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Updated: 27 weeks 3 days ago

Asking for Basic Protection: In the States Roundup

Tue, 2021-03-09 11:17
Asking for Basic Protection: 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 on Twitter.

Alabama AFL-CIO:

Solidarity with #BAmazonUnion comes in from all across the country! #1U https://t.co/syXLd4ywwa

— Alabama AFL-CIO (@AlabamaAFLCIO) February 23, 2021

Alaska AFL-CIO:

Workers should never have to choose between their safety and feeding their families.

We will continue to fight for safe work places and give working people a collective voice to address workplace injustices without the fear of retaliation. #akleg https://t.co/mtoPnEJkbL

— Alaska AFL-CIO (@AKAFLCIO) March 6, 2021

California Labor Federation:

There is no one more qualified to join the @USDOL leadership team than @JulieSuCA. She's spent a lifetime in the trenches fighting for low-wage workers, immigrants and people of color. Her historic nomination must be approved https://t.co/9z151Y8CrX

— California Labor Federation (@CaliforniaLabor) March 8, 2021

Colorado AFL-CIO:

Senator Bennet, thank you for supporting the Sanders amendment on a $15 dollar minimum wage. @SenatorBennet #FightFor15 #MinimumWage #RaiseTheWage pic.twitter.com/Q1XhDNYUZa

— Colorado AFL-CIO (@AFLCIOCO) March 5, 2021

Connecticut AFL-CIO:

A woman's place is in her union! And a union contract is one of the best ways to promote pay equity. Women in unions earn 23% more than those without the protection of a union. #InternationalWomensDay pic.twitter.com/6IibSOBD9U

— Connecticut AFL-CIO (@ConnAFLCIO) March 8, 2021

Florida AFL-CIO:

This morning, House Bill 947 and House Bill 835 passed the Florida House Government Operations Subcommittee on party-line votes. Stand up for frontline workers: tell your representative to vote NO on HB 947 and HB 835. https://t.co/xNdKy7CcwG pic.twitter.com/7MRhLi94RI

— Florida AFL-CIO (@FLAFLCIO) March 8, 2021

Georgia State AFL-CIO:

Tonight, the US House is expected to vote on the PRO Act—a generational opportunity to transform our woefully outdated labor laws.

Thank you to @DPGChair, @RepHankJohnson, @repdavidscott, and @SanfordBishop for your continued support for this bill & Georgia's unions! pic.twitter.com/dqlVfwWu5l

— Georgia AFL-CIO // Pass The #ProAct (@AFLCIOGeorgia) March 9, 2021

Indiana State AFL-CIO:

We can always count on Tom Morello to bring us musical inspiration ✊

Women's History Month Profiles: Ethel Everett

Tue, 2021-03-09 10:30
Women's History Month Profiles: Ethel Everett

This year, for Women's History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making women's history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only their community, but also to improve conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is Ethel Everett.

Ethel Everett has been an active leader with SEIU Local 509 for 30 years, serving as a union activist, steward and regional vice president for the local’s Department of Children and Families Chapter. She is vice president of the Massachusetts chapter of AFRAM, SEIU’s African American Caucus, and sits on the AFRAM Eastern Region Board. She also serves as a board member for the Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation (WMALF) and co-chairs the WMALF Racial Justice Committee. She’s a committed union leader who always engages her members and is a strong advocate for social and economic justice in her union and community.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 03/09/2021 - 09:30

Tags: Women's History Month

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: New Jersey State AFL-CIO: Operation Feed Atlantic City Continues to Give Back to Those in Need

Mon, 2021-03-08 16:45
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: New Jersey State AFL-CIO: Operation Feed Atlantic City Continues to Give Back to Those in Need

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech reports that union solidarity brought sunshine and much-appreciated meal kits to laid-off workers in Atlantic City through Operation Feed Atlantic City on Feb. 25.

