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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll tell you a quick story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: 2017 Convention

Democracy is Not Just Nice, But Necessary

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: 2017 Convention

USA Hosts Community Fishing Day, Dedicates Willmore Park Piers

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tags: 2017 Convention, Union Sportsman's Alliance

In Missouri, Together We Win

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: 2017 Convention, Missouri

Running for Office: Have You Ever Thought About It?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: 2017 Convention

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

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

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


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

— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) October 21, 2017


WATCH LIVE: Rep @brucefranksjr discusses how to build independent political power #AFLCIO17

— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) October 21, 2017


Great start to #AFLCIO17 diversity summit! All of Us or None of Us! with @Tefere_Gebre @RichardTrumka & @KarenInATX_

— Liz Shuler (@lizshuler) October 21, 2017


@steelworkers Fred Redmond co-chair @AFLCIO Race Commission kicks off #AllofUsorNoneofUs #aflcio17

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


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

— Cathy Feingold (@AFLCIOGlobal) October 21, 2017


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

— Cathy Feingold (@AFLCIOGlobal) October 21, 2017


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


Ken Rigmaiden President of Int'l Union of Painters and Allied Trades on the investments of the @AFLCIO Housing and Building Trusts #aflcio17

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


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

— Carlos Jimenez (@CJ_DCLABOR) October 21, 2017


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

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


none of us should ever be comfortable in a room without women or people of color - Esther Lopez to labor at #AFLCIO17 #AllofUsorNoneofUs

— Carlos Jimenez (@CJ_DCLABOR) October 21, 2017


Karen Reyes a #DACA beneficiary and Special Ed Teacher, member @AFTunion speaking for American Creed of decency #aflcio17 #AllofUsorNoneofUs

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


Jason Purnell on the effects of residential segregation that locks out opportunity #AllofUsorNoneofUs #aflcio17

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


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


"inequality is not inevitable... inequality is a choice!" - @RichardTrumka #AFLCIO17 #AllofUsorNoneofUs

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

Tags: 2017 Convention

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: 2017 Convention

Brazil Undermines Labor Laws and Puts Women Workers at Great Risk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: 2017 Convention, Brazil

Tennessee SMART Members Donate Time for Veteran

Wed, 2017-10-18 15:26
Tennessee SMART Members Donate Time for Veteran

On Sept. 21, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 5 was notified that a local Chattanooga, Tennessee, veteran and his family had been left with an exposed metal roof by a shoddy local nonunion contractor.

Army veteran Kerry Hinton had paid this contractor to demo the existing asphalt shingled roof and replace it with sheet metal. During this process, the owner/operator of the nonunion firm was arrested and reportedly put in jail, leaving Kerry along with his wife and children with a mess on their hands.

Volunteers from SMART Sheet Metal Local 5, through the SMART ARMY,  along with assistance from Chase Plumbing and Mechanical went to work donating time and materials to help this family in need.

Special thanks to brothers Jacob Wheeler, George Painter, Jordan Burgin, Jason Andrews, John Kirk and Jeff Burgin who worked on the project.

This post originally appeared at SMART.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 10/18/2017 - 15:26

The State of Retirement Security in the United States

Wed, 2017-10-18 09:57
The State of Retirement Security in the United States NPPC

This week is National Retirement Security Week. Every year this week is used by the financial industry to promote retirement savings through their products and services. While we applaud the goal of promoting adequate retirement savings for all Americans, the reality is that many working families are not saving at all and are woefully unprepared for retirement. So this year, we are flipping the script and talking about National Retirement (In)Security Week.

The unfortunate truth is that many Americans are not saving enough for retirement (if they are saving at all) and will fall behind their standard of living in retirement. And they know it. According to polling released earlier this year, 88% agree that the nation faces a retirement savings crisis and 76% are concerned about their own ability to retire with security and dignity.

Much of the problem stems from lack of access to a retirement savings plan through an employer. At any given time, roughly half of working Americans do not have a retirement savings plan through their job. The overwhelming majority of people do not save for retirement if they do not have a plan through their employer. Most of the money in IRA plans are rollovers from 401(k) plans, not money contributed directly to the IRA plan. Among those who do contribute directly to an IRA, most of them also have access to a retirement savings plan through their employer.

