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Updated: 27 weeks 3 days ago

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Hosts Vaccination and Food Distribution Event

Fri, 2021-02-19 09:30
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Hosts Vaccination and Food Distribution Event

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

The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and its nonprofit partner, Labor Community Services, held a vaccination and food distribution event in Los Angeles over the weekend. The combined event was held in partnership with St. John’s Well Child and Family Center and state Sen. María Elena Durazo (not pictured). In addition to the vaccination, the event also provided food to more than 200 families. The labor council thanked volunteers who helped out, including members of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement’s Los Angeles chapter and members of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 47.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/19/2021 - 08:30

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19

Black History Month Profiles: Micheal Davis

Thu, 2021-02-18 10:32
Black History Month Profiles: Micheal Davis

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

Micheal Davis is a member of the UAW and a labor organizer who's been on staff with the Michigan AFL-CIO for years, as campaign director, organizing director, and health and safety director for the state federation's Workforce Development Institute. Davis is a dedicated, passionate and creative leader and valued member of the Michigan AFL-CIO team.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 02/18/2021 - 09:32

Tags: Black History Month

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: NABTU Offers All Training Centers and Union Halls for National Vaccine Distribution

Thu, 2021-02-18 09:36
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: NABTU Offers All Training Centers and Union Halls for National Vaccine Distribution

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

On Thursday, North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) President Sean McGarvey (IUPAT) issued a statement offering its more than 5,000 union halls and training centers for vaccine distribution across the country:

“We know there is still more to be done, so we are now making available all of our infrastructure in every state, major metropolitan and rural area to assist in the Biden Administration’s taskforce’s mass distribution of vaccines. In our continuing commitment as citizens, our proud men and women stand ready to serve in this wide vaccination distribution. Our members and facilities are uniquely prepared to aid immediately from the many blood drives and other mobilizing community service events we’ve hosted throughout our history, and we look forward to being available to the President’s Taskforce to do whatever it takes to help support our country, lessen the suffering of this pandemic and get America vaccinated.”

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 02/18/2021 - 08:36

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Black History Month Profiles: Wilfred Arceneaux

Wed, 2021-02-17 10:30
Black History Month Profiles: Wilfred Arceneaux

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

Wilfred Arceneaux is a server at the Atlanta Airport and an LGBTQ advocate. He canvassed in Atlanta as part of UNITE HERE's Take Back the Senate campaign to elect labor-endorsed candidates to the U.S. Senate. About the experience, he said: "I really, really understood what the union is all about, when my sister and Shop Steward Tee Tee Dangerfield was murdered because she was trans. I decided to step into Tee Tee's shoes and am now a leader with my union. I canvassed to get out the vote for the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff because we need a city where all airport workers get to have strong union jobs."

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 02/17/2021 - 09:30

Tags: Black History Month

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: DPE Announces Legislative Push to Advance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Wed, 2021-02-17 09:33
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: DPE Announces Legislative Push to Advance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

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

The arts, entertainment and media unions affiliated with the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, (DPE) last week announced their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policy agenda during a digital press conference with union leaders, staff and members. The DEI policy agenda details the legislative action the unions will urge members of Congress to support to help make their industries more representative. “Diversity is a strength,” said DPE President Jennifer Dorning. “Creative professionals and their unions know this, and continue to prioritize making their industries more accessible to underrepresented people. Advocating for policy changes at the national level is a natural continuation of the work arts, entertainment, and media unions have been doing to advance DEI in their creative industries.”

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 02/17/2021 - 08:33

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19

Black History Month: Interview with Actor and Activist Danny Glover

Tue, 2021-02-16 11:02
Black History Month: Interview with Actor and Activist Danny Glover Wikimedia Commons

Few artists have contributed more to the growth and development of our society than actor Danny Glover. A civil rights leader and labor activist to his core, Glover has transcended the silver screen to become part of our cultural identity as Americans. As we celebrate this year’s Black History Month, the AFL-CIO spoke with him about the history of the labor movement and the civil rights movement, and where we go from here.

Glover began by talking about growing up in a union household where his parents were active members in their local chapter of what was then called the United Postal Alliance. “It’s about the history I lived with my parents,” Glover explained. “I watched my parents emerge and grow as union members and see how proud they were. And I watched the civil rights movement through that lens.” For a time, his father was treasurer and his mother served as the secretary of their local union. He recalled how they placed their struggles in the community and at the workplace within the broader struggle for justice that is still happening across the country.

Throughout his career, Glover has been part of many films, playing groundbreaking roles for an African American actor. “We’re part of a large framework where there’s manufactured consent around how we look at cultural production. Sometimes we hail a film like “The Color Purple” or we hail something like “Lethal Weapon,” but does that actually shift the narrative?” He pointed to the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd as two glaring examples of the need to wrestle with the continuation of racial injustice.

“Dr. King said that the best anti-poverty program he knew was a union. He said that,” Glover recalled. Of the connection between the civil rights movement and the labor movement, he said, “[m]ore generally, it’s the human rights movement. They’re both movements for justice. They’re both movements for justice, whether it’s justice in the workplace or justice on the street. All that they do is connected to that. That is the umbilical cord that can’t be broken between the two.”

Looking to the present, the AFL-CIO asked him about an ongoing organizing drive that has captured headlines across the world. In the town of Bessemer, Alabama, some 5,800 warehouse workers are voting now on whether to form the first union at Amazon. “I think it’s amazing,” Glover said. “I think it’s a big step. We know that new technology and new ways of transporting goods and services run through Amazon.” Some 85% of the workers at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer are Black. “It’s absolutely stunning, important—essential that we can move beyond this place. COVID-19 has exposed the underbelly, in a different way, of what this country is about,” he said of the potential for these workers to form a union and fight for their rights in the workplace.

Glover reflected on what Black History Month means to him. “I live as if Black History Month is every month. I work in the service of honoring and recognizing the past in relation to that beautiful African American anthem, 'Lift Every Voice and Sing.' It talks about the past, the present and the future,” he said. “To me, it’s important that we celebrate the context of Black History Month, which is not only the context of past struggle, but the continuation of struggle.”

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 02/16/2021 - 10:02

Tags: Black History Month

Black History Month Profiles: Corean Holloway

Tue, 2021-02-16 10:32
Black History Month Profiles: Corean Holloway

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

A longtime union leader, Corean Holloway works as a laundry attendant at the Warwick Hotel Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. She canvassed her city full time to get out the vote for Biden-Harris during the general election for president. "I was born and raised in South Carolina, and my siblings and I were the ones to desegregate our elementary school, so we know a little bit about standing up to take what's ours," she said.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 02/16/2021 - 09:32

Tags: Black History Month

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Major Labor and Environmental Initiative Announced in Rhode Island

Tue, 2021-02-16 09:30
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Major Labor and Environmental Initiative Announced in Rhode Island

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

Rhode Island AFL-CIO President George Nee (OPEIU) announced a new state federation initiative called Climate Jobs Rhode Island. The initiative’s coalition will be chaired by Priscilla De La Cruz, the Rhode Island director of Green Energy Consumers Alliance, and Patrick Crowley (NEA-RI), secretary-treasurer of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, and is committed to working to make Rhode Island a national leader in a 21st century economy grounded in the principles of economic, environmental, racial and social justice.

