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Highlights from Day Four of the AFL-CIO 2017 Convention

Wed, 2017-10-25 15:45
Highlights from Day Four of the AFL-CIO 2017 Convention Kaveh Sardari, AFL-CIO

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka opened the fourth day of the AFL-CIO 2017 Convention talking about the Workers' Bill of Rights:

Sisters and brothers, working people need a bill of rights.

A collective bargaining agreement for America. 

This will serve as a platform for our members to rally around. It will give prospective members a clear statement of our values. And it will provide political candidates and elected officials with a litmus test for our support. 

We simply refuse to accept the reality of struggling to make ends meet in the richest country in the world at its richest point in history. And so we demand rights that ensure we are able, through our work, to lead better lives.

    Read more about the Workers' Bill of Rights and other resolutions adopted at today's convention:

    • Resolution 1: Workers' Bill of Rights: "AFL-CIO calls for the creation of a Workers' Bill of Rights."
    • Resolution 9: Rewriting the Rules: Making the Freedom to Join Together and Negotiate a Reality for All Workers: "AFL-CIO will undertake the process of fundamentally reforming America's labor laws in order to make the freedom to join together and negotiate a reality for all workers."
    • Resolution 19: Diverse and Inclusive Leadership for a Thriving Labor Movement: "The AFL-CIO must recommit itself to diversity and inclusion at all levels and in all parts of our movement. It’s clear that resolve is not enough; we need accountability and action."
    • Resolution 20: Full Employment and a $15 Minimum Wage: "The AFL-CIO supports a $15 minimum wage and full employment."
    • Resolution 23: Safe Jobs-Every Worker's Right: "The right to a safe job is a fundamental worker right and a core union value. Every worker should be able to go to work and return home safely at the end of the day."
    • Resolution 26: The Solidarity Center-Twenty Years of Standing Up For Workers Around the World: "In honor of its 20th anniversary, we recognize the achievements and role of the Solidarity Center in the fight for global justice, and call on convention delegates and unions to become a sponsor of the next 20 years of Solidarity Center programs, participate in Solidarity Center exchange programs and contribute expertise to its programs, and  join solidarity campaigns led by the Solidarity Center to protect trade union rights around the world."
    • Resolution 27: Resolution Celebrating Ullico Inc.'s 90th Anniversary: "The AFL-CIO recognizes the critical role Ullico has played as a financial services provider to the American labor movement and working men and women; and congratulates the Ullico Family of Companies on 90 years of service to working people and the labor movement, and looks forward to working with the Ullico Family of Companies in the years to come."
    • Resolution 36: Celebrating DPE: 40 Years of Growing Professional Union Membership: "Professional and technical members are part of almost every union. Regardless of their concentration of professional members, all DPE affiliate unions recognize that professionals need to see themselves in their union and in the labor movement."
    • Resolution 38: National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Museum and Memorial: "The AFL-CIO endorses and supports the efforts of the NLEOMF to honor the law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty by permanently etching their names on the memorial and the museum’s effort to build mutual respect and foster cooperation between the public and the law enforcement profession."
    • Resolution 50: War Is Not the Answer: "The AFL-CIO promotes and advocates for a foreign policy based on international solidarity of all workers, mutual respect of all nations and national sovereignty, and calls upon the president and Congress to make war truly the last resort in our country’s foreign relations, and that we seek peace and reconciliation wherever possible, calls upon the president and Congress to bring the war dollars home and make our priority as a nation rebuilding this country’s crumbling infrastructure and will advocate for the necessary federal funding to meet the needs of veterans by providing them comprehensive services for health care, housing, education and employment, and to establish outreach to at-risk veterans who may not be availing themselves of existing programs."

    See all the resolutions that were adopted at the convention.

      More about today's convention:

      International Convention Guests Visit Granite City and Learn How Bad Trade Policies Affect Illinois Steelworkers: "More than 60 international labor guests attending the AFL-CIO convention in St Louis crossed the river to Granite City, Illinois, to visit the United Steelworkers Locals at the US Steel plant that has operated there for decades."

      A Workers' Bill of Rights Passed at the AFL-CIO 2017 Convention: "At the 2017 AFL-CIO Convention, the delegates passed a resolution calling for the creation of a Workers' Bill of Rights. Speaking in support of the resolution, President Richard L. Trumka said...."

      Imprisoned KCTU President Han Honored with Human Rights Award, Global Labor Movement Calls for His Release: "At the AFL-CIO convention in St. Louis, President Richard Trumka honored the imprisoned president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), Han Sang-gyun, with the George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award. Han has been in jail since December 2015, serving a three-year sentence for defending trade union rights and fighting back against corporate corruption and the repressive government of former President Park Geun-hye."

      Professionals Win Together: "This morning, under the blue glow of the lights in St. Louis’ America’s Center the leaders and members of America’s unions voted to recognize the dramatic growth of professionals in unions and professionals’ role in the future of the labor movement."

      Check out the videos that were played during today's plenary session:

      Watch a playlist of all the videos from plenary sessions:

      Check out the highlights from day oneday two, and day three of the convention.

      Watch video highlights of the convention:

      Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 10/25/2017 - 15:45

      Tags: 2017 Convention

      International Convention Guests Visit Granite City and Learn How Bad Trade Policies Affect Illinois Steelworkers

      Wed, 2017-10-25 12:53
      International Convention Guests Visit Granite City and Learn How Bad Trade Policies Affect Illinois Steelworkers Brian FinneganMore than 60 international labor guests attending the AFL-CIO convention in St Louis crossed the river to Granite City, Illinois, to visit the United Steelworkers Locals at the US Steel plant that has operated there for decades.

      More than 60 international labor guests attending the AFL-CIO convention in St. Louis, Mo.,
      crossed the river to Granite City, Ill., to visit the United Steelworkers Locals at the U.S.
      Steel plant that has operated there for decades.

      Granite City and its Labor Temple that serves as the union hall for United Steelworkers (USW) Locals 1899, 50 and 68, have an illustrious place in U.S. labor history and progressive politics. These days, however, the community is feeling the impact of short-sighted trade policies that lead to fewer good jobs and local resources.

      The week before Christmas in 2015, the plant was idled and laid off more than 2,000 people because of years of these bad trade laws and weak enforcement. This has allowed unfair competition that distorts markets and prices of steel. As the economy recovers from the 2008 financial crisis, demand for U.S.-made steel lags behind. Even with heavy investment in state-of-the-art production, U.S. plants can't compete with companies that have financial backing from governments like that of China.

      There are now about 600 workers at the plant, but as one worker said to the visitors, "We're not making any steel here. We're finishing the steel made somewhere else."

      The international labor leaders told similar stories of job losses due to dumped steel in Jordan, Egypt, and the Ukraine. As USW President Leo Gerard made clear, “the fight is not worker against worker, it is workers united around the world to fight against rigged rules that reward corporate greed.”

      While he was a candidate and now as president, Donald Trump has claimed he would take action to defend U.S. production and workers from such unfair trade. But the administration has taken no action to enforce rules that would put the Granite City plant back online and workers back in the plant.

      "We won't stop pushing this government to fix the trade laws and take action to stop illegal dumping of foreign steel until this plant and many others like it are up and running again," Gerard told the international visitors.

      See more action from the AFL-CIO convention.

       

      Jackie Tortora Wed, 10/25/2017 - 12:53

      Tags: 2017 Convention

      Imprisoned KCTU President Han Honored with Human Rights Award, Global Labor Movement Calls for His Release

      Wed, 2017-10-25 11:48
      Imprisoned KCTU President Han Honored with Human Rights Award, Global Labor Movement Calls for His Release AFL-CIO

      At the AFL-CIO Convention in St. Louis, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka honored the imprisoned president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), Han Sang-gyun, with the George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award. Han has been in jail since December 2015, serving a three-year sentence for defending trade union rights and fighting back against corporate corruption and the repressive government of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

      Each year since 1980, the AFL-CIO has recognized outstanding examples of the international struggle for human rights through trade unions. Han is honored for his perseverance in the face of anti-democratic repression and leadership in a transformational period in Korean history.

      Accepting on Han’s behalf, KCTU Vice President Kim Wook-dong said, "Our movement has been at the forefront of calling for democratic change in our country and challenging the corruption of CEOs and our former president."

      Han has spent his life fighting for the rights of workers. During South Korea’s years of military rule in the 1980s, Han helped organize a union in his auto manufacturing plant. He went on to lead that union in an occupation of the auto plant with 1,700 other workers, demanding an end to layoff and severance concessions.

      Kim continued: "Together, we need to continue the struggle. We look forward to deepening our solidarity and strategic partnership with the AFL-CIO and all its affiliates."

      In honoring the powerful work of Han, the KCTU, Dennis Williams, president of the UAW, reminded the audience that: "Repression of workers and unions has no place in a democracy."

      Under Han’s leadership, workers mobilized against anti-worker labor legislation and government corruption in a series of massive peaceful demonstrations. The movement forced the ouster of Park Geun-hye, former president of South Korea, and led to corruption charges for her and the heads of a number of powerful Korean conglomerates, but not before authorities arrested Han and other activists after riot police disrupted a march.

      South Koreans voted in a new, more pro-labor administration under South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The labor movement is keeping the pressure up on the Moon administration to release Han and other labor activists, end regressive labor laws and hold Korea’s major corporations accountable.

      Guy Ryder, director-general of the International Labor Organization, emphasized the importance of labor rights everywhere--not just in Korea--calling out the U.S. government for its failure to ratify conventions guaranteeing workers the freedom to join together in unions and negotiate with their employers.

      From the United States, the United Kingdom and the Philippines, to Brazil and Egypt, and everywhere workers are under attack, Korean workers have shown that collective action can create real, far-reaching change.