Among workers who do have a retirement savings plan at work, there has been a significant shift over the past three decades from defined benefit pensions to defined contribution 401(k)-style plans. According to the Center for Retirement Research, in 1983, 62% of workers had a traditional pension and only 12% had a 401(k)-style plan. By 2016, only 17% were covered by a pension and 73% participated solely in a defined contribution plan. This is a remarkable shift and has a real impact on people’s retirement security.

The Economic Policy Institute has crunched the numbers on the retirement savings crisis. Among all working age (ages 32 to 61) families, the median retirement savings amount was $5,000 in 2013. Looking only at working age families with savings accounts (since nearly half have no savings), the median amount increases to $60,000. While this is significantly more, it is nowhere close to what the typical worker will need to finance a secure retirement.

Additionally, retirement savings is highly skewed. High income families are ten times as likely to have any retirement savings as low income families. Also, high income families own a greater share of retirement savings than they do of earned income. The top 20% of income earners receive 63% of all income in the United States, but they control 74% of all retirement savings.

Finally, for all income levels and demographic groups, retirement income from 401(k)s, IRAs and other defined contribution plans do NOT represent a significant share of income. For all people age 65 and older, only 8% receive income in retirement through a defined contribution plan and the median amount received is $5,400. Even for seniors in the top 20%, this source of income accounts for just 12% of retirement income (no group receives more than 12%).

The reality is that retirement prospects have worsened for many working families since the Great Recession. The percentage of working Americans participating in any type of retirement plan has declined from a peak of 60% in 2001 to 53% in 2013. For many, their retirement savings amounts are lower now than they were in 2007, just before the financial crisis. As we discuss the importance of retirement security this week, it is critical to have a clear sense of where most Americans are today and the challenges that they face.

This is a guest post from the National Public Pension Coalition.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 10/18/2017 - 09:57

A Better Way to Vote

Tue, 2017-10-17 11:40
A Better Way to Vote yaquina

Imagine a state where voters never have to even wait in line or present a photo ID in order to get their ballot. Where bad weather, traffic jams, working late or child care duties never have to interfere with a citizen’s intent to exercise his or her democratic franchise.

A state where it’s the government’s obligation—if it knows a citizen is a registered voter—to deliver the ballot, not force the voter to go to a specific polling location or arrange for an absentee ballot.

Such a state is Oregon, where voters in 2000 approved by a more than 2-1 margin to create what can best be called a "Vote at Home" election system. Two other states—Washington and Colorado—have now adopted the same system, as have 21 of Utah’s 29 counties.

In Vote at Home systems, U.S. Postal Service letter carriers deliver a ballot to every active registered voter about two weeks before every election. Voters typically mark their ballots at home, then have the option of returning them by mail or taking them to any one of hundreds of ballot drop-sites around the state. Voters’ signatures on the return envelope are verified against voter registration cards before ballots can be counted, to ensure election integrity.

This week, former Oregon Secretary of State Phil Keisling will be in Washington, D.C., for an event the AFL-CIO is co-sponsoring with the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) to talk about the many benefits of Vote at Home elections. Voters strongly approve of the system; it saves millions in taxpayer dollars in reduced election costs; and, perhaps most important of all, it spurs significantly higher voter turnout, especially in midterm elections. Keisling will be joined by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who was elected in 1996 in the nation’s first-ever federal election that used this system.

As America’s working men and women look ahead to future elections, Vote at Home seems like a simple, common-sense reform with exceptional power to reinvigorate American democracy. Just recently, a new organization—National Vote at Home Coalition—was launched to help support such efforts as a Vote at Home ballot measure campaign that was recently launched by progressive activists in South Dakota. Other ballot measure efforts also are being discussed for several other states, as well as legislative efforts in several other states.

In 2016, an estimated 60 million already registered voters didn’t cast a ballot—and more than 100 million didn’t in 2014. Maybe it’s time to start relying on the genius of Benjamin Franklin—and the U.S. Postal Service he created nearly 250 years ago—to start fixing that.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 10/17/2017 - 11:40

Partnership Brings Relief to Puerto Rico

Tue, 2017-10-17 10:20
Partnership Brings Relief to Puerto Rico AFL-CIO

As part of the response to the devastation in Puerto Rico, working people and United Airlines teamed up to fly more than 300 first responders and skilled volunteers to help with relief and rebuilding. The partnership was a response to an urgent request from Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz for highly skilled workers.

