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NAFTA Negotiations Still Need Improvement

Thu, 2017-10-05 10:35
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

The negotiations are held behind closed doors. The public does not have access to the negotiating texts. This means we know few details—and the devil is always in the details when we’re talking trade. That alone means there is cause for concern: Transparent and democratic negotiations are the AFL-CIO’s #1 recommendation for creating a fair and progressive trade policy.

In other areas, there have been a number of public statements about the negotiations that make us skeptical that these negotiations will reduce corporate power and replace it with rules that protect working people across North America. And if it isn’t fair for all of us, it won’t be fair for any of us. After all, we don’t live or work in an isolated economy. We must bring up standards for working people in all three NAFTA countries.

Get involved by signing this petition and texting TRADE to 235246. 

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 10/05/2017 - 10:35

Tags: NAFTA

Working Families Join Together to Help Puerto Rico

Thu, 2017-10-05 08:11
Working Families Join Together to Help Puerto Rico AFL-CIO

As the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico continues, working people from across the country are joining together to help with recovery and rebuilding.

The AFL-CIO is teaming up with the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), Machinists (IAM) and United Airlines to fly more than 300 first responders and skilled volunteers to Puerto Rico to help with relief and rebuilding efforts. The flight was a response to the urgent need to get highly skilled workers to Puerto Rico to help people seeking medical and humanitarian assistance, as well as to help with the rebuilding effort. The nurses, doctors, electricians, engineers, carpenters and truck drivers on the flight will engage in various efforts, including helping clear road blockages, caring for hospital patients, delivering emergency supplies, and restoring power and communications. More than 20 unions have members on the flight.

The flight will be operated by members of ALPA and AFA-CWA who volunteered their time, and IAM members will work as ramp employees to support the flight. The flight also will transport more than 35,000 pounds of emergency relief supplies, including food, water and essential equipment. So far, United has carried nearly 740,000 pounds of relief-related cargo. The return flight will bring evacuees back. United, so far, has evacuated more than 1,300 Puerto Ricans in the wake of Hurricane Maria's devastation.

About the flight, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said:

The working families of Puerto Rico are our brothers and sisters. And this incredible partnership will bring skilled workers to the front lines to deliver supplies, care for victims and rebuild Puerto Rico. Our movement is at its best when we work together during times of great need. But we are even better when we find common ground and partner with business and industry on solutions to lift up our communities. This endeavor is entirely about working people helping working people in every way possible. In times of great tragedy, our country comes together, and we are committed to doing our part to assist the people of Puerto Rico.

AFA-CWA President Sara Nelson said:

When our union sisters and brothers see a need in our national or international community, we don’t ask if we should act, we ask how. Today is the result of our collective strength, compassion and commitment to action. I am proud United responded to the call to carry a union of relief workers among America’s working families to care for our sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico. We are united in lifting up our fellow Americans. It is an honor to serve on the volunteer crew of Flight Attendants and Pilots transporting skilled relief workers and returning to New York with hundreds needing safe passage out of Puerto Rico.

The chairman of ALPA United Airlines, Capt. Todd Insler, said:

Our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico need help and this is a race against time. The ALPA pilots of United Airlines are honored to fly these skilled workers and medical professionals to San Juan today and will continue to support the humanitarian efforts going forward. We applaud these brave volunteers who are dedicating their time, selflessly leaving their homes and families, and answering the call to help. The strength of the unions represented on this flight comes from workers joining together to help one another. Likewise, the strength of this joint relief effort comes from all of us—labor, management and government—standing together to help our fellow citizens in their time of need.

IAM General Vice President Sito Pantoja said:

This flight carries not only much-needed supplies and skilled union labor, but also the love and support of more than 33,000 IAM members at United who will continue helping the people of Puerto Rico recover.

Here are some of the other comments about the trip and the overall efforts by working families to help out in Puerto Rico:

AFT President Randi Weingarten said:

These nurses and health professionals represent who we are as a union—caring and springing into action to help people when needed. To the people of Puerto Rico, tu lucha es mi lucha; your fight is our fight. We will be with you every step of the way to ensure our members and the people of Puerto Rico are cared for, the island is rebuilt and public schools are reopened.

 

Ready to launch the #UnionsUnited relief flight to #PuertoRico with talented @NationalNurses union members volunteering their skills #1u pic.twitter.com/k8giRZNSdn

— Liz Shuler (@lizshuler) October 4, 2017

 

Liz Shuler secty treas @AFLCIO & @IBEW local 3 union electricians on #PuertoRicoRelief #PuertoRico --some of the 300 pic.twitter.com/G2EH0d5gbZ

— Damon Silvers (@DamonSilvers) October 4, 2017

 

Proud to be with over 300 volunteers at Newark airport who will fly to help with #PuertoRicoRelief #unionsunited https://t.co/l8BkoWvWDo

— Liz Shuler (@lizshuler) October 4, 2017

 

It was an honor to join allies and @32BJSEIU members in demanding an immediate & sufficient aid to relieve & rebuild Puerto Rico. #RebuildPR pic.twitter.com/wFiDYHFMm8

— Mary Kay Henry (@MaryKayHenry) October 4, 2017

 

Our movement is at its best when we work together during times of great need. https://t.co/PZaPUbD9I8 #PuertoRicoRelief #UnionsUnited pic.twitter.com/UNuX8eV4Fb

— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) October 4, 2017

 

Teamster volunteers depart for #PuertoRico to assist with relief efforts: https://t.co/1mgZjibjjq #UnionsUnited #PuertoRicoRelief #1u pic.twitter.com/tpNAejzslA

— Teamsters (@Teamsters) October 4, 2017

 

25 @AFTHealthcare members boarded a plane full of @AFLCIO members to do recovery work in Puerto Rico this AM. pic.twitter.com/MosbprLCZt #1u

— AFT Pennsylvania (@AFTPA) October 4, 2017

 

Help working families in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands: https://t.co/i5Hw62YTxk

— OPCMIA International (@opcmiaintl) October 3, 2017

 

Luis lived through Hurricane Maria & says the thing you can do right now is make a donation https://t.co/OUVW1bX9BR https://t.co/2u7Fufg9QL

— United Steelworkers (@steelworkers) October 3, 2017

Four Union Utility Workers from @njamwater travel to #PuertoRico for Relief Work with @AFLCIO Read more: https://t.co/fcEP0vOFyc

— NJ American Water (@njamwater) October 9, 2017

Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 3010 members who work for AT&T Mobility splicing fiber at a damaged cell tower:

CWA

The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) collected enough supplies to fill two 40-foot containers donated by the Integrated/C&C company. ILA members volunteered time to load the containers with generators, batteries, electrical cords, blankets, batteries, clothing items, non-perishable food items, and water. ILA International President Harold Daggett said:

We are grateful to Integrated/C&C for donating these two 40-foot containers. The company is also handling transporting these containers to South Jersey where they will be loaded on a barge and shipped to San Juan, Puerto Rico. We are also grateful to Maher Terminals for allowing us to load these containers outside the NYSA-ILA Training Center on Corbin Street.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 10/05/2017 - 08:11

Miners Working with Congress to Solve Pension Crisis

Wed, 2017-10-04 12:37
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.