      In recognizing the magnitude of the work of Han and the KCTU, Trumka wondered how many in the audience would be brave and committed enough to go to jail so their brothers and sisters could have a chance for a better life. He also noted a point of hope. "The last time we gave the Meany-Kirkland award to someone who couldn’t come due to repression [Napoleon Gomez of Mexico’s Los Mineros], we won the fight. We are hopeful Han will soon be free as well."

      Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 10/25/2017 - 11:48

      Tags: 2017 Convention

      A Workers' Bill of Rights Passed at the AFL-CIO 2017 Convention

      Wed, 2017-10-25 10:57
      A Workers' Bill of Rights Passed at the AFL-CIO 2017 Convention AFL-CIO

      At the 2017 AFL-CIO Convention, the delegates passed a resolution calling for the creation of a Workers' Bill of Rights. Speaking in support of the resolution, President Richard L. Trumka said:

      Sisters and brothers, working people need a bill of rights.

      A collective bargaining agreement for America.

      This will serve as a platform for our members to rally around. It will give prospective members a clear statement of our values. And it will provide political candidates and elected officials with a litmus test for our support.

      We simply refuse to accept the reality of struggling to make ends meet in the richest country in the world at its richest point in history. And so we demand rights that ensure we are able, through our work, to lead better lives.

      Here's what working people said should be in a Workers' Bill of Rights:

      Here are the key components of the Workers' Bill of Rights:

      • A Good Job with Fair Wages: Everyone who wants to work has the right to a good job where we earn a fair return on our work and receive a wage that allows us to support ourselves and our families.
      • Quality Health Care: Regardless of income, job or a pre-existing condition.
      • A Safe Job: Free from harassment and violence.
      • Paid Time Off and Flexible Scheduling
      • Freedom from Discrimination: In hiring, firing and promotions.
      • Retire with Dignity: And financial security.
      • Education: Public K-12, higher education and career training that advances our knowledge and skills without leaving us in debt.
      • Freedom to Join Together: To negotiate with our co-workers for better wages and working conditions, whether we are in a union or not.
      • A Voice in Democracy: To freely exercise our democratic voice through voting and civic participation so that we can make sure our government stands up for this Workers’ Bill of Rights.
      Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 10/25/2017 - 10:57

      Tags: 2017 Convention

      Highlights from Day Three of the AFL-CIO 2017 Convention

      Tue, 2017-10-24 18:23
      Highlights from Day Three of the AFL-CIO 2017 Convention AFL-CIO

      AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka opened the third day of the AFL-CIO 2017 Convention talking about economic rules and an independent political voice:

      Policy is what shapes the economy, and too many of those policies have produced a windfall for the rich and the well-connected and doomed millions to compete for the scraps left over. 

      Brothers and sisters, this must end. 

      Our movement is the great equalizer in an otherwise cruel economy.

      We will find hope and opportunity for millions of working people, not inside the major political parties, but inside our movement and our communities.

      I don't care if you're a Democrat, a Republican, or anything in between...if you do right by us, we will do right by you. 

      Our support must be based on issues—not personalities and certainly not party registration. 

      AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler spoke on the future of work:

      Shortly we will present to the Convention a resolution for the AFL-CIO to form the Commission on the Future of Work and Unions so that this important work can begin with deep sectoral analysis and a plan of attack. 

      Together we will embrace the urgency of this moment and ready the labor movement.

      We will lift up the powerful principle...that new, different and innovative sectors of our economy and more middle class jobs...are fueled by real bargaining power and strong unions. 

      In this challenging time, we have an opportunity to come together to shape the future of work as an unmistakable force for broadly shared prosperity!

      This conversation about the future of work is happening literally all over the world, including the International Labor Organization and the World Economic Forum.  

      Our global partners are having the same debate and are asking the same questions. We know the decline in union density around the world is linked to growing inequality and impacts how much bargaining power we will have in the future world of work.  

      We have to work together more closely than ever to ensure race and gender pay gaps in so many countries are closed; that we protect migrant workers and grow sustainable jobs in a greener economy. 

      During the convention, the delegates approved the following resolutions:

      • Resolution 2: An Independent Political Voice: "We must give working people greater political power by speaking with an unquestionably independent political voice, backed by a unified labor movement."
      • Resolution 5: Commission on the Future of Work and Unions: "In planning for the future of work, we must rethink ways of building bargaining power and providing economic security for millions of Americans, and we must make sure that we as a movement are effectively organized and structured to get it done."
      • Resolution 6: Making Health Care for All a Reality: "We should move forward toward making health care a basic right for everyone."
      • Resolution 8: Working People Will Lead the Fight for a Global New Deal on Trade: "We must engage in comprehensive economic education with union members and the communities where working people live so that everyone understands the future of our great country is at stake. We must replace existing trade and investment deals with deals that prioritize economic justice and sustainable growth."
      • Resolution 11: Solidarity and Democracy—Reaffirming the Labor Movement's Mission in the Face of the Threat of Hate: "We must stand up against hate and scapegoating wherever it appears in our nation. We seek a nation where we value each other and a labor movement that defends the dignity of all people."
      • Resolution 12: Immigration and Citizenship: "The AFL-CIO rededicates itself to a concerted citizenship drive: Encouraging naturalization for the 9 million people who currently are eligible will provide concrete worker protections, expand and diversify the electorate, and help us build power to win the sweeping changes that working people expect and deserve."
      • Resolution 14: Voting Rights: Building an Inclusive Pro-Voter Democracy to Move a Winning Agenda for Working People 
      • Resolution 17: Building Power for Working People in the Global Economy: "To meet the challenges of a globalized workplace, we must increase our commitment to working with the global labor movement to strengthen organizing capacity at the community, national and global levels, to develop effective, strategic campaigns that increase membership and bargaining power."
      • Resolution 18: Tax and Budget Policies Should Put Working People First: "Working people and our unions will mobilize to advance a comprehensive public campaign on the ground, online and over the air to put working people first in the debate over taxes and the budget."
      • Resolution 21: Holding Wall Street Accountable: "We have to fight back against Wall Street to protect our livelihoods and our democracy."
      • Resolution 22: Immigration Enforcement: Building Community Trust: "The AFL-CIO shall continue to demand clear separation of immigration enforcement from local law enforcement and other functions of government because we want safe workplaces, campuses and communities. We call on our elected officials at all levels of government to reject the criminalization of immigrants and engage in policies that protect privacy and due process, and restore trust in our vital public institutions."
      • Resolution 40: Rejecting the Privatization of Veterans' Health Care: "The AFL-CIO opposes the privatization of the Veterans Administration and joins AFGE in its effort to fight the privatization of the VA."
      • Resolution 41: Federal and D.C. Government Workers Deserve Fair Treatment: "The AFL-CIO opposes the further enactment of laws to prevent workers’ livelihoods from being taken from them without just cause, and join AFGE in working to restore the principles of fair treatment and just cause for Veterans Administration employees."
      • Resolution 42: Supporting an Apolitical, Professional, Merit-Based Civil Service: "The AFL-CIO opposes any attempt to undermine the apolitical, professional, merit-based civil service and supports fair pay, benefits and working conditions for civil servants provided by an enduring, objective civil service system."
      • Resolution 46: Support Postal Financial Services and Postal Banking: "The AFL-CIO endorses and supports the “Campaign for Postal Banking,” including the ongoing efforts to compel the Postal Service to provide basic financial services such as paycheck cashing and electronic funds transfer, as a step toward establishing nonprofit, public postal banking."
      • Resolution 47: Condemn Rising Fascism, Fight for Working-Class Unity: "The AFL-CIO condemns and actively opposes the hate mongering, intimidation and divisiveness of the fascist/neo-Nazi white supremacist groups and the political encouragement that they are receiving from the highest levels of government and we salute and support those counter-protesters, such as the 40,000 that took to the streets of Boston for equality and against the hate mongers, who are drawing a line in the sand."
      • Resolution 48: Exploring New Directions for Labor in Electoral Politics: "In addition to the traditional supporting for electoral candidates who are friends and allies of workers, the AFL-CIO also pursues a strategy of advancing our core issues through referenda and ballot initiatives and propositions at the statewide and local level; studies the viability of independent and third-party politics; and explores other reasonable means of advancing the interests of labor in electoral politics."
      • Resolution 55: Climate Change, Energy and Union Jobs: "The AFL-CIO will fight politically and legislatively to secure and maintain employment, pensions and health care for workers affected by changes in the energy market, and the AFL-CIO believes that the United States Congress should enact comprehensive energy and climate legislation that creates good jobs and addresses the threat of climate change."

      More about today's convention:

      The Future of Work Needs Strong Unions: "We hear a great deal about the future of work. Gig economy. Deprofessionalization. Temp, part-time and on-call work. Technology. Automation. Artificial intelligence. Digitization. Deindustrialization. Unfair trade policy and offshoring. While these changes and trends take hold, we are living in an era where the rich and powerful have rigged our economy against working families through well-financed campaigns to weaken workers’ bargaining power, pass perverse 'right-to-work laws' and use the courts as a pawn to hollow out the labor movement. If the question is how we push back these ominous trends, the answer is through strong unions."

