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Trumka on Crooked Conversations Podcast: 'Collective Action Is on the Rise'

Mon, 2018-07-16 12:20
Trumka on Crooked Conversations Podcast: 'Collective Action Is on the Rise' AFL-CIO

On this week's episode of Crooked Conversations, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka sat down in Missouri for a live recorded conversation with Let America Vote President Jason Kander. The pair discussed the importance of unions, the rise of collective action and the future of the labor movement.

See a few highlights below, and check out the full episode here.

On Unions:

Trumka: My son was about 4 years old at the time, and we were in the backyard. And he had one of those little motorized jeeps. He and his buddy were riding around in the back, and I was on the phone talking to somebody about the union, and he heard me say that. So he pulls up in the jeep and he said, "Dad, what's a union?"

And I said to him—there was a little hill there—I said, "Both of you get out of the jeep." I said, "Rich, push that jeep up the hill." And he'd pushed it up a little bit, and he'd slide backward...and he finally gives up. And his buddy Chad was with him. And I said, "Chad, now you help him." And the two grunt a little bit, but they get the jeep to the top of the hill.

And I said, "Son, that's what a union is." It allows people to come together to do things together that they can't do individually. That's a union.

On Young Workers:

Trumka: We organized 262,000 new members last year. And 75% of those members were under the age of 35. Young people are starting to get it more and more and more. They're coming along and saying, “Look, this economy isn't working for us.” So how do we change it? We change it by coming together with our fellow workers, getting the ability to bargain collectively, so we can get a fair share of the wealth that we produce.

On Running for Office:

Trumka: If you’re running for office out there, here’s my advice to you. Stick to kitchen table economics. What are you going to do to help people with their wages, with their health care, with their pension, with their school district, with their retirement?

On Training Workers:

Trumka: One of the best-kept secrets in the United States is that...the labor movement trains more people every year than anybody else other than the military.

Kander: And often times, they’re training folks who just came out of the military as well.

Trumka: We have a special program for that called Helmets to Hardhats. We bring people coming out of the military. We bring them into our apprenticeship program….They are the best skilled people out there. Our building trades people are second to none in the world. People from around the world come and ask us to train them.

On Collective Action:

Trumka: I'm more optimistic right now than I've been in a lot of years, because what we see is collective action is on the rise….People are starting to look for change, and they've decided—rightfully so—that the best way for them to get change is to join with their fellow workers and their neighbors and demand change.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 07/16/2018 - 12:20

The Power Is in Our Hands: The Working People Weekly List

Mon, 2018-07-16 11:22
The Power Is in Our Hands: 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.

After Janus, Electrical Workers Show the Power Is in Our Hands: "The Supreme Court’s recent Janus decision was despicable, spitting in the face of decades of common-sense precedent. There’s no question about that. But Janus is not the end of our fight."

Trump's Supreme Court Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh Is Deeply Troubling: "Working families deserve a Supreme Court justice who will respect the rights of working people and who will enforce decades of legal precedent that protect us in the workplace. On Monday night, President Donald Trump rejected working men and women by selecting Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy created by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement."

Thousands Rally for Private Pension Fix: "'An attack on one worker is an attack on all workers, and seeing working people come together to fight for what’s right, to have the American people rally with us to protect the benefits we’ve earned is a beautiful thing,' Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga told the crowd that filled the lawn in front of the Statehouse and wound around both sides of the building. 'Nothing is more sacred than the promise of a secure retirement after a lifetime of hard work,' he said."

Could Missouri's Right-to-Work Vote Be a 'Turnaround' for Labor? Unions Hope So: "'Everyone is wanting to write the labor movement’s obituary,' AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler said at a Kansas City rally Tuesday. 'Are we going to let that happen?' The crowd of about 250 union members and volunteers returned a resounding, 'No.' They were gathered for rally at a local pipe-fitters union hall before setting out for a canvassing effort. Shuler flew in from Washington, D.C., to visit what she called the 'ground zero' in the fight over labor."

AFL-CIO Chief Warns Red to Blue Candidates That Being a Democrat Isn’t Enough: "House Democratic candidates in town this week for training at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington got a visit from AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka for some tips on how they can win back working-class voters. 'I don’t have to tell you that you can’t count on the D next to your name to gain our support,' Trumka told Democratic leadership and a room full of candidates on Red to Blue, the DCCC’s program for its strongest candidates."

Belabored Podcast #155: The Future of Collective Action: "But it’s worth remembering that for every devastating Supreme Court decision, anti-union executive order or rollback to public benefits, glimmers of hope are present on the front lines. In the belly of the political beast in D.C., grassroots organizers gathered at the AFL-CIO headquarters to discuss collective action under Trump, beyond the beltway. Activists representing teachers, housekeepers, graduate students and airline workers talked about union power in the wake of the Janus decision and keeping hope alive for the next generation of young labor leaders."

If You Live in Missouri, Vote 'No' on Proposition A: "On Aug. 7, Missouri voters will have the chance to vote against Prop. A, a divisive attack on working people funded by big corporations and their wealthy allies. The misleading measure is a direct attack on the rights of the working people of Missouri."

Are We in a Trade War?: "TV pundits keep repeating that we’re in a 'trade war.' What does that even mean?"

U.S. Trade Deals Mean Justice for Some, Not Justice for All: "2017 was another banner year of justice for sale, reveals the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s annual review of investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) cases. What does the report say? It reveals lots of new ways global investors are undermining democracy in private tribunals."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 07/16/2018 - 11:22

If You Live in Missouri, Vote 'No' on Proposition A

Mon, 2018-07-16 11:17
If You Live in Missouri, Vote 'No' on Proposition A Missouri AFL-CIO

On Aug. 7, Missouri voters will have the chance to vote against Proposition A, a divisive attack on working people funded by big corporations and their wealthy allies. The misleading measure is a direct attack on the rights of the working people of Missouri.

Here are the key reasons why Proposition A is wrong for Missouri:

  • Proposition A will drive down wages for Missouri families: If it passes, Proposition A will drive down wages for all Missourians. New research from the Economic Policy Institute shows that “right to work” laws like Proposition A are associated with lower wages and a weaker middle class. EPI found that wages were 3.1% lower in states with right to work laws like Proposition A. EPI’s Heidi Shierholz said, “If Missouri goes in the direction of right to work, we will see that the wages of workers, including those that are not in unions, will decline. Most middle-class workers spend their wages on things like food and clothes at local retailers.” The wage decline will harm businesses where middle-class workers shop.

  • Proposition A is not what it seems. Don’t trust it: While supporters of Proposition A claim it will benefit working people, the reality is that it will take away choices from Missourians. The Supreme Court already has ruled that workers don’t have to join a union if they choose not to. The court also has ruled that working people have the freedom to organize and join together to bargain for a better return on our work. These things are at stake with Proposition A.

  • Proposition A will not create jobs: Missouri has the same unemployment rate, 3.8%, as neighboring states with similar economic conditions. Right to work hasn’t increased jobs. In addition to lowering wages and failing to create jobs, laws like Proposition A leave working people less likely to have benefits such as employer-sponsored health care.

  • Proposition A will weaken unions: While proponents of Proposition A claim to be interested in helping working people, the reality is that right to work laws such as Proposition A are designed specifically to weaken unions so that working people have less of a voice in the workplace.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 07/16/2018 - 11:17

After Janus, Electrical Workers Show the Power is in Our Hands

Tue, 2018-07-10 14:56
After Janus, Electrical Workers Show the Power is in Our Hands IBEW 1245

The Supreme Court’s recent Janus decision was despicable, spitting in the face of decades of common-sense precedent. There’s no question about that.

But Janus is not the end of our fight.

Through every punch thrown at working people in our history—every wage-slashing boss, every union-busting law, every strike-breaking massacre—we have rallied together, stronger for our shared struggle.

Our future is and always has been in our own hands. We have never looked to Washington to strengthen or validate our movement.

So while pundits rush to blather in front of a camera, we’re doing the painstaking business of organizing—building the labor movement, person by person.

A few locals in particular are offering up powerful models for success.

Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1245, faced with a likely union-busting decision from the Supreme Court, knew that inaction wasn’t an option. Management and other anti-worker interests would be eager to launch an aggressive, well-funded anti-union campaign, undermining the local’s collective voice wherever they could.

The local’s members haven’t surrendered to a future decided by those forces. Instead, they’ve been rallying together and strengthening their union one conversation at a time.

