) July 9, 2018

Illinois AFL-CIO:

More misrepresentations and falsehoods from the anti-worker and anti-union @BruceRauner and @illinoispolicy https://t.co/d54V8I3t5p

— Illinois AFL-CIO (@ILAFLCIO) July 14, 2018

Indiana State AFL-CIO:

How Minor League Baseball players can begin unionizing; Minor League players unionizing isn’t impossible, but it won’t be easy, either.

https://t.co/4nATO1ZMlv

— Indiana AFL-CIO (@INAFLCIO) July 21, 2018

Iowa Federation of Labor:

Wage theft, not racial slur should have doomed Papa John's founder https://t.co/vIdorISUMv

— Iowa AFL-CIO (@IowaAFLCIO) July 23, 2018

Kentucky State AFL-CIO:

“UPS contract falls short on wages, Louisville union official says” https://t.co/tYKrsu1o7s

— Kentucky AFL-CIO (@aflcioky) July 12, 2018

Massachusetts AFL-CIO:

What's your favorite neighborhood in Lynn to door knock? Saturday 7/28 is bound to be full of great conversations with union members at the doors. Join us in support of Pete Capano for State Rep! https://t.co/YWCJH326Xo #1u #solidarity #mapoli @NSlaborcouncil

— Massachusetts AFLCIO (@massaflcio) July 19, 2018

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

Gino Renne (UFCW 1994 MCGEO), Ginny Diamond (NoVA Labor), Sonte DuCote (CSA Executive Director), and Kathleen McKirchy (former CSA Executive Director) are honored before the start of tonight’s Labor Night ⁦⁦@Nationalspic.twitter.com/IPglZRrP3X

— MetroDCLaborCouncil (@DCLabor) July 21, 2018

Michigan AFL-CIO:

We endorsed Gretchen Whitmer because she has a record of fighting for the freedoms or working men and women. As our governor she will protect the things our families need and build a Michigan that works for everyone.https://t.co/C2jj2i83pl

— Michigan AFL-CIO (@MIAFLCIO) July 18, 2018

Minnesota AFL-CIO:

Mark #Janus quits state job for conservative think tank gig after landmark ruling https://t.co/7IT69Suu8n This was never about him, this was about taking away our freedom to join together. #1u

— Minnesota AFL-CIO (@MNAFLCIO) July 21, 2018

Missouri AFL-CIO:

Is this the direction we want Missouri to go in? #RepealRTW #VoteNoOnPropA pic.twitter.com/Hcqgp39mE3

— Missouri AFL-CIO (@MOAFLCIO) July 22, 2018

Nevada State AFL-CIO:

Hard and important work can be glam, too.

Holding Wall Street Accountable

Fri, 2018-07-20 11:55
Holding Wall Street Accountable Getty Images

Tomorrow marks the eighth anniversary of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a key piece of legislation passed to combat the dangerous corporate behavior that sparked the global financial crisis. A decade after the Great Recession, working people are fighting corporate assaults on these commonsense reforms. As AFL‑CIO President Richard Trumka said today, “The labor movement fought hard to win these protections for working people....We need more people whose financial decisions are protected and fewer hedge fund managers who gamble with our lives.”

At the AFL‑CIO Convention last year, working people recognized that Wall Street’s excessive wealth and power is corrupting our economy and our democracy. We resolved to fight back together, working to secure sound regulations that will reign in Wall Street excess, including:

  • Protecting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which protects consumers from tricks and traps in consumer financial products like mortgages and credit cards.

  • Closing the tax loophole for private equity and hedge fund managers that allows these millionaires and billionaires to pay rates lower than middle-class professionals.

  • Closing the CEO performance pay loophole that encourages lavish executive pay packages at taxpayer expense.

  • Levying a tiny tax on Wall Street trades to generate revenue for investments in jobs, education and infrastructure.

  • Ending “too big to fail” banks by restoring a 21st century version of the Glass–Steagall Act’s division between commercial/consumer-oriented banks and investment banks.

  • Taking on Wall Street firms like private equity funds and big banks when they behave in ways that harm working people.

  • And fighting to expose corporate political spending and lobbying that undermines our democracy.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 07/20/2018 - 11:55

True Patriotism: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 2018-07-20 10:24
True Patriotism: 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 this week’s Working People Weekly List.

Trumka: True Patriotism in Missouri: "AFL‑CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) spoke at the Missouri AFL‑CIO’s 29th Biennial Convention yesterday, rallying a packed audience of local union leaders and working Missourians in the fight against Prop. A. He recalled the charge that President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered to Americans in the midst of the Great Depression: 'True patriotism urges us to build an even more substantial America where the good things of life may be shared by more of us.'"

18 Regional Hot Dog Toppings for Your Union-Made Cookout: "When you fire up the grill, there’s a good chance your hot dog was made by a United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) member. Oscar Mayer, Boar's Head, Ball Park, Hebrew National and Nathan’s Famous hot dogs are all made by hardworking men and women in union-represented processing facilities across America. While the hot dog might be quintessentially American, what you choose to put on your dog can say a lot about where you live."

Social Security Administration Management Launches All-Out Attack on Our Union, Employees: "In yet another example of an irresponsible, undemocratic, unprecedented attempt to wipe out labor unions from the United States, the Trump administration has ordered federal agencies across the country to begin implementing the three controversial executive orders to obstruct our work fighting discrimination, retaliation and injustices in the federal workplace."

A Dark Veil: "The Trump administration on Tuesday rescinded the Department of Labor’s “persuader rule” requiring companies to disclose any consultants or lawyers contracted for anti-union persuasion efforts. The most recent in a series of anti-worker regulatory rollbacks, the decision has drawn harsh condemnation from union leaders and working people."

Stay Cool with These Ethical Summer Essentials: "Summer’s officially here and it’s time to tame those rays. Whether you’re embracing the blaze on a summer hike, beating the heat by the pool or enjoying that good old fun in the sun somewhere else, Labor 411 has a list of essentials for all your summer adventures. And when you choose one or more items from the list below, you will be supporting ethical companies that treat their employees well and give them good pay and benefits."