The pension fund for America's mine workers began as a promise from President Harry Truman in 1946 that America would protect the health and welfare of coal miners, who were vital to the country's safety and growth. In 1974, changes were made to the plan to strengthen these protections. But in recent years, a combination of extremely depressed coal markets, coal company bankruptcies and other factors have caused a significant dropoff in the employer contributions to the fund. In the past two years, contributions to the plan have fallen by more than $100 million, setting up significant problems in the near future, with the fund currently projected to go bankrupt in 2022 or 2023.

Specifically, the legislation would:

  1. Include a provision from the original Miners Protection Act allowing transfers of excess funds in the Abandoned Mine Land program to the 1974 UMWA Pension Plan.
  2. Direct the Treasury Department to loan the 1974 UMWA Plan funds annually to prevent insolvency.
  3. Cap the annual loan amount at $600 million and set the interest rate at 1%.
  4. Require the fund to pay interest only for the first 10 years and then pay back the principal plus interest over a 30-year term.
  5. Require the fund to certify each year that the pension plan is solvent and able to pay back the remaining principal and interest.
  6. Actuarial analyses indicate that the UMWA 1974 Plan would need to take loans for as little as four years.

Learn more about the legislation.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 10/04/2017 - 12:37

Working People Need Fair Currency Rules in #NAFTA

Tue, 2017-10-03 10:53
Working People Need Fair Currency Rules in #NAFTA CLKer.com

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.

China’s currency manipulation and misalignment in recent decades helped displace 3.4 million U.S. jobs and cost America’s working families $37 billion in wages in 2011 alone. You see, when trade between countries gets out of balance, with one country racking up mounting deficits and another racking up mounting surpluses, the currencies of each country are supposed to adjust, making the exports of the deficit country (in this case the U.S.) relatively cheaper, which would eventually create a rough balance of trade.

But when currencies don’t adjust properly—which can happen when a country purposely holds the value of its currency down, as China did for a couple decades—balance won’t be achieved. Misaligned currency creates incentives for global companies to invest in the countries with the lower valued currency, such as China (where they are also confident they can exploit workers) and to disinvest in the countries with the higher valued currency, such as the U.S., where employers can use the threat of offshoring to drive down wages.

Trade deals like NAFTA should fight this trend, not exacerbate it. But they never have. NAFTA and other trade deals (such as the WTO, CAFTA and the TPP) were written to benefit global companies, not working people. That can change with a new NAFTA, but we still don’t know yet if a final deal will create new, people-centered trade rules. So far, we don’t know if enforceable currency rules will be in the new deal. If the administration fails to propose enforceable currency rules, it will signal that the “new” NAFTA isn’t very new at all, but the same old corporate power grab that continues to push down wages all across North America.

You can help by calling the U.S. Trade Representative’s office at 202-395-6135 and demanding that negotiators include enforceable currency rules in NAFTA. Then text TRADE to 235246 to learn what else you can do to join the fight for a new and better North American economy!

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts on what rules are needed to create a new North American economy.  Read more.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 10/03/2017 - 10:53

Tags: NAFTA

Working Families Respond to Mass Shooting in Nevada

Mon, 2017-10-02 13:18
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.

Thank you to all the first-responders caring for the victims in this terrible attack. https://t.co/G0glCXbaX3

— Richard L. Trumka (@RichardTrumka) October 2, 2017

 

Thoughts and prayers are with tourists and workers tonight on the Las Vegas Strip.

— The Culinary Union (@Culinary226) October 2, 2017

 

 

BREAKING: Statement by Culinary Union's Geoconda Argüello-Kline regarding the mass shooting in Las Vegas last night: https://t.co/q3h4qLuKgn pic.twitter.com/6pilcgiRGg

— The Culinary Union (@Culinary226) October 2, 2017

 

 

pic.twitter.com/GwwCyaPcdQ

— IATSE LOCAL 720 (@iatselocal720) October 2, 2017

 

 

2 off-duty @UFLAC #firefighters among #CA 1st resp. injured in #VegasShooting. Non-life threatening #PrayForVegas https://t.co/O2VQm8qZHt

— CPF (@CAFirefighters) October 2, 2017

 

 

TY to @NVAFLCIO, @smartunionworks, Bartenders, @TheIronworkers, @LIUNA & all labor brothers & sisters who've helped today! #LasVegas pic.twitter.com/vHraIMFll9

— Michelle White (@MickyWhiteNV) October 2, 2017

 

 

Thank you to all the first-responders caring for the victims in this terrible attack. https://t.co/G0glCXbaX3

— Richard L. Trumka (@RichardTrumka) October 2, 2017

 

 

These are locations where you can donate blood. SPREAD THE NEWS! pic.twitter.com/t9g1f0GXwn

— Marlene (@Marlenec_c) October 2, 2017

 

 

Union members, see below. Lend a helping hand. https://t.co/0GGnV6TQP0

— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) October 2, 2017

 

 

We thank the fire fighters, police, and medical professionals for their quick response and the work they've done to save lives.

— DPE (@DPEaflcio) October 2, 2017

 

 

Mass Shooting in #LasVegas: How to Talk to Students https://t.co/LDIAt5JiqP

— CA Teachers Assoc. (@WeAreCTA) October 2, 2017

 

 

Thinking of those who died & were wounded in #Vegas #shooting. Our hearts go out to first responders trying to help https://t.co/uOYcfr3LEr pic.twitter.com/xUni1QFYsy

— Bonnie Castillo (@NNUBonnie) October 2, 2017

 

 

Pray for the victims and their families in Vegas today.Another reminder how precious life is and how we must watch and care for one another.

— D. Taylor (@DTaylorUH) October 2, 2017

 

 

If you are trying to locate a loved one in Las Vegas, call 1-866-535-5654.

— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) October 2, 2017

 

 

Thoughts and Prayers are with our Las Vegas @ActorsEquity members. BAZ company is safe. Will continue to update.

— Christa Jackson (@AEARepChrista) October 2, 2017

 

 

There have been more mass shootings than days this year. It is long, long overdue for Congress to take action on gun safety.

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 2, 2017

 

 

Our thoughts and hearts are in Las Vegas with victims & their loved ones.

— Transp. Trades Dept. (@TTDAFLCIO) October 2, 2017

 

 

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families in Las Vegas. #PrayingforVegas pic.twitter.com/kxNsyLUbNQ

— AFSA Leadership (@AFSAUnion) October 2, 2017

 

 

Our condolences to the victims and families of the #LasVegasShooting. #1u

Statement from President @IAMBobMartinez: https://t.co/FsPmzrB6wH pic.twitter.com/P5aSnMDTql

— Machinists Union (@MachinistsUnion) October 2, 2017

 

Update: The Nevada State AFL-CIO responded:

“Last night in Las Vegas was devastating. The Nevada labor movement offers our condolences to the shooting victims and their families,” said Rusty McAllister, Executive Secretary Treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO. “We thank the first responders, law enforcement officers, and medical professionals who worked all through the night to save lives. Working people will continue to come together to do all that we can to provide resources to the victims and help our community through this awful ordeal.”

“Our hearts and prayers are with everyone who was impacted by the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas,” said Liz Sorenson, President of the Nevada State AFL-CIO. “In the face of unimaginable violence, working people are coming together to support one another. Nevada is our home and union members will step up to do whatever is needed to help the survivors and their families.”

