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It Is Always About the People: In the States Roundup

Mon, 2018-04-02 10:15
It Is Always About the People: In the States Roundup California Labor Federation

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

Arkansas AFL-CIO:

https://t.co/dFg900qjAY

Say whaaaaat?! This is great news, right? This means the #arleg won't vote to cap WC benefits next session, correct? We certainly hope so. *crosses fingers* *takes a picture of post* #arlabor #1u @ARlaborradio @aryoungworkers @arlaborwomen

— Arkansas AFL-CIO (@ArkansasAFLCIO) March 28, 2018

California Labor Federation:

Every day we organize and fight for working people, we honor the legacy of #CesarChavez. We'll never stop. Rest in Power, Cesar ✊ #1u #UnionStrong #CesarChavezDay pic.twitter.com/mvfxkafqRt

— California Labor Federation (@CaliforniaLabor) March 30, 2018

Colorado AFL-CIO:

SB171 would define Colorado workers as independent contractors instead of employees while lining the pockets of billion-dollar corporations like Uber and Handy. Call your State Rep. & tell them to vote NO on SB171! #GoodJobsNOW #coleg pic.twitter.com/UUb1hJGwXp

— Colorado AFL-CIO (@AFLCIOCO) March 27, 2018

Connecticut AFL-CIO:

#ImStickingWithTheUnion #1u https://t.co/dLLajC6OJa

— Connecticut AFL-CIO (@ConnAFLCIO) March 28, 2018

Florida AFL-CIO:

"Despite these needs, a $3 billion budget surplus helped fuel a $171 million, election-year tax-cut package, approved by lawmakers as one of their last tasks before adjourning the 2018 session last week." https://t.co/SIFWMz3z5S

— Florida AFL-CIO (@FLAFLCIO) March 19, 2018

Georgia AFL-CIO:

For gig economy workers in these states, rights are at risk https://t.co/UaaWDT8P6r via @CNNMoney Tell your State Sen NO on #HB789

— AFL-CIO Georgia (@AFLCIOGeorgia) March 21, 2018

Indiana State AFL-CIO:

The relationship between you and your employers is not one of equals...being in a union fixes the imbalance #1U pic.twitter.com/jfDSOcZdBk

— Indiana AFL-CIO (@INAFLCIO) April 1, 2018

Iowa Federation of Labor:

Workers accuse Trump administration, DeVos of union-busting https://t.co/vVUvHlk3o0

— Iowa AFL-CIO (@IowaAFLCIO) April 2, 2018

Kansas State AFL-CIO:

Working Families aim to even things up. https://t.co/6evGAWjGc5

— Kansas AFL-CIO (@KansasAFLCIO) March 30, 2018

Kentucky State AFL-CIO:

Another organization promoting an assault on injured workers. Shame on you, Kentucky Realtors.https://t.co/90F7BpQeqM https://t.co/LYk79zOuaG

— Kentucky AFL-CIO (@aflcioky) April 1, 2018

Maine AFL-CIO:

Linda testified against @Governor_LePage's bill to give a tax cut to the top 1%. "Working people like myself would be better served by good health care and the chance to retire with dignity than more tax cuts for the wealthy." - Linda, Livermore Falls #mepolitics @steelworkers pic.twitter.com/5Xc4qCVamB

— Maine AFL-CIO (@MEAFLCIO) March 16, 2018

Massachusetts AFL-CIO:

Great victory for working people in Lynn last night! #1u Lynn council votes to penalize contractors who violate state labor laws - Itemlive : Itemlive https://t.co/LpZCDVQVFj via @itemlive

— Massachusetts AFLCIO (@massaflcio) March 28, 2018

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

“Hell no!” to contract takeaways, say Ed Dept employees #afge pic.twitter.com/SI12dNBg23

— MetroDCLaborCouncil (@DCLabor) March 28, 2018

Michigan AFL-CIO:

"Trump’s proposed infrastructure plan would make working people pay more, sell off our roads and bridges to corporations and rich investors, and leave the rest of us behind." @jimananich @MISenDems @stateinnovation https://t.co/Erg0VdVcWC

— Michigan AFL-CIO (@MIAFLCIO) March 26, 2018

Minnesota AFL-CIO:

Minnesota IAM Local 623 Members Approve “Effects Agreement” at Closing Electrolux Plant https://t.co/MsEiwoREUZ via @workdaymn @MachinistsUnion #1u

— Minnesota AFL-CIO (@MNAFLCIO) April 1, 2018

Missouri AFL-CIO:

Some in the #moleg some want to pave the way for self-driving semi-trucks in Missouri. We say NO on #HB1295 and #SB861! https://t.co/BriSt6xMLz

— Missouri AFL-CIO (@MOAFLCIO) March 31, 2018

New Jersey State AFL-CIO:

NJ AFL-CIO Sec. Treas. Laurel Brennan testifies on behalf of #EqualPay for equal work. pic.twitter.com/N3Z39uv4og

— New Jersey AFL-CIO (@NJAFLCIO) March 19, 2018

New Mexico AFL-CIO:

“Apprenticeships popular again as workers turn to trades” https://t.co/DycR0AU6JK .@LaborFed4NM @AFLCIO

— NMFL (@LaborFed4NM) March 29, 2018

New York State AFL-CIO:

Statement of New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento on Sexual Harassment Legislation Included in State Budget - New York is taking bold and decisive action against the scourge of sexual harassment in the workplace. Statement at https://t.co/kR9ivC6Ldu

— NYSAFLCIO (@NYSAFLCIO) March 31, 2018

North Carolina AFL-CIO:

#OrganizeTheSouth: “Our stigma here is so bad in the South. Most people are ashamed to tell their neighbors that they are in a union,” he said. “And we actually want to change... https://t.co/e19kcHMqJY

— NC State AFL-CIO (@NCStateAFLCIO) March 28, 2018

Ohio AFL-CIO:

Thanks @ATUComm Pres. Jordan for fighting to keep Columbus moving forward & safe. We know a bus is nothing without us! Smart City or no, buses should have trained @AFLCIO drivers We can be hi-tech & keep our humanity as well! https://t.co/AfZ35tFLVF

— Ohio AFL-CIO (@ohioaflcio) April 1, 2018

Oklahoma State AFL-CIO:

Its important to know the numbers behind the budget crisis. https://t.co/V2kbxW3mlr

— Oklahoma AFL-CIO (@OK_AFL_CIO) March 23, 2018

Oregon AFL-CIO:

"Workers at a Burgerville in Southeast Portland said they plan to file for a federal union election, a move that could place employees of the fast-food franchise at the forefront of a national labor fight.”https://t.co/vbZa6Ja0NO #1u #ORPOL

— Oregon AFL-CIO (@OregonAFLCIO) March 30, 2018

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO:

#WomensHistoryMonth - Thank you to the women who, despite the sweat on their brow, found ways to resist and organize. Thank you to the women who raised us—the women who raised America. And thank you to the women who still do. https://t.co/FrgjZD9rHR

— PA AFL-CIO (@PaAFL_CIO) March 29, 2018

Rhode Island AFL-CIO:

#FightFor15 #DPS #1u pic.twitter.com/X6Gx1MleaG

— Rhode Island AFL-CIO (@riaflcio) March 22, 2018

South Carolina AFL-CIO:

Read and share https://t.co/NTUB3k59ZV

— SC AFL-CIO (@SCAFLCIO) March 29, 2018

Texas AFL-CIO:

We are ready for 2018 Citizenship Drive tomorrow at Dobie Middle School. We will be assisting eligible permanent resident with their naturalization applications! #1u #TxLabor #HazteCiudadano @AFLCIOLatino @Tefere_Gebre @lizshuler @RickTxAFLCIO @RichardTrumka pic.twitter.com/8i0av3df1x

— Texas AFL-CIO (@TexasAFLCIO) March 30, 2018

Virginia AFL-CIO:

#1u "Game developers look to unions to fix the industry’s exploitative workplace culture" https://t.co/AvG938EeI4

— Virginia AFL-CIO (@Virginia_AFLCIO) March 26, 2018

Washington AFL-CIO:

Thank you, @GovInslee, @SenSaldana, @andybillig, and the many others who supported these historic bills! #waleg https://t.co/ApfsVUeaJU

— WA State AFL-CIO (@WAAFLCIO) March 20, 2018

West Virginia AFL-CIO:

“We’re seeing a great field of pro-working family candidates in 2018.” WV AFL-CIO Endorses Candidates in 2018 Primary Election: https://t.co/OCkGxJOrS7 #wvpol pic.twitter.com/4nXM8HBkpf

— West Virginia AFLCIO (@WestVirginiaAFL) March 26, 2018

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO:

VOTE VOTE VOTE! Record-breaking voter turnout possible for election Tuesday, based on early voting numbers, https://t.co/PtjgvCvYLc