“The Rhode Island AFL-CIO is proud to stand with our friends and allies in the Rhode Island building trades and the environmental movement as we work together to build a green economy in Rhode Island,” Nee said. “The labor movement believes working people don’t just need a seat at the table, but many seats, speaking for all of those fighting for a more just Rhode Island. The fight against exploitation, injustice and racism can only be won when workers have more power. We are proud to add the voices of our 80,000 members in Rhode Island to this effort.”

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 02/16/2021 - 08:30

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Black History Month Profiles: Robert K. Cook

Mon, 2021-02-15 09:50
Black History Month Profiles: Robert K. Cook

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

A ship captain, marine pilot, historian and mentor, Capt. Robert K. Cook is a founding member and president of the Organization of Black Maritime Graduates (OBMG). OBMG was formed in 1994 by six graduates of the SUNY Maritime College who wanted to help improve the education possibilities for young African American and minority students. OBMG's goal is to provide assistance and encouragement to Black and other minority undergraduates who are full-time students and pursuing a career in the maritime profession.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 02/15/2021 - 08:50

Tags: Black History Month

Black History Month Profiles: Sandra Parker Murray

Sun, 2021-02-14 10:40
Black History Month Profiles: Sandra Parker Murray

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

Sandra Parker Murray is an executive board member for Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 7777 in Denver and a telecommunications worker with more than 20 years of experience at AT&T, Lucent Technologies and Avaya. Parker Murray is a political activist and fierce advocate for the rights of working people. Whether it is testifying in front of lawmakers, fighting to win job protections, advocating for her community or organizing at her local, Parker Murray has been at the forefront always making her voice heard and inspiring others to do the same. 

Kenneth Quinnell Sun, 02/14/2021 - 09:40

Tags: Black History Month

Black History Month Profiles: Sherese Williams

Sat, 2021-02-13 10:32
Black History Month Profiles: Sherese Williams

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

A second-generation bus driver and union member, Sherese Williams has a good job and a livable work schedule, for which she credits her union. Her love for the work she does, combined with a talent for connecting people, led to her volunteering for increasing levels of responsibility at the Portland Community College Federation of Classified Employees (PCCFCE), American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 3922. Williams serves as vice president of organizing for PCCFCE. She launched the Member Organizer Institute in 2018.

Kenneth Quinnell Sat, 02/13/2021 - 09:32

Tags: Black History Month

A Big Deal: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 2021-02-12 14:30
A Big Deal: The Working People Weekly List

Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s the latest edition of the Working People Weekly List.

The Amazon Warehouse Union Vote in Alabama Is a Big Deal: "Amazon responded quickly to the pandemic spike in online shopping. It added 400,000 employees in the first nine months of last year. It added new facilities and new airplanes to deliver goods. And across the company’s fulfillment centers, the pressure on Amazon workers to get orders out fast, to 'make rate,' became more intense than ever. That dogged pursuit of efficiency has pushed some workers to a breaking point. This week, employees at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, are voting on whether to unionize. On Thursday’s episode of What Next, I talked to Washington Post reporter Jay Greene about what the workers want, how management is fighting back, and what this action—the first of its kind at Amazon in seven years—could mean for future unionization efforts at the company. Our conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity."

Hollywood Unions Join AFL-CIO Push for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Public Policy Agenda: "Hollywood’s major unions have signed on with the AFL-CIO’s push to advance public policy initiatives involving diversity, equity and inclusion issues. The broad goal is to strengthen collective bargaining and copyright protections on the state and federal level. On Thursday, a clutch of entertainment industry union representatives gathered for a virtual news conference to detail the policy proposals and underscore the urgency for the need for action to better protect middle-class and low-rung workers. 'We stand solidly behind the missions and goals. We believe very strongly in copyright protections. It’s how our members receive appropriate remuneration for their work,' said David White, national executive director of SAG-AFTRA. 'And we feel very strongly about the importance of showcasing the full variety of the American scene' in entertainment content."

These House Bills Could Make Life Better for Millions of U.S. Workers: "'Increasing the minimum wage makes economic sense, it makes political sense and it makes moral sense. When working people take home our fair share, we spend more, boost demand and create jobs. This is a no-brainer,' John Weber, a spokesman for AFL-CIO, said in an email."

As Amazon Union Vote Starts, AFL-CIO's Tech Think Tank Considers Future of Labor: "On Monday in Alabama, more than 5,800 of them will be able to vote on whether to become the first Amazon warehouse in the United States to unionize. 'Now it's our turn to be a disruptor,' said Elizabeth Shuler, secretary-treasurer and second highest-ranking officer of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States. It's a big day for the AFL-CIO. Not only is it providing guidance to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which is organizing the Amazon warehouse workers. It also recently launched a think tank, the Technology Institute, partly meant to help workers at tech behemoths like Amazon organize."

AFL-CIO Leader: Clinton, Obama Let Down Unions: "'Joe Biden has surrounded himself with people that are worker-friendly, so that in the multitude of decisions that are made every day without the president being involved, they're going to think about the impact it has on workers,' Trumka said. 'That's a significant difference and a beneficial one for workers in this country,' Trumka added. 'And it's one of our reasons for optimism and hope.' Barack Obama and Bill Clinton—the last two Democratic presidents—'didn't understand the importance of labor and the importance of collective bargaining,' he said."

The Economist Placing Value on Black Women’s Overlooked Work: "Every year women do trillions of dollars’ worth of unpaid household work. In the United States alone, that total amounted to roughly $1.2 trillion in 2019, a figure nearly the size of the New York State economy. In Britain, the statistics agency has a calculator that lets you learn the value of chores like doing laundry, child care and taking others where they need to go. Thirty-five hours of child care and five hours of cooking is valued at about 570 pounds ($779) a week."

Beltrami to Retire from AFL-CIO After 15 Years: "The Alaska AFL-CIO announced today that President Vince Beltrami is retiring after 15 years as the head of the state’s largest labor organization. According to an announcement from the organization describing the change as 'a bittersweet leadership change,' AFL-CIO’s Director of Operations Joelle Hall has been selected by the group’s leadership to serve the remainder of Beltrami’s term. 'Vince Beltrami has been an incredible force for the Alaska Labor movement. He leaves behind a legacy as he closes this chapter as President for the Alaska AFL-CIO. Since his early days as an IBEW organizer, Vince has made life better for all working people in Alaska. Through his leadership, Vince brought us into a new century. He will retire in power knowing we are all stronger and better able to do what is right for Alaska workers,' said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Jake Metcalfe in a prepared statement. 'Vince, you did a hell of a job and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.'”

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/12/2021 - 13:30

Take a Stand for What We Deserve: What Working People Are Doing This Week

Fri, 2021-02-12 13:01
Take a Stand for What We Deserve: What Working People Are Doing This Week

Welcome to our regular feature, a look at what the various AFL-CIO unions and other working family organizations are doing across the country and beyond. The labor movement is big and active—here's a look at the broad range of activities we're engaged in this week.