At the direction of Business Manager Tom Dalzell, the local established and trained volunteer organizing committees (VOCs) at each of their 34 public sector worksites.

“Our fundamental principle was that our members, if offered the opportunity, would jump at the chance to lead their co-workers and set ambitious goals,” said IBEW Local 1245 veteran organizer Fred Ross.

Aimed at overhauling the local’s internal organizing program, the project in fact started rather simply. Local leaders sat down with new committee members and listened to their stories—the distinct but universally motivating experiences that were driving each of them to give their time and energy to organizing.

They talked about the difference that unionism had made in their lives. Some had come up in union households, witnessing firsthand the economic opportunities gained through a union card. Others were the first in their families to join a union, gaining rights and dignities on the job that their parents could have only dreamed of.

Such powerful stories made powerful organizers. Members have indeed jumped at the chance to play a leadership role. What’s more, they are meeting and outpacing their lofty organizing goals.

A year since IBEW Local 1245’s VOCs formed, 25 of their public sector worksites have secured voluntary dues commitments from at least 80% of members—including 15 that have rallied together 100% of their membership. Meanwhile, the VOCs have grown to 214 members strong.

“Our public sector VOC leaders took ownership of this fight-back campaign to defend and strengthen our union,” Ross said.

“VOCs are the heartbeat of our campaigns,” added Eileen Purcell, the local’s lead organizer for the campaign. “Our goal has been to build leadership and capacity—before, during and after the Supreme Court decision. These leaders have been and continue to be our most powerful organizing tool.”

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 07/10/2018 - 14:56

Tags: Organizing

Are We in a Trade War?

Tue, 2018-07-10 12:08
Are We in a Trade War?

TV pundits keep repeating that we’re in a “trade war.” What does that even mean?

For starters, if you want to learn more about tariffs and trade, we will hold an informational call on Thursday to discuss newly imposed tariffs, progress on the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations and steps the labor movement is taking to find trade policy solutions that benefit working people. (Click here to RSVP.)

Now, let’s tone down the rhetoric just a bit. Real wars, such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan, are deadly, dangerous, scary affairs. No one should confuse tariffs with real wars.

In terms of economics, the closest thing we have to a “war” is the relentless attack on workers that has been taking place for several decades as economic elites (including corporate CEOsbad actor employers and the 1% who don’t want to pay their fair share of taxes) have worked to rig global economic rules to benefit themselves at the expense of ordinary working people.  

The attack on workers has been waged on many fronts, from so-called “right to work” laws that deny our freedom, to regressive tax laws such as the recent Republican tax bill giving big tax breaks to companies that outsource jobs, to attacks on overtime pay and workplace safety, to defunding schools and meals for our children. The attack on workers also comes in the area of trade policy, and includes unfair, predatory actions by China. Trade attacks on workers are aided and abetted by greedy corporations that outsource jobs and abuse workers, and by U.S. officials of both political parties who have failed to stand up for us.

So why are so many people saying we’re in a trade war? First, to scare us. Maintaining the status quo is exactly what the powerful want to keep workers and wages down. Second, because the U.S. is finally starting to do something about harmful trade practices that hurt working people. It has been so long since the U.S. has ambitiously used trade remedies to defend our economy that Wall Street fat cats are calling it a trade war.

While tariffs are not dangerous per se (in fact, they can be a very effective tool to address harmful trade practices and create jobs), they must be applied carefully, thoughtfully and strategically. If done right, tariffs can persuade trading partners to change their harmful practices. In that case, the tariffs will disappear quickly. On the other hand, if the tariffs are applied haphazardly, they may backfire, causing more economic disruption than necessary. As with anything it does, the government should be smart in how it applies tariffs. And it should have a plan that minimizes negative side effects for the U.S. economy and prioritizes benefits for working families—no matter in what industry those families work.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 07/10/2018 - 12:08

Trump's Supreme Court Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh Is Deeply Troubling

Tue, 2018-07-10 10:41
Trump's Supreme Court Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh Is Deeply Troubling AFL-CIO

Working families deserve a Supreme Court justice who will respect the rights of working people and who will enforce decades of legal precedent that protect us in the workplace. On Monday night, President Donald Trump rejected working men and women by selecting Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy created by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement.

After a thorough review of Kavanaugh’s record, we are deeply troubled by his selection. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said:

The current Supreme Court has shown that it will side with greedy corporations over working people whenever given the chance, and this nominee will only skew that further. Recent decisions by the court, often the result of 5-4 votes, have a dramatic impact on the lives of working families and reinforce the importance of the selection of a new justice. We simply cannot have another lifetime-appointed justice unleashed who, as Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her dissent in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, acts as a “black-robed ruler overriding citizens’ choices.”

Working people expect the Supreme Court to be the fairest and most independent branch of government in America. Any senator who believes Supreme Court justices should protect the rights of all Americans should reject this nomination and demand a nominee who will protect the rights of working people and uphold our constitutional values of liberty, equality and justice for all. Across the country, working people are organizing and taking collective action as we haven’t seen in years, and we won’t stand for any politician who supports justices who put our rights at risk.

The more we look at what Kavanaugh has done, the more it seems his nomination to the Supreme Court should be rejected. Kavanaugh routinely rules against working people and their families:

  • In American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO v. Gates, a partial dissent argued that Kavanaugh’s majority opinion would allow the secretary of defense to abolish collective bargaining at the Department of Defense.

  • In Agri Processor Co. Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, he argued that a company didn’t have to bargain with an employee union because the employees were ineligible to vote in the union’s election because they were undocumented immigrants.

  • In SeaWorld of Florida LLC v. Perez, he argued that a safety citation issued against SeaWorld after a killer whale killed a trainer was too paternalistic.

  • In Venetian Casino Resort LLC v. NLRB, he sided with a casino after an NLRB decision that the hotel engaged in unfair labor practices by requesting that police officers issue criminal citations against legal protesters.

Kavanaugh regularly sides with employers in denying working people relief against discrimination in the workplace:

  • In Miller v. Clinton, he argued that the U.S. State Department could fire an employee because he turned 65.

  • In Howard v. Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, he argued that a black woman couldn’t pursue a race discrimination suit after being fired as the deputy budget director at the U.S. House of Representatives, claiming that the firing was protected under the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution.

Kavanaugh rejects the right of employees to receive employer-provided health care:

  • In Seven-Sky v. Holder, he argued in a dissent that a president could declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional and not enforce it, despite it being passed by Congress.

Kavanaugh promotes overturning U.S. Supreme Court precedent:

  • He appears eager to overturn the well-established U.S. Supreme Court precedent of Chevron USA Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council Inc., which held that unelected judges must defer to executive agencies’ construction of a statute when Congress has given an agency primary responsibility for interpreting its mandates, so long as the agency does not act contrary to Congress’ clear intent.

  • In United States Telecom Association v. Federal Communications Commission, Kavanaugh argued that the court shouldn’t defer to executive agencies when it comes to what he thinks are “major rules.”

Kavanaugh regularly sides with the privileged, including corporations, over the less powerful:

  • He wrote two dissents contending that a large corporation, in these cases Exxon Mobil Corp., should not be held responsible for its overseas misconduct. After Indonesian villagers alleged they were tortured and killed by soldiers working for Exxon, Kavanaugh argued that allowing the villagers to sue Exxon would interfere with the U.S. government’s ability to conduct foreign relations.

  • In United States v. Anthem, he sided with the merger of insurance companies Anthem and Cigna, which would have reduced competition for consumers in 14 states. The majority criticized Kavanaugh’s application of “the law as he wishes it were, not as it currently is.” 

The Washington Post once described Kavanaugh as “nothing more than a partisan shock trooper in a black robe waging an ideological battle against government regulation.” It’s deeply troubling that the president thinks such a description is the best fit for the Supreme Court.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 07/10/2018 - 10:41

Tags: Supreme Court

U.S. Trade Deals Mean Justice for Some, Not Justice for All

Mon, 2018-07-09 10:41
U.S. Trade Deals Mean Justice for Some, Not Justice for All

2017 was another banner year of justice for sale, reveals the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s annual review of investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) cases. What’s the report say? It reveals lots of new ways global investors are undermining democracy in private tribunals.

What’s ISDS? It’s a private justice system. ISDS means any investor—usually a corporation, but sometimes an individual, who buys property in a foreign country, from a hectare of land to stocks and bonds—can use this private justice system to sue host countries over laws, regulations and court decisions that may affect the investor’s current or future profits.

