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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#FamiliesBelongTogether: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 2018-07-06 11:21
#FamiliesBelongTogether: The Working People Weekly List

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That Which Is Justly Ours

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

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

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

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

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

  • Combating misclassification of workers as supervisors and independent contractors.

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: NLRA

Economy Gains 213,000 Jobs in June; Unemployment Little Changed at 4.0%

Fri, 2018-07-06 10:06
Economy Gains 213,000 Jobs in June; Unemployment Little Changed at 4.0%

The U.S. economy gained 213,000 jobs in June, and unemployment was little changed at 4.0%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since the labor market continues to recover at only a tempered pace, the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee should not raise interest rates.

In response to the June jobs numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs tweeted:

Unemployment rate goes up from 4.0% in June, from increase in labor force participation that has increase in the number unemployed rise more than the increase in employed workers. Payrolls up by 213,000 according to @BLS_gov #JobsDay @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) July 6, 2018

While white and Hispanic unemployment rates remained low, the jump in June's unemployment rates came from Blacks (from 5.9 up to 6.5%) and Asian Americans (2.1 to 3.2%) @CBTU72 @rolandsmartin @APRI_National @AFLCIO @APALAnational #JobsDay

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) July 6, 2018

The big jump in the Black unemployment rate in June was largely from Black adult women (from 4.7 to 5.5%), though their share employed continued to climb (59.1 to 59.5%) and labor force participation reached 63%. @SistahScholar @LVBurke @AprilDRyan @APRI_National @AFLCIO #JobsDay

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) July 6, 2018

Not adjusting for inflation, year-over-year, average hourly earnings were up 2.7% in June. This is a timid number. Coupled with the unemployment rate increase from a tiny climb in labor force participation @federalreserve needs to rethink interest rate increases. @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) July 6, 2018

In a sign that workers are coming back to the labor market, in June, the broadest measure of unemployment that includes discouraged and part-time workers who want full-time work, went up from 7.6 to 7.8%. This shows continued slack in labor market. @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) July 6, 2018

First #Janus decision hurt organizing, now workers for state government continue to show pressures from state budget austerity. State employment continues downward trend in June. This means less public investment for the rest of us. @AFSCME @AFLCIO #JobsReport

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) July 6, 2018

Last month’s biggest job gains were in professional and business (50,000), manufacturing (36,000), health care (25,000), construction (13,000) and mining (5,000). Retail trade lost 22,000 jobs. Employment showed little or no change over the month in other major industries, including wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates increased for blacks (6.5%), adult men (3.7%), adult women (3.7%) and Asians (3.2%). The unemployment rate for teenagers (12.6%), Hispanics (4.6%) and whites (3.5%) showed little or no change in June.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) increased in June and accounted for 23.0% of the unemployed.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 07/06/2018 - 10:06

Tags: Jobs Report

Members of Congress Reject Janus Ruling and Stand with Working People

Thu, 2018-07-05 10:09
Members of Congress Reject Janus Ruling and Stand with Working People

After the Supreme Court ruled against working people in the Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, case last week, dozens of members of Congress condemned the ruling and expressed their support for the rights of working people. Here are excerpts from their statements.

Rep. John Garamendi (Calif.-3rd District):

Public sector unions are legally required to bargain on behalf of everyone in their shop, regardless of whether they’re a union member or not. Today’s decision by the Supreme Court creates a massive free-rider issue by eliminating the ability of unions to charge fair share fees for the nonunion employees who benefit from the work union representatives do.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.-12th District):

The Supreme Court’s radical ruling tramples over the freedom and basic rights of more than 17 million public workers.

Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.-13th District):

The Supreme Court’s disgraceful decision today will further rig the system for billionaires and against teachers, firefighters, nurses and other vital public sector workers.

Rep. Brad Sherman (Calif.-30th District):

Today’s Supreme Court decision was targeted at the public sector, but it strikes at the heart of Americans’ right to collectively bargain for better pay, safer working conditions, access to health care and basic retirement benefits.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez (Calif.-34th District):

Through my work with AFSCME and the United Nurses Association of California, I have a unique understanding as to how important strong unions are in creating an economy that gives all Americans a chance to thrive, not just the wealthiest among us.

Rep. Karen Bass (Calif.-37th District):

This morning, the Supreme Court overturned 41 years of legal precedent to undermine the freedom of teachers, firefighters, police officers and all other public service workers to negotiate for decent pay and fair workplaces.

Rep. Linda Sanchez (Calif.-38th District):

By requiring unions to represent everyone in a collective bargaining unit without ensuring fair contributions for that representation, unions will be forced to do more with much less—to the detriment of those they represent. This misguided decision will have devastating long-term consequences for hardworking Americans.

Rep. Juan Vargas (Calif.-51st District):

Unions are quintessentially American and critical in the fight for fair wages and worker protections.

Rep. Scott Peters (Calif.-52nd District):

The Supreme Court Janus ruling is a blatant, ideological attack on public servants, who have fought for rights that benefit all workers.

Rep. Susan Davis (Calif.-53rd District):

This ruling is a blow to the middle class. It weakens the ability of workers to negotiate for better pay, workplace safety, work/life balance, health care and paid sick days.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.-3rd District):

Unions empower workers to collectively bargain for higher wages, safer working conditions and better benefits—like health care, paid sick leave, overtime pay, vacation time and retirement plans.

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (Del.-At Large District):

Today’s Supreme Court ruling puts the needs of special interests and the wealthiest among us ahead of hardworking, middle-class families.

Rep. Alcee Hastings (Fla.-20th District):

The men and women of the labor movement are the backbone of our country. This blatant attack on unions is just another example of conservatives looking to hand out more tax cuts for the rich.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.-23rd District):

After stealing a seat on the Supreme Court when they refused to hold a hearing or a vote on President Obama’s nominee, the court’s Janus v. AFSCME ruling shows how far Republicans and their wealthy financial backers are willing to go to tilt the economy against working people.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (Hawaii-1st District):

As a labor attorney and a firm believer in the balance of collective bargaining, I know that government’s greatest asset is its employees. The most effective and efficient way to manage that asset is through collective bargaining and union representation. Our hardworking families and government benefit from that.

Rep. Bobby Rush (Ill.-1st District):

Today’s ruling will do nothing but perpetuate a rigged economy that reduces the opportunities available to working-class Americans.

Rep. Mike Quigley (Ill.-5th District):

By increasing the number of free-riding workers, unions could be forced to drastically reduce their budgets, which in turn will weaken their ability to negotiate stronger contracts and defend the rights of American workers who deserve a fair wage and a fair workplace.

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (Ill.-8th District):

This decision allows employees to free ride on the efforts of unions in representing all workers, and undermines all workers. This is not fair or right.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.-9th District):

This is a sad day for public employees and all of us who rely on them to provide us with the services we need, from keeping our air and water clean to teaching our children to protecting public health.

Rep. Brad Schneider (Ill.-10th District):

Unions helped build our nation’s middle class, and today’s ruling fits a pattern of attacks to undermine labor and working families, and weaken workers’ right to negotiate for better pay, working conditions, medical benefits, retirement benefits and paid leave. 

Rep. Bill Foster (Ill.-11th District):

I am deeply concerned that this decision will weaken our strong labor unions that have historically given our workers a safer work environment, fair wages and collective bargaining rights against unfair working conditions. They hold a special place in our country’s history.

Rep. Cheri Bustos (Ill.-17th District):

Today the Supreme Court issued a ruling that puts billionaires and corporate special interests above hardworking Americans.

Rep. Katherine Clark (Mass.-5th District):

This decision will massively tip the scale in favor of corporations and strip resources away from unions that fight for all workers.

Rep. Dan Kildee (Mich.-5th District):

The basic rights of workers, including the right to collectively bargain, are under attack by Republicans like never before. 

Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.-9th District):

Today’s ruling is deeply misguided and distressing. It turns its back on what helped public employees become a vital part of the American middle class.

Rep. Debbie Dingell (Mich.-12th District):

Congress must do everything we can to address the challenges facing our working men and women, and with today’s decision, our to-do list got much larger. 

Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.-5th District):

This decision is a victory for the wealthy Republican donors and dark-money shadow groups that spent more than $17 billion to steal a seat on the Supreme Court and tilt the court further in favor of corporate interests. Today, the Republican majority gave them what they paid for. 

Rep. Dina Titus (Nev.-1st District):

Collective bargaining is a tide that lifts all boats. The positive effects of bargaining collectively in the workplace not only benefit union members, but also extend to nonunion members who enjoy higher wages, affordable health insurance and help with a secure retirement as a result of union efforts.

Rep. Jacky Rosen (Nev.-3rd District):

As a former union member, I understand the support that labor organizations bring to families. That’s why I will continue fighting to ensure Nevada’s workers have the ability to advocate for themselves and their union rights.

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.-1st District):

In the last two days, the Supreme Court has dealt a blow to working men and women, made it harder for women to access the health care they need, and upheld a ban on Muslim immigration that directly attacks our shared values as Americans. 

Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (N.H.-2nd District):

The dedicated work of labor unions has improved working conditions and protections for all Americans, and this misguided ruling, which undoes decades of legal precedent, will undermine ongoing efforts to increase wages, enhance benefits and make work environments safer. 

Rep. Donald Norcross (N.J.-1st District):

To make our economy work for all of us, not just the rich and powerful, working people must be able to stick together to gain power to raise wages and improve benefits, like health care and retirement. I know how important it is for workers to have a voice in the workplace because I lived it.

