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Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council Fights for Workplace Safety Enforcement

AFL-CIO - Thu, 07/23/2020 - 08:35
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council Fights for Workplace Safety Enforcement Tennessee AFL-CIO

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 those stories every day. Here's today's story.

Too many front-line workers across the country are working in fear for their health and safety. As the federal government fails to intervene by mandating safety and health guidelines, many states are not acting, either. Despite hundreds of complaints to the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the state agency has no legally binding safety standards related to COVID-19, and therefore cannot issue citations when employers fail to protect their workers from infection. Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council President Billy Dycus (USW) told the Tennessean, “Probably one of the best things they could have done is [gotten] ahead of it when this started and started looking at implementing some workplace safety standards that would have given employers guidelines and allowed them to have some more enforceable rules.”

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 07/23/2020 - 10:35

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Maria Somma discusses organizing during COVID-19 on the Leslie Marshall Show

USW Blog - Wed, 07/22/2020 - 12:09

USW Organizing Director Maria Somma appeared on the Leslie Marshall Show this week to discuss the importance of organizing for worker power during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Somma discussed a number of examples of major employers who have routinely put essential workers – many in the food and delivery industries – at risk without providing proper protections. Meanwhile, bosses have reaped the benefits of increased consumer demand.

“What this has done is exposed the working class versus the non-working class,” said Somma. “When they force employees to work in unsafe conditions, that then affects the entire community in which we all live.”

Unions, including the USW, have seen a resurgence in interest for unionization from workers in industries across the board, and especially among white collar workers.

“COVID-19 has opened up the eyes of a lot of folks to learn about the existence of unions and their rights to organize,” said Somma. “We’re seeing a resurgence in understanding that collective bargaining is essential for workers’ protection and is the only legal tool that workers have.”

 Somma also discussed the pivot toward virtual organizing strategies in the wake of the pandemic, utilizing platforms like Zoom and Facebook Live.

“The best tool as an organizer is being able to have one-on-one conversations with workers. Every tool that was out there, we figured out how to use it to reach as many workers as we could.”

To listen to the entire interview about organizing during the coronavirus pandemic, click below:

USW New Media · 7 21 20 Pandemic Shines Light On Need For Unions Organizing In The Time Of Covid 19

USW Workers Return to Nuclear Clean-Up Site After COVID-19 Hiatus

USW Blog - Wed, 07/22/2020 - 09:35

The Department of Energy (DOE) is returning USW workers to the Portsmouth, Ohio, nuclear waste clean-up site as part of its Phase 2 COVID-19 remobilization.

While the DOE labeled many USW-represented workers as being “essential” to maintaining the clean-up sites in a safe and environmentally secure manner during the COVID-19 shutdown, there were also a number who were furloughed and sent home along with those who could telework.

Phase 1 involved returning DOE and contractor employees with high-priority and low-risk jobs. Phase 2 brings back workers whose jobs are best done on-site—provided there is enough personal protective equipment for those who need it.

In Phase 3, staffing will return to near-normal levels with all the anti-virus precautions continuing—masks, social distancing, hand-washing, etc.—and special accommodations can be made for vulnerable employees, according to the DOE.

The DOE said that Idaho National Laboratory and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico are already in Phase 2.  The Hanford Site in Washington state is still in Phase 1.

The DOE announced July 7 that some workers at the Paducah, Ky., site would return to work as well, but on Mon., July 20, the agency cancelled the return because of the surge in COVID cases in the region.

Getting Back to Work

Local 1-689 President John Knauff estimated about 750 USW-represented workers employed by the Portsmouth site’s clean-up contractor, Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth (FBP), will return the week of July 20. This group includes maintenance workers who maintain the electrical system and utilities for the site.

Road, ground and janitorial personnel who work for contractor Portsmouth Mission Alliance returned to work in Phase 1, he said. The planners and purchasing employees are also back at work.

