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Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Editha Adams

Wed, 05/19/2021 - 07:44
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Editha Adams

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Editha Adams.

Editha Adams is a home caregiver who was born in the Philippines and raised in Japan. Now she serves as statewide president of a union, United Domestic Workers, AFSCME Local 3930, representing more than 140,000 care workers, the majority of whom are women of color. Adams wins for her members by working with allies such as the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) and the California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA) to strengthen community bonds and to lift up social justice, justice in aging and disability rights in the labor movement.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 05/19/2021 - 09:44

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Washington State Labor Movement Applauds Historic Farmworker Overtime Pay Law

Wed, 05/19/2021 - 06:30
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Washington State Labor Movement Applauds Historic Farmworker Overtime Pay Law

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

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation earlier this week at the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1439 union hall in Yakima that will make Washington the first state in the nation to bring the 40-hour workweek and overtime pay to all agricultural employees. Passage of legislation ensuring the 40-hour workweek and overtime pay rights for all Washington farm workers has been a priority for the Washington State Labor Council and its affiliated unions, including the United Farm Workers and Familias Unidas por la Justicia. S. 5172 establishes a three-year phase-in period for the new requirement that agricultural employers pay overtime to their employees.

“S. 5172 will end a racist legacy and correct an injustice that has existed for too long,” said Larry Brown (IAM), president of the Washington State Labor Council. This major victory for farmworkers has drawn national attention. Inslee also signed bills that will increase worker safety protections and expand support for frontline workers during public health emergencies.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 05/19/2021 - 08:30

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Zenei Triunfo-Cortez

Tue, 05/18/2021 - 07:00
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Zenei Triunfo-Cortez

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Zenei Triunfo-Cortez.

Zenei Triunfo-Cortez is an RN who serves as one of the presidents of National Nurses United (NNU) and one of the presidents of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (the state affiliate of NNU). She is an inspiring advocate for Asian Americans in the labor movement. Her work has long inspired nurses of Filipina descent, which has been especially critical during the pandemic, when COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on Filipina registered nurses, who compromise nearly one-quarter of all RN COVID-19 deaths.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 05/18/2021 - 09:00

Schools Must Be Open in Fall: The Working People Weekly List

Mon, 05/17/2021 - 09:51
Schools Must Be Open in Fall: The Working People Weekly List

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

President of Key Teachers’ Union Shares Plea: ‘Schools Must Be Open’ in Fall: "Randi Weingarten, president of the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union, called on Thursday for a full reopening of the nation’s schools for the next academic year, saying: 'There is no doubt: Schools must be open. In person. Five days a week.' 'It’s not risk-free,' Ms. Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, which has 1.7 million members, said. She argued that the health risks can be managed through a range of practices—some of them relatively simple, such as masking and handwashing, and some of them more difficult to achieve at scale, such as decreasing class sizes to maintain distance and procuring additional spaces to meet outside cramped school buildings."

Want a Healthier Workplace Culture? Unionize: "A workplace’s culture is shaped by many factors. In my personal experience—as both a labor advocate and a manager—a positive workplace culture starts with employees knowing that their contributions are appreciated by management. Unfortunately, this is not the case for far too many working people who have no collective voice on the job. The exceptions are the 14.3 million workers—including more than six million professionals—in the United States who are represented by unions. These workers are able to secure respect by creating a healthy and collaborative workplace culture through negotiating with their employers."

Green Future Needs to Be Built with Union Jobs and Prevailing Wage: "While the future of clean energy jobs is a hot topic of debate these days, the Joe Biden administration is right to connect labor standards to renewable energy tax credits, pushing the industry towards good, union jobs."

Dozens of Large Companies 'Rigged' CEO Pay During Pandemic, Study Claims: "'CEO pay last year revealed the dirty secret that CEOs are not really paid based on their own individual performance,' said Brandon Rees, deputy director of corporations and markets at the AFL-CIO. 'When you compensate CEOs based on share prices, it incentivizes destructive behavior, but also contributes to economic inequality.'"

Fearing for Their Pensions, Union Members See Hope in Federal Aid: "While the pandemic has brought a lot of economic doubt, there is hope now. Tucked into the $1.9 trillion federal American Rescue Plan is special financial assistance to save more than 200 failing pension plans like Whitaker’s. This will impact millions of workers, including roofers, truck drivers, machinists and musicians—many of whom would have faced huge losses to their retirement benefits but are now breathing a collective sigh of relief."