Rep. Albio Sires (N.J.-8th District):

The court’s decision today sets back workers’ rights by decades and makes it considerably more difficult for unions to keep advocating for fair pay and fair workplaces.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (N.J.-9th District):

A recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that anti-union, so-called “Right to Work” legislation passed at the state level has long been aimed at buoying Republicans and attacking Democrats. So there can be no mistaking it: This decision is about politics, not workers; about servitude, not freedom.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.-12th District):

Unions are essential to a strong middle class; as Republican attacks on them have intensified, we’ve seen wages stagnate and that middle class shrink.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.-5th District):

The Janus decision will inevitably undermine unions from exercising their right to collective bargaining by hurting them financially. Coupled with last month’s Supreme Court decision allowing employers to deny workers their due day in court through class-action waivers in arbitration agreements, workers are more vulnerable today than they were prior to Neil Gorsuch’s appointment.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.-10th District):

In reaching its result, the court unjustifiably overturned decades-old precedent, injected clear right-wing ideological bias into a long-settled area of law, and upended the settled expectations of state and local governments.  

Rep. Adriano Espaillat (N.Y.-13th District):

Overturning four decades of precedent, the court ruled that public sector unions’ long-held practice of collecting “fair share fees” for the services they are legally required to provide workers is a violation of the First Amendment. Today’s ruling is an unprecedented attack on unions and the rights of the more than 17.3 million public employees around the nation.

Rep. Joe Crowley (N.Y.-14th District):

Unions are at the core of lifting up America’s working- and middle-class families, by fighting for better wages and benefits and fair working conditions. 

Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.-16th District):

As a former member of the teachers union, I find today’s ruling particularly distasteful. The Supreme Court’s conservative majority overturned four decades of legal precedent to undermine the ability of public service workers to negotiate for decent pay and fair workplaces.

Rep. Alma Adams (N.C.-12th District):

Congress must find a legislative fix that protects and strengthens the voices of our working men and women.

Rep. Marcia Fudge (Ohio-11th District):

The Supreme Court failed to protect the fundamental right of workers to form a union and collectively bargain.

Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio-13th District):

Labor unions built this country. We have unions to thank for safe, clean work environments, the 40-hour workweek and the strongest middle class the world has ever seen. We need to be supporting and growing unions to fight for a prosperous life for all, not undercutting them.

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.-1st District):

We should be making it easier, not harder, for workers to form unions and collectively bargain.

Rep. Robert Brady (Pa.-1st District):

As a longtime member of the carpenters and teachers unions, I know firsthand the importance of organized labor. Our nation’s middle class was born from workers coming together to demand better wages and working conditions.

Rep. Brendan Boyle (Pa.-13th District):

Janus v. AFSCME is a wolf in sheep’s clothing: a case brought by billionaires in the name of “fairness” to employees who benefit from collective bargaining but don’t want to pay their fair share. Its purpose is and has always been to divide workers and undermine the ability of unions to advocate for them at a time when they need it most.

Rep. Matt Cartwright (Pa.-17th District):

I continue to stand with our union members, and will not stop in my efforts to protect and maintain collective bargaining rights. Furthermore, I plan on responding to this decision with legislation in the United States House of Representatives this week.

Rep. David Cicilline (R.I.-1st District):

The American dream was meant for all of us, not just the wealthy few. I’m going to continue fighting for a country that’s consistent with those values.

Rep. Jim Langevin (R.I.-2nd District):

I am appalled that the Gorsuch court is now going after civil servants by overturning four decades of precedent and undermining their rights as employees.

Rep. Steve Cohen (Tenn.-9th District):

Yet again we are witnessing the consequences of the U.S. Senate’s refusal to even consider President Obama’s last Supreme Court nominee. By holding that nomination hostage for nearly a year, Mitch McConnell and the Senate majority gave the court a stolen swing vote that once again harms not just public employees like our teachers, police officers and other public servants, but will adversely affect every working American. 

Rep. Marc Veasey (Texas-33rd District):

We formed the Blue Collar Caucus to fight for American workers and push back against anti-worker leadership in Washington. Today’s decision adds to the importance of our mission and strengthens our resolve.

Rep. Bobby Scott (Va.-3rd District):

Today the Supreme Court’s conservatives once again used dubious legal reasoning to achieve a partisan objective.

Rep. Don Beyer (Va.-8th District):

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s majority has spent the month of June concentrating power in the hands of entrenched interests at the expense of American laborers, unions, immigrants, refugees and the disenfranchised. This is exactly the kind of anti-worker outcome we knew to expect when a Trump-appointed judge was confirmed to a stolen Supreme Court seat.

Rep. Rick Larsen (Wash.-2nd District):

Organized labor put food on my table and clothes on my back. My father was a union guy, and he, along with others, helped build the U.S. and raise the country’s labor standards.

Rep. Derek Kilmer (Wash.-6th District):

I will keep working in Congress to protect those rights and push back against the special interests who have launched ideologically driven, persistent and well-funded legal attacks against working people and their right to organize.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.-7th District):

I intend to do everything possible to continue to fight for the right of workers to organize, stand together and negotiate for better working conditions, and serve as a strong check on the increasing stranglehold of unchecked corporate power.

Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.-9th District):

I stand with unions and their continued efforts to improve the lives of hardworking Americans across the country.

Rep. Denny Heck (Wash.-10th District):

I continue to ask those in power, when does America get a raise? As housing, health care and everyday costs of living skyrocket, we need to do all we can to empower workers and allow them the tools to earn fair pay and benefits.

Rep. Mark Pocan (Wis.-2nd District):

Earlier this year, I introduced the Workplace Democracy Act, legislation that restores real bargaining rights to workers and repeals the right to work laws like those that Governor Walker has used to undercut American workers. We must stand up for the millions of middle-class families who are under attack by Republican leaders and rulings like the one delivered today by the Supreme Court.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 07/05/2018 - 10:09

Tags: Janus

Don't Mourn, Organize: In the States Roundup

Thu, 2018-07-05 10:00
Don't Mourn, Organize: In the States Roundup

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

Alaska AFL-CIO:

— Alaska AFL-CIO (@AKAFLCIO) June 27, 2018

Arizona AFL-CIO:

Watch your head...The Supreme Court's anti-worker decision has given the green light to anti-union operations like the infamous Koch Bros. and the less well know Bradley Foundation. This is an extended but important article to read.

— Arizona AFL-CIO (@ArizonaAFLCIO) June 28, 2018

Arkansas AFL-CIO:
Congratulations to Dollar General employees in Missouri! Solidarity!#1u #ufcw #arlabor @organizeAR @ARlaborradio @aryoungworkers @arlaborwomen

— Arkansas AFL-CIO (@ArkansasAFLCIO) June 25, 2018

California Labor Federation:

"Unjust Janus v. AFSCME decision won’t stop unions from fighting for all working people" Must read from @ArtPulaski in @sacbee_news

Don't Mess with Working People in Texas: Worker Wins

Mon, 2018-07-02 13:06
Don't Mess with Working People in Texas: Worker Wins

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with union growth in Texas and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.

Texas Union Membership Rose at the Highest Rate in Nearly 35 Years: The hard work of organizers in Texas has paid off as the state had its biggest increase in union membership since 1983. Texas unions gained more than 80,000 members in 2017, while union density grew from 4% to 4.7%, the biggest increase since 1993.

Safety Increases for Chicago Hotel Workers as Panic Button Ordinance Goes into Effect: Hotel workers in Chicago celebrated the implementation of new safety measures they had pushed City Council to pass. The new rules, approved in October, require hotels to provide panic buttons for workers who clean, inventory, inspect or restock supplies alone in guest rooms or restrooms.

2,400 Faculty Members to Be Represented by United Academics of Oregon State University: After a three-year organizing effort, the nearly 2,400 faculty members at Oregon State University have signed union cards to be represented by the United Academics of Oregon State University (UAOSU). UAOSU is affiliated with AFT and the American Association of University Professors. 

SAG-AFTRA Reaches Tentative Agreement with Broadcast Networks: SAG-AFTRA reached a tentative agreement with ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and other television companies on a successor to the National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting.​ “This deal delivers overall gains in important areas, including meaningful increases in wages and residuals rates that will put real money in members’ pockets. Additionally, the agreement now reflects important new language limiting auditions or meetings in private hotel rooms and residences, which represents a partial realization of our work toward industry culture change,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris.

Las Vegas Culinary Workers Approve New Contract with Caesars: Housekeepers, bartenders and other working people at casinos and resorts operated by Caesars Entertainment approved a new five-year contract. The contract covers 12,000 workers and addresses sexual harassment in the workplace, job security, wage increases and immigration status.

Another New Jersey Labor Candidate Wins in Runoff: The New Jersey labor candidates program continues to show success, as Marge Caldwell-Wilson won her runoff election for Trenton City Council (North Ward). The Communications Workers of America member became the 972nd rank-and-file union member to win after participating in the program.

University of Michigan Lecturers Win Gains in New ContractThe Lecturers’ Employee Organization (LEO) at the University of Michigan has negotiated a new contract that will raise pay, improve health care and boost job security. More than 1,700 lecturers are covered by the contract, which still has to be approved by the membership of LEO, an affiliate of AFT. “We’ve been working since October 2017 to create an agreement that will ensure quality education for our students and fair compensation for our members,” said LEO President Ian Robinson. “Thanks to incredible organizing by our members, hard work by our bargaining team and tremendous support from our students, AFT-Michigan and other allies, we have negotiated an agreement which we will be proud to present to our members for their review and, I hope, approval.”

Connecticut Health Care Workers Ratify New Contracts with Pay Raises: Health care workers at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital ratified new three-year contracts a year in advance of the expiration of current contracts. Two weeks earlier, nurses at The William W. Backus Hospital also ratified a new contract. The nurses and health care workers at the two hospitals are all represented by the Connecticut chapter of AFT.