In response, Cruz said:

I will always remember and, most importantly, San Juan will never forget the sight of hope and redemption of brotherhood and sisterhood of more than 300 union brothers and sisters stepping out of their buses with open hearts to help those whose cry for help some have tried to dismiss and diminish. Your compassion, your skills, but most of all, your great heart has strengthened our bodies have rebuilt our buildings, but most of all has touched our souls. We know we are not alone, for we know the union movement will never forsake us....

Where there are problems to be fixed, you do not run away, you stand by us every step of the way....

You embody the true nature of the American spirit of compassion, ingenuity, and resilience....

Your presence here reassures us with our minds and with our hearts that all Puerto Ricans have seen that not only is it the right thing to do, but it is the path for the future. San Juan will never be able to pay the debt of gratitude, brotherhood, and sisterhood that will forever bond us together.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler said:

Last week, I joined more than 300 hardworking union men and women who volunteered to help their fellow U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico and flew with them to San Juan in an airplane operated in partnership with United Airlines.

Nurses, doctors, engineers, carpenters, electricians, truck drivers and working people from different backgrounds joined together in a heartbeat and responded to the recovery efforts. Since landing, they have been working around the clock to help devastated communities.

Whether delivering critical aid, restoring power or saving lives—they are real life heroes and they’re making a real difference. And we’re in it for the long haul.

I could not be more proud to be part of a movement alongside these selfless and brave working women and men. We are proud of their work and honored to have a few of them join us today to tell you their personal accounts.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 10/17/2017 - 10:20

Texas Unions Partner with Mayor Turner to Send Supplies to Puerto Rico

Mon, 2017-10-16 16:05
Texas Unions Partner with Mayor Turner to Send Supplies to Puerto Rico AFL-CIO

The Seafarers (SIU) union and other Houston-area unions organized a relief drive to collect supplies for Puerto Rican hurricane survivors.

Yesterday, leaders from the Texas labor movement joined together with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner to load containers with vital supplies for a ship bound for Puerto Rico.

The Seafarers secured the shipping containers and organized with other local unions and the mayor’s office to collect materials being donated to Puerto Rican communities impacted by Hurricane Maria. Recent reports state that 85% of the island is still without electricity and 40% of the population still lack access to clean drinking water.

The cargo ship is delivering water, nonperishable food, toiletries, battery-powered electronics, mops, brooms and other desperately needed items to the Puerto Rico AFL-CIO in San Juan. The supplies will be shipped on the National Glory, a U.S.-flagged vessel owned and operated by National Shipping of America, that will be crewed by SIU members under the Jones Act. Plans to send more cargo to Puerto Rico are in the works.

"The labor movement is at its best when we work together during times of great need. We saw that here in Texas after Hurricane Harvey, and now we want to extend that help to Puerto Rico," said Zeph Capo, president of the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation.

Dean Corgey, vice president of the Gulf Coast Region of the Seafarers, said, "Mayor Turner has been a stalwart supporter of Houstonians and others harmed by hurricanes recently. We’re proud to be partnering with the mayor on this effort to bring aid to Puerto Rico."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 10/16/2017 - 16:05

Why the Best Protectors for Workers Are Other Workers

Fri, 2017-10-13 16:05
Why the Best Protectors for Workers Are Other Workers IAFF

As concertgoers fled the mass shooting at the country music festival outside the Mandalay Bay in Clark County, Nev., at the end of the Las Vegas strip, dozens of off-duty fire fighters attending the concert sprang into action. Twelve were among the wounded by gunfire.

At the same time, more than 150 fire fighters and paramedics from Clark County Local 1908 and surrounding locals rushed to the scene to save lives, treat the wounded and help the survivors.

"Our members–including those attending the concert off duty–reacted as they always do," said IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. "They put their training to work immediately, without hesitation and without regard for their own safety, making quick and difficult decisions on how best to save lives."

