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‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Flexing Labor’s Muscle

AFL-CIO - Wed, 10/30/2019 - 09:49
‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Flexing Labor’s Muscle AFL-CIO

On the latest episode of “State of the Unions,” podcast co-host Tim Schlittner talks to union member and Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Mark Pocan (Wis.) about strikes, trade, health care, LGBTQ equality and the freedom to form a union. 

Listen to our previous episodes:

State of the Unions” is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and anywhere else you can find podcasts.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 10/30/2019 - 11:49

Tags: Podcast

LGBT History Month Pathway to Progress: The Founding of Pride At Work

AFL-CIO - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 09:55
LGBT History Month Pathway to Progress: The Founding of Pride At Work AFL-CIO

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 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. In honor of LGBT History Month, we will take a look at the founding of Pride At Work (P@W).

Prior to 1969, the labor movement mostly ignored issues that affected LGBTQ working people. The events at Stonewall Inn and the rebellion that followed woke up many in the ranks of labor to the need to step up efforts to include all workers, including our LGBTQ siblings. After Stonewall, unions began to recognize that discrimination based on sexual orientation was another assault on working people, one that victimized union members and weakened efforts at solidarity among working families. 

As the 1970s began, the AFT was the first union to pass a resolution against discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 1974, the Teamsters worked with the LGBTQ community members in San Francisco on a boycott against the anti-union Coors Brewing Co. Over the next few decades, support for LGBTQ rights in the labor movement continued to grow. The AFL-CIO passed a resolution that called for legislation to ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. More and more unions started creating LGBTQ caucuses and opened up space for LGBTQ workers to be activists and open about their sexual orientation.

While some unions took the lead, the labor movement was largely silent on issues related to LGBTQ rights and issues. This lead LGBTQ union activists to come together to form Pride At Work. The activists met in New York in 1994, the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion. Earlier efforts at organizing had led to groups such as the Lesbian and Gay Labor Alliance (in the San Francisco Bay Area), the Lesbian and Gay Labor Network (New York) and the Gay and Lesbian Labor Activists Network (New England). Efforts such of these would eventually be consolidated into a larger LGBTQ workers organization, Pride At Work. In 1997, the organization was officially recognized by AFL-CIO as a constituency group.

Among Pride At Work's first campaigns were efforts to pressure Chrysler to ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination. Chrysler made the requested changes in 1999 and Ford and General Motors soon followed. Domestic partner benefits were gained a year later. Later, in 2005, P@W successfully convinced the AFL-CIO to support marriage equality. In 2012, the AFL-CIO supported the legal case that led to the national legal recognition of same-sex marriage.

Today, Pride At Work continues to educate the labor movement and wider culture about the importance of unions for LGBTQ workers and the value those workers provide employers. Pride@Work also supports electoral candidates that support LGBTQ workers and helps LGBTQ working people run for political office.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 10/29/2019 - 11:55

Tags: Pride at Work

Egregious Worker Rights Violations Cause Thailand to Lose Trade Benefits

AFL-CIO - Mon, 10/28/2019 - 10:39
Egregious Worker Rights Violations Cause Thailand to Lose Trade Benefits

On Friday, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced it will withdraw preferential tariffs for many imports from Thailand due to egregious, ongoing worker rights violations in the country. As highlighted in submissions by the AFL-CIO going back to 2013, the government of Thailand actively retaliates against workers and allows the worst forms of exploitation and abuse, including forced labor, to proliferate throughout its economy.

Numerous reports document rampant forced labor in the fishing sector, however, extreme worker rights violations are present throughout the Thai economy, with both Thai workers and migrant workers facing repression and abuse. The government severely limits all workers’ ability to form and join unions, does not enforce collective bargaining and prevents workers from striking. The meager protections that do exist are not enforced. 

The Thai government targets independent labor leaders and activists. The government fined seven leaders of the State Railway Union of Thailand (SRUT) $760,000 for protesting unsafe conditions following a deadly train derailment in 2009. In November 2018, the State Railway began deducting the fines from its monthly pay or retirement checks, leaving some with as little as $9 a month in take-home pay. The fines have been condemned by Thailand’s own National Human Rights Commission, but the Thai government has only increased repression in the past months. In February, the National Anti-Corruption Commission, a body that is supposed to investigate high-level government corruption, began to investigate SRUT leaders over their health and safety initiative. They are now being prosecuted under the criminal code.

Employers are allowed to retaliate against workers who organize with impunity. When companies illegally fire workers who try to organize, Thai labor officials often pressure the workers to accept meager buyouts. Mitsubishi Electric’s Thai subsidiary sent workers who tried to form a union to military re-education camps, forced them to issue personal public apologies to the company and eventually locked out all union members. Thailand’s Labor Relations Committee issued a ruling that the locked-out workers should be reinstated, but the company simply ignored it without consequence. Companies can even bring criminal defamation claims against workers and advocates who publicize abuses. For example, migrant workers who reported severe abuses at the Thammakaset chicken farm have been repeatedly sued by the company.

Thai laws enshrine systemic discrimination against migrant workers, including barring them from forming unions, which creates a vulnerable underclass ripe for exploitation. Trafficked migrant workers are trapped at sea, sometimes for years, forced to sleep in cramped quarters and fed as little as a plate of rice a day. Those too ill to work are sometimes thrown overboard. Unfortunately, human trafficking and forced labor are not confined to sea work, but appear across the economy, including in agriculture, construction and domestic work. 

These abhorrent practices must end. Thailand was the second largest recipient of preferential trade benefits under the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) in 2017. The decision to suspend benefits sends a strong message that countries should not seek a competitive advantage in global trade by artificially lowering labor costs through oppression. This is a rare example of a U.S. trade policy that attempts to create incentives to protect and respect human rights, and it is welcome news that is finally being applied in Thailand. Workers should share in the wealth they create, and we hope that the economic pressure of GSP suspension will lead the Thai government to change course and allow workers to exercise their fundamental rights.  

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 10/28/2019 - 12:39

Tags: Thailand

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Air Traffic Controllers Association

AFL-CIO - Mon, 10/28/2019 - 09:17
Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Air Traffic Controllers Association

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

Name of Union: National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA).

Mission: To advance the status, professionalism and working conditions of all air traffic controllers and other aviation safety-related employees through collective bargaining, political action and other lawful concerted activity.

