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Support Public Education: In the States Roundup

Mon, 2019-02-25 13:50
Support Public Education: In the States Roundup AFL-CIO

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

Arizona AFL-CIO:

Thank you to @teranforazhouse and those in the Arizona House of Representatives that recognized the Arizona AFL-CIO this afternoon in the House Gallery and for giving attention to our programs and outreach done... https://t.co/AiwCPPVkXr

— Arizona AFL-CIO (@ArizonaAFLCIO) February 18, 2019

California Labor Federation:

"This is just another way that companies shift burdens onto workers and taxpayers." - @ssmith_calabor on how the gig economy cheats employees out of wages, tips and benefits. #YesOnAB5 #DisruptInequality https://t.co/siXLGiogYm

— California Labor Federation (@CaliforniaLabor) February 22, 2019

Connecticut AFL-CIO:

Our teachers, firefighters, nurses, corrections officers, and other state workers have already made concessions worth tens of billions of dollars, and to continue to go after these public service workers is patently unfair. #CTBudget https://t.co/ixXVPt0rOS

— Connecticut AFL-CIO (@ConnAFLCIO) February 21, 2019

Florida AFL-CIO:

“I don’t believe voters in one part of the state should be able to change the basic structure of local government in another part of the state," said @rtemplin with the Florida AFL-CIO. https://t.co/gDJ4pXbU0x

— Florida AFL-CIO (@FLAFLCIO) February 21, 2019

Georgia AFL-CIO:

pic.twitter.com/UwAtLX54oM

— AFL-CIO Georgia (@AFLCIOGeorgia) February 15, 2019

Idaho State AFL-CIO:

House Minority Leader @erpforidaho spoke with BSU Radio & TV about the Wage Claim Bill and protecting working Idahoan's pay. https://t.co/aRiOZMU2A4 #idpol #idleg

— Idaho State AFL-CIO (@IdahoAFLCIO) February 21, 2019

Illinois AFL-CIO:

Members of @IATSE_Local_2 brave the cold to inform @jeffreygoldbIum fans at @ParkWestChicago that @JamUSA should bargain with their union! pic.twitter.com/fD64YrskLd

— Illinois AFL-CIO (@ILAFLCIO) February 16, 2019

Indiana State AFL-CIO:

Indiana teacher pay raise proposal dies as House GOP budget plan advances #inlegis https://t.co/GoCVTcXZlc

— Indiana AFL-CIO (@INAFLCIO) February 21, 2019

Iowa Federation of Labor:

Why courts matter. We need a fair and impartial judicial selection system, like the one we have. Political activism from the bench, from either side is not acceptable. Just ask these workers and retirees. https://t.co/gOi2WaU3tF

— Iowa AFL-CIO (@IowaAFLCIO) February 18, 2019

Kansas State AFL-CIO:

Take 2 Min. to see why the Kansas tax bill is a cut that benefits BIG BUSINESS. https://t.co/hGfGUWKbCv

— Kansas AFL-CIO (@KansasAFLCIO) February 19, 2019

Kentucky State AFL-CIO:

"GOP Lawmaker, Once Unemployed, Seeks To Reduce Benefits"

Have you called or emailed today? HB 317 is poised to see a full House vote on Monday, so we need your help today!

Contact your... https://t.co/J4lfMvxe6b

— Kentucky AFL-CIO (@aflcioky) February 22, 2019

Maine AFL-CIO:

Members of @CWAUnion Local 1400 came to the State House today to support LD 201 to prevent outsourcing & protect good Maine jobs! #mepolitics pic.twitter.com/T2Yzkmj1t3

— Maine AFL-CIO (@MEAFLCIO) February 20, 2019

Massachusetts AFL-CIO:

"The greatest check and balance that we have on corporations is you, is the labor movement." #1u @LoriTrahanMA pic.twitter.com/TG3IxKUKPd

— Massachusetts AFLCIO (@massaflcio) February 21, 2019

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

.⁦@NationalNurses⁩ DC political dir ⁦@kennethzinn⁩ explains how Medicare for All would work to provide healthcare for all Americans ⁦@busboysandpoets⁩ Takoma #dclabor pic.twitter.com/UpIqLVNggY

— MetroDCLaborCouncil (@DCLabor) February 20, 2019

Michigan AFL-CIO:

Because of your hard work last November, Michigan voters can now cast an absentee ballot without giving a reason.https://t.co/tNWdDEe8mx

— Michigan AFL-CIO (@MIAFLCIO) February 22, 2019

Minnesota AFL-CIO:

Unions and Allies Respond to @GovTimWalz's Budget Proposal https://t.co/l6sGHsn1Mr (via @workdaymn) #1u #mnleg #OneMinnesota pic.twitter.com/XE830dS2Zp

— Minnesota AFL-CIO (@MNAFLCIO) February 20, 2019

Missouri AFL-CIO:

This type of solidarity is very much appreciated and we need more people with a large platform to speak out in favor of unions. https://t.co/jgwr4Ne9aM

— Missouri AFL-CIO (@MOAFLCIO) February 22, 2019

Nevada State AFL-CIO:

“I’m wearing #RedforEd because I want to be in this fight with you” Thank you @RepSusieLee for supporting public education! pic.twitter.com/yle8H9e1SB

— Nevada State AFL-CIO (@NVAFLCIO) February 18, 2019

New Hampshire AFL-CIO:

Thanks to everyone who joined us today in support of SB271. With your continued support, we'll restore prevailing wage protections to NH workers. https://t.co/DvVwkmDV04

— NewHampshire AFL-CIO (@NHAFLCIO) February 13, 2019

New Mexico Federation of Labor:

One affiliate president on why we need to be present for our communities.#NMleg #Nmpol pic.twitter.com/wEV6SFSvEB

— NMFL (@NMFLaflcio) February 19, 2019

New York State AFL-CIO:

Many warned a Supreme Court ruling would cripple unions. NY's remain #UnionStrong https://t.co/LNBfFJK6WQ via @DandC

— NYSAFLCIO (@NYSAFLCIO) February 22, 2019

North Carolina State AFL-CIO:

More U.S. Workers Went on Strike in 2018 Than in Any Year in Three Decades https://t.co/uwvuFH12XK

— NC State AFL-CIO (@NCStateAFLCIO) February 18, 2019

North Dakota AFL-CIO:

The ND House passed HB 1193 which bans political subdivisions (cities, counties, ect) from setting living wage standards in their communities. Rep. Karla Rose Hanson voted for keeping local control. Thank you! #ndleg #ndpol #1u pic.twitter.com/rrNnW00coO

— North Dakota AFL-CIO (@NDAFLCIO) February 21, 2019

Ohio AFL-CIO:

We are proud of @MLB_PLAYERS @whatwouldDOOdo for standing with his @AFLCIO sisters and brothers! No matter our salaries, working people need to stand in #Solidarity with each other for a stronger #MiddleClass https://t.co/XleVW0UcLb

— Ohio AFL-CIO (@ohioaflcio) February 22, 2019

Oklahoma State AFL-CIO:

Sheet Metal Workers reaching apprentices of the futurehttps://t.co/pEG2TBdvqY

— Oklahoma AFL-CIO (@OK_AFL_CIO) February 21, 2019

Oregon AFL-CIO:

Educators, students, and parents from across Oregon gathered Monday at the state Capitol to show support for public education.https://t.co/baz559JKi5

— Oregon AFL-CIO (@OregonAFLCIO) February 22, 2019

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO:

Rich Stanizzo, Jr. is rightfully honored tonight after spending half a century dedicated to advancing the union movement throughout Western Pennsylvania. 500 of his union Brothers, Sisters, family, elected... https://t.co/bggU4vkeYC

— PA AFL-CIO (@PaAFL_CIO) February 22, 2019

Rhode Island AFL-CIO:

#HelpASisterOutPeriod https://t.co/o1XBJOd4j2 #1U @cluwri #CLUW

— Rhode Island AFL-CIO (@riaflcio) February 22, 2019

South Carolina AFL-CIO:

The IAM Remembers Victims of the Aurora, IL Henry Pratt Shooting - IAMAW https://t.co/d9KeYTbYHJ

— SC AFL-CIO (@SCAFLCIO) February 20, 2019

Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council:

Yet another reason (to add to an already lengthy list) of why vouchers do not work. https://t.co/H5zTIM6rsE

— Tennessee AFL-CIO (@tnaflcio) February 20, 2019

Texas AFL-CIO:

More than 30 progressive groups today called for Senate to reject David Whitley as TX Secretary of State amid bogus state claims of mass illegal voting. Some had never opposed any nomination before. ⁦@RickTxAFLCIO⁩ explains @TxAFLCIO opposition. #1u #WorkersDefense pic.twitter.com/0TL9tpdJqY

— Texas AFL-CIO (@TexasAFLCIO) February 21, 2019

Virginia AFL-CIO:

Virginia to essentially get early voting in 2020 | WTOP https://t.co/SkGsHm0ppY

— Virginia AFL-CIO (@Virginia_AFLCIO) February 22, 2019

Washington State Labor Council:

When we fight, we win. https://t.co/E3hlzj70M4

— WA State AFL-CIO (@WAAFLCIO) February 22, 2019

West Virginia AFL-CIO:

Despite Republican leaders like @WVGovernor and @SenCarmichaelWV “guaranteeing” a pay raise for teachers, school service personnel & state troopers this session, @WVGOP Chair @MelodyWVGOP just spoke against it at a public hearing this morning. #wvpol #wvlegis #shockedandconfused

— West Virginia AFLCIO (@WestVirginiaAFL) February 22, 2019

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO:

Evers Sides With Unions In Lame-Duck Lawsuit, https://t.co/5oBJS1R0uH

— WI AFL-CIO (@wisaflcio) February 22, 2019 Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 02/25/2019 - 12:50

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: American Federation of Musicians

Mon, 2019-02-25 12:03
Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: American Federation of Musicians AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that will take a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the American Federation of Musicians (AFM). The series will run weekly until we've covered all 55 of our affiliates.

Name of Union: American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada

Mission: Professional musicians uniting so that they can live and work in dignity; with work that is fulfilling and compensated fairly; have a meaningful voice in decisions that affect them; have opportunities to develop their talents and skills; use their collective voice and power through a democratic and progressive union; and oppose the forces of exploitation through union solidarity.

Current Leadership of Union: Ray Hair is the 12th international president of AFM. Bruce Fife serves as international vice president while Alan Willaert serves as vice president from Canada. Jay Blumenthal is the secretary-treasurer and the executive officers consist of: John Acosta, Tino Gagliardi, Tina Morrison, Joe Parente and Dave Pomeroy.

Current Number of Members: 80,000.

Members Work As: Musicians in orchestras, backup bands, festivals, clubs, theaters, films, TV, commercials and sound recordings.

Industries Represented: Members work on Broadway, musical tours and as studio musicians for music, movies, television and commercials.

History: AFM formed in 1896 when musicians gathered in Indianapolis to form an organization to represent "any musician who receives pay" for musical services. Soon after, the American Federation of Labor granted a charter to AFM, which by then represented 3,000 members. Organizing efforts were pursued anywhere there were musicians, from theaters and restaurants to symphonies and operas. Within two years of the release of the first film that included sound in 1927, 20,000 musicians lost their jobs playing in the theater pits where the music originated to accompany silent films. 

But these and other technological advances wouldn't deter the musicians. In the next few decades, they won minimum wage scales for recording and secured their first contract with the film companies. Technology continued to push organizing among AFM members, including a strike in 1942 that shut down the U.S. recording market for two years. Musicians won that strike and forced the recording industry to pay musicians who performed at live shows when recordings of those shows were sold. Out of that strike came the Music Performance Trust Fund, which continues to sponsor free live performances throughout the United States and Canada today.

Over time, AFM continued adapting to technological advances. Whether it was television, cable, video games or the digital transmission of performances, AFM stood strong in making sure that musicians won contracts that gave them royalties for their performances that were used in these new media. After 120 years, AFM is stronger than ever, and its members continue to play in wide range of venues and platforms. Thanks to all those years of organizing and collective bargaining, they get paid for their work.

Current Campaigns: Respect the Band calls upon the broadcast television networks to pay musicians when clips of live shows appear on YouTube and other revenue-generating platforms. Fair Trade Music is a grassroots effort to raise standards for freelance musicians. Tempo supports candidates who support music and musicians. AFM also offers information and assistance for musicians traveling with Instruments Containing Ivory or Endangered Species.

Community Efforts: AFM offers assistance to members impacted by hurricanes and other emergencies.

Learn More: WebsiteFacebookTwitter.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 02/25/2019 - 11:03

What Workers Want to See: The Working People Weekly List

Mon, 2019-02-25 11:58
What Workers Want to See: The Working People Weekly List AFL-CIO

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

Now that Government Is Funded, Here Is What Workers Want to See: "Last year, in communities all across the country, millions of Americans mobilized and called for an economy that works for all of us. From state houses and governors' mansions to Capitol Hill, we elected advocates who committed themselves to advancing that cause. That election was defined by a movement of hardworking people who stood together to reject the meager crumbs we are being handed and reclaim what is rightfully ours."

An Open Letter to Game Developers from America's Largest Labor Organization: "If an investor was searching for the country’s most explosively successful commodity, they might look to the ground for natural resources or to Wall Street for some new financial instrument. But the most meteoric success story can be found virtually all around us—in the booming video game industry. Growing by double digits, U.S. video game sales reached $43 billion in 2018, some 3.6 times greater than the film industry’s record-breaking box office."

Black History Month Labor Profiles: Isaac Myers: "For Black History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various African American leaders and activists who have worked at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Our next profile is Isaac Myers."

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: AFGE: "Next up in our new series that will take a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the AFGE. The series will run weekly until we've covered all 55 of our affiliates."

AFL-CIO President to Trump: Your Emergency Is Fake News: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka took President Donald Trump to task again. This time, it’s over his declaration of a national emergency to secure funding for his border wall. 'The scapegoating and political brinkmanship of the past few months is not the way to govern,' stated Trumka. 'From missed paychecks to economic uncertainty, more than 1 million hardworking federal employees and contractors have carried the burden of politicians’ mess. We may have avoided another shutdown, but political tactics of this administration persist and Congress still must provide back pay to federal contractors.'"

Amid Game Industry Layoffs, AFL-CIO Says It’s Time for Workers to Organize: "On Feb. 15, just days after massive layoffs at Activision Blizzard, the AFL-CIO issued a powerful public statement of support to game developers in the United States. Also known as the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, the AFL-CIO represents more than 12 million workers in 50 different labor unions, including a unit here within Vox Media. Its message, published in an open letter at Kotaku, was both simple and profound. 'This is a moment for change,' wrote AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler. 'It won’t come from CEOs. It won’t come from corporate boards. And, it won’t come from any one person....You have the power,' she continued, 'to demand a stake in your industry and a say in your economic future. What’s more, you have millions of brothers and sisters across the country standing with you.'"

AFL-CIO Opposes Johns Hopkins Bayview Expansion: "The AFL-CIO is opposing an expansion of the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center that would add another building to its campus and renovate existing structures. In a 25-page letter, the union organization called on the Maryland Health Care Commission to reject a certificate of need for the expansion for the project, which is required under state law to move forward. The group cited a number of problems it claims Bayview has, including a failure to comply with charity care requirements for low-income patients, proposed rate hikes to support the project and quality of care issues. The AFL-CIO said Hopkins brought thousands of lawsuits against patients to collect medical debts."

Unions Not Done with the Government Shutdown Just Yet: "Washington is breathing a sigh of relief as it averts a second government shutdown in 2019. But the labor movement isn’t backing off its public awareness and political pressure campaigns just yet. Unions are instead joining forces with contractors to secure the pay they didn’t receive during the 35-day government shutdown that ended last month. 'The fight isn’t over,' AFL-CIO spokesman John Weber said in a statement to Bloomberg Law.

NM Unions Distribute 3,750 Pounds of Groceries to Families Recovering from Government Shutdown: "More than 100 government workers received 3,750 pounds of donated groceries today from a pop-up food bank organized by the New Mexico Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the New Mexico Alliance for Retired Americans and the RoadRunner Food Bank. NMFL President Vince Alvarado said, 'As the shutdown dragged on—and as contractors are still not paid lost wages—working people stepped up to care for each other in a time of forced hardship. By standing together, working people got each other through this shutdown. We mobilized, organized and proved the indispensable value of our labor to those who tried to ignore us. Now we demand a long-term government funding bill and legislation to guarantee that all workers impacted by the shutdown are made whole.'"