Lean In Circles Bring Tradeswomen Together to Navigate Bias and Ask for What They Deserve: "Today, LeanIn.Org, North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU), and Canada's Build Together announced Lean In Circles for Union Tradeswomen, a peer mentorship and training program to help women break new ground in an industry that's been historically dominated by men. 'Unions are all about collective voice, and this innovative program offers the perfect opportunity to enhance that solidarity,' said AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Liz Shuler. 'We need more women in the trades, more women in leadership roles, and having programs like this is a meaningful step to create lifelong leadership skills and real tools that will guide tradeswomen throughout their careers. Connecting with other women in similar situations and sharing strategies through networks is invaluable.' Two years in the making, the program was developed by LeanIn.Org in partnership with AFL-CIO and NABTU leaders, subject matter experts, and tradeswomen to address the specific experiences of women in the building trades. The program was piloted in St. Louis, Missouri, and throughout Canada in 2019 and 2020 and received positive feedback from participants: 95% of Circle members said they built strong connections, and 90% of group moderators reported gaining leadership, facilitation, and organizing skills."

Labor Unions Lodge First USMCA Complaint Against Mexican Factory: "The U.S.’s largest labor union is leading a complaint over working conditions at an auto-parts factory in Mexico, the first case to test whether enforcement provisions in a new trade agreement can help to improve working conditions. 'USMCA requires Mexico to end the reign of protection unions and their corrupt deals with employers,' said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. 'The ongoing harassment of Susana Prieto and SNITIS members is a textbook violation of the labor laws Mexico has pledged to uphold.'"

Don't Pin So-Called Labor Shortage on Workers: Economy Was Broken Before COVID-19: "For over a year, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on working people and the communities where we live and work. Millions of front-line workers are going to work today, as they have every day during the pandemic, with few—if any—protections from a virus that has killed 580,000 Americans. But there are also millions of working people who are out of a job through no fault of our own. Today, there are 8.4 million fewer jobs in the U.S. economy than there were in February 2020."

Longtime AFL-CIO Official Takes Up Key Labor Post In Biden Administration: "Today, [Thea] Lee became one of those people in charge when President Biden named her head of the Labor Department's Bureau of International Labor Affairs. In that key post, she will will oversee enforcement of labor provisions in U.S. trade policy, including those in President Donald Trump's major trade deal, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. Among other things, the deal requires Mexico to offer workers greater protections, including against forced labor and violence."

The PRO Act: What’s in It and Why Is It a Labor Movement Priority?: "Enter the Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2021. Better known as the PRO Act, this bill would be the first major worker-friendly labor law reform since the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935, would significantly expand workers’ ability to join and organize unions, and level heavy penalties on employers who stand in their way. There are a number of exciting reforms in the bill, including a federal override of so-called right-to-work laws that weaken unions by allowing members to opt out of paying dues; an end to the hated 1947 Taft-Hartley Act’s ban on secondary strikes (also known as solidarity strikes, these are collective actions that employees in different workplaces can undertake to support another group of workers on strike); an update to the union election process to allow workers to vote online or by phone; enhanced protections for whistleblowers; and a response to the issue of worker misclassification that would give independent contractors—a group left out of the original NLRA that is still denied basic labor rights (especially those who are part of the so-called gig economy)—the right to organize collectively."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 05/17/2021 - 11:51

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Shwe Aung

Mon, 05/17/2021 - 07:43
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Shwe Aung

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Shwe Aung.

Shwe Aung has overcome many obstacles as an inspector and member of the Seafarers (SIU) to bring about change to the treatment of vulnerable workers on ships. His story is one of perseverance and proves that standing up for those you work with can make a difference in the world. Aung worked as a Burmese merchant mariner before coming to the United States as a refugee. Once here, Aung became an American citizen, a labor activist and a highly effective international labor leader.

Watch this video to learn more about Shwe Aung, Burmese cowboy:

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 05/17/2021 - 09:43

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Texas AFL-CIO Continues to Fight Against Voter Suppression

Mon, 05/17/2021 - 06:33
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Texas AFL-CIO Continues to Fight Against Voter Suppression

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

The Texas House last week passed S.B. 7, the dominant voter suppression bill in a legislative session in which monkeying with elections became a top leadership priority despite near-universal agreement that the November election was clean from top to bottom.

The House’s version differs from the Senate’s, creating the possibility of a House-Senate conference committee adopting the worst of both bills because one political party is making the decisions.

Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy (CWA) issued this statement on the 78-64 vote:

S.B. 7 gives new momentum to an ugly legacy of Texas voter suppression, making voting harder, especially for Texans who are Black, Latino, Asian American, immigrants or persons with disabilities. The bill will cost working families jobs, now and in the future, and it will suppress votes, not protect them. S.B. 7 is yet another illustration of how this Legislature has chosen to divide, rather than unite, and to put a purely partisan political playbook ahead of the people of Texas.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 05/17/2021 - 08:33

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Michael Carandang

Fri, 05/14/2021 - 07:30
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Michael Carandang

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Michael Carandang.

Michael Carandang is one of 30 Federal Aviation Administration employees who work in Guam to support the U.S. aviation system. He is an active member of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS) and a union representative for his fellow employees, most of whom are also PASS members. He is proud of his Pacific Islander heritage and is a dedicated federal employee, serving his country since 1982.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/14/2021 - 09:30

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: BAC Joins Forces with Indian Union to Demand Justice for Construction Workers in New Jersey

Fri, 05/14/2021 - 06:30
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: BAC Joins Forces with Indian Union to Demand Justice for Construction Workers in New Jersey

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

The Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) and Indian labor union Pathar Gadhai Mazdoor Suraksha Sangh (PGMSS) are joining forces to raise the alarm about forced labor allegedly taking place at a construction site in Robbinsville, New Jersey. The unions are fighting for the more than 200 Indian immigrant workers there who are being exploited in the construction of a new Hindu temple. In their legal filing on Tuesday, the workers allege shocking levels of wage theft, coercion and fraud by an employer who lied to them and to the U.S. government, claiming that they were religious volunteers who did not seek or expect pay in return for their skilled labor.

“The shocking levels of exploitation alleged in this case are a stark reminder that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We applaud the BAC and PGMSS for their work to support these brave temple stone workers, and America’s unions will stand proudly with them in their fight,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA). “To fix the systems that have failed working families, we must be united across borders. Only then can we rewrite the rules of the economy and ensure that workers are no longer treated like disposable commodities in our global supply chains. The labor movement will remain steadfast in this struggle until all people, regardless of where we were born, are able to live and work safely and with dignity.”

Click here to read more.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/14/2021 - 08:30

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service, India

15 Ways the American Families Plan Will Help Working People

Thu, 05/13/2021 - 09:56
15 Ways the American Families Plan Will Help Working People

President Biden recently announced the American Families Plan, legislation that is designed to invest in children, families and our economic future. Here are 15 provisions from the proposal that will help working people:

  1. Invests in education from early childhood to postsecondary so that young people can learn, grow and gain skills they need to succeed.
  2. Provides universal, high-quality preschool for all three- and four-year-olds, which not only helps prepare those children to be lifelong learners, it lessens the stress on working parents.
  3. Provides Americans two free years of community college, including to Dreamers.
  4. Investments in making college more affordable for low- and middle-income students, including providing assistance to colleges that serve communities that have been historically marginalized, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), institutions such as Hispanic-serving institutions, Asian American, Native American and Pacific Islander-serving institutions, and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs).
  5. Invests in teacher training and support.
  6. Provides direct support to families to insure that we spend no more than 7% of our income on child care and to ensure that this child care is of high quality. 
  7. Creates a national paid family and medical leave program that will bring us in line with similar countries.
  8. Reduces childhood hunger by providing nutrition assistance to families in need.
  9. Extends key tax cuts that benefit lower- and middle-income working families, including the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.
  10. Extends expanded health insurance tax credits, which would help 9 million people maintain health insurance and allow 4 million more to gain it.
  11. Expansion of Pell Grants for students seeking a certificate, two- or four-year degree.
  12. Modernize the unemployment insurance system to make access more equitable while continuing to prevent fraud.
  13. Lowers prescription drug costs by letting Medicare negotiate prices. 
  14. Extends health care tax credits and invests in various health care programs so that millions of Americans will gain health insurance.
  15. Reforms the tax code, which will result in fewer loopholes for the wealthy and create more opportunity for working families.
Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 05/13/2021 - 11:56

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Sheila Ivy Traister

Thu, 05/13/2021 - 07:30
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Sheila Ivy Traister

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Sheila Ivy Traister.