Brown University Graduate Students Secure Free and Fair Union Election: Stand Up for Graduate Student Employees, the labor union for graduate workers at Brown University, signed an agreement with the university that will secure a free and fair union election for the 1,400 graduate assistants on campus. “The pact—among the first of its kind—creates formal procedures, voter eligibility guidelines and a dispute resolution mechanism to help guide the election and the collective bargaining process. The American Arbitration Association will oversee the union vote, expected to take place in the fall.”

Scranton Nursing Home Workers Join RWDSU: By an overwhelming vote, nursing assistant employees at the Mountain View Care and Rehabilitation Center in Scranton, Pennsylvania, have chosen to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). The new unit will cover 76 working people, and organizing began less than a month before the vote. The employees will negotiate for improved benefits and working conditions. Danielle Albano, a certified nursing assistant and organizing committee member, said, “We wanted nothing more than to better our future and make change at our facility. We united together on all shifts and quickly organized as a cohesive group around job security, a voice in the workplace, dignity and respect, and, most important of all, continuing to give quality care to our residents.”

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 07/02/2018 - 13:06

Tags: Organizing

Make It a Union-Made Fourth of July

Mon, 2018-07-02 10:29
Make It a Union-Made Fourth of July Anthony Quintano

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


  • Budweiser
  • Cherry Coke
  • Icehouse beer
  • Minute Maid fruit punch
  • Minute Maid lemonade

Hot Dogs

  • Ball Park
  • Farmer John
  • Oscar Mayer


  • Lay’s potato chips
  • Potato salad from Albertsons, Costco or Vons


  • Betty Crocker cake mix
  • Breyers ice cream
  • Rice Krispies Treats
  • Tastykake cherry pie
  • Tillamook ice cream

And hundreds more. Check out our listings at

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 07/02/2018 - 10:29

Pride Month Profiles: Josette Jaramillo

Fri, 2018-06-29 16:34
Pride Month Profiles: Josette Jaramillo Colorado AFL-CIO

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

Josette Jaramillo grew up in Pueblo, Colorado, the granddaughter of Henry Jaramillo, a longtime member of United Steelworkers Local 2102. When she began working in the Pueblo County Department of Social Services in 2005, she became a member of AFSCME Local 1335. Before long, she was working on the elections committee and became an executive board member and then president of the local, where she has served since.

Jaramillo was elected vice president of AFSCME Council 76, Colorado, in 2011, before being elected president in 2015 and again in 2017. She was elected executive vice president of the Colorado AFL-CIO in 2013 and later elected president, where she still serves. She also serves as recording secretary for the Southern Colorado Labor Council and political chair for the lower 16 counties of the state.

Using vacation time to participate in union activities, Jaramillo maintains her full work schedule as a senior caseworker in social services and child protection. She also runs a group home for boys. As a caseworker, Jaramillo, along with co-worker Lori Rafferty (another member of AFSCME Local 76), showed the type of dedication to community that improved the life of one young child immensely.

The tireless work and innovative research that Jaramillo and Rafferty pursued in the case of a 9-year-old girl helped find a safe home for the child and connect her with family. After discovering that her biological parents had a history of neglect and abuse, Jaramillo and Rafferty not only worked with the Department of Human Services to terminate the abusers’ parental rights, they helped track down five siblings whom the child had never been told about. The adoptive parents of two of those siblings expressed a desire to adopt the 9-year-old as well. 

The state recognized Jaramillo and Rafferty with Excellence in Practice awards for their efforts. But there was a bigger reward for Jaramillo: “We were able to establish a sibling relationship with a child who didn’t think she had siblings. I felt awesome. I drove her down to Lubbock, Texas, so she could meet them. She now realizes she’s not alone in the world.”

Jaramillo is a certified trainer in several subject areas, including Common Sense Economics (AFL-CIO), Stewards in Action (AFSCME) and From Playground to Prom (Colorado Youth Matter). She also volunteers for various organizations, including Southern Colorado Equality Alliance, Pueblo Latino Chamber of Commerce, Steel City Supporters and various other nonprofits in Pueblo.

On the power of collective action, Jaramillo said:

Years ago, I worked with a fellow organizer (now elected to the Colorado State Legislature), Daneya Esgar, to work towards winning same-sex/domestic partner benefits through the City of Pueblo. We went to the City Council, and they tabled the issue “indefinitely.”

We organized our members and people in the community to demand that City Council take action, and together, we won. It was a pretty big deal at the time, well before civil unions or legalized gay marriage.

On the power of unions, she said:

Belonging to a union has given me a sense of community. It has made me feel part of something that’s difficult to put into words. I belong somewhere, and I know that the hurdles and success stories in my life are shared collectively. I also get to take on issues and fight for things that matter. I get to fight the fights that are not my own. A few years back, state legislation was passed for women who breastfeed. I got to be an integral part of my workplace implementation to help secure a safe and sanitary place for my co-workers who were new moms to pump in private, in a non-bathroom setting. That legislation mattered to those women in my workplace. Being part of a union allowed those women to have an advocate for them.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 06/29/2018 - 16:34

Tags: Pride at Work

Pride Month Profiles: Marsha P. Johnson

Fri, 2018-06-29 13:02
Pride Month Profiles: Marsha P. Johnson AFL-CIO

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

Marsha P. Johnson was an LGBTQ activist who became well known in New York City by being herself and fearing no judgment on her comfort as a black trans woman. She lived in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, a socially liberal area where most LGBTQ people felt acceptance and salvation.

In 1968, a riot broke out at the Stonewall Inn, a popular LGBTQ bar, when police officers raided the building. This became known as one of the most important events that sparked the LGBTQ rights movement, commonly referred to as the Stonewall Riots or, more accurately, the Stonewall Uprising. 

Author David Carter wrote that Johnson was one of three key figures leading the resistance, but Johnson modestly downplayed her role, saying, “I was uptown, and I didn’t get downtown until about two o’clock. When I got downtown, the place was already on fire, and there was a raid already. The riots had already started.”

Either way, she joined in and played a pivotal role not only in the uprising, but in the founding of the Gay Liberation Front, an organization founded in the aftermath of Stonewall that advocated for the sexual liberation of all people.

Fighting back against discrimination toward transgender people, Johnson, along with Sylvia Rivera, founded STAR—Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries—a trans rights group that organized shelters for homeless transgender teens and drag queens. Johnson also helped found STAR House, which provided shelter to homeless queer youth.

Johnson’s life wasn’t all battles, however; she was a social butterfly who spent time with the likes of Andy Warhol. She also toured America and Europe as part of Hot Peaches, an avant-drag performance troupe.

Johnson died in 1992 at the age of 46, and the circumstances surrounding her death remain a mystery today. A recent Netflix documentary, “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson,” examined her amazing life and tragic death. 

Johnson’s life speaks to the fluidity of gender and a person’s right to self-identify without judgment, and she helped pave the way for increased awareness of the challenges faced by the LGBTQ community in the U.S., in the workplace and in the larger culture.


Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 06/29/2018 - 13:02

Tags: Pride at Work

Sticking with the Union: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 2018-06-29 11:11
Sticking with the Union: The Working People Weekly List

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

Working People Across the Country Reject Janus Ruling, Say We're 'Sticking with the Union': "After a narrow majority ruled against working people in the Janus v. AFSCME case, we have come together to reject attacks on our rights by corporate interests and their allies in government. All working people deserve a chance to prosper on the job and beyond. Unions are the answer. Learn more at"

Stand Up for All Workers' Rights: "Hardworking immigrant women and men were detained last week while simply trying to do their jobs at Fresh Mark meat processing plants in Ohio."

Baseball Food That’s Always a Hit: "A ball game just isn’t a ball game without the hot dogs, the salty snacks, the sodas and the beer. To best enjoy these goodies, we recommend ethical brands made by companies that treat their employees fairly. If you’re headed to the stadium, you can bring your own snacks (but don’t try this with the beer)! If you’re watching at home, consult the list of products below and make it an ethical baseball feast. Let’s all support good middle-class jobs as we slug, throw and pitch our way to a stronger America."

Congress and the President Need to Listen to Workers on Trade: "If you read this blog regularly, you already know that the United States has a ginormous, humongous trade deficit with China. The goods trade deficit with China reached $375 billion in 2017. This deficit has cost 3.4 million U.S. jobs between 2001 and 2015. About 2.6 million of those lost jobs were in manufacturing, including more than 1.2 million in computer and electronic manufacturing. You probably also know that the loss of all these jobs pulls down wages, and that bad trade policies lower an average U.S. worker’s pay by $2,000 every year."

Working People Stand Resolute in the Face of Janus Ruling: "While a narrow and ideologically driven majority on the Supreme Court ruled against working people in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, working people will not allow this attack to silence our collective voices. We will continue to organize and bring our collective voices together in opposition to the ongoing assault on our rights."

Intertwined: The Labor Movement and LGBT Rights: "Through all the celebration of LGBTQ Pride this month, there’s been a valuable opportunity to reflect on the hard-fought victories, brutal setbacks, and tenacious struggles that have ultimately delivered so much for so many. And just as importantly, there has been time to think about what lies ahead in that fight for justice."

World Cup 2026 Offers FIFA an Opportunity to Live Up to Its Human Rights Commitment: "Last week, the international governing body for football, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), awarded the 2026 World Cup to a joint bid from Canada, Mexico and the United States. The planning and execution of one of the world's top sporting events will provide a test to the human rights commitment of FIFA."

Working People Say Neither the U.S. nor Canada Gets Trade Policy Right: "Working people can’t afford any more trade policies written by and for corporations. But neither should we be pawns in a misguided power struggle that antagonizes allies or empowers corporations but fails to fix our economy."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 06/29/2018 - 11:11

Stand Up for All Workers' Rights

Fri, 2018-06-29 10:11
Stand Up for All Workers' Rights

Hardworking immigrant women and men were detained last week while simply trying to do their jobs at Fresh Mark meat processing plants in Ohio.