A Record Number of U.S. Workers Went on Strike in 2018: "Last year’s labor unrest started with a teachers strike in West Virginia and ended with Marriott workers picketing across four states. A record number of U.S. workers went on strike or stopped working in 2018 because of labor disputes with employers, according to new data released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A total of 485,000 employees were involved in major work stoppages last year—the highest number since 1986, when flight attendants, garbage collectors, and steelworkers walked off the job. The increasing number of workers involved in labor strikes suggests that average Americans are not experiencing the 'economic miracle' that President Donald Trump has described. They see the economy expanding and profits growing, but this doesn’t extend to their paychecks."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 02/25/2019 - 10:58

Black History Month Labor Profiles: Diann Woodard

Mon, 2019-02-25 09:44
Black History Month Labor Profiles: Diann Woodard AFSA

For Black History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various African American leaders and activists who have worked at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Our next profile is Diann Woodard.

Woodard was born in 1951 and grew up in Michigan, a member of a UAW family. After graduating from Michigan State University, she began a career as a classroom teacher, guidance counselor and assistant principal in Detroit's public school system.

By the late 1990s, Woodard was an active member of the Organization of School Administrators and Supervisors, Local 28 of the School Administrators (AFSA). In 1998, she was appointed vice president of the local to complete the term of a retiring officer. She won election to the position in 1999, and in 2000, she was elected to the first of three consecutive terms as president.

In 2009, after 16 years serving on AFSA's General Executive Board, Woodard was elected national president of AFSA. She served in that role until her passing in 2018. As president of AFSA, she was instrumental in forging an alliance with the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the National Association of Elementary School Principals that helped secure new funding for the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015. 

Woodard also sat on the AFL-CIO Executive Council, serving as vice chair of the federation's Committee on Women Workers and tirelessly advocating for increasing the roles of women and people of color in the labor movement.

At the time of her passing in 2018, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) said: "America's school administrators have lost a champion. And I've lost a friend. From her days growing up in a UAW household in Detroit to her nearly four decades of public service, Diann Woodard always put workers, students and families first."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 02/25/2019 - 08:44

Tags: Black History Month

Black History Month Labor Profiles: Kenneth Rigmaiden

Fri, 2019-02-22 12:05
Black History Month Labor Profiles: Kenneth Rigmaiden AFL-CIO

For Black History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various African American leaders and activists who have worked at the intersection of civil and labor rights. On the latest edition of "State of the Unions" podcast, we talk with Kenneth Rigmaiden, the general president of the Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT).

He details his journey from a floor covering installer in San Jose, California, to the highest ranks of the labor movement. He reflects back on his experience with racism and discrimination while also uplifting the many opportunities he's been given. Above all, he stresses his commitment to opening the door for the next generation of union members, activists and leaders. 

Listen to the full episode here

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/22/2019 - 11:05

Tags: Black History Month

Now That Government Is Funded, Here Is What Workers Want to See

Thu, 2019-02-21 13:57
Now That Government Is Funded, Here Is What Workers Want to See Linh Doh

Last year, in communities all across the country, millions of Americans mobilized and called for an economy that works for all of us. From state houses and governors mansions to Capitol Hill, we elected advocates who committed themselves to advancing that cause. That election was defined by a movement of hard working people who stood together to reject the meager crumbs we are being handed and reclaim what is rightfully ours.

In electing more than 900 union members to office, we secured a great opportunity to right the structural wrongs of our economy. Our mission was not simply to rack up victories on election night last November. We changed the rulemakers. Now it is time for them to change the rules. As legislators move past the manufactured crisis that defined the first weeks of the 116th Congress, working people are ready to fight for that change.

Above all, that means affirming our ability to have a real voice on the job. A recent study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that half of all nonunion workers, or more than 60 million Americans, would choose to join a union if they were given the chance, yet aspiring union members continue to face countless obstacles. The power of working people must be unleashed. Whether we work for private companies or public employers, in an office or a mine or a factory, all of us have the right to freely negotiate higher wages and better working conditions.

Congress should modernize the badly outdated National Labor Relations Act to truly protect our freedom to organize and mobilize together. Top lawmakers have put forth promising proposals that would ensure workers can organize a union without facing scorched earth tactics and hostile campaigns from corporations. If workers sign up for a union, they deserve to know their decision is protected by law. It is not the job of executives, governors or right wing operatives to make those decisions for them.

However, our fight will not end with one piece of legislation. An agenda for working families means building a fairer economy and a more just society for everyone in our country, whether you are in a union or not. That means achieving full employment where every American is able to access a good job, passing a $15 federal minimum wage, and refusing to approve any trade agreement that lacks enforceable labor protections.

It means providing a secure and prosperous future for all our families by expanding Social Security, strengthening our pensions, and making a serious federal investment in our infrastructure. It means defending the health and lives of working people by shoring up the Affordable Care Act, removing onerous taxes on health insurance plans negotiated by workers, expanding Medicare coverage to more people, and lowering prescription drug costs. It means passing laws that ensure paid sick and family leave.

All of these guarantees are long overdue for working people, but there is arguably no task so vital as defending our right to safety and dignity on the job. Congress should also extend comprehensive federal protections, including the Equality Act, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status, to LGBTQ and immigrant workers, whose livelihoods and families too often rest on the whims of their employers.

As one of a handful of men in my family to survive the scourge of black lung in the coal mines of Pennsylvania, I cannot overstate the dire need for broadly strengthened safety regulations, including the expansion of Occupational Safety and Health Administration coverage to all workers, toughened federal enforcement, and ironclad whistleblower protections.

Corporations and right wing interests continue to try their best to deny working people our fair share of the enormous wealth that we produce every day. In November, we stood up to change that twisted status quo. We made our voices heard at the ballot box, and we intend to hold the people we elected accountable to an economic agenda that will raise wages, move our country forward, and lead to better lives for all of us.

This post originally appeared in The Hill.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 02/21/2019 - 12:57

An Open Letter to Game Developers from America's Largest Labor Organization

Thu, 2019-02-21 13:09
An Open Letter to Game Developers from America's Largest Labor Organization

If an investor was searching for the country’s most explosively successful commodity, they might look to the ground for natural resources or to Wall Street for some new financial instrument. But the most meteoric success story can be found virtually all around us—in the booming video game industry. Growing by double digits, U.S. video game sales reached $43 billion in 2018, some 3.6 times greater than the film industry’s record-breaking box office.

It’s a stunning accomplishment—one built by legions of tireless game developers. There’s nothing more powerful than throwing yourself into your craft, putting in day after day of passionate, hard work.

Through the fog of sleepless nights that fade into morning, piles of crumpled Red Bull cans and incessant pressure from management, you have accomplished the unthinkable. You’ve built new worlds, designed new challenges and ushered in a new era of entertainment.

Now it’s time for industry bosses to start treating you with hard-earned dignity and respect.

Executives are always quick to brag about your work. It’s the talk of every industry corner office and boardroom. They pay tribute to the games that capture our imaginations and seem to defy economic gravity. They talk up the latest innovations in virtual reality and celebrate record-smashing releases, as your creations reach unparalleled new heights.

My question is this: What have you gotten in return? While you’re putting in crunch time, your bosses are ringing the opening bell on Wall Street. While you’re creating some of the most groundbreaking products of our time, they’re pocketing billions. While you’re fighting through exhaustion and putting your soul into a game, Bobby Kotick and Andrew Wilson are toasting to “their” success.

They get rich. They get notoriety. They get to be crowned visionaries and regarded as pioneers.

What do you get?

Outrageous hours and inadequate paychecks. Stressful, toxic work conditions that push you to your physical and mental limits. The fear that asking for better means risking your dream job.

We’ve heard the painful stories of those willing to come forward, including one developer who visited the emergency room three times before taking off from work. Developers at Rockstar Games recently shared stories of crunch time that lasted for months and even years in order to satisfy outrageous demands from management, delivering a game that banked their bosses $725 million in its first three days.

This is a moment for change. It won’t come from CEOs. It won’t come from corporate boards. And it won’t come from any one person.

Change will happen when you gain leverage by joining together in a strong union. And it will happen when you use your collective voice to bargain for a fair share of the wealth you create every day.

No matter where you work, bosses will only offer fair treatment when you stand together and demand it. Fortunately, the groundwork is already being laid as grassroots groups like Game Workers Unite embrace the power of solidarity and prove that you don’t have to accept a broken, twisted status quo.

You have the power to demand a stake in your industry and a say in your economic future. What’s more, you have millions of brothers and sisters across the country standing with you.

Your fight is our fight, and we look forward to welcoming you into our union family. Whether we’re mainlining caffeine in Santa Monica, clearing tables in Chicago or mining coal in West Virginia, we deserve to collect nothing less than the full value of our work.

This post originally appeared at Kotaku.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 02/21/2019 - 12:09

Tags: Organizing

Black History Month Labor Profiles: Isaac Myers

Thu, 2019-02-21 10:45
Black History Month Labor Profiles: Isaac Myers

For Black History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various African American leaders and activists who have worked at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Our next profile is Isaac Myers.