Trumka on Crooked Conversations Podcast: 'Collective Action Is on the Rise': "On this week's episode of Crooked Conversations, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka sat down in Missouri for a live recorded conversation with Let America Vote President Jason Kander. The pair discussed the importance of unions, the rise of collective action and the future of the labor movement."

I’ve Worked for Tips for 60 Years. D.C. Council Should Listen to the Voters Who Want to Raise My Wages: "When people ask me when I’m going retire, my answer is always the same: About 15 minutes before I’m dead. I turn 70 this year, and I’ve been working in D.C.—always for tips—since I was 12. My first job, at the concession stand at Arena stage in the early 60s, was one of the better ones. My bosses were kind, and I got to watch the shows that came through town. By the time I got my second job, my wages were 66 cents an hour—not exactly the stuff nest eggs are made of."

Louis Re-elected as Missouri AFL-CIO President: "The Missouri AFL-CIO has chosen Mike Louis to continue in his role as president of the organization. 'Thank you to all of my sister and brother delegates for your support,' Louis said in a statement. 'I will continue to fight as hard as I can to save Missouri from the lies of right to work and to ensure that Missouri’s working-class families live in dignity. It is my honor and a privilege to continue to serve along with Jacob Hummel Secretary-Treasurer and Reggie Thomas Vice President as the President of the Missouri AFL-CIO.'"

Are Tariffs Being Used How They Are Supposed to Be?: "U.S. steel manufacturing is supposed to benefit from the administration tariffs says AFL -CIO trade specialist Celeste Drake. 'The workers who are in the steel and aluminum industry and the businesses that employ them I think are going to be the primary beneficiaries.'"

Stiglitz: Benefits of Multiple Layers of Financial Regulation So Much Higher Than Costs: "Joseph Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University, who was the Nobel laureate in economics in 2001, spoke at a talk on Monday with Damon Silvers, the director of policy and special counsel at the AFL-CIO, part of a day-long strategy session on 'Bargaining for the Common Good in the World of Global Finance' held by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung office in New York, a non-profit political German foundation."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 07/20/2018 - 10:24

18 Regional Hot Dog Toppings for Your Union-Made Cookout

Thu, 2018-07-19 16:02
18 Regional Hot Dog Toppings for Your Union-Made Cookout stu_spivack

When you fire up the grill, there’s a good chance your hot dog was made by a United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) member. Oscar Mayer, Boar's Head, Ball Park, Hebrew National and Nathan’s Famous hot dogs are all made by hardworking men and women in union-represented processing facilities across America. While the hot dog might be quintessentially American, what you choose to put on your dog can say a lot about where you live.

Here are some of the most popular regional hot dogs, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council:

1. New York City: New Yorkers eat more hot dogs than any other group in the country. From downtown Manhattan to Coney Island, when you buy your hot dog in the Big Apple, it will come served with steamed onions and a pale, deli-style yellow mustard.

2. Chicago: The possible antithesis to New York dogs, Chicago dogs are layered with yellow mustard, dark green relish, chopped raw onion, a pickle spear, sport peppers, tomato slices and topped with a dash of celery salt and served in a poppy seed bun.

3. Atlanta and the South: Buying a hot dog at Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves, or elsewhere in Atlanta and the South, you’ll find your dog topped with coleslaw and perhaps some delicious Vidalia onions.

4. Kansas City: Get the mints out—you’ll need them when you order up a hot dog in KC, as it is served with sauerkraut and melted Swiss cheese on a sesame seed bun.

5. The Rockie Dog: Served at Coors Field, the home of the Colorado Rockies—is a foot-long dog with grilled peppers, kraut and onions.

6. The Fenway Frank: Served at none other than Fenway Park—is the only dog to eat while watching the Red Sox. It’s boiled and grilled and served in a New England-style bun with mustard and relish. New England dogs also can be found topped with Boston baked beans

7. Sonoran Dog: This Southwestern favorite features a grilled, bacon-wrapped hot dog on a sturdy bun, pinto beans, grilled onions and green peppers, chopped fresh tomatoes, relish, tomatillo jalapeno salsa, mayonnaise, mustard and shredded cheese.

8. The Texas Dog: Chili, cheese and jalapenos make this the favored item at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

9. Michigan Coney Island Dog (aka Michigan Coney): This favorite of Michiganders features a meaty chili sauce on top of a hot dog with mustard and onion.

10. West Virginia Dog: This favorite features chili, mustard and coleslaw atop a wiener on a steamed bun.

11. New Jersey Dog: A variety of hot dog styles can be found in New Jersey but the one most unique to the state is the Italian Dog. It’s a hot dog in thick pizza bread topped with onions, peppers and deep fried potatoes.

12. Philadelphia Dog: A classic Philadelphia dog is one of the most interesting ones you’ll find. It features the brotherly love of an all-beef hot dog with a fish cake inside the bun as well. It is often topped with a sweet vinegary slaw and spicy mustard.

13. Cleveland Polish Boy: Cleveland is home to two unique hot dog offerings. The Polish Boy is a kielbasa or hot dog served on a bun covered with a layer of french fries, a layer of sweet southern-style barbecue sauce or hot sauce and a layer of coleslaw. It is commonly found in carts around town. At Indians games and elsewhere in the city, you can also top your hot dog with Stadium Mustard, a type of brown mustard with similar flavor to a spicy Dijon mustard.

14. Cincinnati Coney: The home of famous chili is also the home of some delicious chili dogs. These are topped with Cincinnati-style chili and usually also feature a heaping mound of grated cheddar cheese on top.

15. Washington, D.C.: The nation’s capital is where you’ll find the half-smoke: a half-pork, half-beef sausage that is like a hot dog but with more coarsely ground meat and a little extra spice. A classic half-smoke is topped with chili, mustard and onions. You can find them in hot dog joints around the city as well as at Nationals Park.