— WI AFL-CIO (@wisaflcio) April 1, 2018 Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 04/02/2018 - 10:15

Organizing Leads to Prosperity: What Working People Are Doing This Week

Thu, 2018-03-29 11:47
Organizing Leads to Prosperity: What Working People Are Doing This Week Boilermakers

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

Actors' Equity:

"But theatre will not go away. Because theatre is a site, I am tempted to say a refuge. Where people congregate and instantly form communities. As we have always done." @SimonMcBurney for #WorldTheatreDay https://t.co/mVAE9yoQX8

— Actors' Equity (@ActorsEquity) March 27, 2018

AFGE:

Staffing at the EEOC is at a historic low. We're hoping that changes soon. https://t.co/RIoCsmDZsG

— AFGE (@AFGENational) March 27, 2018

AFSCME:

Workers at UCAN, a youth services agency in Chicago, voted to form a union with AFSCME Council 31 despite a strong anti-unionization campaign mounted by their employer. We welcome these fighters to the AFSCME family. https://t.co/p2CQL5XnmD pic.twitter.com/loHvm4RIpo

— AFSCME (@AFSCME) March 27, 2018

AFT:

March 31: Engage students w the life & legacy of activist Cesar Chavez https://t.co/t7bShH1hU1 @sharemylesson #CesarChavezDay pic.twitter.com/BE9cnzBbWM

— AFT (@AFTunion) March 28, 2018

Air Line Pilots Association:

@WeAreALPA celebrates Girls in Aviation Day Reno, helping to ignite girls’ enthusiasm for the industry! #GIAD, #ClearedToDream, #WAI2018Experience pic.twitter.com/kKSpWKdBKh

— ALPA (@WeAreALPA) March 24, 2018

Alliance for Retired Americans:

Prices for the 20-most prescribed brand name drugs for seniors have risen an average of 12 percent each year since 2012. That's nearly 10 times higher than the rate of inflation. Older Americans can't live like this anymore. We need #RxForAll! https://t.co/fI6UJTipRV pic.twitter.com/qdwSYnbUJ3

— Alliance Retirees (@ActiveRetirees) March 27, 2018

Amalgamated Transit Union:

Asleep at the Wheel: Close Call with Fatigued Dallas #Greyhound Driver Highlights Sweatshops on Wheels https://t.co/G3zvcww9Sz #1u #DriverFatiguePreventionAct pic.twitter.com/01nFP6qAFJ

— ATU, Transit Union (@ATUComm) March 23, 2018

American Federation of Musicians:

Working people are under attack and they are rising up to join in union together! #Organize
https://t.co/RuNNTQor02

— Amer. Fed. Musicians (@The_AFM) March 28, 2018

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance:

ICYMI: Tipped workers, educators, and public schools win in #omnibus bill, while fate of undocumented immigrants remains uncertain: https://t.co/7Zr1VhRXzP pic.twitter.com/Gn9TsBrDgR

— APALA (@APALAnational) March 26, 2018

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA:

Thx to your advocacy, we are closer than ever to achieving our #Fightfor10! Our 10 hours min rest & Fatigue Risk Management Plan will be in the final version of the long-term bill as long as we continue to hold lawmakers accountable w/ our action. https://t.co/jivtCf6Be4

— AFA-CWA (@afa_cwa) March 24, 2018

Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers:

MUST READ: The Baker Uprising - BCTGM | The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union https://t.co/7ff6EJOSgm

— BCTGM International (@BCTGM) March 22, 2018

Boilermakers:

Better opportunities. A union can help you get better wages, benefits and a say in shaping your future. Check it out. #FormAUnion #Organize https://t.co/FnkGKuwOwu pic.twitter.com/aFYonllTtv

— Boilermakers Organizing (@joinIBB) March 22, 2018

Communications Workers of America:

CWA has opened negotiations w/the State of New Jersey for 32k state employees! At stake are across-the-board wage increases & restoring withheld salary increments — annual raises state workers receive when they reach an annual milestone in state service. https://t.co/UdLD86yDEJ

— CWA (@CWAUnion) March 27, 2018

Department for Professional Employees:

Interested in increasing the power of working people? Check out @WomenLeadLabor's new fellowship. Letters of interest due April 6. #1u https://t.co/jFAIZj3hK9

— DPE (@DPEaflcio) March 28, 2018

Electrical Workers:

#IBEW urges bidding process for Puerto Rico power restoration https://t.co/nmNXTMeU7U

— IBEW (@IBEW) March 27, 2018

Farm Labor Organizing Committee:

VP Justin Flores explains the #BoycottVUSE campaign and asks supporters in Winston Salem to join @SupportFLOC in boycotting @RAI_News tobacco product VUSE until Reynolds signs an agreement guaranteeing farmworkers protections to organize and join labor unions #1u pic.twitter.com/yg05Kwu4UC

— Farm Labor Organizing Committee (@SupportFLOC) March 26, 2018

Fire Fighters:

Over 1,200 Days And Counting: San Antonio, TX #Fire Union Contract Still Lacks Resolution https://t.co/2nMbUX6wAX

— IAFF (@IAFFNewsDesk) March 28, 2018

Heat and Frost Insulators:

Second year apprentice Damon Cannon working the Local 6 booth at the Brockton Workforce Investment Career Fair! pic.twitter.com/lZWowYup39

— Insulators Union (@InsulatorsUnion) March 27, 2018

International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers:

"Describing the move as “mean spirited,” Debbie Jennings, president of International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 4, which represents workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine..." #IFPTELocal4 https://t.co/GuZ0Femmvr

— IFPTE Local 4 (@IFPTELocal4) March 23, 2018

International Labor Communications Association:

#ILCAbookshelf This week we’re reading Julius G. Getman’s The Supreme Court on Unions from @CornellPress. An important book to understand Janus, so-called “Right-to-work” and the role of courts in shaping labor law https://t.co/azcEIVb8Kq #1u pic.twitter.com/5AR84FfzsX

— ILCA Communications (@ILCAonline) March 23, 2018

Jobs With Justice:

NEW: A study of @Gap stores shows that predictable and consistent work schedules aren’t just good for working people, but can also help improve a store’s bottom line. Corporations should heed the findings and end their unstable scheduling practices. https://t.co/8FgKb1MqMH #1u

— Jobs With Justice (@jwjnational) March 28, 2018

Laborers:

See which 15 states have the worst #roads and #infrastructure in US #RepairOurRoads #FixOurBridges https://t.co/w3lExvTfjH

— LIUNA (@LIUNA) March 28, 2018

Machinists:

Workers at BMW Victoria join IAM | Canadian Labour Reporter https://t.co/55jTzesK1W

— Machinists Union (@MachinistsUnion) March 28, 2018

Metal Trades Department:

Proud to see our affiliates leading the way on diversity in the trades. https://t.co/7r8OpJ3pNa

— Metal Trades Dept. (@metaltradesafl) March 27, 2018

National Air Traffic Controllers Association:

#OnThisDay in 2008 #NATCA & the #FAA signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing the ATSAP. This voluntary reporting program has helped advance safety culture in U.S. aviation, overall making the National Airspace System safer for all users.
https://t.co/fPNDsC7hlY pic.twitter.com/Q4ApgrZTXO

— NATCA (@NATCA) March 27, 2018

National Day Laborer Organizing Network:

Watch and share. Thanks to @BklynDefender! https://t.co/HwHzLY6yb6

— NDLON (@NDLON) March 27, 2018

National Domestic Workers Alliance:

Rest in Power, Linda Brown. You and your family’s bravery in the face of bigotry has reshaped our country and leaves a powerful legacy of equality whose ramifications will be felt for many generations to come #BlackWomenLead #WomesHistoryMonth https://t.co/dgK5X8jMY2

— Domestic Workers (@domesticworkers) March 27, 2018

National Nurses United:

In Healthcare Worker Safety, California Leads The Way https://t.co/krMfRstBrz #workplaceviolence

— NationalNursesUnited (@NationalNurses) March 27, 2018

National Taxi Workers Alliance:

Please donate and share to support our brother Nicanor Ochisor's widow. Nicanor was a yellow taxi owner-driver who committed suicide after facing financial ruin. https://t.co/hqH37KdHBK

— NY Taxi Workers (@NYTWA) March 28, 2018

The News Guild-CWA:

Philadelphia Media Network is adding six fellows to engage diverse audiences that they are 'simply not reaching.' @TNGLocal10. https://t.co/Wj46WSDTRo. pic.twitter.com/gHZGv9kXPg

— NewsGuild (@news_guild) March 28, 2018

NFL Players Association:

Today, we're joining @AmDiabetesAssn advocates to take Capitol Hill by storm for the annual Call to Congress! Players are sharing the impact of diabetes on their lives with legislators. #ThisIsDiabetes #TeamTackle pic.twitter.com/oNXZwciNaA

— NFLPA (@NFLPA) March 22, 2018

North America's Building Trades Unions:

"Privatization would leave small states like Maine in a lurch because there is no financial incentive for corporations to invest in small states where there is minimal return on investment." https://t.co/3vmYV4EUrE

— The Building Trades (@BldgTrdsUnions) March 27, 2018

Plasterers and Cement Masons:

Thank you @dscc for putting forth a plan with BROAD and SUSTAINABLE investment in our infrastructure and America's workers. We look forward to continued discussions that will result in a bipartisan bill to rebuild America. #builditrightbuilditnow https://t.co/TgyhMqfrHx

— OPCMIA International (@opcmiaintl) March 27, 2018

Pride At Work:

Congratulations to @rweingarten, President of @AFTunion, and her wife, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum!