Current Leadership of Union: Paul Rinaldi has served as president of NATCA since 2009. He is the sixth person to hold that position. In July 2018, Rinaldi won re-election to serve an unprecedented fourth three-year term. Prior to being elected president, Rinaldi served as executive vice president for three years. He previously served as an air traffic controller at the Dulles International Airport control tower for 16 years. Working with Rinaldi, Trish Gilbert serves as executive vice president. She also has been in that position since 2009 and is serving an unprecedented fourth term. Prior to her election, Gilbert worked for 21 years as an air traffic controller at Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center. Rinaldi, Gilbert and 10 regional vice presidents make up NATCA’s National Executive Board.

Number of Members: 15,878.

Members Work As: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic controllers, traffic management coordinators and specialists, flight service station air traffic controllers in Alaska, staff support specialists, engineers and architects and other aviation safety professionals, as well as Department of Defense and private sector Federal Contract Tower air traffic controllers. 

Industries Represented: All aspects of aviation safety in the United States.

History: In 1968, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) formed. The union represented air traffic controllers until 1981 when it went on strike, and President Ronald Reagan fired all of the striking controllers.

In the mid-1980s, with the help of AFGE, the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association and John F. Thornton, who had been active in PATCO, FAA controllers began organizing a new union. The NATCA founding convention was held in late 1986. In addition to forming the new organization, this organizing effort brought solidarity back to the profession. In 1987, NATCA was certified by the Federal Labor Relations Authority as the exclusive representative of air traffic controllers.

NATCA quickly realized the importance of how politics affect federal employees’ rights, pay and working conditions. In 1989, it embarked on its efforts to become a legislative and political powerhouse.

Throughout the 1990s, NATCA worked zealously to transform pay for controllers, working with Congress to exclude FAA from the statutory pay system in 1996, and ultimately negotiating a new pay system based upon air traffic volume and complexity in 1998. 

The same year, NATCA became a direct affiliate of the AFL-CIO and organized the FAA’s Engineers and Architects bargaining unit, its first unit of non-operational FAA employees.

In 2006, after several months of bargaining, the FAA walked away from the table in order to exploit a provision of the 1996 collective bargaining law and, on Labor Day weekend, unilaterally imposed terms and conditions of employment, including a 30% cut to the pay bands at that time. This attempt at union busting only made NATCA stronger. The membership rallied and became more politically active. Solidarity soared as Rinaldi coined the phrase, “our collective spirit is their enemy.” 

Shortly after President Barack Obama was sworn in, he ordered the parties back to the table and a fair collective bargaining agreement was reached in short order. NATCA then moved forward with half-a-million grievances that reached the arbitration stage during the imposed work rules. 

NATCA worked hard to change the law to ensure that no work rules would ever be imposed again, and Congress passed binding mediation-arbitration for all future negotiations. 

The 2009 agreement allowed NATCA to forge a new collaborative relationship with the FAA, working together to develop and implement new technologies and procedures to make the National Aviation System (NAS) safer and more efficient. The parties developed the “Partnership for Safety,” which includes programs to address safety concerns in the operation, fatigue education and awareness, managing distractions in the NAS, and professional standards, among other things.

Always pushing the envelope for federal sector bargaining, NATCA’s 2016 agreement with the FAA formalized the collaborative process to ensure that it was not subject to the political winds.

Current Campaigns/Community Efforts: Every day, NATCA members control more than 70,000 flights as over 2 million passengers move through our NAS. Most of NATCA’s members are federal employees, and NATCA fights to protect federal workers and their rights. NATCA has long advocated for a stable, predictable funding stream that supports air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term modernization projects, preventative maintenance and ongoing modernization to the physical infrastructure of the United States. Current stop-and-go funding jeopardizes the safety, efficiency and capacity of the NAS. This year’s 35-day government shutdown pushed the system to the brink of unraveling.

Although NATCA is busy with its advocacy efforts 365 days a year, its advocacy culminates each year at its annual lobbying event NATCA in Washington.

NATCA’s commitment to safety and training is on display each year with its Communicating For Safety (CFS) event that has become the world’s largest aviation safety conference. At CFS, NATCA presents the Archie League Medal of Safety Awards to recognize the best saves by controllers and other aviation safety professionals each year.

Learn More: WebsiteFacebookYouTubeInstagramTwitter.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 10/28/2019 - 11:17

Tom Conway talks about a new pathway to power for workers on The Leslie Marshall Show

USW Blog - Wed, 10/23/2019 - 16:38

During his first appearance as USW president on The Leslie Marshall Show, Tom Conway talked about the irony of fighting for organizing rights in a country that touts itself for its freedoms.

Workers across the country are struggling to make ends meet in an economy that looks far different from that of the past.  But, as Conway said, that was a time dominated by strong labor unions, which lifted millions out of poverty.

“So much of that had to do with having an honest, free, trade labor movement that could push back against capital and corporate powers that are taking over our government in so many ways,” said Conway.

Along with lobbying Congress to draft bills that benefit their bottom lines, corporations also do whatever they can to dismantle organizing drives in their workplaces. From firing union supporters to forcing employees to attend mandatory “captive audience” meetings that are merely anti-union charades, the abuse is rampant.

“These companies would never do business without a contract between their vendors and suppliers,” Conway said. “But God forbid the workers say, ‘We just want a binding contract about what goes on between us and management,’ and you’d think they’d asked for their first born.”

The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act (H.R. 2474/ S 1306) would establish stronger and swifter remedies to stop employers from breaking labor law, prohibit employers from forcing employees to attend anti-union meetings, and more. It would also make companies recognize contractors as part of the collective bargaining process so they can no longer continue to whittle down union membership by subcontracting.

In short, it would empower future generations of workers to act collectively.

“This is a bill that is about giving workers a choice to make a decision and collectively bargain with their employers, which is a system that works,” said Conway.

The PRO Act, introduced in the U.S. House in May, would ensure workers have the right to organize without interference and make their workplaces safer and their lives richer.

“Justice delayed is justice denied,” Conway said. “The PRO Act recognizes that.”

For the entire interview about the PRO Act and how it would empower American workers, click below:

USW campaign featured in report about union busting: The Double Standard at Work

USW Blog - Mon, 10/21/2019 - 09:53

The AFL-CIO today released a report on European corporations’ anti-union activities in the United States titled “The Double Standard at Work: European Corporate Investment and Workers’ Rights in the American South.”

The report, produced in cooperation with the European Trade Union Confederation, exposes the aggressive union-busting conduct in the American South of European corporations that respect workers’ organizing and bargaining rights in their home countries.


This Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde management damages Southern workers and threatens European workers.  

The report describes the anti-union history of the South where conservative politicians, community leaders and corporate officers have spurned labor unions for more than a century and where labor leaders were even lynched.

