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Trump's TPS Decision Is Literally Tearing Families Apart

Wed, 2017-11-29 11:13
Trump's TPS Decision Is Literally Tearing Families Apart AFL-CIO

This week, the Trump administration made the cruel announcement that it will strip away rights and work permits from 50,000 men and women from Haiti by ending their Temporary Protected Status. Our UNITE HERE sister, Marie Parfait, is one of the tens of thousands of Haitian immigrants who will be facing deportation in 18 months—even though she and others have been living and working here legally for nearly a decade.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said of the decision: "At a holiday time when families come together, the administration is literally tearing families apart. The labor movement supports TPS as an essential program to protect the rights of all workers and the freedom to join together to negotiate for a fair return on work."

TPS was created to protect people who are unable to return to countries experiencing crises such as war, natural disaster or ongoing violence. It helps prevent hardworking people from returning to conditions that could cost them their lives. In the case of Haiti, TPS status was granted after a devastating earthquake in 2010, and the island nation has since been hit by more than one Category 4 hurricane and a cholera epidemic that sickened nearly 1 million people.

Labor unions are making a strong statement that people who have lived here for decades and played by the rules should not be sent back to harm’s way and instead should be offered a well-earned path to legalization and citizenship. Our entire workforce will suffer if immigrant working people are stripped of their rights and status. Congress is considering legislation (H.R. 4253 and S. 2144) that would provide a solution; they need to hear from you to make it happen.

The ability to exploit any person undermines standards for us all. TPS is a crucial program that provides work permits, allowing people to stand up for their rights on the job instead of living in the shadows. TPS holders are members of our families, our unions and our communities who have made positive contributions to our society for many years.

Make a call now at 1-844-551-6921 to ask your representative to protect TPS.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 11/29/2017 - 10:13

Tags: Haiti

Fighting the GOP Tax Scam: In the States Roundup

Tue, 2017-11-28 16:00
Fighting the GOP Tax Scam: In the States Roundup

It's time once again to take a look at the battles for the freedoms of working families in the states. Here is what the unions in the states are talking about this week. Click on any of the links to follow the state federations and labor councils on Twitter.

Alaska AFL-CIO:

#GOPTaxPlan #GOPTaxScam pic.twitter.com/LCacr8jIi3

— Alaska AFL-CIO (@AKAFLCIO) November 28, 2017

Arizona AFL-CIO:

It's time to make those calls to Senators McCain and Flake again. This time the message is simple: Tell them:... https://t.co/ppccNxIYhg

— Arizona AFL-CIO (@ArizonaAFLCIO) November 26, 2017

Arkansas AFL-CIO:

Arkansas lost a good man. https://t.co/Eedfrc1KOc

— Arkansas AFL-CIO (@ArkansasAFLCIO) November 17, 2017

California Labor Federation:

On #GivingTuesday please remember the thousands affected by the fires that ravaged California this fall. Folks can donate to working families who lost everything here

Working People Need a Strong CFPB with a Leader Who Supports Its Existence

Tue, 2017-11-28 10:05
Working People Need a Strong CFPB with a Leader Who Supports Its Existence

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created after the Great Recession of 2008 wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy, causing millions of families to lose their homes to foreclosure and forcing millions of working people onto the unemployment rolls. Its mission is to protect working people from tricks and traps in consumer financial products like home mortgages and credit cards.

The CFPB has proven extremely effective. Since its creation in 2010, the bureau has returned $12 billion to consumers wronged by lenders. Twenty-nine million consumers have received relief.

The bureau owes much of its success to strong leadership. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) originally had the idea to create the CFPB when she was a law professor at Harvard and led the bureau in its infancy. In 2012, she was succeeded by Richard Cordray, who had a strong record of pursuing wrongdoing against consumers as Ohio attorney general before his time at the CFPB.

Cordray, however, resigned last week, and President Donald Trump named Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to replace him.

There are a few problems with this. First, Mulvaney already has a job leading the Office of Management and Budget and has shown no intention of stepping down from the post. Mulvaney also has been highly critical of the CFPB, calling it a “joke…in a sick, sad way.” Finally, there are legal questions about who gets to lead the bureau when the director steps down—the deputy director or someone appointed by the president.

In addition, Mulvaney's former chief of staff, Natalee Binkholder, left Mulvaney's congressional staff to go to work as a lobbyist for Santander, a bank that has faced sanctions from the bureau and is reportedly facing a CFPB lawsuit alleging that it overcharged consumers for car loans.

We learned the hard way from the financial crisis in 2008 that working people need the CFPB. We need the bureau to fight to protect us from predatory lenders and, in order to be effective in doing that, it needs to be led by a strong, full-time director who believes in its mission. Consumer financial protection is a full-time job, not a side gig for someone who things it’s a "joke."

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 11/28/2017 - 09:05

Don't Pass Huge Tax Cuts for the Wealthy on the Backs of Working People

Mon, 2017-11-27 12:19
Don't Pass Huge Tax Cuts for the Wealthy on the Backs of Working People AFL-CIO

Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate have proposed a job-killing tax plan that favors the super-rich and wealthy corporations over working people. We cannot afford to let this bill become law.

Here's why this plan is a bad idea:

  • Millions of working people would pay more. People making under $40,000 would be worse off, on average, in 2021; and people making under $75,000 would be worse off, on average, in 2027.
  • The super-rich and Wall Street would make out like bandits. The richest 0.1% would get an average tax cut of more than $208,000, and 62% of the benefits of the Senate bill would go to the richest 1%. Big banks, hedge funds and other Wall Street firms would be the biggest beneficiaries of key provisions of the bill.
  • Job-killing tax breaks for outsourcing. The Republican tax plan would lower the U.S. tax rate on offshore profits to zero, giving corporations more incentive to move American jobs offshore. 
  • Working people would lose health care. Thirteen million people would lose health insurance, and health care premiums would rise 10% in the non-group market. Meanwhile, Republicans want to cut Medicaid and Medicare by $1.5 trillion—the same price tag as their tax bill.
  • Job-killing cuts to infrastructure and education. Eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes would drastically reduce state and local investment in infrastructure and lead to $350 billion in education cuts, jeopardizing the jobs of 350,000 educators.

Republican tax and budget plans would make working people pay the price for wasteful tax giveaways by sending our jobs overseas; killing jobs in infrastructure and education; raising our taxes; increasing the number of uninsured; and cutting the essential public services we depend on.