Make Your Easter Union-Made in America!

Thu, 2018-03-29 10:31
Make Your Easter Union-Made in America! AFL-CIO

Easter is this Sunday, so here is a list of union-made in America treats to fill an Easter basket and your holiday dinner table brought to you by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor's resource site, Labor 411.

Easter candy

  • Cadbury Creme Eggs and other chocolate products
  • Dum Dums
  • Gimbal’s Gourmet Jelly Beans
  • Haviland Nonpareils
  • Jelly Belly
  • Laffy Taffy
  • Malted Milk Eggs (PAAS, Mighty Malts)
  • Marshmallow Peeps
  • Mike and Ike
  • Necco
  • Smarties
  • Tootsie Rolls and Pops
And don't forget to pick up a union-prepared Easter ham or lamb:
  • Appleton Farms ham
  • Black Forest ham
  • Butterball ham
  • Cook's ham 
  • Farmland Old Fashioned Pit Ham
  • Farmland Original Pit Ham
  • Fischer Meats lamb
  • Hormel Honey Roasted Ham
  • Tyson Foods ham
If you feel like doing a little egg dyeing, try these:
  • Alta Dena
  • Betty Crocker food coloring
  • Clover Sonoma
  • Horizon
Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 03/29/2018 - 10:31

Say No to Poverty Policies: The Working People Weekly List

Thu, 2018-03-29 09:28
Say No to Poverty Policies: 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.

Worker Death Shines Spotlight on Disney's Poverty Policies: "As a result of the federal tax cut, Disney promised that its employees would get $1,000 bonuses. Disney offered the bonuses to most of its employees with no conditions. But for 41,000 union members in Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California, Disney is requiring them to agree to the company's contract proposals in order to get the bonus."

How Unions Carried Pennsylvania’s 18th District — and Why the DNC Should Be Paying Attention: "Rep.-elect Conor Lamb made national waves with an improbable win last week in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District. He faced down $10 million in outside money funneled to his opponent by corporate and right-wing interests. He fought through a barrage of incessant, hyper-partisan attacks blanketing the airwaves. He was abandoned by his own party’s national infrastructure in a district that hadn’t elected a Democrat in nearly 15 years. And he still came out on top."

The Lessons of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Are Still Relevant 107 Years Later: "On March 25, 1911, a fire broke out on the top floors of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory. Firefighters arrived at the scene, but their ladders weren’t tall enough to reach the impacted area. Trapped inside because the owners had locked the fire escape exit doors, workers jumped to their deaths. Thirty minutes later, the fire was over, and 146 of the 500 workers—mostly young women—were dead."

The Racist Roots of Right to Work: "Proponents of 'right to work' laws often use lofty language to sell their agenda, with false appeals to freedom, among other high ideals. But right to work is about freedom only in this way: It’s about taking away the freedom of working people to join together in strong unions."

UAW Takes Action to Support Incarcerated Korean Trade Unionists: "A UAW representative recently returned from a trip to South Korea to try to secure the release of two key labor leaders jailed for their union activity. Since December 2015, Han Sang-gyun, who was president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, has been imprisoned for representing his members. And last December, KCTU General Secretary Lee Young-joo also was arrested after a 10-day hunger strike and two years of house arrest. There are other trade unionists who are charged or incarcerated as well."

The People's March Madness Sweet Sixteen: "Welcome to the AFL-CIO's March Madness Sweet Sixteen! But instead of focusing on the hottest basketball teams, we're focusing on the MARCH part of March Madness. Not the month, but actual marches."

New President for the New Mexico Federation of Labor: "On March 20, the New Mexico Federation of Labor Executive Board unanimously appointed Vince Alvarado as its new president. Alvarado is the business manager and financial secretary for International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 49, a position he has held since 2010. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the SMART Local 49 Health Plan and Joint Apprenticeship and Training Council. Alvarado is a third-generation sheet metal worker originally from El Paso, Texas, who served in various leadership roles on the job and with his union for more than two decades. He is currently the only state federation leader in the country who comes from SMART."

JetBlue Inflight Crew Members Vote on Joining TWU: "Nearly 5,000 JetBlue inflight crew members have begun the voting process this week in an effort to join the Transport Workers (TWU). Last year, an overwhelming majority of the inflight crew members signed cards in favor of coming together to negotiate a fair and just contract. Ballots will be cast between now and April 17."

Puerto Rico: Those Unforgettable Days: "There are days in our lives that are unforgettable. They are entrenched in our minds. They follow us like perennial shadows. Six months ago, I spent five days in Puerto Rico—two weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated this Caribbean island. As I look back into this short trip, I see images and situations that have stayed with me. Memories that are a constant reminder of how much remains to be done to lift up all working families who were affected by this disaster. Here are some of these moments."

Trumka: The Politicians Screaming About a Trade War Are Beholden to Wall Street: "Wall Street’s hair is on fire about steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by President Trump, because closing mills and factories in the United States and moving them overseas is how investors enrich themselves. And those wealthy investors reap even fatter profits when offshore mills and factories violate trade laws. Wall Street doesn’t care about the social and economic costs of unfair trade, because working people and our communities pay the price."

It's About Dignity and Humanity: Worker Wins: "Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with a group of production assistants voting unanimously for a voice on the job and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life."

Today's Working Women Honor Their Courageous Foremothers: "Nearly two centuries ago, a group of women and girls—some as young as 12—decided they'd had enough. Laboring in the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts, they faced exhausting 14-hour days, abusive supervisors and dangerous working conditions. When threatened with a pay cut, they finally put their foot down."

Drake: 'Tariffs to Protect U.S. National and Economic Security Are Overdue': "Celeste Drake, trade policy specialist at the AFL-CIO, participated in a discussion last week about trade and tariffs at The Dialogue."

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 03/29/2018 - 09:28

Worker Death Shines Spotlight on Disney's Poverty Policies

Tue, 2018-03-27 10:59
Worker Death Shines Spotlight on Disney's Poverty Policies UNITE HERE

As a result of the federal tax cut, Disney promised that its employees would get $1,000 bonuses. Disney offered the bonuses to most of its employees with no conditions. But for 41,000 union members in Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California, Disney is requiring them to agree to the company's contract proposals in order to get the bonus. 

In December, Disney workers in Orlando rejected the company's offer of a 50-cent pay raise, far below the livable wage that Disney's employees are fighting for. A new report shows that the overwhelming majority of Disney employees who responded said they do not earn enough for basic expenses every month.

Meanwhile, the tax cut will bring Disney some $2 billion every year. Giving every Disney employee the promised $1,000 bonus would cost Disney $125 million. The report on Disney employees revealed that more than 10% of working people at Disneyland resorts have been homeless or have not had a place to sleep in the past two years.

Yeweinisht "Weiny" Mesfin was one of those Disney employees who was homeless. Weiny's former co-worker, Vanessa Munoz, told Weiny's story to Left Voice:

I met [Weiny] in October 2013. Carsland was her home. You could find her in that land working from 11:30 p.m. to 8 a.m., six days a week. She always smiled and greeted you with a “hello.” Restrooms were her major.

The first month working with her in restrooms was hard. She had her own ways of doing things, and as soon as I got to know her, I knew what she liked and what she didn’t. She was good at her job and never once did I hear her complain about her job or her pay.

Every day she had a pear or apple for lunch and occasionally a muffin. Sometimes she’d buy me lunch and refuse to have me pay her back. So I would secretly pay for her muffins or lunch whenever I saw her walk into the cafe. "No, darling! It’s OK," was her reply whenever the lunch lady would tell her that her meal was paid for. She would then come to me and thank me but, the next day, would beat me and secretly buy me lunch. She was like that with everyone, not just me. If you had a birthday, she would chip in and help buy you a cake. Because that was the type of person she was. She was a kind person who was loved by everyone....

November 2016: Weiny goes missing right after Thanksgiving weekend. Working for almost five years for this company now, I was used to seeing people come and go. Some went and just never came back. Sometimes you saw it coming and sometimes you just didn’t. I wasn’t ready for her to go, and I never thought I’d see her go.