Isaac Myers was born in Baltimore in 1835 to free parents. The city's schools excluded African American children, so Myers had to learn to read and write from his minister. At 16, Myers took an apprenticeship with Thomas Jackson, an African American ship caulker who was well-known in the city. Myers learned quickly, and by the time he was 20, he had been placed in charge of a crew that caulked large clipper ships. Myers stayed in the trade for nearly a decade before moving on to open a grocery business in the early 1860s. 

The Baltimore shipyards of the time employed both free blacks and slaves leased to the shipyard owners, including Frederick Douglass, who worked as a caulker in the few years leading up to his escape to freedom. In 1838, African American workers formed the Caulkers Association, one of the first African American trade unions in the United States. By the 1850s, black caulkers were paid well—well enough, in fact, that white workers and immigrants who also worked in the shipyards began speaking out against the African American workers. In 1858, riots began. Some shipyard owners, wary of the conflict, stopped hiring black caulkers. In 1865, white workers engaged in a strike that forced shipyards to fire African American workers, leading to more than 1,000 dock workers being fired.

Myers had stayed in contact with his friends who worked in the shipyards during the conflict. He worked his way up to be a high-ranking clerk in a wholesale grocery business. In response to the strike by white workers who targeted black shipyard workers, Myers organized a group of both African American and white business owners to create a new shipyard that would function as a cooperative. The new Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry Dock Company employed more than 300 African American workers and the pay was good. The new shipyard was successful until 1884, when they lost the lease. Myers served as a board member for the company and an unofficial spokesperson.

Meanwhile, Myers focused most of his time on helping expand the black trade unionist movement. By 1868, he was president of the Colored Caulkers' Trade Union Society of Baltimore. He used that position to reach out to African American union members in other trades and cities in an effort to bring organizations that allowed African Americans to join into the National Labor Union, a new national federation of local unions. At the NLU's 1869 national convention, Myers and a delegation of African American union leaders addressed the gathering, making the case for equal treatment and acceptance of black leaders by the white leaders of organized labor. Myers said:

I speak today for the colored men of the whole country...when I tell you that all they ask for themselves is a fair chance; that you shall be no worse off by giving them that chance....The white men of the country have nothing to fear....We desire to have the highest rate of wages that our labor is worth.

The NLU rejected Myers plea, but they offered him and others the opportunity for African American unionists to join an affiliated, but separate, organization. Myers and other leaders formed the Colored National Labor Union. Over the next several years, Douglass had become the most well-recognized leader in the CNLU, which was hit hard by the depression of 1873. Both the NLU and CNLU folded because of the depression.

That didn't slow down Myers' organizing efforts. He launched a new organization, the Colored Men's Progressive and Cooperative Union, which was open to members of all occupational backgrounds. The new union not only allowed both white and black members, it was one of the few unions of the day to also welcome women.

In the 1870s, Myers became pretty heavily involved in politics and worked as a Customs Service agent and postal inspector. He continued to help organize in the South before returning to Baltimore in 1880 to run a coal yard. He stayed active in African American community organizations and edited the Colored Citizen, a weekly newspaper up until his death in 1891 at 56.

Check out all of our Black History Month labor profiles.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 02/21/2019 - 09:45

Tags: Black History Month

Young Active Labor Leaders Chart the Future of the Labor Movement in Texas

Wed, 2019-02-20 11:44
Young Active Labor Leaders Chart the Future of the Labor Movement in Texas Texas AFL-CIO

Last week, the Texas Young Active Labor Leaders (YALL) hosted its second biennial YALL Summit in Austin. Nearly 250 young labor leaders, union activists and community allies joined together to chart the course of the labor movement in Texas and beyond.

Attendees heard from other young labor and political leaders such as Josette Jaramillo, president of the Colorado AFL-CIO, and Greg Casar, Austin City Council member. Panels and workshops covered topics ranging from union organizing sweeping through "right to work" states like Texas and Oklahoma, advancing racial justice and immigrant rights in the labor movement, facilitating collaboration between unions and environmental justice groups, connecting fights for workers' rights with community activism, and more. The 2019 Texas YALL Summit offered a venue where young workers could connect with one another and strategize to address the issues that impact them at the workplace, in their unions and in their communities.

Two 2019 YALL Summit attendees have taken the time to share their experiences at the gathering in their own words. First up is Erica Scarlett, a 32-year-old office professional from Waco who also attended the first YALL Summit in 2017.

Texas AFL-CIO Erica Scarlett, OPEIU 277, Fort Worth, Texas

My name is Erica Scarlett, and I am a young active labor leader in my community. I work at American Income Life, one of the few unionized companies in my hometown of Waco. I am a union steward at my job, have been for the past three years. I am part of the Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU) Local 277 based in Fort Worth.

My local was invited to the first YALL Summit in 2017, which was the start of a life-changing movement, as well as a breathtaking experience. This particular YALL conference was held in Houston during the weekend of the presidential inauguration. That experience was amazing as we all came together from all cultural backgrounds with one goal in mind: "Unity for the minority." You could only imagine my excitement when I was told our local was invited to the 2019 YALL Summit: "Ignite the fight." I was ecstatic and pumped to see what our young labor leaders were going to bring to the table this year.

I really enjoyed traveling to Austin, the capital of our great state, and being a part of the "solidarity movement." There was a great panel of speakers who spoke volumes and motivated us to do more in our communities, as well as promise to stand together in solidarity. There were a variety of workshops that we had the option to choose from. I chose to go to the racial injustice in the workplace and common sense social economics workshops. I must say, the speakers in each of the workshops did an outstanding job, not just providing expertise on the subject matter, but making it hands on, interactive and interesting.

There were moments where we had breaks and kickbacks; a fun way to engage and get to know each other, as well as networking opportunities. I believe that by coming to these summits, our young labor leaders understand they are not alone. They have support, and we are able to recharge, refuel and reunite. Every time I have attended a YALL Summit it gets better and better. I am stoked to see what it will be in 2021. I must say, coming together again this year has motivated me to try and bring YALL to Waco. I have received tremendous support and guidance.

The future is NOW, and I leave you with this chant: "I said YALL, baby! YALL, baby! YALL, baby! YALL!" (repeat after me)/"You have to be an active leader or you gots to go! #BeTheChangeYouWantToSee"

Texas AFL-CIO Angel Silvestre Avila, IBEW 583, El Paso, Texas

Angel Silvestre Avila, a 24-year-old electrical apprentice with Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 583 in El Paso, also shared his reflections on the YALL Summit:

Hello to everyone who will be reading this blog. This is my first time writing a blog, as well as my first time attending this type of seminar or conference. I was nominated by my union to represent IBEW Local 583 at the 2019 YALL Summit. The business manager of my union, Leticia Marcum, nominated me and my union members passed a motion in order for me to attend. I would like to thank my fellow union members—especially Letty, our business manager—for this wonderful opportunity and seeing me as a young union leader for my local.

Before attending the summit, I had different expectations. I thought it was going to be a formal event where everyone is there to learn but not necessarily to communicate with each other, where everyone is judging you on your appearance, how you speak, your ethnicity, the way you hold yourself and if you come from a blue- or white-collar background. What I got was a completely different experience; it was actually quite shocking to me. On the contrary, everyone there was very respectful, friendly and accepted you for who you were—not just the people who hosted the summit but also the ones attending: the LGBTQ community, teachers, building trades, social workers, local Democratic Socialists of America groups, government employees, the Sierra Club and the Progressive Workers Union, stagehands, transport workers, many different IBEW locals and much more. The reason I mention so many of these associations and people is because each one had an impact on my experience, whether it was union issues, different takes and perspectives on the things going on in our nation and how young active labor leaders can make a difference.

A big thing that I learned going to the workshops and listening to the guest speakers and featured panels is that it doesn't matter anymore if you are in the blue- or white-collar industry, or if you obtained your career through a university or trade school. I learned that everyone who attended the conference had a common interest; that interest being a livable wage for everyone in our communities. Some of the main issues that I came to be more aware of are immigration issues in the workplace, people in the LGBTQ community and the struggles they deal with on a daily basis in the workforce. I also learned about women's rights, issues affecting Hispanics and African Americans, and public school teachers. I will not get into detail of everything that was discussed, but what I would like to say is although there were many issues brought to the table, there were also many solutions that were given in order to better these issues.