Local unions are working with other groups in the Las Vegas community to offer assistance with coordinating donations and support for the victims of the shooting. There are several unions attempting to set up blood donation sites at their facilities. The logistics of this effort are being worked through. As the Nevada State AFL-CIO receives more information about dates, times, and locations, we will make that information widely available.

All of our affiliated unions are reaching out to their members to check on their safety and to assist in any way possible. The Culinary Union Local 226 has over 4,000 members at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and they are phone banking them to check on their wellbeing and needs.

As more information becomes available, we will continue to send it out. We will inform working families of locations of upcoming blood drives and donation opportunities to assist those in need.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 10/02/2017 - 13:18

Working People Are Stepping Up to Help Puerto Rico

Fri, 2017-09-29 15:47
Working People Are Stepping Up to Help Puerto Rico Seafarers

In the wake of the disastrous effects of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico, union members are stepping up to help with recovery efforts. The situation is so terrible that 100% of the island lacks power, 40% of Puerto Ricans do not have safe drinking water and 60% of the island's vegetation has been knocked down, covering roads and houses, which makes recovery efforts even more challenging.

The labor movement stands with our sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico, and we're here to help make sure that the work that needs to get done will get done.

José Rodríguez Báez, president of the Federation of Workers of Puerto Rico, spoke with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka about recovery efforts:

In the conversation, we explained to Trumka that there has not been enough help with the speed that is required and that we are already in a humanitarian crisis. He assured us that he will communicate with President Trump and congressional leaders to demand the help our people need.

In a call with union leaders in Puerto Rico, Trumka explained the labor federation's response:

We want you and your families to know that they are our priority, and we will not fail them....

We have the skills they need in Puerto Rico. The caregivers and first responders. The heavy equipment operators and truck drivers. The electricians and linemen. The waste disposal workers.

Literally paths have to be cleared through debris. People have to be kept alive in hospitals. Temporary power has to be set up to critical sites like hospitals and telecommunications hubs.

We have been in contact with the Puerto Rican Federation of Labor and with the city of San Juan. Some of you may have seen the Mayor of San Juan on MSNBC talking about how badly they need help.

And we have an opportunity to help. Thanks to the work of the Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) and the Pilots (ALPA), United Airlines has offered us a plane to fly needed skilled workers and relief supplies to San Juan. The plane is available to leave Newark Airport on Wednesday.

The mayor of San Juan and the Puerto Rican labor movement have given us a list of needed workers. They need nurses and doctors, truck drivers, heavy equipment operators, clean up workers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters and other skilled trades.

We can fly volunteers from Newark to San Juan, we have housing and food arranged with the city of San Juan and FEMA, and we can fly volunteers back to Newark. We need union members with the right skills, and a readiness to spend two weeks helping to save their fellow Americans who frankly have been abandoned by their government.

Whenever disaster strikes, union members are on the front lines making sure that their families, friends and fellow Americans recover and rebuild. We will do the same in Puerto Rico.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 09/29/2017 - 15:47

The Great Con: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 2017-09-29 15:21
The Great Con: 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.

AFL-CIO Leader Trumka Hits Trump Tax Plan: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka hit hard at GOP President Donald Trump’s tax plan. He predicted it would eventually lead to Republican agitation for more cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Trump unveiled the plan, after weeks of work by his business-dominated economic team. It calls for a cut in the corporate tax rate from its current 35 percent to 20 percent and eliminates the estate tax, a favorite GOP cause."

GOP Tax Plan Is 'The Great Con,' Says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: "Trumka said a tax plan that would be good for working people should have corporations and the rich paying their fair share. It should also create enough revenue to create jobs and should destroy all incentives to offshore jobs and profits, he added. 'This tax plan fails miserably on all three of those things.'"

Cecil Roberts: Graham-Cassidy a Bad Song That Gets Worse Every Time We Hear It: "President Trump was right when he said health care is complicated. What is not complicated, however, is what working people want from our health care system. We want to be able to get the care our families need — when we need it — at a price that does not leave us bankrupt."

A Tax Plan That Works for the People, Not Wall Street: "Working people are tired of hearing how tax giveaways for Wall Street billionaires and corporations will supposedly trickle down to the rest of us. Too many politicians and pundits want us to believe our country is broke, and we have no choice but to demand sacrifices from working people, yet they have no trouble finding trillions of dollars to waste on tax giveaways for people who do not need them. They want to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and infrastructure to pay for tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy."

Unions Are Our Best Chance for Changing Our Economy and Politics: "This month, MaryBe McMillan made history when she was unanimously elected as the first woman president of the North Carolina AFL-CIO. A native of Hickory, North Carolina, and a leading advocate nationally for building labor's presence in the South, McMillan has served as secretary-treasurer of the state federation since 2005, working alongside outgoing president James Andrews, the first African American to hold that post. After the convention, Facing South publisher Chris Kromm talked with McMillan about the state of labor in North Carolina and the South, and why unions are a key piece of the broader progressive movement."

Fact-Checking Inaccurate News About the Jones Act: "On Thursday, President Donald Trump announced he would be waiving the Jones Act in response to devastation that has hit the island of Puerto Rico. Much of the reporting about this has included inaccurate information. Here are the real facts about the Jones Act and Puerto Rico."

Republican Tax Plan a Con Game Against Working People: "Yesterday, President Donald Trump and Republican leaders in Congress released their new tax plan. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka responded to the proposal."

Iowa Teachers Overwhelmingly Reject Attack on Working People: "In February, then-Gov. Terry Branstad (R) signed into law a bill that was a direct attack on the rights of working people. In the first major test of the new law, Iowa's teachers and faculty rejected the attacks and recertified 13 bargaining units overwhelmingly yesterday."

Students Work Together to Create Change at Nike: "In a powerful illustration of the ability of grassroots activists to challenge corporate power, United Students Against Sweatshops, the nation’s leading student organization focused on issues of worker rights and economic justice, has just scored a crucial victory over the world’s biggest sports apparel and footwear brand: Nike."

Time Is Short to Renew DACA Status: "The Donald Trump administration recently announced it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an outrageous decision that will strip status and work permits away from nearly 800,000 productive members of our society. The labor movement strongly condemns these efforts to criminalize young working people and will work tirelessly to defend and extend these important protections. While we continue to push Congress and the administration, there are some important things that you need to know if you or a family member, co-worker, neighbor or friend have DACA."

Check Out the More Than 250 Union-Made Options for National Drink Beer Day: "Our friends at Labor 411 inform us that National Drink Beer Day is totally a real thing and that it takes place on Sept. 28. Don't worry, though, they have the definitive list of union-made beers ready for you to check out. Make sure that while you enjoy your beers in celebration of the totally real holiday of National Drink Beer Day, you choose ethically made beers that treat their workers fairly. You have options. More than 250 of them."

Americans in Every Way—Except on Paper: "This month, the Donald Trump administration announced it was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provided temporary permission for more than 800,000 undocumented young people brought to the United States as children to live and work in the country. The young people covered by DACA include teachers, journalists, entertainers, behavioral health specialists and many other young professionals. As the place in the labor movement for professionals, the members of the affiliate unions of the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees (DPE) bring to the table a diverse array of backgrounds, nationalities and immigration experiences — including Dreamers.’"