Call your senator today at 844-899-9913.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 11/27/2017 - 11:19

AFL-CIO Files Shareholder Action Asking Nike to Pay Its Share of Taxes

Wed, 2017-11-22 11:07
AFL-CIO Files Shareholder Action Asking Nike to Pay Its Share of Taxes

In the wake of the release of the so-called Paradise Papers, the AFL-CIO sent a shareholder proposal to Nike asking the world's largest sports brand to stop using tax-avoidance schemes that have allowed the company to avoid paying $4 billion in U.S. taxes. That money could be used to fund infrastructure, schools and health care.

The Paradise Papers helped shine a spotlight on the practices used by companies like Nike to avoid paying taxes on earnings they make in the United States. Nike is a client of the offshore law firm Appleby, which helped Nike shift the billions in profits through such methods as transferring ownership of trademarks, including Nike’s iconic swoosh logo, to a Bermudian subsidiary and then to a Dutch limited partnership.

The AFL-CIO’s shareholder proposal will go to a vote at Nike’s 2018 annual meeting and has been co-filed by Domini Investments. The proposal asks Nike to adopt a set of "responsible tax principles" that include:

  • Considering the impact of Nike’s global tax strategies on local economies and government services that benefit Nike;
  • Annually reviewing Nike’s tax strategies and assessing the alignment between the use of such strategies and Nike’s stated values or goals regarding sustainability;
  • Periodically assessing the reputational consequences, including views of customers, shareholders and employees, of engaging in practices deemed to be "tax avoidance" by such stakeholders; and
  • Ensuring that Nike seeks to pay tax where value is created.

These principles will help ensure that Nike’s board is fully informed regarding the impacts of offshore tax avoidance strategies and considers them when exercising its oversight responsibilities. The AFL-CIO is considering filing similar shareholder proposals at other companies that have been named as Appleby clients in the Paradise Papers, such as Facebook, Alphabet and Allegan.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 11/22/2017 - 10:07

Giving Thanks for the Ethical Feast

Tue, 2017-11-21 10:50
Giving Thanks for the Ethical Feast Labor 411

This Thanksgiving, make sure your meal is an ethical one with these tips from our friends at Labor 411. Here are the supplies you need to make sure your family meal helps support other working families.

Here is Labor 411's list of ethical—and very tasty!—products for your Thanksgiving meal:

Whole Turkey

  • Butterball
  • Foster Farms

Ham

  • Alexander & Hornung
  • Boar's Head
  • Cook's Ham
  • Farmland
  • Hillshire Farm
  • Hormel
  • John Morrell & Co.
  • Sahlen's
  • Thumann's

Potatoes/Sweet Potatoes

  • Betty Crocker
  • Dole
  • Homestyle Bakes
  • Mann's
  • Ore-Ida

Stuffing

  • Kraft
  • Stroehmann Bakery Products

Cranberries/Cranberry Sauce

  • Dole
  • Ocean Spray

Pie

  • Entenmann's
  • Marie Callender's

Salad/Vegetables

  • Amaral Ranches broccoli and romaine lettuce
  • Andy Boy broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce
  • Birds Eye and Mann's green beans
  • Del Fresh mushrooms
  • Dole salads
  • Fresh Express salad
  • Gargiulo tomatoes

Once the feast is over, keep up the spirit of Thanksgiving by fighting Black Friday creep. A growing number of big-name retailers are staying open for shopping hours on Thanksgiving. This trend means that workers must interrupt their time with family and friends to face hoards of early holiday shoppers. Please sign Labor 411's petition urging the CEOs of Walmart, Target and Toys R Us to give their employees the day off on Thanksgiving, and save your holiday mall-going for Black Friday and beyond.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 11/21/2017 - 09:50

Mexican Farm Workers Win Historic FLOC-Backed Strike

Mon, 2017-11-20 16:06
Mexican Farm Workers Win Historic FLOC-Backed Strike FLOC/Kentucky AFL-CIO

Kentucky farmers who hire migrant workers aren’t always happy to see Stephen Bartlett.

So the Farm Labor Organizing Committee’s Bluegrass State organizer enjoys telling a story about a Green County tobacco grower.

"After organizing a successful mediation with this farmer and his H-2A guest workers, he told me he needed a union, too," said the Louisville-based Bartlett, who spoke at the recent Kentucky State AFL-CIO convention in Lexington.

Organizing immigrant labor on Kentucky farms might seem like mission impossible. Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump won almost 63% of the Bluegrass State's vote and carried every rural county. But Bartlett, with FLOC leaders and lawyers behind him, made it mission accomplished.

Last month, he helped seven Mexican H-2A guest workers win apparently the first-ever tobacco workers’ strike in Kentucky, a state-long synonymous with "brown gold."

Wayne Day, the Garrard County farm owner, gave in after about three weeks and paid the workers $20,000 in back wages and attorney’s fees, Bartlett said.

The strikers, who have returned to their homes, stopped working for Day because over a three-year span, he refused to pay thousands of dollars he owed them, Bartlett said.

The H-2A farm worker federal minimum wage in Kentucky is $10.92 an hour. Day paid his workers only $7 an hour in 2015 and $8 an hour in 2016 and this year. Sometimes he paid them at an even lower piece rate, according to Bartlett.

Bartlett said that after the workers discovered that Day was cheating them,  they contacted him and joined the union. They don't speak English, but he speaks Spanish.

Bartlett said that on Sept. 19, he handed Day a letter demanding that he pay the workers back wages to reach the H-2A minimum wage. Day told the workers that if they didn't like what he was paying them, they could go home, according to the state FLOC organizer.

The farm workers stayed put and went on strike Oct. 11. Bartlett said they hope to return to work on other farms next spring. They also said they would help him organize other immigrant workers.

Bartlett said most farmers treat their H-2A workers fairly and obey the law. "I tell them that FLOC has no gripe with farmers who do right by their workers. Our dispute is with the large corporations that squeeze the farmers and their laborers."

Bartlett said the Green County farmer told him about his problems with the big tobacco companies that buy his leaf. "He said the price he gets has been stagnant for two decades. We mean it when we say to farmers that FLOC could be their union, too. Family farmers in Kentucky and elsewhere absolutely need a union to collectively fight for better prices."

Bartlett said FLOC’s aim is to raise tobacco worker wages to $15 an hour. He said that’s possible only if growers get a fair price for their tobacco.