      Check out the videos that were played during today's plenary session:

      Some tweets from today's sessions:

       

      This is what international labor solidarity looks like. #aflcio17 pic.twitter.com/DUx506UCyQ

      — Cathy Feingold (@AFLCIOGlobal) October 24, 2017

       

      EVP @Tefere_Gebre "This is a country for all of us... we leave no worker behind" #1uWeRise #AFLCIO17 pic.twitter.com/Fpx2A28gK3

      — NextUp (@AFLCIONextUp) October 24, 2017

       

      EVP @Tefere_Gebre with new American Citizens and members of unions who are proud of their new country. #AFLCIO17 pic.twitter.com/syLMz4Wm79

      — AFL-CIO Latino (@AFLCIOLatino) October 24, 2017

       

      .@Tefere_Gebre we will fight for a path to citizenship. It is in the union DNA #AFLCIO17 pic.twitter.com/xtd6I4CNjm

      — Cathy Feingold (@AFLCIOGlobal) October 24, 2017

       

      The need for international solidarity is as great as it’s ever been. We must fight for social justice everywhere. #aflcio17 @RichardTrumka

      — Cathy Feingold (@AFLCIOGlobal) October 21, 2017

      Check out the highlights from day one and day two of the convention.

      Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 10/24/2017 - 18:23

      Tags: 2017 Convention

      The Future of Work Needs Strong Unions

      Tue, 2017-10-24 14:45
      The Future of Work Needs Strong Unions AFL-CIO

      We hear a great deal about the future of work. Gig economy. Deprofessionalization. Temp, part-time and on-call work. Technology. Automation. Artificial intelligence. Digitization. Deindustrialization. Unfair trade policy and offshoring. While these changes and trends take hold, we are living in an era where the rich and powerful have rigged our economy against working families through well-financed campaigns to weaken workers’ bargaining power, pass perverse “right-to-work laws” and use the courts as a pawn to hollow out the labor movement. If the question is how we push back these ominous trends, the answer is through strong unions.

      But first, we have some work to do. We must look inward at our structures, our strategies, our services and our communications with working people. We must understand the most profound changes emerging in American workplaces. We must confront these seismic shifts and turn them into power and opportunity for working people. That is the message being delivered today on the floor of the national AFL-CIO convention in St. Louis where delegates are charting an aggressive course through the creation of the Commission on the Future of Work and Unions.

      It is clear that many of the most powerful and best connected in our country have little trouble with what’s happening to working people. They do not agonize over the diminishing power of workers to earn a fair wage. They could care less about income inequality, the diminishment of quality jobs or the mass job losses that could follow the latest wave of technological innovation. In fact, many of them count on these things to boost their wealth.

      It is up to the AFL-CIO and strong unions, convention delegates say, “to confront the economic insecurity most Americans face” – to promote and defend the “freedom of working people to make a decent living, to receive quality job and skills training, to support our families, to have work-life balance, to access important public services like good schools and quality health care, and to retire with dignity.”

      The Commission’s work is critical. It will focus on re-imagining structures for giving voice to workers. Growing the labor movement. Giving millions more the power of bargaining. Tackling the dilemma of growth industries in America and across the globe growing up without unions and choosing low-road employment models. Organizing the workers on the frontline of groundbreaking companies that are making next-generation products and tackling some of the globe’s most wrenching challenges. And ensuring that innovation and new business models are not simply tools to jettison millions of good jobs but instead can fuel middle class, union job creation.

      The labor movement is in its second century of navigating change in the workplace. There is nothing surprising about machines that replace people and threaten good jobs. There is nothing shocking about the emergence of new business models that take advantage of eroding standards and competitive business pressures. And there is nothing particularly novel about a CEO looking for new ways to squeeze more profits through introduction of atypical work arrangements – from part-timers to independent, on-demand labor.

      There is also nothing new about the labor movement stepping up. The future of work has always been about having strong, independent unions ready to fight in the face of change and challenge. The Commission on the Future of Work and Unions gives us the process, structure and purpose we need to take on this latest wave of change.

      Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 10/24/2017 - 14:45

      Tags: 2017 Convention

      Labor Rights Protections in Trade Deals Don’t Work

      Tue, 2017-10-24 13:55
      Labor Rights Protections in Trade Deals Don’t Work

      This week in St. Louis, the labor movement called for a "New Deal on Trade," which must include labor rules that protect working families, in the United States and in our trading partners. The failure of existing rules has been covered extensively here on this blog and in the news—but in case anyone needs further proof, the U.S. government recently let deadlines on cases of egregious workers' rights abuses in Colombia and Peru pass with little fanfare.

      These cases underscore why workers desperately need effective protections in trade agreements, with swift and certain enforcement. Currently, governments have complete discretion over how to respond to labor rights complaints. Our current trade agreements have no deadlines, no criteria for pursuing sanctions, or even any requirement to act at all. When workers join across borders to document abuses, cases are closed without fixing the problem, or drag on for years. Workers often face serious risks to their lives and livelihoods when they come forward. The United States is sending the message that the results are not worth that risk. Unfortunately, the language recently tabled by the U.S. government for NAFTA re-negotiations does nothing to improve these long-standing shortcomings.

      In Colombia, workers are being threatened, assaulted and killed with impunity. There is rampant union-busting and the majority of the workforce is stuck in abusive short-term contracts that rob workers of a fair wage and access to workers’ comp and retirement. The AFL-CIO and a coalition of Colombian unions filed a complaint in 2016. The U.S. government refused to invoke formal consultations but did recognize the serious failings in Colombia and made a series of recommendations to bring the country into compliance with labor commitments in the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Meanwhile, Colombia continues to violate workers' rights. Right now, the government is breaking its own laws by forcibly ending a strike at the airline Avianca and calling in scabs to replace workers demanding better treatment.

      Last week, the U.S. government was supposed to assess progress toward implementing those recommendations, but no assessment has been released. In addition to the oil and sugar workers’ cases in the complaint, Colombia workers in many sectors face everyday violations of rights. Right now, the Colombian government is violating its own laws by forcing an arbitration well before the legally established deadline.

      In 2015, Peruvian unions and the International Labor Rights Forum filed a case demonstrating that the Peruvian government was not enforcing and, in some cases, deliberately weakening labor protections in export sectors. As with Colombia, the U.S. government concluded that labor abuses existed, but opted not to invoke formal consultations. Instead, the U.S. government outlined a series of steps to bring Peru into compliance and committed to following up by June 2017. That deadline elapsed without compliance by the government of Peru and with no action from U.S. officials.

      These missed deadlines do not make workers confident that this administration's approach to labor enforcement will be any different than past administrations.

      As the AFL-CIO will highlight at its convention this week, working people need a New Deal on trade that includes binding labor commitments with swift and certain enforcement. The time for promises is over. The time for action to protect worker freedoms is now.

      Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 10/24/2017 - 13:55

      Tags: Peru, Colombia

      Highlights from Day Two of the AFL-CIO 2017 Convention

      Mon, 2017-10-23 14:16
      Highlights from Day Two of the AFL-CIO 2017 Convention Kaveh Sardari, AFL-CIO

      AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka opened the second day of the AFL-CIO 2017 Convention talking about the importance of unions to democracy:

      Millennials have never lived in an America where wages are growing, or worked in an economy where hard work and productivity blazed a trail into the middle class. They have never experienced an economy where more than 1 in 10 workers have the freedom to belong to a union and bargain together. The American idea that anything is possible if you work hard and play by the rules simply does not exist for many young people.

      In other words, the attacks on the backbone of our nation—working people—constitutes nothing less than a clear and present danger to our democracy.

      So we are going to fight back. Smartly. Strategically. As one united movement.

      That is the primary focus of today’s session.

      We are going to fight back against right to work, here in Missouri and across the country.

      We are going to fight back against attacks on our wages, benefits and freedom to negotiate for good jobs.

      And we are going to fight back against the right-wing propaganda machine that continues to slander unions and our members.

      We’re going to do it by organizing.

      During the convention, the delegates approved the following resolutions:

      • Resolution 3: Engaging Our Members to Build Strong Unions: "Our leaders realize the best way to combat these threats is to focus on internal organizing, making sure all members and potential members see the value of remaining a part of or joining their union. If we fail to do this, our membership and communities will face ever-deepening challenges posed by income inequality, affordable access to quality health care, erosion of the middle class and the denial of basic workplace rights."
      • Resolution 4: Organizing to Win Power for Working People: "AFL-CIO resolves to devise a labor movementwide strategy for making the promise of collective bargaining real for every worker."
        Resolution 13: Freedom to Spend Time with Family: "Work is a down payment on the freedom to spend time with our families. Unfortunately, that investment does not always pay off. Outdated workplace policies put working women in a particular bind, forcing them to make impossible choices between work, family and personal wellness. Women want new rules for an economy that works for all working people equally, and the freedom to build lives of value."
      • Resolution 15: AFL-CIO Prioritizing Organizing and Growth of Affiliate Unions—All in the Service of Helping Working People Organize: "The work of the AFL-CIO on political campaigns, policy initiatives, legislative efforts, digital and data strategies, international alliances, health and safety, and legal defense should all be in the support of the mission of our AFL-CIO affiliated unions—to assist working people organizing for a better life. "
      • Resolution 25: Criminal Justice Reform: A System of Corrections and Rehabilitation That Prioritizes Corrections and Rehabilitation: "The AFL-CIO shall actively support criminal justice reforms based upon previously passed policy positions: community policing, sentencing reform, removal of employment obstacles for the formerly incarcerated, restrictions on for-profit prisons and voting rights restoration."
      • Resolution 43: I AM 2018: "The AFL-CIO supports the I AM 2018 Program to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."
      • Resolution 44: Resolution in Support of Public Education: "The AFL-CIO joins with organizations across the country in support of public education and our continued commitment to the highest quality public education for all students."
      • Resolution 45: Janus Resolution: "Therefore, be it resolved, that the entire AFL-CIO stands in solidarity with its public-sector members in this struggle; and be it further resolved, that this convention supports these unions’ ongoing efforts to provide public-service employees with a voice at work, and the freedom and power to have a better life for themselves and their communities. Be it finally resolved, that regardless of how the Supreme Court rules in Janus, these unions and their members will remain clear and powerful voices for economic justice."