The food distribution, sponsored by the New Jersey State AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions, the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Agency and the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, was one in the labor movement’s continuing series of support programs for the Shore community that has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Volunteers from UNITE HERE, Operating Engineers (IUOE), Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), NYSNA Shore Nurses and other affiliates dedicated their day to smoothly checking in the 2,000-plus recipients, directing traffic safely and loading the groceries and other goods into waiting trunks and hatchbacks.

“It’s been more than 11 months since the casinos and other entertainment venues were first shut down,” Wowkanech said. “Ever since then, we’ve been here to stand with our brothers and sisters and the whole Atlantic City community to help them keep food on their tables while we work to bring the city back to life.”

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 03/08/2021 - 15:45

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

‘Everyone in the Community Is Cheering Us On’: The Working People Weekly List

Mon, 2021-03-08 16:17
‘Everyone in the Community Is Cheering Us On’: 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 the latest edition of the Working People Weekly List.

‘Everyone in the Community Is Cheering Us On’: "As lead organizer in the potentially historic effort to unionize 5,800 Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, Josh Brewer heads a small army of organizers for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. Brewer recognizes that it’s a high-stakes campaign—it’s the first time a union has sought to unionize all the workers at an Amazon warehouse in the United States. Bessemer, a suburb of Birmingham, was once a thriving union community, with steel mills, coal mines, and a Pullman railcar factory. Brewer, 33, is an ordained minister who gravitated from the pulpit to union organizing because he saw it as a more effective way to lift struggling Americans. The National Labor Relations Board mailed out the unionization ballots on February 8; they are due on March 29, and only then will the ballots be counted. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.”

Right-to-Work Fails Muster: "Al Ekblad, executive secretary of the Montana AFL-CIO, said that in his three decades in and around the labor movement, it was the first time a major piece of right-to-work legislation had hit the House floor. 'It was a defining moment for the people that came to participate as citizen lobbyists,' Ekblad said. 'It’s going up for a vote, so there’s certainly a sense of apprehension until the vote takes place. Nobody’s foolish enough in this world to anticipate that the victory is guaranteed.'”

Nurses Condemn Gov. Abbott’s COVID-19 Decision Lifting Safety Measures Now as 'A Death Sentence': "National Nurses United today condemned the decision of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to remove public safety measures needed to reduce infections, hospitalizations, and deaths amidst a still-virulent pandemic, a decision nurses warn will cost the lives of Texas residents. 'We are appalled that Gov. Abbott could take such an ill-advised step at a time when people are still dying, and the virus continues to spread throughout Texas, including in communities where our members live and work,' said NNU President Jean Ross, RN. 'For the highest public official in the state to tell people to ignore all precautions will only result in avoidable increased pain, suffering, and deaths. It is a shockingly irresponsible decision.' NNU concurs with the statement by Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy, said Ross, that Gov. Abbott’s decision to lift a statewide mask mandate 'would put lives of working people in jeopardy and directly lead to more deaths from #COVID19.'” 

Amazon Workers Bombarded with 'Anti-Union Propaganda' Amid Historic Drive: Union President: "Despite the national spotlight, workers at the warehouse continue to endure grueling and unsafe working conditions as well as aggressive anti-union propaganda, said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which has organized the union drive. 'It's horrible for workers there,' he says. 'Workers are being bombarded with anti-union messages.' 'If you're sitting on a toilet in an Amazon bathroom, they have placed at eye level anti-union propaganda,' he adds.”

Amazon Workers’ Union Drive Reaches Far Beyond Alabama: "Players from the National Football League were among the first to voice their support. Then came Stacey Abrams, the Democratic star who helped turn Georgia blue in the 2020 election. The actor Danny Glover traveled to Bessemer, Ala., for a news conference last week, where he invoked the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s pro-union leanings in urging workers at Amazon’s warehouse there to organize. Tina Fey has weighed in, and so has Senator Bernie Sanders. Then on Sunday, President Biden issued a resounding declaration of solidarity with the workers now voting on whether to form a union at Amazon’s Bessemer warehouse, without mentioning the company by name. Posted to his official Twitter account, his video was one of the most forceful statements in support of unionizing by an American president in recent memory. 'Every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union,' Biden said.”

