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Labor Unions Are for Safety and Creativity

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 07:41
Labor Unions Are for Safety and Creativity Terence Faircloth

I do not go around asking people if they believe in God. But I frequently ask people if they believe in labor unions. I am genuinely curious about how people around me think about collective bargaining in workplaces. How do people who work for a living, or who have at some point worked for a living (meaning most of us) think about people being courageous, together, for the sake of the integrity of their work or the safety of their work or the dignity of their lives at work? Several men working for the fire department recently said, loud enough for people coming out of the grocery store to hear, “Oh, yes ma’am, we sure do need our union.” In a hotel elevator this summer, a man, carrying a poster noting his retirement as an airline pilot, said he is clear that people working in the industry, at all levels, need labor unions. He said it was a basic matter of safety.

This is one very obvious reason why everyone who walks around in the world needs labor unions. If you drive in a car, you want the people who put your car together to have the ability to stop production if they notice something is awry. If you ride around on one of those rent-by-the-day scooters, you want the people who put the scooter together to have been able to take the time to test whether or not the scooter is safe to scoot. (Same for the people who put together the helmet you should be wearing if you are scooting. Just saying.) People who work for the fire department need equipment that allows them to put out the fire safely and quickly if, by chance, you have overestimated your oven’s ability to be “self-cleaning.” (A real, and embarrassing, example.) Look up the cover of “The Berenstain Bears: Jobs Around Town” and tell me a job that Jan and Stan Berenstain feature that does not need a labor union? The man on the girder being lifted by a crane needs the person pulling the lever to be able to call in sick if necessary. The woman selling hot dogs does not want to sell Sister Bear a dog with, well...actual dog under the relish. The bear walking across the bridge with what appears to be a giant pumpkin relies on the fact that the bears who built the bridge had time off to eat lunches and sleep. And the bear with the pink shirt, up in the corner, painting on a canvas? They need a labor union, too.

This is one of the trickiest concepts for some people to grasp. Labor unions are about our safety as people living together in a town or city, and they are also about creativity. As a writer and a teacher, I need the committed, active support of other writers and teachers in order to write and to teach in my own unique, best, way. While I was a graduate student, collective bargaining allowed me to write what turned out to be a damn good dissertation (and eventually a book) without worrying that my adviser would punish me for writing something very different than what he had published. I needed the courage in common that was collective bargaining to formulate my own particular and singular way of thinking. Actors, photographers, journalists, sculptors—all have expressed a similar sense that labor unions allow for individual freedom in their craft. If you want to hear what music sounds like without labor unions, turn on your canned radio station and hear the same pop song every two hours, interspersed with a few others deemed by someone in marketing to meet the least common denominator of music. Alternatively, find the alternative station in the genre that helps you through your own workday, and consider periodically the teamwork behind the scenes that allowed those musicians to defy what some person in the number-crunching department determined would be passable as music.

There are no doubt some people in this world who manage to be remarkably creative without labor unions and the collective bargaining that comes with courage. I am frankly worn out from trying. I need a union as much as people putting out fires and people putting airplanes together. My labor is also important, and so I will keep asking people about their unions and their ideas about unions. And I will keep trying to find the best, most creative and unique ways to explain why I need a team.

Amy Laura Hall has taught ethics at Duke University since 1999. Her most recent book is Laughing at the Devil: Seeing the World with Julian of Norwich. This post originally appeared at the North Carolina State AFL-CIO.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 09/13/2019 - 09:41

Working People Remember Those Lost Because of 9/11

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 10:47
Working People Remember Those Lost Because of 9/11 IAFF

The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, 18 years ago today, affected all Americans, but they had a particular impact upon first responders. Thousands of lives were lost that day and more died in the aftermath because of illnesses related to the attacks. The members and leaders of the various unions affected by the 9/11 attacks are memorializing the anniversary in various ways. Here is what they are saying:


Eighteen years ago, 343 FDNY members died in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Since then, more than 200 IAFF members have died from 9/11-related illnesses.

— IAFF (@IAFFNewsDesk) September 11, 2019


Families, #firefighters gather at World Trade Center site for 18th annual memorial service for 9/11 victims #NeverForget

— IAFF (@IAFFNewsDesk) September 11, 2019


“As we mark the anniversary of one of the most tragic days in our country’s history, the members of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York join with all Americans in mourning the thousands lost in New York City, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C....”

— NYC Building Trades (@NYCBldgTrades) September 11, 2019 the result of the despicable attacks that occurred on 9/11. We honor and remember the 61 members of the New York City Building Trades who died in the towers that day, as well as the vast numbers of police officers, firefighters and other first responders who perished.

— NYC Building Trades (@NYCBldgTrades) September 11, 2019


While most New Yorkers were running away from Lower Manhattan, thousands of members of the Building Trades literally ran towards the devastation to help in whatever way they could. Nearly 10,000 construction workers volunteered to help clean up the Ground Zero site...

— NYC Building Trades (@NYCBldgTrades) September 11, 2019


...and they eventually made up eighty percent of the workers there. Through their courageous actions, our brother and sister construction workers showed their patriotism, their love for their fellow human beings, and their commitment to the future of New York City.

— NYC Building Trades (@NYCBldgTrades) September 11, 2019


As a result of these valiant efforts, many suffered illnesses and, sadly, many died. The depth of their commitment is a direct reflection of the union spirit, a spirit driven by a sense of common humanity, solidarity, and kinship. Over the course of more than 150 years...

— NYC Building Trades (@NYCBldgTrades) September 11, 2019


...America’s organized labor movement has enjoyed a proud history. As we reflect on this history, let us remember the bravery, the dedication and the sacrifice of those construction workers who bravely put their health and safety at risk to rebuild Lower Manhattan.

— NYC Building Trades (@NYCBldgTrades) September 11, 2019


We remember what they did, and we thank them. God bless America. #NeverForget #GodBlessAmerica

— NYC Building Trades (@NYCBldgTrades) September 11, 2019


Today we honor the 3,000 transit workers who participated in the rescue and recovery effort at Ground Zero. NYCT restored service hours after the towers fell. TWU Local 100 members successfully evacuated thousands. #neverforget @NYSAFLCIO @CentralLaborNYC @transportworker

— TWU Local 100 (@TWULocal100) September 11, 2019


Today we mourn our members and all victims of the senseless #September11 attacks

— Machinists Union (@MachinistsUnion) September 11, 2019


#WeNeverForget #FDNY #OurIAFF #IAFF @IAFFNewsDesk

— Ed Kelly IAFF GST (@IAFFGST) September 11, 2019


#WeNeverForget #FDNY #Tradition #Respect #Honor @IAFFNewsDesk

— IAFF District 3 VP (@IAFFdist3VP) September 11, 2019

The New York City Police Department has a memorial website in honor of the law enforcement officers who lost their lives in connection with 9/11.

Also watch these videos, which provide more context and pay further tribute.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 09/11/2019 - 12:47

Celebrating Labor Day: Labor Podcast and Radio Roundup

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 13:13
Celebrating Labor Day: 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.

Follow the links below to find podcasts. They also can be found wherever you listen to podcasts:

Building Bridges: Your Community and Labor Report: "Reminiscent of Apartheid South Africa, Trump and Netanyahu form unholy alliance to silence Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib’s support of the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement in support of Palestinian people, with Ali Albunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of the Battle for Justice in Palestine."