Sheila Ivy Traister has given 44 years of cumulative service to the labor movement. She has held elected positions in the Colorado AFL-CIO and she has served SAG-AFTRA since before the merger. She has served on dozens of local committees across the broad spectrum of activities SAG-AFTRA participates in. Traister particularly focuses on committees that help expand the inclusiveness of her industry and the labor movement, including committees for performers who are Asian American and Pacific Islander, performers with disabilities and expanding equal opportunity in the industry. She created the acting department at the Colorado Film Schools and she conducts workshops and lectures for film students, educating them about SAG-AFTRA and the benefits of union membership. Traister is an actor, director and writer who works in television, film and theater. She is also a highly sought-after coach and mentor.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 05/13/2021 - 09:30

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: AFM Members Rally for a New Contract in Fort Wayne

Thu, 05/13/2021 - 06:30
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: AFM Members Rally for a New Contract in Fort Wayne

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

With wages, benefits and working conditions on the line, members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) were joined by the Hoosier Heartland Labor Council as they rallied in Fort Wayne, Indiana, over the weekend to draw attention to their fight for a new contract with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. AFM International President Ray Hair spoke at the rally in support of the orchestra musicians, who have been furloughed because of the pandemic since August 2020. “Why are these musicians out on the street? Why haven’t they had paychecks since last summer? It’s because the management doesn’t want them to,” Hair told WPTA. “They’re lining their own pockets. Nobody in management would have a job if it weren’t for us.”

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 05/13/2021 - 08:30

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Sharon Soper

Wed, 05/12/2021 - 07:30
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Sharon Soper

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Sharon Soper.

Hired by Hawaiian Airlines in 1965 as a flight attendant, Soper retired 55 years later in 2020. She served in the leadership of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) for more than 50 years, including time as president of her local. She helped negotiate nearly every AFA-CWA contract with Hawaiian Airlines to date. She has been a leader and voice for several generations of flight attendants and continues to be an inspiration for flight attendants today.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 05/12/2021 - 09:30

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IAM Raises About $100K for Southern Maryland Veterans Home

Wed, 05/12/2021 - 07:02
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IAM Raises About $100K for Southern Maryland Veterans Home

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

The Machinists’ (IAM’s) commitment to military veterans was on full display at the IAM 2021 International President’s Capital Classic Golf Tournament. More than 130 golfers and 50 sponsors joined together on Monday, May 3, at Breton Bay Golf and Country Club in Leonardtown, Maryland. The tournament raised about $100,000 for capital improvement projects for U.S. military veterans at Charlotte Hall Veterans Home in southern Maryland. “The Machinists union has a special bond with the military and the men and women who serve in our armed forces,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr., a U.S. Navy veteran. “Many of our members are veterans themselves and help support the mission of service men and women every day. This is just one more way we can give back to our community here in Maryland and to our nation’s heroes.”

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 05/12/2021 - 09:02

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

A Very Bad Joke: The Working People Weekly List

Tue, 05/11/2021 - 10:05
A Very Bad Joke: The Working People Weekly List

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

Elon Musk Hosting SNL: A Very Bad Joke on Working People: "Before we even find out if Elon Musk can do comedy, we know this: Letting him host 'Saturday Night Live' is a joke. Musk has used his social-media megaphone to spread misinformation about COVID, endanger employees’ health and violate their organizing rights. He’s exactly the kind of union-busting CEO who proves why American workers need the PRO Act, a bill sitting in the Senate that will help us reclaim our power."

Nurses Are Striking Across the Country Over Patient Safety: "On May Day outside of St. Vincent Hospital here, there was a sing-along going on. It was the 55th day that the nurses, members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, had been on strike at the hospital, and the sunny weather and blooming flowers meant morale was high."

Sports Unions Come Together to Fight for the PRO Act: "The PRO Act is about as important a piece of labor legislation as we’ve seen in some time. It holds the potential to open the door for workers and organizers to step up and reverse 40 years of losses for organized labor. The law, whose initials stand for Protecting the Right to Organize, aims to do just that: protect workers from being harassed or fired if they try to organize a union or if they try to help their already existing union become more active in their workplace. This is seen as the number one legislative priority for organized labor. Its chances of passing are regarded as slim in the Senate, but that isn’t stopping the union movement from trying to get it passed. Now the PRO Act has very loud and proud support from another group of 'pros,' the major sports unions of the United States. The Major League Baseball Players Association, the NBA Players Association, the NFL Players Association, and the NHL Players Association."