Although European corporations, such as Volkswagen, work cooperatively and constructively with labor unions in their home countries and in other nations where they operate, when they build in the South, they frequently adopt that region’s anti-union practices, even in ways that defy their stated commitments to international norms on freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Among the examples cited in the report is the bashing of this union, the United Steelworkers (USW), by Finnish company Outokumpu Oyj Corp., which bought a stainless steel facility in Calvert, Ala., from the German firm Thyssenkrupp in 2012.

Almost all of Outokumpu’s thousands of workers in 30 countries are represented by trade unions. But its workers in Alabama are not. For more than six years, Outokumpu fought an order by the National Labor Relations Board that it post a simple notice. The bulletin was to tell workers that Thyssenkrupp had sent them a misleading letter in 2012. That letter wrongly described a settlement that Thyssenkrupp and the USW had reached over labor law violations by the German company.

This and other examples illustrate the lengths to which European corporations have gone to abide by Southern norms of union thwarting. The report points out that the South’s depressed union density, which results in lower wages and benefits, is one reason for its higher poverty rate and comparatively poor educational achievement. At the same time, Southern states hand these international companies workers’ tax dollars in the form of billions in tax abatements and other benefits. Alabama gave Thyussenkrupp more than $1 billion.

The report offers numerous recommendations for change. These include having European companies ensure neutrality when U.S. workers try to organize and guarantee that their U.S. managers implement international freedom of association policies that the corporations have publicly endorsed. 

The AFL-CIO suggests that socially responsible investors monitor European corporate practices in the South and hold them accountable for violations of workers’ rights, including confronting management at shareholder meetings.

The report also recommends more difficult goals, such as Southern state officials renouncing both their anti-union activities and excessive giveaways to corporations.

The full report is available here.

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association

AFL-CIO - Mon, 10/21/2019 - 09:33
Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association.

Name of Union: Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association (MEBA)

Mission: To elevate and maintain the rights and advance and safeguard the economic and working conditions of its members for their better protection and advancement. 

Current Leadership of Union: Marshall Ainley has been MEBA’s president since January 2014. A 1982 graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, he worked with the Military Sealift Command at sea and ashore for 10 years and earned his chief engineer’s license and Group 1 membership in the MEBA. He sailed with Maersk as chief engineer for the nine years before his election as MEBA president. Bill Van Loo has served as MEBA’s secretary-treasurer since 2006. Previously, he was elected twice to the position of MEBA branch agent in Baltimore and has served as a delegate at nine national MEBA conventions. He is a third-generation member who graduated from the Calhoon MEBA Engineering School in 1983 and sailed for 17 years before beginning his service as an official in 2002. In addition to Ainley and Van Loo, MEBA’s five-person executive board includes our coastal vice presidents: Executive Vice President Adam Vokac, Gulf Coast Vice President Erin Bertram and Atlantic Coast Vice President Jason Callahan.

Members Work As: Primarily engine and deck officers on U.S.-flagged vessels, but we also represent shoreside professionals at ports, offices and in the service industries.

Industries Represented: The maritime workforce.

History: MEBA is the nation's oldest maritime labor union, established in 1875. In the late 19th century, the forefathers of the MEBA fought to eradicate dangerous and deadly working conditions on early steam-powered vessels⁠—conditions that threatened not only MEBA brothers and sisters, but all passengers at sea. MEBA was the first union to bargain for a 40-hour workweek while at sea. MEBA helped secure overtime pay and night relief. The union won the right to man their own hiring halls and to have union representatives visit ships to ensure proper working conditions. The tenacity and vision of MEBA’s founding members was ultimately rewarded. Today, with thousands of marine engineers and deck officers, MEBA members are unparalleled in maritime training and experience. 

The leader in continuing education for maritime officers, the union’s training facility in Easton, Maryland, ensures that MEBA continues to be the finest source of maritime labor. The mission of MEBA’s Calhoon School is to provide professional MEBA marine engineers and deck officers with internationally recognized, state-of-the-art training and experience that enhances the safety, reliability and profitability of their vessels while preserving and protecting the natural environment. The school’s world-class bridge simulator allows the facility to offer the intensive, cutting edge training to deck officers that our engineers have typically enjoyed.

The MEBA draws the majority of our membership from the nation’s maritime academies. MEBA is proud to provide a wide variety of lucrative opportunities to Kings Point graduates. Marine officers crew the most technologically advanced ships in the U.S.-flag fleet, including tankers, a cruise ship, Great Lakes vessels and container ships. Members sail aboard government-contracted ships of the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command and the Maritime Administration’s Ready Reserve Force, on tugs and ferry fleets around the country, as well as vessels and in various capacities in the shoreside industries.

MEBA’s expertise and proven track record of readiness, safety and loyalty in answering America’s call to action is unrivaled. In times of military contingency, members sail into war zones to deliver critical defense cargo to the nation's fighting forces. MEBA members braved the perilous waters of the North Atlantic and the dangers of the Murmansk Run during World War II. Members served in every U.S. conflict since 1875 from Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf to Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Members brought critical food-aid to starving people in Ethiopia, Somalia and in dozens of other regions around the world. As America watched the tragedy of September 11 unfold, MEBA was there, ferrying thousands of people to safety in New York. During the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the tsunami in southeast Asia and through other trying times, MEBA was there, with the professionalism, pride and patriotism that has long been the hallmark of the American mariner. 

MEBA members have continually answered the country's call for military sealift power at a moment’s notice⁠—fighting injustice around the globe⁠—and doing what's right for the country. MEBA's officers have repeated their substantial contributions to the nation’s defense since 1875, in times of both peace and war. While the future of the maritime industry is in question, one thing is certain, the members of the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association will unceasingly fight to preserve America’s fourth arm of defense⁠—the U.S. Merchant Marine. 

Current Campaigns/Community Efforts: MEBA provides members with information through the publications Marine Officer and the Telex Times. The MEBA Political Action Fund makes sure that the voices of members are heard in the policy-making realm. The Calhoon Engineering School is the union’s continuing education facility that provides state-of-the-art training to keep members on the front-end of evolving industry needs and requirements. The American Maritime Congress is a research and educational organization. MEBA offers medical and retirement and other employee assistance plans along with a member help line.

Learn More: Website, Twitter, Facebook.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 10/21/2019 - 11:33

Paramedics chronically underpaid and exposed to workplace violence

USW Blog - Mon, 10/21/2019 - 08:12

Low pay, long work hours, compulsory overtime, and the stress of often walking into dangerous situations is taking a serious toll on America’s emergency medical responders, according to Salon. This is putting both EMTs and their patients at risk, and some workers are now being given body armor as their sole means of protection.