Centrus Energy Corp.’s demonstration project for its domestic enrichment cascade at the Portsmouth site never went to reduced operations because of the pandemic, Knauff said. The company hired a few more people in addition to the 25 USW-represented workers at the site. They are getting parts to produce a centrifuge train, and will be assembling centrifuges and producing high assay-enriched uranium.

Slow Return

“I think it will be a slow process in getting people back for deactivation and decommissioning (D&D) cleanup work,” Knauff said.

Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office (PPPO) Manager Robert Edwards also said it would be a slow ramp up at the Portsmouth and Paducah sites as the agency monitors COVID-19 cases in the surrounding areas.

Knauff said there is much preparation happening at the Portsmouth site before D&D work starts. The contractors are posting social distancing signs, installing plexiglass between work stations, and are stocking up on hand sanitizer and masks.

“We don’t want to be the breeding ground for this virus in southern Ohio,” he said.

The key is transitioning from the personal protective equipment (PPE) used to do the D&D work, he said, to the mask and social distancing once cleanup workers come out of the D&D area.

“It’s a team effort so you have to go in together and leave together. It’s a challenge,” he said, especially with the PPE being hot to wear and people wanting to remove it.

“We’ve tried to get better ventilation in these buildings. Stagnant air is not comfortable to work in, especially in the summer. The roofs on the buildings are like an asphalt parking lot; heat radiates down into the work areas,” Knauff said.

Plus, he said, there are the pressures to get work done quickly by managers pushing production over safety.

“I think the DOE hopes to do D&D work now, but I think their best hope is in Sept./Oct. They know this can be contingent on how the virus progresses outside the plant. As cases increase in counties around the site, that makes the dangers worse,” Knauff said.

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: San Diego’s Labor Movement Holds Food Distribution Event

AFL-CIO - Wed, 07/22/2020 - 09:27
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: San Diego’s Labor Movement Holds Food Distribution Event San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council

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 those stories every day. Here's today's story.

On Saturday, members of the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council, led by Executive Secretary-Treasurer Keith Maddox (IAM), held a food relief drive-through at Palomar College. More than 400 families were served at the labor council’s North County food distribution event. The labor council said on social media it plans to hold a similar event at the same location in San Marcos, California, on Saturday, Aug. 1.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 07/22/2020 - 11:27

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Power Plant Workers Maintain USW Presence at Oak Ridge

USW Blog - Tue, 07/21/2020 - 12:45

Eight years ago, there were 139 USW members at the Oak Ridge, Tenn., K-25 site. Today, five USW-represented members remain at the Y-12 switch yard.

“By 2023, we’ll be gone they say,” said Local 9-288 President Patrick Hubbard.

He and his four USW coworkers maintain the equipment in the switch yard for the substation where power comes into the Y-12 National Security Complex facility from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

Hubbard and his coworkers maintain the two transformers, the breakers and all the equipment. They test the relays inside the substation building each month to ensure they are in good working order. The substation supplies 161,000 megawatts to the Y-12 buildings.

The five men will stay at this switchyard until it goes away, Hubbard said, and a new substation is built that supplies 13,800 megawatts for the Y-12 complex.

In 1998, members of the Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers Union (now USW) could choose to stay together at K-25, the former gaseous diffusion plant, or go elsewhere at the site, Hubbard said. He said they chose to stay together as Local 288 and clean up K-25.

The Department of Energy (DOE) began deactivation work at the K-25 building in 2002, and demolition work began in 2008 and ended Dec. 19, 2013.

With K-25 torn down, most of the USW members left went with the Oak Ridge Reservation’s cleanup contractor, URS/CH2M Oak Ridge LLC (UCOR), and joined the Atomic Trades & Labor Council (ATLC), he said. ATLC is an umbrella organization of 17 local unions from 16 international unions.

Hazards of the job

“We have high voltage hazards,” Hubbard said. “You have fall hazards because we have to get on top of the transformers, and they are 15-16 feet off the ground. We don’t have to deal with radiation or hazardous chemicals, but we could have a pinch point shock hazard or a high voltage fall.”

He said he and his coworkers do not have to go thru radiation worker training because they do not deal with radioactive material.