How One AFSCME Local Is Helping Florida Dry Out and Rebuild: "Most times, you can find longtime AFSCME member Bert Walthour serving the city of Miami Beach as a heavy equipment operator. He and his co-workers at Local 1554, AFSCME Florida, where he serves as vice president, make one of the world’s most iconic cities function every day."

NFL Players Association Responds to Attacks on Free Speech: "After President Donald Trump and others attacked the free speech rights of athletes, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) responded to the president's comments."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 09/29/2017 - 15:21

Fact-Checking Inaccurate News About the Jones Act

Fri, 2017-09-29 10:35
Fact-Checking Inaccurate News About the Jones Act

On Thursday, President Donald Trump announced he would be waiving the Jones Act in response to devastation that has hit the island of Puerto Rico. Much of the reporting about this has included inaccurate information. Here are the real facts about the Jones Act and Puerto Rico.

True or False: The Jones Act was impeding relief efforts to Puerto Rico.

False: Foreign-flag ships with cargo from ports outside the United States have always been allowed entry to Puerto Rico.

True or False: Unions oppose waiving the Jones Act in an emergency so that ships can access Puerto Rico.

False: Maritime labor has never, not once, opposed a waiver of the Jones Act in an emergency when there were not enough ships or mariners to handle the job. We have never let a ship sail shorthanded.

True or False: Waiving the Jones Act is critical to aiding Puerto Rico at this time.

False: One of the biggest challenges in Puerto Rico is unloading the current cargo ships that are docked as well as the containers at port, not getting more foreign cargo ships. About 9,500 containers of goods were moved by domestic maritime companies to help its residents recover. In the immediate aftermath, one state-of-the-art large container ship arrived with more than 35 million pounds of cargo. This is the equivalent carrying capacity of 1,900 cargo planes. In anticipation of the island’s needs, the domestic American maritime industry stowed some 3,000 containers filled with goods in the terminals prior to the hurricane landing. Jones Act vessels have the capacity to carry more than 4,000 containers per week to Puerto Rico.

True or False: Waiving the Jones Act would add efficiency to delivery of goods.

False: Because of infrastructure challenges, a Jones Act waiver could hinder, not help, relief efforts. A Jones Act waiver could overwhelm the system. There are logistical bottlenecks as a result of the inability to distribute goods within Puerto Rico due to road blockages, communications disruptions and concerns about equipment shortages, including trucks, chassis and containers.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 09/29/2017 - 10:35

Republican Tax Plan a Con Game Against Working People

Thu, 2017-09-28 14:29
Republican Tax Plan a Con Game Against Working People

Yesterday, President Donald Trump and Republican leaders in Congress released their new tax plan. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka responded to the proposal:

The tax plan Republicans put out [yesterday] is nothing but a con game, and working people are the ones they’re trying to con. Here we go again. First comes the promise that tax giveaways for the wealthy and big corporations will trickle down to the rest of us. Then comes the promise that tax cuts will pay for themselves. Then comes the promise that they want to stop offshoring. And finally, we find out none of these things is true, and the people responsible for wasting trillions of dollars on tax giveaways to the rich tell us we have no choice but to cut Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, education and infrastructure. There always seems to be plenty of money for millionaires and big corporations but never enough money to do anything for working people.

Here are some of the terrible proposals included in yesterday’s plan:

  • Allowing multinational corporations to pay little to nothing on their offshore profits, which would be a giant tax break for sending jobs overseas and a giant loophole for corporations to avoid paying taxes.
  • Eliminating the estate tax, which would benefit only the wealthiest 0.2% of estates, those worth more than $5.5 million.
  • Eliminating the alternative minimum tax, which helps keep the wealthy from exploiting loopholes to avoid paying taxes.
  • Reducing the top individual tax rate from 39.6% to 35%, which would mainly benefit the rich.
  • Reducing the top individual tax rate for business owners from 39.6% to 25%, which would mainly benefit Wall Street hedge fund managers, real estate developers and law firms.
  • Reducing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, which would overwhelmingly benefit the rich.
  • Increasing the bottom tax bracket from 10% to 12%.
  • Eliminating the tax deduction for state and local taxes, which would punish states that make the kind of investments that boost economic growth for the whole country.

We already know that Trump and Republican leaders in Congress want working people to pay the price for these tax giveaways to big corporations and the wealthy. We know this because the budgets they have proposed for the coming year include trillions of dollars in cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, education, infrastructure and other programs benefiting working people.

This is what a tax plan that actually works for working people looks like. It has three overarching principles. First, Wall Street, big corporations and the wealthy must pay their fair share of taxes. Second, tax reform must raise enough additional revenue now and in the future to create good jobs and make the public investment we need in infrastructure, education, and meeting the needs of children, families, seniors and our communities. Third, tax reform must eliminate all tax incentives for corporations to shift jobs and profits offshore.

Unfortunately, the tax plan unveiled yesterday goes in the exact opposite direction. It does not even qualify as "tax reform." It’s just tax cuts for rich people.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 09/28/2017 - 14:29

Iowa Teachers Overwhelmingly Reject Attack on Working People

Thu, 2017-09-28 12:44
Iowa Teachers Overwhelmingly Reject Attack on Working People

In February, then-Gov. Terry Branstad (R) signed into law a bill that was a direct attack on the rights of working people. In the first major test of the new law, Iowa's teachers and faculty rejected the attacks and recertified 13 bargaining units overwhelmingly yesterday.

The new law is designed to make it harder for workers to exercise their freedom to stand together in union. It requires that public sector unions re-certify every time they negotiate a new contract, a process that usually happens every two to three years. Also, the law requires that the recertification votes must win the majority of all employees covered under the contract, not just the majority of those who participate in the recertification vote.

The two-week recertification process for the 13 bargaining units saw very strong participation, with 89% of eligible voters participating. They sent an overwhelming message, when 1,101 out of 1,291 voters cast their ballots for recertification.

Iowa State Education Association President Tammy Wawro condemned the law: "I think it’s silly we had to do this, but our people understood what’s at stake and they voted, and I think they sent a message."

This is the beginning of the process. In October, nearly 500 local unions and employee associations will face similar recertification votes.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 09/28/2017 - 12:44

Students Work Together to Create Change at Nike

Thu, 2017-09-28 10:27
Students Work Together to Create Change at Nike USAS

In a powerful illustration of the ability of grassroots activists to challenge corporate power, United Students Against Sweatshops, the nation’s leading student organization focused on issues of worker rights and economic justice, has just scored a crucial victory over the world’s biggest sports apparel and footwear brand: Nike.

Back in the late 1990s, USAS, with the support of the AFL-CIO and a number of affiliates, carried out a groundbreaking campaign to convince universities to write binding protections for workers in contract factories into their lucrative apparel licensing deals with Nike, Adidas, Russell Athletic and other brands. The students won, securing not only enforceable labor rights requirements for every factory around the world involved in the production of university logo apparel, but also the creation of a genuinely independent investigative body to handle verification and enforcement. By design, that organization, known as the Worker Rights Consortium, takes no money from any apparel company or other corporation and is accountable instead to universities, students and labor rights organizations. (The AFL-CIO sits on the WRC’s Board of Directors.) Backed by USAS’s activist leverage, and empowered as an enforcement agent for more than 190 universities and colleges, the WRC has exposed labor rights violations at hundreds of garment factories and helped workers end abuses and improve conditions.

