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Black History Month Profiles: William Lucy

Sun, 2021-02-07 14:24
Black History Month Profiles: William Lucy

This year, for Black History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who have made Black history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only the conditions for working people in their community, but also across the country. Today's profile is William Lucy.

The famous slogan, "I Am A Man," is credited to William Lucy, who was elected president of Public Services International in 1994, the first African American to hold the post. He co-founded the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists in 1972. In 1995, he was appointed to the AFL-CIO Executive Council. He served as vice president of the AFL-CIO's Maritime Trades Department, Department for Professional Employees and the Industrial Union Department. Lucy was secretary-treasurer of AFSCME from 1972 until his retirement in 2010. Lucy co-founded the Free South Africa Movement, a grassroots anti-apartheid campaign, and was part of an AFL-CIO delegation monitoring elections when Nelson Mandela was elected the first black president of South Africa.

Kenneth Quinnell Sun, 02/07/2021 - 13:24

Economy Gains 49,000 Jobs in January; Unemployment Down to 6.3%

Fri, 2021-02-05 17:39
Economy Gains 49,000 Jobs in January; Unemployment Down to 6.3%

The U.S. economy gained 49,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.3%, according to figures released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In response to the January job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs tweeted:

Payroll employment was essentially flat in January, +49,000. The unemployment rate fell in the household survey from 6.7% to 6.3% on households reporting increases in employment @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 5, 2021

In a reversal of December, in January women gained 87,000 payroll slots, while men lost 38,000. Two months of flat job gains, Congress needs to act now on @POTUS plan to get the virus under control. @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 5, 2021

Local governments added payroll in education 49,400 but lost 13,300 in other areas, similarly among state government employment, up 36,100 but down elsewhere 5,700. Our state and local governments need help to get a strong public sector response to the virus. @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 5, 2021

The number of long term unemployed increased in January from 3.96 million to 4.02 million, and their share of the unemployed increased from 37.1 to 39.5% These show it will be very hard to get the unemployment number down. We need help now to slow that growth. @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 5, 2021

The stress of the labor market is most intense for women, single head of household, for whom the unemployment rate increased in January from 7.2 to 8.3% as the number unemployed increased 111,000 to 845,000. We need Congress to pass @POTUS plan now. @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 5, 2021

In January the unemployment rate fell for Blacks from 9.9 to 9.2% but it remains higher than the unemployment rate for high school dropouts, which in January fell to 9.1%. The need for racial equity couldn't be more obvious. @AFLCIO @rolandsmartin @APRI_National @CBTU72

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 5, 2021

Our inability to control the virus has halted job recovery in the lowest paid (moving down the chart) service sectors of the economy, leisure & hospitality and retail losing (moving left on the graph) the most jobs. The outlier for job gains were temporary help services. @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/JHjfSFMkbe

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 5, 2021

The labor force flow data, from December to January, shows worker optimism: those unemployed in December were more likely to find work than to leave the labor force; those not in the labor force were more likely to find jobs than be unemployed when they reentered. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/bdC18F4AsV

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 5, 2021

The problem in the labor market is a shortage of jobs, and the affect of virus on keeping people out of the labor force. The household supplemental questions show that the virus is keeping a disproportionate share of Black and Hispanic workers out. 2/3 https://t.co/AygZ0odeCW

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 5, 2021

These all indicate how urgent it is to pass @POTUS plan to address the virus. Republicans don't want it passed in reconciliation because that would only require a majority of the Senate. We don't have time for Republican Senators to finally grasp the situation.

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 5, 2021

Last month's biggest job gains were in professional and business services (+97,000), local government education (+49,000), state government education (+36,000), private education (+34,000), wholesale trade (+14,000) and mining (+9,000). The biggest losses were in leisure and hospitality (-61,000), retail trade (-38,000), health care (-30,000), transportation and warehousing (-28,000), manufacturing (-10,000) and construction (-3,000). Employment in other major industries, including information, financial activities and other services, showed little change in January.

In January, the unemployment rates decreased for teenagers (14.8%), Black Americans (9.2%), Hispanics (8.6%), adult men (6.0%), adult women (6.0%) and White Americans (5.7%). The unemployment rate for Asians (6.6%) rose slightly.

The number of long-term unemployed workers (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) barely changed in January and accounted for 39.5% of the total unemployed.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/05/2021 - 16:39

Pass the PRO Act: In the States Roundup

Fri, 2021-02-05 17:22
Pass the PRO Act: 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.