One thing that really stuck with me was when one young man said something to the effect of, "I'm glad to see so many people here, and I would like to say many of us are fighting for these same issues. People don't see the struggles we face on a daily basis: trying to put food on the table, living paycheck to paycheck and staying out of poverty. We all came here not just for ourselves but to ensure that we can fight for our communities and our neighbors, to obtain a livable wage and be able to provide for our families comfortably. We are not just fighting for ourselves but for our community as well." (This is not verbatim, but how I interpreted his speech).

Once again, I would like to thank my local union members for this amazing opportunity and learning experience, especially the YALL team for hosting an amazing conference. I'd also like to thank my union brothers and sisters from different locals that made me feel very welcome and proud to be part of IBEW.

Finally, one last thing I would like to say and something I took from this experience is this: 
These are my hands, I can build America from the ground up. These are my hands, but they do not just build America. I could also use them to fight, not with my fist, but simply with a pen and paper.

Estas son mis manos, puedo construir a los Estados Unidos desde lo mas bajo, estas son mis manos, no solamente para construir si no tambien para pelear, no con puños si no con papel y lapiz.

This post originally appeared at Texas AFL-CIO.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 02/20/2019 - 10:44

Tags: Future of Work

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: AFGE

Tue, 2019-02-19 10:50
Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: AFGE AFL-CIO

Next up in our new series that will take a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the AFGE. The series will run weekly until we've covered all 55 of our affiliates.

Name of Union: American Federation of Government Employees

Mission: The union exists for the purpose of promoting unity of action in all matters affecting the mutual interests of government civilian employees in general, all other persons providing their personal service indirectly to the United States Government and for the improvement of government service.

Current Leadership of Union: J. David Cox Sr. is currently serving his third term as AFGE's national president. Cox, who is from North Carolina, began working in health care in 1970 and became a registered nurse in 1983. That launched a public sector career with the Veterans' Administration that lasted until 2006, when he became AFGE's national secretary-treasurer. Everett Kelley serves as national secretary-treasurer and Jeremy Lannan serves as national vice president for women and fair practices.

Current Number of Members: 315,000.

Members Work As: Food inspectors, nurses, correctional officers, lawyers, police officers, census workers, scientists, doctors, park rangers, border patrol agents, transportation security officers, mechanics, computer programmers and more.

Industries Represented: Members work for the federal government or the government of the District of Columbia.

History: AFGE formed in 1932, during the depths of the Great Depression. Federal employees were refused most of the rights they have today. Politicians had crippled the civil service, and AFGE's founding members came together in opposition to these attacks. In the decades leading up to World War II, new chapters of the union began to form across the country. In the 1940s and 50s, AFGE fought for and won a pay raise of nearly 16%, the largest increase for the federal government workforce in the country's history. They also won within-grade pay increases, transportation allowances and payment for accrued annual leave, overtime, and night and holiday work. Finally, in 1962, federal workers secured the right to collectively bargain when President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10988. Since then, AFGE has continued to fight for government workers and has won real bargaining rights and extended the dignity of a union contract to hundreds of thousands of Americans. Check out AFGE's Labor History Timeline to learn more.

Current Campaigns: Stop the Shutdown seeks to end the unfair and unnecessary shutdown of the federal government. AFGE is also fighting to protect the rights for TSA workersprotect correctional officersprotect official time for federal employees and to fully fund and resource the Veterans Administration. AFGE's Use Your Voice empowers young workers to engage their fellow AFGE members, friends and family to register to vote and turn out to the polls on Election Day. Family First is a campaign to pass paid parental leave for all working families. 

Community Efforts: Each One, Teach One is a mentorship program for AFGE members. AFGE is part of AFL-CIO's Union Veterans Council whose mission is to inform, organize and mobilize union veterans. AFGE Y.O.U.N.G. seeks to mobilize young union members to become leaders for social change. AFGE's Pride program supports the union's LGBTQ membership and allies. HISCO supports professional advancement, leadership development and education opportunity for AFGE members of Hispanic origin.

Learn More: WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 02/19/2019 - 09:50

Collective Action Continues to Rise: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 2019-02-15 11:57
Collective Action Continues to Rise: The Working People Weekly List AFL-CIO

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

Number of Workers Striking Across the U.S. Jumped in 2018: "Almost 500,000 workers participated in work stoppages last year, driven primarily by protests in the education, health-care and social-assistance industries, the Labor Department said. Overall, there were more such disputes than in any year since 2007, and more people on strike or lockout than any year going back to 1987. 'If you think that neither the political system nor the economy is working for you, you turn to each other, knowing it’s the only way you can make change,' said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, which represents 12.5 million unionized workers."

Let’s Not Forget Unions and Collective Action When Discussing Victories on Workers’ Rights: "Too often in our public discourse about workplace issues, the crucial role of labor unions and the legal right of workers to join together in collective action to improve their working conditions is forgotten or ignored."

Trump Wrong to Scapegoat Immigrants, AFL-CIO President Says: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka discusses the trade war between the U.S. and China and the implications for the U.S. labor force with Bloomberg's Jason Kelly on "Bloomberg Markets: Balance of Power."

Was It Worth It? Many Suffered in Trump’s Wall Budget Loss: "Wall or no wall, that wasn’t the question during a silent demonstration in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building. For 35 minutes on Wednesday afternoon, members of the American Federation of Government Employees and others held their fists high to mark the number of days in the longest shutdown that ended three weeks ago. In solemn fashion, they declared not to tolerate such an assault on the government and its workforce. Arms were raised. At the sound of triangle chimes and a small bell rung on each minute, individuals lowered one arm and then raised the other. Each minute was displayed on a paper plate, so the demonstrators would know how much they had to endure."

Congress’s Spending Deal Doesn’t Include Back Pay for Federal Contractors: "Democratic lawmakers led by Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith wanted to attach a bill guaranteeing back pay for federal contractors to a final spending package in an effort to provide some financial relief for as many as 580,000 workers who may have missed out on wages during the recent shutdown. Contractors say they struggled with everything from covering medications to buying baby formula. The legislation, which would have been the first law of its kind to grant contractors back pay after a government shutdown, had been caught up in spending negotiations and faced Republican pushback, according to multiple Democratic sources. As Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) told reporters pointedly on Wednesday, 'I’ve been told the president won’t sign that....I guess federal contractors are different in his view than federal employees.'"

Working People Rally to Protect Dreamers and Workers with TPS: "More than 1,000 of our union brothers and sisters from across the country marched on Capitol Hill Tuesday to call on Congress to save the temporary protected status (TPS) program and allow the workers who depend on it to continue to pursue their dreams in America."

Painters Lend Helping Hand in the Construction Trades: "Work in the construction trades is very physically and mentally demanding. For some workers, those conditions, combined with other factors, can lead to the need for support from the community. The Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) union is stepping up to provide that support for workers who are dealing with depression or substance abuse with IUPAT Helping Hand, a new program designed to raise awareness and provide resources for working people who are struggling."

No More Shutdowns: In the States Roundup: "It's time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states. Click on any of the links to follow the state federations on Twitter."

U.S. Unions Bring Solidarity to Striking Mexican Workers: "A delegation of union leaders from the national AFL-CIO, the Texas AFL-CIO, the UAW and the United Steelworkers (USW) traveled to Matamoros, Mexico, last week to support tens of thousands of factory workers who have launched a wave of strikes to demand wage increases and democratic control of their unions."

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Amalgamated Transit Union: "Next up in our new series of taking a deeper look at each of our affiliates is Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU). The series will run weekly until we've covered all 55 of our affiliates."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/15/2019 - 10:57

Working People Rally to Protect Dreamers and Workers with TPS

Thu, 2019-02-14 13:52
Working People Rally to Protect Dreamers and Workers with TPS AFL-CIO

More than 1,000 of our union brothers and sisters from across the country marched on Capitol Hill Tuesday to call on Congress to save the temporary protected status (TPS) program and allow the workers who depend on it to continue to pursue their dreams in America.

Despite the wind and rain, workers from UNITE HERE, the Laborers (LIUNA), the Bricklayers (BAC), the Ironworkers, the Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) rallied at the U.S. Capitol, demanding #TPSJustice.

TPS provides people from countries experiencing crises such as war, natural disaster or ongoing violence the opportunity to build a life in the United States. TPS holders are major contributors to our workplaces, economy and communities. They deserve a stable future, but the Trump administration has terminated the program for the 400,000 who have 275,000 U.S. citizen children.

Tell Congress that working people support immigrants and want to protect TPS and create a pathway to citizenship.

