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Ron Blackwell Left Behind a Strong Legacy on Behalf of Working People

Tue, 2018-02-27 14:36
Ron Blackwell Left Behind a Strong Legacy on Behalf of Working People

Ron Blackwell, the retired chief economist of the AFL-CIO and pioneer in the labor movement, passed away on Sunday night.

From his Alabama roots to his role as chief economist at the AFL-CIO, Ron was defined by his unshakable courage and conviction. Whether it was his choice to go to prison rather than go to war in Vietnam or charting new paths for our economy while serving on the board of the Baltimore branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Ron was always true to himself and working people.

After teaching economics at the New School for Social Research in New York City, Ron began to leave his mark on the union movement. He joined the staff of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, where he quickly established his complete devotion to the rights of working people. At the AFL-CIO, Ron advised the leadership of the labor movement and fundamentally changed the way we thought about the economy. His legacy will live on through programs he created like Common Sense Economics—a radically different approach to economics that provides training and education for working people by working people—and that remain at the core of the AFL-CIO’s work.

In addition to his work in economics, Ron was a recognized leader on issues of trade, globalization and corporate governance. He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Janet, and millions of working people around the world whose lives were improved by his decades of tireless work on our behalf.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 02/27/2018 - 13:36

Working Families Will Not Be Silenced by Supreme Court Case

Tue, 2018-02-27 10:43
Working Families Will Not Be Silenced by Supreme Court Case

Working people rallied in cities across the country over the weekend to call for an end to policies that attack union members and rig the economy and political system against working families, as the Supreme Court began hearing arguments yesterday in a case that threatens to overturn a decades-old precedent and undercut public workers.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) spoke at the Day of Action in Philadelphia:

We’re all fighting back. Public and private. We are one union family and no one, I mean no one, pushes us around.

Our freedoms rise from the Constitution of the United States, which was signed not far from where we stand today. Our freedom gives us the foundation to be what we want and to join together and raise our voices together. And no matter which way the Supreme Court rules, our freedoms will endure!  

We’ll stand together against the rich and powerful for a better life for your family and my family and every working family. Because we do the work. We pave the streets. We drive the buses and walk the beats. We are working people. We won’t be shoved aside. We are the American labor movement, and we will not be denied!

Liz Shuler (IBEW), secretary-treasurer of AFL-CIO, attended the event in Washington, D.C.:

On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Janus v. AFSCME. And we’re here to make one thing clear: Working people will not be silenced. We’re going to speak up and tell the truth about this case.

The agenda behind Janus is simple: more power for big corporations and fewer rights for the rest of us. Period. This fight isn't about one man in Illinois. It's about the single mom who relies on a strong union to bargain a decent wage. It's about the safety and economic security of a firefighter who puts their life on the line every day. It's about the teacher who wonders whether they might have to do the same. Last week in Parkland, Florida, a football coach named Aaron Feis lost his life by throwing himself in front of bullets to protect his students. His act of courage is a reminder that we should be expanding rights for our public servants, not taking them away.

Today, we are standing up for the everyday American heroes who protect and educate us, who care for us when we’re sick, who make our government run and who keep our communities strong. That's what working people do every day. That's what hardworking union members do every day to make lives better for everyone.

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre (UFCW) spoke at the San Diego event:

This is an attack on communities of color and our path to the middle class. @Tefere_Gebre #ItsAboutFreedom pic.twitter.com/jxVCvjSu6w

— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) February 25, 2018

Here are some other key tweets from across the country at day of action events:

DC 37 members joined thousands rallying in support of unions at the Working People's Day of Action on Feb. 24, in NYC. #ItsAboutFreedom #UnrigtheSystem #dc37 pic.twitter.com/ZOP1JzgLhj

— DC37, AFSCME (@DistCouncil37) February 24, 2018

 

This is what we’re talking about. #UnrigtheSystem pic.twitter.com/1oSTNrbpmN

— KatBrezler (@KatBrezler) February 24, 2018

 

#NYSPEF united against Janus vs. AFSCME! In solidarity with all the other unions that were present today at Foley Square. #UnrigTheSystem #WeAreStrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/ksnsFzJXyr

— NYS PEF (@NYSPEF) February 24, 2018

 

Went to the Working People’s Day of Action to support my brothers and sisters in labor.
All MNs benefit from organized labor and I’m proud to stand with them. #itsaboutfreedom #unrigthesystem pic.twitter.com/D5QS1FkRhK

— Tim Walz (@Tim_Walz) February 24, 2018

 

Today, thousands of Ohioans united in Columbus and sent an urgent message that we need strong unions for our state to thrive and for the working people of our country to have a voice. #WeRise #UnrigTheSystem pic.twitter.com/aybIyH0uCh

— Raise Up Ohio (@RaiseUpOhio) February 24, 2018

 

Today, thousands of Ohioans united in Columbus and sent an urgent message that we need strong unions for our state to thrive and for the working people of our country to have a voice. #WeRise #UnrigTheSystem pic.twitter.com/aybIyH0uCh

— Raise Up Ohio (@RaiseUpOhio) February 24, 2018

 

Today, thousands of Ohioans united in Columbus and sent an urgent message that we need strong unions for our state to thrive and for the working people of our country to have a voice. #WeRise #UnrigTheSystem pic.twitter.com/aybIyH0uCh

— Raise Up Ohio (@RaiseUpOhio) February 24, 2018

 

Working People’s Day of Action starting at Convention Center Park. Unions rally to #unrigthesystem and stand for workers’ rights. #WeAreCTA pic.twitter.com/FKIEVF0M3w

— propubliced (@truthspeaker411) February 24, 2018

 

#LIUNA at the Working People’s Day of Action with @KwameRaoul #UnrigtheSystem #ItsAboutFreedom @LiUNALocal1001 @VRoa1001 @liuna1001 @LIUNALocal1092 @LaborersOne pic.twitter.com/UcUtQW15MT

— LiUNA Chicago (@LiUNAchicago) February 24, 2018

 

The Janus case is nothing but a bald attempt by rich CEOS to use the highest court in the land to cut down our unions. We won’t let them! #UnrigtheSystem

— Richard L. Trumka (@RichardTrumka) February 24, 2018 Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 02/27/2018 - 09:43

Vatican Receives Letter Urging Support for Nabisco Workers

Fri, 2018-02-23 15:34
Vatican Receives Letter Urging Support for Nabisco Workers BCTGM

The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers' (BCTGM’s) campaign against the outsourcing of North American Nabisco jobs has generated widespread support. From U.S. congressional leaders, university students, union trade and justice activists to American veterans and consumers, the message carried by Nabisco workers across the nation has resonated loud and clear: Stop the global exploitation of workers that is devastating families and communities.

The campaign has grown particularly strong within the faith community, as leaders and activists have rallied behind Nabisco workers, embracing their fight for justice on both a local and global scale. It is the faith community that has helped shine the light on how the company has broken faith with its workers, and by extension, broken faith within communities.

In the last half of 2017, a coalition of faith and labor representatives, led by Interfaith Worker Justice, conducted a six-city investigation of Nabisco bakeries across the United States and Mexico. The group studied the impact of the company’s business practices in cities where BCTGM members produce Nabisco products in Mondélez-Nabisco bakeries.

In late November, the IWJ coalition traveled to Monterrey and Salinas, Mexico, to learn more about workers and the working conditions at the Mondélez plants. While in Mexico, the Nabisco workers were met by a priest from the Catholic Archdiocese of Monterrey to detail the harmful impact of Mondélez-Nabisco’s outsourcing in the United States.

At the conclusion of the five-month investigation in December 2017, IWJ released a detailed report, Breaking Faith: Outsourcing and the Damage Done to Our Communities, that reveals the impact of Mondélez-Nabisco’s outsourcing and exploitation of workers in both the United States and Mexico.