16. California: There are many different hot dog varieties sold throughout the state of California, but the one most unique to the state is a bacon-wrapped dog with grilled onions and peppers. These are favorites from carts around Los Angeles and San Francisco.

17. Seattle: The Seattle dog offers a topping twist not found in many places around the country—cream cheese. The hot dogs are split in half and grilled before being put in a toasted bun and are also topped with grilled onions. Sriracha sauce and jalapeños are popular additions as well.

18. Alaska: True to its roots in the far north, the Alaska dog is commonly called a Reindeer hot dog or sausage, but it isn’t actually made from reindeer meat. Instead the meat is typically caribou. The hot dog is served in a steamed bun with grilled onions that are sometimes sautéed in Coca-Cola.

This post originally appeared at UFCW.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 07/19/2018 - 16:02

Tags: Union Made

Social Security Administration Management Launches All-Out Attack on Our Union, Employees

Thu, 2018-07-19 11:01
Social Security Administration Management Launches All-Out Attack on Our Union, Employees AFGE

In yet another example of an irresponsible, undemocratic, unprecedented attempt to wipe out labor unions from the United States, the Trump administration has ordered federal agencies across the country to begin implementing the three controversial executive orders to obstruct our work fighting discrimination, retaliation and injustices in the federal workplace.

Following a July 5 memo issued by Office of Personnel Management Director Jeff Pon, on July 9 agencies started shutting union volunteers off their intranet and email systems and drastically cut down official time—the hours union volunteers use to respond to workplace disputes such as discrimination and retaliation complaints filed by employees against management. Agencies also prevent our union reps from taking documents off-site and block us from using unpaid leave to represent workers. 

Here’s what happening at Social Security Administration offices nationwide: 

  • Union volunteers were told to evacuate space by July 31. Space includes union offices, filing cabinets and bulletin boards.

  • SSA canceled all negotiated travel and per diem for union officials to travel to meetings with SSA managers, arbitration witnesses, etc.

  • Official time was slashed by 88%. Taking away official time means taking away employees’ rights to protect themselves against abuses and injustices in the workplace. 

  • Union officials can't use any agency equipment, including phones, computers, photocopy machines, faxes, etc., to communicate with employees, management and others in order to represent employees. 

  • Management walked away from our contract ground rules agreement signed on March 19, 2018. They are imposing no travel reimbursement for negotiators, no caucus space or use of management equipment. They have imposed a shorter bargaining period into the ground rules. 

  • Management eliminates grievance/arbitration option for terminations, performance appraisals and awards. These are now excluded from the grievance procedure.

  • Management fast-tracks performance terminations—with a 30-day improvement period instead of the 150 days under the 2012 contract. 

Red for Feds Day of Action 

Our union has filed lawsuits against the administration. Our union also has been joined by other unions and even members of Congress who are disgusted by this administration’s behavior. The hearing is set for July 25, which is our Day of Action. We will gather in Washington, D.C., and take action in our communities nationwide.

Here's how you can stand up for workers like us on July 25: 

  • Wear red to work. By all of us wearing #RedForFeds on Wednesday, July 25, we can show our strength and our solidarity.

  • Join us in Washington, D.C. If you are able to travel, meet us for our rally outside the courthouse. We will meet on Wednesday, July 25, at 12:30 p.m. at John Marshall Park (333 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.). 

If you're able, join us for our day of action. Click here for more details and to RSVP.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 07/19/2018 - 11:01

A Dark Veil

Thu, 2018-07-19 08:08
A Dark Veil AFL-CIO

The Trump administration on Tuesday rescinded the Department of Labor’s “persuader rule” requiring companies to disclose any consultants or lawyers contracted for anti-union persuasion efforts. The most recent in a series of anti-worker regulatory rollbacks, the decision has drawn harsh condemnation from union leaders and working people.

When the Labor Department issued the rule in 2016, it was hailed as a win for workplace transparency. Workers would have the right to know when their bosses hired outside union-busters to influence organizing decisions.

Then-Secretary of Labor Tom Perez explained it would “ensure that workers have the information they need to make informed decisions about exercising critical workplace rights….Informed decisions are the best decisions.”

In the wake of Tuesday’s announcement, AFL-CIO National Media Director Josh Goldstein slammed the administration’s decision to shield the “sinister practices of employers and their hired guns.”

“By repealing the persuader rule, the Department of Labor is siding with corporate CEOs against good government and transparency,” Goldstein said. “They have thrown a dark veil over the shady groups employers hire to take away the freedoms of working people.”

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 07/19/2018 - 08:08

Trumka: True Patriotism in Missouri

Wed, 2018-07-18 10:28
Trumka: True Patriotism in Missouri Missouri AFL-CIO

AFL‑CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) spoke at the Missouri AFL‑CIO’s 29th Biennial Convention yesterday, rallying a packed audience of local union leaders and working Missourians in the fight against Prop. A. He recalled the charge that President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered to Americans in the midst of the Great Depression: “True patriotism urges us to build an even more substantial America where the good things of life may be shared by more of us.”

Working people in Missouri are speaking out and mobilizing their neighbors against a corporate-backed attack on our fundamental economic rights. As union leaders gather in St. Louis, the state’s labor movement is continuing to embody the spirit of collective action currently sweeping the country.

Faced with a right-wing “right to work” law passed by the state legislature, working Missourians took the fight to workplaces and living rooms across the state. As Trumka explained:

You see, the Missouri labor movement defines extraordinary. You needed 100,000 signatures to get right to work on the ballot. You got over 300,000. 213,000 of those were collected by volunteers. Now you are in the process on knocking on hundreds of thousands of doors. Don’t let up. The next three weeks will make the difference.

Trumka connected the efforts in Missouri to the larger fight working people in America face:

We face our own decision today...our own test of progress. And just as FDR had to battle the forces of wealth and greed in his time, we now must confront a corporate onslaught of historic proportions. They want to rip apart the New Deal piece by piece. They want to bankrupt our unions. They want to leave us poor and weak and divided. And the Supreme Court just did their bidding, flushing 41 years of fairness down the toilet in Janus v. AFSCME.