Heartland Labor Forum: "We’re going to cover some labor news⁠—most of it local that you hear little about anywhere else. Then we preview Kansas’ first Troublemakers School training worker activists in how to be effective hell raisers. You may even find out which Kansas City icon corporation just fired all its union janitors. Thursday at 6 p.m., rebroadcast Friday at 5 a.m. on KKFI 90.1 FM or streaming at"

State of the Unions (AFL-CIO): "What does Beverly Hills have to do with unions? Julie Greene and Tim Schlittner talk to SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris about the future of work, sexual harassment and her journey from young actor to labor leader."

UCOMM Live (NYC Area): "On this week's show we are going to be discussing union leaders getting younger and UCOMM's Office gets defaced. We have opened on investigation, was it the Alt-Right, Barstool Sports or just some drunken hipsters? Plus Trump attacks labor, a letter carrier is killed in the latest mass shooting, and we look at how unions celebrated Labor Day. This week's show is our first at the new time of 4 p.m."

Union Strong (NYS AFL-CIO) Podcast Episode 18: NYC Labor Day Parade 2019: "The president of the NYC Central Labor Council is our guest to talk about the oldest and largest worker parade in the country. And we hear from the secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, Liz Shuler who is this year’s grand marshal."

'Workers Rising' 2019 Labor Day Special (Union City Radio, Washington, D.C.): "Includes Labor Radio/Podcast Network Roundtable with Gene Lantz (Workers Beat, Dallas, Texas); Chris LaGrange (UCOMM podcast, New York City); Rick Smith (Rick Smith Show, Pennsylvania); and Judy Ancel (Heartland Labor Forum, Kansas City)."

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 09/10/2019 - 15:13

Tags: Podcast

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Operating Engineers

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 10:23
Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Operating Engineers

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Operating Engineers.

Name of Union: International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE)

Mission: To serve the needs and develop the skills of a constantly expanding and varied group of construction and maintenance professionals through collective bargaining, legislative action and extensive skills training programs.

Current Leadership of Union: James T. Callahan serves as the general president of IUOE. He was first elected in 2011. Previously, he served as international vice president and business manager of IUOE Local 15 in New York. Callahan was one of many operating engineers who responded immediately on 9/11, and he worked the entire recovery effort at Ground Zero.

Brian E. Hickey serves as general secretary-treasurer. IUOE also has 14 vice presidents: Russell E. Burns, James M. Sweeney, Robert T. Heenan, Daniel J. McGraw, Daren Konopaski, Michael Gallagher, Greg Lalevee, Terrance E. McGowan, Randall G. Griffin, Douglas W. Stockwell, Ronald J. Sikorski, James T. Kunz Jr., Edward J. Curly and Charlie Singletary.

Current Number of Members: 400,000.

Members Work As: Members who are operating engineers work as heavy equipment operators, mechanics and surveyors in the construction industry. Stationary engineers work in operations and maintenance in building and industrial complexes.

Industries Represented: Private industry and in various public projects such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools and government complexes.

History: In the late 1800s, working conditions were harsh for construction and stationary workers. Low wages, no benefits and 60–90 hour workweeks were the norm. In 1896, 11 individuals met in Chicago and formed the National Union of Steam Engineers of America, the first step in the creation of IUOE.

A year later, the union admitted Canadian workers and became the International Union of Steam Engineers. After the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, operating engineers flocked to the city for rebuilding jobs. They also were a key part of digging the Panama Canal.

In 1912, the union changed its name to the International Union of Steam and Operating Engineers. As technology advanced, steam became less a part of the industry and "steam" was dropped.

During the era of the two world wars and beyond, IUOE members were a significant part of the defense effort, from the Navy Seabees, who created the bases, airfields and roads, to the federal Highway Trust program, which created thousands of jobs for operating engineers. They also were part of many other important construction projects, including San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Chicago’s Sears Tower (renamed Willis Tower in 2009), Toronto’s CN Tower and Sky Dome (renamed Rogers Centre), New York’s Empire State Building and Holland Tunnel, the Statue of Liberty, Vancouver’s Lions Gate Bridge, the Alaskan pipeline, the Hoover Dam and countless others.

Current Campaigns/Community Efforts: IUOE runs extensive training programs and maintains the International Training and Education Center. They also focus on recruiting women workers in apprenticeships. The International Operating Engineer publication provides information and news for working people in the industry.

Learn More: Website.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 09/09/2019 - 12:23

Pathway to Progress: The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Fri, 09/06/2019 - 10:00
Pathway to Progress: The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom Wikimedia Commons

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

We recently marked the 56th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The full title makes it clear that the historical touchstone was about civil rights and worker rights. And the labor movement was key to the success of the march.

By any account, the march on Aug. 28, 1963, was a success. More than 250,000 people participated in what was then the largest demonstration for human rights in U.S. history. The pathway that led to the march started much earlier.

A. Philip Randolph, a leader in both the civil rights movement and a labor organizer with the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, began pushing for a march on Washington as early as 1941. Randolph, labor activist Bayard Rustin and others nearly pulled off a march that year, but it was called off late in the organizing. From then until late 1962, Randolph got little response from civil rights leaders. Changing this would be a key to pulling the march off. He worked with the heads of the "Big Six" civil rights organizations, which included not only Randolph's Sleeping Car Porters, but also the NAACP, the National Urban League, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Conference of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

That began to change once Randolph and Rustin got together to plan a march commemorating the centennial of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. In early 1963, Bull Connor became national news when he turned fire hoses and attack dogs on children and then attitudes about the march quickly changed. Rustin was to originally direct operations for the march, but when some activists balked at having a homosexual man as the face of the march, he was replaced by Randolph.

Rustin continued to organize the event, however, and leading up to the march, they faced tough challenges, including bringing together civil rights leaders, defending against attacks from segregationists, moderates who wanted a slower approach to progress and the logistics of the largest peaceful protest in the country's history. 

The influence of Randolph and Rustin on the agenda of the march was obvious. Among the list of demands the marchers presented were: a massive federal jobs and training program for unemployed workers, a national minimum wage that provided for a decent standard of living, an expansion of the Fair Labor Standards Act to include all areas of labor and a federal Fair Employment Practices Act barring discrimination in government hiring at all levels.

Labor's influence on the march wasn't limited to leadership. The UAW provided much of the funding for the march. Randolph's Sleeping Car Porters helped transport thousands of demonstrators to and from the event. And many unions participated in the march, either officially or unofficially, as their members joined the cause.