The report has gained the attention of the global faith community. The general secretary of the International Union of Food Workers, Sue Longley, has sent a letter to Cardinal Turkson at the Vatican requesting support from the highest levels of the Catholic Church. The IUF represents 2.5 million workers in 130 countries.

The international scope of this campaign continues to escalate, as the chorus of voices from the faith community grows in opposition to the devastation caused by Mondélez-Nabisco.

Click to read the IUF letter to Cardinal Turkson at the Vatican.

This post originally appeared at BCTGM.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/23/2018 - 14:34

Is West Virginia a Bellwether? The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 2018-02-23 13:45
Is West Virginia a Bellwether? 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.

Dem Wins Kentucky State House Seat in District Trump Won by 49 Points: "Kentucky Democrats on Tuesday reclaimed a rural district in the state House of Representatives that went heavily for President Trump in 2016. Linda Belcher (D), a former state legislator who lost her seat in the Trump landslide in Kentucky, reclaimed the Bullitt County district by a more than two-to-one margin, defeating her GOP opponent Rebecca Johnson 68% to 32%."

Poll: Few Voters Report Seeing Bigger Paychecks After Tax Changes: "Most voters aren’t noticing more money in their paychecks under the new tax law, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. Just a quarter of registered voters, 25%, say they have noticed an increase in their paycheck, the poll shows. A majority, 51%, say they have not."

Postal-Service Workers Are Shouldering the Burden for Amazon: "Every day postal trucks drop off about 4,000 packages at a U.S. Postal Service station in central Tennessee, where they’re unloaded by a team of around six USPS employees. Each person grabs a box, rushes to the only scanning machine, runs the bar code, and then places it in the proper gurney for its route. The process takes about 10 seconds, and it can be repeated as many as 200 times in an hour."

Behind Janus: Documents Reveal Decade-Long Plot to Kill Public-Sector Unions: "The Roman god Janus was known for having two faces. It is a fitting name for the U.S. Supreme Court case scheduled for oral arguments February 26, Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31, that could deal a devastating blow to public-sector unions and workers nationwide."

N.J. Union Leader: Future of Organized Labor Is in Supreme Court's Hands: "The U.S. Supreme Court soon will be the stage of one of the most consequential fights in the history of the American worker. Anyone concerned with the future of middle-class jobs in our nation deserves to get the facts. Rather than sifting through the complexities of this legal battle, the goal of this article is to make clear to readers the real-life implications of this impending court decision."

In Janus Case, Working People Continue Fight Championed by Martin Luther King Jr.: "Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. joined the sanitation strikers in Memphis, Tennessee, who carried signs that boldly proclaimed, 'I Am a Man,' at a time when many employers rejected that very notion. King and the working people of Memphis fought for the freedom to join together in unions and to be treated with dignity and respect on the job."

Working People Flip State House Seat in Kentucky: "On Tuesday, working people claimed a landslide victory in a Kentucky special election. 'I could not have done this without labor,' said Democrat Linda Belcher in her victory speech. She’s the newly elected state representative for House District 49 in Bullitt County, just south of Louisville where then-presidential candidate Donald Trump carried 72% of the vote in 2016."

Time for Solidarity: What Working People Are Doing This Week: "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."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/23/2018 - 12:45

‘Right to Work’ Is a Cynical Power Grab

Fri, 2018-02-23 12:23
‘Right to Work’ Is a Cynical Power Grab The Stand

The effort to expand cynically named "right to work" laws says a lot about what is wrong with politics in our country. Disguised as protecting workers, the real goal is to silence workers’ voice, reduce our bargaining power and make our jobs more precarious. It’s about power—social, political and economic power.

After years of deceptive messaging, most people have the misconception that state law can force a worker to join a union. The reality is that no federal law and no law in any state can force a worker to join a union.

That’s good. No state or federal legislator should tell you when to join a union or when you can’t. This is a decision for you, your co-workers and your employer.

There is one and only one way to have the situation where all workers contribute to their union. If your workplace has agency fee or fair share fees, it’s because your co-workers demanded it and fought to write it into your contract. AND the employer agreed. AND your co-workers ratified the contract. In each subsequent round of contract negotiations, both sides ratify it again.

This condition becomes part of the collective bargaining agreement—"the contract"—which is just that, a legally binding contract between two willing parties.

To conservative thinkers, a contract is an object of reverence. Government shouldn’t interfere with a contract between two willing parties. The cynically named right to work legislation really forbids workers and employers from writing mutually agreed contract language that recognizes working people’s voice at work.

Let’s be clear. We could certainly use more rights at work. The Bill of Rights in the Constitution does not apply inside the workplace.

Most employers have near-total authority over employees regarding hiring, firing, transferring, moving work locations and assignment of work to employees. An employer can insist that all workers listen to anti-union speeches. In the workplace, an employer can search your belongings, tap your phone, read your email, tell you when and where you can eat, prohibit you from smoking, and tell you what you can and can’t read on the internet.

State and federal laws protect military veterans, women, older workers and certain protected classes. Beyond that, in most states you can be fired for almost any reason, or no reason at all.

Champions of right to work argue from a cynical pretense that they care about workers. They don’t.

If disingenuous right to work groups wanted to protect working people, they would champion free speech and due process in the workplace. They might insist that you could only be fired for just cause; and that workers not be disciplined for something they wrote on Facebook on their private time. Right to work advocates might restrict "non-compete" agreements that block working people from seeking new jobs, or they could strengthen control of patent rights for employees.

The cynicism of right to work is in its true purpose—to weaken unions, and minimize one of the few remaining institutions of civil society that speaks for working people and communities.

The cynical premise of right to work laws is that working people have too much power. They can overwhelm helpless employers. Particularly, they say, local, state and federal governments are unable to resist the power of public employee unions.

It’s worth stopping for a second to look at wages levels for public employees—teachers, legislative staff, fish and game agents, national park rangers, nurses at Veterans Affairs hospitals, and Cabinet members in the White House. No one goes into public service to get rich.

Public employees are driven by mission. They almost always could make more in the private sector.

While productivity has gone up steadily, wages in America have been stagnant for decades. Who got those gains from productivity?

The Stand

For 30 years, we’ve heard promises that gains will trickle down to us. A more realistic strategy for higher living standards is for us to demand a share of the gains we create. In the post-war period, working people were able to demand a share of the gains they created. They could bargain, with the potential to strike. If one union strikes, another group of employees have that example of strength to bargain with their employer.

The Stand

Since the mid-1970s, strikes have become more rare. Employers have moved work to low-wage locations with weak labor laws. Bargaining power for working people is at historic lows.

It is tough to argue that workers have too much power. It is even tougher to tell workers that everything will be fine if we just lower our standard of living faster by weakening unions.

Canadians understand the deceit underpinning right to work. Canada made labor rights a key demand in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, a trade deal between Mexico, the United States and Canada. Canada wants the U.S. to end right to work.

A Canadian labor leader put it this way: "The United States has two problems. Number one is Mexico, number two is themselves. Canada has two problems: Mexican [wages] and right to work states in the United States."

Right to work falsely claims to be about free speech. Courts already have carved out religious objectors and provided an opt-out regarding union expenses for legislative lobbying.

If you believe in collective bargaining and the legitimate role of unions in civil society, then the right place to deal with union dues is in collective bargaining between workers and employers. That’s exactly what collective bargaining is for.

This post originally appeared at The Stand.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/23/2018 - 11:23

In Janus Case, Working People Continue Fight Championed by Martin Luther King Jr.

Thu, 2018-02-22 11:07
In Janus Case, Working People Continue Fight Championed by Martin Luther King Jr.

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. joined the sanitation strikers in Memphis, Tennessee, who carried signs that boldly proclaimed "I Am a Man," at a time when many employers rejected that very notion. King and the working people of Memphis fought for the freedom to join together in unions and to be treated with dignity and respect on the job.