Working people who do these incredibly difficult jobs should be treated with dignity, respect and fairness, no matter where they were born. This Saturday, June 30, working people will rally all over the country to address the broken policies that have led to the systemic violation of working families’ rights.

Click here to let us know that you’d like to RSVP for this Saturday's rally at Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C.

These raids destroy communities. No matter what side of the political aisle you fall on, this is wrong. Seeking a better life for yourself and your family is not a crime. We cannot allow a climate of fear that leaves workers too afraid to stand up for their rights on the job and in their communities to continue. The attacks on these workers call to question the freedom of all working people.

Any system that would allow immigrant families to be torn apart at our borders while politicians back the devastation of working families must be broken. It’s up to working people to band together and hold our leaders accountable if we are ever going to even the economic playing field for all workers.

Join an event this Saturday, as we remind our leaders that they should be doing all they can to strengthen the rights and security of working families instead of viciously attacking, brutalizing and traumatizing them.

RSVP for the rally in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, June 30.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 06/29/2018 - 10:11

Working People Across the Country Reject Janus Ruling, Say We're 'Sticking with the Union'

Thu, 2018-06-28 14:03
Working People Across the Country Reject Janus Ruling, Say We're 'Sticking with the Union' AFL-CIO

After a narrow majority ruled against working people in the Janus v. AFSCME case, we have come together to reject attacks on our rights by corporate interests and their allies in government. All working people deserve a chance to prosper on the job and beyond. Unions are the answer. Learn more at

Here's what working people advocates from around the country are saying about Janus and the next steps we must take as working people.

Alaska AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami: 

Today, we commit to not only sustaining the labor movement, but building and strengthening it so more working people can negotiate a fair deal in return for their hard work. Despite this decision, Alaska’s unions will continue to lead the fight for a balanced economy that gives everyone a fair shot.

Allegheny–Fayette  Central Labor Council President Darrin Kelly:

Today’s ruling by the US Supreme Court went against 40 years of legal precedent and obliterated current laws in nearly half the states in the nation. It is nothing more than a full-frontal assault on working families and the American middle class. For 150 years, wealthy special interest groups have been funding efforts like this with one objective in mind: disempower the American worker and keep wages low so the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the economic ladder of opportunity that built this nation, gets burnt to the ground. The unity of America’s working families has outlived these attacks for more than a century because our strength lies, not in our pocket books, but in our continuing belief in the promise of the American dream.

Corporate financed efforts to rig the system against working people simply remind us how important collective bargaining is. This decision only emboldens our commitment to our members, our message and America’s middle class. No Court case will ever destroy our movement.

California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski: 

Never in its history has the court issued a ruling so clearly motivated by politics and outright disdainful of the constitutional tenets it has vowed to vigorously defend. Working families should never trust this court again....

No one court decision can stamp out decades of progress made by unions and our members. In the face of today’s decision, California’s unions are redoubling our efforts to remain a beacon of hope for a country sliding into plutocracy. We won’t settle for surviving this decision. We’ll continue to build strength to give all working people a fair shot at pursuing the American Dream.

Connecticut AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier:

From brave first responders to dedicated public school teachers to life-saving nurses, our community is strong because of those who answer the call to public service. These public service workers are able to serve their communities better because they are union workers, and together as a union, they have the freedom to speak up together to help make our communities strong and safe.

The billionaires and corporate CEOs who supported the Janus case are attempting to divide working people and limit our power in numbers. They know that unions give workers a powerful voice in speaking up for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Florida AFL-CIO President Mike Williams:

Florida workers already understand the disastrous implications of the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision. In right-to-work states like Florida, workers live this decision everyday through a system that not only undermines their freedom to have a voice on the job, but ensures that our state’s workers continue to be paid less, have less access to healthcare, and less opportunities to retire with dignity.

With this decision, SCOTUS has checked off another box on the wealthy special interest wish list. This ruling will continue our nation’s decades long race to the bottom for workers' rights, increase economic inequality, and make it even more difficult for America’s workers to make ends meet.

The Florida AFL-CIO with it’s over 1 million union members, retirees, and their families, will continue to stand together with Florida’s working people who, even when the decks are stacked against them, will continue to join together in unions and fight for a stronger, fairer America.”

Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Rusty Hicks:

Today, Trump’s Supreme Court made a decision big employers hope will weaken our unions. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor has news for them. When workers can choose—without fear or threat—to either stay in their union or leave it, they will choose to earn higher wages, protect their benefits and keep their workplaces safer. Those realities will overpower those who believe working people are worth less.

To our adversaries we say be careful what you ask for—when we fight, we win.

Maine AFL-CIO President Cynthia Phinney:

Every day, right here in Maine, workers continue to stand together in their unions to demand fairness and fight for a better future for our families. Millions of other workers around the country aspire to improve their wages and working conditions and to have a voice on the job....

We have never depended on any politician or judge to decide our fate and we aren’t about to start now.  We will continue to fight for the rights of all working people to have the freedom to join a union and bargain for a better life. We will continue to stick together in our unions and as the labor movement to build a better future for our communities, our country and all working people.

Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber:

As billionaires and corporate special interests seek to further rig our economy against working people across the country, this is the latest attempt to take away our rights to join together in unions.  It is a shame that these special interests have manipulated the Supreme Court to further their harmful agenda.

This decision comes at a point in time when thousands of Michigan workers are recommitting to join unions and are launching new organizing drives, and as support for labor unions has risen to its highest level in years. Indeed, Michigan added 52,000 new union members in 2017—the biggest annual jump in union membership in Michigan in over a decade. Even more importantly, it means there are now more union members in Michigan than there were in 2012—the year Gov. Rick Snyder signed right-to-work legislation into law.

So we have faced these attacks before and we have weathered the storm well. The labor movement remains a strong and vibrant force for working people and will continue fighting to sustain our families, improve our workplaces and make our communities stronger regardless of the court’s ruling.

Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy:

No court decision will ever stop working people from joining together in union to negotiate a fair return on their work. No matter how many roadblocks corporate special interests put in our path, our state’s labor movement will continue to fight for working Minnesotans’ freedom to prosper.

Nevada State AFL-CIO Executive Secretary-Treasurer Rusty McAllister:

The Supreme Court’s ruling this morning is an assault on the working people of America by corporate interests who fear their collective power. The Nevada State AFL-CIO and our local union leaders will continue to fight for, serve and protect our 150,000 members against any force that seeks to undermine or work against them.

New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento:

Improving the lives of all working men and women is what defines us, not one court case.

The Janus v. AFSCME case has always been a thinly veiled attack on the rights of all working people to join together and speak with one voice.

New York’s labor movement, with 2.5 million members, will remain strong. In fact, today’s decision will only make us stronger and more determined to fight for better wages, benefits and conditions of employment, as well as for a brighter future for all workers and their families.

Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga:

This decision comes just as millions of workers across the country are recommitting to unions with new organizing drives and growing ranks in important sectors of our economy right here in Ohio. Public support for labor unions has risen to its highest level in years. 

The billionaires and corporate special interests that have manipulated our system of justice have succeeded in getting the highest court in the land to do their bidding. The labor movement, however, remains undeterred. 

We have faced similar attacks in Ohio and ultimately prevailed. Powered by our membership and carried by the expressed support of a vast majority of Ohioans, labor unions will continue to fight to sustain our families, improve our workplaces and make our communities stronger regardless of the court’s ruling.

Orange County Labor Federation:

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision furthers this administration’s agenda of putting corporate interest over working families. This case is a multi-million dollar effort to rig the economy benefiting a select few.

While this decision negatively impacts working families, the OCLF will continue to be a strong force in Orange County, standing up to those in power who have rigged the economy against working people. When unions are strong, Orange County is strong. We won’t allow a court decision to stand in the way of our fight for good jobs, fair pay and dignity at work.

Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain:

While the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a long-expected decision in the Janus case that was backed by anti-worker forces, Oregon union members remain dedicated to sticking together, uniting more working people in unions and working with our state’s political leaders to create more good, union jobs.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale:

Businesses are not mandated to give away goods and services free of charge to whomever walks through their door. But labor unions are legally required to represent every working person in a workplace, regardless of their membership-status. Every worker benefits from the terms of the union contract, and fair share fees cover the cost of that representation and negotiation. We know that union contracts lift up wages and improve conditions for all workers. The dark money that has bankrolled this case and subsequent decision, will not sway us from fighting for economic dignity and the rights working people deserve.

Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO President Pat Eiding:

The labor movement stretches back centuries in this country and stretches out beyond the borders of our nation as well. Working women and men in past generations faced the greatest imaginable challenges when they stood together for their interests: armed company goons, sometimes working with the support of state or local governments; courts that refused to recognize the legitimacy of labor unions; an unsympathetic media. Nevertheless, working people persisted. We stood together against every challenge and built vibrant, diverse, democratic labor unions, and those unions in turn lifted tens of millions of American workers out of poverty and into dignity. We are the engine of the most productive economy in the world. We built this country’s middle class.

So, while I am gravely disappointed in the 5-4 decision in the Janus case, I am not worried about our labor movement. Working people will continue to stand together, to organize democratically, and to stand up to massive corporations and to the privileged and powerful. History is on our side. And despite the opinion of 5 justices in Washington, our solidarity remains unbroken.

Sacramento Central Labor Council Executive Director Fabrizio Sasso:

While there is no doubt that this decision will make it more difficult for working people to exercise our freedom to join together, we will not allow it to stand in our way as we continue our fight for good jobs, safe workplaces, equal pay for women, fair treatment of immigrants and dignity at work for everyone. Nor will it stamp out the decades of progress made by hard working Americans who fought for the freedoms we still enjoy. 