One of the most important and memorable events in American history was not only a civil rights event, but from beginning to end, a demonstration on behalf of working people. We face many of the same issues in our current political climate, and the efforts that led to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom provide us with inspiration to continue building an America where all working people can thrive.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 09/06/2019 - 12:00

Tags: Labor History

Economy Gains 130,000 Jobs in August; Unemployment Steady at 3.7%

Fri, 09/06/2019 - 09:31
Economy Gains 130,000 Jobs in August; Unemployment Steady at 3.7%

The U.S. economy gained 130,000 jobs in August, and the unemployment rate remained at 3.7%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

In response to the August job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs said: "The weak numbers show the Fed did the right thing to do a course correction and lower rates this summer. But they now need to consider more cuts to keep the slow down from escalating." He also tweeted:

Difficulties for workers shows when unemployed women find it hard to find jobs and so end up more likely to quit looking than to get a job. The number unemployed more than 27 weeks increased (unemployed means looking for work, NOT drawing UI benefits) increased 77,000 @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) September 6, 2019


And, the number who found part time work, but wanted full-time work went up 397,000. The broadest measure of labor utilization problems--U-6, which includes those working part-time but want full-time and those who are discouraged, rose from 7.0 to 7.2% in August. @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) September 6, 2019


After trending down, last month the broadest measure of labor force stress--U-6--ticked up from 7.0 to 7.2. Workers are showing signs of the slowing growth rate in jobs. @AFLCIO #JobsReport

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) September 6, 2019


On the plus side, the share of Americans with a job continued its recovery begun in August 2011. In August the gain came from women (all racial groups) and was flat or fell slightly for men. @AFLCIO #JobsReport

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) September 6, 2019


August average duration for unemployment edged up after dipping, now up to 22.1 weeks. Another sign of weakness in finding jobs. @AFLCIO #JobsReport

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) September 6, 2019

Last month's biggest job gains were in federal government (28,000), health care (24,000), financial activities (15,000), professional and business services (37,000) and social assistance (13,000). Employment declined in mining (-6,000) and retail trade (-11,000). Employment in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, and leisure and hospitality, showed little change.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for teenagers (12.6%), blacks (5.5%), Hispanics (4.2%), adult men (3.4%), whites (3.4%), adult women (3.3%) and Asians (2.8%) showed little or no change in August.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) rose in August and accounted for 20.6% of the unemployed.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 09/06/2019 - 11:31

Tags: Jobs Report

Stand Up and Be Recognized: Worker Wins

Tue, 08/27/2019 - 08:44
Stand Up and Be Recognized: Worker Wins

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with actors and actresses winning new contracts and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.

SAG-AFTRA Signs New Agreement with Ad Agency BBH After 10-Month Strike: After a strike that lasted 10 months, SAG-AFTRA has negotiated a new contract with advertising agency BBH. The deal means BBH will provide union wages, pension and health contributions to all actors. David White, national executive director for SAG-AFTRA, said: "We are pleased to welcome BBH back to the SAG-AFTRA family. The tremendous solidarity of our entire membership is to thank for in helping bring BBH back to the table. Our members look forward to once again collaborating with BBH and providing their professional talent to create innovative, memorable and award-winning commercials."

Netflix and SAG-AFTRA Reach Deal with Significant Improvements for Actors: Netflix and SAG-AFTRA have reached a new three-year contract that includes several major improvements for actors that appear in the streaming service's movies and shows. The new agreement treats voice-over and motion capture the same as other actors. The contract also includes better residuals from theatrical releases, creates new protections against harassment, sets new overtime rules for stunt performers and other gains.

Workers at Spot Coffee in Buffalo Become Among the First Baristas to Unionize: Baristas at Spott Coffee in Buffalo have voted to form a union, making them among the first baristas in the country to seek to organize a union. Jaz Brisack, the lead organizer for Workers United, which helped organize the campaign, said: "It's really a relatively new thing to organize baristas, so this is a very groundbreaking campaign and it's really significant. 'I think that it will empower people to realize what's possible. Other places will say, 'If the Spot workers can do it, why can't we?'"

San Diego Unified School District Employees Join AFSA: Principals, vice principals, school police supervisors, operations managers, education, food and transportation supervisors voted to join the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA). AFSA President Ernest Logan said: "This is a new day for the San Diego Unified School District. The [Administration Association of San Diego City Schools] affiliation is a milestone for the union that will give a stronger voice—locally, statewide and nationally—to school leaders in San Diego Unified. This new power will enhance their ability to deliver a better education to the children of this community."

NLRB Finds Firings of Five IAM Members at Boeing in South Carolina Unjust: A group of flight line inspectors and technicians voted overwhelmingly to be represented by the Machinists (IAM) in 2018, but the company has fought back against the organizing campaign. A National Labor Relations Board regional director found that the firings of five employees at the 787 Dreamliner facility in North Charleston were unlawful acts of retaliation against union supporters. IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. said: "This ruling is a landmark first step to victory for workers at Boeing South Carolina. Boeing has continuously and systematically ignored the law and trampled on the rights of its own employees in South Carolina. We call on Boeing to immediately reinstate our members, sit down now to negotiate a contract with its Flight Line employees, end its scorched-earth anti-union campaign and get back to the business of working with the IAM and our members to build aircraft. Now is not the time for Boeing to be abusing its safety rules to harass and fire experienced and skilled workers who are critical to the safety of Boeing airplanes."

Machinists Reach Deal with General Electric to Avoid Strike: More than 1,250 IAM members in Ohio and Wisconsin will not be going on strike after a new contract with General Electric was agreed to. President Martinez said: "Our negotiating committee worked tirelessly to secure a tentative agreement that reflects the importance of our members' role in making GE the company it is today. The voices of our membership have been heard in every step of this process."

Martha's Vineyard Bus Drivers Win First Contract After Strike: Bus drivers represented by Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) won their first-ever contract after a monthlong strike during tourist season. The drivers are contracted with Transit Connection to work for the Vineyard Transit Authority. The new contract provides pay increases and seniority protections. Driver Richard Townes said: "This is a historical day for VTA drivers and a great day for the island. We can now better provide for our families, our jobs are more secure, and we can get back to safely transporting our riders, friends and allies, whose support on the picket lines and year-round was critical in achieving this fair contract."

ACLU of Maryland Staff Join OPEIU: Staffers at the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland voted for representation by Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU) Local 2. Justin Nalley, an education policy analyst, said: "We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to negotiate a workplace that is fair and equitable for all staff. The staff of the ACLU of Maryland take exercising our rights as employees as seriously as the work we produce on behalf of our clients, Maryland residents and the broader ACLU of Maryland family. We hope the ACLU of Maryland will hold itself to the same values we use to fight for our civil liberties every day and apply those values to our internal workplace reform. While it is unfortunate the unionization process was met with increased distrust on the management side and has taken nearly half a year after asking for voluntary recognition, we expect the contract negotiation to be more efficient and collaborative as we all share the same goals."

BuzzFeed Voluntarily Recognizes Employee Union After Walkout: After months of negotiations and a walkout, BuzzFeed has finally agreed to voluntarily recognize the union employees have fought for. The employees walked off the job in order to gain union recognition and improvements to management, pay inequality and job security. In a release, the union said: "We’re excited to share that we have reached a voluntary recognition agreement with BuzzFeed. On Tuesday, a third party will conduct a card-check. Once that’s completed, our union will be certified. And we can’t wait to celebrate our victory once it’s official!”

Committee to Protect Journalists Staff Join Writers Guild of America, East: After more than 90% of the staff signed union authorization cards, the staff at the Committee to Protect Journalists have joined the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). Natalie Southwick, who works as the program coordinator for Central and South America for CPJ, said: "We’ve grown a lot as an organization over the last four to five years, and that means that practices that were in place when our organization was half this big are no longer necessarily the ones that make sense for our current size and goals. CPJ’s growth has also made it more difficult to maintain consistency across the organization in terms of opportunities, policies and accountability. We wanted to make sure we were taking proactive steps to ensure this is a positive workplace for everyone as we continue to grow."

California Grocery Store Workers Secure Contract: United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 8-Golden State has negotiated a new contract with Safeway and Vons. About the deal, UFCW 8-Golden State President Jacques Loveall said: "At the bargaining table we were able to build on the key achievements of decades of union solidarity. This contract is one of our best ever, a big ‘win’ for union members."