Now, corporate lobbyists and the special interests that fund them are trying to undo many of the things King, the sanitation workers and many others have fought hard to win. Through a Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME Local Council 31, they are ratcheting up their fight to divide and conquer us. These are the same extremists who are working to limit voting rights, roll back economic protections and gut the laws that protect working people. 

The Supreme Court soon will hear the Janus case, and it will have a big impact on our voice in the workplace. Tomorrow, working people across the country will be standing up in defense of the freedoms that we've fought for with a day of action from coast to coast (find an event near you).

Working people across the country have been using their voice to reject the attacks on unions in the Janus case. Here are some highlights of what they've been saying.

Bonnee Breese Bentum, science teacher, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers: "As a teacher in the School District of Philadelphia for the past 16 years, I am living proof that being a member, a supporter and an activist in my local union assists not only the lives of our members, but also the consumers, the clients and the children we serve. Our contracts go far beyond what we do in the classroom or in an office. Our members withstood a four-year fight for a fair contract from a hostile School Reform Commission, driven by our state with an antiquated and unfair funding formula, and coupled with the force of a majority of politicians who opposed public schools and unions. We were able to win counselors and nurses for every public school; pay increases for staff after obtaining graduate degrees; and safe and healthy building conditions for all our children."

Maureen Dugan, RN, University of California-San Francisco and board member of the California Nurses Association/NNOC: "With the union I have that platform where I can safely speak out for patient care. A lot of time in nonunion environments, nurses are intimidated and bullied into staying quiet. These hospitals that don’t have unions don’t care. It’s the union that brings many safety laws in legislation and public regulatory protections. It’s the union dues that fund those efforts. It’s the nurses in my hospital, in my region, in my whole state that make up the strength of our union and our ability to protect our patients, our license, and our profession."

Dovard Howard, certified control systems technician in California, AFSCME Local 1902: "It is my job to make sure that the public has safe drinking water. There is no room for any mistakes. That’s why I am deeply concerned that this Supreme Court case threatens the ability of the skilled and dedicated people I work with to have a say about their future."

Stephen Mittons, child protection investigator in Illinois, AFSCME Council 31: "My work as a child protection investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is vital to the safety of our state’s most vulnerable children and families. This court case is yet another political attack on the freedom of my colleagues and I to speak up to ensure that we can safely and adequately manage our caseloads, which reflects our commitment to safety and public service to our community."

Rich Ognibene, chemistry and physics teacher, Fairport (New York) Educators Association: "Technological advances and societal changes make us more isolated, and we are hesitant to make commitments to others. We assume the wages, benefits, safety and social justice that we enjoy at work have always been there, and that they will never disappear. That’s a dangerous assumption. The benefits we have today were earned over many years of hard-fought negotiations; they could disappear tomorrow without our union. Billionaire CEOs are trying to destroy our community and create a Hunger Games scenario for workers. They want to remove our collective voice and reduce the quality of life for working families. We cannot let them succeed. Now, more than ever, we must fight to keep our unions strong."

Sue Phillips, RN, Palomar Medical Center, Escondido, California: "Union protection absolutely saves lives."

Matthew Quigley, correctional officer in Connecticut, AFSCME Local 1565, Council 4: "Big-money corporations and super-wealthy special interests are trying to prevent correctional officers, firefighters, police officers and other working people from having the freedom to join together and create positive working conditions. When we belong to strong unions, we are better able to fight for staffing levels, equipment and training that save lives within state prisons and the communities where we work and live."

Stephanie Wiley, child care attendant in Columbus, Ohio, AFSCME Local 4/OAPSE: "Our ability to speak together with a collective voice ensures that we can better assist children who need our help. That’s why I am deeply concerned about the Supreme Court case, which could severely limit our voice on the job and hurt our ability to best serve the children we care so much about."

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 02/22/2018 - 10:07

Tags: Janus

Working People Flip State House Seat in Kentucky

Wed, 2018-02-21 14:22
Working People Flip State House Seat in Kentucky AFL-CIO

On Tuesday, working people claimed a landslide victory in a Kentucky special election. "I could not have done this without labor," said Democrat Linda Belcher in her victory speech. She’s the newly elected state representative for House District 49 in Bullitt County, just south of Louisville where then-presidential candidate Donald Trump carried 72% of the vote in 2016.

Union members knocked on doors in freezing weather and made phone calls in the district to make sure a real champion for working people would represent them in the state House. The Greater Louisville Central Labor Council, Kentucky State AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers (USW), Laborers (LIUNA), UAW Local 862 and Teamsters Local 89 members had thousands of conversations with more than 2,000 union members who live in House District 49.

"Unions stand in solidarity with pro-working family candidates. We are proud to fight for folks who will pass pro-working family policies and give all of Kentucky's hardworking men and women a better life," said Todd Dunn, president of the Greater Louisville Central Labor Council and Local 862.

Fred Zuckerman, president of Local 89, added: "In January 2017, the previous state representative in District 49 betrayed the working people of Kentucky by voting for so-called right to work and voting to repeal prevailing wage. Teamsters Local 89 swore on that day we would do everything in our power to flip any seat that voted against workers. Tonight, the Kentucky labor movement has done just that by helping to elect Linda Belcher. They started this war on workers but, in the end, we are going to win it."

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 02/21/2018 - 13:22

Time for Solidarity: What Working People Are Doing This Week

Wed, 2018-02-21 13:02
Time for Solidarity: What Working People Are Doing This Week

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.

A. Philip Randolph Institute:

Happy Black History Month https://t.co/3U1gi7I6nM

— APRI National (DC) (@APRI_National) February 12, 2018

AFGE:

Privatizing the TSA workforce would be disastrous to the safety of the flying public and local economy. Tell @MCO to keep TSA Officers on the job: (407) 825-2032. #1u #SaveTSA pic.twitter.com/5mzILrUzpR

— AFGE (@AFGENational) February 20, 2018

AFSCME:

Working people will be coming together and standing shoulder to shoulder in cities across the country on Saturday, February 24. Find a march, rally or other event near you at https://t.co/y2wt6yFd9j. pic.twitter.com/5MB0mMYAI1

— AFSCME (@AFSCME) February 15, 2018

AFT:

Solidarity with these incredible students. Our country must value their lives over guns. https://t.co/SR6PlmpAbL

— AFT (@AFTunion) February 19, 2018

Air Line Pilots Association:

Martin Becomes First African-American Pilot for Major U.S. Airline: https://t.co/0sLg80LlCK #BlackHistoryMonth pic.twitter.com/Ejg4n7Z2h5

— ALPA (@WeAreALPA) February 16, 2018

Alliance for Retired Americans:

ATTENTION, seniors: despite President Trump's campaign trail promises, his proposed budget will wreak havoc on your Medicare. https://t.co/ogMGe3stU8 pic.twitter.com/0x50OkXYqX

— Alliance Retirees (@ActiveRetirees) February 20, 2018

Amalgamated Transit Union:

Nashville: Honoring Elizabeth Duff, MTA’s first African American female bus driver https://t.co/OYp6NQnZWU #1u #BlackHistoryMonth #transit #publictransit

— ATU, Transit Union (@ATUComm) February 16, 2018

American Federation of Musicians:

“These are professional musicians — the best of the best,” Wheeler
says of the American Federation of Musicians union players.
https://t.co/DAS6Apj5FT via @variety

— Amer. Fed. Musicians (@The_AFM) February 16, 2018

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance:

On Feb 26, #SCOTUS will hear arguments in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, a case brought by wealthy interests to further rig the economy against working people. Join thousands on Feb 24 to demand an end to the rigged economy & defend our freedoms. #UnrigtheSystem #ItsAboutFreedom

— APALA (@APALAnational) February 20, 2018

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA:

Robert "Bingo" Bingochea represents the best of us! And gave the public a good view into those early AM departures. "You make a big difference when you interact with people. People will remember you, either by what you did or what you didn't do." https://t.co/07xvf6k8MJ

— AFA-CWA (@afa_cwa) February 17, 2018

Coalition of Black Trade Unionists:

#BlackPantherMovie https://t.co/C27vkitTWO

— CBTU (@CBTU72) February 18, 2018

Coalition of Labor Union Women:

And a member of @CLUWNational - @JoanneMSanders is a true pioneer for women’s rights and a fearless leader in the labor movement! We are proud to call her a sister in labor ✊

Time to Go on Offense: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 2018-02-16 15:47
Time to Go on Offense: 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.