It took about a month for us to find her. It took endless messages, Facebook shares, phone calls and driving around. All it took was a message from her cousin that Wednesday morning in December. "We found Her. She is passed. Thank you for all that you did" was what it read. My heart dropped, and I wanted to just disappear. I felt like what I did wasn’t enough. I felt like I was to blame.

Soon enough, I found out more things about my friend, Weiny. I found out she was found in her car in a gym parking lot after suffering a heart attack. She sat in her car for almost a whole month waiting for someone to find her. Why? Because she lived in her car and that gym parking lot was her home. She would use the gym to shower and use the restroom.

She didn’t have enough money to get her own place, and my heart broke because all she did was give and give. Never once did she complain. But behind that smile and "good morning, darling" lived a whole different person. A woman struggling and working eight-hour shifts for six days for a company that didn’t even bother helping with flower arrangements. For a company that took and took from her and terminated her on the spot after her third no call, no show. A company that asked for her costumes back as soon as possible so they can give them to the next re-hire.

Someone out there on third shift at Disney now wears my Weiny’s beanie, her sweater, shirts and pants. Someone out there is about to give as much as Weiny did for a company that refuses to pay the employees an affordable living wage.

Read the rest of the story and take action today by telling Disney to pay all of its employees the promised $1,000 bonus.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 03/27/2018 - 10:59

How Unions Carried Pennsylvania’s 18th District — and Why the DNC Should Be Paying Attention

Tue, 2018-03-27 10:51
How Unions Carried Pennsylvania’s 18th District — and Why the DNC Should Be Paying Attention AFL-CIO

Rep.-elect Conor Lamb made national waves with an improbable win last week in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District. He faced down $10 million in outside money funneled to his opponent by corporate and right-wing interests. He fought through a barrage of incessant, hyper-partisan attacks blanketing the airwaves. He was abandoned by his own party’s national infrastructure in a district that hadn’t elected a Democrat in nearly 15 years. And he still came out on top.

It wasn’t because of some stale advice whispered into his ear by an overpaid consultant. He doesn’t owe this victory to super PACs or corporate donations. It certainly wasn’t thanks to the Democratic Party establishment — it’s still finding its way out of an agenda and message that failed to resonate with working people in 2016.

The fact is: Working people and the power of a union-run, member-to-member campaign are what carried the 18th District.

This election came down to a fight between our grassroots labor coalition and state Rep. Rick Saccone’s corporate-funded, RNC-managed smear campaign. The outcome proved what we already knew: The path to power runs through the labor movement.

Conor will be settling into a new office in Washington because he proudly stood with unions in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Read the full post at Medium.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 03/27/2018 - 10:51

The Lessons of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Are Still Relevant 107 Years Later

Sun, 2018-03-25 08:39
The Lessons of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Are Still Relevant 107 Years Later

On March 25, 1911, a fire broke out on the top floors of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory. Firefighters arrived at the scene, but their ladders weren’t tall enough to reach the impacted area. Trapped inside because the owners had locked the fire escape exit doors, workers jumped to their deaths. Thirty minutes later, the fire was over, and 146 of the 500 workers—mostly young women—were dead.

Watch this video to learn more about the tragedy:

Many of us have read about the tragic Triangle fire in school textbooks. But the fire alone wasn’t what made the shirtwaist makers such a focal point for worker safety. In fact, workplace deaths weren’t uncommon at the time. It is estimated that more than 100 workers died every day on the job around 1911.

A week after the fire, Anne Morgan and Alva Belmont hosted a meeting at the Metropolitan Opera House to demand action on fire safety, and people of all backgrounds packed the hall. A few days later, more than 350,000 people participated in a funeral march for those lost at Triangle.

Three months later, responding to pressure from activists, New York’s governor signed a law creating the Factory Investigating Commission, which had unprecedented powers. The commission investigated nearly 2,000 factories in dozens of industries and, with the help of such workers’ rights advocates as Frances Perkins, enacted eight laws covering fire safety, factory inspections, and sanitation and employment rules for women and children. The following year, they pushed for 25 more laws—entirely revamping New York State’s labor protections and creating a state Department of Labor to enforce them. During the Roosevelt administration, Perkins and Robert Wagner (who chaired the commission) helped create the nation’s most sweeping worker protections through the New Deal, including the National Labor Relations Act.

The shirtwaist makers’ story inspired hundreds of activists across the state and the nation to push for fundamental reforms. And while there have been successes along the way, the problems that led to the Triangle fire are still present today. It was just five years ago, for instance, that the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh killed more than 1,100 garment workers.

As worker health and safety continues to be a significant issue both in the United States and abroad, the AFL-CIO took a strong stand at our 2017 Convention, passing a resolution on worker safety:

The right to a safe job is a fundamental worker right and a core union value. Every worker should be able to go to work and return home safely at the end of the day.

Throughout our entire history, through organizing, bargaining, education, legislation and mobilization, working people and their unions have fought for safe and healthful working conditions to protect workers from injury, illnesses and death. We have made real progress, winning strong laws and protections that have made jobs safer and saved workers’ lives.

Over the years, our fight has gotten harder as employers’ opposition to workers’ rights and protections has grown, and attacks on unions have intensified. We haven’t backed down. Most recently, after decades-long struggles, joining with allies we won groundbreaking standards to protect workers from silica, beryllium and coal dust, and stronger protections for workers to report injuries and exercise other safety and health rights.

Now all these hard-won gains are threatened. President Trump and many Republicans in Congress have launched an aggressive assault on worker protections.

The worker protections under assault include:

  • Trump's proposed fiscal year 2019 budget cuts funding for the Department of Labor by 21%, including a 40% cut in job training for low-income adults, youth, and dislocated workers and the elimination of the Labor Department’s employment program for older workers.
  • The budget also proposes to cut the Occupational Safety and Health Administration budget, eliminate OSHA’s worker training program and cut funding for coal mine enforcement, while proposing a 22% increase for the Office of Labor-Management Standards' oversight of unions.
  • The budget also proposes to slash the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s job safety research budget by 40%, to move NIOSH to the National Institutes of Health from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and to remove the World Trade Center Health Program from NIOSH’s direction.
  • OSHA delayed the effective date of the final beryllium standard originally issued in January 2017. Then it delayed enforcement of the standard until May 11, 2018. In June 2017, OSHA proposed to weaken the beryllium rule as it applies to the construction and maritime industries.
  • OSHA delayed enforcement of the silica standard in construction, which in December was fully upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
  • OSHA delayed the requirement for employers to electronically report summary injury and illness information to the agency set to go into effect on July 1, 2017, until December 31, 2017. OSHA has announced it intends to issue a proposal to revise or revoke some provisions of the rule.
  • OSHA withdrew its policy that gave nonunion workers the right to have a representative participate in OSHA enforcement inspections on their behalf.
  • The Mine Safety and Health Administration delayed the mine examination rule for metal and nonmetal mines from May 23, 2017, until Oct. 2, 2017, and then again until March 2, 2018. MSHA also proposed weakening changes to the rule, including delaying mine inspections until after work has begun, instead of before work commences.
  • In November 2017, MSHA announced it would revisit the 2014 Coal Dust standard to examine its effectiveness and whether it should be modified to be less burdensome on industry. This comes at the same time NIOSH reported 400 cases of advanced black lung found by three clinics in Kentucky.
  • OSHA withdrew over a dozen rules from the regulatory agenda, including standards on combustible dust, styrene, 1-bromopropane, noise in construction and an update of permissible exposure limits.
  • The agency also suspended work on critical OSHA standards on workplace violence, infectious diseases, process safety management and emergency preparedness.
  • MSHA withdrew rules on civil penalties and refuge alternatives in coal mines from the regulatory agenda and suspended work on new standards on silica and proximity detection systems for mobile mining equipment. 

The Triangle Shirtwaist tragedy took place 107 years ago today. We have a long way to go to make sure that we prevent the next such tragedy and keep working people safe and healthy.

Kenneth Quinnell Sun, 03/25/2018 - 08:39

The Racist Roots of Right to Work

Fri, 2018-03-23 14:46
The Racist Roots of Right to Work

Proponents of "right to work" laws often use lofty language to sell their agenda, with false appeals to freedom, among other high ideals.

But right to work is about freedom only in this way: It’s about taking away the freedom of working people to join together in strong unions.

It’s no secret that wealthy corporations and individuals are pouring money into politics like never before to stack the deck against working people and pad their own profits. The State Policy Network, an alliance of right-wing think tanks with a combined annual budget of $80 million, is an example. In a 2016 fundraising letter, it announced a "breakthrough" campaign to "defund and defang" public service unions.

The goal of SPN, the letter reads, is to "permanently break the power of government unions." It cites its opposition to the role that organized public-service workers play as advocates for quality public services and for policies that help working families and hurt corporate bottom lines, like health care and retirement security.