"I look forward to helping FLOC make more inroads into the farm worker sector here and to the day we achieve a broad agreement that would signify greater justice and dignity for those who are most marginalized—immigrant and migrant farm workers," Bartlett said.

"FLOC is proud to be part of the AFL-CIO and to join the righteous struggle for a true economic democracy that will insure the respect and dignity the workers deserve. After all, it is the workers who create all the wealth, not the capitalists, using their bodies and creative minds to transform raw materials into useful products."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 11/20/2017 - 15:06

Two Workers Assassinated in Mexico: NAFTA Renegotiation Is More Important Now Than Ever

Mon, 2017-11-20 15:12
Two Workers Assassinated in Mexico: NAFTA Renegotiation Is More Important Now Than Ever

The need to fundamentally improve the labor provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement took on a new urgency over the weekend, as a group of armed civilians, calling themselves the “Tonalapa Community Police,” (Policía Comunitaria de Tonalapa) attacked striking workers, killing two, at the Media Luna mine in Guerrero, Mexico. The murders occurred just five hours south of Mexico City, where representatives from the United States, Canada and Mexico are in the midst of their fifth round of talks about rewriting NAFTA.

The aggressors, meanwhile, were released after being briefly detained by an army squadron.

The striking workers, who want to be represented by the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Related Workers of the Mexican Republic (Los Mineros) and are demanding the removal of the employer-dominated "labor" federation CTM (Confederación de Trabajadores de México), identified local CTM leaders as among those responsible for the attack. The practice of false unions siding with the employer over workers is a common feature of Mexico’s failed labor relations model. Employer-dominated "labor" federations are antithetical to the idea of democratic worker-led unions whose goal is to help workers build better lives.

The strike, which has been joined by residents of nearby communities of Cocula, Eduardo Neri and Tepecoacuilco, began in response to longstanding demands over pay, safety equipment and decent food. The workers and local residents maintain that the mine has broken a string of promises to its employees and the communities. The Mexican mining company, Media Luna, is owned by a Canadian global corporation, Torex Gold Resources.

Workers—no matter what country they live in—must have the freedom to join and act together to improve their wages and conditions of work. Armed attacks intimidate workers, keeping families in fear as they keep wages down and workplaces less safe.

Such attacks, which are common in Guatemala, Colombia and other U.S. trading partners, are one hallmark of a repressive labor system. These attacks should not be tolerated by responsible employers, the Mexican government or the U.S. government. This deplorable use of violence against a community standing up for itself is inconsistent with any notion of a "level playing field" or "free" or "fair" trade. How can trade be free if people aren’t?

This incident is a prime example of why working people across North America are united in demanding new, effective labor rules in NAFTA that will ensure that all three governments effectively uphold high labor standards and show zero tolerance for violence and intimidation. 

Learn more about the improvements needed to the NAFTA labor chapter here. Get involved by asking your member of Congress to speak up about labor abuses in Mexico and how NAFTA must address them.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 11/20/2017 - 14:12

Tags: Mexico, NAFTA

A Job-Killing Tax Bill: The Working People Weekly List

Sat, 2017-11-18 12:41
A Job-Killing Tax Bill: 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.

Senate Tax Bill Cuts Taxes of Wealthy and Hikes Taxes on Families Earning Under $75,000 Over a Decade: "The tax bill Senate Republicans are championing would give large tax cuts to millionaires while raising taxes on American families earning $10,000 to $75,000 over the next decade, according to a report released Thursday by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress' official nonpartisan analysts."

Nike Shareholders to Propose Tax Principles After Paradise Papers Leak: "In the wake of the Paradise Papers revelations about tax avoidance, the AFL-CIO and Domini Impact Investments LLC, a provider of socially responsible mutual funds, is asking Nike Inc. to adopt formal tax practice principles."

Trump Tax Plan Gives Jobs Away to Robots and Will Increase Unemployment: "'We’ve already seen that this bill is a job killer in terms of outsourcing and these issues of timing around tax deductions for human capital versus physical capital seem likely to make it even more of a job killer,' AFL-CIO policy director Damon Silvers told Newsweek."

Cookie Crumbles for Laid Off Vets: "Will Attig, head of the Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO, said the rally was calling out corporations for sending veterans’ jobs overseas. 'It’s shameful and unpatriotic that veterans come home and have their job ripped from them by a greedy corporation.'"

GOP Tax Plans Could Fuel the Suburban Revolt Against Trump: "After a suburban firestorm in last week's elections, House Speaker Paul Ryan is now asking his Republican members from suburbia to put out the fire with gasoline. In the House of Representatives, Republicans representing white-collar districts were understandably unnerved by a roaring backlash against President Donald Trump in last week's elections, which carried Democrats to sweeping victories from northern Virginia to leafy communities outside New York, Philadelphia and Seattle. Just days later, the House leadership is now pressing those same suburban representatives to back a tax reform bill that independent analysts say will raise taxes on many of their constituents, particularly in Democratic-leaning states and around the major metropolitan areas with the highest real estate values."

Puerto Rico’s Second-Class Treatment on Food Aid: "Of all Puerto Rico’s continuing miseries seven weeks after Hurricane Maria’s devastation, the most blatantly unjust is that islanders have been denied the more generous and swifter food relief distributed to storm victims this year in Texas and Florida under the emergency food stamp program."

House Republicans Throw Trillions of Dollars at Millionaires and Corporations, Hope Nobody Will Notice: "Congressional Republicans, knowing how much their new tax bill stinks, seem determined to ram it through Congress before the rest of the country figures out how truly awful it is."

Working People Are Tackling High Drug Costs Through State-Level Reforms: "Despite all of the talk in Washington, D.C., about health care, Congress and Donald Trump have done nothing to deal with the No. 1 health care problem facing working people. Surging health care prices—especially prescription drug prices—are putting ever-increasing pressure on family budgets, workers' health plans and public health programs."

Labor Puts Working People in Charge: "The three union member candidates who addressed the 2017 AFL-CIO Convention won their elections! This came shortly after the adoption of Resolution 10, 'Encouraging Union Members to Run for Public Office,' that pledges to adopt labor candidate programs in every state and local labor body in the country."

Be Thankful for These Companies on Thanksgiving: "Thanksgiving is a time to be spent with family and friends, and NOT a day to boost retail sales. This year, our friends over at Labor 411 wanted to thank the companies that have made the pro-working families decision to stay closed on Thanksgiving Day."