These corporate leeches, wrapped in the American flag and hijacking words like “freedom” and “rights,” have brought the fight here to Missouri. They think they can steamroll us into submission. They think they can send us running for the hills. Well, brothers and sisters, I’ve got news for them: The only place we’re running is to the polls on Aug. 7 to defeat Proposition A!

Trumka also spoke about the impact working people can have on these battles:

You know, I'm a student of the Civil War. History books talk a lot about the leaders. General A did this. General B did that. They don’t talk a lot about the people who really won battles and won wars. They don’t talk about a private or a corporal who sacrificed their own lives for a brother or a sister next to them. You see, the uncommon heroes are workers. People like us. The rank and file. The soldier who's in the trenches. Because when ordinary people come together, we can do extraordinary things.

One of these heroes is Quiema Spencer, a pipe fitter in Kansas City. As a gay, black woman...she hasn’t had it easy. She's always had to work that much harder to build a better life. But she says it wasn't until she joined a union that she truly found her voice. Locking arms with her brothers and sisters in Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Local 533, she realized that we don’t have to take the crumbs we’re being handed anymore. Together, we can demand better. Now Quiema is knocking doors and making calls so every working person in this state and across the country can find their voice, just like she did.

Trumka closed out with optimism and a call to arms:

The labor movement, we are that bull in the ring. We’ve been getting hit over and over again. Every day. From every direction. They’ve held down our pay. They’ve attacked our health care. They’ve tried to kill our pensions, destroy our jobs and leave us begging for scraps. They want national right to work. They want to make the Supreme Court a corporate boardroom.

Well, guess what? Their time is up. Unions are on the move. In every city and every state. Young and old. Black and white. Immigrant and native-born. Gay and straight. Rural and urban. Republican and Democrat.

We’re spoiling for a fight. I say, bring it on! We've taken their best shot, and we're still standing. We’re the true American patriots. We’re fearless. We’re strong. We’re powerful. We’re united. We’re rising in solidarity…real solidarity…where your picket line is my picket line, and my picket line is your picket line. And we won’t stop until we take our country back.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 07/18/2018 - 10:28

Stay Cool with These Ethical Summer Essentials

Tue, 2018-07-17 14:34
Stay Cool with These Ethical Summer Essentials Labor 411

Summer’s officially here and it’s time to tame those rays. Whether you’re embracing the blaze on a summer hike, beating the heat by the pool or enjoying that good old fun in the sun somewhere else, Labor 411 has a list of essentials for all your summer adventures. And when you choose one or more items from the list below, you will be supporting ethical companies that treat their employees well and give them good pay and benefits.

Drinks

  • Blumers Root Beer
  • Crystal Springs Water 
  • Dr. Pepper 
  • Gatorade 
  • Hawaiian Punch
  • Minute Maid Lemonade

Beer

  • Bud Light 
  • Budweiser 
  • Dundee Summer Wheat Beer 
  • Henry Weinhards Summer Wheat Ale 
  • Sam Adams Whitewater IPA

Hats 

  • Hatco 
  • Korber Hats 
  • Unionwear

Ice Cream 

  • Breyers 
  • Creamland 
  • Good Humor 
  • Hiland 
  • Perry’s 
  • Tillamook

Sunscreen 

  • Bain de Soleil
  • Coppertone

This post originally appeared at Labor 411.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 07/17/2018 - 14:34

Tags: Union Made

Union Tips for U.S. Trips: National Parks

Tue, 2018-07-17 09:25
Union Tips for U.S. Trips: National Parks

America’s 60 national parks are filled with treasures that often rival those around the world. Right in our own backyards, union families can experience wonders from glaciers to coral reefs. With so many to choose from, we picked our favorite features and found that “Made-in-America” has never looked so stunning!

1. Endangered GlaciersNorth America was once covered in glaciers.

2. Fantastic Forests

3. Amazing Rock Formations

4. Grand Canyons

  • Yellowstone, Wyoming, is home to its own 24-mile long Grand Canyon. 
  • Grand Canyon, Arizona, where the 277 mile-long canyon is the second most visited national park in the U.S. and is often listed as one of the Wonders of the World.

5. Hot Springs and Geysers

  • Yellowstone which sits in three states—Wyoming, Montana and Idaho—has about 10,000 geysers, hot springs, bubbling mud pots and hot spring terraces.
  • Hot Springs, Arkansas, has 47 hot springs that provide the famous Bathhouse Row with therapeutic waters.

6. Vast Sandy Deserts

  • Death Valley, which sits in both California and Nevada, is the hottest lowest, and driest place in the U.S. It’s so infamous that almost 100 movies and television shows have featured Death Valley. 
  • Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, boasts the tallest sand dunes in North America.

7. Sublime LakesFor some truly great lakes look to these national parks:

8. Coral ReefsTropical marine life may not spring to mind when thinking of national parks but there are several dedicated to preserving endangered coral reefs including: 

9. Massive Caves/Caverns:

Before you leave town, be sure you're taking advantage of all the Union Plus travel benefits—including:

This post originally appeared at Union Plus.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 07/17/2018 - 09:25

Tags: Union Plus

Trumka on Crooked Conversations Podcast: 'Collective Action Is on the Rise'

Mon, 2018-07-16 12:20
Trumka on Crooked Conversations Podcast: 'Collective Action Is on the Rise' AFL-CIO

On this week's episode of Crooked Conversations, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka sat down in Missouri for a live recorded conversation with Let America Vote President Jason Kander. The pair discussed the importance of unions, the rise of collective action and the future of the labor movement.

See a few highlights below, and check out the full episode here.

On Unions:

Trumka: My son was about 4 years old at the time, and we were in the backyard. And he had one of those little motorized jeeps. He and his buddy were riding around in the back, and I was on the phone talking to somebody about the union, and he heard me say that. So he pulls up in the jeep and he said, "Dad, what's a union?"