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 08/27/2019 - 10:44

Tags: Organizing

Unambiguously Pro-Worker: The Working People Weekly List

Mon, 08/26/2019 - 10:00
Unambiguously Pro-Worker: 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.

Presidential Candidates Warned: They Must be 'Unambiguously Pro-Worker' to Earn Union Leader's Endorsement: "The national leader that represents nearly 12.5 million union workers says the two dozen candidates running for president must be 'unambiguously pro-worker and pro-union' to earn the organization's endorsement. 'The path to the nomination and the White House runs through the labor movement,' Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, a federation of 55 national and international unions, said Wednesday via video-conference to the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO's annual convention. Trumka said the organization is looking for someone who lives and breathes unions, puts workers first every time—not just in front of a union audience—and has 'more than platitudes' on growing the labor movement."

Save Our Apprenticeships: What Working People Are Doing This Week: "Welcome to our regular feature, a look at what the various AFL-CIO unions and other working family organizations are doing across the country and beyond. The labor movement is big and active—here's a look at the broad range of activities we're engaged in this week."

Union Veterans Fight for Texas Catering Workers: "On Tuesday morning, as union veteran Sam Tijerina drove from Pasadena, Texas, to Dallas, he had a lot on his mind. His thoughts wandered as he passed mile markers and towns—he thought about his young family at home and the life that having a union job has provided them. 'A union card has allowed me to live with dignity,' he said."

Free At Last! 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."

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Save Our Apprenticeships: "On the latest episode of 'State of the Unions,' podcast co-host Tim Schlittner talks to North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU) Chief of Staff Mike Monroe about a Department of Labor proposal that would undermine world-class apprenticeships in the construction industry."

Lesotho Plan Has All Elements to End Gender-Based Violence at Work: "A new worker-centered, precedent-setting program will comprehensively address the rampant gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) denying thousands of women garment workers a safe and dignified workplace in Lesotho."

Ahead of Election Season, New Jersey State AFL-CIO’s Labor Candidates School Grooms New Crop of Office-Seeking Union Members: "It was a monumental weekend for 28 union members who graduated from the New Jersey State AFL-CIO’s 23rd Annual Labor Candidates School on Sunday."

AFL-CIO International Affairs Committee's Response to Israel's Denial of Entry to Reps. Omar and Tlaib: "The AFL-CIO International Affairs Committee issued the following response to the government of Israel’s decision to deny entry to Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib."

Meet the 2019 NYC Labor Day Parade Grand Marshal: Elizabeth Shuler: "As a graduate of the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism, Elizabeth (Liz) Shuler, like many young people today, pieced together part-time jobs, lived at home and struggled to find decent work in the early 1990s. Experiencing uncertainty in the economy made her realize that every job is an opportunity to stand up for the underdog. Today, as secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, the second-highest position in the labor movement, Shuler serves as the chief financial officer of the federation and oversees operations. Shuler is the first woman elected as the federation’s secretary-treasurer, holding office since 2009."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 08/26/2019 - 12:00

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Elevator Constructors

Mon, 08/26/2019 - 08:00
Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Elevator Constructors AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Elevator Constructors.

Name of Union: International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC)

Mission: To promote and protect the interests of elevator constructors, with a focus on dignity, skills and the well-being of members.

Current Leadership of Union: Frank J. Christensen serves as general president, with James K. Bender II serving as assistant general president and Larry J. McGann as general secretary-treasurer.

Current Number of Members: 29,000.

Members Work As: Elevator constructors.

Industries Represented: Construction sites across industries throughout the United States and Canada.

History: On July 15, 1901, 11 men met at the Griswold Hotel in Pittsburgh. They were all elevator constructors in the early days of that field of work and they came from several cities. They drafted bylaws and a constitution, elected officers and formed the National Union of Elevator Constructors, which would later become the IUEC.

They applied for a charter and membership in the National Building Trades Council of the American Federation of Labor and were approved. The total expense of the founding convention was $13.90 and the whole process, from the launch of the convention to approval from the AFL, took three days. The elevator constructors knew what they wanted to achieve and had a pretty good idea of how to get it done.

By 1903, the union had expanded into Canada and had become the International Union of Elevator Constructors. The growth of skyscrapers necessarily led to the growth of the elevator construction industry. Advancing technology created a need for qualified and well-trained constructors, and the new union helped establish its members as the best in the world.

Early meetings with manufacturers and the building trades led to a letter of mutual agreement that stated that only IUEC would construct elevators. The AFL granted IUEC's charter not long after. While changes in labor law and jurisdictional disputes would present challenges for IUEC, the union fought through them to continue serving the best interests of its members and the industry. In 2001, IUEC celebrated its 100th anniversary and pledged to continue the founders' commitment to the dignity, skills and well-being of its members.

Current Campaigns/Community Efforts: IUEC built a member memorial at its headquarters in Columbia, Maryland, and you can purchase a brick to help remember those who lost their lives in the trade. The National Elevator Constructors Political Action Committee works to ensure the industry's working people are represented in the lawmaking process. IUEC issues regular safety alerts and maintains contact with members through IUEC Connect and the IUEC app, which is available on Android and iOS. 

Learn More: WebsiteTwitter, YouTube.

Check out our previous profiles.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 08/26/2019 - 10:00

Union Veterans Fight for Texas Catering Workers

Thu, 08/22/2019 - 08:21
Union Veterans Fight for Texas Catering Workers

On Tuesday morning, as union veteran Sam Tijerina drove from Pasadena, Texas, to Dallas, he had a lot on his mind. His thoughts wandered as he passed mile markers and towns—he thought about his young family at home and the life that having a union job has provided them. “A union card has allowed me to live with dignity,” he said.

Tijerina was traveling to one of the largest acts of civil disobedience that the Texas labor movement has waged in years. LSG Sky Chef workers, who are contracted by American Airlines, planned a rally with UNITE HERE to advocate for raising wages. “It was important to be part of the civil disobedience because my fellow veterans are affected by poor wages,” Tijerina said. “There are an estimated 1.3 million veteran workers who earn less than $15 an hour. It is disheartening to know my brothers and sisters have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. One job should be enough.”

More than 600 supporters showed up at the protest, including catering workers, union members from other airports and local supporters like Tijerina. He was one of 58 people who were arrested while blocking traffic during the protest.

Tijerina is an Elevator Constructor (IUEC) from Local 31 and a Marine veteran who served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom II. The Marines taught him about selfless service and how to lead by example. “I know that it’s not just about me,” Tijerina said. “It's about fighting for everyone, no matter what their situation is.” This is the same sentiment echoed by Union Veterans Council Executive Director Will Attig at a recent speech to the Texas AFL-CIO convention, shortly before announcing the creation of a Texas chapter of the Union Veterans Council. “Leaders lead from the front and motivate others to take action,” Attig added. “Texas union vets are ready to take action to support the working people of this state.”

Earlier this year, Attig was among a group of union leaders and activists who were arrested at the U.S. Capitol during the government shutdown, when a quarter of 1 million veteran workers faced no pay and job instability. Attig hopes this action will motivate fellow union veterans to get more involved. Attig wants Union Veterans Council members and the labor movement to know that union veterans are a force to be reckoned with.

The Union Veterans Council is working to unify our veterans by giving them the tools and platform to make their voices heard on a local and national level, along with inspiring union veterans to take an action-based role in the labor movement. Tijerina is just one of a growing movement of union veterans across the country who are using their voices to fight and advocate for fellow workers and the issues that matter to their community. 