      Read more about today's convention:

      Flint Water Crisis: You Don’t Mess Around with Kids: "Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha addressed the delegates at the AFL-CIO Convention today on the Flint water crisis. Here are some excerpts of her remarks:

      "It's an honor to be here today at the AFL-CIO's 28th Constitutional Convention.

      "My mom was a proud union teacher. My dad was a General Motors employee, benefiting from the contracts between the UAW and GM. My brother is a labor lawyer at a Washington, D.C., labor law firm. We are a union family."

      Global Action for Local Power: "In St. Louis, representatives from more than 40 countries gathered with U.S. unions and their allies to discuss strategies to build global power for workers, from local workplaces to worldwide supply chains. They discussed how unions in local struggles made their campaigns stronger by reaching out across borders to partners and used global tools to leverage power."

      USAS: Strengthening Student Power at the Bargaining Table: "United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) is the country’s largest student labor solidarity organization, with more than 150 university locals campaigning for union rights alongside campus workers, community members and garment workers producing college apparel overseas. 

      "Students chanted, 'Whose university? Our university!' as they stormed their president’s office on a sunny spring day."

      Check out the videos that were played during today's plenary session:

      Watch @hamiltonnolan interview workers @unitehere @IBEW @AFGENational on secrets to organizing success: Part 1, Part 2.

       

      Watch LIVE @hamiltonnolan interview workers @unitehere @IBEW @AFGENational on secrets to organizing success #AFLCIOhttps://t.co/GvLgXOlGrZ

      — AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) October 23, 2017

      Day Two of #AFLCIO17 comes to a close as union members head out for a day of action.

      — AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) October 23, 2017

       

      @steelworkers host Int’l labor leaders at #AFLCIO17 https://t.co/v3pK6hFVn2

      — Celeste Drake (@CDrakeFairTrade) October 23, 2017

      Int’l labor leaders visit the historic Granite City locals # 1899, 50 and 68. #AFLCIO17 @steelworkers pic.twitter.com/clklTA4FkN

      — Cathy Feingold (@AFLCIOGlobal) October 23, 2017

      Check out more from this international exchange on AFLCIO Global Facebook page and @CDrakeFairTrade #AFLCIO17

      — Cathy Feingold (@AFLCIOGlobal) October 23, 2017

      Proud that delegates showed solidarity and joined @brucefranksjr and protestors outside #AFLCIO17.https://t.co/P5qvQKmeXb

      — Jamilah Nasheed (@SenatorNasheed) October 23, 2017

      NJ AFL-CIO presents strategies to build a winning labor candidates program at #AFLCIO17 pic.twitter.com/qxd4Gm1I4n

      — New Jersey AFL-CIO (@NJAFLCIO) October 23, 2017

      Check out the highlights from day one of the convention.

      Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 10/23/2017 - 14:16

      Tags: 2017 Convention

      Flint Water Crisis: You Don’t Mess Around with Kids

      Mon, 2017-10-23 12:24
      Flint Water Crisis: You Don’t Mess Around with Kids AFL-CIODr. Mona Hanna-Attisha addresses delegates of the 2017 AFL-CIO Convention.

      Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha addressed the delegates at the AFL-CIO Convention today on the Flint water crisis. Here are some excerpts of her remarks:

      It's an honor to be here today at the AFL-CIO's 28th Constitutional Convention.

      My mom was a proud union teacher. My dad was a General Motors employee, benefiting from the contracts between the UAW and GM. My brother is a labor lawyer at a Washington, D.C., labor law firm. We are a union family.

      And it was our larger union family that was the first and most vocal to respond to the Flint, Michigan, crisis. Plumbers, teachers, autoworkers, nurses, postal workers and so many more.

      The response to the crisis by Plumbers and Pipe Fitters (UA) General President Mark McManus and UA members, by delivering water, installing filters and replacing our lead pipes, reminds the country of the generosity and spirit of unions. And the UA knows we have a lot of work ahead of us—to replace the millions of lead pipes in this country.

      Some 80 years ago, Flint was the birthplace of General Motors and the embodiment of the American Dream.

      It's 1936. For 44 days, autoworkers battled company thugs, faced hunger and Michigan's cold winter demanding union recognition, decent wages and working conditions. The sit-down strikes in Flint were radical acts where workers literally took over and occupied factories.

      And even our Flint kids raised their voices, fighting for a chance at a better life, a better future.

      It took the personal intervention of the governor of Michigan and President Franklin D. Roosevelt to end the strike. And labor won. Their union, the UAW, was recognized.

      For the first time, working people had access to the American Dream. A good life. Living wages, housing, health care, great schools and even a pension. This was called the Grand Bargain. And it was a great deal.

      These fought-for wages helped push up wages across the country, for decades. Union and nonunion alike.

      At one point, Flint had the highest per capita income and best public health outcomes in the country. People from all over the world moved to Flint. It was hailed as one of the world's great industrial cities, a promised land for generations of workers.

      But what followed in Flint was decades of crisis—disinvestment, unemployment, racism, poverty, violence, the decline of unions, population loss, crumbling schools and almost every disparity you can think of.

      It was a man-made disaster—the result of bad policy choices.

      Today, Flint is where our inequality problems, our injustice problems are most striking. If you're born in Flint, your life expectancy is 15 years shorter than if you'd been born in a suburb. This is no one's dream.

      And as a pediatrician, I'm in the business of dreams. It's my job to make sure our kids are healthy today, but more importantly, it's my job to make sure they have the brightest future possible.

      Lilly is one of these kids. She's a daughter of Flint. She is four years old.  Lilly was born into a city that was almost bankrupt. A city that was taken over by a state-appointed emergency manager. The emergency manager's job was austerity, to save money, no matter the cost.

      And the emergency manager severed a half-century relationship with fresh, great lakes pre-treated water and, instead, started drawing water from the local Flint River. But the Flint River water was not treated properly.

      The heroic people of Flint raised their voices, our Flint kids raised their voices, and they raised their jugs of brown water.

      But this poor, predominantly minority city was ignored. For 18 months, people were told to relax, while our children, like Lilly, were drinking contaminated water.

      Mind you, we were drinking contaminated water in a city that is literally in the middle of the great lakes—the largest source of fresh water in the world.

      The corrosive untreated water created a perfect storm for lead to leach out of our plumbing and into the bodies of our children. Lead is a potent irreversible neurotoxin. It impacts how we think and how we act. There is no safe level.

      And the lead problem doesn't only affect Flint. Flint kids, like Chicago kids, St. Louis kids, Baltimore kids and Los Angeles kids—our country's most vulnerable children—are already burdened with higher rates of lead exposure, as well as every other type of toxic stress that threatens their future.

      It is an environmental and social injustice, and in Flint, that injustice only widened.

      I walked out of my clinic, and I stood up with proof that the untreated Flint River water was causing lead to leach into the bodies of children. The state of Michigan tried to discredit me and my science.

      But you don't mess around with kids and you don't mess around with lead.

      We fought back with hard facts and evidence. And finally, the truth of our science spoke truth to power.

      We are now building a model public health program to best preserve the tomorrows, the dreams, of our children. Wrapping our children with science-based interventions that promote their development—home visiting, early literacy, universal preschool, school health, nutrition access and health care.

      Said best by abolitionist Frederick Douglass, "It's easier to build strong children than repair broken men." In a city known for building strong cars, we are also now building strong kids.

      But to truly fix Flint, and Flints everywhere, it will take rebuilding the American Dream, from the ground up.

      Because the most potent medication I can prescribe is to lift our families out of poverty.

      It's not just a labor issue, nor an economic issue. It is a public health issue. It is an American Dream issue.

      And in the city where the American Dream was first born, we are moving forward as we strive for equality and justice and opportunity. We are not going to be defined by this crisis; but rather by our response. A response that proactively and positively invests in our children and their parents. With good jobs for our child care workers, teachers, nurses, plumbers and builders. As a pediatrician, I know that parents with good jobs make for healthy kids.

      And this is where Flint's struggle is your struggle.

      Because there are Flints everywhere. Too many of our nation's children—from the rust belt, to rural America, to coal country and beyond, black, brown and white—are waking up to the same nightmare—the nightmare of poverty, injustice and lost democracy.

      This is the union movement's struggle.

      Our kids need you in this fight. Our kids in Flint and our kids everywhere.

      Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:24

      Tags: 2017 Convention

      Global Action for Local Power

      Mon, 2017-10-23 10:01
      Global Action for Local Power AFL-CIO

      In St. Louis, representatives from more than 40 countries gathered with U.S. unions and their allies to discuss strategies to build global power for workers, from local workplaces to worldwide supply chains. They discussed how unions in local struggles made their campaigns stronger by reaching out across borders to partners and used global tools to leverage power.

      Tactics varied, from international shareholder actions led by the AFT at a global education company to working with global unions like IndustriAll to UNI, to make global framework agreements that were more effective in building membership and bargaining power for U.S. workers at European companies who wanted to join Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union/UFCW (RWDSU/UFCW) and several manufacturing unions like Machinists (IAM), UAW, United Steelworkers (USW), Electrical Workers (IBEW) and Communications Workers of America (CWA).

      Workers from Bangladesh and Honduras provided examples of long struggles and victories that needed both local boots on the ground and cooperative strategies with global partners to eventually win. Strategies and tactics were not limited to wages, health and safety, but also to equality in the workplace, gender equity and fundamental rights like freedom of association.

      International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) explained how Jobs to Move America employed global strategies to demand that taxpayer monies be used to buy from companies that accept and engage worker unions in U.S. operations.