After Stimulus, Biden to Tackle Another Politically Tricky Issue: Infrastructure: "Richard L. Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, who joined other labor leaders in a meeting in February to discuss infrastructure withBiden, said the president was uniquely positioned to understand the importance of the issue from the perspective of working Americans. 'He was born a blue-collar baby and he’s going to get buried a blue-collar baby,' Mr. Trumka said. A big, bold infrastructure bill, he said, was 'a racial justice bill, a Covid safety bill and the most important climate bill of all time, all in one.'”

Biden Expressed Solidarity with Alabama Workers Attempting to Unionize an Amazon Warehouse: "President Biden expressed solidarity with workers attempting to unionize an Amazon facility in Alabama in a video released Sunday that emphasized his broad support of the labor movement—without explicitly backing their cause or naming the company itself. Around 6,000 workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, a former steel town outside of Birmingham, are voting over the next week on whether they want to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.”

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 03/08/2021 - 15:17

Women's History Month Profiles: Royetta Sanford

Mon, 2021-03-08 10:38
Women's History Month Profiles: Royetta Sanford

This year, for Women's History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making women's history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only their community, but also to improve conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is Royetta Sanford.

Royetta Sanford oversaw the first international women’s conference for the Electrical Workers (IBEW) in 1997. Since then, she convened a committee on women’s issues and launched a department within the IBEW International Office that focuses on women’s and civil rights. She then served as the first director of that department. Sanford recently retired from her position as director of human services for the IBEW.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 03/08/2021 - 09:38

Tags: Women's History Month

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Labor Movement Fighting Anti-Asian Racism in All Forms

Mon, 2021-03-08 09:38
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Labor Movement Fighting Anti-Asian Racism in All Forms

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Anti-Asian racism has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Working people condemn this vile behavior as a stain on our nation. We will continue to fight these injustices.

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance National President Monica Thammarath (NEA) stated, “It is not right that Asian Americans are afraid to be alone in public, especially our elders who live in poverty and depend on access to community services, and our young people who live in places where there are few community spaces to turn to. We grieve for the elders who have been assaulted in Chinatowns across the nation. We grieve for Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man who was attacked on one of his daily walks in San Francisco. We send our love to Noel Quintana, a 61-year-old Filipino American who was attacked on a Manhattan subway car, and to the 52-year-old Chinese American woman who was attacked outside of a Flushing bakery. We grieve for Christian Hall, a Chinese American teenager who was murdered by the Pennsylvania State Police. We grieve for Angelo Quinto, a 30-year-old Filipino American who was murdered by Antioch, California, police. Our communities are hurting, and we are more agitated than ever to create change.

“This is part of a long history of violence against Asian Americans that includes the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, lynchings and white mob violence on Asian ethnic communities, denaturalization of Indian American citizens, and Islamophobia against Muslim, Arab and Middle Eastern communities. Last year’s June uprisings for Black Lives Matter showed just how important it is for social justice movements to forefront building community safety. Securing this ability for people to move around or stay where they are safely, requires all of us to ensure that everyone has adequate access to housing, food, health care and other basic necessities to live. By working to ensure we meet each other’s needs, we learn valuable lessons on how we can keep each other safe and take community safety back in our hands.”

“The entire labor movement is appalled by the continued rise in anti-Asian racism across the country. Acts of physical violence, yelling of racial slurs and intimidation tactics used against our Asian American friends, family and communities must be called out and stopped,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA). “Anti-Asian rhetoric is only hurting our nation more during this pandemic, and we all must stand up and condemn in the strongest terms possible that racism in any form is unacceptable.”

“Racism in any form is wrong. Plain and simple. I have been so incensed to see the attacks on our Asian brothers and sisters that I could just scream,” said Clayola Brown (Workers United), AFL-CIO civil rights director and A. Philip Randolph Institute president. “For those of us of color who have endured systemic racism for 400 years, it is scary to see this unrelenting targeting and denigration happening to another group. The kind of ugliness we’ve seen happening to members of the Asian community as they simply go to the store or gather in a park to visit is disgusting and must be stopped. To watch elderly people come under attack and no one come to their aid shows we still have so much more work to do. Humanity must prevail. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘The time is always right to do what is right.’ We must all take responsibility to make sure that no one is targeted, tormented or harassed because of their ethnicity. Until we learn that lesson, we all pay the price for racism.”