ISDS means justice for some, rather than justice for all. Those with the means to become international wheeler-dealers can access ISDS. The rest of us have to rely on public courts—the same ones that investors say are “inadequate” to handle their needs. That’s not fair, and that’s not right.

In 2017, 65 new known cases were filed, for a total of 855 known ISDS cases. Some cases are secret, so we’ll never really know how many cases have been filed.

The U.S. is the most frequently claimed “home state” of investors using the system, which tells us that U.S. trade and investment treaties (such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement) are pretty effective at promoting outsourcing to our trading partners (or else there wouldn’t be anything to sue over).

Spain is the third most sued country, and Canada is the sixth most sued, which tells us that ISDS isn’t really about “deficient” justice systems in poor countries—it’s about empowering economic elites to challenge democracies. Of all ISDS cases that have been decided on the merits, the investor wins 61% of the time, winning $504 million on average.

Two of last year’s cases approved the right of Chinese state-owned companies to use ISDS, despite claims by host countries that the Chinese government was actually calling the shots. In two other cases, investors were allowed to pursue their cases even though their original investments were illegal under the laws of Uzbekistan and Peru, the host countries. And in an extremely rare appellate case, one tribunal said it was OK for another tribunal to order a country not to enforce the rulings of its own domestic courts. Since one of the arguments made by those who favor ISDS is that the tribunals can only order monetary damages—rather than tell governments what their laws can be—this result is shameful. And maybe it is just the kick in the pants that governments need to abandon ISDS altogether.

In the NAFTA renegotiations, the U.S. has proposed to nearly (but not quite) eliminate the unfair ISDS system, but Canada and Mexico are saying no. The U.S. proposal would allow countries to opt out of the system entirely, and even if they do opt in, it would place restrictions on the kinds of cases investors could bring. The AFL-CIO supports this U.S. proposal and asks Canada and Mexico, “What are you waiting for?”

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 07/09/2018 - 10:41

#FamiliesBelongTogether: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 2018-07-06 11:21
#FamiliesBelongTogether: 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.

Elise Bryant Speaks at Labor Rally #FamiliesBelongTogether: “On Saturday, June 30, over 600 different #FamiliesBelongTogether events occurred throughout the United States in a mass day of action against family separation at the border and Trump’s ‘zero-tolerance’ immigration policy. CLUW members participated in cities around the country and in the nation’s capital where President Elise Bryant spoke at a labor rally before the main #FamiliesBelongTogether event. The labor rally was organized by the Labor Coalition for Community Action (LCCA), composed of the constituency groups of the AFL-CIO, and held in front of the AFL-CIO headquarters.”

Unions Have Been Down Before; History Shows How They Can Come Back: “The Janus decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday was another blow to the labor movement. It creates a financial incentive for public sector union members to leave the union while continuing their job. Ever since the beginning of the 1980s clampdown on the U.S. left, signaled by President Ronald Reagan’s firing of the air traffic controllers to end their strike, the labor movement has been besieged by what billionaire Warren Buffett described in The New York Times as a class war started by his class. It’s not the first time this has happened in U.S. history.”

Eyes of the Labor Movement Are on Missouri as Workers Fight to Defeat Phony RTW: “AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka kicked off the Federation’s Labor 2018 campaign at Laborers Local 42 in St. Louis on June 24, rallying hundreds of union members from 30 different unions for a day of action to defeat Proposition A (‘Right to Work’) by going door-to-door urging voters to protect their pay by voting ‘no’ on Prop A. ‘Prop A will lower wages,’ Trumka said. ‘Prop A will destroy jobs. Prop A will increase poverty. Prop A will make pay even less equal for working women. Prop A is designed and intended to undermine our collective voice on every issue that is important to working people, and we’re not having any of it!’”

Randi Weingarten Has “Hope in the Darkness.” And Also Some Fear: “Our nation’s teachers unions have had a whiplash of a year, from the statewide teachers strikes that have swept the country to last week’s Supreme Court ruling in the Janus v. AFSCME case that could severely hurt their membership. America’s most powerful teachers union leader says there is much, much more to come. For the past decade, Randi Weingarten has led the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers. She has been a prominent voice in battles over public education, organized labor and national politics. In the dark aftermath of last week’s Janus ruling, which will almost certainly drain members and money from public unions nationwide, she spoke to us about how working-class interests can possibly try to survive and thrive in the age of Trump.”

American Workers Stand Ready to Demand Change After Janus Blow: “Obviously, we’re disappointed with the Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME. A narrow five-justice majority, emboldened by a stolen seat, overturned four decades of common-sense precedent. It’s the latest misguided action by the most corporate-friendly court in our history. On paper, the plaintiff was one man in Illinois. But in reality, a dark web of corporations and wealthy donors dead set on destroying unions and silencing workers were behind this case. Janus is part of a multipronged attack, spearheaded by corporate billionaires, to chip away at the progress working people have made for ourselves and our communities.”

That Which Is Justly Ours: “Signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt 83 years ago yesterday, the National Labor Relations Act marked a critical step forward for working people’s right to join together in unions and bargain collectively. As Roosevelt said at the time, ‘By preventing practices which tend to destroy the independence of labor, it seeks, for every worker with its scope, that freedom of choice and action which is justly his.’”

Don’t Mourn, Organize: In the States Roundup: “It’s time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states.”

Don’t Mess with Working People in Texas: Worker Wins: “Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with union growth in Texas and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.”

Make It a Union-Made Fourth of July: “The Fourth of July is here, and it’s time to celebrate America’s birthday. Our flag has been waving high since 1776, but do you know what the colors mean? The red represents the blood shed by those who fought for our nation’s independence. The white represents purity and innocence, and the blue symbolizes the bravery of those who stared danger in the face to fight for freedom. As you enjoy the holiday with family and friends, Labor 411 has all the holiday food and drink favorites made by companies that treat their workers with dignity and respect. Let’s all celebrate good jobs that help strengthen the middle class as we party our way to a stronger America!”

Pride Month Profiles: Josette Jaramillo: “Throughout Pride Month, the AFL-CIO will be taking a look at some of the pioneers whose work sits at the intersection of the labor movement and the movement for LGBTQ equality. Our next profile is Josette Jaramillo.”

Pride Month Profiles: Marsha P. Johnson: “Throughout Pride Month, the AFL-CIO will be taking a look at some of the pioneers whose work sits at the intersection of the labor movement and the movement for LGBTQ equality. Our next profile is Marsha P. Johnson.”

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 07/06/2018 - 11:21

That Which Is Justly Ours

Fri, 2018-07-06 11:02
That Which Is Justly Ours Public domain

Signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt 83 years ago yesterday, the National Labor Relations Act marked a critical step forward for working people’s right to join together in unions and bargain collectively. As Roosevelt said at the time, “By preventing practices which tend to destroy the independence of labor, it seeks, for every worker with its scope, that freedom of choice and action which is justly his.”

More than 80 years after our leaders proudly advanced the rights of working people, corporate interests are still ruthlessly fighting to deny us that which is justly ours. Just as the labor movement helped secure passage of the NLRA, today we are demanding an even better deal that fully guarantees our fundamental economic rights and freedoms.

To that end, Democrats in the House and Senate recently introduced the Workers’ Freedom to Negotiate Act, which would enact several key provisions expanding collective bargaining rights, such as:

  • Strengthening penalties against abusive and predatory corporations that violate workers’ rights.

  • Combating misclassification of workers as supervisors and independent contractors.

  • Strengthening our right to strike for the wages, benefits and working conditions we deserve.

  • Creating a mandatory mediation and arbitration process to ensure that corporations and newly organized unions reach a first contract.

  • Banning state laws that undermine our freedom to join together and negotiate.

  • Protecting the integrity and fairness of union elections from employer propaganda.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 07/06/2018 - 11:02

Tags: NLRA

Economy Gains 213,000 Jobs in June; Unemployment Little Changed at 4.0%

Fri, 2018-07-06 10:06
Economy Gains 213,000 Jobs in June; Unemployment Little Changed at 4.0%

The U.S. economy gained 213,000 jobs in June, and unemployment was little changed at 4.0%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since the labor market continues to recover at only a tempered pace, the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee should not raise interest rates.