As the news of the unfolding tragedy flashed across the nation, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) – the union representing more than 310,000 professional fire fighters and paramedics–also took action, reaching out to Clark County Local 1908 and other affiliates in the area to provide assistance.

On Monday morning after the shooting, Patrick Morrison–a retired Virginia fire fighter who heads the health and safety division at the IAFF, was on the phone with affiliates across the country to organize and mobilize experienced teams of peer support counselors and trauma specialists to help members involved in the response to the mass shooting. Within hours, he too was on a plane to Las Vegas.

"It’s easy to see a broken arm and treat it. It’s more difficult to see trauma to our brains or hearts," Morrison said. "Everyday, work for fire fighters and paramedics can be traumatic. Mass-casualty events can be much worse. We want to make sure our members understand the signs and symptoms of traumatic stress injuries, so we can treat them."

Many of the peer support counselors who arrived in Las Vegas have been through similar events. Some pulled bodies from the attack at the 2016 Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Fla., where 49 people were killed and 59 wounded. Others got a crash course in trauma from the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, or from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

All of them brought their personal stories to Las Vegas to help their union brothers and sisters.

At the school shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Col., Ray Rahne was a fire fighter who had responded like everyone else in his department. Afterwards, the Vietnam veteran, who is also a husband and father, would find himself crying at times. And he was skittish and jumpy.

"I would go from happy to depressed at the snap of the fingers. People started asking, ‘What’s going on?’ This went on for over a year. Finally, I thought, I don’t know. I’ve got to go see somebody," Rahne said.

Now retired from Littleton Fire and Rescue and a IAFF district vice president, Rahne got help and then joined his union’s growing movement to treat mental and emotional injuries to fire fighters, paramedics, and dispatchers.

Two years ago, the IAFF hired its first full-time and permanent behavior health specialist. This year, the union plans to hire a second. And, last March, the union opened the Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery in Upper Marlboro, Md., exclusively for IAFF members.

"Health and safety is a big priority for us. We want to make sure all of our members are as safe as possible," Morrison said.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 10/13/2017 - 16:05

Joining Together: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 2017-10-13 12:34
Joining Together: 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.

NAFTA Negotiators Send Corporate Whiners Back to Swamp: "Giant corporations, loyal to coin and faithless to country, staged a public display of blubbering in the run up to this week’s fourth round of negotiations to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)."

Las Vegas Dad Sells His Harley to Go to Puerto Rico and Drive Trucks to Help Hurricane Victims: "When Marcos Cruz heard about the need for truck drivers to help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, he knew he could help. The single dad of two teenagers was born in Puerto Rico but has lived in Las Vegas for over 40 years."

From the Mountains of Puerto Rico: 'We Won’t Have Electricity Up Here for at Least a Year': "Adela Fígaro wasn’t worried when high winds began to lash her home, high on a hill in Las Marias, an area in the west-central region of Puerto Rico. The Dominican Republic native, with a quick wit and a big smile, had been through other serious storms in her 30-plus years living deep in the mountains of the island, about 60 miles from San Juan, where much of the island’s coffee and fruit is grown."

SEC Asked to Probe Trades of Student Loan Firm Navient: "A series of well-timed trades in shares of student loan giant Navient Corp. immediately before the Labor Day holiday weekend, after which a critical Trump administration policy announcement was made public, spurred the AFL-CIO to request that federal securities regulators review what it labeled potential insider trading."

United Airlines and Unions Fly Through Sham Attacks on Labor to Help Out in Puerto Rico: "Last week a United Boeing 777-300 flew from Newark to San Juan, carrying the assistance that Puerto Rico needs most after Hurricane Maria. Not just supplies, but 300 workers from 20 unions, all willing to work free to help the island rebuild."

5 Things You Need to Know About TPS or Temporary Protected Status: "In a turbulent world, countries with more privilege have a powerful ability to protect people from countries experiencing crises such as war, natural disaster or ongoing violence and prevent them from returning to conditions that could cost them their lives. Since 1990, the United States has allowed more than 300,000 immigrants from such countries to live and work here under Temporary Protected Status."