A Not-So-Modest Proposal to Reform NAFTA: "The next NAFTA negotiation round officially begins Nov. 17, and the news isn't all bad. It may sound crazy, but the same administration that put a Goldman Sachs and OneWest operative in charge of the Treasury Department and an anti-public school advocate in charge of the Department of Education recently made a NAFTA proposal that would nearly eliminate the private corporate justice system known as ISDS (investor-to-state dispute settlement)."

2017 Election Update: New Jersey Labor Candidate Victories Rise to 964: "Labor won big this year, and the news just got better. After a tight race for Florence Township Council, our brother from LIUNA Local 172, Frank Baldorossi Jr., prevailed. The final vote tally was 645–624, a difference of only 21 votes. We also congratulate IBEW Local 351 Brother Steve Light, who was elected to serve as a member of the Absecon City Council, and our brother from IBEW Local 3, Michael Soriano, who secured a major victory in his race for Parsippany mayor."

'Wall of Fame–Wall of Shame' Might Be Coming to a Union Hall Near You: "Unique United Steelworkers of America-made 'Wall of Fame–Wall of Shame' banners are hitting the road in the Bluegrass State."

Workforce Intermediaries Advance Equity and Diversity Through Apprenticeship: "As we kick off National Apprenticeship Week, it is more important than ever to shine a light on the ways government agencies, employers and joint labor-management programs can focus their resources on fostering greater equity, diversity and inclusion in the American workforce. Registered apprenticeship programs are a big part of the answer. Workforce intermediary partnerships that promote and operate apprenticeship programs are powerful vehicles for delivering career opportunities."

Republicans Defeat the ‘Stop Outsourcing of American Jobs’ Amendment: "When the House Ways and Means Committee debated the GOP tax bill yesterday, Republicans voted down the 'Stop Outsourcing of American Jobs' amendment offered by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas)."

Kenneth Quinnell Sat, 11/18/2017 - 11:41

Working People Stand Up to Nabisco's Outsourcing on National Day of Action

Fri, 2017-11-17 14:53
Working People Stand Up to Nabisco's Outsourcing on National Day of Action AFL-CIO

Yesterday, at more than 100 big-box stores across the United States, working families and activists leafleted with Nabisco workers to urge consumers to boycott Nabisco snacks like Oreo, Ritz Crackers and Chips Ahoy that are made in Mexico! Nabisco and parent corporation Mondelēz International continue to outsource hundreds of good, middle-class jobs and exploit working families across borders and oceans for reportedly around $1 per hour with little to no benefits.

Working people like Anthony Jackson illustrate the human impact of the decisions made by Nabisco and Mondelēz:

“This was going to be my career,” said 41-year-old Anthony Jackson. In 2011 Jackson, a Navy veteran, was hired to operate the machine that blends sugar and oil to make the sticky sweet white Oreo icing that Americans of all ages love.

On Veterans Day this year, Jackson demanded that Nabisco/Mondelez “do the right thing” and restore the hundreds of jobs his fellow workers lost when the company made the decision to outsource production. Jackson said that among the hundreds who lost their jobs, many are veterans like him.

Here are some key tweets from actions around the country yesterday, which used the hashtag #CheckTheLabel:

NATIONWIDE from Texas, North Carolina, Maine, to Oregon and even Hawaii, yesterday’s #solidarity with @Nabisco Workers was amazing! THANK YOU to all who came out to educate! #ChecktheLabel #1u pic.twitter.com/X5VMaXTq8X

— Nabisco 600 Workers (@BCTGM_Nabisco) November 17, 2017

Nabisco/ @MDLZ continues destructive outsourcing & exploitation of working families. Join Nat'l Day of Action. BOYCOTT @Nabisco snacks made in Mexico! #ChecktheLabel pic.twitter.com/cYAxggaZnj

— Richard L. Trumka (@RichardTrumka) November 16, 2017

In Portland, Ore., solidarity prevailed as L.114 members, led by L.114 Secy.-Tres. Terry Lansing and amazing trade union activists of @OregonAFLCIO spent the day educating the community on how to #CheckTheLabel #1u pic.twitter.com/WjSOvL2oPR

— BCTGM International (@BCTGM) November 17, 2017

In Atlanta, Intl. Rep. David Woods, Local 42 Bus. Agt. Zachery Townsend and L. 42 members spread the Boycott news and teach the #ChecktheLabel #1u pic.twitter.com/CRgQFfkoVu

— BCTGM International (@BCTGM) November 17, 2017

In Greensboro, NC., hard working BCTGM Local 317T members end their shifts are all about #ChecktheLabel outside the big box stores! pic.twitter.com/jenM4APIDg

— BCTGM International (@BCTGM) November 17, 2017

Proud BCTGM Local 10G members Mark Randall, Andrew Kuennen and Mike Stunes spread the news of the boycott of @nabisco snacks and @MDLZ outsourcing American #jobs in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. #CheckTheLabel pic.twitter.com/DlxPCEnIo7

— BCTGM International (@BCTGM) November 17, 2017

In West Palm Beach, Fla., BCTGM L. 103 Bus. Agt. Donald Lewis and VP Hewlyn Outten urge shoppers to boycott @nabisco snacks made in Mexico and support American jobs! #ChecktheLabel @BCTGM_Nabisco pic.twitter.com/xfeHXDfeB7

— BCTGM International (@BCTGM) November 17, 2017

Solidarity from Washington, DC with @BCTGM_Nabisco in the fight to save American jobs. Always remember to #CheckTheLabel and boycott outsourced Nabisco products. pic.twitter.com/NhSs7LnQ9U

— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) November 16, 2017

Outside a Portland Walmart: With actions outside 100 stores nationwide, the @BCTGM boycott against Mexican-made Nabisco products isn’t going away any time soon.#CheckTheLabel https://t.co/eNHMx2TxHL

— Don McIntosh (@nwlaborpress) November 16, 2017 Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 11/17/2017 - 13:53

The Joy of Winning Your First Union Contract: Worker Wins

Fri, 2017-11-17 13:56
The Joy of Winning Your First Union Contract: Worker Wins CNA

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with a growing wave of nurses organizing in California and includes numerous examples of workers organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.

Vote at Barton Memorial Continues String of Organizing Success for California Nurses: RNs at Barton Memorial and Lake Tahoe Surgery Center in South Lake Tahoe, California, voted to join the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU). More than 87% of eligible nurses voted to join CNA. The 200 RNs at Barton are part of 3,000 caregivers who have joined CNA this year in 10 union elections.