Death on the Job Report: Years of Progress, Long Way to Go: "In the decades since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established, there’s been a lot of progress in cutting worker deaths and injuries on the job. However, there’s still a long way to go. That’s a big conclusion from the data in the AFL-CIO’s 30th annual Death on the Job report, released May 4, a week after OSHA’s 50th anniversary. The Occupational Safety and Health Act, strongly pushed by organized labor, has helped cut deaths on the job from nine per 100,000 workers 30 years ago to 3.5 per 100,000 in 2019. The report with the latest available data shows this. The death rate has stalled at that level ever since the anti-worker anti-safety GOP Trump regime took over in 2017. And the 3.5/100,000 rate still translates into having 275 workers die every day from hazardous working conditions, the report says. Those figures actually understate the case, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler told the Zoom press conference unveiling the report. 'About 95,000 workers a year die from occupational illnesses,' often contracted long before, she pointed out. And illness and death disproportionately hit workers of color, she added."

COVID-19’s Full Effect on Workers Will Likely Remain Unknown, AFL-CIO’s Death on the Job Report Claims: "The full extent of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the nation’s workforce will likely remain unclear because of the lack of a comprehensive national system to gather such information, according to the AFL-CIO’s annual report on the state of safety and health protections for U.S. workers. The 30th edition of Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect―released May 4―states that 'employer reporting of COVID-19 cases still is mandatory only in a few states with specific standards or orders.' During a May 4 press conference, AFL-CIO Safety and Health Director Rebecca Reindel noted that the Bureau of Labor Statistics states on its website that it won’t produce COVID-19 estimates. 'The Survey of Occupational Illnesses and Injuries relies on OSHA recordkeeping requirements, which mandate employers record certain work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 log,' BLS says on its website. 'While the SOII may capture some recordable COVID-19 cases reported by employers, the SOII will not produce estimates specifically covering COVID-19 illnesses.'"

AFL-CIO Demands OSHA Boost After Worker Deaths Report: "The AFL-CIO on Tuesday called on the Biden administration to take action to strengthen federal enforcement of workplace safety standards, on the heels of a report showing more than 5,300 workers died on the job in 2019. The report the labor organization released at a virtual press conference found that workplace deaths rose slightly in 2019, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, though the rate of injuries per 100,000 workers remained steady. The report found the fatality rate for Latino workers hit its highest level since 2008 at 4.2 per 100,000. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's power eroded under the administration of President Donald Trump and she is hopeful President Joe Biden will help lead the agency to take a more forceful stance. 'Obviously, we'd like to rebuild the agency, and the commitment does come from the top,' Shuler said."

Unemployment Benefits Are Not Creating a Worker Shortage: "William Spriggs isn’t buying that. The chief economist at the AFL-CIO labor federation, Spriggs said it is 'self-evident' that millions of people are trying to find work. Just because an employer hasn’t found them yet―at the wages the employer is willing to pay―doesn’t mean the workers aren’t out there. Spriggs said the normal hiring networks that employers rely on were blown up by the pandemic. Some employers who received forgivable government loans were able to keep their workers on the payroll, but many firms simply let them go during lockdown. A year later many of those workers have taken other jobs, moved on or even died."

President Richard Trumka Joined Bloomberg TV to Discuss the PRO Act: "President Richard Trumka joined Bloomberg TV to discuss the PRO Act, worker safety and how President Joe Biden is delivering for working people."

Elon Musk Might Be Hosting SNL, but Tesla Workers Aren’t Laughing: "Saturday Night Live recently announced its upcoming lineup, and I was shocked to see that none other than Elon Musk—the brash CEO of Tesla, my former employer—would be hosting on May 8. There’s a lot to be impressed by when it comes to Tesla’s electric vehicles (EVs) and other cars of the future. But in my mind, there’s nothing funny about how Tesla has treated workers."

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 05/11/2021 - 12:05

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Angela Chan

Tue, 05/11/2021 - 07:30
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Angela Chan

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Angela Chan.

Angela Chan joined the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Local 369 in Las Vegas in 2002 when she joined a touring show of "South Pacific." After some time in Dallas, she moved back to Las Vegas and, in 2015, she won a seat on the local’s board of trustees. About her union membership, Chan said: “Unions exist so that you can have fair wages, and fair and safe working conditions. A lot of times, especially for musicians, we want to play so badly that we forget we should be treated as professionals.” Recently, Chan founded The Cre8sian Project, with the goal of increasing the number of Asian women in the arts world “by creating a cast of diverse superheroes for children.” She is a classically trained pianist and an active theater musician.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 05/11/2021 - 09:30

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: AFL-CIO and Others Announce Filing of First USMCA ‘Rapid Response Mechanism’ Labor Case

Tue, 05/11/2021 - 06:34
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: AFL-CIO and Others Announce Filing of First USMCA ‘Rapid Response Mechanism’ Labor Case

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

The AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Sindicato Nacional Independiente de Trabajadores de Industrias y de Servicios Movimiento 20/32 (SNITIS) and Public Citizen announced Monday that they have filed the first complaint under the Rapid Response Mechanism of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) against Tridonex, an auto parts factory located in Matamoros in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico. The case will test whether Mexico’s labor reforms and USMCA’s Rapid Response Mechanism can deliver for Mexican workers denied their fundamental right to organize and bargain for better wages and working conditions.