This network of front groups for wealthy special interests has implemented a multipronged strategy to achieve its goal: passing right to work laws at the state and local levels, spreading misinformation and contacting public-service workers directly to persuade them to drop out of their unions, and by using the court system to undo legal precedent and impose right to work nationally. Both organizations behind Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, which seeks to make right to work the law of the land and was argued before the Supreme Court in February, are part of SPN.

But what none of them would ever openly say—not even in a letter to donors—is where right to work comes from and what its real agenda is. 

Continue reading at AFSCME.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 03/23/2018 - 14:46

UAW Takes Action to Support Incarcerated Korean Trade Unionists

Fri, 2018-03-23 08:55
UAW Takes Action to Support Incarcerated Korean Trade Unionists UAW

A UAW representative recently returned from a trip to South Korea to try to secure the release of two key labor leaders jailed for their union activity. Since December 2015, Han Sang-gyun, who was president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, has been imprisoned for representing his members. And last December, KCTU General Secretary Lee Young-joo also was arrested after a 10-day hunger strike and two years of house arrest. There are other trade unionists who are charged or incarcerated as well.

The UAW Executive Board passed a resolution calling for the pardon and release of these trade unionists and UAW President Dennis Williams has raised this issue at high levels of the U.S. and South Korean governments. The UAW representative met with Han, Lee and the U.S. and South Korean governments to present UAW member petitions and to push for basic labor and human rights and for their release.

Prison Visit with Lee

General Secretary Lee thanked UAW President Williams and his members for their support. She said that she is very touched and that it shows that the world’s workers are one. Although she had been ill at the time of her detention, due to a hunger strike, she reported that she is now on the road to recovery.

Visit to the South Korean Ministry of Justice

At the South Korean Ministry of Justice, the UAW met with two deputy directors of the Human Rights Policy Division delivering the petitions and the UAW letters condemning Han and Lee’s imprisonment and vowing to keep fighting.

Prison Visit with Han

The UAW delivered to President Han its petition for his release signed by President Williams and more than 500 UAW members. President Han was very moved by the support and solidarity.

U.S. Embassy Visit

At the U.S. Embassy, the UAW met with the counselor for political military affairs and delivered letters and petitions calling for the release of Han and Lee, as well as UAW President Dennis Williams’ statement in support of their release.

This post originally appeared on the UAW website

Tim Schlittner Fri, 03/23/2018 - 08:55

The People's March Madness Sweet Sixteen!

Thu, 2018-03-22 12:18
The People's March Madness Sweet Sixteen! AFL-CIOLabor and working people's marches throughout history.

Welcome to the AFL-CIO's March Madness Sweet Sixteen! But instead of focusing on the hottest basketball teams, we're focusing on the MARCH part of March Madness. Not the month, but actual marches.

We've set up a bracket of some of the most important marches and rallies for working people in American history. When we organize and fight for our values, we win. Here are 16 times where working people came together as leaders or as supporters and allies toward the greater good. Which one is your favorite?

Here is a little bit more detail on each march, so you can choose your favorite:

New York Shirtwaist Strike (1909): Also known as the Uprising of the 20,000, the New York Shirtwaist Strike involved primarily Jewish women working in New York factories who went on strike in order to gain improved wages, safer working conditions and better work hours. Led by Clara Lemlich, the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union and the National Women's Trade Union League of America, the strike was the largest by female workers up to that point. While successful for the New York working women, industry-wide safety problems were exposed a year later when the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire killed 146 garment workers.

Bread and Roses Strike (1912): After the Massachusetts Legislature cut the workweek by two hours, mill owners in Lawrence sought to cut working people's take-home pay. The Industrial Workers of the World mill workers launched a strike that was met with hostility, from the banning of parades and outdoor rallies to troops patrolling the workers' neighborhoods. The workers refused to give up, however, as many of them were fighting not only for better work conditions and treatment, but for the basic bread they needed to survive. The strikers won not only a pay raise and other gains for themselves, but the new system they won led to pay increases for 150,000 New Englanders.

Mother Jones and the March of the Mill Children (1903): Mary Harris "Mother" Jones went to the Kensington section of northern Philadelphia to rally 46,000 textile workers in their demands for a reduced workweek of 55 hours and a ban on night work by women and children. The year following the march, the National Child Labor Committee formed and Pennsylvania toughened its child labor laws the year after that.

Women's Suffrage Parade (1913): The day before Woodrow Wilson's inauguration, more than 5,000 women came to Washington by foot, by horseback or by wagon. Among the marchers demanding women's suffrage were the incoming president's niece. The marchers were heckled and harassed by the crowd at the time, but six years later, Congress passed the 19th Amendment, enshrining women's right to vote in the Constitution.

Silent Protest Parade (1917): After years of violence against African Americans, the East St. Louis Riot left several hundred African Americans dead and nearly 6,000 homeless, inspiring the NAACP and other organizations to launch the Silent Protest Parade. More than 10,000 women, men and children marched silently through the streets of New York. 

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963): The largest civil rights march of its era, more than 250,000 descended on the National Mall in support of civil and economic rights for African Americans. Labor leaders such as A. Philip Randolph were key in planning and executing the event.

Farmworkers March from Delano to Sacramento (1966): In protest of poor pay and working conditions, 75 Latino and Filipino grape workers led by César Chávez marched 340 miles from Delano, California, to the state Capitol. After a 25-day trek, they were greeted by 10,000 supporters. The strike lasted five years, ending in the creation of the United Farm Workers and the first contract between growers and farmworkers in U.S. history.

Poor People's March on Washington (1968): In the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, 3,000 people marched on the National Mall and set up a protest camp for six weeks. The marched called for improved economic and human rights for poor Americans. Numerous government programs to assist the poor were created as a result.

Women's Strike for Equality (1970): On the 50th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, more than 20,000 women marched in support of equal opportunity in the workforce, and political and social equality.

Equal Rights Amendment March in Illinois (1976): More than 16,000 protesters marched on Springfield, Illinois, calling on the state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Numerous marches would follow over the years, and they were one of the defining efforts of the women's movement.

National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights (1979): More than 100,000 people marched on Washington, D.C., in support of civil and economic rights for LGBTQ Americans. In addition to a call for comprehensive legislation, the marchers called for an executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in the federal government, military and government contracting.

Solidarity Day! (1981): A diverse crowd of more than 260,000 marched in opposition to cuts to programs that support working people. Ronald Reagan's cuts were aimed at everything from Social Security to occupational safety laws.

Million Woman March (1997): More than a million African American women marched through the streets of Philadelphia in support of improved civil, political and economic rights.

March for Women's Lives (2004): More than a million women marched on Washington, D.C., in support of women's reproductive freedom.

Detroit March in response to water shut-offs (2014): Detroit residents, union members and progressive activists, led by the Incredible Hulk himself, Mark Ruffalo, marched through the streets of Detroit in response to the water utility shutting off water for thousands of poor residents.

Women's March (2017): Following the inauguration of Donald Trump, more than 4.2 million women and men held rallies across the nation. The marchers protested the proposed policies of the administration and Trump's personal mistreatment of women.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 03/22/2018 - 12:18

New President for the New Mexico Federation of Labor

Thu, 2018-03-22 11:20
New President for the New Mexico Federation of Labor New Mexico AFL-CIONew Mexico Federation of Labor Secretary-Treasurer Ashley Long swears in Vince Alvarado as the new President of the state labor federation.

On March 20, the New Mexico Federation of Labor Executive Board unanimously appointed Vince Alvarado as its new president. Alvarado is the business manager and financial secretary for International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 49, a position he has held since 2010. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the SMART Local 49 Health Plan and Joint Apprenticeship and Training Council. Alvarado is a third-generation sheet metal worker originally from El Paso, Texas, who served in various leadership roles on the job and with his union for more than two decades. He is currently the only state federation leader in the country who comes from SMART.

New Mexico Federation of Labor Secretary-Treasurer Ashley Long (IAM) said New Mexico labor leaders were excited to support Alvarado in his new role: “The energy behind our Executive Board’s decision to appoint Vince as our new president was so enthusiastic and positive. There is a strong sense of unity that is growing and expanding across the New Mexico labor movement right now, and Vince is the exact leader we need. Together, we will keep up the momentum to grow a stronger movement for New Mexico's working families.”

New Mexico has emerged as an increasingly important state in the national fight to protect workers’ rights. As a team, New Mexico labor leaders, including Alvarado, mobilized working people and their communities to defeat "right to work" legislation in the state Legislature for the past four sessions. They continue to fight a right-wing funded push across the state to pass right to work on the county level. New Mexico is also a key state in the upcoming 2018 elections, where union leaders and activists are organizing to elect a pro-worker governor and solidify pro-worker majorities in their Legislature.

Long is confident that she and Alvarado can achieve those goals while continuing to unite and grow the New Mexico labor movement. “Vince is an absolute professional. He’s level-headed, thoughtful and experienced,” said Long. “We are a well-balanced, diverse leadership team that will work with our Executive Board to keep labor in New Mexico moving forward in a positive way.”