Alabama AFL-CIO:

Thanks! #1U https://t.co/1erW2lDfG1

— Alabama AFL-CIO (@AlabamaAFLCIO) February 2, 2021

Alaska State AFL-CIO:

Alaska is one of 22 states that saw increases in the percentage of workers covered by a union! This proves that Alaska truly is #UnionStrong! https://t.co/zuEPZ1BVqg

— Alaska AFL-CIO (@AKAFLCIO) February 3, 2021

California Labor Federation:

The pandemic has exposed the structural inequities in our society as BIPOC communities bear the brunt of this disease. We need to increase hazard pay for essential workers, flatten the curve & prioritize vaccines for working-class communities of color. This is devastating. https://t.co/xt6SasiY7r

— California Labor Federation (@CaliforniaLabor) February 4, 2021

Colorado AFL-CIO:

pic.twitter.com/wlkxeCEYxt

— Colorado AFL-CIO (@AFLCIOCO) February 4, 2021

Connecticut AFL-CIO:

.@TheIronworkers Local 15 Business Manager Joe Toner explains how the Killingly Energy Center will create hundreds of jobs, bring in millions in private investment, and provide cleaner & more reliable energy for CT. https://t.co/7SW6MMUNjS

— Connecticut AFL-CIO (@ConnAFLCIO) January 28, 2021

Florida AFL-CIO:

"Around 12 million Americans lost out on those jobless benefits after the unemployment programs expired, according to a study by The Century Foundation."https://t.co/tC2YPaCzpg

— Florida AFL-CIO (@FLAFLCIO) February 4, 2021

Georgia State AFL-CIO:

The COVID-19 virus is still surging. @BrianKempGA and the @GaRepublicans are still failing our state with their incompetent response. Now is the time for MORE accountability for employers, not less. Tell your lawmaker to vote NO on #HB112! #1u #gapol https://t.co/S9OAqu3Ahh

— Georgia AFL-CIO (@AFLCIOGeorgia) February 3, 2021

Illinois AFL-CIO:

pic.twitter.com/iZY076dgaq

— Illinois AFL-CIO (@ILAFLCIO) February 2, 2021

Indiana State AFL-CIO:

Indiana should be doing more to protect our educators. https://t.co/cY1R0xHiM3

— Indiana AFL-CIO (@INAFLCIO) February 4, 2021

Iowa Federation of Labor:

Americans agree — 74% of the public says it’s “extremely important” for federal aid to prioritize states, cities, counties and schools, especially Medicaid and education. #FundtheFrontLines. https://t.co/EmfIGiNDLZ pic.twitter.com/AZJWtSd1Yn

— Iowa AFL-CIO (@IowaAFLCIO) February 4, 2021

Kansas AFL-CIO:

We must #ExpandMedicaid to remain a competitive option for families and businesses.

— Kansas AFL-CIO (@KansasAFLCIO) February 2, 2021

Kentucky State AFL-CIO:

From @ForwardKy - authored by our own Executive Board member, Berry Craig:

“COVID is real. I know. So stop playing politics with your — and my — health.”https://t.co/bqgYCar9pi

— Kentucky AFL-CIO (@aflcioky) January 26, 2021

Maine AFL-CIO:

If we want to create a working class movement for #ClimateJustice climate policies must respect workers’ rights & create good paying jobs with benefits. #mepolitics https://t.co/9SbvzKyjie

— Maine AFL-CIO (@MEAFLCIO) January 27, 2021

Maryland State and D.C. AFL-CIO:

Pass. The. PRO Act. https://t.co/ZPAWxGy70d

— Maryland State and DC AFL-CIO (@MDDCStateFed) January 26, 2021

Massachusetts AFL-CIO:

The @massaflcio celebrates #BlackHistoryMonth.

The Power and Importance of Unions: What Working People Are Doing This Week

Fri, 2021-02-05 14:04
The Power and Importance of Unions: What Working People Are Doing This Week

Welcome to our regular feature, a look at what the various AFL-CIO unions and other working family organizations are doing across the country and beyond. The labor movement is big and active—here's a look at the broad range of activities we're engaged in this week.

Actors' Equity:

An important and heartfelt message from our awesome members in Nashville.

With the help of our community, we can get through this difficult moment in time the same way we always do: Together. https://t.co/FSlE721L3Y

— Actors' Equity (@ActorsEquity) February 3, 2021

AFGE:

This is a win for federal workers nationwide. FSIP is a critical component in the federal negotiating process, and we look forward to President Biden's future picks issuing just decisions, unencumbered by political interference. #1u https://t.co/GGghz7GJOw

— AFGE (@AFGENational) February 3, 2021

AFSCME:

A bipartisan call is going from more than 400 mayors to Congress – go big on funding the front lines. The @USMayors are echoing what AFSCME has been saying for months. #FundtheFrontLines https://t.co/cOKZgZysFx

— AFSCME (@AFSCME) February 3, 2021

Alliance for Retired Americans:

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill to ease a major financial burden on the USPS by eliminating a requirement that it fund retirement benefits decades ahead of time. https://t.co/T5FUN6qF5L #SaveUSPS pic.twitter.com/rnFXCn0Gp3

— Alliance for Retired Americans (@ActiveRetirees) February 3, 2021

Amalgamated Transit Union:

Today, Int. Pres. John Costa kicked off a Shop Steward and Executive Board Member zoom training with more than 25 Local Shop Stewards and Executive Board members from across the ATU. #TogetherWeFightTogetherWeWin pic.twitter.com/VD4RaTqGWQ