In response to the June jobs numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs tweeted:

Unemployment rate goes up from 4.0% in June, from increase in labor force participation that has increase in the number unemployed rise more than the increase in employed workers. Payrolls up by 213,000 according to @BLS_gov #JobsDay @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) July 6, 2018

While white and Hispanic unemployment rates remained low, the jump in June's unemployment rates came from Blacks (from 5.9 up to 6.5%) and Asian Americans (2.1 to 3.2%) @CBTU72 @rolandsmartin @APRI_National @AFLCIO @APALAnational #JobsDay

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) July 6, 2018

The big jump in the Black unemployment rate in June was largely from Black adult women (from 4.7 to 5.5%), though their share employed continued to climb (59.1 to 59.5%) and labor force participation reached 63%. @SistahScholar @LVBurke @AprilDRyan @APRI_National @AFLCIO #JobsDay

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) July 6, 2018

Not adjusting for inflation, year-over-year, average hourly earnings were up 2.7% in June. This is a timid number. Coupled with the unemployment rate increase from a tiny climb in labor force participation @federalreserve needs to rethink interest rate increases. @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) July 6, 2018

In a sign that workers are coming back to the labor market, in June, the broadest measure of unemployment that includes discouraged and part-time workers who want full-time work, went up from 7.6 to 7.8%. This shows continued slack in labor market. @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) July 6, 2018

First #Janus decision hurt organizing, now workers for state government continue to show pressures from state budget austerity. State employment continues downward trend in June. This means less public investment for the rest of us. @AFSCME @AFLCIO #JobsReport

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) July 6, 2018

Last month’s biggest job gains were in professional and business (50,000), manufacturing (36,000), health care (25,000), construction (13,000) and mining (5,000). Retail trade lost 22,000 jobs. Employment showed little or no change over the month in other major industries, including wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates increased for blacks (6.5%), adult men (3.7%), adult women (3.7%) and Asians (3.2%). The unemployment rate for teenagers (12.6%), Hispanics (4.6%) and whites (3.5%) showed little or no change in June.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) increased in June and accounted for 23.0% of the unemployed.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 07/06/2018 - 10:06

Tags: Jobs Report

Members of Congress Reject Janus Ruling and Stand with Working People

Thu, 2018-07-05 10:09
Members of Congress Reject Janus Ruling and Stand with Working People

After the Supreme Court ruled against working people in the Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, case last week, dozens of members of Congress condemned the ruling and expressed their support for the rights of working people. Here are excerpts from their statements.

Rep. John Garamendi (Calif.-3rd District):

Public sector unions are legally required to bargain on behalf of everyone in their shop, regardless of whether they’re a union member or not. Today’s decision by the Supreme Court creates a massive free-rider issue by eliminating the ability of unions to charge fair share fees for the nonunion employees who benefit from the work union representatives do.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.-12th District):

The Supreme Court’s radical ruling tramples over the freedom and basic rights of more than 17 million public workers.

Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.-13th District):

The Supreme Court’s disgraceful decision today will further rig the system for billionaires and against teachers, firefighters, nurses and other vital public sector workers.

Rep. Brad Sherman (Calif.-30th District):

Today’s Supreme Court decision was targeted at the public sector, but it strikes at the heart of Americans’ right to collectively bargain for better pay, safer working conditions, access to health care and basic retirement benefits.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez (Calif.-34th District):

Through my work with AFSCME and the United Nurses Association of California, I have a unique understanding as to how important strong unions are in creating an economy that gives all Americans a chance to thrive, not just the wealthiest among us.

Rep. Karen Bass (Calif.-37th District):

This morning, the Supreme Court overturned 41 years of legal precedent to undermine the freedom of teachers, firefighters, police officers and all other public service workers to negotiate for decent pay and fair workplaces.

Rep. Linda Sanchez (Calif.-38th District):

By requiring unions to represent everyone in a collective bargaining unit without ensuring fair contributions for that representation, unions will be forced to do more with much less—to the detriment of those they represent. This misguided decision will have devastating long-term consequences for hardworking Americans.

Rep. Juan Vargas (Calif.-51st District):

Unions are quintessentially American and critical in the fight for fair wages and worker protections.

Rep. Scott Peters (Calif.-52nd District):

The Supreme Court Janus ruling is a blatant, ideological attack on public servants, who have fought for rights that benefit all workers.

Rep. Susan Davis (Calif.-53rd District):

This ruling is a blow to the middle class. It weakens the ability of workers to negotiate for better pay, workplace safety, work/life balance, health care and paid sick days.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.-3rd District):

Unions empower workers to collectively bargain for higher wages, safer working conditions and better benefits—like health care, paid sick leave, overtime pay, vacation time and retirement plans.

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (Del.-At Large District):

Today’s Supreme Court ruling puts the needs of special interests and the wealthiest among us ahead of hardworking, middle-class families.

Rep. Alcee Hastings (Fla.-20th District):

The men and women of the labor movement are the backbone of our country. This blatant attack on unions is just another example of conservatives looking to hand out more tax cuts for the rich.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.-23rd District):

After stealing a seat on the Supreme Court when they refused to hold a hearing or a vote on President Obama’s nominee, the court’s Janus v. AFSCME ruling shows how far Republicans and their wealthy financial backers are willing to go to tilt the economy against working people.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (Hawaii-1st District):

As a labor attorney and a firm believer in the balance of collective bargaining, I know that government’s greatest asset is its employees. The most effective and efficient way to manage that asset is through collective bargaining and union representation. Our hardworking families and government benefit from that.

Rep. Bobby Rush (Ill.-1st District):

Today’s ruling will do nothing but perpetuate a rigged economy that reduces the opportunities available to working-class Americans.

Rep. Mike Quigley (Ill.-5th District):

By increasing the number of free-riding workers, unions could be forced to drastically reduce their budgets, which in turn will weaken their ability to negotiate stronger contracts and defend the rights of American workers who deserve a fair wage and a fair workplace.

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (Ill.-8th District):

This decision allows employees to free ride on the efforts of unions in representing all workers, and undermines all workers. This is not fair or right.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.-9th District):

This is a sad day for public employees and all of us who rely on them to provide us with the services we need, from keeping our air and water clean to teaching our children to protecting public health.

Rep. Brad Schneider (Ill.-10th District):

Unions helped build our nation’s middle class, and today’s ruling fits a pattern of attacks to undermine labor and working families, and weaken workers’ right to negotiate for better pay, working conditions, medical benefits, retirement benefits and paid leave. 

Rep. Bill Foster (Ill.-11th District):

I am deeply concerned that this decision will weaken our strong labor unions that have historically given our workers a safer work environment, fair wages and collective bargaining rights against unfair working conditions. They hold a special place in our country’s history.

Rep. Cheri Bustos (Ill.-17th District):

Today the Supreme Court issued a ruling that puts billionaires and corporate special interests above hardworking Americans.

Rep. Katherine Clark (Mass.-5th District):

This decision will massively tip the scale in favor of corporations and strip resources away from unions that fight for all workers.

Rep. Dan Kildee (Mich.-5th District):

The basic rights of workers, including the right to collectively bargain, are under attack by Republicans like never before. 

Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.-9th District):

Today’s ruling is deeply misguided and distressing. It turns its back on what helped public employees become a vital part of the American middle class.

Rep. Debbie Dingell (Mich.-12th District):

Congress must do everything we can to address the challenges facing our working men and women, and with today’s decision, our to-do list got much larger. 

Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.-5th District):

This decision is a victory for the wealthy Republican donors and dark-money shadow groups that spent more than $17 billion to steal a seat on the Supreme Court and tilt the court further in favor of corporate interests. Today, the Republican majority gave them what they paid for. 

Rep. Dina Titus (Nev.-1st District):

Collective bargaining is a tide that lifts all boats. The positive effects of bargaining collectively in the workplace not only benefit union members, but also extend to nonunion members who enjoy higher wages, affordable health insurance and help with a secure retirement as a result of union efforts.

Rep. Jacky Rosen (Nev.-3rd District):

As a former union member, I understand the support that labor organizations bring to families. That’s why I will continue fighting to ensure Nevada’s workers have the ability to advocate for themselves and their union rights.

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.-1st District):

In the last two days, the Supreme Court has dealt a blow to working men and women, made it harder for women to access the health care they need, and upheld a ban on Muslim immigration that directly attacks our shared values as Americans. 

Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (N.H.-2nd District):

The dedicated work of labor unions has improved working conditions and protections for all Americans, and this misguided ruling, which undoes decades of legal precedent, will undermine ongoing efforts to increase wages, enhance benefits and make work environments safer. 

Rep. Donald Norcross (N.J.-1st District):

To make our economy work for all of us, not just the rich and powerful, working people must be able to stick together to gain power to raise wages and improve benefits, like health care and retirement. I know how important it is for workers to have a voice in the workplace because I lived it.

Rep. Albio Sires (N.J.-8th District):

The court’s decision today sets back workers’ rights by decades and makes it considerably more difficult for unions to keep advocating for fair pay and fair workplaces.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (N.J.-9th District):

A recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that anti-union, so-called “Right to Work” legislation passed at the state level has long been aimed at buoying Republicans and attacking Democrats. So there can be no mistaking it: This decision is about politics, not workers; about servitude, not freedom.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.-12th District):

Unions are essential to a strong middle class; as Republican attacks on them have intensified, we’ve seen wages stagnate and that middle class shrink.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.-5th District):

The Janus decision will inevitably undermine unions from exercising their right to collective bargaining by hurting them financially. Coupled with last month’s Supreme Court decision allowing employers to deny workers their due day in court through class-action waivers in arbitration agreements, workers are more vulnerable today than they were prior to Neil Gorsuch’s appointment.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.-10th District):

In reaching its result, the court unjustifiably overturned decades-old precedent, injected clear right-wing ideological bias into a long-settled area of law, and upended the settled expectations of state and local governments.  

Rep. Adriano Espaillat (N.Y.-13th District):

Overturning four decades of precedent, the court ruled that public sector unions’ long-held practice of collecting “fair share fees” for the services they are legally required to provide workers is a violation of the First Amendment. Today’s ruling is an unprecedented attack on unions and the rights of the more than 17.3 million public employees around the nation.

Rep. Joe Crowley (N.Y.-14th District):

Unions are at the core of lifting up America’s working- and middle-class families, by fighting for better wages and benefits and fair working conditions. 

Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.-16th District):

As a former member of the teachers union, I find today’s ruling particularly distasteful. The Supreme Court’s conservative majority overturned four decades of legal precedent to undermine the ability of public service workers to negotiate for decent pay and fair workplaces.

Rep. Alma Adams (N.C.-12th District):

Congress must find a legislative fix that protects and strengthens the voices of our working men and women.

Rep. Marcia Fudge (Ohio-11th District):

The Supreme Court failed to protect the fundamental right of workers to form a union and collectively bargain.

Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio-13th District):

Labor unions built this country. We have unions to thank for safe, clean work environments, the 40-hour workweek and the strongest middle class the world has ever seen. We need to be supporting and growing unions to fight for a prosperous life for all, not undercutting them.

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.-1st District):

We should be making it easier, not harder, for workers to form unions and collectively bargain.

Rep. Robert Brady (Pa.-1st District):

As a longtime member of the carpenters and teachers unions, I know firsthand the importance of organized labor. Our nation’s middle class was born from workers coming together to demand better wages and working conditions.

Rep. Brendan Boyle (Pa.-13th District):

Janus v. AFSCME is a wolf in sheep’s clothing: a case brought by billionaires in the name of “fairness” to employees who benefit from collective bargaining but don’t want to pay their fair share. Its purpose is and has always been to divide workers and undermine the ability of unions to advocate for them at a time when they need it most.

Rep. Matt Cartwright (Pa.-17th District):

I continue to stand with our union members, and will not stop in my efforts to protect and maintain collective bargaining rights. Furthermore, I plan on responding to this decision with legislation in the United States House of Representatives this week.

Rep. David Cicilline (R.I.-1st District):

The American dream was meant for all of us, not just the wealthy few. I’m going to continue fighting for a country that’s consistent with those values.

Rep. Jim Langevin (R.I.-2nd District):

I am appalled that the Gorsuch court is now going after civil servants by overturning four decades of precedent and undermining their rights as employees.

Rep. Steve Cohen (Tenn.-9th District):

Yet again we are witnessing the consequences of the U.S. Senate’s refusal to even consider President Obama’s last Supreme Court nominee. By holding that nomination hostage for nearly a year, Mitch McConnell and the Senate majority gave the court a stolen swing vote that once again harms not just public employees like our teachers, police officers and other public servants, but will adversely affect every working American. 

Rep. Marc Veasey (Texas-33rd District):

We formed the Blue Collar Caucus to fight for American workers and push back against anti-worker leadership in Washington. Today’s decision adds to the importance of our mission and strengthens our resolve.

Rep. Bobby Scott (Va.-3rd District):

Today the Supreme Court’s conservatives once again used dubious legal reasoning to achieve a partisan objective.

Rep. Don Beyer (Va.-8th District):

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s majority has spent the month of June concentrating power in the hands of entrenched interests at the expense of American laborers, unions, immigrants, refugees and the disenfranchised. This is exactly the kind of anti-worker outcome we knew to expect when a Trump-appointed judge was confirmed to a stolen Supreme Court seat.

Rep. Rick Larsen (Wash.-2nd District):

Organized labor put food on my table and clothes on my back. My father was a union guy, and he, along with others, helped build the U.S. and raise the country’s labor standards.

Rep. Derek Kilmer (Wash.-6th District):

I will keep working in Congress to protect those rights and push back against the special interests who have launched ideologically driven, persistent and well-funded legal attacks against working people and their right to organize.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.-7th District):

I intend to do everything possible to continue to fight for the right of workers to organize, stand together and negotiate for better working conditions, and serve as a strong check on the increasing stranglehold of unchecked corporate power.

Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.-9th District):

I stand with unions and their continued efforts to improve the lives of hardworking Americans across the country.

Rep. Denny Heck (Wash.-10th District):

I continue to ask those in power, when does America get a raise? As housing, health care and everyday costs of living skyrocket, we need to do all we can to empower workers and allow them the tools to earn fair pay and benefits.

Rep. Mark Pocan (Wis.-2nd District):

Earlier this year, I introduced the Workplace Democracy Act, legislation that restores real bargaining rights to workers and repeals the right to work laws like those that Governor Walker has used to undercut American workers. We must stand up for the millions of middle-class families who are under attack by Republican leaders and rulings like the one delivered today by the Supreme Court.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 07/05/2018 - 10:09

Tags: Janus

Don't Mourn, Organize: In the States Roundup

Thu, 2018-07-05 10:00
Don't Mourn, Organize: 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.

Alaska AFL-CIO:

— Alaska AFL-CIO (@AKAFLCIO) June 27, 2018

Arizona AFL-CIO:

Watch your head...The Supreme Court's anti-worker decision has given the green light to anti-union operations like the infamous Koch Bros. and the less well know Bradley Foundation. This is an extended but important article to read.

— Arizona AFL-CIO (@ArizonaAFLCIO) June 28, 2018

Arkansas AFL-CIO:
Congratulations to Dollar General employees in Missouri! Solidarity!#1u #ufcw #arlabor @organizeAR @ARlaborradio @aryoungworkers @arlaborwomen

— Arkansas AFL-CIO (@ArkansasAFLCIO) June 25, 2018

California Labor Federation:

"Unjust Janus v. AFSCME decision won’t stop unions from fighting for all working people" Must read from @ArtPulaski in @sacbee_news

Don't Mess with Working People in Texas: Worker Wins

Mon, 2018-07-02 13:06
Don't Mess with Working People in Texas: Worker Wins

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with union growth in Texas and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.

Texas Union Membership Rose at the Highest Rate in Nearly 35 Years: The hard work of organizers in Texas has paid off as the state had its biggest increase in union membership since 1983. Texas unions gained more than 80,000 members in 2017, while union density grew from 4% to 4.7%, the biggest increase since 1993.

Safety Increases for Chicago Hotel Workers as Panic Button Ordinance Goes into Effect: Hotel workers in Chicago celebrated the implementation of new safety measures they had pushed City Council to pass. The new rules, approved in October, require hotels to provide panic buttons for workers who clean, inventory, inspect or restock supplies alone in guest rooms or restrooms.

2,400 Faculty Members to Be Represented by United Academics of Oregon State University: After a three-year organizing effort, the nearly 2,400 faculty members at Oregon State University have signed union cards to be represented by the United Academics of Oregon State University (UAOSU). UAOSU is affiliated with AFT and the American Association of University Professors. 