“Everyone says we have the better jobs out here,” he said.

Hubbard said his group has gone 18 years without a health and incident or an OSHA recordable, and has only filed two grievances the past 19 years. He credits the union for its safety programs and ability to help when there are workplace issues. He also said he and his coworkers have a good working relationship with the contractor, Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC, and have good supervisors who help and work with them.

“When you’re small it makes it more family-oriented, and we want to make sure everyone goes home and no one gets hurt,” Hubbard said.

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IBEW Women’s Committee Raises Money for Dubuque Area Labor Harvest

AFL-CIO - Tue, 07/21/2020 - 09:15
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IBEW Women’s Committee Raises Money for Dubuque Area Labor Harvest Iowa Starting Line

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 those stories every day. Here's today's story.

The Women’s Committee of the Electrical Workers (IBEW) 11th District, made up of IBEW women from Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, has been raising money to help support workers in need during this time of crises by collecting bottles and cans and through private donations from its members. The committee was able to raise $2,325 for the Dubuque Area Labor Harvest, a food pantry affiliated with the Dubuque Federation of Labor, led by President Tom Townsend (IBEW), that is staffed and run by retired and active union members. The Dubuque Area Labor Harvest will use the money to support its Sunday breakfasts and monthly food giveaway programs. This past Saturday, the organization was able to give away 264 boxes of food to people who came to the food pantry, and delivered another 72 boxes to those who are shut in.

 

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 07/21/2020 - 11:15

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Workers Report Kumho’s COVID-19 Safety Lapses

Steelworker News - Mon, 07/20/2020 - 17:02

Contact: Joe Smydo, jsmydo@usw.org, 412-562-2281

Workers at Kumho Tire in Macon, Ga., today alerted health officials to rampant COVID-19 safety failures in their workplace.

The workers, who voted to join the United Steelworkers (USW) despite Kumho’s repeated efforts to thwart the election, expressed both their fear that they are unprotected from contracting the coronavirus at the tire plant and their concern that the lack of precautions could put the wider community at risk.

They addressed the Macon-Bibb County Board of Health during a public meeting conducted by telephone because of the pandemic.

The workers said Kumho failed to adequately distribute face masks, supply sanitizer or take other common-sense steps to prevent an outbreak of the virus. Now, as COVID-19 sweeps through the plant, company officials refuse to implement consistent social distancing or provide sufficient paid sick leave for workers forced into quarantine.

“The only thing important to them is the tires,” said one worker, who brings his own mask and sanitizer to the plant yet still fears catching the virus because he has close contact with colleagues on every shift.

While expecting workers to risk COVID-19 without proper safeguards, he said, managers “won’t come out on the floor anymore because they don’t want to get it and take it home to their families.”

Other workers reported that Kumho still refuses to regularly and thoroughly disinfect the factory, consistently limit the use of common areas or give details about the rash of COVID-19 cases, such as the number of colleagues infected.

“Kumho’s disregard for its workers’ welfare during this deadly pandemic is disappointing but not surprising,” said USW District 9 Director Daniel Flippo, who leads thousands of Steelworkers in Georgia, six other southern states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “This company amassed a huge list of health and safety violations long before COVID-19 hit. Sadly, Kumho cares more about undermining workers’ labor rights than keeping them, their families and the community safe.”

In 2017, workers narrowly lost a unionization vote after Kumho waged an illegal campaign of harassment and intimidation. An administrative law judge found the company’s misconduct so egregious that he not only ordered a new election but directed the company to read a list of its violations.

During the second election, held last fall, workers voted 141 to 137 for USW representation, with 13 additional challenged ballots. Kumho dragged out the appeals process, but the National Labor Relations Board last week ordered the remaining ballots counted. No date has been set for the count.

“Workers voted to unionize because Kumho refused to treat them fairly,” District 9 Staff Representative Alex Perkins said. “The company’s callous failure to protect them from COVID-19 shows just how urgently they need union protections.”

More information about the workers’ concerns may be found here.

The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.