Actors' Equity:

In December of 1939, Butterfly McQueen became the first Black lifetime member of Equity. This rare membership is assigned to members for extraordinary volunteerism and involvement in our union. #BlackHistoryMonth pic.twitter.com/eAZcVXhNT6

— Actors' Equity (@ActorsEquity) February 11, 2021

AFGE:

@POTUS promised to be the most 'pro-union president', and within his first three weeks in office he has already restored many vital protections for 2.1 million federal workers across the country. #1u pic.twitter.com/yT3EqTbEbP

— AFGE (@AFGENational) February 10, 2021

AFSCME:

“You don’t get things done just by going to management or HR... We as workers need to take a stand for what we deserve.” – Jenny Suarez, a respiratory therapist at University of California, Irvine’s, Medical Center, and a member of @AFSCMELocal3299. https://t.co/cZ6e5ktC6l

— AFSCME (@AFSCME) February 10, 2021

Alliance for Retired Americans:

Only 5.4% of all COVID vaccine doses administered in U.S. went to long-term care facility residents: https://t.co/AUUWdgZQsH

— Alliance for Retired Americans (@ActiveRetirees) February 9, 2021

Amalgamated Transit Union:

An ATU hero at Local 1385-Dayton, OH. https://t.co/wHHSRcwBzg #1u #RTA #PublicTransit #Transit

— ATU, Transit Union (@ATUComm) February 11, 2021

American Federation of Musicians:

The #SuperBowl entertainment, featuring @ericchurch and @jsullivanmusic singing the #NationalAnthem and @HERMusicx singing #americathebeautiful, is covered by @afm_union contract. #PepsiHalftime with @theweeknd and backup singers is covered by @sagaftra. TY to all #unionmembers

Black History Month Profiles: Rayneese Primrose

Fri, 2021-02-12 10:32
Black History Month Profiles: Rayneese Primrose

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

In August 2020, artist Rayneese Primrose, a member of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 764, discovered that her Lady Liberty artwork was selected by the Rockefeller Center as part of the Flag Project, in which artists designed flags that fly high from the iconic flagpoles surrounding the Rink at Rockefeller Center. Inspired by the Statue of Liberty and influenced by Maya Angelou’s poem "Still I Rise," Primrose said she reimagined the Statue of Liberty as a symbol that truly represents everyone.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/12/2021 - 09:32

Tags: Black History Month

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: St. Paul Labor Federation Distributes Food to Community

Fri, 2021-02-12 09:03
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: St. Paul Labor Federation Distributes Food to Community

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

The St. Paul Building and Construction Trades Council, in partnership with the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, hosted a free-food distribution event on Feb. 3. Volunteers loaded up 30-pound boxes of food and made them available to anyone in need, free of charge. The operation, which was a contactless, drive-through operation, provided hundreds of boxes of food to people in the community of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Last week, union members volunteered to distribute 117,000 pounds of food to families in the area, with several distribution events scheduled.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/12/2021 - 08:03

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Pathway to Progress: Baltimore Caulkers Take Charge of Their Own Future

Thu, 2021-02-11 13:07
Pathway to Progress: Baltimore Caulkers Take Charge of Their Own Future

History has long been portrayed as a series of "great men" taking great action to shape the world we live in. In recent decades, however, social historians have focused more on looking at history "from the bottom up," studying the vital role that working people played in our heritage. Working people built, and continue to build, the United States. In our new series, Pathway to Progress, we'll take a look at various people, places and events where working people played a key role in the progress our country has made, including those who are making history right now. Today's topic is the story of Baltimore caulkers who bought their own shipyard in the face of systemic discrimination.

Pro-slavery forces before the Civil War often used racist appeals to labor in their efforts to sway public opinion. They fear-mongered that freed Black workers would undercut White workers in the labor force and would cost jobs and drive down wages. Free Black workers, before and after the war, were often used as scabs, and they couldn't refuse the offer, as other work options were limited or non-existent. 

As a response, Black workers began forming their own labor associations. Among the first formed was by caulkers in Baltimore in the early days of the Reconstruction Era. Before the war, White caulkers used violence and intimidation to scare Black caulkers out of the trade. The violence continued after the war, and in October the White caulkers, supported by ship carpenters, went on strike to get Black workers fired as caulkers and longshoremen. The strike was successful with the support of city government and local police. More than 100 men found themselves out of work.

One of those men, Isaac Myers (pictured) proposed that they form a union and raise funds to purchase their own cooperative shipyard and railway. The campaign began and they issued stock that quickly raised $10,000 from the Black population of Baltimore and beyond. One of the first stockholders was Frederick Douglass. They secured a $30,000 loan from a ship captain and were able to buy an extensive shipyard and railway and founded the Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry Dock Company in 1866.

They soon employed 300 Black workers and paid them an average wage of $3 a day. They were able to win several government contracts, and they paid off the debt from the loan early. The shipyard expanded and soon they were hiring White workers, too. The Colored Caulkers' Trade Union Society of Baltimore was a success under the leadership of Isaac Myers, who was elected president. He established relations with the White caulkers union and the two groups began to work together to address common problems. 

The model used by the caulkers worked well in the North, but raising similar funds in the South was much more difficult. But they still took inspiration from the Baltimore success and began to organize and strike, leading to some of the largest mass demonstrations in the history of the South. Some had success and a growth of Black entrepreneurship was an outgrowth of the Baltimore caulkers' efforts as was the fact that the Black working class had now joined the labor movement.

Source: "Organized Labor and the Black Worker, 1619-1981" by Philip S. Foner, 1974.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 02/11/2021 - 12:07

Tags: Organizing, Pathway to Progress

Black History Month Profiles: C. Faye Harper

Thu, 2021-02-11 10:37
Black History Month Profiles: C. Faye Harper

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

C. Faye Harper currently serves as the 10th international vice president for the Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). She also serves as a trustee and business representative for IATSE Local 834. She has been with the union for nearly 30 years. She said her activism was driven by never having seen a person of color on the IATSE General Executive Board. "As a leader, it’s necessary that someone of color see that there is representation and somebody represents who they are," Harper said. In 2016, Harper was elected to the General Executive Board, becoming the change she wanted to see in the world.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 02/11/2021 - 09:37

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: FLOC Hosts Vaccination Clinics

Thu, 2021-02-11 09:36
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: FLOC Hosts Vaccination Clinics

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

The Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) is working to ensure Black and Brown communities in Toledo, Ohio, have access to the vaccine. The union held its first vaccination clinic, where 30 members of the community who are older than 75 or have underlying health conditions received their first shot. FLOC held another vaccination event this past Friday. “We’re succeeding in getting health officials to re-think distribution to reach Latinos and Black folks who are having the highest mortality rates,” said FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez (not pictured). Throughout the pandemic, communities of color have experienced much higher rates of mortality from COVID-19.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 02/11/2021 - 08:36

Working People Call for Urgent Passage of Landmark Worker Rights Bill

Wed, 2021-02-10 12:18
Working People Call for Urgent Passage of Landmark Worker Rights Bill

"Today, working people are one step closer to freely exercising our most fundamental rights on the job," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA). "The PRO Act will strengthen workers’ ability to come together and demand a fair share of the wealth we create—boosting wages, securing better health care and rooting out discrimination."

Trumka continued:

The past year has laid bare the enormous injustices facing millions of America’s working people who keep our country afloat. We cannot allow those systemic failures to persist for another moment. Working people turned out to vote in record numbers because we urgently need structural change.

We will make our case in every state and every congressional district, to elected leaders across the political spectrum. But make no mistake, this is a test for Democrats. After decades of disappointment, it’s time for the party of FDR to finish what he started. If you stand on the side of America’s workers, you won’t just vote for the PRO Act—you’ll sponsor it, you’ll whip for it and you won’t rest until it’s signed into law.