Alvarado said he also felt positive about the state labor movement's potential for growth: “The New Mexico labor movement has become more and more united ever since we joined together to defeat right to work four sessions ago, when we didn’t have the governor or the House on our side. Our movement has been doing well, but there is always room for improvement. There was a lot of good energy when our Executive Board appointed me to lead the federation, and there is a lot of potential to keep making our state better for working people."

Tim Schlittner Thu, 03/22/2018 - 11:20

JetBlue Inflight Crew Members Vote on Joining TWU

Thu, 2018-03-22 11:17
JetBlue Inflight Crew Members Vote on Joining TWU TWU

Nearly 5,000 JetBlue inflight crew members have begun the voting process this week in an effort to join the Transport Workers (TWU). Last year, an overwhelming majority of the inflight crew members signed cards in favor of coming together to negotiate a fair and just contract. Ballots will be cast between now and April 17.

TWU President John Samuelsen said:

JetBlue [inflight crew members] have come to the realization that the company does not have their best interests in mind. They have come to the right place, because TWU will win this election and will strategically engage JetBlue to win a solid contract. The company is more interested in making profits off the backs of its workers than in rewarding them for making it the extremely successful company that it is.

Inflight crew member Lyndi Howard explained the employees' motivation: "JetBlue [inflight crew members] would like the real opportunity and power to make improvements to our professional lives through collective bargaining and contractual language."

A statement on TWU's website explained how the process led to success:

This historic moment was made possible by the dedication of your co-workers who are serving as your committed team of in-house, rank and file activists. Through their efforts and your overwhelming support, you and your team have signed a sufficient number of cards needed to file for an election, so that the inflight crewmembers can begin to take control of their collective future. Your organizing team has done an exceptional job communicating with your workgroup and reaching out to the entire community of JetBlue inflight crewmembers. I congratulate them on their success.

Learn more about the campaign at Time We Unite.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 03/22/2018 - 11:17

Puerto Rico: Those Unforgettable Days

Tue, 2018-03-20 10:18
Puerto Rico: Those Unforgettable Days Gonzalo Salvador

There are days in our lives that are unforgettable. They are entrenched in our minds. They follow us like perennial shadows. Six months ago, I spent five days in Puerto Rico—two weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated this Caribbean island. As I look back into this short trip, I see images and situations that have stayed with me. Memories that are a constant reminder of how much remains to be done to lift up all working families who were affected by this disaster. Here are some of these moments:

Saturday, Oct. 7—Luis Muñoz Marin Airport, Carolina, Puerto Rico

Families with small children, elderly people. All of them desperately trying to leave the island. A feeling of guilt invaded me as I stepped onto my United Airlines flight to Newark, New Jersey. Nearly 300 volunteers from different unions stayed in Puerto Rico for another two weeks, providing critical relief to people who were affected by Hurricane Maria. In the previous four days, they became my brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, Oct. 4—Baseball Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico

It is 4 o’clock in the morning. "Everyone up. Time to go." I overheard the voice coming from back in the locker room, still half asleep while laying down on a cot. My roommates, most of them operating engineers, dressed in a heartbeat. They were energized and looking forward to getting to work.

Less than 12 hours earlier, we arrived on a flight from Newark Airport provided by United. Buses took us to our new "home": The Hiram Bithorn Stadium.

Time flies. It took less than two weeks to organize this relief mission and to get volunteers from many unions who had valuable skills that were urgently needed in Puerto Rico—electricians, nurses, truck drivers, operating engineers, plumbers, only to name a few.

The conditions at the baseball stadium were precarious at best. We had a limited supply of food and drinking water. But at least we had electricity and spotty cell phone reception. We were the lucky ones. At the time, nearly 90% of the island didn’t have any power. Only a few had access to water.

But even as we encountered these dire conditions, all volunteers were eager to go out and help. They reminded me of what the labor movement is all about: brotherhood, sisterhood and solidarity. Each union member was proud to give a hand to those most in need.      

Friday, Oct. 6—Barceloneta, Puerto Rico

It took a caravan of trucks and heavy machinery nearly three hours to reach Barceloneta, a small town less than 50 miles west of San Juan. The scenery that surrounded us was similar to a surrealist painting—trees were uprooted, all the vegetation was wiped out. Desolation. There wasn’t a trace of that paradisiacal island I visited many years before on vacation.

As soon as we arrived to this town, nurses and doctors began visiting a nearby nursing home. I joined a team of truck drivers and operating engineers who were in charge of clearing a road of debris.

At a distance, I spotted a house without a roof. A tree had fallen on its balcony. The windows were broken. A couple in their late 60s came out and asked me for help. They hadn’t had water or electricity for days. They said that they lost everything. I turned around in frustration, only to find more people asking me for water to drink.

On our way back, I took a bus and sat next to our health care volunteers. A nurse told me that people were sick and unnecessarily dying. A doctor from California showed me the photo of a man in his 80s. He said that he was about to die of dehydration and malnutrition.

"If we had arrived a day later, he would have died," the doctor added.

The sun was down. Total darkness surrounded us. Only a light was blinking far away. A beacon of hope, I thought.     

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Almost six months have passed since that day. The news is not good. Nearly 10% of the island doesn’t have electricity. Puerto Ricans, who are U.S. citizens, have no other option than to leave their homes and move to the "mainland." More than 1,000 people have died from causes related to the hurricane. Unnecessary deaths, as the nurse told me back in October. She was right. Most of those deaths were preventable.

And to add insult to injury, instead of pushing for policies that would provide Puerto Rico relief, there are talks of privatizing schools and lowering standards for teachers and other working people.

Today, I look back and think of all the people who I met during all those days in Puerto Rico. It is impossible not to wonder what happened to all of them. How is the couple in Barceloneta who lost everything doing? Is the man at the retirement home whose life was saved by a volunteer still alive?

Were our volunteer efforts in vain?  

No.

Our volunteers not only repaired the electric grid and generators, restored water, cleared roads and provided critical health care, they left an impression on every person they helped. I am sure that even today, those efforts endure.

And while greedy corporations continue to take advantage and make money off of Puerto Rico’s misfortune, union members are still on the ground helping their fellow Americans.

Like that light blinking during the night among the darkness, I believe that there is still hope for Puerto Rico. Our union volunteers’ solidarity is proof that even in the middle of a catastrophe, goodness prevails over greed. The labor movement’s constant commitment to aid our brothers and sisters, who continue to be under distress, is nothing short of heroic.

I am proud to be part of this movement. I am proud of every single woman and man who responded to the call to go to Puerto Rico.

Those days. Those unforgettable days.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 03/20/2018 - 10:18

Trumka: The Politicians Screaming About a Trade War Are Beholden to Wall Street

Tue, 2018-03-20 09:55
Trumka: The Politicians Screaming About a Trade War Are Beholden to Wall Street

Wall Street’s hair is on fire about steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by President Trump, because closing mills and factories in the United States and moving them overseas is how investors enrich themselves.

And those wealthy investors reap even fatter profits when offshore mills and factories violate trade laws. Wall Street doesn’t care about the social and economic costs of unfair trade, because working people and our communities pay the price.

We care about working people and our jobs, and we care about holding bad actors accountable. That’s why the AFL-CIO has consistently made the case for the use of tariffs to crack down on trade law violations. In the case of steel and aluminum, it’s not just about unfair trade practices, it’s also about national security.

This isn’t about Trump. And it certainly isn’t about partisan politics. Many in both parties have failed working people on the issue of trade. The politicians who are screaming about a trade war have one thing in common: They are beholden to Wall Street.

The real trade war is being waged directly on working people — our jobs, our communities, our way of life. We’ve been getting our butts kicked for decades because the rules allow global companies to profit at our expense rather letting us rise together. It’s a rigged game. Just take a drive through my small coal-mining town in southwestern Pennsylvania if you want proof.

When American workers compete on a level playing field, we win. Tariffs are one important step to help us do exactly that.

How does that work? To understand, you first have to recognize these basic facts:

Read the full op-ed in the Washington Post.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 03/20/2018 - 09:55

It's About Dignity and Humanity: Worker Wins

Tue, 2018-03-20 08:50
It's About Dignity and Humanity: Worker Wins CWA

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with a group of production assistants voting unanimously for a voice on the job and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.

New York Parking Production Assistants Unanimously Vote to Join CWA: Nearly 600 parking production assistants who secure parking in the New York City area for film and television productions voted unanimously to be represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA). The PPAs usually arrive 12–24 hours prior to production and work to secure parking spaces for production vehicles and equipment, usually working long hours alone, overnight, in conditions that are potentially dangerous. "This vote was about dignity, about humanity," said Lanere Rollins, one of the PPAs who voted to join CWA. "Film and TV productions couldn't happen without us, but PPAs have been on the bottom rung of the entertainment industry for a long time. Not one PPA in the city voted 'no' for the union, because we're stepping up to demand the respect and fair treatment that we deserve."