And I said to him—there was a little hill there—I said, "Both of you get out of the jeep." I said, "Rich, push that jeep up the hill." And he'd pushed it up a little bit, and he'd slide backward...and he finally gives up. And his buddy Chad was with him. And I said, "Chad, now you help him." And the two grunt a little bit, but they get the jeep to the top of the hill.

And I said, "Son, that's what a union is." It allows people to come together to do things together that they can't do individually. That's a union.

On Young Workers:

Trumka: We organized 262,000 new members last year. And 75% of those members were under the age of 35. Young people are starting to get it more and more and more. They're coming along and saying, “Look, this economy isn't working for us.” So how do we change it? We change it by coming together with our fellow workers, getting the ability to bargain collectively, so we can get a fair share of the wealth that we produce.

On Running for Office:

Trumka: If you’re running for office out there, here’s my advice to you. Stick to kitchen table economics. What are you going to do to help people with their wages, with their health care, with their pension, with their school district, with their retirement?

On Training Workers:

Trumka: One of the best-kept secrets in the United States is that...the labor movement trains more people every year than anybody else other than the military.

Kander: And often times, they’re training folks who just came out of the military as well.

Trumka: We have a special program for that called Helmets to Hardhats. We bring people coming out of the military. We bring them into our apprenticeship program….They are the best skilled people out there. Our building trades people are second to none in the world. People from around the world come and ask us to train them.

On Collective Action:

Trumka: I'm more optimistic right now than I've been in a lot of years, because what we see is collective action is on the rise….People are starting to look for change, and they've decided—rightfully so—that the best way for them to get change is to join with their fellow workers and their neighbors and demand change.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 07/16/2018 - 12:20

The Power Is in Our Hands: The Working People Weekly List

Mon, 2018-07-16 11:22
The Power Is in Our Hands: 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 this week’s Working People Weekly List.

After Janus, Electrical Workers Show the Power Is in Our Hands: "The Supreme Court’s recent Janus decision was despicable, spitting in the face of decades of common-sense precedent. There’s no question about that. But Janus is not the end of our fight."

Trump's Supreme Court Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh Is Deeply Troubling: "Working families deserve a Supreme Court justice who will respect the rights of working people and who will enforce decades of legal precedent that protect us in the workplace. On Monday night, President Donald Trump rejected working men and women by selecting Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy created by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement."

Thousands Rally for Private Pension Fix: "'An attack on one worker is an attack on all workers, and seeing working people come together to fight for what’s right, to have the American people rally with us to protect the benefits we’ve earned is a beautiful thing,' Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga told the crowd that filled the lawn in front of the Statehouse and wound around both sides of the building. 'Nothing is more sacred than the promise of a secure retirement after a lifetime of hard work,' he said."

Could Missouri's Right-to-Work Vote Be a 'Turnaround' for Labor? Unions Hope So: "'Everyone is wanting to write the labor movement’s obituary,' AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler said at a Kansas City rally Tuesday. 'Are we going to let that happen?' The crowd of about 250 union members and volunteers returned a resounding, 'No.' They were gathered for rally at a local pipe-fitters union hall before setting out for a canvassing effort. Shuler flew in from Washington, D.C., to visit what she called the 'ground zero' in the fight over labor."

AFL-CIO Chief Warns Red to Blue Candidates That Being a Democrat Isn’t Enough: "House Democratic candidates in town this week for training at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington got a visit from AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka for some tips on how they can win back working-class voters. 'I don’t have to tell you that you can’t count on the D next to your name to gain our support,' Trumka told Democratic leadership and a room full of candidates on Red to Blue, the DCCC’s program for its strongest candidates."

Belabored Podcast #155: The Future of Collective Action: "But it’s worth remembering that for every devastating Supreme Court decision, anti-union executive order or rollback to public benefits, glimmers of hope are present on the front lines. In the belly of the political beast in D.C., grassroots organizers gathered at the AFL-CIO headquarters to discuss collective action under Trump, beyond the beltway. Activists representing teachers, housekeepers, graduate students and airline workers talked about union power in the wake of the Janus decision and keeping hope alive for the next generation of young labor leaders."

If You Live in Missouri, Vote 'No' on Proposition A: "On Aug. 7, Missouri voters will have the chance to vote against Prop. A, a divisive attack on working people funded by big corporations and their wealthy allies. The misleading measure is a direct attack on the rights of the working people of Missouri."

Are We in a Trade War?: "TV pundits keep repeating that we’re in a 'trade war.' What does that even mean?"

U.S. Trade Deals Mean Justice for Some, Not Justice for All: "2017 was another banner year of justice for sale, reveals the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s annual review of investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) cases. What does the report say? It reveals lots of new ways global investors are undermining democracy in private tribunals."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 07/16/2018 - 11:22

If You Live in Missouri, Vote 'No' on Proposition A

Mon, 2018-07-16 11:17
If You Live in Missouri, Vote 'No' on Proposition A Missouri AFL-CIO

On Aug. 7, Missouri voters will have the chance to vote against Proposition A, a divisive attack on working people funded by big corporations and their wealthy allies. The misleading measure is a direct attack on the rights of the working people of Missouri.

Here are the key reasons why Proposition A is wrong for Missouri:

  • Proposition A will drive down wages for Missouri families: If it passes, Proposition A will drive down wages for all Missourians. New research from the Economic Policy Institute shows that “right to work” laws like Proposition A are associated with lower wages and a weaker middle class. EPI found that wages were 3.1% lower in states with right to work laws like Proposition A. EPI’s Heidi Shierholz said, “If Missouri goes in the direction of right to work, we will see that the wages of workers, including those that are not in unions, will decline. Most middle-class workers spend their wages on things like food and clothes at local retailers.” The wage decline will harm businesses where middle-class workers shop.

  • Proposition A is not what it seems. Don’t trust it: While supporters of Proposition A claim it will benefit working people, the reality is that it will take away choices from Missourians. The Supreme Court already has ruled that workers don’t have to join a union if they choose not to. The court also has ruled that working people have the freedom to organize and join together to bargain for a better return on our work. These things are at stake with Proposition A.