Across the country, the everyday violence directed towards EMTs has led to calls for improved working conditions and workplace violence legislation. Last week in Massachusetts, dozens of emergency medical responders gathered outside their employer’s headquarters to protest workplace issues, including low pay. And in late September, New York City medics rallied outside City Hall and called on Mayor de Blasio to close the long-standing pay gap between EMS employees and other uniformed workers like firefighters and cops.

In an industry where the average CEO’s salary is $16.1 million a year, up from $14.7 million just last year, EMS workers can make as little as $22,760 a year, or $11.38 an hour, according to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Along with the stress of low pay and violence, or perhaps because of it, these workers are also more likely to commit suicide than the average American.

According to a National Institute of Health research paper published in May 2019, national survey data indicates “that among Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), including firefighters and Paramedics, rates of suicide are significantly higher than among the general public. EMTs face high levels of acute and chronic stress as well as high rates of depression and substance abuse, which increase their risk of suicide.”

This epidemic has led to many workers and activists fighting for workplace violence legislation. The USW has been active in this push with its “Safe Jobs Now” campaign, a nationwide action to lobby for the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1309/S. 851). This bill would direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ensure workplaces develop and implement much needed violence prevention plans.

You can learn about this campaign to help stem the epidemic of workplace violence in health care and how you can get involved by clicking here.

Building Solidarity in the Global Labor Movement: The Working People Weekly List

AFL-CIO - Fri, 10/18/2019 - 14:06
Building Solidarity in the Global Labor Movement: The Working People Weekly List AFL-CIO

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

Imagine a President Uniting People: "Imagine a president lifting 40 million citizens out of the poverty he had struggled under. Imagine a president making it easier for people who had been excluded from their nation’s wealth to get decent jobs, basic public services, a college education or technical training. Imagine a president uplifting his country on the world stage as a model for shared prosperity and an economy that works for working people regardless of their race. Imagine that president leaving office after two terms with an approval rating over 80%. Where do you imagine that president should be nine years after leaving office?"

Brazilian and U.S. Workers Confronting Common Threat Build Solidarity in the Global Labor Movement: "This week, the AFL-CIO joins much of the global labor movement in Brazil to participate in the 13th Congress of Brazil's largest labor organization, the Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT). Fred Redmond, AFL-CIO vice president and United Steelworkers vice president for human affairs, is leading the AFL-CIO delegation."

A Seat at the Table: Worker Wins: "Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with nurses banding together to make patients' lives better and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life."

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Laborers: "Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Laborers."

Economy Gains 136,000 Jobs in September; Unemployment Declines to 3.5%: "The U.S. economy gained 136,000 jobs in September, and the unemployment rate declined to 3.5%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "

Working People Show Solidarity with GM/UAW Strikers: "As the strike by UAW members at General Motors approaches three weeks, labor activists and their allies have shown their solidarity with the UAW members by joining them on the picket lines. Here are some highlights from those visits."

Live from the Picket Line: Labor Podcast and Radio Roundup: "In addition to the AFL-CIO's own 'State of the Unions,' there are a lot of other podcasts out there that have their own approach to discussing labor issues and the rights of working people. Here are the latest podcasts from across the labor movement in the United States."

Hey, New York Times, Women Wear Hard Hats, Too!: "In a tribute to the hard hat, which was invented 100 years ago, The New York Times curiously equates the safety gear with masculinity. But women wear hard hats, too, and always have."

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Dignity of Work: "On the latest episode of 'State of the Unions,' podcast co-hosts Julie Greene and Tim Schlittner talk to Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) about worker power, automation, trade and his decision to stay in the U.S. Senate."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 10/18/2019 - 16:06

The State of Working America: Labor Podcast and Radio Roundup

AFL-CIO - Fri, 10/18/2019 - 09:53
The State of Working America: Labor Podcast and Radio Roundup

In addition to the AFL-CIO's own "State of the Unions," there are a lot of other podcasts out there that have their own approach to discussing labor issues and the rights of working people. Here are the latest podcasts from across the labor movement in the United States.

Belabored Podcast: Riding for Deliveroo, with Callum Cant: An inside look at the gig economy. Plus: updates from the GM strike, a teachers’ strike looming in Chicago and more.

Building Bridges: Your Community and Labor Report: Striking Auto Workers need and deserve to win big!

Community Radio and Workers' Rights Movements: "This show looks at the role of radio in workers’ movements. These workers’ movements interrogate the relationship between a community and its systems of communication. From the mines in Bolivia to tomato fields in Florida, radio has served as a place for workers to organize and mobilize, build up spirits and solidarity. Some stations are worker-owned, supported by union dues or cooperative membership. Some begin as programming on local stations and grow to become their own stations or a network of programs. These case studies are an incomprehensive smattering of examples of how working people have utilized the airwaves to fight for rights in the workplace—to create accountability and build autonomy."

Heartland Labor Forum: "We’ll ask what Trump is up to with his apprenticeship proposal and find out from a union leader who knows what a real apprenticeship looks like. Then we ask if the U.S. Constitution can stand up to a presidency that’s out of control and unaccountable to Congress or the courts. Join us when we talk to longtime activist legal scholar Burt Neuborne with a new book called When at Times the Mob is Swayed: A Citizens Guide to Defending our Republic. Thursday at 6 p.m., rebroadcast Friday at 5 a.m. on KKFI 90.1 FM.

Labor History Today: Sex Workers Outreach Project Makes History in Minneapolis: On this week’s show: Dr. Jayne Swift on the historic city ordinance just passed this August that has the potential to change the face of the adult entertainment industry in Minneapolis. Plus, Steve Striffler on Solidarity: Latin America and the U.S. Left in the Era of Human Rights. Interviews by Patrick Dixon.

Resistance Radio: "An online complement to the recent Interference Archive exhibit showcasing the power of radio in the service of social movements and underrepresented communities. We’re sharing stories of the people, stations and organizations from around the world who have battled the system to bring their diverse programming onto the airwaves."

The State of Working America: The Economic Policy Institute has launched a new podcast, which "will give a voice to workers, and place their struggles in a larger policy context." The 30-minute podcasts address a wide range of issues, including: wage stagnation, inequality, worker power, racism, trade and education. New episodes on Tuesdays. 

UCOMM Live: Trump's Plan to Destroy Federal Unions: "On this week's show, we have a leaked memo on Trump's plan to destroy federal unions as he orders agencies to follow his anti-union executive order. In 2016 West Virginia repealed their prevailing wage law and the results are in for how bad that turned out. We explain Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro's plan to strengthen collective bargaining and AT&T is under attack from a vulture capitalist.