Advocates for working people across the country also called for the passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. Here are their statements:

Alaska State AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami (IBEW):

As the sun sets on my career in the labor movement I can think of no better gift to the American worker than to see the PRO Act become law. Since the egregious Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, moneyed interests have continued to whittle away protections for workers in the workplace. The PRO Act provides the first real substantive means to restore the original intent of the National Labor Relations Act. Organizing and empowerment of workers will once again bring opportunity and prosperity to the forefront. With a president committed to making this the law of the land, and a Congress that can finally make this happen, we cannot relent until the PRO Act lands on President Biden’s desk and dignity and fairness is restored in workplaces across America, while eliminating Jim Crow era policies like “right-to-work” across the country in the process.

California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski (IAM):

With the Introduction of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO) Act, federal lawmakers today set a course to revitalize America’s economy by reclaiming the rights of millions of workers to stand together and negotiate a fairer deal with their employers. The wealthy and powerful have controlled the economy in their favor for too long while working people have been losing ground. For decades we have had to work much harder, put in longer hours and take on more jobs just to try to keep up. At the same time, the rich and powerful got much, much richer off the fruits of our labor. This landmark bill is crucial to the future of California’s economy. When super-wealthy gig corporations spent almost a quarter-of-a-billion dollars to pass Prop 22 last year, hundreds of thousands of Californians instantly lost their hopes for a decent job. By that one act, employers like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and others crushed the right of their employees to stand together for a fair wage. The PRO Act would simply reestablish the rights of gig workers and many others to create a union for themselves in order to negotiate for decent wages and employee protections. In addition to cracking down on the misclassification of workers, which eliminates basic protections of law, the PRO Act would stop pernicious corporate tactics that crush any attempts by the workforce to organize. By creating new pathways for workers to stand together on the job, the PRO Act strikes at the heart of growing income inequality that especially threatens women, immigrants and people of color. Billionaire CEOs are already marshalling their resources to fight the PRO Act in an effort to retain the status quo that has allowed them to grossly expand their fortunes at the expense of working people. To combat their big-money campaign, working people in California and across the nation will mobilize in a big way to ensure lawmakers are hearing the voices of those whose lives would be improved by having a union on the job. We call on every member of the California Congressional delegation, Democrat and Republican to co-sponsor this historic legislation to reform outdated labor laws that work against those most vulnerable in our economy. The PRO Act charts a new course for California and America. A course that puts working people at the helm of the ship with the freedom to control their own destinies. We strongly urge Congress to pass this groundbreaking bill and for President Biden to live up to his promise to working people by signing it into law.

Colorado AFL-CIO:

The Colorado AFL-CIO, our affiliates, and our members made up of teachers, nurses, grocery workers, firefighters and more commend our new congress elected by working families for introducing the PRO Act today. Every Colorado Democrat in the House of Representatives signed on as co-sponsor. Make no mistake, every congress member who commits to passing the PRO Act has made a commitment to build back our communities and jobs better—and with a union that keeps workers returning home safely after a hard day’s work. The PRO Act will have an immediate positive effect for working people in Colorado. This important step forward ensures fairness and a voice on the job. The PRO Act puts the power back in the hands of working people by increasing access to fair union elections and by ensuring there are enforceable penalties for corporations and executives that violate workers’ rights. For too long, union busting law firms have helped corporations avoid responsibility and game the system. Workers are taking collective action and it is past time for our labor laws to catch up. The PRO Act will support the AFL-CIO’s Five Economic Essentials including expanding public investment in good jobs, ensuring workers’ access to necessary safety support to do their jobs, help address the structural racial equity issues in America, and ensure working Coloradans have the economic security they deserve. Currently, hard working Coloradans seeking to join together with coworkers can face retaliation with little recourse. 65% of American's approve of labor unions. 60 million people would vote to join a union at their workplace today if given the opportunity, according to a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Connecticut AFL-CIO President Sal Luciano (AFSCME):

Our nation is in desperate need of labor law reform. Too often, the deck is stacked against working people who are trying to join together in union for safer working conditions and wages that can sustain their families. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the vast inequalities that have always existed in our state and in our country. But we have an opportunity to improve the lives of workers across the United States. The PRO Act will be one of the most important pieces of legislation for working people in a generation. It will not only increase worker power at a time when it’s sorely needed, it will help to ensure that our economic recovery is shared by all, not just the wealthy few.

Florida AFL-CIO President Mike Williams (IBEW):

Last week, the PRO Act was reintroduced into the United States House of Representatives. If passed, this bill would be a step in the right direction for America’s working people and would empower workers to exercise their right to organize freely. For decades, union-busting laws have prevented working people from having a voice in the workplace. The PRO Act is the most significant piece of proworker legislation since the New Deal. It would fight back against years of increasing inequality and reform labor laws that too often favor employers over working people. According to a recent Gallup poll, support for unions is at its highest level in almost two decades. Unfortunately, workers who try to unionize are met with tactics meant to sink any chance of their formation. If enacted, the PRO Act would reform and strengthen the National Labor Relations Board, end so-called “right to work” laws, and end the process of replacing striking employees. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent economic downturn that followed, has made the importance of representation in the workplace even clearer. Unions fight for safety on the job, solidarity between employees, and higher standards of living. For too long, employers have had the power to prevent working people from joining and forming unions. The PRO Act would put the decision to unionize back in control of working people. The Florida AFL-CIO calls on our elected officials in both the United States House of Representatives and Senate to make the right choice for America’s working families. It’s time to pass the PRO Act. Mike Williams is the President of the Florida AFL-CIO which represents over one million union members, retirees and their families in the state of Florida.

Hawaii State AFL-CIO President Randy Perreira (AFSCME):

The PRO Act is more than labor law reform legislation. It is a civil rights bill package that is a crucial step towards restoring workers’ rights that have been significantly eroding for decades. This decades-long erosion of workers’ rights is evidenced by stagnant wages, unsafe workplaces, and rising inequality...issues that union membership mitigates. Economist Henry Farber said, “When unions were strong, inequality tended to be lower.” According to a 2018 study by Farber and other Princeton Economists, over the past 80 years, unions have consistently provided workers with wages 10% to 20% higher than their non-union counterparts. With the passage of the PRO Act, labor unions will have the impetus to organize workers without employers interfering and even frustrating the process. Workers will have a stronger voice and more bargaining power. Like a rising tide raises all boats, organized workforces can further expand opportunities for all workers, especially women, immigrants, people of color, and the LGBTQ community. Reach out to your U.S. Congressional Representatives and U.S. Senators to let them know that you too support the PRO Act.

Idaho AFL-CIO President Joe Maloney (IBEW):

The Idaho AFL-CIO representing teachers, postal workers, federal government employees, and more support the introduction of the PRO Act in the U.S. Senate and House. The PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act is significant legislation that will make a positive impact on all American Workers from making it easier to have a voice on the job to dramatically increasing penalties for employers that violate workers’ rights. In Idaho, inequality has skyrocketed because union membership has dwindled and policymakers have failed to pass pro-worker labor laws. Now it is time to Idaho’s congress members to right that wrong by supporting the PRO Act. Idaho’s working families look forward to the passage of the PRO Act. It’s about time we stand up to the corporate bosses continuing to engage in unfair and underhanded practices that undermine workers. Workers have a historic right to organize themselves and it is our duty to protect it. Idaho’s workers deserve to earn better wages and build safer, fairer workplaces for themselves.

Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea (UFCW) and Secretary-Treasurer Pat Devaney (IAFF):

Our labor laws are there to protect workers. They have become woefully outdated, weakened by corporate political influence, and so riddled with loopholes providing little protection for workers seeking to improve their lot by joining with their co-workers and speaking as one with a union. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the failings of our laws to provide workers safety and security. The best way to insure the long-term economic health of our nation, rebuild our middle class, close the income inequality gap, as well as bridge racial and gender divides on the job is to give workers power to band together concerning their livelihoods. We will engage our member households in a campaign across the state to mobilize for passage in the House and Senate and getting President Biden’s signature.

Indiana AFL-CIO:

The PRO Act is the most substantial pro-worker legislation we’ve seen in generations. It would protect and empower Hoosier workers, making it easier to organize unions and collectively bargain for better pay, benefits, and working conditions. It would also repeal right-to-work laws across the country, including right here in Indiana,” said Indiana AFL-CIO President Brett Voorhies. Nearly a year ago, the House of Representatives passed the PRO Act, but then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to bring the bill up for a vote in the Senate. With a new Democratic majority and President Biden’s promise to “be the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen,” working people expect to be a priority and will hold President Biden to his word.


Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO: 

We are proud of our United States of America. The American dream is a value we hold dear and nothing shall impede us on that journey. One of the keys to that dream is dignity in the workplace. We deserve equity, respect, a safe working environment and a fair wage for a day's work. However, our woefully outdated labor laws are no longer effective as a means for working people to counter the power of corporate America. Its long past due for labor law reform. Across the political spectrum, people are coming to the realization, if they already had not, that the tables are tilted in favor of powerful corporations. The PRO Act will change the power dynamics in America and give working people a real say in your own future. Today, the PRO Act was introduced in the United States Congress. The PRO Act is the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression because it will empower workers to exercise our freedom to organize, ensure that workers can reach a first contract, it will hold corporations accountable, and repeal Jim Crow era laws like “right to work,” which lead to lower wages, fewer benefits, and more dangerous workplaces. The PRO Act will make America’s economy work for working people. Here’s why: when union membership is greater, all of our wages are better. Between 1948 and 1973, when New Deal era laws expanded and enforced collective bargaining, hourly wages rose by more than 90%. But over the next 40 years—from 1973 to 2013—hourly wages rose by just over 9% while productivity increased 74%. As it is, workers are not getting paid a fair share of what we produce. Workers in America favor unions and tens of millions want to join one. Research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows nearly 60 million people would vote to join a union today if given the opportunity. That is nearly half of nonunion workers. The PRO Act is how our laws catch up, with workers embracing collective action with a fervor not seen in generations. The PRO Act is the future, and the future is now.

Maine AFL-CIO:

"The PRO Act will empower workers to exercise our freedom to organize and bargain for a better life. It will give workers the tools to build an economy that works for all of us, not just those at the top,” said Cynthia Phinney, president of the Maine AFL-CIO. During this pandemic, as frontline workers across the country organize for better lives and safer workplaces, it is high time our labor laws encourage collective bargaining so we can build a better economic future for everyone.” “This is by far the strongest piece of labor legislation endorsed by a president in several decades. As a candidate, President Biden promised to sign the PRO Act and union members across the country intend to organize, mobilize and help him push this important bill across the finish line,” Phinney continued. “Currently, when workers want to form a union at work, they are forced to go through a complex and archaic process designed to allow employers to harass and intimidate workers who stand up for their rights at work. Most recently these unfair and egregious management practices have been on full display in the anti-union campaigns at Maine Medical Center and Portland Museum of Art." As several studies have shown, more unions means less income inequality. Between 1948 and 1973, when New Deal-era laws expanded and enforced collective bargaining, hourly wages rose by more than 90%. However, anti-union laws like the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act have made it extremely difficult to form unions, causing income inequality to skyrocket. From 1973 to 2013, hourly wages rose by just over 9% while productivity increased 74%. But in recent years, unions have become very popular with the public. Research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows nearly 60 million people would vote to join today if given the opportunity. A recent Gallup survey found that union approval stands at 65%, one of the highest levels in a half-century. The PRO Act is more than labor law reform, it’s civil rights legislation. “A union contract is the single best tool we have to close racial and gender wage gaps, and to ensure dignity and due process for all workers,’ said Phinney. “Expanding collective bargaining will increase protections for women, people of color, immigrants and the LGBTQ community in areas where our laws are still falling short.” “Maine union members along with our brothers and sisters in other states organized, knocked on doors and made thousands of calls last year to elect a pro-worker trifecta in the House, Senate and White House to pass the PRO Act and other pro-worker legislation,” Phinney added. “Lawmakers gave us their word that the PRO Act would be a top priority. Now it is time for action.”

Michigan AFL-CIO:

Over the last several decades, inequality has skyrocketed as nearly every amendment to the National Labor Relations Act has made it more difficult for workers to form unions, and anti-worker judges have chipped away at what's left of our rights. "We have a generational opportunity to pass real labor law reform through this Congress that will protect the right to organize," said Ron Bieber, President of the Michigan AFL-CIO. "The House already passed the PRO Act last year, but it was blocked by the anti-worker Senate. Then working people gave us a mandate for change, with a majority in both houses of Congress and the White House. "Right now our country is at a historic inflection point. Over the last four decades, productivity has soared by 74%, but wages have increased by just 9%. Working folks are hurting from the pandemic, the recession, and historic racial and gender wage gaps, while corporations and the wealthy are doing better than ever before. It's time for our country to build back better, and that starts with protecting the right to organize." The PRO Act is the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression. It will: 1. Empower workers to exercise our freedom to organize and bargain. 2. Ensure that workers can reach a first contract quickly after a union is recognized. 3. End employers' practice of retaliating against striking workers by hiring permanent replacements. 4. Hold corporations accountable by strengthening the National Labor Relations Board and allowing it to penalize employers who retaliate against working people in support of the union or collective bargaining. 5. Repeal "right to work" laws that lead to lower wages, fewer benefits and more dangerous workplaces. 6. Create pathways for workers to form unions in newer industries like Big Tech. As a candidate, President Biden pledged to sign the PRO Act into law. Lawmakers joined him in giving working people their word that the PRO Act would be a top priority. Since then, every Democrat in Michigan's Congressional delegation has signed on as a co-sponsor of the PRO Act. Now it is time for action.

Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy (UNITE HERE):

The pandemic has made it even clearer that working people in Minnesota and across the nation need the voice, equity, and security that comes with a union contract. The PRO Act will update our nation’s woefully antiquated labor laws to finally give workers the true freedom to negotiate a fair return on their work. The PRO Act would give real teeth to our labor laws by preventing employers from engaging in anti-union activity like firing or punishing workers for union activity and stalling on negotiating a first contract. It would finally repeal “right to work – the divisive and racist laws created during the Jim Crow era and passed in our neighboring states—that lead to lower wages, fewer benefits and more dangerous workplaces. Minnesota’s Labor Movement applauds Representatives Craig, McCollum, and Omar for co-sponsoring this groundbreaking and transformative legislation. The rest of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation can show they stand with working Minnesotans by signing on as PRO Act cosponsors.