      As RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said at the conclusion of the discussion: "In our local New York struggle to organize retail workers at Zara, we could not have succeed without international allies like the Spanish unions and UNI global.” Likewise, Dirk Linder of IG Metall (Germany) explained how his union worked to support U.S. workers whose European employers began adopting anti-union tactics in their U.S. operations.

      The bottom line is we can join, fight and win for workers, but we must work together across borders.

      Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 10/23/2017 - 10:01

      Tags: 2017 Convention

      USAS: Strengthening Student Power at the Bargaining Table

      Mon, 2017-10-23 09:19
      USAS: Strengthening Student Power at the Bargaining Table USAS

      United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) is the country’s largest student labor solidarity organization, with more than 150 university locals campaigning for union rights alongside campus workers, community members and garment workers producing college apparel overseas.

      Students chanted, “Whose university? Our university!” as they stormed their president’s office on a sunny spring day.

      For more than a year and half, students of USAS Local 150 had organized alongside adjunct faculty fighting for a union at Fordham University in the Bronx, N.Y. What should have been a peaceful march to the president’s office ended with a violent assault on student activists by campus security. All the while, the president, vice president and dean waited behind closed doors as the chanting and tension only escalated outside. Soon after, the news of the incident spread nationally, as USAS members and alumni called more than a hundred times, demanding justice for the student activists and the freedom for adjuncts to unionize. The following week, the university president conceded, giving adjunct faculty the recognition for a union.

      These victories are hard fought for. Students face serious consequences for organizing, often threatened with punitive sanctions, the removal of scholarships and more. The university is a labor market—both domestic and international, and when collectively organized, students hold the most power over the institution and the boss, being the university president. Because the university has a stake in tuition-paying students, students can take significant risks in solidarity with workers. Knowing this, USAS members have mobilized to secure major wins for workers on their campuses, in their communities and even overseas in the factories that produce collegiate apparel.

      Just this year, a multitude of USAS locals organized alongside their campus workers to achieve a fair contract across many sectors: dining service workers with UNITE HERE, graduate students and adjunct faculty with UAW, AFT, SEIU and more. Harvard USAS Local 5 led a mass walkout and joined the strike of dining service workers to achieve a historic contract at the richest university on the planet. Students at Northeastern University this last week spent day and night canvassing in support of an impressive strike vote to achieve the same contract with UNITE HERE Local 26. In the words of Heidy Beirrero, a food service worker at Northeastern: “Without the students, there is no fight.”

      USAS takes on the global race to the bottom by institutionalizing a core strategy against exploitation in the garment industry. In the early years of USAS, waves of student sit-ins led to the formation of university labor codes of conduct, which would then apply to the working conditions of garment workers producing collegiate apparel. When abuses are identified in factories producing for Nike, Adidas and others, USAS organizes in solidarity with garment workers to transform sweatshops into dignified union jobs in countries around the world, including Indonesia, Bangladesh, Honduras and more. Just this summer, we celebrate a victory against the world’s largest sportswear brand—Nike. Nike had decided to close its factory doors to independent inspectors, and USAS launched an international campaign in response. Because of student pressure, including sit-ins, protests and rallies—more than five major universities severed licensing contracts—costing the brand millions. We led two nationwide speaking tours with garment union leaders and coordinated more than 25 global protests against Nike, spanning five continents. Student and worker pressure resulted in a landmark factory access agreement between Nike and the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), granting unequivocal access to Nike supplier factories around the world. USAS showed Nike that sweatshop labor is not so cheap after all.

      For more than 20 years, students have led the charge alongside the workers engaged in university supply chains. But now we are taking on that same fight for ourselves—student workers.

      The largest employers in 15 states across the United States are actually universities. In states like California, Iowa, New York and others, a solution to economic inequality is sitting in our classrooms. Students are no longer accepting the university strategy of pitting student and full-time workers against each other in a system where all are overworked and underpaid. Across major university systems, student workers are leading the charge for a $15 minimum wage from the boss—the university president. We have taken the fight from the classroom and into the streets. Across private and public institutions, we are winning. From New York University, to Columbia and University of Washington-Seattle, student workers organized for a living wage for ALL campus employees, including themselves. The economic impact at UW-Seattle alone raised the wages of more than 9,500 university employees. Imagine the scale of impact across state university institutions, which employ thousands on a single campus, county or even state. USAS members are forming non-majority unions across new turf—their classrooms. Collectively, USAS is demanding an end to the economic crisis of the working poor on our campuses and communities.

      What does our work mean for the future of the labor movement? For two decades, USAS has served as the the strongest student to union pipeline. In solidarity with our union brothers and sisters, USAS has equipped students with union organizing skills and strategy to take on the boss—and win. Our membership reflects what is the most multiracial and multi-ethnic generation in college yet, with a majority of our membership reflecting working-class communities of black, brown, immigrant, and LGBTQ backgrounds.

      One out of four USAS members go on to work for labor unions and social justice organizations post graduation. More than ever, our labor movement is in need of innovative, passionate and young leaders. USAS is bringing student power to the bargaining table, and we aren’t slowing down.

      Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 10/23/2017 - 09:19

      Tags: 2017 Convention

      Highlights from Day One of the AFL-CIO Convention

      Sun, 2017-10-22 19:11
      Highlights from Day One of the AFL-CIO Convention Kaveh Sardari, AFL-CIO

      Today, more than 1,200 union delegates and convention attendees joined together in St. Louis for the first day of the AFL-CIO 2017 Convention. Here are some of the key moments from the AFL-CIO Convention in St. Louis.

      The convention delegates unanimously re-elected Richard Trumka (Mine Workers) as president, Liz Shuler (Electrical Workers) as secretary-treasurer and Tefere Gebre (United Food and Commercial Workers) as executive vice president of the AFL-CIO. In addition, delegates elected 55 vice presidents who will serve as the Executive Council for a four-year term.

      In his acceptance speech, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre said:

      Sisters and brothers, these are tough times. 

      For our country. For our movement. For our communities.

      Between black and white. Between immigrant and native-born. But even in the face of these challenges, I have hope. 

      Hope of a brighter day. Hope of a stronger tomorrow. Hope of an America with liberty and justice for all. Sisters and brothers, this is a job for the labor movement! 

      We can bring our country together! 

      I pledge to do my part. To lead with my heart. To never stop fighting.

      In her acceptance speech, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler said:

      How do we fight for good jobs when they are increasingly automated or distorted as the nation’s social compact is under relentless attack?

      We have reached a tipping point—just focusing on protecting what we have is far more dangerous than taking risks.

      When automation threatens millions of jobs in the not-too-distant future...we can’t afford to be cautious.

      When millions of people use their power online to oust CEOs and advocate for change, we need to harness that activism and use it to build a massive movement of working people.

      Together we can build the support, leadership and encouragement for more unions to get in the game, experiment and find new strategies for success.

      And in his acceptance speech, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said:

      I am proud to stand before you and tell you we’re going to go forward toward a better day for all working people.

      Our opponents are tough. They’re well-heeled and ruthless. But their deep pockets can’t overcome our deep passion for a fairer and more just nation. I say, bring it on!

      America is hungry for change. Change doesn’t just happen—we will make it happen the same way our predecessors stared down the barrel of a harsh economic and political reality—and even guns—to form the labor movement.

      A new day. A better day. For you, and me. Our children and grandchildren.

      We’ll join together. We’ll fight together. We’ll win together, brothers and sisters, because we do the work. This is our country, and it’s high time that we took it back!

      During the convention, the delegates approved the following resolutions:

      • Resolution 7: Reviving Our Communities and Putting Millions to Work Rebuilding the Country: "The labor movement expects Congress to work with the administration to achieve the promises President Trump made in 2016 for a $1 trillion infrastructure plan. Yet we know that $1 trillion is not enough to fund existing needs, much less to invest in new infrastructure. The labor movement will fight for an infrastructure program that goes beyond this down payment and comprehensively invests in our nation’s future."

      • Resolution 10: Encouraging Union Members to Run for Public Office: "With an urgent need to expand these efforts, we hereby resolve to strengthen the independent political voice for labor in local government by identifying and recruiting new candidates for local office, ensuring the candidates we recruit and endorse reflect the diversity of our labor movement. These labor candidates will champion pro-labor values and campaign aggressively and in partnership with labor."

      • Resolution 16: Inclusion and Equity: Ensuring Equity and Inclusion Internally and Externally: "Politicians and corporations have used race and ethnicity, cultural differences and geography to divide us for decades. It is simple: If we are fighting each other, then we are not fighting together for better jobs, better schools, more affordable health care, good housing, strong communities and a more secure retirement for all. Eradicating bigotry is not just the moral thing to do—it is the only way we will win these things for all working families and leave a better future for our children."

      • Resolution 24: Fighting Together for Workers in Manufacturing: "To win these fights, raise wages and improve diversity in manufacturing, we must activate workers to fight for political demands and to organize. We must insist on inclusion and solidarity, and reject exclusion and racism. The alternative is continued decline and the growth of a political narrative on manufacturing that is contrary to our values and our interests."

      • Resolution 29: Resolution Supporting 100 Percent Buy American for Defense Procurement: "To fight for American jobs and American security, we will: vigorously support eliminating all loopholes to Buy American laws, and demand that all goods purchased for defense procurement are manufactured in the United States; strengthen and expand measures that apply to defense procurement and support our defense industrial base, including Buy American, the Defense Production Act, the Jones Act, the Specialty Metals Clause and the Berry Amendment; and support measures to rectify U.S. dependence on any foreign-sourced critical military supplies and systems, including government support for establishing U.S. production capacity."