Union City Radio: This week’s topics: What’s in that bacon? Sherrod Brown on automation; bus driver runs for Bowie City Council; Sherrod Brown on progressive populism; Kroger member wins back pay, gets job back after year-long suspension

Workers Beat: Airs on KNON radio in Dallas at 9 a.m. Saturdays. The most recent episode features Summer Lollie as guest. "Summer works for the Texas AFL-CIO but has assignments in the Dallas area. She attended the Sky Chef picket on October 9 and is familiar with the entire contract fight concerning food caterers for American Airlines. She has also been out on the General Motors picket lines."

Your Rights At Work: On this week's show: Maria Naranjo, district chair of SEIU 32BJ; Al Neal, sportswriter for People's World; Sam Weinstein, Utility Workers (UWUA) retiree active in British labor movement; Mark Gruenberg, editor for Press Associates Union News Service; and David Schloss, partner in the law firm of Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 10/18/2019 - 11:53

Tags: Podcast

Maryland, America Lose a Moral Leader with Death of Elijah E. Cummings

Steelworker News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 13:40

CONTACT: Jess Kamm Broomell, 412-562-2444,

United Steelworkers (USW) International President Thomas M. Conway released the following statement regarding the death of U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings:

U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, an orator of booming voice, a lawmaker of impeccable integrity and a visionary of the potential for all Americans, leaves with his passing a legacy of moral leadership.

Mr. Cummings, son of a sharecropper, served as chairman of the powerful House Committee on Oversight and Reform, a group integral to investigations into alleged wrongdoing by the administration. At the same time, he never lost touch with his roots, which included two summers as a steelworker at the now defunct Bethlehem Steel plant at Sparrows Point southeast of Baltimore. He consistently supported labor rights, pay equity and increases in the minimum wage.

Just this past Labor Day, he lamented that the Senate has refused to consider House-passed measures that would raise the minimum wage and reduce pay inequities. He said then, “Unfortunately, too many Americans have been left behind in the modern economy. Every month, working families scrimp and save, only to struggle to afford childcare . . . and across the country, labor unions are being attacked and are losing their right to organize.”

In 2011, when Mr. Cummings took over as minority leader for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, he talked about how his experience working in the Bethlehem steel mill shaped his view on the role of government. He said that after just half an hour in the mill, black soot filled workers’ noses. He wondered how many who labored there eight hours a day for 40 years suffered lung disease as a result and died too early.

The government has a role, he said, to implement air quality and safety regulations to preserve the lives of such workers and protect their communities. “I think it's important for industry to do well,” he said, “but I want them to do well and do good at the same time. If I'm going to err on the side of a person’s welfare and safety, that's where I’m going to err.”

That is the kind of leader Mr. Cummings was. America’s workers will miss him.  

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, and the service and public sectors.

DowDuPont Council Unites to Resolve Problems Created by Corporate Split-off

USW Blog - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 08:49

DowDuPont split itself into three parts—Dow Chemical, DuPont and Corteva Agriscience—but the DowDuPont North American Labor Council (DNALC) has no plans to split into separate councils. Instead, the group will stay together to support one another, show solidarity worldwide and grow the council through organizing.

At the DNALC meeting on Sept. 23-26, hosted by USW Local 90 in Knoxville, Tenn., 49 delegates from the USW and other international unions, as well as representatives from Unite, IndustriALL and the Argentinean union, SOEPU, spoke of the council’s commitment to international solidarity,  shared their experiences with the corporate breakup and discussed the council’s future. 

Pictured: attendees at the DowDuPont North American Labor Council meeting in Knoxville, Tenn.

USW District 9 Director Daniel Flippo started the meeting with a call for the council to expand itself. “I want to challenge you this week to not just think about your local union, but how to extend the DowDuPont Council.

“I want to challenge you to think how you can use your strength and solidarity to adopt a Dow or DuPont plant. Adopt those members no matter how long it takes,” Flippo urged the council.

Expansion through global outreach

The DNALC started its global outreach in 2005 when the Sindicato del Personal de Industria Quimicas, Petroquimicas y Afines de Bahia Blanca (SPIQPYA) union from Argentina contacted the council for assistance. Now, international unions from the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Japan, Germany, Indonesia, Turkey and Finland are members of the council.  “We share a common interest,” said DNALC President Kent Holsing. “We assist each other globally and communicate with one another. The companies take notice of that.”

Members of the Argentinian union, SOEPU, attended the council meeting and said the DNALC has helped their union achieve a lot. The council helped the union with organizing a site in their country. Plus, “solidarity from the council created pressure on Dow that made the company negotiate,” said SOEPU General Secretary Mauricio Brizuela.

“We have to continue making our solidarity stronger because the big companies keep mutating,” he added.

Deer Park, Texas, update

Solidarity within the USW and the DNALC helped pressure Rohm and Haas Texas, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dow, to bring back to work locked-out workers from USW Local 13-1 on June 10, 2019. The lockout lasted 50 days before Dow recanted and brought all 235 workers back into the plant.

Negotiations were difficult from the beginning, but the local, with the backing of the council, stayed strong. As the company brought in sleeping trailers and washing machine trailers in the parking lot, Local 13-1 mobilized into action the first day of bargaining on Feb. 14, 2019. The local set up a special webpage with a solidarity pledge for viewers to sign, began posting the company’s proposals and started sending out a mass text to tell members to check the webpage for bargaining updates.

The DNALC, local unions, and the global federation IndustriALL sent letters of support to the locked-out workers.  Hank Niscavits, the Dow unit president for the local, stood up to major Dow investors at an investor event.

At the council meeting, Niscavits discussed the previous negotiations that set the stage for 2019 bargaining. He detailed the bargaining sessions that occurred after the talks started, what happened during the lockout, the membership rejections of the company’s “last, best & final” proposals and the negotiations that transpired after Dow let workers go back to work on June 10.

Pictured: local 90 attendees front to back: Chuck Eubanks, Eric Heidel, Missy Bridges, David Manning and Jennifer Messer.

“I am thankful for all of the help we received from the council and International. It helped us get to where we are today,” Niscavits said.

Shortly after the meeting, on Oct. 8, Local 13-1 members ratified a four-year agreement that contains annual wage increases and other improvements.

Many changes

Other locals have faced difficulties since DowDuPont split off into three companies—Dow, DuPont and Corteva—and Dow bought out its joint venture partner Corning Glass.

Pictured: local 6992 President Angelle Gregoire from the DuPont Yerkes plant in Buffalo, N.Y.