In many cases, WRC investigations and USAS campaigns have enabled workers to form unions in some of the toughest organizing environments in the world. These efforts also have compelled brands to make workers whole in cases where the brands’ contractors have stolen workers’ wages. Such restitution is otherwise unheard of in the global garment industry. These successes stand in glaring contrast to the "corporate social responsibility" schemes operated by the brands, which claim to protect workers in supply chains, but serve mainly to protect the reputations of the brands, while poverty wages and abusive, anti-union management practices continue unchecked.

It is because of the power and effectiveness of these binding university labor codes and independent investigations—which have forced Nike to pay millions of dollars in compensation to garment workers at contract factories, allowed workers at more than a dozen key factories to unionize and compelled other improvements—that Nike decided in late 2015 to stop letting the WRC into its factories. Nike also demanded that universities rewrite their licensing agreements with the company to relieve Nike of most of its labor rights obligations. Nike’s gambit represented a genuine threat to everything the students’ labor rights activism had accomplished: because Nike has enormous financial leverage over many of the universities (it has sponsorship deals with some schools worth in excess of $200 million to the schools) its demands can’t be ignored.

Facing the toughest target in the sports apparel industry, USAS swung into action and, over the past year and a half, carried out a national campaign to convince universities to resist Nike’s anti-worker demands and force the company to resume cooperating with the WRC. USAS had no big campaign budget, but the organization has a long track record of effective grassroots mobilization, despite limited resources. USAS organized major campus-level campaigns at more than 25 key schools, involving a range of creative protest tactics, including sit-ins and other direct action. USAS worked with union allies in the Global South to organize tours of university campuses by labor leaders from Thailand and Cambodia, who were able to talk from direct experience about the enormous value to workers of universities’ enforceable labor standards and the WRC’s independent monitoring. From a global day of action, in which workers around the world held solidarity protests, to powerful video compositions featuring the voices of workers from Nike contract factories, to creative use of social media, the USAS campaign was a model of modern grassroots activism—the kind of "asymmetrical warfare" that enables a group of student activists to take on one of the most powerful corporations in the world and win.

And win they did. Urged on by USAS’s activism, Georgetown University, Cornell University, the University of Washington, Rutgers University and other key universities began announcing plans to terminate their contracts with Nike. After extensive negotiations with the WRC, facilitated by Georgetown, Nike agreed to sign a new protocol guaranteeing the WRC access to its factories, on terms stronger than the pre-existing ones Nike was trying to roll back. Nike is now contractually obligated to terminate its business with any supplier that refuses to let WRC investigators in. This outcome reaffirms and strengthens the ability of universities to hold apparel brands that use their logos accountable to internationally recognized labor standards, including the right to organize. It ensures that the WRC will be able to continue its vital work of exposing labor rights abuses in the supply chains of major U.S. brands and aiding workers and unions as they fight to end those abuses and advance their rights.

And, at a time of burgeoning corporate power, with leaders and institutions that are supposed to protect the public interest increasingly prone to defer to corporate priorities, USAS’s campaign shows that corporations like Nike remain vulnerable to well-executed corporate campaigns, fueled by passionate activism. The Nike victory will pay dividends for years to come and it demonstrates that the student-worker alliance forged at USAS’s inception in the late 1990s is as strong as ever.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 09/28/2017 - 10:27

Time Is Short to Renew DACA Status

Thu, 2017-09-28 08:14
Time Is Short to Renew DACA Status

The Donald Trump administration recently announced it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an outrageous decision that will strip status and work permits away from nearly 800,000 productive members of our society. The labor movement strongly condemns these efforts to criminalize young working people and will work tirelessly to defend and extend these important protections. While we continue to push Congress and the administration, there are some important things that you need to know if you or a family member, co-worker, neighbor or friend have DACA:

  • If your DACA status expires before March 5, 2018, you can still apply to renew for another two years. However, the deadline for renewal applications is Oct. 5, 2017, so it is essential that you begin the process right awayYour union can help you find support to prepare your application and may be able to lend assistance in raising funds to pay the application fee, so reach out immediately if you are in need of help. Please note that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must receive your application by Oct. 5–a postmark on that date will be too late.
  • If your DACA status expires after March 5, 2018, you will maintain your status until the expiration date listed on your paperwork but will not have an opportunity to renew. In addition, you will no longer be given permission to travel abroad. If you already have been granted advance parole, please consult a lawyer before leaving the country.

Now is the time to join the fight to preserve and expand the protections of DACA. The DREAM Act of 2017 would not only ensure that DACA recipients maintain their work authorization, but would also afford them a long overdue pathway to citizenship. This bipartisan legislation would allow young men and women who are part of our workforce, serving in the military or pursuing higher education, to plan for the future and contribute more fully to our communities, our unions and our economy.  When you contact your members of Congress to urge support for the DREAM Act, make sure you demand that they pass a clean bill without any punitive enforcement or anti-workers’ rights provisions.

Your union will be with you in this fight until all working people have rights on the job and in the community. In the meantime, please use and share this fact sheet that summarizes key details of the DACA announcement.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 09/28/2017 - 08:14

Tags: DACA

Check Out the More Than 250 Union-Made Options for National Drink Beer Day

Wed, 2017-09-27 17:32
Check Out the More Than 250 Union-Made Options for National Drink Beer Day Labor 411

Our friends at Labor 411 inform us that National Drink Beer Day is totally a real thing and that it takes place on Sept. 28. Don't worry, though, they have the definitive list of union-made beers ready for you to check out. Make sure that while you enjoy your beers in celebration of the totally real holiday of National Drink Beer Day, you choose ethically made beers that treat their workers fairly. You have options. More than 250 of them. Here are a few choices:

  • Alexander Keith’s
  • Bass
  • Beck’s
  • Black Hawk
  • Blue Moon
  • Budweiser
  • Bud Light
  • Busch
  • Butte Creek
  • Coors
  • Coors Light
  • Czechvar
  • Dundee
  • Duquesne
  • Goose Island
  • Henry Weinhard’s
  • Hoegaarden
  • Icehouse
  • Iron City
  • Keystone Light
  • Killian’s
  • Kirin
  • Labatt Blue
  • Landshark Lager
  • Lazy Mutt
  • Leffe Blond
  • Leinenkugel's
  • Lionshead
  • Mendocino
  • Michelob
  • Michelob Ultra
  • Miller Genuine Draft
  • Miller Lite
  • Miller High Life
  • Milwaukee’s Best
  • Molson
  • Moosehead
  • Natural Light
  • O’Doul’s (non-alcoholic)
  • Pabst Blue Ribbon
  • Red Dog
  • Red Tail
  • Rolling Rock
  • Red Stripe
  • Samuel Adams
  • Sharp’s (non-alcoholic)
  • Schlitz
  • Shock Top
  • Steelhead
  • Stegmaier
  • Stella Artois

For the full list, click here.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 09/27/2017 - 17:32

Americans in Every Way—Except on Paper

Wed, 2017-09-27 10:04
Americans in Every Way—Except on Paper DPE

This month, the Donald Trump administration announced it was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provided temporary permission for more than 800,000 undocumented young people brought to the United States as children to live and work in the country. The young people covered by DACA include teachers, journalists, entertainers, behavioral health specialists and many other young professionals. As the place in the labor movement for professionals, the members of the affiliate unions of the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees (DPE) bring to the table a diverse array of backgrounds, nationalities and immigration experiences — including Dreamers.’