      • Resolution 56: The Humanitarian Crisis in Puerto Rico and the Need for Immediate Federal Action: "Therefore, Be It Resolved, that the AFL-CIO Convention commends the heroic and courageous efforts of the AFL-CIO union members and volunteers who participated in the multi-union emergency relief mission; and Resolved, that the AFL-CIO expresses solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Puerto Rico Federation of Labor and the Virgin Islands Central Labor Council in their efforts to rebuild and protect all their residents following the disaster."

      Speaking at the AFL-CIO's Diversity and Inclusion Pre-Conference, Petee Talley said:

      I am honored to present the report on the AFL-CIO's "All of Us or None of Us" Convention Pre-Conference held yesterday, where over 400 participants came to learn, share and be inspired.

      Earlier this morning, faith leaders representing many denominations lifted up the universal teachings of love, tolerance and freedom.

      There is no one in this room who doesn't know we are in a moment of crisis—not just in our movement, but in too many of our communities.

      We can either retreat to our individual corners or we can come together to develop a road map that leads to an Economy that Works for All of Us.

      In preparing for this year's pre-conference, [St. Louis] central labor council President Pat White and [Missouri] state federation President Mike Louis shared with us the relationships they've been cultivating with many of their community allies in Saint Louis.

      They've been working together to build a better community where workers' rights are protected, where voters are free to participate in a fair democracy, and where every job is a good job.

      The theme of this convention is perfectly timed. We are about joining together in union. We are about fighting together, and we are about WINNING together.  

      Read more about today's convention:

      We Are the American Labor Movement, and We Will Not Be Denied: "Brothers and sisters, St. Louis is a historical gateway to the American frontier, in many ways to the American Dream—many unionists trace their roots to St. Louis and the Show-Me State. It will be our entrance to a new vision of prosperity, not a cookie-cutter America dream of white picket fences, but a dream shaped by each of us, a dream in which no one gets left behind."

      Democracy Is Not Just Nice, but Necessary: "At the AFL-CIO Convention’s Global Labor Symposium, the last panel of the day proved to be the most exciting. The topic was Unions at the Forefront of Democracy. After an inspiring introduction by Victor Baez, who leads the Trade Union Confederation of Americas, the entire symposium went outside to join a rally led by Missouri state Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. to support Black Lives Matter."

      USA Hosts Community Fishing Day, Dedicates Willmore Park Piers: "Youth, veterans and seniors got to wet their lines at a fishing event at Willmore Park in St. Louis, Missouri, today, to celebrate the completion of two fishing piers restored by union volunteers. The event was hosted by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) in conjunction with the AFL-CIO 28th Constitutional Convention."

      In Missouri, Together We Win: "We would like to welcome the AFL-CIO Convention to our beautiful city. A city built by the hands of the labor movement. The world-famous Gateway Arch was built with 100% union labor in the early 1960s. Busch Stadium, the home of the 11-time world champion St. Louis Cardinals, was built by union men and women. The convention center, where we bring union members from every corner of the United States, was built by our brothers and sisters. St. Louis was not only built by union hands, but was once the shoe capital of the world, with union-made shoes made at Brown Shoe Co. Our city also was home to McDonnell Douglas, where machinists sent men to space. Not to mention the birthplace of the Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Bricklayers (BAC). St. Louis is a union town, which makes it the perfect place to host this year’s AFL-CIO Convention."

      Running for Office: Have You Ever Thought About It?: "I have spent the better part of the past decade asking elected leaders to vote the right way. Asking them to stand with us—as union workers, retirees, women, people of color and immigrants. I have done this by being in the streets, at rallies and protests, asking them to join us on the strike lines, and lobbying them in congressional offices, in our state legislature and in city halls."

      Highlights from the AFL-CIO 2017 Diversity Pre-Conference and the Global Labor Symposium: "As part of its quadrennial convention, the AFL-CIO is bringing together working families and activists to discuss diversity and inclusion and a separate meeting to discuss global labor issues. Here are some key tweets from the 'All of Us or None of Us: Join, Fight and Win Together Pre-Conference' and 'Global Labor Symposium.'"

      Using Government Procurement to Bring Good Jobs Back to the U.S.: "I am pleased to have the opportunity to share SMART's work on Jobs to Move America and to talk about how we have used public procurement—or government purchasing—to re-shore good American manufacturing jobs."

      Brazil Undermines Labor Laws and Puts Women Workers at Great Risk: "Brazil's comprehensive labor laws have long provided a strong institutional framework for unions to defend workers' rights. Changes pushed through Congress this July by Brazil's un-elected president and a Congress compromised by corruption charges have greatly undermined the labor laws and will drastically change the legal context in which Brazil's unions work."

      These videos showed the breadth and diversity of the labor movement and were shown during the plenary session. Here's what you missed:

      Kenneth Quinnell Sun, 10/22/2017 - 19:11

      Tags: 2017 Convention

      We Are the American Labor Movement, and We Will Not Be Denied

      Sun, 2017-10-22 12:54
      We Are the American Labor Movement, and We Will Not Be Denied Kaveh Sardari, AFL-CIOAFL-CIO President Richard Trumka honored at the St. Louis Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) awards dinner before the 2017 AFL-CIO Convention.

      Here are key excerpts from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka's opening remarks from the 2017 AFL-CIO Convention:

      Brothers and sisters, St. Louis is a historical gateway to the American frontier, in many ways to the American Dream—many unionists trace their roots to St. Louis and the Show Me state.

      It will be our entrance to a new vision of prosperity, not a cookie-cutter America dream of white picket fences but a dream shaped by each of us, a dream in which no one gets left behind.

      We gather together as America and the world hunger for solidarity. We need it like we need air. We need it like we need each other. We need it like we need love. Yet fear, hatred, combined with a rigged economy and political system, stand in our way.

      People are afraid we can’t get what we need, afraid that there isn’t enough or that it can’t be done. And as scared people sometimes do, some people hate those who seem needier than they are. This isn’t new. This is perhaps the central conflict that has dogged America for generations, divided or united. It’s a lesson we must learn again and again. 

      You see, we stand together, as diverse as America in every way, and united by our shared brotherhood and sisterhood in our labor movement, which is built entirely on togetherness. We do it because it’s right. We do it because it works. We do it because our humanity, our belief in leaving no one behind, and our embrace of the idea that our diversity is what makes us strong, binds us. 

      It’s no coincidence that America was founded on that same idea, unity works. Unionism is American. It is as Patriotic as the flag and the statue of liberty.

      So are we. We are America. We are unionism. We represent 12.5 million women and men who have good jobs, who support their union, who need a labor movement, today, that can fight, win and grow, and be positioned to grow and thrive for years to come.

      That’s our job at this convention, to represent our members while positioning our unions and our movement to grow, to give millions more the freedom to come together and bargain for good jobs and fairness.

      At this convention in St. Louis, we will chart the path toward a thriving movement. 

      You will notice an absence here. There are almost no politicians. That’s because this is a time for conversations with each other. Us. The people in this room.

      We’re going to talk about political independence, voting rights and right to work. We’re going to talk about launching a renaissance to rebuild our infrastructure and revive manufacturing. We’re going to talk about diversity and inclusion. We’re going to talk about reforming our movement to ensure it remains a force no matter what changes arise in our economy—from robots to new business models. We’re going to talk about boosting the power of collective bargaining, growing our unions in the growth industries and connecting with new workers who want to embrace a day when every worker, every single worker in America, has the freedom to negotiate with his or her employer for a better life.

      These are not easy conversations. Yet we will have them, and we’ll have them here.

      There’s something radical about coming together, whether we’re here in this convention hall or out in the street on a picket line or at a march. I’ve felt it hundreds of times over my lifetime, and it never gets old.

      I’m talking about how getting together can change you. You find yourself talking to people you never talked to before. You feel something, more unified, and more powerful, when you come into the same space with like-minded people who share your values and your passion and vision. How strong are our shared values?

      Unity is a choice. As a labor movement, every day we make that choice. Sometimes we get it wrong, and it causes deep and lasting pain. Yet sometimes we get it right, and it’s so powerful. That’s what we want to focus on for the next four days. We want to make the right choice. We want unity.

      I’ll tell you a quick story.

      Not far from where we meet today, in southern Illinois to the east of us, a group of striking white coal miners, hungry and afraid, fired shots into a train of black replacement workers who had no idea the situation they had been brought into.

      A handful of men, including the great United Mine Worker organizer and UMWA executive council member Richard L. Davis organized across racial lines in that environment. Davis did it. He was black, and he helped form the UMWA at our founding convention in 1890. In the face of fear, death and unspeakable sorrow, he gave us a model of solidarity that we need today. 

      Our shared values brought those unionists together then, and our values can and will unite us again.

      Our labor movement won’t merely respond to the attacks and survive, brothers and sisters. We will thrive.

      Because we’re the ones who wake America up every single morning. We tuck her into bed at night. We build the cars, planes and infrastructure, lift the loads, drive the buses and ship the goods, pour the molds, connect our cities and the world. We teach, heal and make. We package, print and bake. From the East Coast to the West Coast, north, south and everywhere in between. We make America strong. We don’t duck and run. We don’t run and hide. We are the American labor movement, and we will not be denied!

      Kenneth Quinnell Sun, 10/22/2017 - 12:54

      Tags: 2017 Convention

      Democracy is Not Just Nice, But Necessary

      Sun, 2017-10-22 12:12
      Democracy is Not Just Nice, But Necessary AFL-CIO

      At the AFL-CIO Convention’s Global Labor Symposium, the last panel of the day proved to be the most exciting. The topic was Unions at the Forefront of Democracy. After an inspiring introduction by Victor Baez, who leads the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas, the entire symposium went outside to join a rally led by Missouri State Rep. Bruce Franks, Jr. to support Black Lives Matter.