Workers in Local 12934 at Midland, Mich., who used to work for Dow Corning, got a rude awakening when they had to negotiate with Dow for a new contract last winter. Dow began its talks with the union by crossing out three-quarters of the local’s previous agreement.

The local was able to get increased pay for the shift differential, crew leader, head operator and site alternate, but the company drastically changed the job classification structure for 300 workers so it could pay them less money.

Dow’s actions increased the number of people leaving the company and reduced morale. Local 12934 had one termination a year before Dow took over. In the past nine months, the local has had 22 terminations, four deaths, 14 voluntary quits and eight retirements. When the company tried to improve morale, it installed new microwaves in the breakrooms, but had salaried personnel—not the two union painters in the plant—paint the walls and breakrooms.

Holsing, who is also president of USW Local 12075 at Dow in Midland, Mich., has seen his local membership split up into Dow, DuPont and Corteva units.  Before Dow split up into three companies, his local had 710 members.  Now, his Dow unit has only 65 members. The local has had to train its former members to be unit leaders at their new DuPont and Corteva units.

Holsing said the local has a grievance filed because Dow is not providing training resources so workers can progress to higher-paying jobs.

The spinoffs have created changes in human resources (HR) personnel and where they are located. If a Dow local outside of Midland has a grievance, it has to talk to an HR person in Midland.

For Local 12075-25 members at the former Dow, now Corteva, unit in Midland, Mich., the split-off impacted their pay and vacation balances. Also, the only health insurance offered is a high-deductible plan that Corteva funds at the beginning of the year with a $1,400 deposit for each employee.

Problems with payroll

Then there is the ADP e-time pay system that DuPont implemented at its sites in 2017.

“DuPont’s sites still experience many issues with members getting paid and getting pay issues rectified,” Holsing said. “It takes an hour to put in your hours worked.

“People get eight-page pay stubs with no dates listed. It’s like you need forensic accounting to understand your pay statement,” he said.

The Chambers Works plant in Deepwater, N.J., is one such case. Although DuPont split off its performance chemicals segment at the site into The Chemours Company, there still is a DuPont unit there.

Local 943-1 Unit President Bob Sheppard has been wrangling with the DuPont payroll system for several years and trying to correct paycheck problems to no avail. He has been warning the Midland site about what to expect with the problematic payroll system when Dow rolls it out there later this year. He also advised the new DuPont locals at the DNALC meeting to get in their contracts that DuPont reviews the payroll system annually.

Corteva adopted the same payroll system but it is trying to resolve the problems, Holsing said.

USW Local 12075-24 ironically titled its council presentation, “Rainbows and Unicorns” to express the members’ frustration with the new payroll system. This group used to be part of Dow and is now a DuPont company.

“No one’s paid correctly—hourly or salaried,” said Unit President Mike Bilodeau. He said injuries have also increased, and there is no longer a monthly health and safety meeting.

Unite the Union member Tony Lawrence said his plant in the UK has had the same payroll problem. “We get paid monthly and some people get paid three months later than they should.”

He said his plant used to be a Dow Corning site and is now a Dow plant. “Corning was a good employer,” Lawrence said. “Dow removed the defined benefit pension without any real consultation with the union, and cut 130 jobs.”

The council and its locals are using all avenues to resolve the problems with the paychecks: They are writing letters to corporate headquarters, filing grievances and National Labor Relations Board charges, going to their state departments of labor and contacting the media.

“People aren’t going in the plant for prestige. They’re going to earn a paycheck. This needs to be fixed,” Bilodeau said.

It’s Time for Workers to Come First: Join Us Today for a National Day of Action

USW Blog - Wed, 10/16/2019 - 17:51

On September 6 of this year, Victoria Whipple, a quality control worker at Kumho Tire in Macon, Georgia, became a statistic. At eight months pregnant, she was terminated for passing out union shirts to her coworkers during a union organizing effort in her workplace.

What happened to Victoria happens all the time. Workers are fired in one of every three organizing efforts. It’s illegal, but employers face no real financial penalties for breaking federal labor law. They feel free to suspend, fire, or threaten anyone they want to deter workers from forming a union. The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act (H.R. 2474) is historic legislation that  would change labor law as we know it, shifting power away from greedy companies and back to workers.

The PRO Act will:

  • Establish stronger and swifter remedies to stop employers from breaking the law.
  • Make companies recognize contractors as part of the collective bargaining process so they can no longer continue to whittle down our membership by subcontracting.
  • Force an employer to reach a first contract in a timely manner with a newly organized group of workers. No more dragging out first contracts.
  • Reverse so-called Right to Work, regardless of state laws.
  • Prohibit employers from forcing employees to attend anti-union meetings.
  • And much more!

This critical legislation could get a vote in the U.S. House in the near future. Please help us build support by making a call to your Representative today.

Please Make a Call Right Now!

Our National Day of Action begins today, but please continue calls throughout the week.

Action Instructions:

  • Dial our toll-free number to the U.S. House: 866-202-5409.
  • Tell the office who you are and where you are from.
  • Tell them to stand up for workers and support H.R. 2474, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.

Our existing labor laws are out-of-date and inadequate. We need to fight back by passing the PRO Act! 

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Out of the Woods

AFL-CIO - Wed, 10/16/2019 - 08:38
‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Out of the Woods AFL-CIO

On the latest episode of “State of the Unions,” podcast co-hosts Julie Greene Collier and Tim Schlittner talk to Maine Senate President Troy Jackson (IUPAT, IAM) about his path to power and the experiences that have shaped his life and career.

Listen to our previous episodes:

State of the Unions” is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and anywhere else you can find podcasts.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 10/16/2019 - 10:38

Tags: Podcast

USW Chemical Workers Forge New Ties at International Conference

USW Blog - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 15:58

The world’s chemical industry is facing many challenges: climate change, the backlash against plastics and hazardous chemicals, and the introduction of new production technology.

Against this backdrop, global union federation IndustriALL held the World Conference for the Chemical Industries this past summer to discuss the challenges trade unions are facing and how to combat them with organizing, solidarity, inclusiveness and communications.

Kent Holsing, USW Local 12075 president and chairman of the DowDuPont North American Labor Council (DNALC), Doug Watts, USW BASF Group chairman, and USW International Affairs Director Ben Davis joined 230 delegates from 45 countries for the three-day conference at the headquarters of IndustriALL affiliate Petrol-İş Sendikası in Istanbul, Turkey.

Pictured: delegates from Lastik-iş attending the conference, along with Ben Davis, director of USW’s International Affairs department; Kent Holsing, DowDuPont North American Labor Council chair, and Kemal Özkan, assistant general secretary of IndustriALL.