Visit us on our website or on social media

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 08/22/2019 - 10:21

Free At Last! Labor Podcast and Radio Roundup

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 12:07
Free At Last! 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.

Follow the links below to find podcasts. They also can be found wherever you listen to podcasts:

America's Work Force: "This week's guests include Cheri Honkala, founder of the Poor People’s Economic Rights Campaign, Frank Mathews, administrative director for Communications Workers of America District 4 in Chicago, and Jim Cullen, editor of the Progressive Populist."

Building Bridges: Your Community and Labor Report: "We welcome home Janet and Janine Africa, after 41 years, and won’t rest until all our political prisoners are free at last! With:

  • Sheroes Janet and Janine finally returned to the beloved community after 41 years of incarceration for a death that actually resulted from a police campaign of terror used against black community organizations;
  • Carlos Africa, Move organizer;
  • Pam Africa, Move organizer; and
  • Commentary by Mumia Abu-Jamal, a political prisoner who remains imprisoned for life without parole and continues his work as a journalist from his jail cell in Pennsylvania. Prior to his wrongful conviction in 1981, Abu-Jamal was a political activist and president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists."

CTU Speaks! Podcast: "The Chicago Teachers Union launched CTU Speaks! earlier this week. The monthly podcast by rank-and-file educators in Chicago Public Schools seeks to empower and unify members through discussions about the union, Chicago’s public schools and communities, and local and national public education issues. CTU Speaks! is the brainchild of the union’s member-led Public Relations and Communications Committee, hosted by committee members Andrea Parker and Jim Staros."

Heartland Labor Forum: "Missouri’s motto is 'Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law,' but the legislature still hasn’t passed Medicaid expansion. This week on the Heartland Labor Forum we’ll talk to Jobs with Justice’s Richard Von Glahn on a new coalition to use the initiative process to win health care coverage for thousands of Missourians. Then we’ll find out from Art Johnson, former president of the Social Security local in Kansas City, just how bad Donald Trump’s union-busting of federal unions is."

UComm Live with Kris LaGrange: "The governor of Massachusetts vetoes a popular bill that would protect employees' right to have a voice at work; ICE conducts their biggest workplace raid ever; Democratic candidate Jay Inslee talks green, union jobs; Rich Trumka warns the Democratic Party not to take its base for granted; what to do when a boss bargains in the press; and the Mets are only one game out of the wild card. PLUS: On Thursday, August 15th on UCOMM Live, we call out Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports for threatening his staff if they attempt to organize; Dave is scared of us, and he should be. Sarker goes into an interesting piece on where are all the union Muslims? Antonio Brown of the Oakland Raiders is not wearing his PPEs; his shop stewards are pissed. Chris Cuomo, Andy's little brother, caught on tape standing up for himself, and Beto O'Rourke comes out with a sensible gun control solution."

Union City Radio: Texas AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Montserrat Garibay; the toxic impact of private equity; AFSCME Local 3001 OmniRide drivers settle a new contract.

Union Strong - Call for Transparency on Campus Foundations: "SUNY’s 30 campus-related foundations have a lot of money⁠—millions. Where does it come from, where is it going and how is it being used? These are all questions raised by UUP, the nation’s largest higher education union. On this podcast, a conversation with UUP President Dr. Fred Kowal about campus foundations and much more."

Workers Beat: "Will have a lineup of local union and other progressive leaders to endorse labor outreach."

Your Rights at Work: "Hosted by Chris Garlock, with Mark Gruenberg; DC’s call-in show about worker rights: those you have, those you don’t, how to get them and how to use them. On this week’s show: Ghost Workers author Mary Gray and a sneak preview of Gene Bruskin’s new labor musical, 'The Moment Was Now.'"

State of the Unions: "Tim talks to NABTU Chief of Staff Mike Monroe about a Department of Labor proposal that would undermine world-class apprenticeships in the construction industry."

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 08/21/2019 - 14:07

Tags: Podcast

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Save Our Apprenticeships

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 08:46
‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Save Our Apprenticeships AFL-CIO

On the latest episode of “State of the Unions,” podcast co-host Tim Schlittner talks to North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU) Chief of Staff Mike Monroe about a Department of Labor proposal that would undermine world-class apprenticeships in the construction industry.

Listen to our previous episodes:

State of the Unions” is available on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, SpotifyStitcher and anywhere else you can find podcasts.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 08/21/2019 - 10:46

Tags: Podcast

Lesotho Plan Has All Elements to End Gender-Based Violence at Work

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 08:45
Lesotho Plan Has All Elements to End Gender-Based Violence at Work

A new worker-centered, precedent-setting program will comprehensively address the rampant gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) denying thousands of women garment workers a safe and dignified workplace in Lesotho.

The program, established by two negotiated and enforceable agreements, will cover 10,000 Lesotho garment workers in five factories that produce jeans and knitwear for the global market. Lesotho-based unions and women’s rights groups, major fashion brands and international worker rights organizations, including the Solidarity Center, negotiated with the factory owner, Nien Hsing Textiles, to mandate education and awareness training for all employees and managers, an independent reporting and monitoring system, and remedies for abusive behavior.

The parties came to the table after the U.S.-based Worker Rights Consortium documented how the mostly female workforce at three Nien Hsing textile factories regularly was coerced into sexual activity with supervisors as a condition of gaining or retaining employment or promotions, and were persistently sexually harassed, verbally and physically.

The Lesothoan unions and women’s rights groups, all with proven histories of fighting to advance the rights of workers and women throughout the country, are: the Federation of Women Lawyers in Lesotho (FIDA), the Independent Democratic Union of Lesotho (IDUL), the National Clothing Textile and Allied Workers Union, Lesotho (NACTWU), the United Textile Employees (UNITE) and Women and Law in Southern Africa Research and Education Trust (WLSA)-Lesotho. They will administer the agreement and will serve on the oversight committee.

The Solidarity Center, WRC and Workers United joined these groups to negotiate the two agreements with Levi Strauss, The Children’s Place, Kontoor Brands and Nien Hsing Textiles.

“This is the first initiative in Lesotho that brings together workers, unions, women’s organizations and employers to work towards one common goal of improving the socioeconomic rights of women in the workplace,” said Thusoana Ntlama, FIDA programs coordinator, and Libakiso Matlho, WLSA national director.

Agreements Follow Report Documenting Abuse at Lesotho Factories

Nearly two-thirds of the garment workers WRC interviewed reported “having experienced sexual harassment or abuse” or having knowledge of harassment or abuse suffered by co-workers, according to the report. Women workers from all three factories identified GBVH as a central concern for themselves and other female employees.

“Many supervisors demand sexual favors and bribes from prospective employees,” one worker told WRC investigators. “They promise jobs to the workers who are still on probationary contracts.[…]All of the women in my department have slept with the supervisor. For the women, this is about survival and nothing else.[…]If you say no, you won’t get the job, or your contract will not be renewed.”

All the Elements to Prevent, Eliminate GBVH at Work

While sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence may happen at any workplace, GBVH is rampant in the global garment and textile industry. Globally, some 85% of garment workers are women. They are especially vulnerable to abuse and violence at work because of imbalanced power structures, high poverty and unemployment.