The labor movement marches forward with the same commitment and a renewed vigor to stand together for all working people. Despite the deep pockets of wealthy corporations, billionaires and wealthy elites’ ability to influence the Supreme Court’s decision, Sacramento’s unions will continue to lead the fight for a balanced economy that gives everyone a fair shot at the American Dream.

Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy and Texas AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Montserrat Garibay:

In Texas, we battle to raise wages, enact paid sick leave and other benefits, make jobs safer, ensure civil rights, and expand opportunity for all working families. We fight immigrant-bashing, voter suppression, moves to privatize our neighborhood schools, and assaults on the freedom of working people to speak up to improve their lives.

Organizing is on the rise, in Texas and in the nation. Public approval of unions is up. A growing percentage of young working people, women and people of color see unions as a ticket to the middle class. Teachers are striking to do right by their students.

Reject the dark web of corporate interests that produced Janus and join us in the fight. Texas unions stand for the antidote to the status quo: a fair shot for all working families.

Utah AFL-CIO President Jeff Worthington:

Those that funded the Janus case are hailing the SCOTUS decision as a great victory and end of unions. They will be disappointed. Unions are alive and well in Utah and across the nation. We will continue to thrive and prosper. Utah unions from the public sector and trades along with the Utah AFL-CIO have united together in solidarity to protect employee rights, safeguard working families, and push back against attacks from those that would demonize the good that unions do in our communities.

We've been here for over a hundred years; we look forward to being even stronger for another century.

Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson and Washington State Labor Council Secretary Treasurer Lynne Dodson:

Now more than ever, working people understand that they need unions and strength in numbers to fight for a balanced economy. This is particularly true for our proud public employees. These are our family members, friends and neighbors. They teach our children, care for the sick and elderly, keep our communities safe, maintain our roads, and provide many other essential public services. They know they need strong unions, not just because it makes life better for themselves and their families, but also so they can advocate for their students, their patients, and the public they serve....

No court decision will stop us from fighting for good jobs, safe workplaces, affordable health care, and dignity at work for everyone. Today, we recommit not only to sustaining Washington's labor movement, but to building a stronger one. In this economy, working people must stick together in strong unions to demand better wages and benefits. The unions of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO will redouble efforts to guarantee the freedom to join, stand and negotiate together.

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt:

While billionaires and the corporate interests behind the Janus case use their power and wealth to continue to rig our economy against working people, workers are busy building a movement to rewrite the rules of our economy to create broadly shared prosperity. Workers are on the rise and the Supreme Court can’t stop us. At a time when our democracy and economy are rigged to overwhelmingly favor the wealthy, America needs unions now more than ever so our middle class can thrive.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 06/28/2018 - 14:03

Tags: Janus

Baseball Food That’s Always a Hit

Thu, 2018-06-28 08:30
Baseball Food That’s Always a Hit Labor 411

A ball game just isn’t a ball game without the hot dogs, the salty snacks, the sodas and the beer. To best enjoy these goodies, we recommend ethical brands made by companies that treat their employees fairly. If you’re headed to the stadium, you can bring your own snacks (but don’t try this with the beer)! If you’re watching at home, consult the list of products below and make it an ethical baseball feast. Let’s all support good middle-class jobs as we slug, throw and pitch our way to a stronger America.

Hot Dogs and Franks

  • Ball Park 
  • Butterball
  • Farmland
  • Farmer John
  • Hebrew National
  • Oscar Mayer


  • Budweiser
  • Coors
  • Miller
  • Pabst
  • Samuel Adams


  • Frito-Lay Salted In-Shell Peanuts


  • Act II
  • Orville Redenbacher

Soft Drinks

  • Barq’s Root Beer 
  • Coca-Cola
  • Dr. Pepper
  • Mountain Dew
  • Pepsi

And hundreds more. Check out our listings at

This post originally appeared at Labor 411.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 06/28/2018 - 08:30

Tags: Union Made

Congress and the President Need to Listen to Workers on Trade

Wed, 2018-06-27 12:53
Congress and the President Need to Listen to Workers on Trade AFL-CIO

If you read this blog regularly, you already know that the United States has a ginormous, humongous trade deficit with China. The goods trade deficit with China reached $375 billion in 2017. This deficit has cost 3.4 million U.S. jobs between 2001 and 2015.  About 2.6 million of those lost jobs were in manufacturing, including more than 1.2 million in computer and electronic manufacturing. You probably also know that the loss of all these jobs pulls down wages, and that bad trade policies lower an average U.S. worker’s pay by $2,000 every year.

The labor movement has been working to fix U.S. trade policy for more than 20 years. After years of having our trade recommendations ignored by both Democratic and Republican presidents and Congresses, President Donald Trump has started to take some of our advice. He announced tariffs on China to deter it from stealing patents and copyrights and pressuring companies to transfer technology and jobs from the United States (many companies are ready to outsource anyway—working people don’t need extra threats from China!). The real test will come in what happens in negotiations with China and with Canada and Mexico over the North American Free Trade Agreement.

We have to hold both Trump and members of Congress in both parties accountable and make sure they actually make real change in the trade rules that will help working people.

Labor has been fighting for stronger trade enforcement for years. So we think these tariffs are a good start, if used strategically. But alone, they aren’t enough to reform and undo decades of bad trade rules. The president can’t fix the trade deficit, create jobs and raise wages if he ignores the rest of our advice.

As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has explained

In isolation, this enforcement effort won’t be enough to fulfill the president’s promise to boost manufacturing, stop outsourcing or raise wages. These actions must be combined with policies that protect workers’ rights and our safety on the job, investments in our communities and working people, smart rules to prevent big banks from crashing our economy again, and renegotiated trade deals—starting with NAFTA—that end special privileges for global companies, protect worker freedoms, and promote a fair and sustainable economy for all of us.

In addition, countries need to work together to rewrite trade rules. But Trump’s trade policies are so far a solo effort. His unilateral approach has led to backlash instead of cooperation from U.S. allies.

We’ve got more advice on how to make trade work. We’ve put forth 17 key recommendations for a better NAFTA and suggested eight ways to make trade enforcement more effective. We’ve supported bills that would better protect our national security from predatory foreign investors and recommended that Congress oppose dumb ideas like making it harder for a president to enforce trade laws.

The AFL-CIO has a positive vision of international trade rules that lift up hardworking families here and across borders. When the United States and neighboring economies grow together, we create more exports and jobs. On the other hand, ignoring the violence, poverty and labor rights abuses in neighbors like Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras is a recipe for more inequality and less union power both there and here.

It all boils down to this: Trade policy is not a question of "free trade" versus "protectionism." Instead, trade rules must promote good family-wage jobs, sustainable growth, vibrant economies, smart natural resource conservation and human rights and dignity globally. We believe these principles will lead to better trade rules that support more jobs and higher wages. Now we just have to convince our elected representatives to take more of our advice.

To help us, text TRADE to 235246.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 06/27/2018 - 12:53

Working People Stand Resolute in the Face of Janus Ruling

Wed, 2018-06-27 12:40
Working People Stand Resolute in the Face of Janus Ruling AFL-CIO

While a narrow and ideologically driven majority on the Supreme Court ruled against working people in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, working people will not allow this attack to silence our collective voices. We will continue to organize and bring our collective voices together in opposition to the ongoing assault on our rights.

Advocates for working people soundly rejected the ruling in Janus. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, abandons decades of commonsense precedent. In this case, a bare majority of the court, over the vigorous dissent of four justices, has conceded to the dark web of corporations and wealthy donors who wish to take away the freedoms of working people. Until it is overturned, this decision will be a political stain on what is intended to be the most honorable, independent body in the world. But more importantly, it will further empower the corporate elites in their efforts to thwart the aspirations of millions of working people standing together for a better life.

But here’s the thing: America is heading in a different direction. All over the country, workers are organizing and taking collective action as we haven’t seen in years. More than 14,000 workers recently formed or joined unions in just a single week. This followed a year where 262,000 workers organized and the approval rating of unions reached a nearly 14-year high. Working families know the best way to get a raise, better benefits and a voice on the job is through a union contract. The corporate narrative of the labor movement’s downfall is being dismantled by working people every single day.

We have never depended on any politician or judge to decide our fate and we aren’t about to start now.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders:

Unions will always be the most effective force and vehicle to propel working people into the middle class. Despite this unprecedented and nefarious political attack—designed to further rig the rules against working people—nothing changes the fact that America needs unions now more than ever. We are more resolved than ever to fight like hell to win for our members and the communities they care so much about. AFSCME members don’t do this work to get rich. They do it because it’s a calling—and for that service, they deserve respect. They deserve the same freedoms as the CEOs and billionaires who continue to rig the rules against everyone else. The American labor movement lives on, and we’re going to be there every day, fighting hard for all working people, our freedoms and for our country.

AFT President Randi Weingarten:

Forty years ago, the court recognized that collective bargaining for teachers and other public sector workers benefits those workers, their employers and their communities. Union representation, if chosen by a majority, is the glue that holds us together. That wisdom has now been abandoned by the slimmest majority. The dissenting justices saw this case for what it really was—a warping and weaponizing of the First Amendment, absent any evidence or reason, to hurt working people. Not only was Abood well within the mainstream of First Amendment law, it has been affirmed six times and applied to other cases upholding bar fees for lawyers and student activity fees at public colleges.

Actors' Equity Executive Director Mary McColl:

Today, the Supreme Court issued a decision that is a blatant attempt to take away the freedom of working people to join together in union. Equity stands with our brothers and sisters across the country who are fighting against a system that is rigged in favor of special interests and big corporations. We will organize. We will hold our elected officials accountable. And we will fight back against efforts to divide us. Every working American has had their lives made better by labor unions. We will not rest while the American worker is being attacked.

AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr.:

On behalf of the wealthiest one percent and special interest groups, the Supreme Court has attempted to strike the death knell for public-sector unions, but the workers themselves will ultimately decide their own fate. Workers know the importance of unions in the workplace and they will survive. We need to come together as workers and use this as our moment to stand up, join the union, and organize like never before. Every worker can use their voice to fight for better working conditions and fair representation by joining the union.

When union members pay to negotiate a contract for their workplace, everyone who’s covered by that contract takes home higher pay and benefits, has greater job security, enjoys improved health and safety standards, and gets help in settling workplace disputes.

If you’re covered by the union contract but you don’t belong to the union, it’s time to join your union and pay for the benefits you receive—because those benefits could vanish tomorrow unless workers take a stand and fight for their rights at the worksite.

Air Line Pilots Association President Capt. Tim Canoll:

Throughout the years, one fact remains true for North American workers—the unshakable power of unionism. Unity lies behind our every accomplishment. And together, we’ve accomplished a lot. The unified labor movement built the middle class, and unity remains the key to its survival. Unity also holds the key to prevailing over future challenges—and we will not break.

ALPA stands alongside our brothers and sisters in the public-sector union movement most directly affected by today’s ruling, because we know that this assault against unions will continue across all sectors, including our own. Their fight is our fight, and it is a fight we must and will win. We will continue to work with elected officials to protect workers’ rights and ensure that the value of unions is never forgotten. Unions remind us that the economy exists for people, not the other way around, and remain the link between free markets and democratic rights.

Amalgamated Transit Union International President Larry Hanley:

While this decision is both unjust and, frankly, unfair and stupid, it’s happening at a time workers, especially in right-to-work states—are more conscious than ever of the need to unite and fight back. Recent successful teachers’ strikes in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma have shown what happens when workers’ backs are pushed against the wall....

Their power play has awoken a sleeping giant—organized labor. The labor movement has historically been at its strongest when under attack, and this is the greatest assault in a generation. Workers—whether in a union or soon to be—are more motivated than ever to reclaim what’s been taken from them.

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson:

Today's majority Court ruling is a calling to we the people to fight together for the freedom promised by our forefathers, rightfully claimed by our mothers, sisters and brothers of color, and protected with incredible sacrifice by our fallen soldiers, veterans and active service men and women.

We the people will rise up just like the teachers are doing all over our country, in opposition to the attempt to silence our individual voices by attacking our freedom to join together. We will stand together for our freedoms, our right to a safe workplace with decent pay, and respect for our hard work that contributes to our economy. We will vote, sign our union cards, and encourage flight attendants to talk with their family, friends, and neighbors about the importance of joining together in unions. We the people will form our ‘more perfect union.’

Bricklayers President James Boland:

America needs unions. Our unions represent diverse working people in a variety of sectors, amplify the voices of working people on the job, strengthen democracy, reduce inequality and help middle- and low-wage working people obtain their fair share of our economic growth, reduce wage gaps and increase wages for women and people of color. Because of our unions, our workplaces are safer, and working people's voices are louder.

This decision sends our economy further in the wrong direction, but this alone will not stop our union movement. We are going to keep fighting to organize more working families. We are going to demand elected officials do everything in their power to make it easier for more workers to join unions. We are going to work harder to help more workers join our unions, provide them with good union jobs, and stand up for their rights. Our union movement will only get stronger.

Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton:

But there’s something happening here in America. We’ve seen it from CWA members as workers at Verizon, AT&T Mobility, Frontier Communications, and Momentive Performance Materials have gone on strike and won gains through strong collective bargaining. Our public worker membership is growing, even in states like Texas that prohibit collective bargaining for public employees. We’ve stood in solidarity with teachers and other public employees in many different states walking out and standing up to special interests–and winning....

Union members will show them that nothing can stand in the way of working people standing together. We call on elected officials at the local, state and national level to stand with working people and make it easier for them to join together in unions.

Electrical Workers International President Lonnie R. Stephenson:

The Supreme Court’s decision in the Janus v. AFSCME case is nothing but an all-out assault on the basic freedom of working people to come together to better their lives and their communities.

This is not just an attack on public-sector workers. It is an attack on every single American who works for a living, and it is only the first step in an effort to repeal every right won by working people in this country.

But while the Supreme Court may attack our rights, it can never stop a movement whose time has come. Across this country, workers are standing up and joining unions in higher numbers than we have seen in many years and the IBEW, along with the entire labor movement, will never stop fighting for the basic dignity and welfare of working America.

Fire Fighters General President Harold Schaitberger:

We represent more than 85% of all professional fire fighters and paramedics in the U.S. because we consistently demonstrate our value, through our strong affiliates, that being union fire fighters provides a significantly better standard of living and safer working environment than those who are not union. We believe that difference will become even more stark, and we are working to represent that small percentage of fire fighters who aren't in our union so that we can raise their standard of living and increase their ability to have a strong voice in public safety.

This case was intended as a political push to eliminate the power of people who work to support their families and the power of their unions. But instead, the Janus case is activating an army of union leaders to better engage their members.

International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Secretary-Treasurer Paul Shearon:

Today’s Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME was based on a bogus free speech argument. This politically motivated case brought by Mark Janus, paid for by corporate interests, was designed to undercut the bargaining power of those employed in local and state government. This wasn’t about free speech—this was about silencing workers’ voices. The justices who supported this slap in the face to public employees and their families, reversing settled law, telegraphed that they are little better than political hacks.

In the short run, the Janus decision may hurt some unions financially, but in the long run it will serve to make unions and their members more militant and force a stronger culture of internal organizing. The recent statewide teacher strikes demonstrate that when public sector workers face limitations on their bargaining rights they take their case to the streets.

Laborers General President Terry O'Sullivan:

The Janus case represents an all-out attack on public sector unions meant to diminish the bargaining power of millions of public sector workers and divide us in the workplace.

Despite the cynical efforts of the anti-worker groups financing Janus, union membership has always and will always strengthen the middle class and help build our nation’s prosperity.

The strong, proud, and united members of LIUNA will continue to stand together and fight together to protect the wages, benefits, and working conditions that come with a union card.

Machinists International President Robert Martinez Jr.:

The Janus decision is just the latest tactic of corporations and wealthy donors who want to take away our freedom at work. The radical right will never defeat a wave of working people joining together for a better life. Union membership is growing and we will continue to organize, mobilize and defeat those who want to destroy unions and silence workers. This is war and working people are going to fight back.

Mine Workers International President Cecil E. Roberts:

Make no mistake: They view this decision as a big victory in their long-term effort to destroy working families’ power and silence our voices. But I have confidence that in the end, the corporate elitists will fail. American workers understand that their rights are under attack and will respond.

The UMWA proudly represents thousands of public employees—corrections officers; state, county and municipal employees; police officers; deputy sheriffs; and more. Those workers have sought out UMWA representation because they know their jobs and their lives are better when they are in a union. We prove that to them everyday and this decision will not affect our commitment to them in any way.

National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi:

Although NATCA always has had the duty to represent bargaining unit employees who do not become members nor contribute to their own representation in the federal sector, this is a drastic change for state and local government employee unions who will directly and immediately feel the effects of this decision. We join our union brothers and sisters to take up the fight to protect working people from those who would seek to fracture, split and divide us. Make no mistake, NATCA stands with all of our union brothers and sisters in the labor movement, today and forever.

National Taxi Workers Alliance:

This ruling is unconscionable but may it ring as a wake up call: Collective bargaining gives workers rights to democratic representation and puts legal pressure on the bosses to negotiate fairly. But it's worker organizing that builds unions and our uncompromising militancy that builds power.  

Corporations cheering from the sidelines while the highest court in the land guts unions may have forgotten that our nation's labor laws were created largely to quell worker unrest. If workers cannot turn to the law to protect us, we have no choice but to take to the streets.

Office and Professional Employees President Richard Lanigan:

Despite today’s ruling, working people and their unions won’t be silenced. Instead, as we’ve seen demonstrated throughout the country, working people and their unions are standing together stronger than ever and fighting for their rights to a decent wage, equitable workplace, strong healthcare and a dignified retirement. In states throughout the nation, workers are organizing and taking collective action like we’ve never seen before, and no Supreme Court decision is going to stop that momentum.

Working people and their unions won’t be slowed by this misguided and politically biased ruling. Instead, our fight continues to join together and unite for our freedoms to achieve a fair and equitable workplace and better future for all Americans.

Painters and Allied Trades General President Ken Rigmaiden:

As a trade union, the Painters and Allied Trades, remains vigilant and very aware that the funding behind this case comes from groups like the National Right to Work Foundation and as private sector union share a symbiotic relationship with our public sector counterparts in AFSCME. Therefore, we understand that the same strategy will, ultimately be applied to our members.

We emphasize to all workers that all elections have consequences and anti-union backers and their legislative cheerleaders can hinder the progress that we have made over the past century in one fell swoop.

We will stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers in sisters in AFSCME, with public sector unions and with all working families across this great country!

National Nurses United:

The Supreme Court decision today to roll back decades of union and worker rights in Janus v. AFSCME poses a significant threat to patient safety as well as worker and community health and economic standards, said National Nurses United, the nation’s largest union and professional association of registered nurses.

Additionally, “we encourage all non-union workers to join strong unions to protect their right to act collectively to advocate for themselves, their co-workers, and the public well being,” said NNU Co-President Deborah Burger, RN....

“But the architects of this decision have a far larger goal than just hamstringing public unions and workers,” said NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN....

“Nurses will never be silent in the face of this ruling, or in any other threat to our patients, our members, and our communities,” Castillo said.


SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris:

This shameful decision only serves to strengthen our resolve to find ways to protect working families in this country. Now more than ever as professionals, we must come together and renew our commitment to speak as one. To be strong in the face of all attempts to minimize us. We know that fighting for a better life for you and your family is what unions do. It’s time for unions, and the workers who make them vibrant and strong, to show this court and those who would attack and diminish working people that this is unacceptable. When workers come together, workers win, and that did not change today.

School Administrators President Ernest Logan:

The enemies of labor unions think the Janus v. AFSCME case is the beginning of the end of the union movement. They launched this case in a blatant attempt to silence the voices of working people and to limit the freedom that they have.

But their efforts and the Supreme Court's decision today are in vain. No court case will stop hard-working people from organizing and raising their voices. In fact, Janus will be a lightning rod for labor—the powerful corporations and rich billionaires will deeply regret the day they pushed this case forward.

UAW President Gary Jones:

Today’s Supreme Court Janus decision is yet another effort to put obstacles in front of working men and women to join collectively behind the power of a unified voice.

To be clear, labor will survive. But to be equally clear, our elections do matter, as the appointment of conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch by the Republican-led Senate left little doubt about the outcome of this decision. The Janus decision is just another barrier and another attack on working men and women. It cannot, however, take away the powerful voice that UAW members and other unions deliver when they sit across the table and collectively bargain for their families, their safety and their communities.

You cannot silence the voice of so many American families who want a seat at the bargaining table. The UAW and the rest of labor stand together no matter what obstacle.

UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor:

Today, an activist court ruled against the American people and our shared value of freedom and in favor of wealthy corporations. This decision robs power from working families to put it in the hands of corporate elites. Let us allow it to serve as a catalyst to the labor movement for bolder, stronger worker organizing. This ruling is designed to break American workers by putting unfair burdens on us that the corporate elites think we cannot beat—but together we can let it embolden us to organize to greater heights than we have ever before and deliver the tangible victories that transform workers’ lives.

United Steelworkers President Leo W. Gerard:

Make no mistake, this case was an attack on unions, working people and the causes that the labor movement fights for every day. But no court case will stop unions and their supporters from fighting back against efforts to weaken and divide us.

This assault on workers was financed by conservative, right-wing billionaires and the organizations they support, including the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, to undermine the labor movement and the quality family-sustaining jobs that have developed over decades of collective bargaining.

This attack on public sector workers, including teachers and emergency service personnel, must be a wakeup call for all union members and their supporters to stand with our brothers and sisters.

We must organize and demand that our elected leaders and political candidates enact public policies that will make it easier, not harder, for people to join unions.

Alliance for Retired Americans President Robert Roach Jr.:

Despite these attacks, organized labor remains strong. In a recent single week in 2018, over 14,000 workers joined or formed a union. Labor organizations have prepared for these continued union threats by building stronger relationships with members, organizing internally and educating the public about what’s at stake - including better wages and safer working conditions.

We have witnessed historic grassroots labor movements and teacher walkouts all across the nation. No matter who tries to bring us down, the Alliance will stand with labor unions to protect active and retired workers' rights throughout the country.

Department for Professional Employees President Paul E. Almeida:

Despite today’s ruling, DPE is confident that professionals will continue to work together to strengthen their communities and workplaces through collective action. We saw a glimpse of professionals’ potential last year when an additional 90,000 professional employees became union members. DPE member unions continue to demonstrate that professionals want to work collaboratively to improve their workplaces. In just the last six months, digital journalists, charter school teachers, nonprofit employees, animatic editors, symphony musicians, public radio announcers, FAA employees, and many other professionals all across the country have joined together in union. We are confident professional employees will continue to see the value of unions and grow the labor movement into the future.

Jobs With Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta:

Today’s ruling continues to reaffirm that a handful of greedy CEOs can rig the rules of the economy and our democracy in their favor. Given the extreme concentration of wealth and power in this country, we should be making it easier and not harder for working people to join together to improve their jobs and their livelihoods.

Despite the disappointing ruling, working people in unions are here to stay. Working people in unions will continue advancing progress in their communities, confronting corporate greed, and transforming workplaces.

Maritime Trades Department President Michael Sacco:

We stand with our brothers and sisters directly and indirectly affected by this decision. We will not allow the Court’s action to deter us from fighting for the rights of workers.


National Black Worker Center Project:

The 5-4 ruling is detrimental blow in the line-up of America’s longstanding discrimination against black workers and the challenges we face.

To be clear, African Americans have as much at stake in maintaining strong unions as anyone with regards to economic security, affordable healthcare and retirement benefits. But, the union advantage disappears with Supreme Court decision and changes the landscape for the 20% of African Americans who work in public sector jobs.

The implications of the Supreme Court siding with Janus in this case means that workers will face the uncertainty of stagnate or diminished wages, job insecurity and the possibility of retiring into poverty.

Still, the National Black Worker Center Project will continue fighting for the rights of black workers to end the jobs crisis we face. It’s time for us to expose the truth about what it means to be #WorkingWhileBlack and change course.

National Domestic Workers Alliance Executive Director Ai-jen Poo:

This decision is blow to every working person that has ever felt unheard, unseen, or hurt at the hands of unchecked power. By cutting workers’ collective organizing power, especially that of women, we’re increase vulnerability to wage theft, sexual harassment, and discrimination. We should be expanding people’s rights at the workplace, not perpetuating vulnerability.

National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García:

Today’s radical decision by the Supreme Court is a blatant slap in the face for educators, nurses, firefighters, police officers and all public servants who make our communities strong and safe. We are living in a system that is rigged to benefit special interests and billionaires, all at the expense of working people. Those behind this case know that unions amplify workers’ voices and transform their words into powerful and collective action. Even though the Supreme Court sided with corporate CEOs and billionaires over working Americans, unions will continue to be the best vehicle on the path to the middle class.

National Union of Healthcare Workers President Sal Rosselli:

Today’s ruling is a terrible blow to millions of working families who for generations have put their heart and soul into making their unions engines for prosperity and the growth of the American middle class. Janus and his backers claim this case was about free speech, when it’s really about silencing workers. But this is not a death knell for organized labor. The National Union of Healthcare Workers is expanding into so-called “Right to Work” states such as Nevada because we know that caregivers will support unions that put members in control and give them voice.

 In the aftermath of Janus, it’s time for unions to get back to our roots of empowering workers, and building worker solidarity from the bottom up so that everyone is invested in their union. That has always been the best model and it's now the only way forward.

North America's Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey

Today’s Supreme Court ruling in favor of Mark Janus and against the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) attacks the rights and freedoms of American workers and further concentrates corporate power at the expense of working families in this great nation. While political and ideological elites cheer the flow of unchecked corporate money as political speech, this decision seeks to silence the voice of workers who want to collectively improve their working conditions and the economic trajectory of them and their family. All of our brothers and sisters in the labor movement represent the working and middle class of America, and we will not allow this decision to divide us. Despite this setback that seeks to silence workers’ voices and undermine their rights in the workplace, we will continue to organize and increase bargaining power for everyday Americans who have been under relentless assault from well-funded ideologues and indifferent politicians while their wages stagnate and their cost of living continues to rise.

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry:

This decision is yet another example of how billionaires rig the system against working people, but SEIU members won’t let the extremists behind this case divide us. We will stay united, help workers who are fighting to form unions, and call on our elected leaders to do everything in their power to make it easier for working people to join together in unions.

Transportation Trades Department President Larry I. Willis:

As a broad coalition of transportation unions, TTD and our 32 affiliates are committed to ensuring frontline transportation workers—and all working people—have a voice on the job, safety in the workplace, and are paid fairly for the work they do. We stand united with working families across this country who refuse to be divided by today’s ruling, and call on elected leaders to stand up for the rights of working people to form and join unions.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 06/27/2018 - 12:40

Tags: Janus

Intertwined: The Labor Movement and LGBT Rights

Tue, 2018-06-26 10:36
Intertwined: The Labor Movement and LGBT Rights

Through all the celebration of LGBTQ Pride this month, there’s been a valuable opportunity to reflect on the hard-fought victories, brutal setbacks, and tenacious struggles that have ultimately delivered so much for so many. And just as importantly, there has been time to think about what lies ahead in that fight for justice.

By the time I was elected president of the United Mine Workers of America in 1982, the fight for LGBTQ rights was already in full swing. Thirteen years after the Stonewall riots, activists were marching, shouting and organizing for the basic dignities they had been denied for so long. It was a groundbreaking movement for equal treatment in all the fundamental facets of life, from employment and housing to health care and personal safety.

These pioneers knew that change wasn’t simply going to be handed down from the halls of power or granted as an act of corporate benevolence. Change would only come when a diverse and united front stood together to demand it. In the face of unrepentant bigotry and blind loyalty to the status quo, grassroots organizing led the way forward.

It’s a basic principle that has always been at the heart of the labor movement. Progress, steadily gained, is fueled by the power of a mobilized community. Every victory in the fight against oppression has ultimately been achieved by that spirit of solidarity.

That’s certainly been true in the ongoing battle for justice on the job. From my first day in the coal mines of southwestern Pennsylvania, I knew that the only way to secure a brighter future was to lock arms and stand together. And that meant leaving no one behind.

That’s why we at the UMWA were so proud to help secure some of the earliest protections for same-sex couples in our members’ contracts, ensuring that all of our comrades had equal access to key benefits. We couldn’t afford to wait until it was popular.

And so unions offered a new refuge for gay workers. A place where full equality wasn’t just a mission, but an obligation.

Over the succeeding decades, LGBTQ Americans have won a flurry of progress. Public opinion shifted in favor of equality. Prominent figures, from sports to entertainment to politics, came out of the closet. Institutional disdain for the community gave way to unbending advocacy of justice. Trans rights were lifted up, the armed forces’ closet door was knocked down, and the constitutional right to marriage was unequivocally affirmed.