      After the rally, Franks addressed the gathering, making clear that the struggle for justice, dignity and respect is universal. The audience grew more engaged as they heard about worker repression and denials of free speech in Brazil, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, and Iraq. Working people at the forefront of challenging authoritarian and repressive regimes have told stories of workers who risked job loss, arrests, and violence to protect and defend the rights of all citizens to stand up and fight back.

      We don’t have all the answers yet. We are living in a time of widespread anti-unionism among global businesses. But working people are linking arms to share practices about effectively fighting back.

      The bottom line was that workers can’t achieve gains by negotiating with employers if we can’t also speak out in protest; join the meetings, events and organizations of our choosing; and have the freedom to express our ideas in print and online. In other words, unions aren’t just workplace organizations-we are essential to defending democratic values.

      Kenneth Quinnell Sun, 10/22/2017 - 12:12

      Tags: 2017 Convention

      USA Hosts Community Fishing Day, Dedicates Willmore Park Piers

      Sat, 2017-10-21 19:25
      USA Hosts Community Fishing Day, Dedicates Willmore Park Piers Union Sportsmen AllianceYouth, veterans and seniors received hands-on fishing instruction and assistance provided by USA volunteers at Willmore Park.

      Youth, veterans and seniors got to wet their lines at a fishing event at Willmore Park in St. Louis, Missouri, today, to celebrate the completion of two fishing piers restored by union volunteers.

       

      The event was hosted by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) in conjunction with the AFL-CIO 28th Constitutional Convention.

      The USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program brought together union volunteers from Missouri AFL-CIO, St. Louis Labor Council, St. Louis Building and Construction Trades, St. Louis Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council, EMLDC Laborers AGC Training Center, Iron Workers Local 396 and Painters and Allied Trades DC 58 to rebuild one fishing pier and install and paint a railing on another at Willmore Park to make them safe for visitors. The project was sponsored by PNC Capital Advisors and Aetna.

      “St. Louis has a strong urban fishing heritage, and parks are an important part of our city’s culture,” said Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Louis. “The project at Willmore Park united volunteers from many union trades for the common purpose of improving our community and public fishing access for all to enjoy for generations to come.”

      A group of nearly 150 gathered to celebrate the new pier with speeches and a commemorative plaque before enjoying a free lunch. Immediately after lunch, a group of youth, veterans and seniors received hands-on fishing instruction and assistance provided by USA volunteers. All participants received a free fishing rod, reel and tackle courtesy of Pure Fishing.

      “America’s urban parks are a true treasure providing large populations living within city limits access to the great outdoors. However, many of these parks have infrastructure that is deteriorating, and city budgets that simply can’t provide the necessary maintenance,” said USA CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance. “The USA has the most powerful tool available to help preserve our urban parks and outdoor heritage—skilled union members willing to give their time, expertise and passion to the cause. The Willmore Park project and community fishing day is true testament to our union volunteers, the power of Labor and their strong desire to give back more to their community than they receive.”

      In addition to the companies and unions that helped restore the fishing piers, the following organizations helped make the fishing event possible: Vandaventer Place Retirement Center, Lively Stone Church of St. Louis, Missouri Veteran’s Home of St. Louis, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 58, Communications Workers of America Local 6300 and national and local AFL-CIO members.

       

      Jackie Tortora Sat, 10/21/2017 - 19:25

      Tags: 2017 Convention, Union Sportsman's Alliance

      In Missouri, Together We Win

      Sat, 2017-10-21 15:14
      In Missouri, Together We Win AFL-CIO

      We would like to welcome the AFL-CIO Convention to our beautiful city. A city built by the hands of the labor movement. The world-famous Gateway Arch was built with 100% union labor in the early 1960s. Busch Stadium, the home of the 11-time world champion St. Louis Cardinals, was built by union men and women. The convention center, where we bring union members from every corner of the United States, was built by our brothers and sisters. St. Louis was not only built by union hands, but was once the shoe capital of the world, with union-made shoes made at Brown Shoe Co. Our city also was home to McDonnell Douglas, where machinists sent men to space. Not to mention the birthplace of the Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Bricklayers (BAC). St. Louis is a union town, which makes it the perfect place to host this year’s AFL-CIO Convention.

      As you may know, Missouri has had its fair share of struggles, ranging from social unrest to the passage of union-busting laws. From previous unrest to the current situation, the labor movement has remained focused on building a stronger, more unified community. The labor movement will not stop fighting for equality for every single family. That is what the labor movement has always been about, and we are not about to stop now. Instead of fighting for working families, by passing policies that build a stronger community, politicians are working against us.

      This past legislative session, Missouri politicians signed the “right to work” bill into law. However, this assault on ordinary working Missourians has not deterred us. Instead, Missourians have banded together to fight back. Over the course of several months, in the severe cold to the sweltering heat, working people collected signatures to put right to work on the ballot. By law, we needed 100,126 signatures in six of our eight congressional districts. But the working people of Missouri exceeded all expectations and turned in 310,567 signatures and qualified in all eight congressional districts. Right to work will be on the ballot in November 2018. It is going to be a fight for our very livelihood. With your help, we will defeat this disastrous anti-worker law that hurts all Missourians.

      The Missouri AFL-CIO has never backed down. We are under attack by politicians and their billionaire buddies. Whether it be project labor agreements, paycheck deception, prevailing wage, lowering the minimum wage, right to work or the long list of anti-worker laws—we are the last line of defense for the middle class. Every one of us has a duty to fight for the middle class, who built this country. We are the leaders who will shape the future for our children and grandchildren. It is time to unite. Together we win.

      Kenneth Quinnell Sat, 10/21/2017 - 15:14

      Tags: 2017 Convention, Missouri

      Running for Office: Have You Ever Thought About It?

      Sat, 2017-10-21 15:01
      Running for Office: Have You Ever Thought About It? Teresa Mosqueda

      I have spent the better part of the past decade asking elected leaders to vote the right way. Asking them to stand with us—as union workers, retirees, women, people of color and immigrants. I have done this by being in the streets, at rallies and protests, asking them to join us on the strike lines, and lobbying them in congressional offices, in our state legislature and in city halls.

      Too often, I’d hear, “Let me think about it.”

      After nearly a decade of hearing those words, I was determined to get more of us who have the lived experience of workers, women, people of color and immigrants into office. Working with the AFL-CIO, I ran the Path to Power program in Washington state that has helped train nearly 100 people to run for office. Half this year’s class is now on the ballot, and most candidates are slated to win. That’s what building power looks like. That’s what it looks like to make sure our voice is heard.

      While training others to run, I would constantly hear: “Why aren’t you running? Have you ever thought about it?” I had always said no. Whether being encouraged by my own parents early on, or from our state’s speaker of the House over the years, I had always said no.

      This year felt different. Donald Trump’s triumph last November brought everything into focus: everyone we have been working to protect and lift up is at risk: workers, women, people of color, immigrants, unions, the LGBTQIA community, our elders and kiddos.

       

      We have all been pushed out of our comfort zone, to both resist and persist for our community. We’ve done this by being in the streets almost every weekend since the election, marching for women, workers and human rights. We’ve done this by being in airports demonstrating against the Muslim travel ban. And we’ve have done this by running for office, given the record numbers of women and people of color now on the ballot.

      Local government now must be the first line of offence and the last line of defense when it comes to protect workers and residents. This year, I said yes.

      I am running for Seattle City Council to represent our city at large. I am a third-generation Mexican American, Chicana, woman, renter, fierce advocate for health care and leader in the labor movement. Now, instead of asking someone else to vote the right way, I am hoping to bring my lived experience and progressive values into the office.

      At 37 years old, I am a proud Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU) Local 8 member. As the political director of the Washington State Labor Council, I proudly advocate on behalf of the half a million affiliated working people in our state. I have spent my whole life organizing to improve the health, well-being, economic justice and opportunity for vulnerable communities and working families. I have walked the halls of power fighting for health care for all children, reproductive health services, equal pay for women, and helped successfully lead and pass the minimum wage and paid sick days initiative for all Washington workers.

      As union members, we know the importance of pushing for change from both the inside of the halls of power and from the outside with our bullhorns, our bodies and our community. It’s time for us—working people, union members, women, people of color, young people, LGBTQIA folks, immigrants—to say yes.  

      I think you should run for office. Why not you? Who better to stand up and fight for workplace protections and living wage jobs than you? Who better to represent working people than someone from the labor movement? Who better to talk about the importance of a union, worker safety and retirement security?

      To our sisters in the labor movement, as women it takes us on average seven times to be asked to run for office before we even think about the possibility. Have you ever thought about it?

      We are at a critical time in our country’s history. A fresh wave of leaders is rising and running for office. I am one of them. Our place as union members is among them. So to all workers across our movement, let me ask you just one more time (and hope this is the seventh time some of you have been asked), have you ever thought about running for office?

      Join me. I think you should run. Let’s bring our progressive values into the halls of power to stand up for our communities, the labor movement and working families.

      Kenneth Quinnell Sat, 10/21/2017 - 15:01

      Tags: 2017 Convention

      Highlights from the AFL-CIO 2017 Diversity Pre-Conference and the Global Labor Symposium

      Sat, 2017-10-21 13:59
      Highlights from the AFL-CIO 2017 Diversity Pre-Conference and the Global Labor Symposium Kaveh Sardari, AFL-CIOMissouri House Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. addresses the AFL-CIO Diversity and Inclusion Conference ahead of the 2017 AFL-CIO Convention.

      As part of its quadrennial convention, AFL-CIO is bringing together working families and activists to discuss diversity and inclusion and a separate meeting to discuss global labor issues. Here are some key Tweets from the "All of Us or None of Us: Join, Fight and Win Together Pre-Conference" and "Global Labor Symposium."