— ATU, Transit Union (@ATUComm) February 3, 2021

American Federation of Musicians:

Our AFM-EPF pension plan is one of 100s of multiemployer union pensions in critical status because of aging demographics, declining participation, and reduced contributions. Support the Reconciliation Package and ensure our pension remains secure: https://t.co/eXYQ1KYKJQ

— AFM (@The_AFM) February 2, 2021

American Federation of Teachers:

We agree with @teachcardona - American Rescue Act is key to how our schools move forward post-COVID. Our students need mental health services, extended learning over the summer, extended day and wrap around services. Tell your lawmaker to pass the act: https://t.co/pa8eW6WrxR

— AFT (@AFTunion) February 3, 2021

American Postal Workers Union:

Removing the 2006 prefunding mandate is a critical step to Save the Post Office - Let's get it done in 2021! https://t.co/fUXiocXBVM

— APWU National (@APWUnational) February 3, 2021

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance:

Excited to see AAPI leaders in #Redistricting @kathayccc at @commoncause @snarecha at @allontheline
Vik Malhotra at @FCCPTweets

Leading a panel with @OHorganizing @scsj to train 200+ folks: "We the People have cracked open [barriers to redistricting]"

— Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (@APALAnational) February 3, 2021

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA:

Our economy depends on aviation, and aviation depends on people feeling safe onboard our planes. Tell your governor that Flight Attendants should be prioritized as frontline essential workers and moved to Tier 1b. https://t.co/Fgnh5roL2Z

— AFA-CWA (@afa_cwa) February 3, 2021

Boilermakers:

Tuesday Newsday: In a recent #CCUS

Black History Month Profiles: Kendrick Roberson

Fri, 2021-02-05 11:01
Black History Month Profiles: Kendrick Roberson

This year, for Black History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making Black history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only the conditions for working people in their community, but also across the country. Today's profile is Kendrick Roberson.

Kendrick Roberson, a member of AFGE Local 2429, is an adjunct professor at the prestigious Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. He is the chair of AFGE's National YOUNG committee and is heavily involved in political and legislative issues, primarily the Black Lives Matter movement, through his advocacy and activism. In his private life, Roberson is a doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California. Roberson also previously spent time as a Department of Defense steward.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/05/2021 - 10:01

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: WGAE Supports Investigation into Racism, Misogyny Allegations at CBS

Fri, 2021-02-05 10:07
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: WGAE Supports Investigation into Racism, Misogyny Allegations at CBS

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

The Writers Guild of America, East, released a statement Wednesday regarding an on-going investigation into alleged misconduct at CBS Television Stations. Some current and former employees of CBS affiliate stations allege they have experienced widespread racism and misogyny in the workplace. “The Writers Guild of America, East has reached out to CBS regarding the investigation of [alleged] misconduct by executives at local CBS television newsrooms. The union made it clear to CBS that employees must be able to tell their truth to investigators without fear of retaliation from management. Further, we asked CBS to meet with us for a contract-obligated Diversity Committee meeting,” the union said.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/05/2021 - 09:07

Black History Month Profiles: Irvena Prymus

Thu, 2021-02-04 10:16
Black History Month Profiles: Irvena Prymus

This year, for Black History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who have made Black history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only the conditions in their community, but also the conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is Irvena Prymus.

A nurse who committed her professional life to caring for others in the Miami area, Irvena Prymus helped integrate public schools in Florida. She was a Native American woman who committed her personal life to ensuring her children, whose father was Black, would not needlessly suffer under a Jim Crow regime designed to denigrate the humanity of Black Americans. 

Prymus enrolled her daughters in the Orchard Villa School in Miami-Dade County in 1959. Once reporters showed up, the principal sent the pair home. Prymus persisted, taking the school district to court and winning. From there, she fought for equality for Black Floridians in public schools, movie theaters and public beaches. She passed away more than a decade ago and was the mother of Robert Prymus Jr., an executive board member of the Government Supervisors Association of Florida (Local 100 of Office and Professional Employees). 

Read Prymus' full story on page 16 of OPEIU's White Collar magazine.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 02/04/2021 - 09:16

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Local Union Halls Opening Up for Vaccinations

Thu, 2021-02-04 09:00
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Local Union Halls Opening Up for Vaccinations

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Many community organizations, with the space to do so, are stepping up and providing areas, such as union halls, so more people can be vaccinated against COVID-19. The labor movement is positioned to offer that space in localities across the Central Region. In Toledo, Ohio, UAW locals 12 and 14 are already contributing the space for vaccinations, and it won't be just a one-time thing.

“It’ll be a good feeling, you know, because of COVID we canceled all our union meetings, our retirees meetings. Our neighbors are our friends, so it would be great to open up our doors,” UAW Local 14 President Tony Totty said.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 02/04/2021 - 08:00

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19

Black History Month Profiles: Vonda McDaniel

Wed, 2021-02-03 11:00
Black History Month Profiles: Vonda McDaniel

This year, for Black History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making Black history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only the conditions in their community, but also the conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is Vonda McDaniel.

