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Pro-Working People Laws Catching on Around the Country

Thu, 2018-01-04 14:32
Pro-Working People Laws Catching on Around the Country

While Congress and the White House refuse to act, momentum for paid family leave legislation at the state level is growing. 

As the new year begins, New York, Nevada and Washington state are implementing paid family leave laws, and Rhode Island will join them in July. Rhode Island will bring the total number of states with a paid family leave law to eight. 

NPR breaks down the legislation going into effect relating to paid family leave:

Washington on Monday became the seventh state—in addition to Washington, D.C.—to require employers to offer paid sick leave to their workers. Rhode Island is set to become the eighth to do so later this year, when its own law takes effect in July.

Meanwhile, New York has joined the small handful of states that require employers to provide paid family leave benefits. There, as NBC reports, employees will eventually be entitled to up to 12 weeks a year once the law takes full effect.

And in Nevada, employers are now required to offer up to 160 hours of leave per 12-month period to workers who have been—or whose family members have been—victims of domestic violence.

Similarly, states are taking proactive steps to help raise wages for working families. Across the country, 18 states and 20 local governments raised their minimum wage on Jan. 1. The following were included in the wave of states that increased their minimum wage: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Washington.

AFL-CIO Policy Director Damon Silvers explained the importance of raising the minimum wage:

It puts money in motion. We've seen the distribution of income and wealth skew very much to the top of the income scale. The fact is that rich people don't spend money the way that middle-class and poor people do, and that makes our economy weak. Raising the minimum wage puts more money in the hands of people who need to spend it.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 01/04/2018 - 13:32

A Year for Working People

Wed, 2018-01-03 12:34
A Year for Working People

Working people want equality, good jobs, smart public investments in infrastructure and education, and fair taxes to pay for it; and that’s what every aspiring political leader this year should put forward to gain our support.

At the AFL-CIO Convention this past fall, we made a blueprint for major changes in America’s economy.

We are committed to growing our unions, because the best way to win a better life is by negotiating with our employers for fair pay and benefits.

We are politically independent, which means we work for working people, not any political party. We will campaign on issues and fight to hold our elected leaders accountable.

Our focus is about creating a fair, equitable and good economy with respect for all people, regardless of whom we love, what we look like, what language we speak or where we were born.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 01/03/2018 - 11:34

John Yarmuth Makes Kentucky State AFL-CIO's First Website 'Wall of Fame'

Tue, 2018-01-02 11:56
John Yarmuth Makes Kentucky State AFL-CIO's First Website 'Wall of Fame' Kentucky State AFL-CIO

This guest post from Berry Craig originally appeared at the  Kentucky State AFL-CIO. The Kentucky legislative session begins today.

"Which Side Are You On?" is a grand old union song.

Billy Thompson, United Steelworkers (USW) District 8 director, came up with a Wall of Fame-Wall of Shame banner to show which side state senators and representatives were on when they voted on those union-busting bills last January.

We think the banner is a great idea. So we're starting a complementary Wall of Fame-Wall of Shame on our website.

We want to show our union brothers and sisters how Kentucky lawmakers in Frankfort and Washington are voting on bills important to organized labor. (We invite other state federations, central labor councils and union locals to start Walls of Fame and Shame for state and federal legislators in their neck of the woods. (Click here to check us out on The Union Edge: Labor's Talk Radio.)

First up is the Republican Robin-Hood-in-Reverse tax legislation.

Like most Americans, most union members oppose the legislation, which the AFL-CIO has called "a job-killing tax plan that makes working people pay the price for massive tax giveaways to millionaires and wealthy corporations."

Not surprisingly, Kentucky Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and Reps. James Comer, Brett Guthrie, Thomas Massie, Hal Rogers and Andy Barr voted for the bill.

Again, Rep. John Yarmuth, the only Bluegras State Democrat in Congress, came through for us and voted against the bill.

So Yarmuth's name is the first to go up on our Wall of Fame. The GOP sextet is debuting on our Wall of Shame.

We're including a percentage that shows how often legislators back the president on bills. We think that's important information because when GOP lawmakers are back in Kentucky they often promise the home folks that they're not just Donald Trump rubber stamps. Evidence shows they are, more often than not.  

The evidence comes from "Tracking Congress In the Age of Trump: An updating tally of how often every member of the House and Senate votes with or against the president." Click here to see the House score and here for the Senate score.

WALL OF FAME (voting no on the tax bill)

Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville (17.5)

WALL OF SHAME (voting yes on the tax bill)

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Louisville (96.3)

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green (84.6)

Rep. James Comer, R-Tompkinsville (94.7)

Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green (98.2) 

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Vanceburg (71.9) 

Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset (98.2)

Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington (94.7) 

"Reward your friends and punish your enemies," said union pioneer Samuel Gompers, the first and longest-serving president of the American Federation of Labor.

John Yarmuth is one of labor's best friends in Washington. McConnell, Paul, Comer, Guthrie, Massie, Rogers and Barr are about as anti-union as legislators get.

Paul introduced a national "right to work" law. The other six Kentucky Republicans are pro-right to work. All seven were gleeful when the Bluegrass State went right to work.

We hope our Wall of Fame-Wall of Shame will help Kentuckians who pack union cards remember, too, when the Matt Bevin-led, GOP-majority state legislature convenes in January to continue its holy war against unions and working people, and the GOP-majority Congress, egged on by Trump, stays its anti-union and anti-worker course. 

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 01/02/2018 - 10:56