Another Victory for CWA at AT&T: More than 12,000 AT&T wireless workers represented by CWA in nine southeastern states and the Virgin Islands won a tentative contract that provides increased wages, improved job security, and rollbacks of offshoring and outsourcing. "I am proud of our bargaining committee and the CWA members from across the country who supported their efforts with rallies and picketing events," said Richard Honeycutt, vice president of CWA District 3. "We are continuing to set new standards in the wireless industry and we are demonstrating that the best way for working people to achieve better pay and fair treatment on the job is by joining together in a union." The agreement comes on the heels of a similar agreement, which was ratified last month by AT&T wireless workers in 36 additional states and Washington, D.C.

Majority of Mic Editorial Staff Vote to Join The NewsGuild of New York/CWA: The overwhelming majority of the editorial staff at digital news outlet Mic voted to be represented by The NewsGuild of New York/CWA Local 31003. The employees are now requesting that management voluntarily recognize their union. "I am so proud that the overwhelming majority of Mic reporters, editors, correspondents, social media editors, producers and copy editors have come together as a collective voice to improve Mic’s workplace," said Kelsey Sutton, Mic political reporter.

Food Service Workers at Airbnb Join UAW: Nearly 150 Bon Appétit Management Co. employees working at Airbnb ratified their first union contract with UAW. The agreement covers workers in San Francisco, California, and Portland, Oregon, who work in food service for Airbnb. "The contract raises the bar for working people up and down the West Coast," said Gary Jones, the Western Regional Director for the UAW. "We believe the dishwashers, servers and chefs working for Bon Appétit and serving Airbnb employees are now among the highest paid food service workers in California. This contract includes first-class language that protects workers’ rights and ensures excellent health benefits."

Kaiser Permanente Nurses in California Win Tentative Agreement: Registered nurses and nurse practitioners at 21 Kaiser Permanente medical centers and offices in Northern and Central California won a tentative agreement on a five-year contract that protects existing standards and improves protections for patients. The nurses, who are represented by National Nurses United (NNU), will begin voting on ratification of the contract on March 26. 

Alaska Airlines' Flight Attendants Reach Agreement on Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement: Flight attendants at Alaska Airlines agreed to a joint collective bargaining agreement that covers more than 5,400 working people. The agreement improves upon the previous contract and includes pay increases. "We worked hard to achieve improvements for the Alaska Airlines Flight Attendants while simultaneously balancing the need to quickly address the disparity for the former Virgin America Flight Attendants working under their current pay and work rules. The JCBA accomplishes those goals and provides for a smooth path to combine the two Flight Attendant groups," said Jeffrey Peterson, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) president at Alaska Airlines.

Piedmont Passenger Service Agents Win Major Improvements in Tentative New Contract: More than a year of bargaining and mobilization by Piedmont Airlines' passenger service agents has resulted in a tentative new contract that includes major raises, improved benefits and other gains. "Courageous passenger service agents have been standing up for family-sustaining jobs at American Airlines, and it's because of their determination and commitment to winning a fair contract that thousands of hardworking agents at Piedmont will see big improvements in pay and benefits after this long and tough fight," said CWA President Chris Shelton. "Working people joining together in unions to negotiate collectively remains the best way to achieve the fair return on their work that they deserve."

Seattle NPR Staff Vote to Join SAG-AFTRA: Staff at KUOW-FM 94.9 overwhelmingly voted to be represented by SAG-AFTRA. The bargaining unit will cover public media professionals who create content for the NPR- and University of Washington-affiliated station. Next, the unit will begin negotiations toward their first contract.

Frontier Communications Employees Prove Even Home-Based Workers Can Organize: More than 160 home-based customer service representatives in Texas who work for Frontier Communications won a mail ballot election to be represented by CWA. The organizing committee set up a network to share information on a daily basis, using both traditional organizing methods, as well as text and social media.

Fire Fighters Win Safety Improvements: In response to dwindling resources and dangerous work conditions, firefighters across the country are stepping up to win improvements on the job. In Portsmouth, Virginia, Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 539 members helped elect a city council that increased resources. In Ohio, IAFF Local 334 members fought to establish a "cancer presumption law" that assumes that firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer contracted the disease on the job and are therefore eligible for workers' compensation and pension benefits. And in Henry County, Georgia, members of IAFF Local 4052 persuaded the Board of Commissioners to accept a SAFER Grant that improves safety for firefighters and local residents.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 03/20/2018 - 08:50

Today's Working Women Honor Their Courageous Foremothers

Mon, 2018-03-19 15:47
Today's Working Women Honor Their Courageous Foremothers

Nearly two centuries ago, a group of women and girls — some as young as 12 — decided they'd had enough. Laboring in the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts, they faced exhausting 14-hour days, abusive supervisors and dangerous working conditions. When threatened with a pay cut, they finally put their foot down.

The mill workers organized, went on strike and formed America's first union of working women. They shocked their bosses, captured the attention of a young nation and blazed a trail for the nascent labor movement that would follow.

As we celebrate Women's History Month, working women are proudly living up to that example—organizing, taking to the streets and running for office in unprecedented numbers. It is a reminder that the movements for worker and women’s rights always have been interwoven.

But even as we rally together, our opponents are proving to be as relentless as ever. It’s been 184 years since that first strike in Lowell, and our rights still are being threatened by the rich and powerful. The Janus v. AFSCME case currently before the Supreme Court is one of the most egregious examples.

Janus is specifically designed to undermine public-sector unions’ ability to advocate for working people and negotiate fair contracts. More than that, it is a direct attack on working women. The right to organize and bargain together is our single best ticket to equal pay, paid time off and protection from harassment and discrimination.

Women of color would be particularly hurt by a bad decision in this case. Some 1.5 million public employees are African-American women, more than 17 percent of the public-sector workforce. Weaker collective bargaining rights would leave these workers with even less of a voice on the job.

This only would add insult to injury as black women already face a double pay gap based on race and gender, earning only 67 cents on the dollar compared to white men.

This is a moment for working women to take our fight to the next level. For generations, in the face of powerful opposition, we have stood up for the idea that protecting the dignity and rights of working people is a cause in which everyone has a stake.

Read the full op-ed at The Hill.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 03/19/2018 - 15:47

Drake: 'Tariffs to Protect U.S. National and Economic Security Are Overdue'

Mon, 2018-03-19 11:12
Drake: 'Tariffs to Protect U.S. National and Economic Security Are Overdue'

Celeste Drake, trade policy specialist at the AFL-CIO, participated in a discussion last week about trade and tariffs at The Dialogue. The following question was submitted to Drake and other experts:

U.S. President Donald Trump on March 8 signed into law new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum despite anxious warnings from leading members of his own party, global trading partners and liberal economists. At the same time, he announced that Canada and Mexico would be exempt from the tariffs, pending the outcome of the re-negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The tariffs have support from a diverse coalition of interests, ranging from the largest labor union in the United States to right-wing advocates of Trump’s 'America First' political ideology. What would the tariffs mean for Latin American and Caribbean countries? Which players stand to gain or lose the most? How will concerns about a global trade war come to bear on the current talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement? 

Drake responded:

For years, firms and workers in both the developed and developing world have supported action against unfair trade practices. In this century, China, in particular, has engaged in currency manipulation, denial of labor rights and overproduction—trade issues that the WTO and other multilateral forums have failed to address. The tariffs to protect U.S. national and economic security are overdue. They are a good step toward strengthening firms and protecting workers in the steel and aluminum industries, providing they are targeted to the countries that caused the problem, such as China. It is important to distinguish between trade enforcement and a trade war. Wall Street’s 'chicken little' rhetoric comparing this action to the Smoot-Hawley tariff has no basis in fact. More important, however, is that the global trading system needs comprehensive changes to prevent the kind of game-playing we have seen in global steel markets. Unions across the Americas are united in calling for sustainable, equitable trade rules that strengthen economies and create wage-led growth. In our globalized economy, workers are always better off with international—not unilateral—solutions. Since the United States, Canada and Mexico are already working to fix NAFTA, the three countries should develop a coordinated response to global economic challenges like dumping, overcapacity, tax avoidance and currency misalignment—even as they work on improving existing NAFTA labor and investment regimes. Just as inaction in the face of illegal trade practices harms working people, so will a go-it-alone strategy. If President Trump has an interest in hemispheric shared prosperity, he should abandon the nationalist rhetoric that plays into the hands of Wall Street critics of trade enforcement. Now is the time for the countries of the Americas to come together to address beggar-thy-neighbor trade strategies, abandon the race to the bottom and build economies that work for ordinary families, not just the global investor class.