Flight Attendants at ATI Ratify First Contract: Flight attendants at Air Transport International approved their first contract with 65% of the vote. The flight attendants, who are represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), will see immediate pay raises and defined schedule and work rules.

First Contract Secured for IBEW Members at NAES: For the first time in 26 years, the NAES Co-Generation plant in Linden, New Jersey, has secured a contract with the Electrical Workers (IBEW). After a hard-fought campaign, 90% of the employees voted to ratify the new contract.

Video Game Performers Reach New Deal: SAG-AFTRA members who work in the video game industry approved a new agreement with industry management. The new agreement provides for additional payments for more session work, improves transparency in the industry and provides for better working conditions.

Baltimore Horeshoe Casino Workers Ratify First Union Contract: After three years of organizing and negotiating, workers at the Horeshoe Baltimore casino, working with the Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the UAW, UNITE HERE, the Operating Engineers (IUOE) and the Teamsters, negotiated the contract.

Chocolate from Cargill Plant in Pennsylvania Now Union Made: When the employees at the Cargill plant in Hazelton, Pennsylvania, wanted to improve workplace safety and address unfair workplace rules, they reached out to the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) for help. Now, chocolates made by the majority Latino workforce will be union made.

Electrolux Workers in Memphis Notch Another Victory in Organizing the South: After years of contentious organizing and opposition from management, Electrolux workers at the plant in Memphis, Tennessee, have overwhelmingly approved their first contract. The victory comes less than a year after the workers joined the IBEW after a hard-fought organizing campaign.

Oregon Precision Castparts Welders Vote to Join IAM: Nearly 100 workers at Precision Castparts in Portland, Oregon, voted to join the Machinists (IAM). The company makes heavy-duty metal components for airplanes and various industrial products. 

Chicago Graduate Workers Win Union Vote: In a vote that could boost organizing campaigns across the country, University of Chicago graduate employees have voted for a union by more than a 2-1 majority.

UAW Members at Bath Marine Avoid Strike and Reach Agreement: The Bath Marine Draftsmen Association ratified a collective bargaining agreement, with 78% of the vote, averting a strike. The four-and-a-half-year contract contains a strong economic package while preserving and strengthening the workplace flexibility language that was at issue.

Crew of Feature Film "Mustang" Strike for Better Working Conditions: A successful strike means that the film "Mustang," being shot in Carson City, Nevada, will be a union production, with IATSE members leading the way.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 11/17/2017 - 12:56

House Republicans Throw Trillions of Dollars at Millionaires and Corporations, Hope Nobody Will Notice

Thu, 2017-11-16 17:15
House Republicans Throw Trillions of Dollars at Millionaires and Corporations, Hope Nobody Will Notice AFL-CIO

Congressional Republicans, knowing how much their new tax bill stinks, seem determined to ram it through Congress before the rest of the country figures out how truly awful it is.

How shockingly awful is the "Trickle Down Tax Giveaway Act of 2017" (H.R. 1)? You may want to ask your children to leave the room because the following information could be upsetting.

  • 47% of the tax breaks would ultimately go to the richest 1% of taxpayers, who would receive an average annual tax cut of $62,300;
  • $1.5 trillion of the tax giveaways in this bill would not be paid for, and it just so happens that the Republican budget would cut $1.5 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid;
  • At the same time, 24% of households would pay higher taxes under this bill—on average $2,000 more;
  • The Republican bill would give huge tax breaks to companies that outsource jobs, eliminating U.S. taxes on profits earned from sending jobs overseas; and
  • The bill would pay for a portion of these tax giveaways by ending the tax deduction for student loan interest; punishing states that make the kind of investments that create good jobs; making it harder to raise financing for infrastructure projects; increasing the health care tax burden for people with high medical bills; ending the tax deduction for union dues; and ending the tax deduction for educators who buy essential supplies for their students.

In short, working people would pay the price for trillions of dollars in tax giveaways to people who do not need them.

Every Democrat in the House of Representatives voted against this monstrosity of a tax bill, while 13 Republicans had the common decency to vote against it.

So what is next? The Senate will vote on its version of the "Trickle Down Tax Giveaway Act of 2017" shortly after Thanksgiving, and Republicans say they plan to pass this bill into law before Christmas.

Take action now by letting your member of Congress know that you oppose making working people pay for tax giveaways to millionaires and big corporations that outsource jobs.

Make a call now to your senator and oppose the GOP #TaxReform plan at 844-899-9913. 

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 11/16/2017 - 16:15

Working People are Tackling High Drug Costs Through State-Level Reforms

Thu, 2017-11-16 10:07
Working People are Tackling High Drug Costs Through State-Level Reforms ccPixs.com

Despite all of the talk in Washington, D.C., about health care, Congress and Donald Trump have done nothing to deal with the No. 1 health care problem facing working people. Surging health care prices—especially prescription drug prices—are putting ever-increasing pressure on family budgets, workers' health plans and public health programs.

Consider this: the average annual cost of a brand-name drug grew to $5,807 in 2015, more than three times what it was in 2006 ($1,788), according to AARP’s most recent analysis of widely used brand-name prescription drugs. There also have been instances of immense overnight increases in the price of some generic drugs. For example, drug manufacturer Rodelis raised the price of Seromycin, its off-patent tuberculosis drug, from $500 to $10,800 for a 30-day supply.

While federal policy makers ignore the problem with drug prices, working people are calling on their elected state representatives to take action. In two states—Nevada and California—working people have won important breakthroughs this year, establishing new rules requiring prescription drug corporations to be more transparent about their prices and the reasons for them, especially when drug prices go up by large amounts.

In Nevada, a coalition of unions spearheaded by the Culinary Workers Union and including the Nevada State AFL-CIO led the fight to win enactment of diabetes medication price transparency rules. Under this first-in-the-nation law, corporations that manufacture essential diabetes drugs must explain any price increases that are larger than the price increases for medical care overall. Between 2002–2013, the price of insulin jumped by nearly 200%. With 12.4% of adult Nevadans having diabetes, and 38.5% with pre-diabetes, such a large price increase hurt working people and their health plans and raised serious concerns about whether these increases were justified. The new law also requires prescription drug manufacturers to provide the state with a list of all of their sales representatives operating in Nevada, and those sales representatives must submit annual reports disclosing their activities. Further, a nonprofit group in Nevada that advocates for patients or funds medical research has to disclose any payments, donations or anything else of value it receives from a prescription drug manufacturer or certain other drug-related corporations or lobbying groups. The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Yvanna D. Cancela, who represents Nevada’s District 10 and is a member of Culinary Workers Union Local 226.