Local 9477 Fights For Members’ Right to Time Off

USW Blog - Mon, 07/20/2020 - 11:54

Like everyone, workers at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) nuclear waste repository near Carlsbad, N.M., like to take a vacation, have a personal day off to handle responsibilities like parent-teacher conferences or have enough sick days to carry them through a bad spell of an infectious disease.

But not all managers see it that way and that is when Local 9477 President Rick Fuentes comes in.

If workers want to take vacation or personal time, they have to notify the company during mid-shift the day before and get their supervisor’s approval, Fuentes said. The supervisor has the power to deny or approve it, he said. If workers take the day off anyway, it becomes an unexcused absence that is tracked for discipline purposes.

Managers in some groups give their people time off if they notify them before the beginning of the shift, he said. However, there are managers who abuse their authority to deny vacation time, a personal day or sick leave so they can force their employees into work, Fuentes said.

As a result, he ends up dealing with vacation, personal time and sick leave issues at least a couple days each week, he said, talking to managers, trying to resolve these issues and filing grievances.

“I have a guy who wants to take vacation time and he was denied,” Fuentes said. “The manager didn’t even provide a calendar to his people so they could mark down when they wanted to take a vacation.”

“It’s unfortunate because morale takes a hit when managers do stuff like that,” he said.

Workers can take five sick days per calendar year without denial from the company, he said. But, if workers are extremely ill and take more than five sick days, their absences are tracked. That is when they need to request time under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Local 9477 members work above and below the surface of the salt mine. Above, they check the containers of transuranic (TRU) waste that are shipped in. This is non-defense related, low-level radioactive waste, such as clothing, tools and equipment.

Below ground, members emplace the waste in salt rooms, mine new panels and maintain the mine.

The union has helped them maintain a decent standard of living for themselves and their families. This year, the workers received a 5 percent raise. Next year, they will get a 4 percent wage increase. During the following two years they will get raises of 3 percent each year. Workers have decent health care and a defined benefit pension. Plus, they cannot be forced to work overtime.

Pictured: Local Union 9477 President Rick Fuentes.

Local 9460 continues campaign against Essentia Health layoffs

USW Blog - Mon, 07/20/2020 - 11:43

Workers at Essentia Health, who are members of Local 9460, continue to campaign against 900 job layoffs announced by their employer in March, as the coronavirus pandemic began to spread across the United States.

Local leaders have been meeting with management for several weeks to negotiate the layoffs, which made up 6 percent of the company’s workforce. That number does not account for an additional 850 employees who were indefinitely placed on administrative leave across several locations. Essentia, unfortunately, is refusing to pay the laid-off workers’ health insurance beyond July.

Members and their allies have organized several actions against these layoffs with vast community support. There are also large billboards dotting the landscape of northeast Minnesota in support of the workers, which were erected following a caravan through downtown Duluth, Minn., on June 1. The local also hosted an informational picket on June 27 in Spooner, Wis.

“We’re going to keep holding Essentia accountable for the millions in funds they’ve received from the government and keep fighting back against the remaining layoffs to make sure our folks can get back to work,” Hughes said. “We just need to keep our eyes on the prize.”

Local 9460 includes roughly 2,400 members in the northern Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin area. Their contract with Essentia Health is its largest.

AFL-CIO’s new racial justice task force to be chaired by USW leader

USW Blog - Mon, 07/20/2020 - 11:42

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka announced on July 10 the creation of the AFL-CIO Task Force on Racial Justice, which will be chaired by USW Vice President Fred Redmond, who also oversees the union’s health care sector. Terry Melvin, president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and secretary-treasurer of the New York State AFL-CIO, will serve as executive director.

Redmond and his fellow task force members are charged with implementing a series of recommendations adopted by the AFL-CIO General Board focused on taking concrete action to address America’s long history of racism and police violence against Black people.

“I am honored that President Trumka has faith in me to lead this pivotal work the labor movement is embarking on,” said Redmond. “I’ve spent my entire life fighting for racial justice in the workplace and throughout our communities. These are challenging times for our country and our labor movement. We cannot afford to be silent. I look forward to working with all the task force members.”