  • Proposition A will not create jobs: Missouri has the same unemployment rate, 3.8%, as neighboring states with similar economic conditions. Right to work hasn’t increased jobs. In addition to lowering wages and failing to create jobs, laws like Proposition A leave working people less likely to have benefits such as employer-sponsored health care.

  • Proposition A will weaken unions: While proponents of Proposition A claim to be interested in helping working people, the reality is that right to work laws such as Proposition A are designed specifically to weaken unions so that working people have less of a voice in the workplace.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 07/16/2018 - 11:17

After Janus, Electrical Workers Show the Power is in Our Hands

Tue, 2018-07-10 14:56
After Janus, Electrical Workers Show the Power is in Our Hands IBEW 1245

The Supreme Court’s recent Janus decision was despicable, spitting in the face of decades of common-sense precedent. There’s no question about that.

But Janus is not the end of our fight.

Through every punch thrown at working people in our history—every wage-slashing boss, every union-busting law, every strike-breaking massacre—we have rallied together, stronger for our shared struggle.

Our future is and always has been in our own hands. We have never looked to Washington to strengthen or validate our movement.

So while pundits rush to blather in front of a camera, we’re doing the painstaking business of organizing—building the labor movement, person by person.

A few locals in particular are offering up powerful models for success.

Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1245, faced with a likely union-busting decision from the Supreme Court, knew that inaction wasn’t an option. Management and other anti-worker interests would be eager to launch an aggressive, well-funded anti-union campaign, undermining the local’s collective voice wherever they could.

The local’s members haven’t surrendered to a future decided by those forces. Instead, they’ve been rallying together and strengthening their union one conversation at a time.

At the direction of Business Manager Tom Dalzell, the local established and trained volunteer organizing committees (VOCs) at each of their 34 public sector worksites.

“Our fundamental principle was that our members, if offered the opportunity, would jump at the chance to lead their co-workers and set ambitious goals,” said IBEW Local 1245 veteran organizer Fred Ross.

Aimed at overhauling the local’s internal organizing program, the project in fact started rather simply. Local leaders sat down with new committee members and listened to their stories—the distinct but universally motivating experiences that were driving each of them to give their time and energy to organizing.

They talked about the difference that unionism had made in their lives. Some had come up in union households, witnessing firsthand the economic opportunities gained through a union card. Others were the first in their families to join a union, gaining rights and dignities on the job that their parents could have only dreamed of.

Such powerful stories made powerful organizers. Members have indeed jumped at the chance to play a leadership role. What’s more, they are meeting and outpacing their lofty organizing goals.

A year since IBEW Local 1245’s VOCs formed, 25 of their public sector worksites have secured voluntary dues commitments from at least 80% of members—including 15 that have rallied together 100% of their membership. Meanwhile, the VOCs have grown to 214 members strong.

“Our public sector VOC leaders took ownership of this fight-back campaign to defend and strengthen our union,” Ross said.

“VOCs are the heartbeat of our campaigns,” added Eileen Purcell, the local’s lead organizer for the campaign. “Our goal has been to build leadership and capacity—before, during and after the Supreme Court decision. These leaders have been and continue to be our most powerful organizing tool.”

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 07/10/2018 - 14:56

Tags: Organizing

Are We in a Trade War?

Tue, 2018-07-10 12:08
Are We in a Trade War?

TV pundits keep repeating that we’re in a “trade war.” What does that even mean?

For starters, if you want to learn more about tariffs and trade, we will hold an informational call on Thursday to discuss newly imposed tariffs, progress on the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations and steps the labor movement is taking to find trade policy solutions that benefit working people. (Click here to RSVP.)

Now, let’s tone down the rhetoric just a bit. Real wars, such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan, are deadly, dangerous, scary affairs. No one should confuse tariffs with real wars.

In terms of economics, the closest thing we have to a “war” is the relentless attack on workers that has been taking place for several decades as economic elites (including corporate CEOsbad actor employers and the 1% who don’t want to pay their fair share of taxes) have worked to rig global economic rules to benefit themselves at the expense of ordinary working people.  

The attack on workers has been waged on many fronts, from so-called “right to work” laws that deny our freedom, to regressive tax laws such as the recent Republican tax bill giving big tax breaks to companies that outsource jobs, to attacks on overtime pay and workplace safety, to defunding schools and meals for our children. The attack on workers also comes in the area of trade policy, and includes unfair, predatory actions by China. Trade attacks on workers are aided and abetted by greedy corporations that outsource jobs and abuse workers, and by U.S. officials of both political parties who have failed to stand up for us.

So why are so many people saying we’re in a trade war? First, to scare us. Maintaining the status quo is exactly what the powerful want to keep workers and wages down. Second, because the U.S. is finally starting to do something about harmful trade practices that hurt working people. It has been so long since the U.S. has ambitiously used trade remedies to defend our economy that Wall Street fat cats are calling it a trade war.

While tariffs are not dangerous per se (in fact, they can be a very effective tool to address harmful trade practices and create jobs), they must be applied carefully, thoughtfully and strategically. If done right, tariffs can persuade trading partners to change their harmful practices. In that case, the tariffs will disappear quickly. On the other hand, if the tariffs are applied haphazardly, they may backfire, causing more economic disruption than necessary. As with anything it does, the government should be smart in how it applies tariffs. And it should have a plan that minimizes negative side effects for the U.S. economy and prioritizes benefits for working families—no matter in what industry those families work.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 07/10/2018 - 12:08

Trump's Supreme Court Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh Is Deeply Troubling

Tue, 2018-07-10 10:41
Trump's Supreme Court Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh Is Deeply Troubling AFL-CIO

Working families deserve a Supreme Court justice who will respect the rights of working people and who will enforce decades of legal precedent that protect us in the workplace. On Monday night, President Donald Trump rejected working men and women by selecting Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy created by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement.