Here is what people said on Twitter from the rally:

Our big day is here, join us starting at 9 am, at the White House, as we march for the Justice of the TPS Community

Painters Lend Helping Hand in the Construction Trades

Wed, 2019-02-13 09:34
Painters Lend Helping Hand in the Construction Trades

Work in the construction trades is very physically and mentally demanding. For some workers, those conditions, combined with other factors, can lead to the need for support from the community. The Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) union is stepping up to provide that support for workers who are dealing with depression or substance abuse with IUPAT Helping Hand, a new program designed to raise awareness and provide resources for working people who are struggling.

Construction workers have the highest rate of suicide and drug abuse of any job category in the United States. Many of these addictions begin as treatment for work-related pain or injury. Workers often return to the job before they are fully healed in order to start earning a full paycheck again. Others come back to work still using painkillers that may affect job performance and safety.

IUPAT Helping Hand is designed to help construction workers and their family and friends get access to resources that can identify warning signs and prevent or alleviate these problems before they get out of hand. 

Watch the video above and visit the Helping Hand website to learn more. 

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 02/13/2019 - 08:34

No More Shutdowns: In the States Roundup

Tue, 2019-02-12 10:17
No More Shutdowns: In the States Roundup AFL-CIO

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

Alaska AFL-CIO:

After learning OMB Director Donna Arduin and Governor Dunleavy's plan for the budget as well as this newly rolled out supplemental budget, all we can say is someone needs a dictionary.

trans·par·ent:(of an organization or its activities) open to public scrutiny. #akleg #akgov pic.twitter.com/JqgYph6Exw

— Alaska AFL-CIO (@AKAFLCIO) January 30, 2019

Arizona AFL-CIO:

Congratulations to former UFCW member Cardi B on making history at last nights Grammy’s! https://t.co/yIdRhdgr8Q

— Arizona AFL-CIO (@ArizonaAFLCIO) February 11, 2019

California Labor Federation:

"Most gig economy workers are still classified as contract workers, meaning that they aren’t covered by federal minimum wage laws & other labor protections." We need to stop greedy corporations from cheating workers! #CaLeg must vote #YesOnAB5! https://t.co/Y3hoyx5iq8 @LorenaAD80

— California Labor Federation (@CaliforniaLabor) February 8, 2019

Connecticut AFL-CIO:

Sotonye Otunba-Payne, court reporter & member of @AFSCMECT4: "We believe that outsourcing will lead to the destruction of middle-class jobs that are the backbone of our economy" #ThriveTogetherCT #1u pic.twitter.com/76CwOCoPrz

— Connecticut AFL-CIO (@ConnAFLCIO) February 11, 2019

Florida AFL-CIO:

“There is a lot of uncertainty, and there is a high stress level in the people. It’s affecting the home life of people. Now they don’t know what their future is.” #NoMoreShutdowns https://t.co/rpipMtFYGI

— Florida AFL-CIO (@FLAFLCIO) February 7, 2019

Georgia AFL-CIO:

Instead of 4 beautiful words stamped on cars, we need 5: "UNION MADE in the USA". #1u #SOTU

— AFL-CIO Georgia (@AFLCIOGeorgia) February 6, 2019

Indiana State AFL-CIO:

“The GOP tax cut didn’t help. The free trade agreement hasn’t helped. There’s nothing Trump has done that has helped.” #1uhttps://t.co/OKnFM4jaEg

— Indiana AFL-CIO (@INAFLCIO) February 7, 2019

Iowa Federation of Labor:

Black Civil Rights Activists https://t.co/RyMY1W3IfC

— Iowa AFL-CIO (@IowaAFLCIO) February 11, 2019

Kentucky State AFL-CIO:

“Janus hasn’t had any effect at all on us,” said the Kentucky AFL-CIO president, Bill Londrigan, whose state gained 5,000 new public union members after a series of dramatic teachers’... https://t.co/iFFpkxtN4g

— Kentucky AFL-CIO (@aflcioky) February 8, 2019

Maine AFL-CIO:

Federal workers Bill and Rob speak to fellow area union members about the impact of the lockout, aka shutdown, had on their members and families. Never again! @AFGENational #mepolitics #1u pic.twitter.com/R7PYr4e0vr

— Maine AFL-CIO (@MEAFLCIO) February 7, 2019

Massachusetts AFL-CIO:

Thank you to our union brothers and sisters working extra hard to keep the #MBTA running safely this morning during heavy use for the #PatriotsParade @carmensunion589 @IAM264Boston @IBEW103 @IBEW104

— Massachusetts AFLCIO (@massaflcio) February 5, 2019

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

DC's JW Marriott engineers join IUOE 99 https://t.co/mTbMguthIY

— MetroDCLaborCouncil (@DCLabor) February 8, 2019

Michigan AFL-CIO:

Wherein he passes the torch to all of us. Rest in power, John Dingell. #1u https://t.co/p60l38TK2E

— Michigan AFL-CIO (@MIAFLCIO) February 9, 2019

Minnesota AFL-CIO:

The Fight Against Labor Trafficking Expands https://t.co/Ev2ECr027Y (via @workdaymn) #1u pic.twitter.com/6gM0pvlKVU

— Minnesota AFL-CIO (@MNAFLCIO) February 8, 2019

Missouri AFL-CIO:

The enemies of open government in Missouri have made clear they have no regard for either the principle of transparency or the overwhelming will of the people. #moleg https://t.co/eVBiG2cjOM

— Missouri AFL-CIO (@MOAFLCIO) February 8, 2019

Nebraska State AFL-CIO:

Mark your calendars now to help Stamp Out Hunger. pic.twitter.com/YawTXOzhYq

— NE State AFL-CIO (@NEAFLCIO) February 6, 2019

Nevada State AFL-CIO:

Bright and snowy opening of #nvleg ❄️❄️❄️ Looking forward to warmer days and passing legislation to help NV working families #1u pic.twitter.com/7AtQxaU3IG

— Nevada State AFL-CIO (@NVAFLCIO) February 5, 2019

New Mexico Federation of Labor:

#StoptheShutdown ! Give our Brothers and Sisters the dignity they deserve! #Solidarity #1u pic.twitter.com/ukLH9JdheU

— NMFL (@NMFLaflcio) February 11, 2019

New York State AFL-CIO:

Labor leaders optimistic bill penalizing companies for outsourcing call-center jobs will pass in Dem-controlled Albany https://t.co/AJqcvdG2wE

— NYSAFLCIO (@NYSAFLCIO) February 11, 2019

North Carolina State AFL-CIO:

We need you in Raleigh Feb. 27th for 2019 Medicaid Expansion Advocacy Day! RSVP at https://t.co/Qwf0ZDcDGA https://t.co/cl4WQ3wju7

— NC State AFL-CIO (@NCStateAFLCIO) February 10, 2019

North Dakota AFL-CIO:

Rep. Nelson stands with North Dakota Firefighters and Police and their right to join together and negotiate the terms of their employment. Thank him! menelson@nd.gov - 701-550-9731 #HB1463 #NDPOL #1u pic.twitter.com/ealExPZn1T

— North Dakota AFL-CIO (@NDAFLCIO) February 5, 2019

Ohio AFL-CIO:

Fear @wrightstate faculty, staff, students & @aaupwsu,

Thank you for standing united in #solidarity for a better university. The lessons taught on the picket line will last a lifetime (and beyond).

Congratulations and in the best way possible, we say, “Now get o work.”

U.S. Unions Bring Solidarity to Striking Mexican Workers

Mon, 2019-02-11 13:51
U.S. Unions Bring Solidarity to Striking Mexican Workers AFL-CIO

A delegation of union leaders from the national AFL-CIO, the Texas AFL-CIO, the UAW and the United Steelworkers (USW) traveled to Matamoros, Mexico, last week to support tens of thousands of factory workers who have launched a wave of strikes to demand wage increases and democratic control of their unions.

Since Jan. 25, at least 48 factories that produce auto parts and other goods for export to the United States have signed agreements to increase wages by 20% and pay a bonus of 32,000 pesos (about $1,750). This is a huge victory for the workers, most of whom make around $2 per hour. In the past week, the strike wave has spread beyond the factories to supermarkets and other employers, with all the workers demanding "20/32." The leaders of the Matamoros unions, which historically have been close to the employers, were forced to endorse the workers’ demands.

The delegation visited the picket line at Advanced Scientifics, a subsidiary of Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher Scientifics, which produces medical supplies. Some 70 workers have been camped outside the plant 24 hours a day in near-freezing temperatures.

"It’s heartbreaking to see workers who make life-saving equipment treated with so little respect," said USW District 13 Director Ruben Garza. "This is what happens when we sign trade agreements like [the North American Free Trade Ageement] that have no real protections for workers’ rights."