Fiercely loyal to the working people in her Nashville, Tennessee, community, Vonda McDaniel continues to be a powerful leader through her faith and commitment to all people. By bridging the struggles of race, class and gender with her visionary strategy for a better future for all of us, she has always placed the needs of the labor movement before her own. She is a graduate of Tennessee State University. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., A. Philip Randolph Institute's Nashville chapter and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. She was recently appointed to the Tennessee State Workforce Investment Board and serves as vice chair of the board for the Music City Center. McDaniel is a vice president for AFL-CIO's Executive Council and co-chairs the State Federation/Central Labor Council Advisory Committee.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 02/03/2021 - 10:00

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: BAC Sponsors National Ladder Safety Month

Wed, 2021-02-03 09:51
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: BAC Sponsors National Ladder Safety Month

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

The Bricklayers (BAC), led by President Timothy Driscoll, is a proud sponsor of the fifth annual National Ladder Safety Month, which runs from Feb. 22 to March 31. National Ladder Safety Month is designed to raise awareness of ladder safety and to decrease the number of ladder-related injuries and fatalities. “Safety is a top priority for our members, and fall prevention measures are key to ensuring a safe work site. Collaborative efforts like National Ladder Safety Month provide an opportunity to raise awareness and promote good fall prevention practices amongst workers and employers across the construction industry and other sectors,” Driscoll said. According to the American Ladder Institute, which created this special safety month, more than 100 people die every year due to ladder-related injuries.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 02/03/2021 - 08:51

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

John J. Sweeney, 1934-2021

Tue, 2021-02-02 21:34
John J. Sweeney, 1934-2021

John Sweeney, who led an era of transformative change in America’s labor movement, passed away Feb. 1 at the age of 86. Sweeney was one of four children born to Irish immigrants in a working-class Bronx neighborhood shortly after the Great Depression. His parents, James and Agnes Sweeney, worked as a bus driver and a domestic worker, respectively. Sweeney always understood the struggles and the pride of working people.

Sweeney was interested in politics from childhood. His mother took him to see Franklin Delano Roosevelt's funeral train. He often spoke about his father’s loyalty to his union, the Transport Workers Union (TWU), and its colorful president, Mike Quill, with a sense of what it did for his family. Solid meals. A week of vacation. And political rallies with his father. Sweeney met his wife, Maureen Power, while working on a political campaign. He ran for and was elected Democratic district leader and volunteered for John Kennedy’s presidential campaign. But it was the labor movement where it all came together for him.

As a young man, Sweeney held jobs as a grave-digger and building porter while studying economics at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York, where he joined a union for the first time. Sweeney was exposed to Catholic social teaching from an early age, including the Xavier Labor School, whose head was the inspiration for the priest in the film “On the Waterfront.” He worked throughout his career to forge alliances between Catholic leaders and the labor movement.

Driven by his Catholic faith and commitment to solidarity, Sweeney took a position as a researcher with the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, a predecessor to UNITE HERE. It was during this time that Sweeney was connected with the Building Service Employees International Union, known today as the Service Employees International Union or SEIU. Sweeney worked his way up the ranks of Local 32B, winning election as president in 1976. He merged 32B, the union for male janitors, with 32J, the union of female janitors, in 1977, forming the powerful Local 32BJ—which now represents hundreds of thousands of building service workers throughout the East Coast. The men had the job of heavy cleaner and washed and waxed the office building hallways and lobby, while the women were designated light cleaners and dusted the offices and emptied the trash. He often noted that if a glass wall separated an office from a hallway, the men cleaned the outside and the women cleaned the inside. The men were paid more. The merger, led by Sweeney, got them a unified contract. As president of 32BJ, Sweeney led several successful citywide strikes, winning better wages, benefits and other contract improvements. This led to his election as SEIU international president in 1980. 

Sweeney transformed SEIU—dedicating one-third of the union’s budget to new worker organizing and doubling its membership over the next decade. He focused on winning new collective bargaining for low-wage workers and was a champion for immigrant rights. He spearheaded the Justice for Janitors campaign of mass civil disobedience in Los Angeles that brought dignity and voice to caretakers and cleaners across the United States and Canada, an effort that set the tone for worker organizing and economic justice for decades to come. He also led high-profile mergers with 1199 and other public employee unions, growing SEIU’s size and strength. 

In 1995, Sweeney led an insurgent campaign to capture the presidency of America’s labor federation, the AFL-CIO. Running on a New Voice ticket with United Mine Workers of America President Richard Trumka, who leads the AFL-CIO today, and AFSCME International Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson, in the newly created position of executive vice president, paving the way for the first person of color in the federation’s highest ranks, Sweeney was swept into office on a promise of bold change and a recommitment to worker organizing. As president, Sweeney founded the Union Summer campaign to recruit young people to become organizers. He pushed the labor movement to become more diverse and take on issues of civil rights, racial justice and gender equality. He was deliberate about recruiting and supporting strong women as senior staff members, modeling diversity for the labor movement. And it was under his leadership that America’s unions began to embrace immigrant workers as part of the broader union family, particularly those who had not yet achieved legal status. It was at Sweeney’s insistence in 2000 that the AFL-CIO, for the first time, supported a path to citizenship for undocumented workers.