After a thorough review of Kavanaugh’s record, we are deeply troubled by his selection. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said:

The current Supreme Court has shown that it will side with greedy corporations over working people whenever given the chance, and this nominee will only skew that further. Recent decisions by the court, often the result of 5-4 votes, have a dramatic impact on the lives of working families and reinforce the importance of the selection of a new justice. We simply cannot have another lifetime-appointed justice unleashed who, as Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her dissent in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, acts as a “black-robed ruler overriding citizens’ choices.”

Working people expect the Supreme Court to be the fairest and most independent branch of government in America. Any senator who believes Supreme Court justices should protect the rights of all Americans should reject this nomination and demand a nominee who will protect the rights of working people and uphold our constitutional values of liberty, equality and justice for all. Across the country, working people are organizing and taking collective action as we haven’t seen in years, and we won’t stand for any politician who supports justices who put our rights at risk.

The more we look at what Kavanaugh has done, the more it seems his nomination to the Supreme Court should be rejected. Kavanaugh routinely rules against working people and their families:

  • In American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO v. Gates, a partial dissent argued that Kavanaugh’s majority opinion would allow the secretary of defense to abolish collective bargaining at the Department of Defense.

  • In Agri Processor Co. Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, he argued that a company didn’t have to bargain with an employee union because the employees were ineligible to vote in the union’s election because they were undocumented immigrants.

  • In SeaWorld of Florida LLC v. Perez, he argued that a safety citation issued against SeaWorld after a killer whale killed a trainer was too paternalistic.

  • In Venetian Casino Resort LLC v. NLRB, he sided with a casino after an NLRB decision that the hotel engaged in unfair labor practices by requesting that police officers issue criminal citations against legal protesters.

Kavanaugh regularly sides with employers in denying working people relief against discrimination in the workplace:

  • In Miller v. Clinton, he argued that the U.S. State Department could fire an employee because he turned 65.

  • In Howard v. Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, he argued that a black woman couldn’t pursue a race discrimination suit after being fired as the deputy budget director at the U.S. House of Representatives, claiming that the firing was protected under the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution.

Kavanaugh rejects the right of employees to receive employer-provided health care:

  • In Seven-Sky v. Holder, he argued in a dissent that a president could declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional and not enforce it, despite it being passed by Congress.

Kavanaugh promotes overturning U.S. Supreme Court precedent:

  • He appears eager to overturn the well-established U.S. Supreme Court precedent of Chevron USA Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council Inc., which held that unelected judges must defer to executive agencies’ construction of a statute when Congress has given an agency primary responsibility for interpreting its mandates, so long as the agency does not act contrary to Congress’ clear intent.

  • In United States Telecom Association v. Federal Communications Commission, Kavanaugh argued that the court shouldn’t defer to executive agencies when it comes to what he thinks are “major rules.”

Kavanaugh regularly sides with the privileged, including corporations, over the less powerful:

  • He wrote two dissents contending that a large corporation, in these cases Exxon Mobil Corp., should not be held responsible for its overseas misconduct. After Indonesian villagers alleged they were tortured and killed by soldiers working for Exxon, Kavanaugh argued that allowing the villagers to sue Exxon would interfere with the U.S. government’s ability to conduct foreign relations.

  • In United States v. Anthem, he sided with the merger of insurance companies Anthem and Cigna, which would have reduced competition for consumers in 14 states. The majority criticized Kavanaugh’s application of “the law as he wishes it were, not as it currently is.” 

The Washington Post once described Kavanaugh as “nothing more than a partisan shock trooper in a black robe waging an ideological battle against government regulation.” It’s deeply troubling that the president thinks such a description is the best fit for the Supreme Court.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 07/10/2018 - 10:41

Tags: Supreme Court

U.S. Trade Deals Mean Justice for Some, Not Justice for All

Mon, 2018-07-09 10:41
U.S. Trade Deals Mean Justice for Some, Not Justice for All ClipArtBest.com

2017 was another banner year of justice for sale, reveals the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s annual review of investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) cases. What’s the report say? It reveals lots of new ways global investors are undermining democracy in private tribunals.

What’s ISDS? It’s a private justice system. ISDS means any investor—usually a corporation, but sometimes an individual, who buys property in a foreign country, from a hectare of land to stocks and bonds—can use this private justice system to sue host countries over laws, regulations and court decisions that may affect the investor’s current or future profits.

ISDS means justice for some, rather than justice for all. Those with the means to become international wheeler-dealers can access ISDS. The rest of us have to rely on public courts—the same ones that investors say are “inadequate” to handle their needs. That’s not fair, and that’s not right.

In 2017, 65 new known cases were filed, for a total of 855 known ISDS cases. Some cases are secret, so we’ll never really know how many cases have been filed.

The U.S. is the most frequently claimed “home state” of investors using the system, which tells us that U.S. trade and investment treaties (such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement) are pretty effective at promoting outsourcing to our trading partners (or else there wouldn’t be anything to sue over).

Spain is the third most sued country, and Canada is the sixth most sued, which tells us that ISDS isn’t really about “deficient” justice systems in poor countries—it’s about empowering economic elites to challenge democracies. Of all ISDS cases that have been decided on the merits, the investor wins 61% of the time, winning $504 million on average.

Two of last year’s cases approved the right of Chinese state-owned companies to use ISDS, despite claims by host countries that the Chinese government was actually calling the shots. In two other cases, investors were allowed to pursue their cases even though their original investments were illegal under the laws of Uzbekistan and Peru, the host countries. And in an extremely rare appellate case, one tribunal said it was OK for another tribunal to order a country not to enforce the rulings of its own domestic courts. Since one of the arguments made by those who favor ISDS is that the tribunals can only order monetary damages—rather than tell governments what their laws can be—this result is shameful. And maybe it is just the kick in the pants that governments need to abandon ISDS altogether.

In the NAFTA renegotiations, the U.S. has proposed to nearly (but not quite) eliminate the unfair ISDS system, but Canada and Mexico are saying no. The U.S. proposal would allow countries to opt out of the system entirely, and even if they do opt in, it would place restrictions on the kinds of cases investors could bring. The AFL-CIO supports this U.S. proposal and asks Canada and Mexico, “What are you waiting for?”