DPE stands with the young professionals, union members and all of those affected by the termination of DACA. We urge Congress to pass the Dream Act, which would ensure over 1 million people stay out of the shadows and are provided with work authorization, the most potent protection against immigration-based retaliation.

The stories below describe how DACA made the professional career aspirations come true for these young people. Through their work, these Dreamers are making our communities and economy better. We have all benefited from the DACA program and will continue to benefit with the passage of the Dream Act.

Jose Galvan, aspiring Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) member:

Jose Galvan is a theater professional, aspiring member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and a DACA beneficiary. He came to the U.S. from Mexico as a two-year-old with his mother and brother. They decided to come to the U.S. to reunite with Jose’s father, who had been living, working and paying taxes in California.

Jose was the first in his family to graduate high school, and earned a full, merit-based scholarship to attend the University of San Diego (USD). At USD, Jose discovered his passion for theater.

“I fell in love, because I learned as an artist I had a voice,” Galvan said of his introduction to theater. “I could use art to start a dialogue, make people feel something, question something, make a difference.”

Jose went on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts and performance studies with an emphasis in directing. While a senior at the USD, Jose became the first artistic and literary intern for the Old Globe in San Diego, a theater modeled after Shakespeare’s Old Globe in London. Following graduation, Jose was offered a job in the Arts Engagement Department at the Old Globe.

Jose now has a career in theater. Most recently, he directed a show for children of military families that aimed to help them deal with the unique challenges they face with loved ones in the armed forces. The show toured military bases, armories and armed services’ YMCAs. Jose is now working toward graduate school and getting his master’s degree in directing.

Jose spent essentially his whole life in the U.S. — it is all he knows. The impending loss of DACA means that Jose could lose his ability to work legally, his access to health insurance, his opportunity to pursue a MFA and his home. The end of DACA also means the U.S. could lose someone who has already made important contributions to the country and is on a path to making many more.

Karen Reyes, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) member:

Karen Reyes is a DACAmented teacher and a member of Education Austin, part of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Karen came to the U.S. from Mexico at the age of two. She grew up the U.S. and always thought of herself as a typical American kid — since that’s who she was. However, once she realized she was undocumented, she began to hold back, frozen by fear.

“I held back from friendships, I held back from activities, I held back from applying to the universities that I really wanted to attend, because would they want me even with my status,” Reyes said.

Fortunately, Karen was able to attend college and pursue her dream of working in education. She earned a private scholarship to attend the Deaf Education and Hearing Science program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

In 2012, Karen was able to become a DACA beneficiary and teach children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Karen is helping these students and their families communicate and achieve their own dreams.

“DACA made me find my voice and made me be able to live without fear. DACA made me visible, it has empowered me and made it possible for me to come out of the shadows and fight for myself and for the other 800,000-plus Dreamers,” Reyes said. “We must defend DACA because, after living here for 26 years, I am here to stay.”

Karen’s story is adapted from her “Becoming Visible” story previously published by AFT.

Jorge Corona, Writers Guild of America, East, (WGAE) member

Jorge Corona is a filmmaker and writer, a founding member of Fusion’s union for editorial staff, and a former DACA beneficiary. Jorge came to the U.S. from Mexico with his parents as an 11-year-old. He earned admission to the University of Texas after performing well at school in San Antonio. Because of his immigration status, there was a lot of uncertainty about being able to pay for college because he was not legally eligible to work. Fortunately, Jorge found a way, mostly with the help of some scholarships and grants he was eligible for.

While in college at Texas, DACA was announced, and Jorge was able to qualify. After he graduated, he was able to move to New York City and pursue his chosen career because of the employment authorization DACA provided. In New York, Jorge began working for media outlets in a freelance capacity. He did a few jobs at Fusion, and was hired as a full-time employee soon after. Jorge participated in the successful campaign among Fusion staff to form a union with Writers Guild of America, East, (WGAE) in 2015. Winning the right to negotiate with their employer meant Fusion’s staff earned a stronger say in what the company was doing. Many people in the newsroom earned their first raise because of the efforts of Jorge and his co-workers who participated in the organizing campaign.

While Jorge no longer is a DACA beneficiary, his story demonstrates how the program provides stability, protection and a way forward for Dreamers to pursue their career goals and contribute to our economy.

Selene Meza, Office of Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) member:

Selene Meza is a DACA beneficiary serving on the front lines of the opioid epidemic as a chemical dependency professional in Bellingham, Wash. Selene arrived in the U.S. with her family when she was 13. As a young teenage she knew she did not have documents, but at that time she did not know what that meant.

In high school, Selene realized that she was at a disadvantage because she was undocumented. She could not work summer jobs like her friends, and she didn’t think she could go to college. Fortunately, Selene was able to attend community college and then transfer to a four-year school to earn her bachelor’s in psychology. Selene was the first in her family to graduate from college.

While finishing college, Selene initially qualified for DACA. The work authorization Selene received through DACA meant that she could put her degree to use. Selene went to work at a community behavioral health clinic, where she still works today as an addiction treatment counselor. Selene helps people fighting addictions to heroin and works with patients’ families. She is a member of the Office of Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 8.

As a DACA beneficiary, Selene has been able to contribute to her household, which includes her husband and two young children. The end of DACA without a legislative solution will not only pull an important resource away from the fight against the disease of addiction, but it will also make it difficult for Selene to provide for her family.

Esther Lee, Writers Guild of America, East, (WGAE) member:

Esther Lee is a Think Progress reporter, member of Writers Guild of America, East, (WGAE), and has been a beneficiary of the DACA program since 2012. When Esther was two years old, she escaped domestic violence with her mother by coming to the United States from Taiwan. Esther spent her childhood in California.

After she graduated from high school, Esther was able to attend New York University. She paid for her education with money earned from working, along with financial assistance from family.

Esther earned her DACA approval in 2012. Her work authorization from DACA meant that she could pursue her journalism career.

“Coming out of the shadows meant that I was able to get a job that didn’t leave me at the whim of my employers,” Lee notes.

For Esther, the stability provided by DACA has proved instrumental in getting her where she is today as a reporter with Think Progress.

As these stories describe, Dreamers are Americans in every way. Dreamers are our neighbors, friends and professional colleagues, and they are working to improve the place we all call home.

It’s time to make Dreamers Americans on paper, too, by passing the Dream Act. We urge you to help make this a reality by contacting your members of Congress and asking them to support the Dream Act.

This post originally appeared at Medium.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 09/27/2017 - 10:04

How One AFSCME Local Is Helping Florida Dry Out and Rebuild

Tue, 2017-09-26 13:44
How One AFSCME Local Is Helping Florida Dry Out and Rebuild AFSCME Local 1554

Most times, you can find longtime AFSCME member Bert Walthour serving the city of Miami Beach as a heavy equipment operator. He and his co-workers at Local 1554, AFSCME Florida, where he serves as vice president, make one of the world’s most iconic cities function every day.

But these past few weeks have been anything but normal, not since forecasters put Florida squarely in Hurricane Irma’s path.

"Life got real busy, real quick," Walthour said. "We implemented our hurricane preparation for the city as well as make sure our houses and families were getting ready."

Walthour and his crew are among the thousands of public service workers in Florida who are helping their communities recover from Irma and are putting their communities’ needs ahead of their own.