The victory of Sweeney’s New Voice team created a new kind of internationalism for the labor movement, one focused on challenging corporate-driven globalization. After leading the labor movement’s historic protests in Seattle against the World Trade Organization, Sweeney transformed the federation’s commitment to promoting a global agenda rooted in worker rights, environmental protection and pro-worker economic policies. He translated the protests in the streets to build corporate campaigns with multinational corporations that supported worker organizing. In 1997, Sweeney created the Solidarity Center, allied with the AFL-CIO, to focus on supporting worker organizing and strengthening trade union capacity in more than 30 countries worldwide.

Sweeney also built the AFL-CIO into a political powerhouse, electing pro-worker champions and fighting for union-friendly policies at all levels of government. 

Sweeney inspired hard work and loyalty from his staff by working harder and longer than anybody and never giving up on people or goals. He kept the optimism and hope of a child of immigrants from the Bronx, and his faith and his belief in this country. Sweeney had a reputation as someone who had helped more people than anyone could count, and who always not only carried his own bags when he traveled, but unfailingly offered to help his staff carry theirs. Sweeney was as comfortable with a janitor and nursing home worker as he was with a pope or president. It was a consistent and remarkable display of humility for someone given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President Barack Obama in 2011, a true icon who former President Bill Clinton called “a force for inclusion and activism.”

John Sweeney retired from the AFL-CIO in 2009 after nearly 60 years in the labor movement. He is survived by his wife, Maureen; their children, John and Patricia; a granddaughter, Kennedy; and sisters, Cathy Hammill and Peggy King. He is preceded in death by his brother, James Sweeney.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to the "John J. Sweeney ’55, ’10H Scholarship Fund” at Iona College. To make a contribution online, click here, under Designation select John J. Sweeney '55, ’10H Scholarship Fund. To make a contribution by check, make it payable to Iona College, Joyce Advancement House, 715 North Ave., New Rochelle, NY 10801 (please note in the memo: Sweeney Scholarship Fund).

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 02/02/2021 - 20:34

AFL-CIO President Emeritus John Sweeney Dies at 86

Tue, 2021-02-02 11:54
AFL-CIO President Emeritus John Sweeney Dies at 86

AFL-CIO President Emeritus John Sweeney died Monday at the age of 86. Sweeney (SEIU) served as president of the AFL-CIO from 1995–2009, and his importance to America's working people can't be overstated. Here is what people across the labor movement and beyond are saying about Sweeney.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA):

John Sweeney was a legend, plain and simple. He was guided into unionism by his Catholic faith, and not a single day passed by when he didn’t put the needs of working people first. John viewed his leadership as a spiritual calling, a divine act of solidarity in a world plagued by distance and division. The son of Irish immigrants, he used work as a way to directly apply his values, consistently exhibiting grit over flash and pursuing progress instead of posturing. He built SEIU into a powerhouse, doubling its membership, earning respect across the labor movement and in the halls of power. Throughout his storied life, John used the lessons he learned as a ground-level union leader to uphold dignity for all working people and expand human rights worldwide. I was proud to join his insurgent ticket in 1995, which recommitted the AFL-CIO to worker organizing and collective power. As president, John was a great leader and true innovator, driving the labor movement forward. We stand on that foundation today as we take on the challenges of inequality, systemic racism and much more. Former President Bill Clinton called John “a force for inclusion and activism.” I was blessed to call him a brother, a mentor and a friend. May God bless John’s memory, his family and the labor movement to which he devoted his life.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler (IBEW):

.@AFLCIO President-Emeritus John Sweeney was a man who lived each and every day by his mission: to improve the lives of America’s workers. Not only was he great at organizing, he loved doing it. His death is a tremendous loss for our movement. https://t.co/ul8wbHm1SN

— Liz Shuler (@lizshuler) February 2, 2021

American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten:

John Sweeney was a legend. Guided by his faith, he worked every day for workers-all workers- to be treated decently and respectfully. May his memory be a blessing for all, I know it’s a blessing for the labor movement. https://t.co/zme7Gf48ep

— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) February 2, 2021

Boilermakers (IBB):

The Boilermakers union was saddened to learn yesterday of the death of @AFLCIO President Emeritus John Sweeney, a true leader in the labor movement. Rest in peace, Brother Sweeney. ✊ https://t.co/OU9CeEKFf2 pic.twitter.com/LoF2E24bgS

— Boilermakers Union (@boilermakernews) February 2, 2021

Electrical Workers (IBEW) International President Lonnie Stephenson:

John Sweeney was a true giant of the American labor movement. He devoted his life to fighting for the dignity and respect of all working people. From deploying innovative tactics to organize janitors to leading the AFL-CIO to meet the challenges of the 21st century, he leaves behind an unmatched legacy of worker justice. Brother Sweeney joins other legendary labor leaders like Samuel Gompers, John Lewis and A. Philip Randolph in the pantheon of heroes of the American labor movement. My thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family.