The Lesotho plan “has all the elements needed to prevent and eliminate gender-based violence at work,” says Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau. “First, there’s real accountability. It is binding and enforceable on all parties. And the global brands and the employer have guaranteed their commitment to enforcing and upholding the code of conduct by signing fully executed, binding and enforceable contracts.”

The agreements:

  • Establish an independent organization to investigate issues, fully empowered to determine remedies;
  • Create a clear code of conduct on unacceptable behaviors and a system for reporting abuse—with garment workers as full participants in creating, implementing and monitoring it; and
  • Establish an education and awareness program that goes beyond the typical harassment and gender violence training. It will be comprehensive and get at the root causes of gender discrimination and violence against women.

Importantly, says Bader-Blau, “the program is sustainable because it’s worker designed, with unions working together with women’s rights groups to deliver it.”

And because the freedom to form unions and collectively bargain has proven essential to addressing gender-based violence and harassment at work and in creating the space for workers to shape a future of work that is fair and democratic, it’s especially key that these agreements also protect workers’ rights to freely form unions, says Bader-Blau.

Nien Hsing, which manufactures apparel for global brands in several countries, signed one agreement with trade unions and women’s rights organizations in Lesotho to establish the GBVH program, and has committed to take recommended action when violations of the program’s code of conduct have been established.

The global brands entered into a parallel agreement in which, should Nien Hsing commit a material breach of its agreement with the unions and NGOs, it will take action, including a potential reduction in orders.

In the past, as one worker told WRC, “The [supervisors accused of harassment] are usually rotated to other departments,” arrangements the plan seeks to eradicate.

Putting the Plan into Action

Lesotho-based women’s rights organizations, unions, the Solidarity Center and WRC will jointly design the education and awareness program and curriculum, with input from the newly created independent investigative organization.

They also will carry out the two-day training in which all workers and managers will take part. Workers will be paid regular wages during the training.

And importantly, says Bader-Blau, “Empowered workers with a negotiated stake in the agreements can identify and report violence and harassment. And because they have established the terms with the employer as equals, they can be sure that retaliation for reporting abuse and the impunity of abusers will end. Unlike corporate social responsibility programs, the Lesotho program is a contractual agreement with the employer, the brands and the unions, which means everyone is accountable to the code of conduct–with workers able to enforce it as an equal party.”

The program is partially modeled after the Fair Food Program, a set of binding agreements between leading food brands, like McDonald’s and Whole Foods, and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Using the type of independent complaint mechanism that will be established by the Lesotho agreements, the Fair Food Program largely has eliminated what had been rampant sexual harassment and coercion in the tomato fields of Florida.

The agreements also build on the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, in which unions were key participants, and recognizes the fundamental role of collective bargaining in negotiating an agreement that is binding on employers and international brands and in bringing accountability to the global supply chain by ensuring the agreement is implemented and enforced.

Funding for the two-year program will come primarily from the three brands, in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the program will kick off in fall 2019.

This post originally appeared at the Solidarity Center.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 08/20/2019 - 10:45

Tags: Solidarity Center

Ahead of Election Season, New Jersey State AFL-CIO’s Labor Candidates School Grooms New Crop of Office-Seeking Union Members

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 09:58
Ahead of Election Season, New Jersey State AFL-CIO’s Labor Candidates School Grooms New Crop of Office-Seeking Union Members NJ AFL-CIO

It was a monumental weekend for 28 union members who graduated from the New Jersey State AFL-CIO’s 23rd Annual Labor Candidates School on Sunday.

The two-day immersion course, held at the union-staffed Rutgers University Inn and Conference Center on Aug. 17 and 18, featured lectures from a number of seasoned election experts. Topics included fundraising, election law, campaign research, message development, public speaking, media relations, voter contact, volunteer recruitment, targeting and digital strategy.

"To say I’m proud of the graduates of this year’s Labor Candidates School would be an understatement," said Charles Wowkanech, president of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO. “It’s exciting to see so many union members interested in running for elected office. These ambitious brothers and sisters understand the issues facing the working class, and once they’re elected, they’ll pursue a proactive and progressive labor agenda at the state and local level.

“This new crop of labor candidates has the full support of the state fed, and we look forward to mentoring them during this upcoming election season,” Wowkanech added.      

Wowkanech launched the Labor Candidates School in 1997 as part of the state federation's ongoing effort to recruit, train and support union members running for elected office. Since then, the school has helped 1,031 union members get elected to local, state and federal offices.

More than 150 Labor Candidates School graduates currently hold public office. Among them are U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, State Senate President Steve Sweeney, State Sen. Troy Singleton and Assemblymen Joe Egan, Wayne DeAngelo, Eric Houghtaling, Tom Giblin, Anthony Verrelli and Paul Moriarty. As officeholders, these graduates have championed policies that reflect the priorities of New Jersey’s working families, such as paid family leave and raising the minimum wage.

With its ever-increasing tally of election victories and 78% win ratio, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO’s Labor Candidates School has become a nationwide paragon of success. In fact, many state federations now are expanding their political programs based on New Jersey’s labor candidate training model. This includes the Minnesota AFL-CIO, which sent Field Director Pommella Wegmann to New Jersey to observe the school this past weekend.    

“Minnesota’s labor movement is excited to bring this tried-and-tested labor candidate training to the Midwest,” Wegmann said. “The New Jersey State AFL-CIO has built the premier program in the country, and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to attend this school and learn from their staff.” 

As of now, 66 union members are running for political offices throughout New Jersey in November’s general election. For a complete list of New Jersey State AFL-CIO endorsements, click here.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 08/19/2019 - 11:58

AFL-CIO International Affairs Committee's Response to Israel's Denial of Entry to Reps. Omar and Tlaib

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 12:38
AFL-CIO International Affairs Committee's Response to Israel's Denial of Entry to Reps. Omar and Tlaib

The AFL-CIO International Affairs Committee issued the following response to the government of Israel’s decision to deny entry to Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib:

As longtime supporters of Israel, and its General Federation of Labor, the Histadrut, we urge the government of Israel to reverse its decision to bar Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) from entering Israel. We say this as close friends of our brothers and sisters in the Histadrut and the Israeli people.

While we strongly disagree with Reps. Omar’s and Tlaib’s positions on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and maintain our longstanding commitment to meaningful, direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians toward a viable two-state solution, we also feel that all members of the U.S. Congress should be able to visit Israel. Regardless of Omar’s and Tlaib’s political positions, they should not be forbidden from visiting Israel.

The AFL-CIO International Affairs Committee:

Christopher Shelton, CWA, Co-Chair
Stuart Appelbaum, RWDSU/UFCW, Co-Chair
Robert Martinez, IAM, Vice Chair
James Boland, BAC
Harold Daggett, ILA
Jennifer Dorning, DPE
Leo Gerard, USW
Lorretta Johnson, AFT
Gary Jones, UAW
Sara Nelson, AFA/CWA
Fred Redmond, USW
Paul Rinaldi, NATCA
Michael Sacco, SIU
Baldemar Velasquez, FLOC

Dennis Loney Fri, 08/16/2019 - 14:38

Business is Booming: The Working People Weekly List

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 10:16
Business is Booming: 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.

NYC's $15 Minimum Wage Hasn't Brought the Restaurant Apocalypse—It's Helped Them Thrive: "New York City restaurant workers saw their pay increase by 20% after a $15 minimum-wage hike, and a new report says business is booming despite warnings that the boost would devastate the city's restaurant industry. As New York raised the minimum wage to $15 this year from $7.25 in 2013, its restaurant industry outperformed the rest of the U.S. in job growth and expansion, a new study found. The study, by researchers from the New School and the New York think tank National Employment Law Project, found no negative employment effects of the city increasing its minimum wage to $15."