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 07/09/2018 - 10:41

#FamiliesBelongTogether: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 2018-07-06 11:21
#FamiliesBelongTogether: 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 this week’s Working People Weekly List.

Elise Bryant Speaks at Labor Rally #FamiliesBelongTogether: “On Saturday, June 30, over 600 different #FamiliesBelongTogether events occurred throughout the United States in a mass day of action against family separation at the border and Trump’s ‘zero-tolerance’ immigration policy. CLUW members participated in cities around the country and in the nation’s capital where President Elise Bryant spoke at a labor rally before the main #FamiliesBelongTogether event. The labor rally was organized by the Labor Coalition for Community Action (LCCA), composed of the constituency groups of the AFL-CIO, and held in front of the AFL-CIO headquarters.”

Unions Have Been Down Before; History Shows How They Can Come Back: “The Janus decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday was another blow to the labor movement. It creates a financial incentive for public sector union members to leave the union while continuing their job. Ever since the beginning of the 1980s clampdown on the U.S. left, signaled by President Ronald Reagan’s firing of the air traffic controllers to end their strike, the labor movement has been besieged by what billionaire Warren Buffett described in The New York Times as a class war started by his class. It’s not the first time this has happened in U.S. history.”

Eyes of the Labor Movement Are on Missouri as Workers Fight to Defeat Phony RTW: “AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka kicked off the Federation’s Labor 2018 campaign at Laborers Local 42 in St. Louis on June 24, rallying hundreds of union members from 30 different unions for a day of action to defeat Proposition A (‘Right to Work’) by going door-to-door urging voters to protect their pay by voting ‘no’ on Prop A. ‘Prop A will lower wages,’ Trumka said. ‘Prop A will destroy jobs. Prop A will increase poverty. Prop A will make pay even less equal for working women. Prop A is designed and intended to undermine our collective voice on every issue that is important to working people, and we’re not having any of it!’”

Randi Weingarten Has “Hope in the Darkness.” And Also Some Fear: “Our nation’s teachers unions have had a whiplash of a year, from the statewide teachers strikes that have swept the country to last week’s Supreme Court ruling in the Janus v. AFSCME case that could severely hurt their membership. America’s most powerful teachers union leader says there is much, much more to come. For the past decade, Randi Weingarten has led the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers. She has been a prominent voice in battles over public education, organized labor and national politics. In the dark aftermath of last week’s Janus ruling, which will almost certainly drain members and money from public unions nationwide, she spoke to us about how working-class interests can possibly try to survive and thrive in the age of Trump.”

American Workers Stand Ready to Demand Change After Janus Blow: “Obviously, we’re disappointed with the Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME. A narrow five-justice majority, emboldened by a stolen seat, overturned four decades of common-sense precedent. It’s the latest misguided action by the most corporate-friendly court in our history. On paper, the plaintiff was one man in Illinois. But in reality, a dark web of corporations and wealthy donors dead set on destroying unions and silencing workers were behind this case. Janus is part of a multipronged attack, spearheaded by corporate billionaires, to chip away at the progress working people have made for ourselves and our communities.”

That Which Is Justly Ours: “Signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt 83 years ago yesterday, the National Labor Relations Act marked a critical step forward for working people’s right to join together in unions and bargain collectively. As Roosevelt said at the time, ‘By preventing practices which tend to destroy the independence of labor, it seeks, for every worker with its scope, that freedom of choice and action which is justly his.’”

Don’t Mourn, Organize: In the States Roundup: “It’s time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states.”

Don’t Mess with Working People in Texas: Worker Wins: “Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with union growth in Texas and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.”

Make It a Union-Made Fourth of July: “The Fourth of July is here, and it’s time to celebrate America’s birthday. Our flag has been waving high since 1776, but do you know what the colors mean? The red represents the blood shed by those who fought for our nation’s independence. The white represents purity and innocence, and the blue symbolizes the bravery of those who stared danger in the face to fight for freedom. As you enjoy the holiday with family and friends, Labor 411 has all the holiday food and drink favorites made by companies that treat their workers with dignity and respect. Let’s all celebrate good jobs that help strengthen the middle class as we party our way to a stronger America!”

Pride Month Profiles: Josette Jaramillo: “Throughout Pride Month, the AFL-CIO will be taking a look at some of the pioneers whose work sits at the intersection of the labor movement and the movement for LGBTQ equality. Our next profile is Josette Jaramillo.”

Pride Month Profiles: Marsha P. Johnson: “Throughout Pride Month, the AFL-CIO will be taking a look at some of the pioneers whose work sits at the intersection of the labor movement and the movement for LGBTQ equality. Our next profile is Marsha P. Johnson.”

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 07/06/2018 - 11:21

That Which Is Justly Ours

Fri, 2018-07-06 11:02
That Which Is Justly Ours Public domain

Signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt 83 years ago yesterday, the National Labor Relations Act marked a critical step forward for working people’s right to join together in unions and bargain collectively. As Roosevelt said at the time, “By preventing practices which tend to destroy the independence of labor, it seeks, for every worker with its scope, that freedom of choice and action which is justly his.”

More than 80 years after our leaders proudly advanced the rights of working people, corporate interests are still ruthlessly fighting to deny us that which is justly ours. Just as the labor movement helped secure passage of the NLRA, today we are demanding an even better deal that fully guarantees our fundamental economic rights and freedoms.

To that end, Democrats in the House and Senate recently introduced the Workers’ Freedom to Negotiate Act, which would enact several key provisions expanding collective bargaining rights, such as:

  • Strengthening penalties against abusive and predatory corporations that violate workers’ rights.

  • Combating misclassification of workers as supervisors and independent contractors.

  • Strengthening our right to strike for the wages, benefits and working conditions we deserve.

  • Creating a mandatory mediation and arbitration process to ensure that corporations and newly organized unions reach a first contract.

  • Banning state laws that undermine our freedom to join together and negotiate.

  • Protecting the integrity and fairness of union elections from employer propaganda.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 07/06/2018 - 11:02

Tags: NLRA