While the wage increase and bonus are a huge victory, the employers and the Confederation of Mexican Workers unions are striking back already. In the past week, as many as 2,000 strike leaders have been fired and blacklisted, despite legal prohibitions and non-reprisal agreements signed by the employers. The U.S. delegation met with fired leaders from several factories who are planning a public protest to demand reinstatement. Here are their testimonies:

  • "We were told we were fired because we offended the company."
  • "The union never helped us, they deceived us. So we had to put our own courage on the line to confront them."
  • "We need to be firm. I have a family, too. My greatest wish is that justice is served. I don’t want just a salary, I want justice!"

"These workers—many of whom are working mothers—are fighting for the pay they’re owed, for better working conditions and for respect on the job," said Texas AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Montserrat Garibay. "They are using their voices, and it is time to listen. The Mexican and U.S. governments must both demand that these U.S. companies honor their agreements and stop firing and blacklisting these courageous workers."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 02/11/2019 - 12:51

Tags: Mexico

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Amalgamated Transit Union

Mon, 2019-02-11 09:02
Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Amalgamated Transit Union AFL-CIO

Next up in our new series of taking a deeper look at each of our affiliates is Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU). The series will run weekly until we've covered all 55 of our affiliates.

Name of Union: Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU)

Mission: To fight for the rights of transit workers and promote mass transit.

Current Leadership of Union: Lawrence J. Hanley is the current international president of ATU.

Oscar Owens serves as international secretary-treasurer and Javier M. Perez Jr. serves as international executive vice president.

Current Number of Members: Nearly 200,000.

Members Work As: Metropolitan, interstate and school bus drivers; paratransit, light rail, subway, streetcar and ferry boat operators; mechanics and other maintenance workers; clerks, baggage handlers, municipal employees and others.

Industries Represented: Mass transit and related industries.

History: As industrialization advanced in the United States in the late 1800s, more and more workers needed transportation and workers to run that transportation. Mass transit workers in the early days largely worked with horses that pulled streetcars. The drivers often worked 18-hour days while the horses actually only worked four hours a day or less. The harsh treatment, lack of benefits and low pay set the seeds for the rise of ATU.

Early on, there were numerous attempts to form a union of transit workers, but efforts had little success until 1888, when Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, led efforts to organize the streetcar workers. In 1892, the first convention of what would become ATU was held in Indianapolis. 

Although the year after the first convention was challenging, the union became a beacon of hope for transit workers. Within that first year, 28 local divisions were formed and the first Canadian local was chartered in 1893. Seven years later, membership had reached 8,000.

In the years that followed, ATU would continue to expand rapidly amid an era of strikes and violence. The stronger the organization got, the more impact it had. ATU not only pushed for labor reforms such as the six-day workweek and the eight-hour day, but championed technology and rules that make mass transit safer for both workers and riders.

Current Campaigns: Stop Assaults on Transit WorkersMake Sure Transit Operators Have Bathroom BreaksEnd Fatalities and Injuries Resulting from Poor Transit Bus Design.

Community Efforts: ATU has community partnerships with a wide variety of organizations in pursuit of their values and mission, including: the AFL-CIO, Americans for Transit, the BlueGreen Alliance, the Coalition for Smarter Growth, Good Jobs First, the Industrial Areas Foundation, Jobs With Justice, the Labor Project for Working Families, the Partnership for Working Families, the Sierra Club, Transit Riders for Public Transit, the Transportation Equity Network, Transportation for America, U.S. PIRG, USAction and Working America.

Learn More: WebsiteFacebookTwitterYouTube.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 02/11/2019 - 08:02

Profiling African American Labor Champions: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 2019-02-08 15:45
Profiling African American Labor Champions: The Working People Weekly List AFL-CIO

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

Black History Month Labor Profiles: Arlene Holt Baker: "For Black History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various African American leaders and activists who have worked at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Our first profile this year is Arlene Holt Baker."

AFL-CIO Is Profiling Labor Leaders and Activists for Black History Month: "For Black History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various African American leaders and activists who have worked at the intersection of civil and labor rights. First, let's take a look back at our past profiles."

Writers Unite!: Worker Wins: "Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with writers organizing and winning new contracts and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life."

The State of the Union Is…: "When President Donald Trump takes to the House floor to deliver his State of the Union address this evening, we hope to hear a concrete plan to fund the government and make the economy work for those of us who work the hardest. But so far, his actions in office suggest otherwise. Ahead of the big speech, let’s break down his record."

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Air Line Pilots Association: "Next up in our series of taking a deeper look at each of the AFL-CIO's unions is the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). The series will run weekly until we've covered all 55 affiliates."

Thousands of NASA Contractors Still Without Pay After 5-week Shutdown. Can Congress Step In?: "Contractors are at the mercy of the deals that companies sign with federal agencies. In the case of the Space Coast and NASA, several workers represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 2061 in Cape Canaveral, including [Dan] Faden, say their contracts have changed in recent years to cut out the provision that previously guaranteed them back pay in the event of a shutdown. Some of the 600 Space Coast contractors represented by the union have already been told outright they won’t see those two paychecks. Others are in limbo, waiting for their companies to determine if they can scrape together back pay."

Hundreds of Federal Workers Haven’t Received Back Pay from Shutdown: Report: "Numerous federal workers still owed back pay have not received all of the compensation they are due from the recent 35-day partial government shutdown, The Associated Press reported Wednesday. The news outlet spoke to workers from various agencies that were shuttered from the end of December and through much of January, a period during which hundreds of thousands of federal employees missed two paychecks. Michael Walter, who does food safety inspections for the Department of Agriculture (USDA), told the AP that he got his back pay on Wednesday, nearly two weeks after the shutdown ended. Two co-workers told him they had not yet received back pay."

SAG-AFTRA Launches Podcast; First Two Episodes Available Now: "SAG-AFTRA today announced the launch of the SAG-AFTRA podcast. Hosted by President Gabrielle Carteris and National Executive Director David White, each episode features in-depth interviews, industry insights and compelling stories affecting the entertainment and media industry. The podcast soft launched in January with the introductory episode 'Making a Revolution.' The next two episodes are available now with subsequent releases available every other Tuesday. 'We are so excited to bring this podcast to the members. It is an opportunity for us to discuss the critical issues that affect our livelihoods within the industry, and will help us to continue laying the groundwork for the future,' said Carteris."

Raise the Wage Act Would Hike Salaries for 40 Million: "Backed by a wide range of unions and women’s groups, veteran lawmakers, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., have reintroduced the Paycheck Fairness Act—a measure designed to put enforcement 'teeth' into the nation’s 56-year-old equal pay law....The Coalition of Labor Union Women enthusiastically backed the Paycheck Fairness Act and helped ensure every House Democrat, plus one Republican is a co-sponsor....Other union signers were the AFL-CIO, the Pennsylvania Federation of Labor, the Government Employees (AFGE), both teachers’ unions, Graphic Communications Conference Local 24M/9N, IBEW District 3 and Local 29, the Machinists, the Auto Workers, the Letter Carriers, the Steel Workers and their District 10 and Local 1088, the Mine Workers, IATSE, the Service Employees and their Local 668, the Transport Workers."

Golden Invites Maine AFL-CIO Leader to Trump's State of the Union Speech: "In a move meant to send a message to Maine’s blue-collar workers, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden invited Cynthia Phinney of Livermore Falls, president of Maine’s AFL-CIO, to be his guest at Tuesday’s State of the Union speech. 'One of my top priorities in Congress is fighting for Maine’s working people,' the 2nd Congressional District Democrat said Friday. 'That’s something Cynthia has done every day for decades.' 'I am feeling tremendously honored,' Phinney said Friday. She said 'it’s a big deal' to be among the few able to attend “this most symbolic and substantial event.'"

GM to Start Laying Off 4,000 Salaried Workers on Monday: "Layoffs for about 4,000 salaried staff at General Motors are due to start Monday—a previously announced move that comes just as President Donald Trump prepares to trumpet American manufacturing at next week's State of the Union address. The layoffs are part of a 15% reduction in white collar jobs in North America that the automaker first announced back in November. At the same time, it announced plans to close four U.S. plants as well as a fifth in Canada."

Being a Union Member Offers Opportunities: "There are certainly many arguments regarding the pros and cons of unions. I spent time engaging with these arguments during my training to become a social scientist. Ultimately, I began to see the issue of union membership differently as I transitioned from primarily identifying as a student to identifying as a worker. Some economist's detached perspective on unions seemed much less important after I personally encountered issues with working conditions, wages or benefits across different employers. I came to a point where I was ready to join a union, and fortunately one was available to me."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/08/2019 - 14:45

Black History Month Labor Profiles: Arlene Holt Baker

Fri, 2019-02-08 11:50
Black History Month Labor Profiles: Arlene Holt Baker Center for Community Change

For Black History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various African American leaders and activists who have worked at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Our first profile this year is Arlene Holt Baker.