SAG-AFTRA Reaches Tentative Agreement with Broadcast Networks: SAG-AFTRA reached a tentative agreement with ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and other television companies on a successor to the National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting.​ “This deal delivers overall gains in important areas, including meaningful increases in wages and residuals rates that will put real money in members’ pockets. Additionally, the agreement now reflects important new language limiting auditions or meetings in private hotel rooms and residences, which represents a partial realization of our work toward industry culture change,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris.

Las Vegas Culinary Workers Approve New Contract with Caesars: Housekeepers, bartenders and other working people at casinos and resorts operated by Caesars Entertainment approved a new five-year contract. The contract covers 12,000 workers and addresses sexual harassment in the workplace, job security, wage increases and immigration status.

Another New Jersey Labor Candidate Wins in Runoff: The New Jersey labor candidates program continues to show success, as Marge Caldwell-Wilson won her runoff election for Trenton City Council (North Ward). The Communications Workers of America member became the 972nd rank-and-file union member to win after participating in the program.

University of Michigan Lecturers Win Gains in New ContractThe Lecturers’ Employee Organization (LEO) at the University of Michigan has negotiated a new contract that will raise pay, improve health care and boost job security. More than 1,700 lecturers are covered by the contract, which still has to be approved by the membership of LEO, an affiliate of AFT. “We’ve been working since October 2017 to create an agreement that will ensure quality education for our students and fair compensation for our members,” said LEO President Ian Robinson. “Thanks to incredible organizing by our members, hard work by our bargaining team and tremendous support from our students, AFT-Michigan and other allies, we have negotiated an agreement which we will be proud to present to our members for their review and, I hope, approval.”

Connecticut Health Care Workers Ratify New Contracts with Pay Raises: Health care workers at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital ratified new three-year contracts a year in advance of the expiration of current contracts. Two weeks earlier, nurses at The William W. Backus Hospital also ratified a new contract. The nurses and health care workers at the two hospitals are all represented by the Connecticut chapter of AFT.

Brown University Graduate Students Secure Free and Fair Union Election: Stand Up for Graduate Student Employees, the labor union for graduate workers at Brown University, signed an agreement with the university that will secure a free and fair union election for the 1,400 graduate assistants on campus. “The pact—among the first of its kind—creates formal procedures, voter eligibility guidelines and a dispute resolution mechanism to help guide the election and the collective bargaining process. The American Arbitration Association will oversee the union vote, expected to take place in the fall.”

Scranton Nursing Home Workers Join RWDSU: By an overwhelming vote, nursing assistant employees at the Mountain View Care and Rehabilitation Center in Scranton, Pennsylvania, have chosen to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). The new unit will cover 76 working people, and organizing began less than a month before the vote. The employees will negotiate for improved benefits and working conditions. Danielle Albano, a certified nursing assistant and organizing committee member, said, “We wanted nothing more than to better our future and make change at our facility. We united together on all shifts and quickly organized as a cohesive group around job security, a voice in the workplace, dignity and respect, and, most important of all, continuing to give quality care to our residents.”

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 07/02/2018 - 13:06

Tags: Organizing

Make It a Union-Made Fourth of July

Mon, 2018-07-02 10:29
Make It a Union-Made Fourth of July Anthony Quintano

The Fourth of July is here, and it’s time to celebrate America’s birthday. Our flag has been waving high since 1776, but do you know what the colors mean? The red represents the blood shed by those who fought for our nation’s independence. The white represents purity and innocence, and the blue symbolizes the bravery of those who stared danger in the face to fight for freedom. As you enjoy the holiday with family and friends, Labor 411 has all the holiday food and drink favorites made by companies that treat their workers with dignity and respect. Let’s all celebrate good jobs that help strengthen the middle class as we party our way to a stronger America!


  • Budweiser
  • Cherry Coke
  • Icehouse beer
  • Minute Maid fruit punch
  • Minute Maid lemonade

Hot Dogs

  • Ball Park
  • Farmer John
  • Oscar Mayer


  • Lay’s potato chips
  • Potato salad from Albertsons, Costco or Vons


  • Betty Crocker cake mix
  • Breyers ice cream
  • Rice Krispies Treats
  • Tastykake cherry pie
  • Tillamook ice cream

And hundreds more. Check out our listings at

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 07/02/2018 - 10:29

Pride Month Profiles: Josette Jaramillo

Fri, 2018-06-29 16:34
Pride Month Profiles: Josette Jaramillo Colorado AFL-CIO

Throughout Pride Month, the AFL-CIO will be taking a look at some of the pioneers whose work sits at the intersection of the labor movement and the movement for LGBTQ equality. Our next profile is Josette Jaramillo.

Josette Jaramillo grew up in Pueblo, Colorado, the granddaughter of Henry Jaramillo, a longtime member of United Steelworkers Local 2102. When she began working in the Pueblo County Department of Social Services in 2005, she became a member of AFSCME Local 1335. Before long, she was working on the elections committee and became an executive board member and then president of the local, where she has served since.

Jaramillo was elected vice president of AFSCME Council 76, Colorado, in 2011, before being elected president in 2015 and again in 2017. She was elected executive vice president of the Colorado AFL-CIO in 2013 and later elected president, where she still serves. She also serves as recording secretary for the Southern Colorado Labor Council and political chair for the lower 16 counties of the state.

Using vacation time to participate in union activities, Jaramillo maintains her full work schedule as a senior caseworker in social services and child protection. She also runs a group home for boys. As a caseworker, Jaramillo, along with co-worker Lori Rafferty (another member of AFSCME Local 76), showed the type of dedication to community that improved the life of one young child immensely.

The tireless work and innovative research that Jaramillo and Rafferty pursued in the case of a 9-year-old girl helped find a safe home for the child and connect her with family. After discovering that her biological parents had a history of neglect and abuse, Jaramillo and Rafferty not only worked with the Department of Human Services to terminate the abusers’ parental rights, they helped track down five siblings whom the child had never been told about. The adoptive parents of two of those siblings expressed a desire to adopt the 9-year-old as well. 

The state recognized Jaramillo and Rafferty with Excellence in Practice awards for their efforts. But there was a bigger reward for Jaramillo: “We were able to establish a sibling relationship with a child who didn’t think she had siblings. I felt awesome. I drove her down to Lubbock, Texas, so she could meet them. She now realizes she’s not alone in the world.”

Jaramillo is a certified trainer in several subject areas, including Common Sense Economics (AFL-CIO), Stewards in Action (AFSCME) and From Playground to Prom (Colorado Youth Matter). She also volunteers for various organizations, including Southern Colorado Equality Alliance, Pueblo Latino Chamber of Commerce, Steel City Supporters and various other nonprofits in Pueblo.

On the power of collective action, Jaramillo said:

Years ago, I worked with a fellow organizer (now elected to the Colorado State Legislature), Daneya Esgar, to work towards winning same-sex/domestic partner benefits through the City of Pueblo. We went to the City Council, and they tabled the issue “indefinitely.”

We organized our members and people in the community to demand that City Council take action, and together, we won. It was a pretty big deal at the time, well before civil unions or legalized gay marriage.

On the power of unions, she said:

Belonging to a union has given me a sense of community. It has made me feel part of something that’s difficult to put into words. I belong somewhere, and I know that the hurdles and success stories in my life are shared collectively. I also get to take on issues and fight for things that matter. I get to fight the fights that are not my own. A few years back, state legislation was passed for women who breastfeed. I got to be an integral part of my workplace implementation to help secure a safe and sanitary place for my co-workers who were new moms to pump in private, in a non-bathroom setting. That legislation mattered to those women in my workplace. Being part of a union allowed those women to have an advocate for them.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 06/29/2018 - 16:34

Tags: Pride at Work

Pride Month Profiles: Marsha P. Johnson

Fri, 2018-06-29 13:02
Pride Month Profiles: Marsha P. Johnson AFL-CIO

Throughout Pride Month, the AFL-CIO will be taking a look at some of the pioneers whose work sits at the intersection of the labor movement and the movement for LGBTQ equality. Our next profile is Marsha P. Johnson.

Marsha P. Johnson was an LGBTQ activist who became well known in New York City by being herself and fearing no judgment on her comfort as a black trans woman. She lived in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, a socially liberal area where most LGBTQ people felt acceptance and salvation.