AFL-CIO President Trumka Tells Unions It’s Time To Go on Offense: "All that came just after Trumka told the UAW 'It’s time to drop our shield, pick up our sword and go on offense for a while,' to campaign for protecting pensions, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, to rebuild infrastructure and to 'protect our water from becoming poisoned like it was in Flint, Mich.'"

Is Trump Joking About ‘Strengthening the Federal Workforce’?: "At an AFGE rally Tuesday outside the AFL-CIO headquarters, just across Lafayette Square from the White House, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) warmed the crowd by saying, 'You are here today not only on behalf of hundreds of thousands of federal workers who want decent pay and decent working conditions, but you are here today on behalf of 300 million Americans who understand that what this country is about is providing quality care for veterans, to the elderly, to the children, to the poor and to the sick. That’s what you do. Thank you very much for doing it.'"

German Union's Big Win Shows U.S. Labor the Path Forward: "Last week the German metalworkers’ union, IG Metall, arguably one of the world’s most powerful unions, showed that unions have the power to shape their future workplaces.  IG Metall negotiated a precedent-setting collective-bargaining agreement that privileges working conditions over wages. It won its key demand that workers have the right to reduce their working week from 35 to 28 hours for a period of up to two years in order to care for family members."

Labor Chiefs Make Their Pitch to CEOs Studying Connecticut's Competitiveness: "'Simply put, union workers empowered by the freedom to negotiate with their employers do better on every single economic benchmark,' said Lori Pelletier, president of the state AFL-CIO."

Empowering Working People in the West: AFL-CIO Holds Third Regional Meeting of 2018: "AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre welcomed nearly 400 labor leaders and activists to his home state of California for the AFL-CIO Western District meeting this week. Gebre emphasized the importance of the actions attendees are taking to empower working people in the West, saying, 'Our movement is at its best when we work from the grassroots up, not from D.C. down.'"

Trump Administration Should Rescind Proposal That Allows Bosses to Pocket Working People's Tips: "As we previously reported, President Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta announced a new proposed regulation to allow restaurant owners to pocket the tips of millions of tipped workers. This would result in an estimated $5.8 billion in lost wages for workers each year―wages that they rightfully earned."

Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act Would Strip Working People of Freedoms: "Congress should protect worker freedom and uphold the sovereignty of Native American tribes, not pit the two against each other. Working people must have a legally enforceable right to form unions and negotiate together with the tribal enterprises that employ them. It’s fair, it’s democratic and it’s one important step toward an economy that works for all working people."

SAG-AFTRA Releases Sexual Harassment Code of Conduct: "SAG-AFTRA recently released a code of conduct on sexual harassment as part of a broader program to protect its members, confront harassment and advance equity in the workplace."

We Don't Play 'Chicken' with Safety: Worker Wins: "Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with poultry workers coming together to preserve safe line speeds and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life."

Taking the Wheel: A New Generation Is Driving the Future of the Labor Movement: "Building on the achievements of the past, newly elected union leaders and young workers are spreading optimism across the country. Inspired by the history and mission of the labor movement, a new generation of workers and activists are assuming leadership roles as the ranks of young union workers continue to grow."

Unions Are Fighting for Families by Supporting Women and Rejecting the Status Quo: "Women in the workplace have made major strides. Women currently make up 48% of the workforce and are the sole or primary breadwinner for 40% of families in the United States. Yet most family responsibilities still rest on women’s shoulders and, too often, women put in a full day’s work only to come home and clock in for a second shift."

6 Activist Women You Need to Know About for Black History Month: "As we celebrate Black History Month, we thought we'd take a look back at some of the women who have made history in the realm of fighting for the rights of working people. The battles they fought at the intersection of the rights of African Americans, women and working people should have made these women household names. Women continue to be at the forefront of battles for the rights of African Americans today, building on the work of these women and many others. Here is an introduction to a group of amazing women who did some amazing things."

Shuler: ‘What Unites Us Is Work and the Desire for a Better Life': "'Our movement is made up of working people of all parties and ideologies,' AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler told a crowd of more than 300 labor leaders and activists gathered at the AFL-CIO Northeast District Meeting in Silver Spring, Md. 'What unites us is work and the desire for a better life. Improving the lives of union members and all working people must be our guiding light in politics.'"

Working People Stand Together Against Sexual Harassment: "The AFL-CIO brought allies and union leaders together yesterday with the aim of ending sexual harassment in the workplace. When working people join together in union, we can listen to each other, mobilize our co-workers, speak with a unified voice and fight together to win justice in the workplace."

A Wave of Worker Activism: In the States Roundup: "It's time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states. Click on any of the links to follow the state federations and central labor councils on Twitter."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/16/2018 - 14:47

Empowering Working People in the West: AFL-CIO Holds Third Regional Meeting of 2018

Fri, 2018-02-16 14:04
Empowering Working People in the West: AFL-CIO Holds Third Regional Meeting of 2018 AFL-CIO

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre welcomed nearly 400 labor leaders and activists to his home state of California for the AFL-CIO Western District meeting this week. Gebre emphasized the importance of the actions attendees are taking to empower working people in the West, saying, "Our movement is at its best when we work from the grassroots up, not from D.C. down."

Representatives from state federations, central labor councils and affiliate unions from Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming joined together at the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 324 hall in Buena Park, California, for a full day of strategizing to win for working people. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) acknowledged the latest achievements of the union movement out West, including the successful union election at the Los Angeles Times and the election of labor leaders to local government positions in Washington and Utah.

Other recent examples of workers out West turning the tide include:

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka urged everyone in the room to keep growing that momentum. "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.

A series of breakout sessions and a panel of state federation presidents from Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming conveyed a key theme of the meeting: engaging union members and empowering them to be active and take ownership of their unions. Participants left the meeting energized and ready to turn anti-worker attacks into opportunities to strengthen the labor movement in 2018.

This was the third of several regional meetings the AFL-CIO is organizing for early 2018. The others are in Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Detroit; New Orleans; and Las Vegas.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/16/2018 - 13:04

A Rising Tide of Buyer's Remorse Even in the Red States?

Thu, 2018-02-15 15:05
A Rising Tide of Buyer's Remorse Even in the Red States?

Donald Trump carried all but two of Kentucky’s 120 counties, and he collected a whopping 62.5% of the vote.

Kentucky is among only a dozen states where the president’s popularity is 50% or higher. He’s at 51 in the Red State Bluegrass State.

Nationwide, Trump received votes from 43% of union households, according to a poll by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research. The survey didn’t break down the results state by state. The president probably did as well or better among Kentucky union households.

Anyway, go ahead and call it whistling past the graveyard. But the 51% number suggests that buyer’s remorse is creeping up in the border state I’ve called home for all my 68 years.

I’ve packed a union card for about two dozen years. Most of us in organized labor voted for Hillary Clinton, the AFL-CIO-endorsed Democrat. But I’m hearing about rumblings of regret in union ranks.

We said Trump was—and still is—a fraud and a con man. He ran on a standard Wall Street Republican platform with planks supporting:

  • "Right to work" (On the campaign trail, Trump said he preferred right to work states to non-right to work states.)
  • Repeal of the prevailing wage on federal construction projects.
  • Deep cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Sharp rollbacks in federal regulations that safeguard worker safety and health on the job, protect consumers and shield the environment from polluters.
  • Hefty tax breaks for corporations and rich people and tax crumbs for the rest of us.