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 03/08/2021 - 08:38

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Economy Gains 379,000 Jobs in February; Unemployment Down to 6.2%

Fri, 2021-03-05 13:55
Economy Gains 379,000 Jobs in February; Unemployment Down to 6.2%

The U.S. economy gained 379,000 jobs in February, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.2%, according to figures released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In response to the February job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs tweeted:

Most of February's job gain (moving right on the chart) came from leisure & hospitality, higher wage industries (moving up on the chart) posted milder job gains (professional services including temps, education and health, retail trade), or modest job losses. @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/QUfY0MvLlo

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) March 5, 2021

State and local government employment declined in February. As in the Great Recession, state and local government employment is a big drag on a healthy recovery. It is vital the Senate pass @POTUS American Recovery Act now and get state and local governments the assurance to hire pic.twitter.com/2G7xCGLISh

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) March 5, 2021

The share and the number of long term unemployed continue to climb. This makes clearing the labor market difficult and slow. Extended unemployment benefits will be necessary to keep these workers engaged even as the labor market improves. @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/yvfwXfjWjv

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) March 5, 2021

The long-term unemployed ARE heterogenous, they are NOT just production and service workers. The longest unemployment spells are for managers and professionals and they are almost 1/4 the long-term unemployed. This is why solutions aren't easy. @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/LnF6ng6lwC

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) March 5, 2021

From the flow data for February (from January), women were less likely to enter the labor force from not being in the labor force, but more likely to exit unemployment to find jobs. The unemployed were more likely to find jobs than to quit looking. @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/8SPVStIMMd

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) March 5, 2021

The Black unemployment rose in February for all the wrong reasons, the share employed fell. Black women (over 20) rose from 8.5 to 8.9%. The unemployment rate for Black men (over 20) 10.2% is higher than the high school dropout unemployment rate of 10.1% @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/3UBIpQY35y

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) March 5, 2021

245,000 of this months payroll gains (out of 379,000) went to women, but his doesn't show in the household survey (they are not similar surveys and do not necessarily cross-walk) for Black women, who reported a drop in employment. @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/diEYCp4NaJ

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) March 5, 2021

Last month’s biggest job gains were in leisure and hospitality (+355,000), health care and social assistance (+46,000), retail trade (+41,000) and manufacturing (+21,000). The biggest losses were in construction (-61,000), local government education (-37,000), state government education (-32,000) and mining (-8,000). Employment changed little in other major industries, including wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities and other services.

In February, the unemployment rate increased for Black Americans (9.9%). The unemployment rates for teenagers (13.9%) and Asians (5.1%) declined. The rates for Hispanics (8.5%), adult men (6.0%), adult women (5.9%) and White Americans (5.6%) showed little or no change.

The number of long-term unemployed workers (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) barely changed in February and accounted for 41.5% of the total unemployed.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 03/05/2021 - 12:55

Women's History Month Profiles: Nicole Jeup

Fri, 2021-03-05 10:34
Women's History Month Profiles: Nicole Jeup

This year, for Women's History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making women's history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only their community, but also to improve conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is Nicole Jeup.

Nicole Jeup is an integral part of the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters’ (UA’s) Education and Training Department, specifically with the Veterans in Piping Program, which helps members of the military learn a trade and successfully transition into the workforce. Jeup is a true labor leader, uplifting everyone she works with and helping members of the military change their lives after completing their military service.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 03/05/2021 - 09:34

Tags: Women's History Month

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: New Mexico Federation of Labor Paid Sick Leave Bill Advances to Senate Floor

Fri, 2021-03-05 09:30
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: New Mexico Federation of Labor Paid Sick Leave Bill Advances to Senate Floor

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

The New Mexico Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO celebrated the state House’s passage of H.B. 20, the Healthy Workplaces Act (paid sick leave), by a 36-33 vote. If this bill passes the Senate, it would make New Mexico the 11th state to have some form of statewide paid sick leave.