Mississippi AFL-CIO President Robert Shaffer (IBB):

The Mississippi AFL-CIO stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters across America as we call for the passage of the PRO Act by Congress. In a so-called “right to work” state, we have first-hand knowledge of the power wielded by profit mongers to keep working Mississippians from realizing the success they deserve. Our state is at the bottom of most quality of life measures, and that wasn’t achieved by accident. A century of suppressing workers’ rights and catering to corporate demands has yielded low pay and restricted benefits for workers. Our people deserve better, and we welcome the opportunity to fight for them with the power of the PRO Act supporting us. We thank President Trumka for his fight for all working people and look forward to seeing the PRO Act become a reality. It is time for American workers to reclaim their rightful place as the backbone of America.”

Missouri AFL-CIO:

The PRO Act motivated us this past election cycle to mobilize for a pro-worker trifecta in the U.S. House, Senate, and White House. Working families won a mandate and we call on Congress to pass the PRO Act to increase worker power, rebuild our economy fairly and grow Missouri’s labor movement. “Workers in America favor unions and tens of millions want to join one,” stated Missouri AFL-CIO President Jake Hummel. “Research shows that nearly 60 million people would vote to join a union today if given the opportunity. The PRO Act eliminates barriers and empowers workers to organize for a strong voice on the job in a union.” The PRO Act is the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression because it will: 1. Empower workers to exercise our freedom to organize and bargain. 2. Ensure that workers can reach a first contract quickly after a union is recognized. 3. End employers’ practice of punishing striking workers by hiring permanent replacements. Speaking up for labor rights is within every worker’s rights—and workers shouldn’t lose our jobs for it. 4. Hold corporations accountable by strengthening the National Labor Relations Board and allowing it to penalize employers who retaliate against working people in support of the union or collective bargaining. 5. Repeal “right to work” laws—divisive and racist laws created during the Jim Crow era—that lead to lower wages, fewer benefits, and more dangerous workplaces. 6. Create pathways for workers to form unions, without fear, in newer industries like Big Tech. “65% of Americans approve of labor unions, one of the highest marks in a half-century,” stated Missouri AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Merri Berry. “Inequality has skyrocketed because union membership has dwindled and policymakers have failed to pass pro-worker labor laws. The PRO Act is a once in a generation labor law bill that could change the trajectory for workers in Missouri.” The PRO Act will make America’s economy work for working people. When union membership is greater, our wages are better. Between 1948 and 1973, when New Deal-era laws expanded and enforced collective bargaining, hourly wages rose by more than 90%. But over the next 40 years—from 1973 to 2013—hourly wages rose by just over 9% while productivity increased 74%. As it is, workers are not getting paid a fair share of what we produce. “The PRO Act is more than labor law reform, it’s civil rights legislation. A union contract is the single best tool we have to close racial and gender wage gaps, and to ensure dignity and due process for workers, regardless of where we were born, who we are, or what industry we work in,” stated Missouri AFL-CIO Vice President Reginald Thomas. “Expanding collective bargaining will increase protections for women, people of color, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community in areas where our laws are still falling short. We must pass the PRO Act.” The Missouri AFL-CIO is strongly calling on Congress to make the PRO Act a priority piece of legislation and pass it to empower Missouri’s workers.

Montana AFL-CIO:

At the Montana AFL-CIO we represent over 50,000 workers who believe all working people deserve good jobs and the power to determine their wages and working conditions. Montana’s working families know it is vital that congress pass the PRO Act—the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression. Across the country nearly 60 million people say they would join a union today if they could. However, greedy corporations are trying to block workers' efforts to organize by using woefully outdated labor laws that interfere with the collective bargaining process and tell workers what they can and can’t negotiate for, undermining workers’ fundamental rights to speak for themselves. Just take the “right to work” laws being proposed in our state legislature. These laws are being pushed by an out-of-state corporate front group attempting to enrich billionaires while depressing wages and local economic prosperity. “It is time, we as workers, take back that power and we urge our members of congress to pass the PRO Act. Montana’s working families have the right to a voice on the job and the right to negotiate for wages that keep a roof over their heads,” stated Montana AFL-CIO Executive Secretary Al Ekblad. “Not only are we going to reject the so-called “Right to Work” laws in the legislature-- we’re going to be fighting for more than the status quo because Montana’s working families deserve it.” 

Nebraska State AFL-CIO:

The AFL-CIO is the conduit that unifies the labor movement across America. No matter if you are living in a right-to-work State, have a labor friendly Governor, high union density or just the opposite, we all are unified as brothers and sisters seeking fairness and equality and we want what is the very best opportunities for working people. Never before have we seen the need in this country to tip the balance and provide workers with the means to ensure that their voice is heard and have the ability to bring fairness and equality back into the workplace. It is time to get the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act passed. For far too long, this country has been rigged against union workers and those choosing to organize. Passing this legislation will provide a clear path for workers to organize without interference or intimidation from their employer. The purpose of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is to provide a way for working people to collectively bargain with their employer, so they have a say in their working conditions, but employers have abused this act and the true intent has been whittled away with lack of enforcement and penalties for employers who try to circumvent the process. The Pro Act will strengthen the National Labor Relations Act and truly provide a path forward for those seeking to organize a union. Union support among workers is high and now is the time to pass the Pro Act to truly allow those who want a better life for themselves and their family the ability to do so. We must all work together to handle the public health crisis in a way that we protect all workers, we must all work together to prevent systemic racism and we must all work together to ensure equity and equality for all Americans. Working with the National AFL-CIO and all labor organizations throughout the United States, we will persevere in our efforts to pass the PRO Act and make this nation one that works for all working people. 

New Jersey State AFL-CIO:

With the expected re-introduction in Congress of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act on Thursday, February 4–the PRO Act–America’s workers will begin their campaign to achieve the meaningful federal labor law reforms they have been seeking for decades. The PRO Act, which was blocked by the previous anti-worker Senate, will give everyone the right to organize and bargain collectively for better wages, benefits and workplace conditions through a good union contract. Once the PRO Act is passed, key provisions of the legislation will give working men and women the ability to reach a first contract after organizing, repeal so-called “right-to-work” laws that lead to lower wages, ban the hiring of permanent replacement workers to punish striking employees, and strengthen the National Labor Relations Board, which became the lapdog of big business under the previous administration. Two-thirds of Americans favor labor unions, and half of America’s workers in every sector of labor would join a union if they could. The PRO Act will give America’s working men and women a real say in their futures. We need the PRO Act. The New Jersey State AFL-CIO urges the House and Senate to pass the PRO Act quickly in a bipartisan manner. 

North Shore Labor Council (Massachusetts):

The North Shore Labor Council stands firmly with our sisters and brothers across the country in support of the PRO ACT. Working to organize new members into the labor movement over the years, we’ve seen how employers and their hired guns can use the weakness of the current law to undermine working people’s democratic rights to form a union with their co-workers. For decades, the system designed for the bosses, by the bosses, has contributed to a society where the rich and powerful wield an inordinate amount of power. To restore the vibrancy of our democracy, the working class needs more power in the workplace, the marketplace, and at the ballot box. Passing the PRO ACT is an important step in that direction.”