The Trump-Republican Robin-in-reverse tax bill came up at this month's meeting of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council, where I’m recording secretary.  

"We’ve always preached that what’s good for the union is good for everybody, and it has been historically," said delegate Jimmy Evans, Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 816 business manager.

He cited as proof the tax legislation, which AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) called in a statement "nothing but an attack on America’s workers." He added, "We will pay more, corporations and billionaires will pay less. It’s a job killer. It gives billions of tax giveaways to big corporations that outsource jobs and profits."

The devil is always in the details. Under the tax bill, corporations can deduct payments to union-busting lawyers, but union members can’t deduct their union dues, according to the United Steelworkers (USW).

"Previously, employees could potentially write off work-related expenses that added up to more than 2% of their gross income, and for which an employer didn't reimburse them," explained CNBC's Annie Nova. 

Nova also wrote that the axing of "miscellaneous itemized deductions" for a lot of taxpayers might not sound like a big deal, but she cautioned that their disappearance "will leave a hole in many workers' pockets, experts say."

The end of those deductions "was a shot across the bow of union members,” Evans said. "But it also affects a lot of nonunion members that work construction, just like it does our construction members."

Nova also said workers can no longer deduct "work-related legal fees...medical examinations required by an employer, union dues and licenses."

She quoted Seth Harris, a deputy labor secretary under President Barack Obama: "The really big story of the tax bill is that it favors capital over labor. It's heavily skewed to benefit people who get money without working, as opposed to those who labor for a living."

Harris also told her that many workers who itemize have a lot of different expenses—including mortgages—that would still make itemizing worth their while. He added that deductions for corporations are still abundant.

In addition, Nova quoted David Kamin, a law professor at New York University who was an economic policy adviser in the Obama administration: "While people can say there's a doubling of the standard deduction, those who have significant unreimbursed business expenses will not do as well."

She also interviewed Martin Davidoff, a New Jersey CPA and tax attorney who said it's unfair that companies can still deduct the "so-called cost of doing business."  

"Take a look at McDonald's," he told Nova. "They spend $50 million on a Superbowl ad, and they get to deduct it."

Tax attorney Paul Drizner said that under the tax bill, many teachers will be forced to choose between spending less on their classrooms or taking home less from their salaries. (Teachers can still can claim a $250 above-the-line deduction on unreimbursed workplace expenses if they itemize or not, according to Nova). "Teachers shouldn't be paying out of their own pocket to put their lessons together," said Drizner in the story. 

Evans said it’s not just the tax bill that has union members rethinking the ballots they cast for Trump and other Republicans. "Now they’re wanting to get back on board and be on our side again. They see that those things we fought for is what helped them."

I carry AFT and National Education Association/Kentucky Education Association retiree cards. More than a few community college and public-school teachers not only voted for Trump in 2016, they also cast ballots for GOP Gov. Matt Bevin the year before. (Most of us in AFT and KEA also voted for Jack Conway, the KEA- and Kentucky State AFL-CIO-endorsed Democratic gubernatorial hopeful.

The fact that the president's popularity rating in Kentucky is 11.5 percentage points lower that his victory margin suggests that many Trump backers regret their votes. We'll know more in a Feb. 20 special House election in Bullitt County.

The incumbent, Republican Dan Johnson, took his own life. His widow, Republican Rebecca Johnson, who shares her late husband's ultra-conservative views, wants to replace him. Her opponent is state AFL-CIO and KEA-endorsed Democrat Linda Belcher, whom Dan Johnson unseated in 2016.  

KEA warned that the Tea Party-tilting Bevin could turn out to be the worst governor for public education in a long time, if not ever. Unions warned he was a union-buster to boot.

In 2017, he and his GOP-majority legislature pushed through a bill authorizing charter schools, which drain much-needed funds from public schools. (With Bevin cheering them on, GOP lawmakers also passed a right to work law and repealed the prevailing wage on state construction jobs.

Bevin’s proposed 2018 budget takes a meat-axe to education spending from kindergarten through higher education, including community colleges and state universities. He also wants to gut the workers' compensation program. 

Too, in the phony name of pension "reform," Bevin has proposed a measure that would curb some benefits for current employees and retirees and force most new hires onto risky 401(a) programs.

Teachers are up in arms over the pension bill. (The GOP-majority House has been devising its own pension bill behind closed doors but has yet to release it.)

"It’s great to see all the educators getting involved," Evans said. "But you know what it took to get them involved? Somebody is dipping his hand into their wallets."

Evans hates to say, "We told you so," but he reminded the delegates at our meeting that, all along, organized labor has been telling union members what politicians like Trump and Trump fan Bevin "want to do to them. It’s the same in our ranks. It’s taken politicians dipping into their wallets to get a lot of people re-engaged."

This post originally appeared at Kentucky State AFL-CIO.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 02/15/2018 - 14:05

Trump Administration Should Rescind Proposal That Allows Bosses to Pocket Working People's Tips

Thu, 2018-02-15 10:58
Trump Administration Should Rescind Proposal That Allows Bosses to Pocket Working People's Tips

As we previously reported, President Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta announced a new proposed regulation to allow restaurant owners to pocket the tips of millions of tipped workers. This would result in an estimated $5.8 billion in lost wages for workers each year―wages that they rightfully earned.

And most of that would come from women’s pockets. Nearly 70% of tipped workers are women, and a majority of them work in the restaurant industry, which suffers from some of the highest rates of sexual harassment in the entire labor market. This rule would exacerbate sexual harassment because workers will now depend on the whims of owners to get their tips back.

In a letter to Congress, the AFL-CIO opposed the rule change in the strongest possible terms, calling for the proposal to be rescinded:

Just days before the comment period for this [Notice of Proposed Rulemaking] closed, an extremely disturbing report appeared indicating that analysis of the costs and benefits in fact occurred, but was discarded. On Feb. 1, 2018, Bloomberg/BNA reported that the Department of Labor "scrubbed an unfavorable internal analysis from a new tip pooling proposal, shielding the public from estimates that potentially billions of dollars in gratuities could be transferred from workers to their employer." Assuming these reports are correct, the Department of Labor should immediately make the underlying data (and the analyses that the Department conducted) available to the public. We call on the Department of Labor to do so immediately and to withdraw the related Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

The AFL-CIO strongly urges the Department to withdraw the proposed rule, and instead focus its energies on promoting policies that will improve economic security for people working in low-wage jobs and empower all working people with the resources they need to combat sexual harassment in their workplaces.

The Department of Labor must provide an estimate of its proposed rules’ economic impact. However, while suspiciously claiming that such an analysis was impossible, it turns out that this wasn't true:

Senior department political officials—faced with a government analysis showing that workers could lose billions of dollars in tips as a result of the proposal—ordered staff to revise the data methodology to lessen the expected impact, several of the sources said. Although later calculations showed progressively reduced tip losses, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta and his team are said to have still been uncomfortable with including the data in the proposal. The officials disagreed with assumptions in the analysis that employers would retain their employees’ gratuities, rather than redistribute the money to other hourly workers. They wound up receiving approval from the White House to publish a proposal Dec. 5 that removed the economic transfer data altogether, the sources said.

The move to drop the analysis means workers, businesses, advocacy groups and others who want to weigh in on the tip pool proposal will have to do so without seeing the government’s estimate first.

Democrats in Congress quickly responded that the rule change should be abandoned, as the new rule would authorize employers to engage in wage theft against their workers. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said:

You have been a proponent of more transparency and economic analysis in the rulemaking process. But if DOL hid a key economic analysis of this proposed rule—and if [Office of Management and Budget] officials were aware of and complicit in doing so—that would raise serious questions about the integrity of the rule itself, and about your role and the role of other OMB officials in the rulemaking.