Watts and Davis attended the BASF Union Representatives meeting that was held in conjunction with the World Conference. That meeting drew representatives from BASF sites in 23 different countries.

Watts, who works at BASF’s largest production facility in North America at Geismar, La., said the meeting helped him understand what really happens at other BASF sites around the world.

“BASF likes to move its managers all over the world to gain experience, and this almost always comes with a certain measure of ‘at (my previous site), we do it this way’ mentality,” Watts said. “It almost never really adds up to an apples-to-apples comparison, and I didn’t have any contacts in these other BASF facilities to get the rest of the story. Now, I have those contacts and have faces to put with the names.”

Watts said he will take the information he obtained from the BASF representatives meeting and use it to educate his members and the other locals that are part of the USW BASF Council.

Boosting global solidarity

Holsing participated in the World Conference panel titled, “Boosting Global Union Solidarity: Using International Tools, Trade Union Networks and Global Framework Agreements.”

While speaking about the history of the DNALC, its purpose, accomplishments and future, Holsing emphasized the importance of developing grassroots solidarity, communication and networking to fight multinational corporations, like Dow and DuPont, globally.

Other panel discussions focused on topics like health and safety, worker struggles, building power within the chemical industry, empowering women and youth, ending precarious (temporary, contract labor) work, and Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0, also known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, refers to digitization of images, sound and text that can be processed by a computer, robots, automation and the Internet of Things (physical objects embedded with sensors, software and electronics that enable them to collect and exchange data).

While some of the panelists saw Industry 4.0 as a way to attract new workers to an industry seen as dirty and dangerous and improve workplace safety, others expressed concern about job loss and unions not being ready for the change.

IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan said that while the division of labor between humans, machines and algorithms is shifting fast, workers have a right to information and consultation; education and training; and privacy at home and at work.

Networking opportunity

Holsing, Watts and Davis visited a BASF facility, about 40 minutes outside of Istanbul, and they met the site union representative, exchanged contact information, and toured part of the facility. They also visited a Dow facility. The Dow Site Leader gave Holsing a tour of the Dow plant, and he met with the plant’s union representatives, employees and Lastik-İş (the Petroleum, Chemical and Rubber Industry Workers’ Union) members.

Pictured: the Dow plant in Dilovasi, Turkey. (L-R): Lastik-iş union representative at Dow Dilovasi plant; Ben Davis; Kent Holsing; Ozay Bektas, Lastik-iş local union president; Lastik-iş union representative at Dow Dilovasi plant; and Doug Watts.

“It was the first time they had met a union representative from the United States, especially one from the same company they worked for,” Holsing said.

Following the Dow visit, the three visited the headquarters of Lastik-İş in Istanbul and met with İhsan Malkoç, secretary general, and Alaadin Sarı, president. They discussed the importance of developing a relationship between Lastik-İş and the USW, exchanged ideas, and asked and answered questions.

Pictured: (L-R) ihsan Malkoç, secretary general of Lastik-iş; Kent Holsing; Alaadin Sari, president of Lastik-iş; Ben Davis; Doug Watts, USW BASF Group chairman, and a Lastik-iş member.

“It was a very productive meeting and can lead to some great networking possibilities,” Holsing said.

Click here to read the action plan the World Congress issued that sums up the conclusions of the panel discussions, and gives a road map for global union organizing in the chemical sector over the next four years.

National Hispanic Heritage Month Pathway to Progress: The San Antonio Pecan Strike

AFL-CIO - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 07:53
National Hispanic Heritage Month Pathway to Progress: The San Antonio Pecan Strike UTSA

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. In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, today's topic is the San Antonio pecan shellers strike.

In the 1930s, pecans grown in Texas accounted for half of all of the nation's production. San Antonio was the center of the industry in Texas, as half the state's commercial crop grew within 250 miles of the city. The dominant company was the Southern Pecan Shelling Co., which produced as much as one-third of the nation's entire crop, depending on the year.

Working people in the industry faced low wages (averaging between $2 to $3 a week) and terrible working conditions. Shelling factories suffered from inadequate ventilation, poor illumination and a lack of indoor running water or toilets. The pecans produced a fine brown dust that contributed to diseases like tuberculosis. San Antonio had one of the highest rates of TB in the country as a result.

Owners had little or no regard for workers. One owner said: “The Mexicans don’t want much money. Compared to those shanties they live in, the pecan shelleries are fine. They are glad to have a warm place to sit in the winter. They can be warm while they’re shelling pecans, they can talk to their friends while they’re working.... If they get hungry they can eat pecans.”

Pecan shellers soon joined the International Pecan Shellers Union No. 172, a chapter of the United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing, and Allied Workers of America, which belonged to the newly formed Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). On Jan. 31, 1938, the workforce of shellers, mostly Hispanic women, walked off the job. The 12,000 workers engaged in a three-month strike. The strike began after the Southern Pecan demanded pay cuts for the workers. Shellers, who had previously earned 6 or 7 cents a pound, saw their wages cut to 5 or 6 cents a pound. Crackers went from 50 cents per 100 pounds to 40 cents. 

The strike was originally led by Emma Tenayuca, who was active in various efforts to combat discrimination against Mexican Americans. She joined the women's auxiliary of the League of United Latin American Citizens in high school and was first arrested for protesting when she was 16. After high school, she worked several jobs, but her true calling was organizing. She began to organize with the Workers Alliance before later helping the pecan shellers.

Local officials were not happy about the strike. Police Chief Owen Kilday believed that the strike was part of a Communist plot to gain control of the west side of San Antonio. Tenayuca was arrested as soon as the strike started. Kilday said of her: “The Tenayuca woman is a paid agitator sent here to stir up trouble among the ignorant Mexican workers.” She was neither, her family had deep roots in San Antonio and her strike efforts were unpaid.

Other leaders feared that Mexican American laborers would become aware of their own power and would become more active. Protesters picketed over 400 local factories, but Kilday cracked down, eventually making more than 700 arrests. Gov. James Allred urged the Texas Industrial Commission to investigate the strike and the industry's reaction and found that police interference with lawful assembly was unjustified.

In the end, both sides agreed to arbitration and the initial settlement was for a 7- to 8-cent wage. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was passed soon after that would establish a minimum wage of 25 cents an hour. The CIO was afraid that the big jump in wages would lead to massive layoffs, and they joined with employers to lobby Congress to give the pecan industry an exemption.The exemption was denied, however, and over the next three years, 10,000 shellers were replaced by machines. While the pecan strikers ultimately failed to sustain the industry, their efforts were pivotal in expanding both labor rights and justice for Hispanic working people, in Texas and beyond.