In California, a two-year fight led by the California Labor Federation resulted in enactment of a law that requires prescription drug manufacturers to provide health plans, public purchasers such as the state’s large public employee health plan (CalPERS) and pharmacy benefit managers 60-day advance notice of price increases greater than 16% over a two-year period. The manufacturers also are required to explain to state regulators the factors behind the price increase. Pharmacy benefit managers are required to notify workers' health plans of these large price increases so steps can be taken to deal with these increases, including negotiating better deals when possible. Drug manufacturers also are required to notify the state when they start selling new expensive drugs (costing $670 or more per month). The legislation was authored by Sen. Ed Hernandez, who represents California’s 22nd Senate District and is a doctor of optometry.

The United States is the only major economy without any government oversight or regulation of prescription drug prices. Federal law gives drug corporations unchecked monopoly rights for brand-name drugs over long periods, and there is little, if any, competition in the sale of some generic drugs. Companies are not even required to explain or justify their pricing decisions. While patients and their private health plans are "free" to negotiate with drug companies, in reality they face a take-it-or-leave-it proposition: pay the company’s price or go without a needed drug.

With the new Nevada and California state drug price transparency laws, working people are sending a powerful signal that they want and need real action on health care prices. Requiring prescription drug corporations to justify big price increases is an important reform that could cause drug manufacturers to reconsider excessive price hikes, give workers' health plans better tools to negotiate fairer prices, and lead to improved prescription drug policies from federal and state lawmakers. Hopefully, Congress and President Trump are paying attention and will start making even bigger changes to bring down prices, like authorizing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices for seniors and people with disabilities, and stopping corporate abuses of federal patent laws.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 11/16/2017 - 09:07

Labor Puts Working People in Charge

Wed, 2017-11-15 13:21
Labor Puts Working People in Charge AFL-CIO

The three union member candidates who addressed the 2017 AFL-CIO Convention won their elections! This came shortly after the adoption of Resolution 10, "Encouraging Union Members to Run for Public Office," that pledges to adopt labor candidate programs in every state and local labor body in the country.

Teresa Mosqueda (OPEIU) will join the soon-to-be majority-woman Seattle City Council; Braxton Winston (IATSE) will be the first union member to serve on the Charlotte, North Carolina, City Council; and Keith Kazmark (AFT) was re-elected as mayor of Woodland Park, New Jersey. Their communities will benefit from the kind of legislation that improves the lives of working people.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has been a strong advocate for electing our members to public office:

The only way we can change the economic rules is by committing ourselves to independence in politics. The rules are written by the people we elect, and for nearly four decades, they have been written to ensure working people are the losers. Electing people like Teresa, Braxton and Keith ensures that we have a seat at the table. We will continue to work to elect candidates who share our vision to build strong unions, raise wages, and support quality public education, health care for all, modern infrastructure, American-made energy, voting rights, civil rights and worker rights.

You can watch and share their speeches from the Convention on Facebook.

President Charlie Wowkanech of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO has helped 900 union members win election since he began the program two decades ago:

We started this work 20 years ago because we knew that no one represents working families and their unions better than working people themselves. Who better to fight for high-quality public education than teachers and paraprofessionals who dedicate their lives to teaching our children? Who better to fight for quality, affordable health care than our nurses and health care professionals who dedicate their lives to healing others? And, who better to fight for important public services than the people who every day put on a uniform to serve their communities? If you really want to see government that serves working people, put working people in charge.

President MaryBe McMillan of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO was rightfully proud of the caliber of the union member recruited to run for Charlotte City Council:

We are excited and proud to have one of our own on the Charlotte City Council. As both a community activist and a union activist, Braxton built connections across the Charlotte community. Braxton is smart, energetic and committed to justice for all working people. With his vision and leadership, I’m confident that he will make Charlotte a better place to live and work.

And President Jeff Johnson of the Washington State Labor Council highlighted another important aspect of this work in building our movement:

To say we won a seat on the city council just scratches the surface of what Teresa’s victory means for us. Yes, we have a champion for working people at the table, and I couldn’t be more proud of her, but we also have a movement of workers who are more energized, more engaged and more active because they fought to elect one of their own. Today, the long arm of worker power stretches from the shop floor to City Hall.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders, chair of the Executive Council Political Committee, put these victories in a broader context:

It’s not just about electing people, but about the achievements working people make when working people lead. When working people have political power, great things happen in America: the middle class grows, wages rise, social justice is served, communities thrive. After passing Resolution 10, "Encouraging Union Members to Run for Public Office," and Resolution 2, "An Independent Political Voice," it is thrilling to see these three union members win their elections to advance the freedom of working people.

This message was re-emphasized by AFT President Randi Weingarten, who saw a number of AFT members win elections last week:

AFT member Keith Kazmark was one of countless union members, including AFT members in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia, elected or re-elected on an Election Day on which Americans delivered two messages. They won’t support fear-mongering and race-baiting, and they will elect candidates who truly care for and fight for people and for the values that are important to working folks—public education, affordable health care and good jobs. Union members connected with voters on these values because these are the values we fight for every day on the job and through our unions. Congratulations to Keith and all of the union members who won on Election Day. We need more union members like Keith in our mayor’s offices and our statehouses and on our school boards.

If you had the chance to hear them speak at convention, then undoubtedly Keith, Braxton and Teresa made an impression on you. Each of them give great hope for the future of our movement.

Nearly 200 union members or union household members won election last Tuesday—see the still-growing list. A bigger picture of the Election Day victories is featured on our blog, Labor-Backed Candidates Win Big in Tuesday’s Elections. If you have a story to share, please contact us to get it included.

Thank you for everything you do to support working people having an An Independent Political Voice.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 11/15/2017 - 12:21

Tags: 2017 Convention

Be Thankful for These Companies on Thanksgiving

Wed, 2017-11-15 10:10
Be Thankful for These Companies on Thanksgiving @MgfCustoms

Thanksgiving is a time to be spent with family and friends, and NOT a day to boost retail sales. This year, our friends over at Labor 411 wanted to thank the companies that have made the pro-working families decision to stay closed on Thanksgiving Day.