Since much of South Florida, including Miami Beach, fell under one of the largest mandatory evacuation orders ever, sleep became as hard to find as water, canned goods and gasoline.

For Walthour and public employees across the state, the storm was just the start.

"Everyone has what is called a landfall team, the first folks who go out once the worst is over, even with the wind and rain still going, to get critical streets, bridges and other places passable for police, fire and recovery personnel to start doing their jobs," Walthour said.

He and his team members reported to a secure building and tried to get what rest they could as the storm struck Florida on Sunday, Sept. 10. Then, at 6 a.m. Monday, even as Irma continued to unleash heavy rain and fierce winds on South Florida, Walthour and his crew team went to work cutting up fallen trees, clearing debris, repairing and replacing signs and signals, and doing everything else necessary to allow families to return to their homes and begin rebuilding.

"We didn’t leave until 4 p.m. on Tuesday," Walthour said. "We slept in our trucks when we could, and if we were so lucky we laid down a bit at our building in the public works yard after a bite of hot food.…This is when public workers really shine, when the clouds turn dark and the path forward is not clear, we are the ones who help make the rebuilding possible."

Like Walthour, AFSCME-represented public service workers are working across Florida to help their communities dry out and recover from Irma. And they’re progressing at a steady pace, though there are still mountains of yard debris to clear, thousands of street lights to restore and street signs to fix, eroded beaches to refill, power to be restored and entire communities to rebuild in some of the hardest-hit parts of the state.

To these selfless sisters and brothers, we say thank you.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 09/26/2017 - 13:44

NFL Players Association Responds to Attacks on Free Speech

Tue, 2017-09-26 11:19
NFL Players Association Responds to Attacks on Free Speech NFLPA

After President Donald Trump and others attacked the free speech rights of athletes, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) responded to the president's comments.

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said:

The peaceful demonstrations by some of our players have generated a wide array of responses. Those opinions are protected speech and a freedom that has been paid for by the sacrifice of men and women throughout history. This expression of speech has generated thoughtful discussions in our locker rooms and in board rooms. However, the line that marks the balance between the rights of every citizen in our great country gets crossed when someone is told to just "shut up and play." 

NFL players do incredible things to contribute to their communities. NFL players are a part of a legacy of athletes in all sports who throughout history chose to be informed about the issues that impact them and their communities. They chose—and still choose today—to do something about those issues rather than comfortably living in the bubble of sports. Their decision is no different from the one made by countless others who refused to let "what they do" define or restrict "who they are" as Americans.

No man or woman should ever have to choose a job that forces them to surrender their rights. No worker nor any athlete, professional or not, should be forced to become less than human when it comes to protecting their basic health and safety. We understand that our job as a union is not to win a popularity contest and it comes with a duty to protect the rights of our members. For that we make no apologies and never will. 

NFLPA President Eric Winston said:

Our players are men who are great philanthropists, activists and community leaders who stand up for each other and what they believe in.

I am extremely disappointed in the statements made by the President last night. The comments were a slap in the face to the civil rights heroes of the past and present, soldiers who have spilled blood in countless wars to uphold the values of this great nation and American people of all races, ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations who seek civil progress as a means to make this country, and this world, a better place.  

The divisiveness we are experiencing in this country has created gridlock in our political system, given voice to extreme, fringe beliefs and paralyzed our progress as a nation. Divisiveness breeds divisiveness, but NFL players have proven to unify people in our country's toughest moments and we will continue to do so now.

We will not stop challenging others on how we can all come together to continue to make America the greatest country on earth.

The NFLPA and others also responded on Twitter:

We're not just sticking to sports. #NFLSunday pic.twitter.com/Z3cLduLCeg

— NFLPA (@NFLPA) September 10, 2017

Wearing an @NFL uniform will not come at the expense of our first amendment right to peacefully protest as citizens. https://t.co/D7jSpssrvN pic.twitter.com/HkxvgCTViy

— NFLPA (@NFLPA) September 23, 2017

We will never back down. We no longer can afford to stick to sports. pic.twitter.com/Ec3Bc4qt9h

— DeMaurice Smith (@DeSmithNFLPA) September 23, 2017

The AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees also stated its support for the players:

DPE President Paul E. Almeida's statement in support of the NFL players and @NFLPA union members #1u #TakeAKnee https://t.co/M3fCISmnCJ pic.twitter.com/8seRPlV6xv

— DPE (@DPEaflcio) September 25, 2017 Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 09/26/2017 - 11:19

You Did That!: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 2017-09-22 14:17
You Did That!: 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.

NYC Unions Rally Against Cable Giant Charter/Spectrum: "Trumka, in a rousing speech, told workers, 'Your hard work made Charter Cable one of the most profitable companies in the United States, $3.5 billion they made last year. You did that! Local 3 members did that! So where is the company? Get to the table today and negotiate a contract.'"

Vice Video Staffers Unionize with WGA East and Motion Picture Editors Guild: "Vice Media employees who create video content across the company’s media outlets have unionized. The Writers Guild of America, East, said today that it will represent the workers along with the AFL-CIO and the Motion Picture Editors Guild, IATSE Local 700."

A Radical Republican Proposal to Roll Back Worker Protections: "Last week, the Republican-led House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing on H.R. 3441, the so-called Save Local Business Act—a bill that has almost nothing to do with saving small and local businesses. According to its sponsors, the legislation was introduced to overturn the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB’s) 2015 decision in Browning Ferris Industries."

Cuomo, de Blasio Join Cable Workers in Rally to Seek New Contract with Spectrum: "AFL-CIO national president Richard Trumka came to town to support the striking cable workers. 'We will not retreat in the face of corporate greed,' he said. 'We’re going to get a fair deal here.'"

The Everyday Heroes of the Hurricanes: "Alseen Bell’s cell phone rang as she stood in the living room of her flood-ravaged home, surveying the devastation left behind by Hurricane Harvey. The call was from her local union, the Houston Federation of Teachers, asking how she had come through the storm and if she needed help. 'It was like an answer to my prayers,' Alseen says. Within hours, three of our members were alongside her, pulling up carpet, cleaning and offering encouragement."

Dozens of Unions to Join IBEW Local 3 in Major NYC Rally Against Charter Communications Amid Six-Month Strike: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is among the many labor leaders to respond. Trumka is coming to the city to headline a major rally and march starting at 3 p.m. on Monday in Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza."

McMillan Elected New President of North Carolina AFL-CIO: "The president of the North Carolina AFL-CIO for the past 20 years is retiring, and the longtime second-in-command of the state umbrella organization for unions is succeeding him. Delegates to the state AFL-CIO convention elected MaryBe McMillan unanimously Friday as president. James Andrews chose not to seek re-election after more than 40 years in the labor movement. McMillan has been secretary-treasurer since 2005."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 09/22/2017 - 14:17

Video Workers at Vice Vote to Join the Union Family

Fri, 2017-09-22 13:25
Video Workers at Vice Vote to Join the Union Family VICE Union on Twitter

Workers for Vice Media voted this week to come together in union, with content creators joining the Writers Guild of America, East, (WGAE) and post-production employees becoming members of the Motion Picture Editors Guild (MPEG), an affiliate of the Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). Vice said it will recognize the unions after a third-party card-check confirmed that the majority of the employees in each unit voted to unionize.