Take action today and send a letter to Congress asking it to stop Trump's tip theft rule.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 02/15/2018 - 09:58

Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act Would Strip Working People of Freedoms

Wed, 2018-02-14 14:00
Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act Would Strip Working People of Freedoms

Congress should protect worker freedom and uphold the sovereignty of Native American tribes, not pit the two against each other. Working people must have a legally enforceable right to form unions and negotiate together with the tribal enterprises that employ them. It’s fair, it’s democratic and it’s one important step toward an economy that works for all working people.

Corporate-backed politicians and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have a new disguise to cut back worker freedoms, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (S. 63, H.R. 986), which would deny National Labor Relations Act protection to more than 600,000 workers.

It’s the classic strategy of divide and conquer. The AFL-CIO supports tribal sovereignty and workers’ freedoms. The two should never be pitted against each other.

Tribal governments and labor unions share a host of basic values, including a desire for broad prosperity, good jobs and thriving communities.

America’s working people want new economic rules so we can raise pay and expand worker freedom, and that means rejecting the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act.

Read more from our letter to representatives opposing the act:

The AFL-CIO supports the principle of sovereignty for tribal governments but does not believe that employers should use this principle to deny workers their collective bargaining rights and freedom of association. While the AFL-CIO continues to support the concept of tribal sovereignty in truly internal, self-governance matters, it is in no position to repudiate fundamental human rights that belong to every worker in every nation. Workers cannot be left without any legally enforceable right to form unions and bargain collectively in instances where they are working for a tribal enterprise, which is simply a commercial operation competing with non-tribal businesses....

The AFL-CIO opposes any effort to exempt on an across-the-board basis all tribal enterprises from the NLRA, without undertaking a specific review of all the circumstances—as current NLRB standards provide. Where the enterprise employs mainly Native American employees with mainly Native American customers, and involves self-governance or intramural affairs, leaving the matter to tribal governments may be appropriate. However, where the business employs primarily non-Native American employees and caters to primarily non-Native American customers, there is no basis for depriving employees of their rights and protections under the National Labor Relations Act.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 02/14/2018 - 13:00

SAG-AFTRA Releases Sexual Harassment Code of Conduct

Wed, 2018-02-14 11:48
SAG-AFTRA Releases Sexual Harassment Code of Conduct

SAG-AFTRA recently released a code of conduct on sexual harassment as part of a broader program to protect its members, confront harassment and advance equity in the workplace.

Leading with a call to action to its 160,000 members and the entertainment, music and media industries, the code defines sexual harassment and details what constitutes a hostile work environment, retaliation, and other types of prohibited conduct.

The code sets forth employers’ legal obligations under both the union’s contracts and the law, including the need to provide reporting mechanisms through which members can report instances of sexual harassment.

The code also sets forth clear expectations that SAG-AFTRA members will refrain from engaging in harassing conduct.

"To truly change the culture we must be courageous and willing. At its most basic, this code will ultimately help better define what harassment is, and what members’ rights are in real world situations," said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. "We are going further, however, with the launch of our Four Pillars of Change initiative to achieve safe workplaces and advance equity."

"This initiative provides a critical framework for our collective efforts to further strengthen protections for SAG-AFTRA members who experience harassment in the workplace," said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White. "Our comprehensive approach ensures that we stay focused on providing members with clear information, making training available that is relevant and practical, and working with industry partners to expand our tools to intervene and support victims of workplace harassment and assault. We are very excited to engage in this effort."

SAG-AFTRA’s Four Pillars of Change initiative represents the union’s overall approach to combat harassment, empower members to support each other, expand intervention efforts, and pursue solutions for victims and survivors of harassment and assault.

The union also is working on additional documents to provide practical guidance in both work and non-work settings in which harassment is known to frequently occur.

The Four Pillars of Change include sections on rules and guidelines, empowerment through education, expanded intervention efforts, and building bridges and safety nets. Together, these programs form a collective approach that provides a comprehensive set of tools and information to confront harassment and advance equity in the workplace.

Carteris added, "This initiative gives members a clear understanding of their workplace rights and provides reliable guidance for members to navigate the unique environments of the entertainment, music and media industries."

To read the Code of Conduct on Sexual Harassment, click here.

To read the Call to Action Ensuring Safe and Equitable Workplaces, click here.

This post originally appeared at SAG-AFTRA.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 02/14/2018 - 10:48

We Don't Play 'Chicken' with Safety: Worker Wins

Tue, 2018-02-13 15:26
We Don't Play 'Chicken' with Safety: Worker Wins Unite Here

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with poultry workers coming together to preserve safe line speeds and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.

Poultry Workers Defeat Dangerous Speed-Up Proposal: The National Chicken Council submitted a proposal to the USDA to increase the legally allowable speed that working people on poultry lines can be held to. Across the South, members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU/UFCW) leafletted workplaces, called other members and went door to door to defeat the proposal, which would have put poultry workers and the general public at increased risk.

Micro-Clean Workers Join SMART After Long Battle: Workers at Micro-Clean, a cleanroom certification company, finally won representation and a union contract with International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 19 after an 18-year battle. Employees at Micro-Clean, who work around some of the most dangerous chemical and biological hazards possible, succeeded in winning improved safety and better pay and benefits.

AT&T Wireless Workers Set Precedent for Wireless Industry: After a contentious battle that included the largest national retail strike in U.S. history, AT&T Wireless workers approved a contract that sets a new standard for the wireless industry. The contract covers more than 21,000 members and rolls back the offshoring and outsourcing of jobs at the company.

California Hospitality Workers Win Safety and Health Upgrade: After six years, hospitality workers have finally won improvements to their workplace safety, as Cal/OSHA approved new rules. The rules are designed to lessen the dangers of common injuries and experiences hotel housekeepers commonly experience and reduce sexual harassment and assault.

Massachusetts Bus Workers Save Jobs with New Contract: Working people at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, represented by Machinists (IAM) Local 264, voted to ratify an agreement with management that will last through 2021. The new contract ensures that all bus maintenance facilities will remain public, after a proposal suggested privatizing up to 20% of existing jobs. The proposal also will increase wages, maintain fleet size, health benefits and pensions.

Albany Hotel Workers Win Fair Contract: After a battle that included a boycott and picket lines, hotel workers in Albany, New York, have secured a fair contract that safeguards important benefits for their members and families.

California Nurses Continue String of Organizing Victories: Nurses in San Bernardino and Ventura County, California, became the latest successes in a string of organizing wins for the California Nurses Association/NNOC and National Nurses United (NNU). The agreements reached by the nurses, who work at multiple hospitals, will improve patient safety and the work environment for employees.

Linden, N.J., Electrical Workers Approve Their First Contract: Members of Electrical Workers (IBEW) at the NAES co-generation plant in Linden, New Jersey, that runs six natural gas-fired turbines, approved their first union contract nine months after their vote to join together in union succeeded by one vote.

Big Win for Drivers and Tour Guides at Big Bus: Working people at Big Bus New York voted decisively in favor of their first contract with the company. Represented by Transport Workers (TWU) Local 100, the members won a contract that provides for immediate raises, improvements to health insurance and numerous other benefit gains. The contract also puts in place full due process guidelines for discipline and grievances.

Idaho Democratic Party Staff Join IBEW: The staff at the Idaho Democratic Party has joined IBEW Local 291 in Boise. Idaho's Democrats become the second state party to come together in union, after Vermont's party staff joined the United Steelworkers (USW) last year.

Staff Earn Voluntary Recognition of Union at the Century Foundation: After a 10-month bargaining process, staff at The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank, signed their first-ever collective bargaining agreement. TCF voluntarily recognized the union last year, and management and employees worked together to reach an agreement that "recognizes the important work and critical value of TCF's staff and builds on a mutual deep commitment to collective bargaining rights, fairness, and respect in the workplace."

Jacobin Staff Win First Union Contract: Members of The NewsGuild of New York/CWA who work at the socialist magazine Jacobin overwhelmingly voted to ratify their first union contact at the publication. Jacobin management voluntarily recognized the union in October 2016, and the new contract is the result of a year of work between management and working people.