ICE Raids Affect the Country's Economy, According to Experts: "Last April, an annual report published by the AFL-CIO indicated that in 2017, 5,147 workers died at their job sites due to 'traumatic injuries', and almost 3.5 million suffered workplace related injuries and diseases. Although there was a decline in accidental deaths in the agricultural sector, it is still one of the most dangerous in the US: for every 100,000 inhabitants, the sector had a rate of 23 deaths, compared to the construction sector, which had 9.5, or that of transport, with 14.3."

Trump Defends Immigration Raids in Mississippi to Deter Illegal Immigration: "Immigrant rights advocacy groups, including the AFL-CIO, the Hispanic Federation, and other civic groups, have also condemned the raids. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said that the raids are only intended to sow fear and ingratiate themselves with divisive elements of the country, and that the only 'crime' of those arrested 'is to work hard for a better life.'"

The U.S. Labor Shortage, Explained: "The U.S. economy doesn’t have enough workers. For a record 16 straight months, the number of open jobs has been higher than the number of people looking for work. The US economy had 7.4 million job openings in June, but only 6 million people were looking for work, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Labor. This is not normal. Ever since Labor began tracking job turnover two decades ago, there have always been more people looking for work than jobs available. That changed for the first time in January 2018."

Perkins Center to Honor AFL-CIO Senior Executive and Child Advocate: "The Frances Perkins Center will honor two women who exemplify Perkins’ inspiring leadership and commitment to social justice and economic security at its annual Garden Party: Liz Shuler, current secretary-treasurer and chief financial officer of the AFL-CIO, advocate for the welfare of working Americans, and Maria Mossaides, the director of Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate, defender of America’s most vulnerable citizens. 'We’re delighted to recognize Liz Shuler and Maria Mossaides for their decades of work in advancing the causes championed by Frances Perkins,' said Perkins Center Executive Director Michael Chaney. Liz Shuler, the second top-level officer for the AFL-CIO, the first woman elected to the position, and the youngest woman to sit on the federation’s Executive Council, will receive the Intelligence and Courage Award."

Save Veteran Construction Training Programs: "After coming home from the Army, Union Veteran Council Executive Director Will Attig struggled to find his place. 'I came home without a job, a degree or a future,' Attig said. That changed when he found a Registered Apprenticeship Program with the North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU) and became a journeyman pipe fitter with the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters (UA)."

Shatter the Silence: In the States Roundup: "It's time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states."

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

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast—Special Episode: The Labor Movement Responds to the El Paso Massacre: "On the latest episode of 'State of the Unions,' podcast co-hosts Julie Greene and Tim Schlittner talk with Texas AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Montserrat Garibay (Education Austin/AFT-NEA) in the wake of the deadly mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. They discuss immigration, organizing and the need for solidarity in times of darkness."

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 08/15/2019 - 12:16

Save Veteran Construction Training Programs

Wed, 08/14/2019 - 09:56
Save Veteran Construction Training Programs Union Veterans Council

After coming home from the Army, Union Veteran Council Executive Director Will Attig struggled to find his place. “I came home without a job, a degree or a future,” Attig said. That changed when he found a Registered Apprenticeship Program with the North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU) and became a journeyman pipe fitter with the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters (UA).

This is not only Attig’s story but countless other veterans who have found the registered apprenticeship programs as a way to achieve the American dream after returning home from service. At the same time, we have seen private organizations and for-profit schools create phony programs that prey on veterans leaving them with sub-par training and no true education. Right now, the future of America's veteran construction workers, the integrity of their industry and programs that support tens of thousands of veterans' transitions are at risk. 

“The Registered Apprenticeship model gives us the same level and quality of training we received in the military,” Attig added. “This is one of the reasons why veterans choose to attend NABTU Registered Apprenticeship Programs and are joining construction unions at a rate almost double then non-veterans.”

A new proposal by the U.S. Department of Labor could drive down training and labor standards in construction registered apprenticeship programs and set off a race to the bottom throughout this industry. We have less than a month to stop it from becoming a reality. Here is how you can add your voice to the fight. While we applaud the government’s interest in expanding apprenticeship opportunities in new industries, [Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs] have no place in construction.

How Can You Help?

First, if you are a union veteran and a member of a building trades union, we need you to click the link below to submit a comment. It takes less than five minutes and could mean the difference in defending the way of life for your fellow construction workers, your family and yourself. 

Building Trade Veterans: Click here to take a stand!

Second, if you are not a member of the building trades but support your fellow union veteran brothers and sisters, please follow the link below to send in a comment voicing your support and solidarity for your fellow union veterans in the trades and the programs that are helping thousands of veterans find a way to truly return home.

Veterans and Supporters: Click here to take a stand!

The proposed IRAPs differ significantly from registered apprenticeship programs. Construction registered programs help recruit, train and retain workers through progressive wage increases; apprentice-to-journey worker ratios that promote safety; quality assurance assessments by the government; uniform standards; mandatory safety training; instructor eligibility requirements; and transparency requirements. The proposed IRAP regulations abandon the important protections of the registered model and give employers the license to implement whatever low-road standards they see fit.

IRAPs in construction would jeopardize both the quality of construction and the safety and security of veterans in the construction workforce, thereby weakening every community across the country where our fellow veterans and workers reside and are needed.

As veterans and supporters of veterans, the time is now to stand together and oppose second-rate IRAP certifications that would undermine the gold-standard that the registered apprenticeship programs have attained. 

This post originally appeared at the Union Veterans Council.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 08/14/2019 - 11:56

Tags: Union Veterans Council

Shatter the Silence: In the States Roundup

Wed, 08/14/2019 - 08:25
Shatter the Silence: In the States Roundup AFL-CIO

It's time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states. Click on any of the links to follow the state federations on Twitter.

Alaska AFL-CIO:

This is just wrong. It's unnecessary, immoral, disrespectful and frankly, inhumane. These attacks on our elders and seniors must stop. #akleg #akgov

— Alaska AFL-CIO (@AKAFLCIO) August 2, 2019

Arkansas AFL-CIO:

NYC's $15 minimum wage hasn't brought the restaurant apocalypse — it's helped them thrive via @businessinsider

— Arkansas AFL-CIO (@ArkansasAFLCIO) August 12, 2019

California Labor Federation:

In CA, we can #ShattertheSilence & protect workers from sexual harassment & discrimination w/ #AB51. Nothing in this bill runs afoul of federal law but it does give workers in CA an important tool to fight #ForcedArbitration @LorenaSGonzalez #YesonAB51

— California Labor Federation (@CaliforniaLabor) August 8, 2019

Connecticut AFL-CIO:

"Now we’ll not only be heard on our concerns about running short-staffed, we’ll have a seat at the table with management to do something about it." #UnionYES @AFTCT @AFLCIO

— Connecticut AFL-CIO (@ConnAFLCIO) August 5, 2019

Idaho State AFL-CIO:

I just wrote a @theactionnet letter: Federal Workers Under Attack. Write one here:

— Idaho State AFL-CIO (@IdahoAFLCIO) August 6, 2019

Indiana State AFL-CIO:

Trump campaigned in 2016 as a voice for forgotten workers, but he consistently sides with large corporations against workers, and his nomination of Scalia would amplify the sad and damaging war on unions. #1u

— Indiana AFL-CIO (@INAFLCIO) August 12, 2019

Iowa Federation of Labor:

Hundreds of Portillo's workers organize #1u

— Iowa AFL-CIO (@IowaAFLCIO) August 7, 2019

Maine AFL-CIO:

Graduation time at the 2019 Labor Summer Institute! #1U #UnionStrong

— Maine AFL-CIO (@MEAFLCIO) August 8, 2019

Massachusetts AFL-CIO:

We stand in #solidarity with the @UNITEHERE26 Battery Wharf Hotel workers after their unanimous strike vote! #1job #1u

— Massachusetts AFL-CIO (@massaflcio) August 6, 2019

Metro Washington (D.C.) Council AFL-CIO:

Striking VA OmniRide drivers reach agreement - Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO with photos!