New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento (CWA):

The New York State AFL-CIO stands shoulder-to-shoulder with union members across the country in support of the PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) ACT. It is the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression because it will expand collective bargaining ensuring workers can exercise our freedom to organize. Once a union is recognized, it will ensure workers reach a first contract quickly and it will hold accountable any employer who punishes striking workers or retaliates against collective bargaining. We already know that when union membership is greater, our wages, benefits and quality of life are better. Passing the PRO ACT is exactly the legislation we need to help lift working people out of the most challenging health and economic crisis of our lifetime. We call on all members of New York’s congressional delegation to support the bill and fight for its swift passage.”

North Carolina State AFL-CIO President MaryBe McMillan (IUOE):

The PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act being reintroduced in Congress today is a game-changer for workers in North Carolina. After seeing the PRO Act pass the U.S. House in 2020 only to be blocked by an anti-worker Senate, working people poured our hearts and souls into electing new leaders and won a mandate for federal action in the last election. Now with President Biden and pro-worker majorities in both houses of Congress, we have a generational opportunity to make America’s economy and democracy work for working people again. The PRO Act does that by ending misleading and racist “right to work” laws and creating meaningful consequences for employers that retaliate against workers for simply exercising their right to organize. All working people should have the freedom to join together in unions and collectively negotiate for better, safer working conditions. We strongly urge every member of our congressional delegation to sponsor the PRO Act and fight for its passage.

Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga (USW):

The introduction of the PRO Act is welcome news and a very important part of the Workers First Agenda that the labor movement is pushing for in this Congress. The PRO Act is needed because our woefully outdated labor laws are no longer effective as a means for working people to have our voices heard. By empowering workers to exercise our freedom to organize and bargain, the PRO Act will hold corporations accountable by strengthening the National Labor Relations Board and allowing it to penalize employers who retaliate against working people in support of the union or collective bargaining. Public support for unions is soaring. In a recent Gallup survey, 65% of Americans have a favorable view of labor unions and another study by MIT showed that nearly 60 million Americans would join a union in their workplace if they could. Here in Ohio, we are marking the 10-year anniversary of our effort to repeal SB5. By more than a margin of two-to-one, Ohioans rejected the attack on Ohio public employees’ right to collectively bargain in 2011. A union contract is the single best tool we have to raise wages, close racial and gender wage gaps, and to ensure safety, dignity and due process for workers, regardless of where we were born, who we are or what industry we work in. We commend Senator Brown and Representatives Beatty, Kaptur and Ryan for signing on to the bill as co-sponsors. We will be working with our entire delegation to do the same.

Oregon AFL-CIO President Graham Trainor (IBEW): 

Today’s introduction of the PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act in the 117th Congress is a generational opportunity and the cornerstone of the American Labor Movement’s Workers First Agenda. Passed by the House in 2020, this critical legislation has been blocked by an anti-worker Senate majority, but working people fought tooth and nail to secure a pro-worker trifecta in the House, Senate, and the White House to ensure we can pass laws like the PRO Act that help working people. Our nation’s labor laws are woefully ineffective and no longer allow for working people to be heard. Inequality has skyrocketed because union membership has dwindled and policymakers have failed, year after year, to pass laws to fix the problem. Our economy before the COVID-19 pandemic was fractured, with all the wealth resting in the hands of the few while far too many struggled to provide for their families. Since last March, it has only gotten worse, but our resolve has never been stronger. We have to make American’s economy work for working people and greater union membership is key to solving our nation’s woes. It is time to build back better, with unions. The PRO Act’s positive economic impact cannot be overstated, as tens of millions of Americans say they would join a union if given the opportunity. The majority of Americans support unions and collective bargaining, the highest mark in nearly half a century. This is about making that opportunity easier for more workers, because we know that through a union we see a fair return on our hard work and a safe way to speak up on the job. Passing the PRO Act is not just a way to make joining a union easier, it will put our country on a path toward greater equity. A union contract is the single best tool we have to close racial and gender wage gaps, and to ensure dignity and due process for workers, regardless of where we were born, who we are or what industry we work in. Oregon’s unions applaud Senators Wyden and Merkley for their continued commitment to stand with working people in reforming our nation’s labor laws, as well as Congresswoman Bonamici, Congressmen DeFazio and Blumenauer for their support of the PRO Act last year on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Unfortunately, we continue to be disappointed by Congressman Schrader’s lack of support for the PRO Act, the only Democratic member of Oregon’s House delegation to oppose the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression when it came up for a vote in 2020. We look forward to working with Oregon’s Congressional delegation to ensure the PRO Act becomes the law of the land this year. Working Americans have been demanding help and economic relief since long before the pandemic. This bill is one of the most meaningful changes Congress can make to help our nation live up to its promise of freedom and equality. 

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale (AFSCME) and Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder (USW):

Pennsylvania workers are about to see a new day for their rights on the job. The multi-billion-dollar union-busting industry will do everything it can to continue to deprive and attack workers' rights. But the power of working people will seize this moment, and their voices will be heard. We commend our Commonwealth's bi-partisan delegation of PRO Act co-sponsors for their commitment to all working people. We urge the rest of our representatives to do sign on and support this step toward economic justice," remarked President Rick Bloomingdale. "So-called 'right to work' laws are the last actual vestige of Jim Crow legislation. Designed by an architect of hatred, these laws aimed to keep Black workers out of unions in the South. It worked so well in depriving all working people of their rights on the job that corporations and anti-union interests exported this legislation to every state they could to destroy workers' rights across the Country. The PRO Act will finally remove this discriminatory attack on economic rights in America. This is an historic act in the fight to dismantle systemic discrimination and racism," stated Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder.

Rhode Island AFL-CIO President George Nee (OPEIU) and Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Crowley (NEA):

The Rhode Island AFL-CIO stands firmly with our sisters and brothers across the country in support of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. Working to organize new members into the labor movement over the years, we’ve seen how employers and their hired guns can use the weakness of the current law to undermine working people’s democratic rights to form a union with their co-workers. For decades, the system designed for the bosses, by the bosses, has contributed to a society where the rich and powerful wield an inordinate amount of power. To restore the vibrancy of our democracy, the working class needs more power in the workplace, the marketplace, and at the ballot box. Passing the PRO ACT is an important step in that direction.

Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council President Billy Dycus (USW) and Secretary-Treasurer A.J. Starling (ATU): 

Today’s introduction of the PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act is a pivotal moment for working families across the country and right here in Tennessee. For too long, our antiquated labor laws have made it difficult to effectively make our voices heard and secure a seat at the table. Passing the PRO Act gives us an opportunity to change the conversation and ensure that the components of a Workers’ First Agenda are sufficiently implemented, ushering in the bold change that we deserve. In the “Right to Work” state of Tennessee, we’ve seen the negative effects of what happens when the power and influence of big business goes unchecked. From dismally-low wages that have failed to rise with the cost of living for generations, to a higher number of workers dying on the job, those who have made it their mission to keep us down must be held accountable for their actions. The PRO Act is a good first step in making sure that happens. Working families joined together and spoke up in record numbers this past November. Now, we must do the same again to ensure that this historic legislation passes both chambers of Congress, is signed by President Biden, and ultimately becomes law. By increasing worker power, we can rebuild our economy fairly and ensure that it works for all working families. We are prepared to join together in solidarity with our brothers and sisters across the country so that we begin our journey of building back better.

Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy (TSEU/CWA) and Secretary-Treasurer Montserrat Garibay (AFT):

The Texas economy benefits when working people have a fair shot at improving their lives by speaking up together on the job. By taking out decades of one-sided barriers to forming unions, the PRO Act would raise standards for all Texas working families. As the pandemic shines new light on how central workplace safety, job security and decent benefits are to working families, the popularity of labor unions has reached a generational high. But there is a gap between approval of unions (nearly two-thirds in the Gallup poll) and union membership (less than 11% nationally and less than 6% in Texas). A big part of that gap stems from major flaws in federal law that have allowed union busters to thrive. The PRO Act would restore meaning to our national goal, declared in federal law, of encouraging collective bargaining. Proposed reforms in the bill include elimination of so-called ‘right to work’ laws. The laws, which originated in Texas and stand as a relic to Jim Crow, go hand in hand with poverty wages, absence of key benefits, on-the-job discrimination, and lax worker safety. Americans voted for change on Nov. 3. It is time to give the legitimate desire of working people to join unions a fair shot. We call on Congress to pass the PRO Act so President Biden can sign it into law.

Virginia AFL-CIO:

Virginia AFL-CIO recognizes that for too long now workers have been denied the basic right to join together and now is the right time to do the right thing by passing the PRO Act because it helps us build an economy that works for all working families. America’s democracy, economy, and livelihood continues to be built on the backs of the working people. We cannot stand by and continue to allow the voices of workers to be muted while their work is capitalized upon. Simply put–the right to organize isn’t something that should be negotiated. Virginia AFL-CIO believes in restoring our middle class and to do it, we must strengthen the collective power of workers to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions–passing the PRO Act is the step needed to secure guaranteed fairness on the job through the collective power of workers.

Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO:

Last year, Washington’s Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell co-sponsored the PRO Act, and Reps. Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith and then-Rep. Denny Heck all co-sponsored and voted for it. This year, the WSLC is urging each of them—and new Rep. Marilyn Strickland—to continue supporting the PRO Act. The WSLC will also be asking Republican Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers to reconsider their past opposition. The PRO Act is comprehensive labor legislation that would strengthen workers’ right to organize a union and bargain for higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions. It passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 2020, but was blocked by an anti-labor majority in the Senate. Last fall, this bill motivated union members across the nation to mobilize for a pro-worker trifecta in the U.S. House, Senate and White House. Working people won a mandate and now they want passage of the PRO Act. “Our labor laws are woefully outdated and no longer empower working people to have their voices heard,” said WSLC President Larry Brown. “The National Labor Relations Act was passed in 1935, but it has been chipped away ever since. Now, forming a union is unacceptably difficult, and for some, it’s impossible. Studies have shown that 60 million Americans would join a union today if they could. The PRO Act is their chance to regain their freedom to choose a union. It’s time to pass the PRO Act and build back better with unions!” “After decades of wealthy corporations undermining our labor laws and four years of the Trump Administration’s attacks on workers’ rights, the PRO Act will restore workers’ ability to join together to demand their fair share of the economic growth they drive,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. “This legislation is critical to supporting workers in Washington state and across the country during this pandemic and to building back an economy that works for everyone—not just those at the very top. It’s time we pass the PRO Act and protect workers’ right to stand together and fight for better pay, quality health care, a safer workplace, and a secure retirement.” The most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression, the PRO Act will: 1. Empower workers to exercise our freedom to organize and bargain. 2. Ensure that workers can reach a first contract quickly after a union is recognized. 3. End employers’ practice of punishing striking workers by hiring permanent replacements. Speaking up for labor rights is within every worker’s rights—and workers shouldn’t lose our jobs for it. 4. Hold corporations accountable by strengthening the National Labor Relations Board and allowing it to penalize employers who retaliate against working people in support of the union or collective bargaining. 5. Repeal “right to work” laws—divisive and racist laws created during the Jim Crow era—that lead to lower wages, fewer benefits and more dangerous workplaces. 6. Create pathways for workers to form unions, without fear, in newer industries like Big Tech. “Inequality has skyrocketed because union membership has dwindled and policymakers have failed to pass pro-worker labor laws,” Brown said. ”The PRO Act is more than labor law reform, it’s civil rights legislation. A union contract is the single best tool we have to close racial and gender wage gaps, and to ensure dignity and due process for workers, regardless of where we were born, who we are or what industry we work in.”

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Stephanie Bloomingdale (AFT):

America can build back better with unions by ensuring the passage of the PRO Act. Our woefully outdated labor laws no longer serve as an effective means for working people to have our voices heard and our rights realized. As a result, income inequality has skyrocketed and too many workers lost jobs or faced unsafe working conditions during the pandemic. Workers are embracing collective action with a dedication not seen in generations. Research tells us that nearly half of all nonunion workers would join a union if given the chance. Yet the system is stacked against a worker ever signing a first union contract. Companies spend millions to break or skirt labor law and face such low consequences that illegal anti-union tactics are commonplace. A union contract is the single best tool we have to close racial and gender wage gaps, raise wages to build a strong middle class, and ensure dignity and due process for workers, regardless of where we were born, who we are or what industry we work in. The passage of the PRO Act would help bring the American Dream within reach for millions of workers and spur economic growth for all. The PRO Act is the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression. We thank Senator Tammy Baldwin, Representative Gwen Moore, Representative Mark Pocan, and Representative Ron Kind for co-sponsoring the PRO Act and call on the entire Wisconsin congressional delegation to support this vital legislation. It’s time for bold action for America’s working people. It’s time for the PRO Act.

Wyoming State AFL-CIO: 

The Wyoming AFL-CIO representing working families joins in the national call for Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act being introduced today. Across Wyoming in 2020, American heroes in grocery stores, the U.S. Postal Service, hospitals and more became known as “essential workers,” and many of them had to risk their lives by going to work in unsafe conditions. Later we came to find out, in 2020, Wyoming once again led the nation in on-the-job deaths per capita. As the coronavirus crisis continues into 2021 and deadly workplace risks remain, there has never been a more important time to give workers more voice and power. “For Wyoming’s workers coming home from work is a roll of dice. The PRO Act is the first step in protecting families from the heartache of missing someone around the dinner table because they didn’t have a voice on the job. We urge every Wyoming congress member to support the PRO Act, stand with workers, and keep returning home. The PRO Act would hold employers accountable and institute civil penalties for violations of the law, our state desperately needs this legislation,” stated Wyoming AFL-CIO Executive Secretary Tammy Johnson.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 02/10/2021 - 11:18

Tags: PRO Act

Black History Month Profiles: Sheila E.

Wed, 2021-02-10 09:24
Black History Month Profiles: Sheila E.

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

One of life’s constants for Sheila E. comes down to a simple phrase: follow the beat. And her impeccable inner rhythm is the pulse behind a trailblazing career that still knows no bounds. She is a world-class drummer and percussionist whose credits read like chapters in a music history book: Ringo Starr. Marvin Gaye, Prince, Beyoncé, Herbie Hancock, Diana Ross, Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan and George Duke. Sheila is also a Grammy and Emmy Award-nominated singer/songwriter behind the seminal hits “The Glamorous Life” and “A Love Bizarre.” She is a fearless multi-instrumentalist equally proficient on guitar and bass. Actress. Mentor. Philanthropist.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 02/10/2021 - 08:24