What Working People Are Saying About the Janus Supreme Court Case: "The U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari in the case Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, meaning the court will hold a hearing and make a ruling on the case. The case started with the billionaire governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, attempting to undercut the voice of public service workers through the courts. Janus is part of a broader strategy by corporate-funded organizations like the State Policy Network, which admits that the whole point of Janus is to strike a 'mortal blow' and 'defund and defang' unions. Working people are speaking out against these attempts to use the courts to attack their rights."

World Day for Decent Work: Immigrant Protections Essential for Achieving Decent Work: "Oct. 7 marks the 10th annual World Day for Decent Work, a day when unions across the globe mobilize for decent work. In local events, workers highlight issues of corporate greed, low wages, inequality and injustice. In the United States, immigrant workers and communities are under attack as the Donald Trump administration threatens some of the few protections available to immigrants in vulnerable circumstances. This undermines decent work and the ability of all working people to come together to assert their rights on the job."

NAFTA Negotiations Still Need Improvement: "On Sept. 27, the United States, Canada and Mexico finished the third round of the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation talks. We’ve been told these talks will 'get a better deal for our workers,' but the negotiating goals seem to prioritize getting a better deal for corporations that want to offshore jobs and decrease wages. That means NAFTA will continue to make it harder for you to get a raise."

Working Families Join Together to Help Puerto Rico: "As the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico continues, working people from across the country are joining together to help with recovery and rebuilding."

Miners Working with Congress to Solve Pension Crisis: "Strong bipartisan legislation has been introduced in recent congressional sessions to solve the pension crisis currently facing America's mine workers. The Miners Protection Act is a response to a growing insolvency problem with the Mine Workers (UMWA) 1974 Pension Plan. The legislation would protect the pensions of 87,000 current beneficiaries and 20,000 more who have vested for their pensions but have not yet begun drawing them. We've waited too long to see this problem addressed, and Congress should act now."

Working People Need Fair Currency Rules in #NAFTA: "One of the reasons that so-called U.S. 'trade' deals (such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA) should really be called 'offshoring' deals is that they do not contain any enforceable restrictions on currency misalignment and manipulation. Without such restrictions, countries can game the value of their currency to gain a trade advantage that provides corporations an incentive to strip jobs and wages from the U.S."

Working Families Respond to Mass Shooting in Nevada: "After yet another mass shooting last night, this time in Las Vegas, working families and their allies responded to the tragic evening. Below are their responses. Steve Sisolak, chair of Clark County Commission in Las Vegas, has set up a GoFundMe page to collect donations to aid the victims and their families. Please visit the Las Vegas Victims' Fund and contribute what you can."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 10/13/2017 - 12:34

5 Things You Need to Know About TPS or Temporary Protected Status

Fri, 2017-10-13 09:10
5 Things You Need to Know About TPS or Temporary Protected Status

In a turbulent world, countries with more privilege have a powerful ability to protect people from countries experiencing crises such as war, natural disaster or ongoing violence and prevent them from returning to conditions that could cost them their lives. Since 1990, the United States has allowed more than 300,000 immigrants from such countries to live and work here under Temporary Protected Status.

Anti-immigrant groups are pushing the administration to end TPS status, which would strip away work authorization from hardworking men and women and risk sending them back into harm's way. Although we hear a lot about the refugee program, too little is known about TPS. Here are five things working people need to know about this important program:

1. TPS immigrants receive provisional protection against deportation and temporary permission to work in the United States. The majority of current TPS holders have been working in and contributing to our communities for more than 15 years. They pay taxes, join unions, own homes and raise families.

2. TPS status for each country must be renewed at least every 18 months, and each time workers renew their permits they undergo a new security screening.

3. In all, more than 320,000 people from 10 countries are at risk of losing protected status in 2018.  El Salvador leads the way with nearly 200,000 people, followed by Honduras and Haiti, as countries with the largest population to be affected. Other TPS countries include Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

4. TPS designations are made based on extreme circumstances that persist. Sudan, for instance, is still under a State Department travel advisory that warns travelers not to visit the country because of ongoing risks of terrorism, armed conflict and violent crime. Haiti is in turmoil after being hit not only with a devastating earthquake, but by a massive cholera epidemic and multiple category 4 hurricanes.