Machinists (IAM):

Today we mourn the loss of a true labor trailblazer with the passing of @AFLCIO President Emeritus John Sweeney. His legacy lives on in the lives of working people around the world; a devoted Journeyman until the end. https://t.co/JiI1ICevNE

— Machinists Union ✈️

Black History Month Profiles: Jane Hopkins

Tue, 2021-02-02 11:24
Black History Month Profiles: Jane Hopkins

This year, for Black History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making Black history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only the conditions in their community, but also the conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is Jane Hopkins.

Jane Hopkins is a nurse and an immigrant from Sierra Leone. She is a vice president for the Washington State Labor Council. She also has risen to the leadership of her union, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, and was appointed to serve on the Biden-Harris COVID-19 Advisory Board.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 02/02/2021 - 10:24

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IBB Begins New Work at Philly Shipyard

Tue, 2021-02-02 10:39
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IBB Begins New Work at Philly Shipyard

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Members of the Boilermakers (IBB) at Philly Shipyard began a new era in maritime education with the cutting of steel for the new National Security Multi-Mission Vessel (NSMV). This is the initial major construction milestone for the first purpose-built, state-of-the-art training vessel for America’s state maritime academies. In addition to providing world-class training for America’s future mariners, the NSMV will be available to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions. “The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers was proud to work alongside President James Hart and the AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department, as well as others, to champion and ultimately secure this work at Philly Shipyard. Seeing our efforts come to fruition now is especially important, not only for the jobs it brings to the Boilermakers and other union crafts at Philly Shipyard, but also for the bolster it provides to America's national security,” said IBB International President Newton Jones.

In April, the Department of Transportation awarded a contract for up to five national security multi-mission vessels from TOTE Services. President James Hart (UA) of the Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO, was instrumental in winning the contract. TOTE placed an initial order with Philly Shipyard for the first two vessels, with delivery to take place in the spring and winter of 2023. Members of IBB Local 19 in Philadelphia work at Philly Shipyard. Pictured above, members operate a plasma cutting machine that makes the first cut in a steel plate. The pieces will be transported to an assembly line where they will eventually become part of the first ship's keel.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 02/02/2021 - 09:39

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19

Black History Month Profiles: Tanya Acker

Mon, 2021-02-01 11:15
Black History Month Profiles: Tanya Acker

This year, for Black History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making Black history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only their community, but also to improve conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is Tanya Acker.

Tanya Acker has been active in the labor movement for more than 30 years. She was a member of American Federation of Musicians Local 148 in Atlanta. There she became involved in the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), learning her dedication to service from her father, who also was active in APRI for decades. Acker now lives in Colorado, where she serves as the vice president for the state chapter of APRI.

Acker also serves as a member of the Colorado AFL-CIO Executive Board, where she chairs the Inclusion and Diversity Committee, an organized effort from the Colorado state federation to become more inclusive of race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, religious affiliation, class, immigration status, geographical representation and other traditionally marginalized communities. Acker led the state federation's blueprint for 2021, outlining the state federation's goals and objectives for internal policy, community engagement, education and training, strategic communication and state-level legislation.

Acker spoke last year with the "Labor Exchange," a Boulder, Colorado, radio show, about the importance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s work and the labor movement. Listen here.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 02/01/2021 - 10:15

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Gamble Joins Board of Energy Assistance Nonprofit

Mon, 2021-02-01 10:39
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Gamble Joins Board of Energy Assistance Nonprofit

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

UAW President Rory L. Gamble has been unanimously elected to serve on the board of directors of The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW), an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that helps to keep Michigan families warm through utility assistance. Since its inception in 1985, THAW has distributed over $190 million in assistance to more than 256,000 Michigan households. Recipients of THAW assistance include the elderly, unemployed, underemployed and disabled individuals who find themselves in an energy crisis. More than 70% of the households assisted have a child or senior in the home.

“Over time, the structure may change in how we do things, but the heart and soul of this union giving back to our communities is as strong as it ever was,” Gamble said. “UAW members understand that our community work is an integral part of our core values as a union. Giving back is at the heart of the UAW culture and among our proudest achievements. And in this time of great need, we are so proud to be able to step up and help.”

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 02/01/2021 - 09:39

Transforming the Labor Landscape: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 2021-01-29 11:30
Transforming the Labor Landscape: The Working People Weekly List

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

The PRO Act Could Transform the Labor Landscape: "Joe Biden promised to be the most pro-union president in modern history. He has a chance to prove it by passing the PRO Act, a sweeping labor law reform bill. As Joe Biden enters the White House with slim majorities in the House and Senate, organized labor is making a concerted push for a major piece of legislation: the PRO Act. The bill is a wide-ranging labor law reform that would help workers fight back after decades of retreat in the face of aggressive employers. The AFL-CIO recently declared the PRO Act one of its top priorities. The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) is leading the push for the PRO Act. The painters’ union organized its electoral work around the bill and has been holding public events on the legislation. Now, IUPAT is building up allies as it prepares to push the new presidential administration and Congress to pass the act."