In preparation for the vote, the federation released a poll showing that 76% of New Mexicans support a legislative proposal requiring all employers in the state to provide their employees with up to eight days of earned sick days per year to care for themselves, their children or their parents.

Vince Alvarado (SMART), president of the New Mexico Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, said, “The Legislature has debated potential earned sick leave policies for years. With the governor’s leadership, it is now time to pass this policy so parents no longer have to choose between losing a day’s worth of wages or sending sick kids to school.”

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 03/05/2021 - 08:30

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Women's History Month Profiles: Valerie King

Thu, 2021-03-04 10:30
Women's History Month Profiles: Valerie King

This year, for Women's History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making women's history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only their community, but also to improve conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is Valerie King.

Valerie King is an organizer with the Utility Workers (UWUA) and chairs the union’s Women’s Caucus. She has elevated women’s voices within the union and helped grow their visibility as members across the organization in a few short years. She did this through expanding the size of the Women’s Caucus and through organizing several successful initiatives, including the Rosie the Riveter 5K run/walk.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 03/04/2021 - 09:30

Tags: Women's History Month

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Nebraska State AFL-CIO Pushes for Legislation to Increase COVID-19 Safety Measures

Thu, 2021-03-04 09:30
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Nebraska State AFL-CIO Pushes for Legislation to Increase COVID-19 Safety Measures

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

The Nebraska State AFL-CIO, led by President/Secretary-Treasurer Susan Martin (AFSCME), is standing up for working people in the face of the pandemic. The state federation is throwing its support behind the efforts of State Sen. Tony Vargas to increase protections for the state’s meatpacking workers. More than 7,000 workers in processing plants across the state have contracted the virus, leading to 225 hospitalizations and 27 deaths. The majority of meatpacking workers in Nebraska are Latino and immigrants. Many are refugees. Vargas’ proposal was blocked during the closing days of the 2020 legislative session, but that hasn’t stopped working people from pushing for its passage again this year. There are more than 20,000 meatpacking workers in the state, Martin said. “We’re just asking for basic protection and enforcement. If companies are following these practices, there should be no opposition.”

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 03/04/2021 - 08:30

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Women's History Month Profiles: Geoconda Argüello-Kline

Wed, 2021-03-03 10:30
Women's History Month Profiles: Geoconda Argüello-Kline

This year, for Women's History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making women's history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only their community, but also to improve conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is Geoconda Argüello-Kline.

Geoconda Argüello-Kline was raised in Managua, Nicaragua, and came to the United States as a political refugee in 1979. In 1983, she moved to the Las Vegas Valley and worked as a guest room attendant at the Fitzgeralds Hotel, where a difficult contract fight spurred her desire to obtain better working conditions and protect her family. She became involved in the Culinary Workers Union-UNITE HERE Local 226 as a negotiating committee leader and a picket line captain. In 1990, she joined the union’s staff and since then has held many positions and worked tirelessly for the working people of Nevada and beyond. Under Argüello-Kline’s leadership, no other organization in Nevada has done more to support working families during the COVID-19 pandemic than the Culinary Union.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 03/03/2021 - 09:30

Tags: Women's History Month

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IUOE Local 49 Urges Investments in Minnesota’s Infrastructure

Wed, 2021-03-03 09:30
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IUOE Local 49 Urges Investments in Minnesota’s Infrastructure

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

With an anticipated $1.6 billion budget surplus, state lawmakers in Minnesota are debating how to spend these extra funds. Members of the Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 49 are calling for the money to be invested in the state’s infrastructure. “An economic recovery, the likes of which we haven’t seen in some time, is at hand,” said Local 49 Business Manager Jason George. “Rebuilding our state’s infrastructure is the path forward that will lift all boats. This is something we hope both political parties will agree on.”