Learn more about Tenayuca and the pecan strike.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 10/15/2019 - 09:53

Small but mighty local committee collects 200 cards for union safety action

USW Blog - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 06:46

Local 204 in Midland, Mich., may have a new, somewhat small Rapid Response team, but the crew is certainly mighty. The group of members, who work at the MidMichigan Medical Center, flexed their activist muscles by collecting nearly 200 cards for the USW’s “Safe Jobs Now” campaign.

“This is a huge accomplishment for us, as no one has really gotten involved before,” said Terri Parks, the local’s Rapid Response coordinator. “But everyone was so eager to fill these cards out. We are looking forward to our next action.”

The union is currently pushing the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. This bill would direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ensure employers develop and implement violence prevention plans.

You can learn about this campaign to help stem the epidemic of workplace violence in health care and how you can get involved by clicking here.

The local’s RR team consists of Katie Schultz (co-coordinator), Travis Moraski (team member), Jose Montalvo (team member), Jennifer Grochowski (team member), Amber Benedict (team member), and Terri Parks (coordinator).

Local 7898 hosts joint labor-management training for nursing home workers

USW Blog - Mon, 10/14/2019 - 19:58

When Local 7898 President James Sanderson began organizing nursing home workers, he didn’t have a firm grip on how the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control communicated with employers and employees. He assumed the state operated like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), where they involved the union directly with their reviews and findings.

That wasn’t the case.

With workplace violence and abuse an unfortunate epidemic within the nursing home industry, Local 7898 President James Sanderson wanted to make sure workers had access to as much information as possible.

“So, I reached out to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control (DHEC) to have them come inform members on how they operate and what to look out for instead of them just having whatever management tells them,” he said.

DHEC accepted the invitation and held a joint labor-management informational session on October 3 in at Local 7898’s union hall in Georgetown, S.C. The director of DHEC’s Community Care Oversight Division overviewed a variety of topics, including the difference between state and federal standards, definitions of abuse and neglect, reporting, and staffing ratios.

Five USW members attended the session, including Ashley Johnson, Minnie Rice, Carol Davis, Lynair Gardner, and Charlette Banks.

To Sanderson, the meeting was a success that should be replicated.

“I would encourage everyone to do this in any sort of nursing facility,” he said. “Members need to have as much information as possible because knowledge is power.”

Thousands to Strike against ASARCO’s Unfair Labor Practices

Steelworker News - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 13:50

Contact: Tony Montana – (412) 562-2592;

Tucson, Ariz. – The United Steelworkers (USW) today said that about 2,000 hourly workers at five ASARCO LLC, locations in Arizona and Texas voted overwhelmingly to strike against unfair labor practices rather than to accept the Grupo México subsidiary’s so-called “last, best and final” offer.

USW District 12 Director Robert LaVenture said that workers who sacrificed to sustain the company during past downturns have earned and deserve a fair contract with better and more secure earnings, benefits and pensions, but ASARCO has proposed the precise opposite. 

ASARCO’s four-year contract proposal insulted union members at all of the facilities by including no wage increase for nearly two-thirds of workers, freezing the existing pension plan, and more than doubling the out-of-pocket contribution individual workers already pay for health care, LaVenture said.

“Working 12-hour shifts in an open-pit mine, smelter or refinery is difficult and dangerous, and ASARCO employees have not had a wage increase in 10 years,” LaVenture said. “These workers deserve a contract that reflects their contributions.”

LaVenture said that the USW is willing to resume bargaining and ready to meet as long as necessary to negotiate a fair contract, and urged his management counterparts to make resolving the labor dispute an urgent priority.

 “We cannot allow ASARCO managers – even when directed by Grupo executives in Mexico City – to pick and choose which U.S. labor laws and standards apply to them, and the company can’t expect to roll back generations of collective bargaining progress without a fight.”

 “Management has tested these employees for years, and we’ve met their challenges each step along the way,” LaVenture said. “When we march together for fairness and justice at ASARCO, we are delivering a unified message that the company’s attacks on our livelihoods must end and that we are standing up for respect and dignity from this employer.”

Late in the evening of Friday, Oct. 11, after the counting of ballots, the USW, on behalf of itself and the nine other unions representing ASARCO workers, provided 48 hours’ notice to terminate the extension agreement under which the parties have worked since December 1, 2018. 

Following the termination of the extension agreement, picketing will begin simultaneously at ASARCO’s Arizona properties at 11:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Sunday, Oct. 13 and at 1:00 a.m. Central Daylight Time on Monday, Oct. 14 at its Amarillo, Texas, facility.

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.

Imagine a President Uniting People

AFL-CIO - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 09:43
Imagine a President Uniting People AFL-CIO

Imagine a president lifting 40 million citizens out of the poverty he had struggled under. Imagine a president making it easier for people who had been excluded from their nation’s wealth to get decent jobs, basic public services, a college education or technical training. Imagine a president uplifting his country on the world stage as a model for shared prosperity and an economy that works for working people regardless of their race. Imagine that president leaving office after two terms with an approval rating over 80%. Where do you imagine that president should be nine years after leaving office?

Imagine it or not, the president described above is in jail, unjustly convicted to prevent him from running again in 2018—even though he led in all the polls. His name is Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) traveled to Curitiba, Brazil, this week, joining the global labor movement to demand Lula’s release and present the country’s former president the 2019 George Meany–Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award. The AFL-CIO announced the award in March to recognize Lula’s lifelong work. In Brazil this week, the AFL-CIO extended its solidarity and support to Lula, the whole Brazilian labor movement, and the country’s vibrant social and political activists and groups who continue fighting for a better life and social justice.

Trumka said:

The AFL-CIO and its unions will work to engage American workers and their families who remember what it’s like to have a president who works for the people. The struggle to free Lula and defend democracy in Brazil is not just for Brazilians, but for all of us.

Lula Livre! Free Lula!

Lula said: 

They are talking about lightening my sentence or letting me finish it under house arrest, but I insist that I will stay right in this jail until I prove my innocence. I will not trade my dignity to get released. And I will keep fighting for all Brazilians and our democracy. We will prove that the judges and prosecutors and media lied to put me here and steal our democracy. We will take it back.

Lula is a political prisoner because of all the good he did to make development more equitable in Brazil, improving workers' rights, and the inclusion and access to social and human rights, in general. The AFL-CIO, its unions and the International Trade Union Confederation and the global labor movement are calling for Lula’s immediate release because of his life’s work for democracy and social justice and because of the many illegalities committed in the process that has put him in prison.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 10/11/2019 - 11:43


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