What Biden and Congress Can Do to Support Unions: "In the last Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the U.S. House of Representatives passed the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression by creating a much fairer process for forming a union. It is called the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or PRO Act. After an anti-worker majority blocked it in the Senate, reintroducing the PRO Act, passing it in both chambers of Congress and getting Biden's signature is vital to our economic recovery. The PRO Act would protect and empower workers to exercise their freedom to organize and bargain. It would make sure that workers can reach a first contract quickly after a union is recognized, end employers' practice of hiring permanent replacements to punish striking workers and finally hold corporations accountable by strengthening the National Labor Relations Board and allowing it to impose penalties on employers who retaliate against collective bargaining. It would also repeal so-called 'right to work' laws, which make it harder for working people to form unions and collectively bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions."

Activision Blizzard Says Interviewing Diverse Candidates for Every Opening 'Unworkable': "Activision Blizzard is looking to avoid a shareholder proposal that it interview at least one diverse candidate when it hires for a position, according to a Vice report. The proposal was made separately to both Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts by the AFL-CIO labor federation, which owns shares in both publishers. The proposal was based on the NFL's Rooney Rule, adopted in 2003 to require all of the football league's teams to interview at least one diverse candidate for every head coaching vacancy. It was later expanded to include vacancies for general managers and similar front office positions. In its letters to the publishers, the AFL-CIO argued for the adoption of the rule, saying, 'A diverse workforce at all levels of a company can enhance long-term company performance.'"

Local Union Halls Opening Up to Provide Space for Vaccinations: "Community organizations with space are stepping up to make room so more people in Lucas County can be vaccinated. Press conferences, job fairs and union organizing have all brought WTOL 11 to UAW Local 12's hall, but now they're preparing to administer 300 vaccines to eligible people in Lucas County on Tuesday."

Health Care Unions Find a Voice in the Pandemic: "Health care workers say they have been bitterly disappointed by their employers’ and government agencies’ response to the pandemic. Dire staff shortages, inadequate and persistent supplies of protective equipment, limited testing for the virus and pressure to work even if they might be sick have left many workers turning to the unions as their only ally. The virus has claimed the lives of more than 3,300 health care workers nationwide, according to one count. 'We wouldn’t be alive today if we didn’t have the union,' said Elizabeth Lalasz, a Chicago public hospital nurse and steward for National Nurses United. The country’s largest union of registered nurses, representing more than 170,000 nationwide, National Nurses was among the first to criticize hospitals’ lack of preparation and call for more protective equipment, like N95 masks. Despite the decades-long decline in the labor movement and the small numbers of unionized nurses, labor officials have seized on the pandemic fallout to organize new chapters and pursue contract talks for better conditions and benefits. National Nurses organized seven new bargaining units last year, compared to four in 2019."

Biden Toughens Buy American Rules: "'The Trump administration used the right words but never put in place policies to affect meaningful change,' Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said in a statement. 'This executive order will close loopholes that allow agencies to sidestep Buy American requirements... [and] is a good first step in revitalizing U.S. manufacturing.'"

The Unfinished Story of Women at Work: 9to5 Yesterday, Today the PRO Act: "If you’ve never had to make coffee for your boss, it’s thanks to women who organized in the 1970s. And while the electric typewriter is no more, how women of that era organized is relevant—to current battles like organizing Big Tech, building care infrastructure and winning labor reform by passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act—so women can form and join unions now without fear. A new documentary, '9to5: The Story of a Movement,' captures the history of an organization started by a group of secretaries in the 1970s, and their sister union, SEIU District 925, and offers powerful insight for us today."

Mask Fights and a ‘Mob Mentality’: What Flight Attendants Faced Over the Last Year: "Aviation safety officials have received dozens of confidential complaints in the past year from attendants trying to enforce mask safety rules. The reports, filed in the Aviation Safety Reporting System database, at times describe a chaotic, unhinged workplace where passengers regularly abuse airline employees. The tension is at a level flight attendants have not seen before, said Paul Hartshorn Jr., a veteran attendant and a spokesman for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants union. 'I think we’re pretty well trained on how to handle a disruptive passenger,' said Mr. Hartshorn, 46. 'What we’re not trained to do and what we shouldn’t be dealing with is large groups of passengers inciting a riot with another group of passengers.'"

Biden’s ‘Buy American’ Manufacturing Order Called ‘Good First Step’ by Labor: "'This executive order will close loopholes that allow agencies to sidestep Buy American requirements and increase the thresholds for domestic content,' said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in a statement. 'This order is a good first step in revitalizing U.S. manufacturing, which [President Donald] Trump’s policies failed to do over the past four years,' Trumka said. The order will modify the rules for the Buy American program, reports the Associated Press, making it harder for contractors to qualify for a waiver and sell foreign-made goods to federal agencies. And it changes rules so that more of a manufactured product’s components must originate from U.S. factories."