— MetroDCLaborCouncil (@DCLabor) August 6, 2019

Michigan AFL-CIO:


— Michigan AFL-CIO (@MIAFLCIO) August 8, 2019

Minnesota AFL-CIO:

U.S. Bank Stadium becomes first to achieve LEED Platinum status. And it’s #UnionBuilt by members of @MNBldgTrades unions.

— Minnesota AFL-CIO (@MNAFLCIO) August 10, 2019

Missouri AFL-CIO:

Unions provide workers with an opportunity to get their voices heard in policy debates that shape their lives. #UnionStrong

— Missouri AFL-CIO (@MOAFLCIO) August 9, 2019

Montana AFL-CIO:

Montana's best interests lie with representatives who put workers first! #1u #UnionStrong

— Montana AFL-CIO (@MTaflcio) August 9, 2019

Nebraska State AFL-CIO:

The Nebraska State AFL-CIO stands in unity with the people of El Paso and Dayton - Hate has no place in America - hateful rhetoric has no place in America.

— NE State AFL-CIO (@NEAFLCIO) August 5, 2019

New Mexico Federation of Labor:

Really! #Solidarity for these #CommonSense proposals from our brothers and sisters.

— NMFL (@NMFLaflcio) August 7, 2019

New York State AFL-CIO:

Podcast Episode 16: Hard Hats. Strong Women. Building the Future. #UnionStrong #CountMeIn @NEWStrongWomen @NYCBldgTrades #1u

— NYSAFLCIO (@NYSAFLCIO) August 7, 2019

North Carolina State AFL-CIO:

.@MaryBeMcMillan to speak @UnionSportsmen's Inaugural NC State Conservation Dinner Nov. 6th in #Charlotte #1u

— NC State AFL-CIO (@NCStateAFLCIO) August 6, 2019


Say it loud and proud!

Raising wages actually helps the economy for all working people, passing a @GOP #TaxScam helps the economy only for billionaires and investor class. It’s time to #UnrigTheSystem and have it work for worker!

— Ohio AFL-CIO (@ohioaflcio) August 12, 2019

Oklahoma State AFL-CIO:

Check out our August Newsletter with information on Young Workers in the Labor Movement, Union Made Labor Day, our Convention, Saving Construction Apprenticeships, and more!

Check it out at h

— Oklahoma AFL-CIO (@OK_AFL_CIO) August 5, 2019

Oregon AFL-CIO:

Cara, a recent graduate of Portland State University, explains why she's not shopping at @FredMeyerStores until they #FixTheGap between pay for male and female employees.

Learn more and take action by visiting!

— Oregon AFL-CIO (@OregonAFLCIO) August 7, 2019

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO:

We’re talking the #PROAct, it’s time to protect the workers’ right to organize, and enforce that right! @SenBobCasey @AFLCIO

— PA AFL-CIO (@PaAFL_CIO) August 7, 2019

Rhode Island AFL-CIO:

An updated Union Directory listing union goods and services in RI can be found on our website. Here is the direct link --> Please use and share. #1U #AFLCIO #Union #UnionMade #UnionServices #Unions #UnionStrong

— Rhode Island AFL-CIO (@riaflcio) August 7, 2019

Texas AFL-CIO:

We are ready for Tuesday, Aug. 13th! Are you? The largest labor action in North Texas is prepared to show @americanair that workers deserve respect. #1u #1Job @unitehere @unitehere23

— Texas AFL-CIO (@TexasAFLCIO) August 10, 2019

Virginia AFL-CIO:

Thanks so much to @AFLCIO ‘s Secretary Treasurer @lizshuler for joining us this morning! Thanks for your hard work representing workers everywhere. Check out some of her speech highlights below:

— Virginia AFL-CIO (@Virginia_AFLCIO) August 10, 2019

Washington State Labor Council:

The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO is proud to be part of this coalition and to support Opportunities For All!#ApproveR88

— WA State AFL-CIO (@WAAFLCIO) August 9, 2019

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO:

Laborfest information for Madison via @LaborSCFL #WIunion

— WI AFL-CIO (@wisaflcio) August 12, 2019 Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 08/14/2019 - 10:25

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Bricklayers

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 06:07
Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Bricklayers AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Bricklayers.

Name of Union: International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC)

Mission: To help workers in the industry deal with unfair treatment, discrimination and other workplace issues in pursuit of balancing the power that an employer has over individual employees. To provide information, training and support for bricklayers and allied craftworkers.

Current Leadership of Union: James Boland serves as president of BAC. Boland became a BAC member in 1977 and worked on projects in the San Francisco Bay Area for a decade. In 1988, he became a business agent for BAC Local 3 before being elected president in 1992. A year later, he joined BAC's Executive Council. Boland joined the international union's headquarters staff as assistant to the vice president. Later that year, he became regional director for California and Nevada. He served as secretary-treasurer from 1999 to 2010. He became president in 2010 and was re-elected in 2015.

Timothy J. Driscoll serves as secretary-treasurer. Gerard Scarano and Carlos Aquin serve as executive vice presidents. The executive council also includes regional vice presidents, regional directors, craft vice presidents and at-large members.

Members Work As: Bricklayers, stone and marble masons, cement masons, plasterers, tile setters, terrazzo and mosaic workers, pointers, cleaners and caulkers.

Industries Represented: The organized masonry industry.

History: Watch this video about the history of the Bricklayers.

Current Campaigns/Community Efforts: The BAC Craft Awards recognize distinguished service that BAC members provide to our unions and communities. BAC runs an International Pension Fund, a Member Assistance Program and an International Health Fund to improve the quality of life for members. The Disaster Relief Fund helps members who are survivors of natural or other disasters. Through it's online store, BAC sells tools and branded clothing and other merchandise. BAC has several training and education resources. The BAC Journal provides information for working people in the masonry industry.

Learn MoreWebsiteFacebookTwitter, YouTube, Instagram.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 08/12/2019 - 08:07

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast—Special Episode: The Labor Movement Responds to the El Paso Massacre

Wed, 08/07/2019 - 07:51
‘State of the Unions’ Podcast—Special Episode: The Labor Movement Responds to the El Paso Massacre AFL-CIO

On the latest episode of “State of the Unions,” podcast co-hosts Julie Greene and Tim Schlittner talk with Texas AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Montserrat Garibay (Education Austin/AFT-NEA) in the wake of the deadly mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. They discuss immigration, organizing and the need for solidarity in times of darkness. 

Listen to our previous episodes:

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

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 08/07/2019 - 09:51

Tags: Podcast


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