 

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 02/13/2018 - 14:26

Make Your Valentine's Day Union-Made!

Tue, 2018-02-13 11:28
Make Your Valentine's Day Union-Made! AFL-CIO

Are you looking for last-minute gifts for Valentine's Day? Why not give your valentine some union-made sweets this Feb. 14, toast your love with champagne that carries a union label or show your sweetheart how much you care with a union-made flower bouquet.

Sweets
  • Ghirardelli Chocolate
  • Hershey’s Chocolate
  • Russell Stover
  • See’s Candies
  • Sweethearts Conversation Hearts
Spirits
  • Almaden
  • André
  • C.K. Mondavi
  • Charles Krug
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle
  • Franzia
  • Gallo of Sonoma
  • JFJ
  • Livingston Cellars
  • Turning Leaf
  • Tott’s
  • Weibel
  • Wycliff
Flowers
  • Albertsons
  • Costco
  • Gelson’s
  • Pavilions
  • Ralph’s
  • Safeway
  • Vons

You also can check out union-made Valentine's Day movies. And, remember that Trojan and Durex are both union made.

Want info on more union-made products? Text MADE to 235246 (standard data and message rates may apply). 

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 02/13/2018 - 10:28

Taking the Wheel: A New Generation Is Driving the Future of the Labor Movement

Mon, 2018-02-12 16:33
Taking the Wheel: A New Generation Is Driving the Future of the Labor Movement AFL-CIO

Building on the achievements of the past, newly elected union leaders and young workers are spreading optimism across the country. Inspired by the history and mission of the labor movement, a new generation of workers and activists are assuming leadership roles as the ranks of young union workers continue to grow.

Kooper Caraway became the youngest president ever elected at the Sioux Falls Central Labor Council. Even at the age of 27, Caraway already has a lot of union activism under his belt. He is the lead organizer for AFSCME Council 65 for South Dakota and represents nearly 2,000 public employees across the state. He has a strong track record of standing up for the working people of Sioux Falls and has worked tirelessly to improve marginalized communities.

Labor history is not lost on Caraway, and his outlook for the union movement is bright. He maintains a clear vision of his own role moving forward. "The generations of labor leaders that came before us have given us all of the tools and opportunities that we have today," Caraway said. "It’s time for millennials to take the torch, hold it firmly and build a better world for the generations of workers that will come after us."

In La Crosse, Wisconsin, another young leader has emerged. Tyler Tubbs was elected as president of the Western Wisconsin AFL-CIO last month. Tubbs, 26, is a locomotive engineer for BNSF Railway and is an active member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 13.

Tubbs is committed to bringing more young workers into the same labor movement that his family has embraced for generations. "For too long, younger folks have distanced themselves from unions, and I feel it is my job to show them the union advantage and help people understand how unions improve the lives of working people and the community at-large," he said. "I am now in a position to apply all that I have learned from those that went before me to help take the labor movement into what I know is a bright and essential future," Tubbs said.

Josette Jaramillo, 36, was elected president of the Colorado AFL-CIO after getting her early start as a member of AFSCME at the Pueblo County Department of Social Services. "Young workers are the future of our movement," Jaramillo said. "By investing in their leadership, we are investing in the longevity of our movement."

The fact that younger activists are taking on leadership roles is reflective of a larger trend in America's labor movement. Young workers continue to drive union growth and, since 2012, union membership among working people under 35 has continued to rise. Last year, they made up 75% of new members, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

One such worker is Keith Cloutier who is employed at American Roots, an all American-made apparel manufacturer in Portland, Maine. At 23, Cloutier is new to the workforce and new to the union movement. He joined United Steelworkers (USW) Local 366 last year. "Becoming a member of USW 366 has given me the opportunity to come together with my brothers and sisters to fight and work toward a better life for more than just myself," he said. "Young workers’ involvement in the labor movement is important because it brings new ideas and new energy, and I am able to learn and grow from those who have walked through the fire."

The AFL-CIO continues to build our Next Up Young Worker Program, which is a place for young people and their unions, progressive allies, students and community groups to join together and work toward social and economic justice. Young worker groups all over the country focus on everything from organizing to policy to politics to change the rules and fight for a better future for all working people.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 02/12/2018 - 15:33

What Working People Want to See in Trump's Infrastructure Plan

Mon, 2018-02-12 10:41
What Working People Want to See in Trump's Infrastructure Plan

In his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump proposed $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending, and on Monday, he will unveil the details of the proposal. Investing in our infrastructure is a critical need for the United States. Working people have long advocated for more federal investment in infrastructure, as a way to maintain high safety standards, to create jobs and to boost the economy. In order to achieve these goals, any infrastructure plan must contain certain key components.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee:

The labor movement is ready to fight, here in Washington and across our great nation, to see a transformative, inclusive infrastructure program enacted. We need to bring 21st century technology and good jobs to our entire country—to places as diverse as West Baltimore and my rural hometown of Nemacolin, Pennsylvania. And once that investment is made, the labor movement stands ready with the most highly skilled and well-trained workforce to get the job done.

One trillion dollars in new infrastructure investment would make a big difference to working Americans and put our nation on the path to sustainable prosperity. How we invest matters, it must be real investment and create good jobs.

Let me be clear: If we want good jobs, we must have high labor standards and protections for the people who build, maintain and operate our infrastructure. That’s not all. We need to make sure public money is used to support American jobs, American resources and American products. Finally, it is imperative that we invest at the lowest cost of capital to the public—anything else simply sacrifices jobs to Wall Street.

At our convention last year, we passed a resolution on infrastructure, noting the key parts of any good infrastructure proposal. It should:

  • Comprehensively invest in our nation's future, to not only fund existing needs and invest in new infrastructure.
  • Lift up working people, grow the economy, create high-road jobs and provide increased opportunity for people of color and women.
  • Show a commitment to long-term federal funding.
  • Avoid irresponsible experiments that devolve federal responsibilities to cities and states.
  • Reject misguided proposals to sell public assets to pay for infrastructure.
  • Maintain longstanding federal policies that protect working people with high labor standards to ensure that infrastructure investments create good jobs.
  • Support fundamental labor standards, including: Davis-Bacon Act prevailing wages, section 13(c) transit protections and applicable rail labor standards.
  • Support collective bargaining agreements, and family-supporting wages and benefits, instead of gutting them with low-wage bids.
  • Protect public-sector employees’ pay, rights and benefits, when special interests push privatization and contracting-out schemes.
  • Advocate for public procurement strategies for goods and products that are inclusive, create opportunity for all Americans, strengthen and extend Buy American requirements, and help revive domestic manufacturing.
  • Reward employers that pay family-sustaining wages, train employees, hire from disadvantaged communities, and help people of color and women secure good jobs.
  • Reach into our communities—urban, suburban and rural—to help more Americans obtain workforce development opportunities that lead to middle-class careers, which our failure to invest has left out of reach for too many.

Working people will be watching Monday to see what Trump proposes, and we will judge any proposal on its merits. How will this plan create jobs and raise wages for working people? We want to know.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 02/12/2018 - 09:41

Unions are Fighting for Families by Supporting Women and Rejecting the Status Quo

Fri, 2018-02-09 11:48
Unions are Fighting for Families by Supporting Women and Rejecting the Status Quo New America

Women in the workplace have made major strides. Women currently make up 48% of the workforce and are the sole or primary breadwinner for 40% of families in the United States. Yet most family responsibilities still rest on women’s shoulders and, too often, women put in a full day’s work only to come home and clock in for a second shift.

As Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, I am constantly in awe of the powerful work the 6.8 million women of the labor movement do to advance issues that matter. Consider this: In the past decade, there has been tremendous momentum at the state and local level, with millions of working people winning the freedom to take time off to care for family, and labor unions have been at the center of these wins. Which might explain why states with higher union density are more likely to have paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave laws. And, when unions are strong, women are strong. Unions make a difference for women in dollars and cents—$222, to be exact. That’s how much more the typical woman in a union job makes in a week compared with a woman in a non-union job.