Amazon Union Drive Takes Hold in Unlikely Place: "The largest, most viable effort to unionize Amazon in many years began last summer not in a union stronghold like New York or Michigan, but at a Fairfield Inn outside of Birmingham, in the right-to-work state of Alabama. It was late in the summer and a group of employees from a nearby Amazon warehouse contacted an organizer in the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. They were fed up, they said, with the way the online retailer tracked their productivity, and wanted to discuss unionizing. 'The pandemic changed the way many people feel about their employers,' said Stuart Appelbaum, the retail union’s president. 'Many workers see the benefit of having a collective voice.' 'I am telling them they are part of a movement that is world wide,” said Michael Foster, a Black organizer in Bessemer, who works in a poultry plant 'I want them to know that we are important and we do matter.'"

NFL Players Endorse Amazon Warehouse Workers Unionization: "Amazon warehouse workers at the facility in Bessemer, Alabama will begin voting on what could become the first union in the technology giant's history on February 8. The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), the union that represents more than 2,000 NFL players in the United States, has endorsed a union drive at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, where workers are scheduled to begin voting in a historic union election on February 8. On Sunday, the NFLPA released a video on Twitter, where current and former NFL players, discussed the importance of union representation in improving their own wages, benefits, and working conditions, and how a union could do the same for Amazon employees."

Labor Groups Push Biden Administration on Union-Friendly Priorities: "'Robb’s removal is the first step toward giving workers a fair shot again, and we look forward to building on this victory by securing a worker-friendly NLRB and passing the PRO Act so all working people have the freedom to form a union,' Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said in a statement Wednesday."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 01/29/2021 - 10:30

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Baltimore Teachers Union: Educators Hold Car Caravan

Fri, 2021-01-29 11:28
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Baltimore Teachers Union: Educators Hold Car Caravan

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Teachers and staff from the Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU), an affiliate of AFT, as well as parents and students, gathered Tuesday at a car caravan in Baltimore, outside the city’s school headquarters, in protest against the city’s rushed school reopening plans. The caravan was organized by the union’s COVID-19 task force as a part of a larger national day of action for safe schools.

“The Baltimore Teachers Union believes in-person learning should be expanded only when it’s safe,” the union said in a public statement. “We define safety based on the health metrics put forward by the CDC and City Schools own community indicators. On every major indicator, we remain in the highest risk of introduction and transmission of COVID-19 in the schools category, and far beyond City Schools’ own decision-making tree category of ‘limited or no in-person programs.’ Additionally, the vast majority of facilities have not been adequately equipped with ventilation upgrades needed, and staff have not been vaccinated.”

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 01/29/2021 - 10:28

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19

A Seat at the Table: In the States Roundup

Thu, 2021-01-28 10:43
A Seat at the Table: 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.

Alabama AFL-CIO:

Rally support for Amazon employees on Feb 6th prior to their vote on February 8th. #1U @RWDSU @UFCW @D9Usw @IBEW @CWAUnion @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/cFYLsEfd3r

— Alabama AFL-CIO (@AlabamaAFLCIO) January 28, 2021

Alaska AFL-CIO:

We are on record supporting the emergency orders as they allow our city’s workers to work remotely when possible. They want to serve Anchorage residents without interruption and protect public health.#AnchorageAssembly

— Alaska AFL-CIO (@AKAFLCIO) January 13, 2021

California Labor Federation:

The path out of this crisis will be paved by working people standing together in a #union. Workers need a voice on the job and a seat at the table more than ever. There is a lot of work to be done, but we're extremely optimistic. #TheFutureisUnionStrong

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Iowa Federation of Labor Joins Legal Complaint on Unsafe Working Conditions at State Capitol

Thu, 2021-01-28 10:31
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Iowa Federation of Labor Joins Legal Complaint on Unsafe Working Conditions at State Capitol

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

The Iowa Federation of Labor, along with several other state labor groups, filed a complaint with the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration against state Senate and House leaders on Jan. 21, alleging they created an unsafe environment at the state Capitol building in Des Moines.

The leaders of five Iowa labor federations and two unions, including one that represents workers at the Capitol, said anti-worker legislators at the Capitol aren’t taking adequate safety precautions, such as requiring masks in the building or people to self-report positive tests. “Over the course of the last few weeks, you have refused to adopt safety precautions, when urged to do so by your colleagues and others, to keep our elected officials, legislative staff, building staff and visitors to the Iowa Capitol safe,” the leaders wrote in a letter accompanying the complaint.

“It’s their responsibility to make sure an employment or a place of employment is free of hazards,” Iowa Federation of Labor President Charlie Wishman (AFT) said in an interview. “If there is a threat of death or serious physical harm, which we believe there is with COVID-19, they have a responsibility as an employer to make sure things are as safe as possible.”

The letter was signed by leaders of the Iowa Federation of Labor, the Western Iowa Labor Federation, the South Central Iowa Federation of Labor, the Hawkeye Area Labor Council, Great River Area Labor Federation, AFSCME Council 61 and Teamsters Local 238.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 01/28/2021 - 09:31

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service