Perhaps no movement for social change has achieved so much so quickly. But even in a sea of rainbow flags—and even with marriage equality secured—there still remains too much of the discrimination endured by early protesters.

Today, you are free to marry who you love. But in most states, you can still be fired because of who you are. Unless, of course, you have the protection of a union contract.

The truth is that many of the fights left to be won are based on economic rights. They’re rooted in workers’ relationships with employers. The labor movement knows a thing or two about that.

The AFL-CIO’s constituency group Pride at Work continues to lead the way in advocating for the dignity of LGBTQ workers. The rights codified in so many union contracts over the years—from couples’ benefits to nondiscrimination to trans health care—have made headway that simply couldn’t have been gained otherwise.

For many LGBTQ Americans, a union card is their only form of employment protection. But more importantly, it signifies membership in a large and growing family ready to fight when it matters most.

That’s what the labor movement is all about. And it’s how the progress of tomorrow will be won.

So, here’s my ask for this Pride Month: Join a union. Check out Pride at Work and tackle the workplace challenges facing LGBTQ Americans the way this movement always has: Organize, organize, organize.

This article originally appeared in The Advocate.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 06/26/2018 - 10:36

World Cup 2026 Offers FIFA an Opportunity to Live Up to Its Human Rights Commitment

Tue, 2018-06-26 08:56
World Cup 2026 Offers FIFA an Opportunity to Live Up to Its Human Rights Commitment

Last week, the international governing body for football, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), awarded the 2026 World Cup to a joint bid from Canada, Mexico and the United States. The planning and execution of one of the world's top sporting events will provide a test to the human rights commitment of FIFA.

The bidding process for the 2026 World Cup required much stronger commitments to human rights for the hosts and organizations that participate in the planning and execution of the massive event. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), with consultation from the AFL-CIO and other advocates for working people, pushed FIFA to include strong human rights protections in the process. FIFA's commitment to this and other improvements in the process show some progress, but there is still a long way to go.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow spoke about the 2026 process:

None of the three host countries has a perfect record on workers’ rights, with Mexico and the USA ranking poorly in the ITUC Index. The ITUC will be working with our Global Unions and NGO partners in the Sport and Rights Alliance (SRA), and through the new independent center for sports and human rights....With the launch of the new independent center, and the inclusion of binding and enforceable labor and other human rights standards in mega sporting events, we now have the way forward to end the exploitation, which has cost so many lives and severely tarnished the sports industry.

The 2018 ITUC Global Rights Index noted that all three 2026 host countries have human rights records that are problematic. The index gave Canada a rating of "2," which signifies repeated violations of rights, the United States a "4," meaning there are systematic rights violations, and Mexico a "5," denoting that there is no guarantee of rights in the country. These ratings raise concerns about how World Cup organizers will address the violations and comply with the bidding standards.

The requirements that FIFA adopted for the 2026 World Cup mean that member associations must provide specific commitments and information, including:

  • An explicit public commitment to respect all internationally recognized human rights in line with the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights;
  • A proposal for a human rights strategy on how to identify and address the risks of adverse impacts on human rights and labor standards. The strategy must include:
    • A comprehensive report identifying and assessing any risks of adverse impacts on human rights and labor standards that is informed by a study by an independent expert institution assessing the respective country’s human rights context;
    • Mechanisms that will be put in place to address all of the identified human rights risks; and
    • A concept outlining ways in which the member associations will provide for or cooperate in access to remedy in the event that adverse human rights impacts have occurred.
  • Guarantees of compliance with international human rights and labor standards from the government and host cities, as well as from the entities responsible for the construction and renovation of stadiums, training sites, hotels and airports.

Not only will working people be watching the 2026 World Cup, we'll be watching the lead-up to that event to make sure that FIFA lives up to its commitments.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 06/26/2018 - 08:56

Working People Say Neither the U.S. nor Canada Gets Trade Policy Right

Mon, 2018-06-25 10:59
Working People Say Neither the U.S. nor Canada Gets Trade Policy Right FLANKER/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/PUBLIC DOMAIN

Working people can’t afford any more trade policies written by and for corporations. But neither should we be pawns in a misguided power struggle that antagonizes allies or empowers corporations but fails to fix our economy.

A recent Global News/Ipsos poll revealed that more Americans support Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s actions on trade than President Donald Trump’s. In part, that may be because Trudeau seems more "likable." It may be because Americans have been treated to a steady stream of pundits who—like the global corporations who profit from unfair trade—oppose all forms of trade enforcement and who are purposely trying to make trade enforcement a dirty word. Wall Street has been working overtime to spook us with the specter of a "trade war," and the scare tactics have apparently been working.

The truth is that Trudeau, likable though he may be, is hurting Canadians by advancing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) trade deals, both of which are rigged to favor corporations over working families. Both deals are mostly about restricting the power of citizens to make decisions about how to run their own countries and rein in outrageous and irresponsible behavior of powerful corporations. The deals are only a little about actual trade.

Likewise, although Trump talks a good game on pro-working family trade policies, things like lumping Canada in with trade cheats like China, anti-worker federal employment policies and distinctly anti-family immigration policies put those words into doubt.

As we have said before, tariffs can be an important step in seeking to address trade cheating as well as trade practices (such as global overproduction of steel and aluminum) that may not violate specific international trade laws but do threaten our national security. That is why we support the Trump administration's announcement of the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum and Section 301 intellectual property tariffs.

As a result of the 232 tariffs, 3,500 steel and aluminum workers already have been called back to work in Texas, Illinois, Ohio and elsewhere. A new steel mill is being built in Florida.

To be clear, the tariff roll out has been mismanaged. The administration should have worked strategically with allies (such as Canada) instead of alienating them with tariffs that aren’t targeted to solving the problem.

Tariffs are only a tool. By themselves, they will not achieve the comprehensive trade reform working families need. They won’t ensure we have the freedom to join unions and negotiate for better wages. They won’t eliminate private “corporate courts” that give companies another reason to outsource jobs. They won’t reform bad tax laws that also promote outsourcing. And they certainly won’t fund the infrastructure, education and training we need to boost our economy.  

So, next time you think about tariffs, think about how they can protect jobs and curb predatory trade behavior, but also know that alone, tariffs are not enough.  

And the next time you think about politicians, think about how they can better protect working families, no matter what party or country they represent. Rather than feuding, both Trudeau and Trump should improve their trade policies by acting together to comprehensively promote the interests of working families. They should start with the AFL-CIO’s NAFTA recommendations.

Join the fight for better trade. Text TRADE to 235246.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 06/25/2018 - 10:59

Tags: Canada

Killing Public Transit: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 2018-06-22 15:53
Killing Public Transit: The Working People Weekly List

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

How the Koch Brothers Are Killing Public Transit Projects Around the Country: "In cities and counties across the country—including Little Rock, Ark.; Phoenix, Ariz.; southeast Michigan; central Utah; and here in Tennessee—the Koch brothers are fueling a fight against public transit, an offshoot of their longstanding national crusade for lower taxes and smaller government."

Trumka Gets World Peace Prize for Labor Leadership: "Richard L. Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, was presented Tuesday with the inaugural 'World Peace Prize for Labor Leadership.' The event took place at the headquarters of the AFL-CIO, in Washington, D.C., in the George Meany Conference Room. The award was presented before a capacity audience by Fr. Sean Mc Manus and Ms. Barbara Flaherty. He is the President of the Washington, D.C.- based Irish National Caucus, and the Chief Judge of the World Peace Prize. Ms. Flaherty is the Executive V.P. of the Irish National Caucus and Corporate Manager of the World Peace Prize."

A Question of Legitimacy Looms for the Supreme Court: "Any day now, perhaps as soon as Thursday, the Supreme Court will issue a decision that more than any other case this term will reveal to us the heart and soul of the Roberts Court at the end of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s 14th year."

Judge Orders University of Missouri to Recognize Graduate Student Union: "University of Missouri graduate assistants are employees and their bosses should recognize their right to bargain collectively with administrators, a Boone County judge ruled Thursday. Judge Jeff Harris ruled in favor of the Coalition of Graduate Workers, which had sued the University of Missouri in May 2016 after MU leaders refused to recognize the group as the official bargaining organization representing graduate assistants."

Trumka Predicts Election Wins, Replacing Broken Trump Promises: "Predicting political gains for workers this November, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told the Auto Workers convention that they’ll lead to subsequent gains for workers—gains that replace broken promises from President Trump. 'Let’s fight for those who fight for us, since the corporate right-wing is going all out for our blood,' Trumka declared."

Pregnancy Discrimination Is Rampant Inside America’s Biggest Companies: "American companies have spent years trying to become more welcoming to women. They have rolled out generous parental leave policies, designed cushy lactation rooms and plowed millions of dollars into programs aimed at retaining mothers. But these advances haven’t changed a simple fact: Whether women work at Walmart or on Wall Street, getting pregnant is often the moment they are knocked off the professional ladder."

Economists Have the Answer to Inequality: Working People Standing Together: "At its core, income inequality is simply about a lack of power among the masses and an abundance of it for a few at the top. Its real-world effects are wage stagnation, less access to health care and secure retirements, and higher poverty. Throughout much of the 20th century, there was a powerful mechanism to keep inequality in check: unions."

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

What You Need to Know About Washington, D.C.'s Initiative 77 and the Minimum Wage: "On Tuesday, Washington, D.C., voters will have an opportunity to vote on Initiative 77, a ballot measure supported by a wide array of progressive and labor organizations that would eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers and give many working families a much-needed raise."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 06/22/2018 - 15:53