In 1968, a riot broke out at the Stonewall Inn, a popular LGBTQ bar, when police officers raided the building. This became known as one of the most important events that sparked the LGBTQ rights movement, commonly referred to as the Stonewall Riots or, more accurately, the Stonewall Uprising. 

Author David Carter wrote that Johnson was one of three key figures leading the resistance, but Johnson modestly downplayed her role, saying, “I was uptown, and I didn’t get downtown until about two o’clock. When I got downtown, the place was already on fire, and there was a raid already. The riots had already started.”

Either way, she joined in and played a pivotal role not only in the uprising, but in the founding of the Gay Liberation Front, an organization founded in the aftermath of Stonewall that advocated for the sexual liberation of all people.

Fighting back against discrimination toward transgender people, Johnson, along with Sylvia Rivera, founded STAR—Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries—a trans rights group that organized shelters for homeless transgender teens and drag queens. Johnson also helped found STAR House, which provided shelter to homeless queer youth.

Johnson’s life wasn’t all battles, however; she was a social butterfly who spent time with the likes of Andy Warhol. She also toured America and Europe as part of Hot Peaches, an avant-drag performance troupe.

Johnson died in 1992 at the age of 46, and the circumstances surrounding her death remain a mystery today. A recent Netflix documentary, “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson,” examined her amazing life and tragic death. 

Johnson’s life speaks to the fluidity of gender and a person’s right to self-identify without judgment, and she helped pave the way for increased awareness of the challenges faced by the LGBTQ community in the U.S., in the workplace and in the larger culture.


Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 06/29/2018 - 13:02

Tags: Pride at Work

Sticking with the Union: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 2018-06-29 11:11
Sticking with the Union: 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.

Working People Across the Country Reject Janus Ruling, Say We're 'Sticking with the Union': "After a narrow majority ruled against working people in the Janus v. AFSCME case, we have come together to reject attacks on our rights by corporate interests and their allies in government. All working people deserve a chance to prosper on the job and beyond. Unions are the answer. Learn more at"

Stand Up for All Workers' Rights: "Hardworking immigrant women and men were detained last week while simply trying to do their jobs at Fresh Mark meat processing plants in Ohio."

Baseball Food That’s Always a Hit: "A ball game just isn’t a ball game without the hot dogs, the salty snacks, the sodas and the beer. To best enjoy these goodies, we recommend ethical brands made by companies that treat their employees fairly. If you’re headed to the stadium, you can bring your own snacks (but don’t try this with the beer)! If you’re watching at home, consult the list of products below and make it an ethical baseball feast. Let’s all support good middle-class jobs as we slug, throw and pitch our way to a stronger America."

Congress and the President Need to Listen to Workers on Trade: "If you read this blog regularly, you already know that the United States has a ginormous, humongous trade deficit with China. The goods trade deficit with China reached $375 billion in 2017. This deficit has cost 3.4 million U.S. jobs between 2001 and 2015. About 2.6 million of those lost jobs were in manufacturing, including more than 1.2 million in computer and electronic manufacturing. You probably also know that the loss of all these jobs pulls down wages, and that bad trade policies lower an average U.S. worker’s pay by $2,000 every year."

Working People Stand Resolute in the Face of Janus Ruling: "While a narrow and ideologically driven majority on the Supreme Court ruled against working people in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, working people will not allow this attack to silence our collective voices. We will continue to organize and bring our collective voices together in opposition to the ongoing assault on our rights."

Intertwined: The Labor Movement and LGBT Rights: "Through all the celebration of LGBTQ Pride this month, there’s been a valuable opportunity to reflect on the hard-fought victories, brutal setbacks, and tenacious struggles that have ultimately delivered so much for so many. And just as importantly, there has been time to think about what lies ahead in that fight for justice."

World Cup 2026 Offers FIFA an Opportunity to Live Up to Its Human Rights Commitment: "Last week, the international governing body for football, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), awarded the 2026 World Cup to a joint bid from Canada, Mexico and the United States. The planning and execution of one of the world's top sporting events will provide a test to the human rights commitment of FIFA."

Working People Say Neither the U.S. nor Canada Gets Trade Policy Right: "Working people can’t afford any more trade policies written by and for corporations. But neither should we be pawns in a misguided power struggle that antagonizes allies or empowers corporations but fails to fix our economy."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 06/29/2018 - 11:11

Stand Up for All Workers' Rights

Fri, 2018-06-29 10:11
Stand Up for All Workers' Rights

Hardworking immigrant women and men were detained last week while simply trying to do their jobs at Fresh Mark meat processing plants in Ohio.

Working people who do these incredibly difficult jobs should be treated with dignity, respect and fairness, no matter where they were born. This Saturday, June 30, working people will rally all over the country to address the broken policies that have led to the systemic violation of working families’ rights.

Click here to let us know that you’d like to RSVP for this Saturday's rally at Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C.

These raids destroy communities. No matter what side of the political aisle you fall on, this is wrong. Seeking a better life for yourself and your family is not a crime. We cannot allow a climate of fear that leaves workers too afraid to stand up for their rights on the job and in their communities to continue. The attacks on these workers call to question the freedom of all working people.

Any system that would allow immigrant families to be torn apart at our borders while politicians back the devastation of working families must be broken. It’s up to working people to band together and hold our leaders accountable if we are ever going to even the economic playing field for all workers.

Join an event this Saturday, as we remind our leaders that they should be doing all they can to strengthen the rights and security of working families instead of viciously attacking, brutalizing and traumatizing them.

RSVP for the rally in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, June 30.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 06/29/2018 - 10:11

Working People Across the Country Reject Janus Ruling, Say We're 'Sticking with the Union'

Thu, 2018-06-28 14:03
Working People Across the Country Reject Janus Ruling, Say We're 'Sticking with the Union' AFL-CIO

After a narrow majority ruled against working people in the Janus v. AFSCME case, we have come together to reject attacks on our rights by corporate interests and their allies in government. All working people deserve a chance to prosper on the job and beyond. Unions are the answer. Learn more at

Here's what working people advocates from around the country are saying about Janus and the next steps we must take as working people.

Alaska AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami: 

Today, we commit to not only sustaining the labor movement, but building and strengthening it so more working people can negotiate a fair deal in return for their hard work. Despite this decision, Alaska’s unions will continue to lead the fight for a balanced economy that gives everyone a fair shot.

Allegheny–Fayette  Central Labor Council President Darrin Kelly:

Today’s ruling by the US Supreme Court went against 40 years of legal precedent and obliterated current laws in nearly half the states in the nation. It is nothing more than a full-frontal assault on working families and the American middle class. For 150 years, wealthy special interest groups have been funding efforts like this with one objective in mind: disempower the American worker and keep wages low so the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the economic ladder of opportunity that built this nation, gets burnt to the ground. The unity of America’s working families has outlived these attacks for more than a century because our strength lies, not in our pocket books, but in our continuing belief in the promise of the American dream.

Corporate financed efforts to rig the system against working people simply remind us how important collective bargaining is. This decision only emboldens our commitment to our members, our message and America’s middle class. No Court case will ever destroy our movement.

California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski: 

Never in its history has the court issued a ruling so clearly motivated by politics and outright disdainful of the constitutional tenets it has vowed to vigorously defend. Working families should never trust this court again....

No one court decision can stamp out decades of progress made by unions and our members. In the face of today’s decision, California’s unions are redoubling our efforts to remain a beacon of hope for a country sliding into plutocracy. We won’t settle for surviving this decision. We’ll continue to build strength to give all working people a fair shot at pursuing the American Dream.

Connecticut AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier:

From brave first responders to dedicated public school teachers to life-saving nurses, our community is strong because of those who answer the call to public service. These public service workers are able to serve their communities better because they are union workers, and together as a union, they have the freedom to speak up together to help make our communities strong and safe.

The billionaires and corporate CEOs who supported the Janus case are attempting to divide working people and limit our power in numbers. They know that unions give workers a powerful voice in speaking up for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Florida AFL-CIO President Mike Williams:

Florida workers already understand the disastrous implications of the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision. In right-to-work states like Florida, workers live this decision everyday through a system that not only undermines their freedom to have a voice on the job, but ensures that our state’s workers continue to be paid less, have less access to healthcare, and less opportunities to retire with dignity.

With this decision, SCOTUS has checked off another box on the wealthy special interest wish list. This ruling will continue our nation’s decades long race to the bottom for workers' rights, increase economic inequality, and make it even more difficult for America’s workers to make ends meet.