Read the other responses.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 03/19/2018 - 11:12

The Path to Power: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 2018-03-16 13:23
The Path to Power: The Working People Weekly List AFL-CIO

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

 

Victory in Pennsylvania Shows Path to Power Is Through the Labor Movement: "Democrat Conor Lamb won a close special election for Congress in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, a massive turnaround in a district that then-presidential candidate Donald Trump won in 2016 by 20%. Rep.-elect Lamb embraced working people and stood up for the issues that are important to us, and we helped propel him to victory."

Local Union Leaders in the Midwest Strategize to Win in 2018 and Beyond: "'We are the only ones who can deliver the massive economic and social change working people are hungry for,' said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) to more than 300 union leaders gathered in Chicago this week. Local union leaders from state federations, labor councils and affiliate unions in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota joined together for the AFL-CIO Midwest District meeting to spend the day building a strategy to empower working people for victories in 2018 and beyond."

What Are Tariffs, Anyway?: "The word 'tariff' is popping up in the news a lot lately. Check out this short video that helps you understand what tariffs are and what impact they have on working people."

Inslee Signs Law ‘Banning the Box’ in Washington State: "Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee (D) on Tuesday signed into law the Fair Chance Act (H.B. 1298), sponsored by state Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self (D), extending 'ban the box' job-seeker protections to cover the state’s public and private employers."

Study Shows Quality New Member Orientation Programs Lead to Greater Commitment and Participation: "The strength of any union depends on the degree to which its members support the union and show that support by getting involved in union activities. Convincing members to support the union, and participate in its work, is one of the central challenges that every local union leader and activist faces. New research, released by the Labor School at Penn State University and Jobs With Justice Education Fund, provides strong evidence that leaders and activists can strengthen support for the union among new members and increase the degree to which they get involved in the union, through effective new member orientation (NMO) programs."

Make Your St. Patrick’s Day Union-Made in America: "Many people will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by going green and grabbing a frosty brew, and Labor 411 has more than a few great options. Its union-made beer list has topped 250 choices, and if you’re putting a meal together, it’s got some delicious savory accompaniments."

Legislation from DeLauro and Clark Would Strengthen Protections for Tipped Workers: "As we reported in January, President Donald Trump’s Department of Labor is proposing a rule change that would mean restaurant servers and bartenders could lose a large portion of their earnings. The rule would overturn one put in place by the Barack Obama administration, which prevents workers in tipped industries from having their tips taken by their employers. Under the new rule, business owners could pay their waitstaff and bartenders as little as $7.25 per hour and keep all tips above that amount without having to tell customers what happened."

Enforcing Trade Rules Is Not a 'Trade War': "The recent tariffs on steel and aluminum have been characterized as trade war. This is weird because countries often enforce trade rules with targeted tariffs and sanctions, and markets adjust. What’s the real issue?"

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 03/16/2018 - 13:23

Strengthening Working People's Power: AFL-CIO Holds Southwest District Meeting

Fri, 2018-03-16 11:27
Strengthening Working People's Power: AFL-CIO Holds Southwest District Meeting AFL-CIO

The fifth AFL-CIO district meeting of the year kicked off in Las Vegas with a discussion about the potential for growing power for working people in the Southwest. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler (IBEW) gave the crowd of nearly 300 union leaders and activists one number to think about: 8.8 million.

That’s the number of immigrants eligible to get naturalized and on the path to citizenship.

Shuler explained: "That could mean 8.8 million workers empowered to exercise their rights on the job because they have the ultimate protection from deportation. 8.8 million new voters. And 8.8 million families that are more stable and secure."

The Southwest District states of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas are home to some 1.5 million working people who are eligible for citizenship today. The labor movement in the Southwest is actively organizing union members to pursue naturalization. This will strengthen worker power to gain concrete protections on the job, expand and diversify the electorate, and help win the sweeping changes that working people expect and deserve.

Panel participants from Culinary Union Local 226, Laborers (LIUNA) locals 169 and 872, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 99, and the Texas AFL-CIO shared best practices around arranging citizenship clinics, partnering with community organizations to reach a wider range of potential citizens, and empowering new citizens to vote.

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre (UFCW) closed the panel discussion by asking attendees to move forward similar programs through their unions. He said: "This is work for all of us. We want unions to become the center of all activity on immigration in their communities. We want workers to know that it was the union who helped them to become a citizen. It is up to us if we want 8.8 million workers to join our ranks."

A series of breakout sessions and a panel of state federation leaders from Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas focused on building upon the achievements and growth of the labor movement in the Southwest. Although labor leaders in the district have to fight against “right to work” laws and well-funded anti-worker groups, their recent victories include:

  • Organizing new workers at Station Casinos and Trump International Hotel in Nevada.
  • Adding 80,000 new union members in Texas.
  • Stopping right to work laws in the Colorado and New Mexico legislatures.
  • Electing Nevada’s first Latina senator and ousting Sheriff Joe Arpaio in the 2016 elections.

In a video message, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) encouraged attendees to keep up the momentum in 2018: 

When more union members fill the halls of power, when wages go up and inequality shrinks, when we have more pro-labor Republicans and fewer corporate-beholden Democrats, when a growing number of young people see the value of democracy, when we stop defining victory as simply not losing, and most of all, when more workers realize their own value and power, that’s when you’ll know unions are on the rise.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 03/16/2018 - 11:27

Local Union Leaders in the Midwest Strategize to Win in 2018 and Beyond

Thu, 2018-03-15 13:22
Local Union Leaders in the Midwest Strategize to Win in 2018 and Beyond AFL-CIO

"We are the only ones who can deliver the massive economic and social change working people are hungry for," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) to more than 300 union leaders gathered in Chicago this week. Local union leaders from state federations, labor councils and affiliate unions in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota joined together for the AFL-CIO Midwest District meeting to spend the day building a strategy to empower working people for victories in 2018 and beyond.

“When more workers realize their own value and power, that’s when you’ll know the labor moment is on the rise. That moment is close. I feel it in every union hall I visit and every picket line I stand on.” @RichardTrumka #1u pic.twitter.com/iQfeNcYnCs

— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) March 13, 2018

President Trumka reflected on the latest successes in the Midwest and the importance of building on that momentum. Recent victories include:

  • When anti-worker legislators passed "right to work" in Missouri, working people pounded the pavement, collecting more than three times the signatures necessary to put that law on the ballot this fall, when they plan to defeat it.

  • Hotel workers secured a major victory when the Chicago City Council passed the "Hands Off, Pants On" ordinance, thanks to a massive campaign by the Chicago Federation of Labor and UNITE HERE Local 1. The legislation mandates that housekeepers be given panic buttons so they can alert hotel security when they feel threatened and prohibits hotel employers from retaliating against a hotel worker for reporting sexual harassment or assault by a guest.

  • South Dakota is investing in young leaders, like the newly elected president of the Sioux Falls Central Labor Council, Kooper Caraway (AFSCME). At 27 years old, Caraway is the youngest elected AFL-CIO president in the history of South Dakota and one of the youngest labor council presidents in the country.

  • In Minnesota, labor led the charge to raise the wage in Minneapolis and secure paid sick leave in St. Paul.

  • When anti-labor politicians passed sweeping legislation requiring public-sector unions to hold recertification elections before negotiating new contracts, unions dug deep and focused on internal organizing, recertifying more than 93% of Iowa's public-sector bargaining units.

"The test of 2018 and beyond will be to build on these successes. Each election, each organizing drive, each legislative battle will showcase our growing clout," Trumka said. Two panels at the Midwest District meeting dove further into the achievements and challenges we face in the states and featured state federation presidents from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota. They discussed the importance of listening to union members and engaging them on issues and the value of solidarity across the labor movement. AFL-CIO Vice President Tefere Gebre (UFCW) echoed their sentiment when he said: "We’re here to say if you mess with one of us, you have to deal with all of us."

Union leaders from Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Illinois have a strategy to empower working people for important victories in 2018! #1u pic.twitter.com/MEHdNFlYmu

— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) March 13, 2018

 

Union leaders from Indiana, South Dakota, Kansas, and Nebraska are talking about the opportunities for working people to win in 2018! #1u pic.twitter.com/vVznK5ykM4

— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) March 13, 2018

Breakout sessions gave participants the tools they need to build a stronger labor movement in the Midwest. Sessions focused on internal organizing, using issues to engage our members and allies, building a program to elect union members to political office, and using data and technology to break new ground in politics and organizing.

Participants left feeling energized and ready to increase worker power. Michael Matejka, director of government affairs for the Great Plains Laborers’ District Council, said: "Too often we can get stuck in our own world and our own issues. Meetings like this are critical to understanding the challenges and opportunities that we have as a labor movement."

This is the fourth district meeting that’s taken place in 2018, with two more meetings to be held in Las Vegas and New Orleans.

Check out the photo album on Facebook.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 03/15/2018 - 13:22