       

      Our AFL-CIO Diversity and Inclusion and Global Labor Symposium pre-conferences are both happening now! Follow #aflcio17 #AllOfUsOrNoneOfUs

      — AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) October 21, 2017

       

      WATCH LIVE: Rep @brucefranksjr discusses how to build independent political power #AFLCIO17 https://t.co/BDdMZQLK5i

      — AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) October 21, 2017

       

      Great start to #AFLCIO17 diversity summit! All of Us or None of Us! with @Tefere_Gebre @RichardTrumka & @KarenInATX_ pic.twitter.com/aOFP7jsmql

      — Liz Shuler (@lizshuler) October 21, 2017

       

      @steelworkers Fred Redmond co-chair @AFLCIO Race Commission kicks off #AllofUsorNoneofUs #aflcio17 pic.twitter.com/R6QpQXT6Sf

      — William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 21, 2017

       

      The need for international solidarity is as great as it’s ever been. We must fight for social justice everywhere. #aflcio17 @RichardTrumka

      — Cathy Feingold (@AFLCIOGlobal) October 21, 2017

       

      A strategic agenda & a plan is necessary to gain. Workers can't win alone or in a vacuum, says @steelworkers Pres. Gerard at #AFLCIO17 #1u

      — Cathy Feingold (@AFLCIOGlobal) October 21, 2017

       

      @lizshuler says that we should be leveraging #EqualPay on #aflcio17 panel w/ @votolatino @sagaftra @jqjp1 — AFL-CIO Latino (@AFLCIOLatino) October 21, 2017

       

      Ken Rigmaiden President of Int'l Union of Painters and Allied Trades on the investments of the @AFLCIO Housing and Building Trusts #aflcio17 pic.twitter.com/DTS7g3Omwh

      — William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 21, 2017

       

      inclusion is not about "optics"...this is about the future of our movement - Esther Lopez of @ufcw #AFLCIO17 #AllofUsorNoneofUs

      — Carlos Jimenez (@CJ_DCLABOR) October 21, 2017

       

      Fred Redmond stands with @NFLPA "There is a reason the First Amendment is first". @DeSmithNFLPA @CBTU72 @APRI_National #aflcio17 @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/ES1lR3q90c

      — William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 21, 2017

       

      none of us should ever be comfortable in a room without women or people of color - Esther Lopez to labor at #AFLCIO17 #AllofUsorNoneofUs pic.twitter.com/7kcLsAJhtH

      — Carlos Jimenez (@CJ_DCLABOR) October 21, 2017

       

      Karen Reyes a #DACA beneficiary and Special Ed Teacher, member @AFTunion speaking for American Creed of decency #aflcio17 #AllofUsorNoneofUs pic.twitter.com/JGFvpcp8Xp

      — William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 21, 2017

       

      Jason Purnell on the effects of residential segregation that locks out opportunity #AllofUsorNoneofUs #aflcio17 pic.twitter.com/hluLfwS9Q2

      — William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 21, 2017

       

      Glenn Kelly, youngest Exec. Council member of Int'l Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers "we have to have a seat at the table to change" #AllofUsorNoneofUs — William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 21, 2017

       

      "inequality is not inevitable... inequality is a choice!" - @RichardTrumka #AFLCIO17 #AllofUsorNoneofUs pic.twitter.com/Aiaj5F5Gsi

      — Carlos Jimenez (@CJ_DCLABOR) October 21, 2017 Kenneth Quinnell Sat, 10/21/2017 - 13:59

      Tags: 2017 Convention

      Using Government Procurement to Bring Good Jobs Back to the U.S.

      Sat, 2017-10-21 12:37
      Using Government Procurement to Bring Good Jobs Back to the U.S. AFL-CIO

      Marc Norberg is the assistant to the general president of International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART). He gave these remarks at the AFL-CIO Convention in St. Louis today.

      I am pleased to have the opportunity to share SMART's work on Jobs to Move America and to talk about how we have used public procurement—or government purchasing—to re-shore good American manufacturing jobs.

      Jobs to Move America began as a national initiative to ensure that the billions of tax dollars spent on the purchase of buses and trains for our public transit systems results in the creation of family-sustaining, manufacturing jobs in the United States.

      Historically, manufacturing has been a key pathway for Americans without a college education to enter into the middle class. Unfortunately, one of the last American railcar manufacturers—the Pullman Company—shuttered more than 35 years ago. Since that time, all of the major companies winning contracts to build trains for our public transit systems have been multi-national firms from around the world—German, French, Canadian, Japanese, Korean and, more recently, Chinese.

      Jobs to Move America started back in 2010—at a time when the country was still struggling to recover from the Great Recession. Despite the fact that millions of Americans were unemployed, nearly all of the trains being purchased for our cities were being designed and engineered outside of the United States. Most of the high-value, high-skilled, highly paid manufacturing jobs for our trains also were being sent overseas. It was unthinkable. Billions of our tax dollars were bypassing U.S. workers.

      For too long, the purchase of public goods in this country has been primarily driven by private, for-profit interest. Short-term cost savings and privatization are prioritized over long-term economic growth. Public agencies at the federal, state and local level largely have been reliant upon a race-to-the-bottom procurement framework, which has contributed to the dismantling of American manufacturing. Over the past several decades, we have lost millions of production jobs.

      We needed a program for rebuilding our country’s middle class. We needed a global strategy that could leverage our taxpayer dollars to bring back American manufacturing, to get multi-national firms sending work overseas to bring more production state side and create more and better jobs for our communities.

      We also needed a strategy to level the playing field for high road, union companies doing the right thing, that have a deep American footprint, and are investing in quality, family-sustaining jobs. 

      Jobs to Move America developed the U.S. Employment Plan, which creates a competition upwards among companies vying for million- and billion-dollar transit projects in the United States. During the evaluation of bids submitted by companies in a competitive public procurement, manufacturers are scored based on the robustness of their U.S. jobs programs. Train builders can earn higher marks for committing to paying their workers family-sustaining wages, good benefits and for investments in things like union apprenticeship and jobs pipelines for low-income communities.

      Over four years ago, Jobs to Move America partnered with the Chicago Federation of Labor to implement the U.S. Employment Plan policy on the city of Chicago’s $2 billion investment in new "El" train cars. I’m proud to share that as a result of this collaboration, in 2016, my union, SMART, along with the Electrical Workers (IBEW), and the Jobs to Move America coalition signed the first of its kind, landmark community benefits agreement with Chinese rail builder CRRC.

      This past spring, we broke ground on CRRC’s new $100 million train factory in Chicago’s South Side. Railcar manufacturing is coming back to Chicago for the first time in more than 35 years, since the closing of the Pullman factory. CRRC’s factory is currently being built and constructed union. Workers on the assembly line will be wall-to-wall union. And people from the surrounding community will have priority hiring.

      As CRRC looks to win new contracts in the U.S. and expands its domestic presence, it is key that we build off our local Chicago partnership to reach a national understanding. To ensure that the Chicago facility remains a permanent flagship and that all new CRRC investments and facilities are covered by the same high road standards that we achieved in Chicago—it is key that our union develop new strategies to reflect an increasingly globalized world.

      We know that China is investing billions in the U.S. each year and likely will only be increasing their investment levels. We know that in an increasingly globalized economy, building cooperative relationships with a rising power like China is imperative to our union’s long-term success. We must reach mutual understanding and shared expectations.

      Through SMART's work in Beijing with the IBEW, AFL-CIO, Jobs to Move America and All-China Federation of Trade Unions, we believe our Chicago partnership with CRRC can be a model for Sino-American relations.

      At SMART, we understand that our union’s work can no longer be limited to a traditional organizing model or to a domestic strategy. We must adapt. We must be able to develop nimble and innovative, global strategies to address the new organizing context and grow the power of our great American labor movement.

      Kenneth Quinnell Sat, 10/21/2017 - 12:37

      Tags: 2017 Convention

      Brazil Undermines Labor Laws and Puts Women Workers at Great Risk

      Sat, 2017-10-21 10:52
      Brazil Undermines Labor Laws and Puts Women Workers at Great Risk

      Paloma dos Santos, president of the Union of the Cleaning Services Workers of Santos City and Region (Sindilimpeza-Sindicato dos trabalhadores em asseio e conservação da baixada santista) from Brazil, is at the AFL-CIO 2017 Convention this week and is part of the Brazil-Kenya women's delegation.

      Brazil's comprehensive labor laws have long provided a strong institutional framework for unions to defend workers' rights. Changes pushed through Congress this July by Brazil's un-elected president and a Congress compromised by corruption charges have greatly undermined the labor laws and will drastically change the legal context in which Brazil's unions work.

      By some accounts, this drastic overhauling of Brazilian labor law places the country on a path toward something more similar to the U.S. reality, weakening collective bargaining and unions' financial stability. While the comprehensive labor law was flawed, these changes cannot be called reforms.

      They are expected to deeply affect women, people of color and many workers who were long excluded from these protections.

      We are living moments of great loss, at work and in life.

      In the case of Assaio e Conservação, women are the ones who are being hit the hardest because of outsourcing and the new labor reform, approved in the Brazilian National Congress, that takes countless workers' rights, a decision of total regression.

      One of the consequences of changing these labor laws is that pregnant women will be working in unhealthy areas, which was previously against the law.

      Another important issue that we work on daily is the issue of gender violence. Many of our women workers suffer violence at home and sometimes cannot return to work because they are hurt and embarrassed. Another situation we deal with is the issue of rape, which most of the time happens to women on their way to work.

      We try to raise the awareness of these workers in the best possible way, through pamphlets and referrals to specific guidelines. The fight for women's rights, equality and parity at work is every day, every hour.

      Kenneth Quinnell Sat, 10/21/2017 - 10:52

      Tags: 2017 Convention, Brazil