To read more about the task force, click here.

USW joins coalition opposing health care immunity bill

USW Blog - Mon, 07/20/2020 - 11:39

The United Steelworkers joined fifty-four other organizations, including the AFL-CIO, in sending a letter last week to the U.S. House of Representatives expressing strong opposition to H.R. 7059, the “Coronavirus Provider Protection Act.”

According to the letter, this bill, which would broadly immunize negligent health care providers and facilities including nursing homes, “could cause extreme harm to patients and have lethal consequences.” The bill’s wide-ranging scope includes immunizing negligent health care “far beyond” COVID-19 treatment, and would be triggered even if health care decisions are driven by statements made by the President of the United States or local politicians rather than by science.

The groups also note, “concerns about medical malpractice lawsuits against front-line health care workers are unwarranted. … More than 3 million people have been infected with COVID-19 in the United States and nearly 140,000 have died. Yet fewer than 40 virus-related medical malpractice or wrongful death cases have been filed in the entire country since the pandemic began, nearly all of those cases against nursing homes.”

A copy of the letter can be found here: http://centerjd.org/system/files/HR7059letterF7.pdf.

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Keeping Kids Safe Never Stops

AFL-CIO - Mon, 07/20/2020 - 07:47
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Keeping Kids Safe Never Stops

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 those stories every day. Here's today's story.

Colorado AFL-CIO President Josette Jaramillo (AFSCME) is a lead caseworker for the Department of Social Services in Pueblo County, Colorado. For Jaramillo, work never stopped when COVID-19 hit. The pandemic only makes it harder to protect the foster children she helps. “We really try hard to meet the kids where they’re at,” she said. “Caseworkers all around the country are on the front lines.” Learn more about how foster care children and social services have been affected during these dangerous times.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 07/20/2020 - 09:47

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

USW: KPS Purchase of Briggs & Stratton Will Rescue Hundreds of Jobs

Steelworker News - Mon, 07/20/2020 - 07:26

Contact: Jess Kamm Broomell, 412-562-2444, jkamm@usw.org

The United Steelworkers (USW) today said that KPS Capital Partners’ (KPS) acquisition of Briggs & Stratton will save hundreds of jobs at the bankrupt engine maker’s Milwaukee manufacturing facility.

USW International President Tom Conway said that KPS, a private equity firm, has a proven track record of investing in manufacturing facilities and operating them profitably and sustainably.

“Steelworkers, our families and communities cannot afford to allow these good, union jobs to continue to disappear,” Conway said. “KPS brings experience and a long-term business plan geared toward keeping our plant viable and employment secure.”

USW District 2 Director Michael Bolton praised the union workers for standing together and keeping focused on working safely throughout Briggs & Stratton’s recent financial struggles.

“Our union is committed to working with KPS to ensure that the proud tradition of engine-making is preserved for future generations of USW members here in Milwaukee,” Bolton said. “As long as workers remain united in solidarity, there are no limits to what we can accomplish.”

The USW represents 850,000 workers employed in manufacturing, metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.

USW: America Loses Irreplaceable Civil, Human Rights Leader with Passing of John Lewis

Steelworker News - Sat, 07/18/2020 - 10:00

Contact: Chelsey Engel, (412) 212-5178, cengel@usw.org

“The USW is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

“His endless courage in the face of injustice is a reminder of what ordinary people can do in extraordinary times – though, one could easily argue Rep. Lewis was far beyond ordinary.

“Often referred to as ‘the conscience of Congress,’ Rep. Lewis was always on the front of the line in the fight for civil rights.

“Even before he joined Congress in 1987, Rep. Lewis never faltered in his quest for justice. From marching in Selma, Ala., as an original Freedom Rider alongside Dr. King in 1965 to organizing a sit-in for gun control regulations following the deadly Pulse shooting in 2016, Rep. Lewis showed us all what it means to be a person of integrity and strength.