5. The AFL-CIO opposes this attack on working people. Failure to renew TPS will actively harm our economy, our communities and our unions. We want more working people to have rights on the job, not fewer.

Take action today to hold the line on workplace rights for TPS holders.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 10/13/2017 - 09:10

What Working People Are Saying About the Janus Supreme Court Case

Thu, 2017-10-12 09:28
What Working People Are Saying About the Janus Supreme Court Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari in the case Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, meaning the court will hold a hearing and make a ruling on the case. The case started with the billionaire governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, attempting to undercut the voice of public service workers through the courts. Janus is party of a broader strategy by corporate-funded organizations like the State Policy Network, which admits that the whole point of Janus is to strike a "mortal blow" and "defund and defang" unions. Working people are speaking out against these attempts to use the courts to attack their rights. Here's what they are saying:

Stephen Mittons, AFSCME Council 31 member, child protection investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services:

My work as a child protection investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is vital to the safety of our state’s most vulnerable children and families. This court case is yet another political attack on the freedom of my colleagues and I to speak up to ensure that we can safely and adequately manage our caseloads, which reflects our commitment to safety and public service to our communities.

Jeff Price, AFT Local 3 member, teacher at Central High School, School District of Philadelphia:

My union just went through a lengthy contract fight in Philadelphia. We had to fight hard to protect our students’ basic needs, such as having at least one nurse and counselor in each school and ensuring that kids had necessary textbooks and materials. And we had to fight back against the district's desire to eliminate class sizes and get lead testing for the school's water fountains. Most people assume that the union only fights for teachers' rights, when in reality, most of our contract is there to protect the basic rights and needs of our students. Those rights are at grave risk in Janus.

Sonya Shpilyuk, NEA member, high school English teacher, Montgomery County, Maryland:

More and more, the economy is working against working people, including the families whose children I teach. My union gives me a voice and a seat at the table to advocate for my students, my colleagues and my community.

Edna Logan, SEIU Local 99 member, custodian at Esteban Torres School, Los Angeles Unified School District:

By sticking together in our union, we've lifted the wage floor to a $15 minimum wage, protected and expanded health care benefits for our families, and won more funding for our schools. Together, we’ll continue to fight to ensure all students have the support and services they need to succeed in school. That’s why the extremists are attacking us, to stop our progress. But we plan to stick together no matter what and keep standing up for quality public services.

Lee Saunders, president, AFSCME:

This case is yet another example of corporate interests using their power and influence to launch a political attack on working people and rig the rules of the economy in their own favor. When working people are able to join strong unions, they have the strength in numbers they need to fight for the freedoms they deserve, like access to quality health care, retirement security and time off work to care for a loved one. The merits of the case and 40 years of Supreme Court precedent and sound law are on our side. We look forward to the Supreme Court honoring its earlier rulings.

Randi Weingarten, president, AFT:

Unions are all about fighting for and caring about people—and in the public sector that includes those we represent and those we protect and teach in communities across America. Yet corporations, wealthy interests and politicians have manufactured Janus as part of their long and coordinated war against unions. Their goal is to further weaken workers’ freedom to join together in a union, to further diminish workers’ clout.

These powerful interests want to gut one of the last remaining checks on their control—a strong and united labor movement that fights for equity and opportunity for all, not just the privileged few. And under the guise of the First Amendment, they want to overturn a 40-year precedent that’s been reaffirmed numerous times. In other words, this would be a radical departure from well-established law. We believe that after resolving a similar case last year, the Supreme Court erred in granting cert in Janus, and that the trumped-up underpinnings of the plaintiff’s argument will rapidly become clear before the full bench.

Lily Eskelsen García, president, NEA:

For decades, corporate CEOs and the wealthy have fought to enrich themselves at the expense of the rights and pocketbooks of working people, and that harms families in communities across the country. As the nation’s largest union, we know this fight will not only impact the lives of educators, but it also impacts the families of the children we educate. We won’t back down from this fight and we will always stand up to support working people, our students and the communities we serve.