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 03/03/2021 - 08:30

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Record Number of Women Lead Rockford United Labor

Tue, 2021-03-02 11:56
Record Number of Women Lead Rockford United Labor

Rockford United Labor, a central labor council in Illinois that's affiliated with AFL-CIO, set a record for the most women to serve on the council's board in its 66-year history. Sara Dorner (AFSCME) made history as the first woman to hold the office of president for the council. Dorner just completed a term as vice president.

Joining Dorner on the Rockford United Labor board are Sandra Patlan (AFSCME) and Christina Magee (Rockford Education Association-NEA). In addition to Dorner being the union's first woman president, Patlan is the first Latina elected to a leadership position at Rockford United Labor.

Patlan is excited about the opportunities being in leadership opens up. She said: "Being part of this union is just like, it's a big door opening, not just for me but for others that can’t speak for themselves, whether it's in the workplace place or in the community."

Check back throughout the month as we will be highlighting other local leaders and activists as part of our Women's History Month activities. 

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 03/02/2021 - 10:56

Tags: Women's History Month

Women's History Month Profiles: Denicia Montford Williams

Tue, 2021-03-02 10:32
Women's History Month Profiles: Denicia Montford Williams

This year, for Women's History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making women's history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only their community, but also to improve conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is Denicia Montford Williams

As a vice president of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO, associate director of the state’s chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) and member of Pride At Work, Denicia Montford Williams (AFT) is a tireless advocate for LGBTQ rights and for racial justice in the state. She works as the program manager for the North Carolina APRI chapter. She also started a spinoff chapter of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition. Montford Williams leads a voter-registration drive in nine North Carolina counties, advocates for worker-friendly laws, and hosts workshops related to financial and physical health. She seeks to include LGBTQ people more into advocacy work. She recently was elected to the state AFL-CIO's board of directors, becoming the first openly LGBTQ director in the board's history.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 03/02/2021 - 09:32

Tags: Women's History Month

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Western Region Solidarity: IUE-CWA Walmart Actions

Tue, 2021-03-02 09:30
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Western Region Solidarity: IUE-CWA Walmart Actions

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), state federations and central labor councils across the AFL-CIO Western Region held protests at Walmart in solidarity with more than 80 Ohio workers whose jobs producing Walmart’s “Made in America” light bulbs are being shipped to China.

While Walmart boasts a public commitment to supporting American manufacturing, the producer of its store-brand LED light bulbs, GE-Savant LLC, recently announced it intends to move the product line to China for production, permanently laying off more than 80 workers. The Walmart brand light bulbs are currently made by IUE-CWA workers in Bucyrus, Ohio, one of the only residential lighting plants left in the United States; nearly all other residential light bulbs are now produced in China.

In a show of increased public pressure for Walmart to stand up to its supplier and demand they keep manufacturing jobs for the retailer’s in-house “Made in America” LED light bulb line, we thank the Alaska AFL-CIO, Arizona AFL-CIO, Alameda Labor Council, Contra Costa Labor Council, Oregon AFL-CIO, South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council and the Washington State Labor Council for their organized actions.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 03/02/2021 - 08:30

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19

Women's History Month Profiles: Joelle Hall

Mon, 2021-03-01 10:44
Women's History Month Profiles: Joelle Hall

This year, for Women's History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making women's history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only their community, but also to improve conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is Joelle Hall.

Recently elected as the president of the Alaska AFL-CIO, Joelle Hall (UFCW) is the first woman to hold the office since the state federation was chartered in 1943. She previously served as director of operations and has spent more than 20 years shaping Alaskan politics. She has a well-deserved reputation for bipartisan coalition building and the utmost dedication to the principles of the labor movement

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 03/01/2021 - 09:44

Tags: Women's History Month

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Labor Movement Mobilizes as Texas Recovers

Mon, 2021-03-01 10:30
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Labor Movement Mobilizes as Texas Recovers

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

The unprecedented winter storms of recent days have left millions in Texas reeling with no electricity or running water. The energy capital of the world was suddenly shut down and the loss of basic services left dozens dead. But in difficult times, the labor movement always shows up. Throughout the state and the country, union members are mobilizing to respond.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) is closely monitoring the situation and has offered the help of the national federation. In California, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, under the leadership of President Ron Herrera (IBT), is working to deliver bottled water and food to the affected areas. Union Plus is working with the Texas AFL-CIO to provide members with hardship assistance. Roy Gillespie, the national disaster relief coordinator for the Teamsters (IBT), is coordinating the delivery of much-needed supplies into Texas from all around the country. 