“Every decision he made in Congress, he made with people at the center of his mind, not politics. Every step he took in life, he took in the same way – with great purpose and passion – no matter what might face him on the other side.

“That is why we are not simply moved to tears by Rep. Lewis’s death, but moved to action. We will fight for every American’s right to vote, for their right to come home at night after work in the same condition they left, and for their right to a life of dignity and liberty.

“May we uplift the values Rep. Lewis embodied every day, and may he rest as he lived – in power and in peace.”

The USW represents 850,000 workers employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in health care, public sector, higher education, tech and service occupations.


USW atomic leaders connect with new Carlsbad Field Office Manager

USW Blog - Fri, 07/17/2020 - 10:34

The Department of Energy (DOE) hired a new, permanent manager for the agency’s Carlsbad Field Office (CBFO) to oversee contractors and operations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), about 26 miles east of Carlsbad, N.M.

Reinhard Knerr leads the CBFO’s coordination of DOE’s National Transuranic (TRU) Waste Program with TRU waste-generating facilities around the U.S. These facilities send their TRU waste to WIPP for disposal.

TRU waste is low-level, non-defense related nuclear waste resulting from research and other operations. It includes clothing, tools and equipment contaminated with low levels of radiation.

Knerr works with Nuclear Waste Partnership, with which the DOE has an agreement, to oversee day-to-day WIPP operations for waste emplacement and mining at the underground nuclear waste repository.

Knerr previously was the DUF6 federal project director at DOE’s Portsmouth Paducah Project Office (PPPO). He oversaw the depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUF6) conversion plants at the Portsmouth and Paducah sites in Ohio and Kentucky.

Before Knerr arrived at the CBFO, USW Atomic Energy Workers Council President Jim Key connected him with Local 9477 President Rick Fuentes from WIPP. Key interacted with Knerr at the Paducah site.

Fuentes said that he and Knerr had a telephone conference and that Knerr’s administrative assistant reached out to him to schedule monthly meetings between the two men.

“I always give everybody the benefit of the doubt,” Fuentes said. “Jim said he (Knerr) is always willing to listen, and they had a good relationship while he was in Paducah. That’s a plus that he works well with the union.”

Tell the Senate to Pass the HEROES Act!

USW Blog - Thu, 07/16/2020 - 12:02
Contact your Senator today!

As COVID-19 continues to threaten our lives and our livelihoods, we are counting on the Senate to pass the next much-needed stimulus bill, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. The HEROES Act (H.R.6800) passed the House on May 15 and includes several of the provisions that we have been fighting for, like a temporary OSHA emergency standard and help paying for COBRA coverage for those out of work. The HEROES Act also:

  • Provides needed assistance to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to ensure necessary public services continue;
  • Expands paid sick days, family and medical leave, and unemployment compensation;
  • Establishes a fund to award grants for employers to provide pandemic premium pay for essential workers;
  • Provides COBRA subsidies to laid off workers;
  • Provides funding and establishes requirements for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing; 
  • Eliminates cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatments;
  • Extends and expands the moratorium on certain evictions and foreclosures; and
  • Requires employers to develop and implement infectious disease exposure control plans.

You may remember our ActionCall in May regarding a provision in the HEROES Act called the GROW Act, a composite pension plan that does nothing to protect the retirement security of millions of workers in critical and declining multiemployer pension plans. While we were sad to report that the GROW Act provision was not removed before HEROES passed in the House, we continue to advocate for its removal in the Senate as we urge our Senators to protect working people and pass the HEROES Act.

We Need Quick Action!

The Coronavirus pandemic is showing no signs of stopping and our members' jobs, and in some cases lives, are on the line. 

Click Here to tell your Senator to remove the GROW Act and pass the HEROES Act today!

 Our union has seen the impacts of COVID-19 on our industries and our members. We need meaningful legislation to protect the health and safety of workers who continue to go to work every day to provide us with our essential services, and to provide stability for those whose jobs have not yet returned. We need Congress to pass the HEROES Act! Please take action today!