Mary Kay Henry, president, SEIU:

The anti-worker extremists behind this case want to divide working people, make it harder to pool our resources and limit our collective power. But SEIU members won't let any court case stand in our way of sticking together for good jobs and strong communities.

A statement from the four biggest public sector unions (AFSCME, AFT, NEA and SEIU):

The Janus case is a blatantly political and well-funded plot to use the highest court in the land to further rig the economic rules against everyday working people. The billionaire CEOs and corporate interests behind this case, and the politicians who do their bidding, have teamed up to deliver yet another attack on working people by striking at the freedom to come together in strong unions. The forces behind this case know that by joining together in strong unions, working people are able to win the power and voice they need to level the economic and political playing field. However, the people behind this case simply do not believe that working people deserve the same freedoms they have: to negotiate a fair return on their work.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 10/12/2017 - 09:28

Tags: Janus

World Day for Decent Work: Immigrant Protections Essential for Achieving Decent Work

Sat, 2017-10-07 11:35
World Day for Decent Work: Immigrant Protections Essential for Achieving Decent Work

Oct. 7 marks the 10th annual World Day for Decent Work, a day when unions across the globe mobilize for decent work. In local events, workers highlight issues of corporate greed, low wages, inequality and injustice. In the United States, immigrant workers and communities are under attack as the Donald Trump administration threatens some of the few protections available to immigrants in vulnerable circumstances. This undermines decent work and the ability of all working people to come together to assert their rights on the job.

The Trump administration has announced that it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which will strip away work authorization from nearly 800,000 productive members of our society. Further, the administration is currently assessing if it will recertify Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a designation that protects some 330,000 people who fled war, natural disaster and instability and allows them the opportunity to rebuild their lives in the U.S. Ten countries in all currently have TPS designation: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The labor movement will work tirelessly to defend these important protections.

DACA and TPS holders are our co-workers, union sisters and brothers, and neighbors. Tens of thousands work in industries such as hospitality, construction, food processing, education and retail. They are leaders in our unions and communities. Many have lived in the U.S. for decades. Many fear returning home.

The longtime failure of Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform and create a pathway to citizenship for millions of hardworking immigrants has created a crisis in which one out of 20 workers in our country lacks formal work authorization. Rather than expanding rights and protections to this population, the Trump administration is expanding the pool of vulnerable workers in our labor force. The resulting threat of deportations weakens our unions and labor rights for all workers.

The entire workforce will suffer if these working people are stripped of their rights and status. The labor movement strongly condemns the efforts to criminalize immigrant communities. Instead of deporting immigrants, we need to ensure that all working people have rights on the job and are able to exercise them without fear of retaliation.

On World Day for Decent Work, we must hold the line on workplace rights and defend these important protections. A future of decent work, equality and shared prosperity is only possible if all workers are free to join together regardless of where they came from. Call on lawmakers today to defend DACA and TPS by signing our petition.

Kenneth Quinnell Sat, 10/07/2017 - 11:35

The Economy Loses 33,000 Jobs in September, and Unemployment Was Little Changed at 4.2%

Fri, 2017-10-06 10:43
The Economy Loses 33,000 Jobs in September, and Unemployment Was Little Changed at 4.2%

The U.S. economy lost 33,000 jobs in September, and unemployment was little changed at 4.2%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The decline likely reflects the impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

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

September's #JobsReport clearly shows labor market is still recovering (as long term unemployment falling) not a structural shift @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 6, 2017

Over the year, from last September, wages up 2.9% That is too modest for the @federalreserve to consider sticking to raising interest rates

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 6, 2017

#JobsReport may show effect of Hurricane Irma. Payroll employment fell by 33,000. Household survey shows employment up unemployment down.