The state federation is actively seeking donations to the Texas Workers Relief Fund to continue to support its central labor councils in their recovery efforts. Please donate as you are able. We’ll continue to keep you updated on ways to help Texas as they begin rebuilding.

In the Lone Star State itself, workers are mobilizing to help those most affected by getting their communities up and running again. Members of the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA) Local 68 in the Gulf Coast area have been sharing videos on Facebook with helpful information for residents. Union members in Austin led the delivery of thousands of pallets of water, with Austin Area AFL-CIO Council members and allies walking door to door and assessing water needs. They were joined by labor council President Jason Lopez (AFSCME). On Wednesday, the Texas AFL-CIO coordinated with the national AFL-CIO, IBT and various local unions and labor councils for a massive water delivery to Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth.

Workers in Texas are also demanding accountability. On Tuesday, Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy (TSEU/CWA, pictured above) issued a statement slamming the state’s leadership for its failure to prepare and respond. He said it was the latest in a long list of debacles:

“As with the pandemic, as with the distribution of vaccines, as with the reliance of the often-unreachable unemployment insurance system because of 1980's computer technology, as with a foster care system under federal court orders, years of knowing neglect by political leadership who rely on reactionary partisanship that shortchanges working people made us worse off. Once again, because too many politicians believed ‘free markets’ would prevail, failure ensued: The lights went out, the heat vanished, the taps had no water and the help we expect was stuck in triage mode.”

And through it all, the state federation is making sure its members’ voices are heard. The Texas AFL-CIO has also been collecting testimonials from union members. Krissy O’Brien (AFSCME) of Austin said, “This was a completely preventable disaster and our state leadership failed us. Gov. Abbott, what did you do to prevent this from happening?”

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 03/01/2021 - 09:30

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Black History Month Profiles: Lafarrah Hines

Sun, 2021-02-28 08:09
Black History Month Profiles: Lafarrah Hines

This year, for Black History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making Black history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only their community, but also to improve conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is Lafarrah Hines.

Lafarrah Hines is a member of Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 3680 in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and a U.S. Army veteran. Hines was one of the first members of CWA’s Veterans for Social Change cohort to attend a training on organizing and activism hosted by the Veterans Organizing Institute and Common Defense, a progressive grassroots veterans organization. Ever since then Hines has become a powerhouse advocate for working-class military veterans and working people as a whole. Whether it’s meeting with representatives in Congress, speaking at press conferences, participating in town halls, or marching in rallies, Hines continues to organize and empower herself, other union members and her fellow veterans to promote the values they fought for.

Kenneth Quinnell Sun, 02/28/2021 - 07:09

Black History Month Profiles: Fred Smith

Sat, 2021-02-27 08:54
Black History Month Profiles: Fred Smith

This year, for Black History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making Black history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only their community, but also to improve conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is Fred Smith.

Fred Smith is the vice president (AT&T Mobility) of CWA Local 3902 in Birmingham, Alabama. Smith is a longtime activist and leader both in the union and his community. He currently serves as the chair of the National Civil Rights and Equity Committee, leading the work to ensure workers are free from discrimination in the workplace and the union. Recently, in an effort to build a more inclusive union and labor movement, Smith has been leading trainings developed by the national CWA on “How to Build an Anti-Racist Union.” His advocacy doesn’t stop there. He also serves as the North Alabama Union Liaison for the Poor People’s Campaign fighting for socioeconomic justice for all. 

Kenneth Quinnell Sat, 02/27/2021 - 07:54

Tags: Black History Month