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Laborers Step Up to Provide Food Relief to Other Union Members

AFL-CIO - Thu, 07/16/2020 - 07:47
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Laborers Step Up to Provide Food Relief to Other Union Members LIUNA

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 those stories every day. Here's today's story.

Members of Laborers (LIUNA) Local 773 delivered fresh produce and dairy products to their union brothers, sisters and friends in Madison County, Illinois. Local 773 set up shop in the bus lot at two local school districts, where members gave out 200 boxes of produce and 250 boxes of dairy products to union families in need. “Our strength comes from the willingness to stand together as a united front,” Local 773 Business Manager Jerry Womick told the Labor Tribune. “It is this commitment to each other that has allowed us to prosper through good times and preserve through bad.”

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 07/16/2020 - 09:47

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Labor Radio–Podcast Weekly: Museum Workers, Mimes, Nurses and More

AFL-CIO - Wed, 07/15/2020 - 13:22
Labor Radio–Podcast Weekly: Museum Workers, Mimes, Nurses and More Labor Radio-Podcast Weekly

The latest episode of the "Labor Radio–Podcast Weekly" features Museum Workers, mimes, nurses and more.

Gabi DiDonna of the United Museum Workers union, on the Belabored podcast: "We really just felt like our voices weren't being heard and worse, sort of actually being told to be quiet.”

WorkWeek Radio talks with playwright and actor Michael Sullivan about the new San Francisco Mime Troupe production "Tales of Resistance": “Normally, we tour all over the world doing shows, but now that’s too difficult. So we decided instead it was like, well, what can we do? And so I was like, well, why don't we do radio plays?”

On The Valley Labor Report, a nurse talks about unionizing her hospital and the process of bargaining the first contract: “We don't need hospital employers to help us ‘poor little nurses,’ help us learn how to vote.”

On The SAG-AFTRA Podcast, actors Michelle Hurd and Jason George continue the discussion of race and media in a time of social transformation and cultural reform: “Back in the day, I didn't see myself, you know, a little beige curly-haired girl on television, and I needed to make sure that I put myself on TV so that other kids that look like me would see themselves represented.”

On We Do The Work, an interview—and songs—from singer George Mann.

Plus: Labor History in 2, and sneak previews of The Gig and Labor History Today.

Check out all the shows on Labor Radio/Podcast Network.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 07/15/2020 - 15:22

Tags: Podcast

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Railroad Signalmen Remain on the Front Lines Throughout COVID-19 Pandemic

AFL-CIO - Wed, 07/15/2020 - 07:47
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Railroad Signalmen Remain on the Front Lines Throughout COVID-19 Pandemic

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 those stories every day. Here's today's story.

BRS

Despite the pandemic, members of the Railroad Signalmen (BRS) continue to show up to work each day to ensure the safety of the railroad for trains and the traveling public. BRS President Jerry Boles has provided an update to members on the union’s response to the health crisis. In a recent newsletter from BRS, he called the CARES Act “a step in the right direction,” but said that the federal government must do more to help railroad workers. Boles highlighted the need to fund the Railroad Retirement Board so that it can continue to operate fully. The union, he said, is advocating for parity for all railroad unemployment benefits. “It is my belief that infrastructure is the best way to recover, and BRS will continue to be at the table whenever it is discussed,” Boles said.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 07/15/2020 - 09:47

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Sign up today for COVID-19 Awareness Training for USW Next Gen

USW Blog - Wed, 07/15/2020 - 06:10

At our recent International Next Gen conference, you told us you wanted more education and training opportunities for our young and new members. We heard you loud and clear and have been offering a variety of online training opportunities during this pandemic. (We can't wait to get back with you in person!) Our latest is a program offered in conjunction with the Tony Mazzocchi Center: a virtual, interactive training webinar on the coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19. This webinar will provide participants with information to better understand the virus, how it is transmitted and how to protect oneself. There is also a special emphasis on dealing with COVID-19 at the workplace. Note: This webinar is modified from a training session.

Click here to register for the webinar scheduled for Monday, July 27 from 1 to 2 p.m. (ET).

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