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 6, 2017

Black Employment-to-Population ration continues to show its climb back that started in 2011 @CBTU72 @dchometownboy @rolandsmartin @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 6, 2017

Broadest measure of unemployment U-6 falls from 8.6 to 8.3% in September (this includes part time workers who want full time work) @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 6, 2017

The sign of Hurricane Irma and remnants of Harvey is the 105,000 drop in food service and drinking establishments payroll @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 6, 2017

Last month's biggest job gains were in health care (23,000), transportation and warehousing (22,000), financial activities (10,000), and professional and business services (13,000). Employment in food services and drinking places dropped sharply in September (-105,000) and manufacturing (-1,000) also saw a decline. Employment in other major industries, including mining, construction, wholesale trade, retail trade, information and government, showed little change over the month.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for teenagers (12.9%), blacks (7.0%), Hispanics (5.1%), adult men (3.9%), adult women (3.9%), Asians (3.7%) and whites (3.7%) showed little or no change in September.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was down slightly in September and accounted for 25.5% of the unemployed.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 10/06/2017 - 10:43

On Manufacturing Day, Let’s Salute the Dreamers — and Make Sure They Can Succeed

Fri, 2017-10-06 08:57
On Manufacturing Day, Let’s Salute the Dreamers — and Make Sure They Can Succeed

This Manufacturing Day post is for all the dreamers out there. For the young men and women who will imagine and invent things that will make the world a better place. And for the folks who will make those incredible things right here in America.

These dreamers will join a long line of change-makers. As a nation, we’ve always risen to the challenge to make a better future for the next generation, although we often take a step or two back before getting it right. As we honor our nation’s makers — past, present and future — it’s important to take stock of what we’ve done well and where we need to make some changes.

Think of the Rosie the Riveters who built the indefatigable Arsenal of Democracy but were forced from work after World War II—and whose daughters and granddaughters still face entirely too much unequal pay, discrimination and harassment. Nevertheless, CEOs such as General Motors’ Mary Barra, female entrepreneurs who launch start-up manufacturers, and a new surge of women embracing the age of digital manufacturing hint at the possibilities (if policies and practices change).

Or think of the black steelworkers who spent decades fighting for opportunity and equality, only to achieve a taste of it just as their mills were shuttered by a lethal combination of imports and advances in automation beginning in the 1970s. Their sons and daughters still reel from instances of police violence, discrimination and horrors, like the white supremacists we all witnessed in Charlottesville just a few weeks ago. But when I see programs like Austin Career and College Academy on the West Side of Chicago and Focus: HOPE in Detroit, I see a glimpse of the future (if we can just get it right).

And think of the proud factory workers who, over the course of our nation’s history, built the world’s largest and most innovative manufacturing economy, only to see it outsourced, devalued and held hostage to a philosophy that placed a premium on cheap consumer goods at the expense of good, stable, middle-class jobs.

The consequence of that job loss has rippled through millions of workers’ lives and thousands of communities. It has even altered our life expectancy rates, our marital rates and, of course, our politics. It’s more than an economic side effect. Deindustrialization has led America down a dead-end alley from which we’ve yet to emerge.

Still, some amazing entrepreneurs are still betting on making things in America, and we’ve managed to add back 1 million manufacturing jobs since the Great Recession, so all is not yet lost.

When some manufacturers grumble about not being able to find skilled workers, wondering why young people can’t see job opportunities right in front of them, I have to bite my tongue. These folks often assume it’s the inaccurate image of manufacturing as dirty and dangerous that’s keeping those doors shut, or perhaps the next generation doesn’t want to work hard.

I don’t want to minimize the challenges we face in replacing a rapidly retiring factory workforce or developing talent within an educational system that for decades squeezed out technical training before realizing that was a mistake. There’s a lot of important work to do here.

These kids — these dreamers — are woke. Now more than ever, job applicants want to know the values of the men and women they’ll be working for. How did their employers respond to these challenges I’ve mentioned? And how will they invest in developing the skills and careers of their workers?

Manufacturing Day should be a two-way street.

Even in an age of automation and globalization, there are a lot of reasons to think that millions more Americans can be working in manufacturing over the next decade. We have a strong energy advantage. We have a robust consumer market. We have an entrepreneurial culture. While more robots will be found on factory floors, the industry is already highly automated. With new products, more market share and sharpened skills, we can create more factory jobs. With the right mindsets in the public and private sectors, we can guarantee that the next generation of really amazing things can be made right here.

So keep dreaming, young dreamers. But remember to keep your eyes wide open while you do. Happy Manufacturing Day — now let’s go make something together.

This guest post from Scott Paul, president of Alliance for American Manufacturing, originally appeared at Medium.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 10/06/2017 - 08:57