Here are the companies that are doing the right thing this holiday season:

  • A.C. Moore
  • Abt Electronics
  • Academy Sports + Outdoors
  • Ace Hardware
  • At Home
  • BJ’s Wholesale Club
  • Blain’s Farm and Fleet
  • Burlington
  • Cabela’s
  • Cost Plus World Market
  • Costco
  • Craft Warehouse
  • Crate and Barrel
  • Dillard’s
  • dressbarn
  • DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse
  • Ethan Allen
  • Gardner-White Furniture
  • Guitar Center
  • H&M
  • Half Price Books
  • Harbor Freight
  • Home Depot
  • HomeGoods
  • Homesense
  • IKEA
  • JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores
  • Jos. A. Bank
  • La-Z-Boy
  • Lowe's
  • Marshalls
  • Mattress Firm
  • Micro Center
  • Mills Fleet Farm
  • Music & Arts
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Nordstrom
  • Nordstrom Rack
  • Office Depot and OfficeMax
  • Outdoor Research
  • P.C. Richard & Son
  • Party City
  • Patagonia
  • Petco
  • PetSmart
  • Pier 1 Imports
  • Publix
  • Raymour & Flanigan Furniture
  • REI
  • Sam’s Club
  • Sears Hometown Stores
  • Shoe Carnival
  • Sierra Trading Post
  • Sportsman’s Warehouse
  • Sprint
  • Staples
  • Stein Mart
  • Sur La Table
  • The Container Store
  • The Original Mattress Factory
  • TJ Maxx
  • Tractor Supply
  • Trollbeads
  • Von Maur
  • West Marine
Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 11/15/2017 - 09:10

A Not-So-Modest Proposal to Reform NAFTA

Tue, 2017-11-14 12:30
A Not-So-Modest Proposal to Reform NAFTA

The next NAFTA negotiation round officially begins Nov. 17, and the news isn't all bad. It may sound crazy, but the same administration that put a Goldman Sachs and OneWest operative in charge of the Treasury Department and an anti-public school advocate in charge of the Department of Education recently made a NAFTA proposal that would nearly eliminate the private corporate justice system known as ISDS (investor-to-state dispute settlement).

This proposal alone is not enough to fix NAFTA's many shortcomings, but it is a step in the right direction. As trade activists know, ISDS is nothing more than a crony capitalist giveaway that reduces our power as citizens to impact our government. It gives foreign companies the right to use private tribunals to attack local, state and national decisions they deem not "fair and equitable." This private justice system has been used to attack worker training programs, local building permit decisions and even criminal indictments of corporate CEOs.

For the United States, NAFTA’s ISDS means our democratic choices are threatened and foreign companies have as much sovereignty as the U.S. government. It acts like a free insurance policy that rewards outsourcing. It provides an edge for foreign companies over small, local businesses. For our trading partners, the corporate power of ISDS is even more insidious, because their governments are not as powerful as our own. In other words, it is a win-win for global companies (no matter what country they like to call "home") and a lose-lose for workers that makes it even harder to join together to negotiate for better wages—no matter where we live or work.

The U.S. proposal, designed by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, would allow each NAFTA party to opt out of being sued by foreign investors. More importantly, for those who opt in, it would eliminate claims based on the vague and easily abused "fair and equitable treatment" standard. It reportedly even would close a loophole that would allow U.S. companies to "pretend" to be foreign companies so they can seek U.S. taxpayer funds in these private kangaroo courts.

As you might imagine, corporate CEOs and their powerful lobbies are freaking out about this proposal. They are panicked that they might lose this special privilege and have to play on a more level playing field.

We don’t know whether this proposal will make it into any final renegotiated NAFTA, and even if it does, there are lots of other things that need to be improved, including labor protections, currency rules and the right to label meat by country of origin. But this is one bright ​proposal in times of extreme challenge for North American working families.​

To get involved this week, the most important thing you can right now do is ask your member of Congress to speak up for higher wages and labor standards in NAFTA. We need to keep pushing for trade rules that work for all working people. 

*Note: Given the secrecy of the NAFTA proposals, we know a lot about the details about the ISDS proposal because they have been extensively reported in the media.  

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 11/14/2017 - 11:30

Tags: NAFTA

2017 Election Update: New Jersey Labor Candidate Victories Rise to 964

Tue, 2017-11-14 12:01
2017 Election Update: New Jersey Labor Candidate Victories Rise to 964 New Jersey AFL-CIO

Labor won big this year, and the news just got better. After a tight race for Florence Township Council, our brother from LIUNA Local 172, Frank Baldorossi Jr., prevailed. The final vote tally was 645–624, a difference of only 21 votes. We also congratulate IBEW Local 351 Brother Steve Light, who was elected to serve as a member of the Absecon City Council, and our brother from IBEW Local 3, Michael Soriano, who secured a major victory in his race for Parsippany mayor.

We are also looking forward to adding another victory for IUOE Local 68 Sister Dahlia Vertreese, who secured enough votes to trigger a runoff election on Dec. 5, 2017 to determine who will be mayor of Hillside. With the continued unified support of our central labor councils and building trades councils, this is exactly what we will do.

These results bring the all-time total number of labor candidate victories to 964. There is no question that the support and solidarity of union members across the state made the difference in these races. Through the Labor 2017 program in New Jersey, we knocked on 450,000 doors, made 300,000 phone calls and distributed 425,000 pieces of local union mail.

There is no other movement that is able to mobilize like organized labor, and we are already shifting our momentum to achieving bold policies that will uplift workers and build a long-term sustainable economy that works for all. After eight years of the destructive Chris Christie agenda, we are ready to get to work. With labor elected officials serving at all levels of New Jersey government, we are positioned to shape the future of our state to reflect our union voice and middle-class values.

Once again, none of this would have been possible if not for the tireless work of thousands of union volunteers, national, state and local affiliates, central labor councils and building trades councils representing every sector of our proud movement. This is what unionism is all about: building a collective voice in the workplace and in the community to speak out for justice for all.

This post originally appeared at New Jersey State AFL-CIO.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 11/14/2017 - 11:01

Call Today To Save American Jobs

Mon, 2017-11-13 15:07
Call Today To Save American Jobs Wikimedia Commons

There’s a lot of talk in the news about the GOP’s proposed tax bill. The people pushing it want working people to believe this plan will benefit working people. That’s just not true.

The fact is, the Republican tax plan is a job killer that will give 50% of its tax breaks to the wealthiest 1%, while 25% of taxpayers ultimately will pay more in taxes. We need your help to stop Congress from making working people pay the price for huge tax giveaways to millionaires and big corporations.