Arlene Holt Baker began her work in the labor movement in Los Angeles in 1972. As a member of AFSCME, she began organizing clerical employees who worked for the city. That process taught her that collective bargaining was the way to empower people economically. Her undying optimism was boosted by the fact that soon after she started her organizing work, William Lucy took office as AFSCME's secretary-treasurer, the first African American to hold one of the union's top offices. Her belief in the work she was doing was strengthened when she saw Lucy's picture hung on the wall in AFSCME's LA office. "I felt somehow that it was destiny to be there with an organization that believed in social and economic justice," she said.

Arlene's mother, Georgia Louise Leslie, was a domestic worker who sacrificed daily to make sure that Arlene and her six brothers and sisters could  thrive despite not having much. Georgia taught Arlene and her siblings to support their community and instilled in them the value of volunteerism. She inspired Arlene to continue fighting even when times got tough.

In the ensuing years, Arlene moved through the ranks of AFSCME while successfully helping organize California's public-sector workers and winning contracts that improved wages and secured equal pay for women. She worked as the international union area director for AFSCME from the late 1980s up until 1995. During that time, she worked on the state's Comparable Worth Task Force Committee and the Southern California Industrial Relations Research Association. She also worked on AFSCME's political activities, particularly in mobilizing voters.

In 1995, she joined the AFL-CIO as Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson's executive assistant. Among her successes in that role, she helped defeat the anti-working people Prop. 226 in California and helped organe support for migrant workers who wanted to unionize. She was chosen as the first director of the AFL-CIO Voice@Work campaign in 1999, launching a program to engage elected officials, religious and community leaders, and others to support workers' freedom to form unions. In 2004, she served as president of Voices for Working Families, an effort to register and mobilize women and people of color from under-registered communities. In 2006, she returned to the AFL-CIO to lead recovery efforts on the Gulf Coast, helping to bring good jobs and affordable housing in the aftermath of Katrina and other devastating hurricanes.

In 2007, Arlene was unanimously approved to serve the remainder of Linda Chavez-Thompson's term as executive vice president after Chavez-Thompson retired. Arlene became the first African American to hold one of the AFL-CIO's three highest offices. As executive vice president, Arlene fought for working people in many areas, with particular focus on collective bargaining rights, health care, fair trade, immigrant rights, LGBTQ+ rights, voting rights and the right for all union members to fully participate in democratic unions that reflect the rich diversity of the workplace. She was elected to a full term in 2009 and served the federation until her retirement in 2013.

Check out all of our Black History Month labor profiles.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/08/2019 - 10:50

Tags: Black History Month

AFL-CIO Is Profiling Labor Leaders and Activists for Black History Month

Wed, 2019-02-06 10:51
AFL-CIO Is Profiling Labor Leaders and Activists for Black History Month AFL-CIO

For Black History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various African American leaders and activists who have worked at the intersection of civil and labor rights. First, let's take a look back at our past profiles:

New profiles:

Check back throughout February as we add even more names to this prestigious list. 

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 02/06/2019 - 09:51

Tags: Black History Month

Writers Unite!: Worker Wins

Tue, 2019-02-05 15:25
Writers Unite!: Worker Wins Slate Union

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with writers organizing and winning new contracts and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.

Dodo Staffers Ratify First Contract with WGAE: Staffers at online publication, the Dodo, voted unanimously to ratify their first union contract. The publication, which is dedicated to compassion for animals and animal-related causes, has nearly three dozen covered employees. The bargaining committee for the workers said: "This contract was achieved through the collective action and mutual support of all of our colleagues, and we are so proud of the standards we established together. We are very excited to join our colleagues at Thrillist as we ratify the second union contract at Group Nine, and we look forward to other shops in digital media working together to provide themselves with the same fair and basic protections."

Slate Editorial and Podcast Staff Ratify First Collective Bargaining Agreement: Editorial and podcast staff at Slate, ratified their first collective bargaining agreement with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). The 51 members will see annual pay increases, anti-harassment policies, a diversity task force, paid time-off and numerous other benefits. The bargaining committee issued a statement that said: "It’s a new day at Slate! Our contract is built on principles of equity and diversity. And yes, we have union security! Management recognized our profound objections to a 'right to work' provision and honored our demand for a union shop. We will all pay our fair share for the representation we receive. One of our primary reasons for undertaking this process was our profound love of Slate. We felt so lucky to work with management last week to put our shared goals into action. Our contract reflects our fundamental values as a company and a workplace. We’re very proud of it."

Writer-Producers at Peacock Productions Ratify First Collective Bargaining Agreement: Writer-producers at Peacock Productions, Comcast/NBCUniversal's nonfiction television division, ratified their first collective bargaining agreement. The workers, represented by WGAE, addresses one of the most pressing challenges in the field, portable health benefits. Lowell Peterson, executive director of WGAE, explained the importance of portable health benefits: "Nonfiction television writer-producers move from company to company as their shows wrap. Some producers make health benefits, but those benefits don’t mean much to freelance employees as it takes too long to qualify, the benefits aren’t worth the out-of-pocket cost, and employer-paid coverage terminates when the employee moves on. By contrast, if an employer pays contributions to the Entertainment Industry Flex Plan on behalf of a WGAE member, those contributions remain at the flex plan even if the employee changes jobs. The money can still be used to buy flex plan insurance or cover eligible benefits. As the WGAE negotiates more and more contracts that provide for employer contributions to the flex plan, health benefits in nonfiction television will become truly portable."

VICE Media Staffers Ratify Four New Contracts: Workers at VICE Media have approved four new collective bargaining agreements with WGAE. The contracts cover WGAE staff at VICE Editorial, VICE News, VICELAND and VICE Digital. WGAE's Peterson said: "Collective bargaining ensures that WGAE-represented employees have the opportunity to discuss what’s most important in their work lives, what needs to be changed and what needs to be strengthened. We are very pleased by the concrete gains negotiated for people who craft content on the entire range of platforms, and we look forward to a productive relationship with VICE management for years to come."

Unionized Cannabis Retailer Opens in Oregon: Seattle-based cannabis retail chain Have a Heart opened its first store in Oregon and quickly ratified a collective bargaining agreement with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). Have a Heart workers at five stores in Washington state are already represented by UFCW. The new contract provides health care, pension benefits, holiday pay, paid time off, bonuses, a joint labor-management committee to address safety and other benefits.

Steelworkers Ratify Six-Year Agreement with National Grid: After a lockout that lasted nearly seven months, members of the United Steelworkers (USW) at National Grid ratified a new collective bargaining agreement. The new contract includes wage increases, increases safety and preserves affordable health care for the 1,200 members covered under the contract. USW International President Leo W. Gerard said: "This agreement is a testament to the commitment these hardworking union members have to their community and to each other. They demonstrated their strength and solidarity every day, and they should be proud of what they’ve achieved with this contract."

Iowa General Mills Workers Join RWDSU: More than 500 workers at General Mills in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). The union will now begin contract negotiations with General Mills. Employee Tim Sarver said: "I'm proud to say I’m now part of the RWDSU and I know everyone who works alongside me knows that representation from the union will change our future here. It’s about time General Mills workers had a real seat at the table with the company and we’re ready to get to work on a fair contract."

Workers at Irvine Marriott Join UNITE Here: More than 100 housekeepers, cooks, dishwashers and servers at the Mariott in Irvine, California, voted to be represented by UNITE HERE. Housekeeper Araceli De La Rosa said the resolve of the workers was enough to overcome a campaign from management that led to the filing of seven unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board. She said: "Management used every trick in the book to try to confuse, intimidate and divide us. But I’m proud to say that we stood strong and we won! We voted 'yes' and now we can fight for the respect and the compensation we deserve."

Maine Millwrights Win Significant Wages Increases in New Contract: Millwrights in Skowhegan, Maine, represented by the Machinists approved a new contract that includes a significant wage increase and avoids a strike. The new contract between the union and Sappi North America lasts three years. Sarah Bigney, of the Maine AFL-CIO, said: "The contract ratification comes after an earlier contract offer was unanimously rejected in a vote last week, when the union then voted to authorize a strike. The union went back to the bargaining table with Sappi and won significant improvements. They voted last night to ratify that offer."

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 02/05/2019 - 14:25

Tags: Organizing