Some 430 staff and freelance employees working on video content for VICE.com, the Viceland cable channel and Vice programming on HBO will now have a stronger voice in the workplace.

WGAE Executive Director Lowell Peterson said:

VICE is at the forward edge of the media industry's transformation. The WGAE knows it is essential for people who create content in this dynamic environment to have a seat at the table as the way the work is done—the way the content is made and distributed—continues to change. We have built a constructive relationship with VICE management and applaud the company for continuing to respect the right of its employees to engage in collective bargaining

MPEG President Alan Heim said:

We’re proud to welcome aboard the post-production professionals whose talents and hard work helped build VICE into the news and entertainment juggernaut it has become. These craftspeople on the cutting edge of our industry have made clear that the future of work in this business is one in which traditional union values of mutual aid and solidarity remain vital. We salute VICE for offering a model of how responsible employers respect their employees’ desire for a voice on the job, instead of trying to squash workers’ organizing efforts. And we’re both proud and grateful to have arrived at today’s victory in partnership with our sister unions, The Writers Guild of America, East, and SAG-AFTRA. This achievement shows what working people can accomplish together through alliances across craft and jurisdictional lines.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka congratulated the Vice workers:

We're very proud to welcome #ViceUnion workers to the union family #1u pic.twitter.com/0VKXamjIjf

— Richard L. Trumka (@RichardTrumka) September 21, 2017 Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 09/22/2017 - 13:25

Joining Together to Help Others: Worker Wins

Thu, 2017-09-21 11:37
Joining Together to Help Others: Worker Wins

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with stories of teachers and nurses joining together to help patients and students and includes numerous examples of workers organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.

D.C. Teachers Overwhelmingly Approve New Contract: Educators in Washington, D.C., voted 97% to 3% to ratify a new three-year contract. The new contract will improve student learning, increase salaries, address issues related to extended school years and launch a new era of collaboration between the teachers and the school district.

Shasta Regional Medical Center RNs Join California Nurses Association: With 90% of the vote in favor of joining together, the 350 registered nurses at Shasta Regional Medical Center in Redding, California, are now members of the California Nurses Association, an affiliate of National Nurses United. "We joined CNA because we want only the best care for our community's patients. In order to have the protection to advocate for them, we need to unionize with CNA," said Dani Gunderson, an emergency room RN at Shasta Regional.

Adjunct Faculty at Temple Win First Contract: The 1,400 adjunct faculty at Temple University in Philadelphia fought for and gained recognition in the school's new contract with the Temple Association of University Professionals, an affiliate of the AFT. The contract includes a significant wage increase and job protections and gives adjunct faculty a pathway to the respect they deserve. The contract, which also includes full-time faculty and librarians, was a hard-fought victory that was bargained over 15 months.

StoryCorps Staff Vote to Join Communications Workers of America (CWA): Despite an anti-union campaign from management, staff members at StoryCorps, a nonprofit based in Brooklyn, New York, that curates and shares stories of everyday Americans, voted to join CWA with 83% of the vote. The workers joined together to negotiate over wages, benefits, unexpected layoffs, working conditions, severance packages and pay transparency.

Airport Fuelers at Anchorage Airport Win 'Best Contract' They've Seen in Years: The intense negotiations led to a battle in federal court, but airport fuelers at the airport in Anchorage, Alaska, won a new three-year agreement that increases wages, maintains health care coverage and sick leave, improves bereavement leave, and increases the flexibility of vacation time.

Machinists at Mahle Engine Components End Strike and Protect Against Layoffs Without Adequate Notifications: Among other key components, Machinists (IAM) Local 1471 members at Mahle Engine Components in McConnelsville, Ohio, voted to accept a contract that rejected language that would've allowed shutdowns and layoffs without notification for periods of less than a week. The workers rejected that language and fought for a better contract.

Third Group of Employees at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center Vote to Join Together in a Union: After an inspiring nine-month contract campaign, 900 employees at PeaceHealth overwhelmingly voted (90% in favor) to ratify their first contract, joining two earlier campaigns that mean that collectively more than 2,500 working people at the center are now standing together in a union. The new service unit members fought for the power of a collective voice, due process on the job, a wage increase and to bring to a halt PeaceHealth's practice of sending collection agencies after its own employees when they couldn't pay high medical bills.

Hundreds of Kroger Workers Win More Than $300,000 in Back Pay: When Kroger employees, members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400, discovered that full-time associates had been cheated out of holiday pay in violation of the contract, they came together and took the case to arbitration. After numerous delays, persistence paid off and the employees were awarded back pay and interest.

Workers at Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, Join the Culinary and Bartenders Union: In August, a majority of workers at the Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, chose to unionize with Culinary Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165. Once negotiations are complete, 325 new members will be able to exercise their freedom to negotiate for fair wages, job security, health benefits and dignity on the job.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 09/21/2017 - 11:37

Trumka: Charter/Spectrum Employees Want Fair Return on Their Work

Wed, 2017-09-20 12:53
Trumka: Charter/Spectrum Employees Want Fair Return on Their Work IBEW Local 3

This week, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka joined union and community leaders marching across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York to show solidarity for Charter/Spectrum workers who are on strike. To those who marched, Trumka spoke about how the hard work of Charter/Spectrum employees have made it one of the most profitable cable companies in the United States. He also spoke to the reasons workers are on strike: 

Working people want a fair return on their work. They want good wages and a decent retirement. They want to provide for their families and enjoy the good things in their lives. They want CEO Tom Rutledge to get to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair deal today.

Here are some key tweets from the march and rally:

I am proud of every single #local3 member. Going on strike takes tremendous sacrifice and I'm proud to join you today. pic.twitter.com/u5LVc3lr1E

— Richard L. Trumka (@RichardTrumka) September 18, 2017

Huge showing of solidarity today in NYC for @IBEW LU 3 #SpectrumStrike "the labor movement has your back" -@RichardTrumka #1u pic.twitter.com/c5Cajg3lKf

— Liz Shuler (@lizshuler) September 19, 2017

Solidarity forever! Awesome to see unions from across @NYSAFLCIO coming together to support #spectrumstrike pic.twitter.com/mrbkXZT0dJ

— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) September 18, 2017

Local 3 member Marvin Phillips on Charter CEO Tom Rutledge: "When I was little, my Mom told me to stand up to bullies." #spectrumstrike

— IBEW (@IBEW) September 18, 2017

New York Local 3 getting support from other labor allies today. #spectrumstrike pic.twitter.com/JWsp5Z85IS

— IBEW (@IBEW) September 18, 2017

The labor movement is the demand for respect and fairness. Proud to stand with @IBEW Local 3 #SpectrumStrike pic.twitter.com/p02icZMWU0

— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) September 18, 2017

.@AFLCIO Pres Trumka: if @GetSpectrum wants to get to you, they have to get thru all of us first. #SpectrumStrike #NYC1u pic.twitter.com/PJ6b2QRy8k

— NYC CLC (@CentralLaborNYC) September 18, 2017

Getting ready to walk with @IBEW Local 3 members. #spectrumstrike pic.twitter.com/OKshvKSJlg

— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) September 18, 2017

Proud to join the fight with #local3 today, tomorrow, and as long as it takes. #1u pic.twitter.com/mxldVjWCEk

— Richard L. Trumka (@RichardTrumka) September 18, 2017 Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 09/20/2017 - 12:53