Incredibly, the Republican bill would give huge breaks to companies that outsource jobs. Instead of creating good jobs here at home, this bill only will encourage corporations to relocate good jobs overseas.

This bill also slashes deductions for state and local taxes. That means it will be harder for individual states to fund things like high-quality education and infrastructure projects. This will cost millions of jobs and chip away at the services we need to improve our quality of life.

Need another reason to call? The GOP budget includes $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. It will increase the tax burden of people with high medical bills. The Republican budget allows for $1.5 trillion in tax cuts that will not be paid for during the first decade of implementation. So, we can expect the GOP to demand more cuts in the future that will hurt working people.

Working families should not get stuck with the tab to fund a giveaway for Wall Street, corporations and millionaires. The Republican tax bill will be up for congressional vote soon, and it’s important we make our voices heard now.

Click here to be connected with your representative and urge them to reject any tax plan that gives tax breaks to millionaires and big corporations—and sticks working families with the bill.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 11/13/2017 - 14:07

Tags: Tax Reform

'Wall of Fame-Wall of Shame' Might Be Coming To A Union Hall Near You

Mon, 2017-11-13 14:02
'Wall of Fame-Wall of Shame' Might Be Coming To A Union Hall Near You Kentucky AFL-CIO

Unique United Steelworkers of America-made "Wall of Fame-Wall of Shame" banners are hitting the road in the Bluegrass State.

"We’ve now got another one you can take to as many union meetings as you want to," Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan told delegates at the federation's recent biennial state convention in Lexington.

"We need to get the word out there to union halls and inform our members of who stands with us and who stands against us as we go into 2018. This is absolutely critical."

The two banners show how Kentucky lawmakers voted last January on "right to work," prevailing wage repeal, and a paycheck deception measure.

The GOP-majority legislature quickly approved all three union-busting bills, though unions were able to soften the paycheck deception legislation. Printed on both banners are the names of all 38 state senators and 100 state representatives and how they voted.

Before the legislature adjourned, Billy Thompson, USW District 8 director, got the idea for a "Wall of Fame-Wall of Shame" banner. He had the second one ready for the convention.

He's ready to loan banners to members of any union who are "willing to accept responsibility for returning them to the district office. We are delighted to assist with the display around the state."

Thompson said District 8 is going to order two more loaner banners. Londrigan said if the banners aren't "a road map going into 2018, I don’t know what is."

Every Democratic senator and representative voted against the legislation, except one House member who voted for prevailing wage repeal. A few Republicans sided with the Democrats on the three measures.

Legislators who turned thumbs down on the bills are on the "Wall of Fame" side of the banners. Backers are on the "Wall of Shame."

After the Republicans flipped the Senate in 2000, the Democratic House became organized labor’s last firewall in Frankfort, the state capital. (The legislature can override a governor's veto with a simple majority.)

Last November’s Trump tsunami turned a 53-47 Democratic House majority to a 64-36 Republican bulge. The GOP kept its 27-11 Senate edge.

When the Democrats held the lower chamber, Senate approved anti-union legislation died in House committees. "Therefore, there were very few people actually voting on 'right to work,' repealing prevailing wage and other anti-union bills," Londrigan said.

As a result, he added, "we weren’t able to get every one of them on the record. So they could strut around a little bit and say, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m against right to work.’ They didn’t have to vote on it. But guess what, they all voted on it now."

Delegate Rick Lewis, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 181 district representative, stepped forward at the convention to carry a rolled up banner to his union meeting. Londrigan expects more takers.

"We’ve got the data here now," he said. "We’ve got a road map in front of us."

Union officials in other states interested in making similar "maps" may call Thompson for more information about the banners. His office phone number is 502-875-3332.

This post originally appeared at Kentucky AFL-CIO.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 11/13/2017 - 13:02

Workforce Intermediaries Advance Equity and Diversity Through Apprenticeship

Thu, 2017-11-09 12:25
Workforce Intermediaries Advance Equity and Diversity Through Apprenticeship

As we kick off National Apprenticeship Week, it is more important than ever to shine a light on the ways government agencies, employers and joint labor-management programs can focus their resources on fostering greater equity, diversity and inclusion in the American workforce. Registered apprenticeship programs are a big part of the answer. Workforce intermediary partnerships that promote and operate apprenticeship programs are powerful vehicles for delivering career opportunities.

A new report by the AFL-CIO Working for America Institute and the Jobs with Justice Education Fund profiles a number of workforce intermediaries that reach into disadvantaged communities and mobilize joint funds and industry expertise to help women and people of color advance in their careers and improve diversity in aerospace, health care, hotel and hospitality, steel, transportation and advanced manufacturing.

Workforce intermediary partnerships bring together the needs and resources of multiple employers in a region or industry, and provide essential input from workers and unions to customize the skills training, apprenticeship and educational services required for employers to meet their workforce needs and workers to access career ladders. The Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee, for example, works with hundreds of employers in Washington State to develop curriculum and customize apprenticeship programs. This year, AJAC helped place formerly incarcerated individuals in good-paying aerospace jobs. An AJAC pre-apprenticeship program for high school students has graduated more than 300 young people over five years. Some 20% of the graduates were women and 53% were people of color.

The story of Grace Rutha highlights the power of apprenticeship implemented by intermediaries. A former reporter in Kenya, forced out of her country by an oppressive regime, she came to Philadelphia to seek a better life, but became unemployed and ended up living in a homeless shelter. While volunteering for a community organization, she discovered a community health worker apprenticeship program co-sponsored by a university and the District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund. After a few months on the job, with the help and guidance of a mentor, she gained the experience to intercede with HIV patients and protect their health without continually going to the emergency room. Now Rutha earns enough to have her own apartment and she serves as a co-instructor in an educational program of Philadelphia FIGHT. She and others are profiled in the Advancing Equity report.

The report lists 18 best practices in workforce diversity as identified by the JWJ Education Fund in its work with North America’s Building Trades Unions. "Hire watchdogs and grant them authority," the organizations advise, for example, while keeping up the "push for consistent public pressure from community groups."

Expanding apprenticeship in manufacturing and the hotel and hospitality industries is a prime activity of the AFL-CIO Working for America Institute, which has a five-year contract with the U.S. Department of Labor to operate the Multiple Industry Intermediary (MII) Project.

For us, every week is National Apprenticeship Week. We will continue to use our education and training programs to create opportunity and upward mobility for workers of all backgrounds. Please join us in supporting this important work.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 11/09/2017 - 11:25