The Florida AFL-CIO with it’s over 1 million union members, retirees, and their families, will continue to stand together with Florida’s working people who, even when the decks are stacked against them, will continue to join together in unions and fight for a stronger, fairer America.”

Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Rusty Hicks:

Today, Trump’s Supreme Court made a decision big employers hope will weaken our unions. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor has news for them. When workers can choose—without fear or threat—to either stay in their union or leave it, they will choose to earn higher wages, protect their benefits and keep their workplaces safer. Those realities will overpower those who believe working people are worth less.

To our adversaries we say be careful what you ask for—when we fight, we win.

Maine AFL-CIO President Cynthia Phinney:

Every day, right here in Maine, workers continue to stand together in their unions to demand fairness and fight for a better future for our families. Millions of other workers around the country aspire to improve their wages and working conditions and to have a voice on the job....

We have never depended on any politician or judge to decide our fate and we aren’t about to start now.  We will continue to fight for the rights of all working people to have the freedom to join a union and bargain for a better life. We will continue to stick together in our unions and as the labor movement to build a better future for our communities, our country and all working people.

Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber:

As billionaires and corporate special interests seek to further rig our economy against working people across the country, this is the latest attempt to take away our rights to join together in unions.  It is a shame that these special interests have manipulated the Supreme Court to further their harmful agenda.

This decision comes at a point in time when thousands of Michigan workers are recommitting to join unions and are launching new organizing drives, and as support for labor unions has risen to its highest level in years. Indeed, Michigan added 52,000 new union members in 2017—the biggest annual jump in union membership in Michigan in over a decade. Even more importantly, it means there are now more union members in Michigan than there were in 2012—the year Gov. Rick Snyder signed right-to-work legislation into law.

So we have faced these attacks before and we have weathered the storm well. The labor movement remains a strong and vibrant force for working people and will continue fighting to sustain our families, improve our workplaces and make our communities stronger regardless of the court’s ruling.

Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy:

No court decision will ever stop working people from joining together in union to negotiate a fair return on their work. No matter how many roadblocks corporate special interests put in our path, our state’s labor movement will continue to fight for working Minnesotans’ freedom to prosper.

Nevada State AFL-CIO Executive Secretary-Treasurer Rusty McAllister:

The Supreme Court’s ruling this morning is an assault on the working people of America by corporate interests who fear their collective power. The Nevada State AFL-CIO and our local union leaders will continue to fight for, serve and protect our 150,000 members against any force that seeks to undermine or work against them.

New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento:

Improving the lives of all working men and women is what defines us, not one court case.

The Janus v. AFSCME case has always been a thinly veiled attack on the rights of all working people to join together and speak with one voice.

New York’s labor movement, with 2.5 million members, will remain strong. In fact, today’s decision will only make us stronger and more determined to fight for better wages, benefits and conditions of employment, as well as for a brighter future for all workers and their families.

Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga:

This decision comes just as millions of workers across the country are recommitting to unions with new organizing drives and growing ranks in important sectors of our economy right here in Ohio. Public support for labor unions has risen to its highest level in years. 

The billionaires and corporate special interests that have manipulated our system of justice have succeeded in getting the highest court in the land to do their bidding. The labor movement, however, remains undeterred. 

We have faced similar attacks in Ohio and ultimately prevailed. Powered by our membership and carried by the expressed support of a vast majority of Ohioans, labor unions will continue to fight to sustain our families, improve our workplaces and make our communities stronger regardless of the court’s ruling.

Orange County Labor Federation:

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision furthers this administration’s agenda of putting corporate interest over working families. This case is a multi-million dollar effort to rig the economy benefiting a select few.

While this decision negatively impacts working families, the OCLF will continue to be a strong force in Orange County, standing up to those in power who have rigged the economy against working people. When unions are strong, Orange County is strong. We won’t allow a court decision to stand in the way of our fight for good jobs, fair pay and dignity at work.

Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain:

While the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a long-expected decision in the Janus case that was backed by anti-worker forces, Oregon union members remain dedicated to sticking together, uniting more working people in unions and working with our state’s political leaders to create more good, union jobs.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale:

Businesses are not mandated to give away goods and services free of charge to whomever walks through their door. But labor unions are legally required to represent every working person in a workplace, regardless of their membership-status. Every worker benefits from the terms of the union contract, and fair share fees cover the cost of that representation and negotiation. We know that union contracts lift up wages and improve conditions for all workers. The dark money that has bankrolled this case and subsequent decision, will not sway us from fighting for economic dignity and the rights working people deserve.

Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO President Pat Eiding:

The labor movement stretches back centuries in this country and stretches out beyond the borders of our nation as well. Working women and men in past generations faced the greatest imaginable challenges when they stood together for their interests: armed company goons, sometimes working with the support of state or local governments; courts that refused to recognize the legitimacy of labor unions; an unsympathetic media. Nevertheless, working people persisted. We stood together against every challenge and built vibrant, diverse, democratic labor unions, and those unions in turn lifted tens of millions of American workers out of poverty and into dignity. We are the engine of the most productive economy in the world. We built this country’s middle class.

So, while I am gravely disappointed in the 5-4 decision in the Janus case, I am not worried about our labor movement. Working people will continue to stand together, to organize democratically, and to stand up to massive corporations and to the privileged and powerful. History is on our side. And despite the opinion of 5 justices in Washington, our solidarity remains unbroken.

Sacramento Central Labor Council Executive Director Fabrizio Sasso:

While there is no doubt that this decision will make it more difficult for working people to exercise our freedom to join together, we will not allow it to stand in our way as we continue our fight for good jobs, safe workplaces, equal pay for women, fair treatment of immigrants and dignity at work for everyone. Nor will it stamp out the decades of progress made by hard working Americans who fought for the freedoms we still enjoy. 

The labor movement marches forward with the same commitment and a renewed vigor to stand together for all working people. Despite the deep pockets of wealthy corporations, billionaires and wealthy elites’ ability to influence the Supreme Court’s decision, Sacramento’s unions will continue to lead the fight for a balanced economy that gives everyone a fair shot at the American Dream.

Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy and Texas AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Montserrat Garibay:

In Texas, we battle to raise wages, enact paid sick leave and other benefits, make jobs safer, ensure civil rights, and expand opportunity for all working families. We fight immigrant-bashing, voter suppression, moves to privatize our neighborhood schools, and assaults on the freedom of working people to speak up to improve their lives.

Organizing is on the rise, in Texas and in the nation. Public approval of unions is up. A growing percentage of young working people, women and people of color see unions as a ticket to the middle class. Teachers are striking to do right by their students.

Reject the dark web of corporate interests that produced Janus and join us in the fight. Texas unions stand for the antidote to the status quo: a fair shot for all working families.

Utah AFL-CIO President Jeff Worthington:

Those that funded the Janus case are hailing the SCOTUS decision as a great victory and end of unions. They will be disappointed. Unions are alive and well in Utah and across the nation. We will continue to thrive and prosper. Utah unions from the public sector and trades along with the Utah AFL-CIO have united together in solidarity to protect employee rights, safeguard working families, and push back against attacks from those that would demonize the good that unions do in our communities.

We've been here for over a hundred years; we look forward to being even stronger for another century.

Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson and Washington State Labor Council Secretary Treasurer Lynne Dodson:

Now more than ever, working people understand that they need unions and strength in numbers to fight for a balanced economy. This is particularly true for our proud public employees. These are our family members, friends and neighbors. They teach our children, care for the sick and elderly, keep our communities safe, maintain our roads, and provide many other essential public services. They know they need strong unions, not just because it makes life better for themselves and their families, but also so they can advocate for their students, their patients, and the public they serve....

No court decision will stop us from fighting for good jobs, safe workplaces, affordable health care, and dignity at work for everyone. Today, we recommit not only to sustaining Washington's labor movement, but to building a stronger one. In this economy, working people must stick together in strong unions to demand better wages and benefits. The unions of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO will redouble efforts to guarantee the freedom to join, stand and negotiate together.

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt:

While billionaires and the corporate interests behind the Janus case use their power and wealth to continue to rig our economy against working people, workers are busy building a movement to rewrite the rules of our economy to create broadly shared prosperity. Workers are on the rise and the Supreme Court can’t stop us. At a time when our democracy and economy are rigged to overwhelmingly favor the wealthy, America needs unions now more than ever so our middle class can thrive.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 06/28/2018 - 14:03

Tags: Janus