Beyond supporting working women, the labor movement has always advocated for policies that promote a full-employment economy at wages high enough to allow working people to support their families. We work to combat policies that erode the rights of working people, and make sure they’re rewarded for the wealth they help create. To achieve this, we support a broad range of policies, including restoring the minimum wage to a living wage, restoring overtime protections, prevailing wage standards, and putting an end to wage theft and the rampant misclassification of employees as independent contractors. The AFL-CIO adopted this working people’s Bill of Rights at our recent convention to demand that all working people have the right to:

  • A Good Job with Fair Wages: Everyone who wants to work has the right to a good job where we earn wages that allow us to support ourselves and our families.
  • Quality Health Care: Regardless of income, job or a pre-existing condition.
  • A Safe Job: Free from harassment and violence.
  • Paid Time Off and Flexible, Predictable Scheduling: To spend time with family or care for ourselves or a loved one.
  • Freedom from Discrimination: In hiring, firing, and promotions.
  • Retire with Dignity: And financial security.
  • Education: Public K-12, higher education and career training that advances our knowledge and skills without leaving us in debt.
  • Freedom to Join Together: With our co-workers for better wages and working conditions, whether we are in a union or not.
  • A Voice in Democracy: To freely exercise our democratic voice through voting and civic participation.

Building on recent victories, state legislators have demonstrated that they are #FightingForFamilies in 2018 by introducing legislation to advance some of these policies in states across the country, and union members have been advocating alongside them. Sixteen states have bills pending for paid family and medical leave in 2018. Thirteen states are considering bills for equal pay, and 13 states are considering paid sick days. Sixteen states are considering measures to prevent employment discrimination against LGBT workers. Ten states have bills to ensure pregnant workers’ rights. And that’s just the beginning.

Young workers, immigrants, women, LGBT people and communities of color are coming together to advance changes that will improve our lives. When we join in union, we are a formidable force, a political force. Together, we can make equal pay, paid leave, and fair scheduling the law of the land. Together, we can lead a movement to change the world and build an economy that works for us all. Together, we can reject quiet acceptance and build an America where all working women can sustain their families and realize their dreams.

Women fight and win battles every day. By standing and negotiating together, we will continue to make the world a better place for all of us. Unions are rejecting the status quo and are working to build an America where all working people can sustain their families and realize their dreams.

This post originally appeared at Six.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/09/2018 - 10:48

6 Activist Women You Need to Know About for Black History Month

Fri, 2018-02-09 00:24
6 Activist Women You Need to Know About for Black History Month

As we celebrate Black History Month, we thought we'd take a look back at some of the women who have made history in the realm of fighting for the rights of working people. The battles they fought at the intersection of the rights of African Americans, women and working people should have made these women household names. Women continue to be at the forefront of battles for the rights of African Americans today, building on the work of these women and many others. Here is an introduction to a group of amazing women who did some amazing things.

Culinary Union 226 Hattie Canty

Hattie Canty grew up near Mobile, Alabama, before eventually settling in Las Vegas with her family. In 1972, she began working various jobs as a maid and janitor. She became active in the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and was elected to the local's executive board in 1984, the year they staged a 75-day walkout to improve health insurance for casino workers. In 1990, she became the president of the union, and in 1991, the Culinary Workers began the longest labor strike in American history, with a walk off from the Frontier Hotel over unfair labor practices. Six years later, the hotel's new owner settled with the union. Canty not only fought to make sure that working people got paid the living wages they earned, she helped integrate the union, helped people of color obtain better jobs and established the Culinary Training Academy, which teaches job skills necessary for employment in the hospitality industry.

Key Quote: "Coming from Alabama, this seemed like the civil rights struggle….The labor movement and the civil rights movement, you cannot separate the two of them."

Watch this video (below) to learn more from Canty.

Velma Hopkins

In the 1940s, Velma Hopkins, a member of Local 22 of the Food, Tobacco, Agricultural and Allied Workers of America-CIO, led a fight for better conditions for African American workers in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The union challenged R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. to improve conditions for black workers, who endured segregated work areas permeated by oppressive heat and dangerous tobacco dust. A series of strikes and campaigns led to job security, wage increases and other benefits. The work Hopkins did in leading the fight inspired many North Carolinians and helped establish what would become Winston-Salem's black middle class.

Key Quote: "I know my limitations, and I surround myself with people who I can designate to be sure it’s carried out. If you can’t do that, you’re not an organizer."

Wikimedia Commons Lucy Gonzales Parsons

Lucy Gonzales was born a slave in Texas. After emancipation, she married Albert Parsons, and white supremacists drove the activist couple from their home state. Settling in Chicago, Lucy and her husband began organizing on behalf of the city's industrial unions. In 1886, the couple helped lead 80,000 working people in the world's first May Day parade, which demanded the eight-hour day. After her husband was arrested, along with seven immigrant leaders, during the Haymarket Riot, Parsons became active in the campaign to free the men. She soon became known by anti-union forces as "more dangerous than a thousand rioters." Her activism in the following years would lead her to become the only woman to speak at the founding convention of the Industrial Workers of the World. She actively fought for working people until she died in a fire in 1942.

Key Quote: "Governments never lead; they follow progress. When the prison, stake or scaffold can no longer silence the voice of the protesting minority, progress moves on a step, but not until then."

Rosina Tucker

The daughter of former slaves, Rosina Tucker was born in Washington, D.C., in 1881. A talented musician, she pursued a career as a file clerk with the federal government. She married Berthea J. Tucker, a Pullman car porter, in 1918. When the porters began to organize the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters under the leadership of A. Philip Randolph, Tucker joined in the membership drive and not only helped recruit many of the union's members, but also helped found the organization's women's auxilliary. As the union grew, the auxilliary did as well, eventually gathering more than 1,500 dues-paying members. She passed in 1987, after years of activism for civil rights and labor causes. The span of her years of dedication was so broad that she was both a mourner at the 1895 funeral of Frederick Douglass, and an organizer at the 1963 March on Washington.

Key Quote: "Once a young man asked me, 'What was it like in your day?' 'My day?' I said, 'This is my day!'"

Sue Cowan Williams

In 1910, Sue Cowan was born in a small town in Arkansas. After college, she became a teacher in Little Rock and married her first husband. In 1942, she became the plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit that sought to eliminate the pay disparity between black and white teachers. After a weeklong trial, she lost the trial. In 1945, though, an appeals court decided to overturn the ruling, but not before the school district had fired her, along with the principal of her school and the president of the City Teachers Association of Little Rock. In 1952, Williams would get her teaching job back and remained active in her community until she passed in 1994.

Wikimedia Commons Septima Poinsette Clark

Septima Poinsette Clark was born in 1898 to a laundrywoman and a former slave in Charleston, South Carolina. By the time she was 20, she began a teaching career that lasted more than 40 years. While teaching, she pursued higher education and activism. She participated in a class-action lawsuit that led to pay equity for black and white teachers. In 1956, she was fired after the state passed a statute prohibiting city and state workers from belonging to civil rights organizations, when she refused to resign from the NAACP. From that point forward, she was an active participant in the civil rights movement, including teaching many workshops and classes that empowered and inspired activists, including Rosa Parks, who took one of her workshops just months before the beginning of the Montgomery bus boycott. In 1975, she was elected to the Charleston School Board; and the next year, the governor of South Carolina reinstated the teacher's pension that had been unjustly taken from her 20 years earlier.

Key Quote: "My philosophy is such that I am not going to vote against the oppressed. I have been oppressed, and so I am always going to have a vote for the oppressed, regardless of whether that oppressed is black or white or yellow or the people of the Middle East, or what."

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 02/08/2018 - 23:24