“USMCA requires Mexico to end the reign of protection unions and their corrupt deals with employers,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA). “The ongoing harassment of Susana Prieto and SNITIS members is a textbook violation of the labor laws Mexico has pledged to uphold.” Read the full story here.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 05/11/2021 - 08:34

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Bethany Khan

Mon, 05/10/2021 - 07:30
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Bethany Khan

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Bethany Khan.

Bethany Khan is the director of communications and digital strategy at the Culinary Workers Union, UNITE HERE Local 226. She graduated from the University of Minnesota and used the skills she learned in college to fight for justice. Khan has family members who are undocumented immigrants and this has inspired her to work with the Culinary Workers Union to fight for comprehensive worker-centered immigration reform. Khan was named one of "40 under 40" to watch at the American Association of Political Consultants in 2018. She serves as a board member for Planned Parenthood of Nevada, the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada Advisory Board and the Las Vegas Sun’s Community Editorial Review Board, where she represents the interests of the 57,000 members of the Culinary Workers Union and their families.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 05/10/2021 - 09:30

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: AFGE Local 2328: Union Holds Workers Memorial Day Event at VA Medical Center

Mon, 05/10/2021 - 06:30
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: AFGE Local 2328: Union Holds Workers Memorial Day Event at VA Medical Center

 

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

Dozens of workers from AFGE Local 2328 showed up and showed out for a rally at the Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Virginia commemorating those who lost their lives on the job, while urging U.S. Sen. Mark Warner to pass the PRO Act, in an April 28 rally.

“[We honor] all workers who died over the past year in the line of duty, committing and doing their jobs,” said Local 2328 President Sheila Elliott in an article by the Virginia Daily Press. “We are working on regulations and guidance that are many years old, and a lot of this stuff needs to be updated. We still have a long way to go.”

“At the very beginning of the pandemic, it was chaos. There was mixed messaging, there was not enough equipment,” added Local 2328 Vice President Stacy Shorter. “It’s been a horrible, horrible year. And we’ve been suffering and struggling in this constant battle. We really were trying to make sure that our staff had adequate protections in the workplace. It took us a while to really get to the place where we feel comfortable right now.”

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 05/10/2021 - 08:30

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Economy Gains 266,000 Jobs in April; Unemployment Little Changed at 6.1%

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 10:42
Economy Gains 266,000 Jobs in April; Unemployment Little Changed at 6.1%

The U.S. economy gained 266,000 jobs in April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 6.1%, according to figures released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In response to the April job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs said: "There was no progress in reducing the number of long-term unemployed, they remained nearly unchanged at 4.2 million and are 43% of the unemployed. That number will be difficult to clear by September when key provisions of federal support for unemployed workers will lapse." He also tweeted:

@BLS_gov reports those unemployed fewer than 5 weeks grew by 237,000, another sign of layoffs being an issue. Labor force participation remained about flat at 61.7% So this data shows the labor market is still sluggish and reports of labor shortages exaggerated. @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) May 7, 2021

More signs the labor market is sluggish because of job losses, the only continued growth was in leisure & hospitality (mostly restaurants) which is the lowest wage industry. Temporary Services job losses led to big losses for higher wage Business Services. @AFLCIO #JobsReport pic.twitter.com/sL4xJOao2q

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) May 7, 2021

Another sign the labor market doesn't have shortages, the unemployment rate went up for those with less than a high school education to 9.3 in April from 8.2%. But that's still lower than THE Black unemployment rate that edged up from 9.6 to 9.7%. @AFLCIO #JobsReport

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) May 7, 2021

Another reason to not believe the hype on tight labor markets. Black labor force participation rose from March to April, so did Black employment. But, successes were offset by job match failures, so the Black unemployment rate rose. That's not a tight market. @AFLCIO #JobsReport pic.twitter.com/adt1FPCGzj

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) May 7, 2021

With the slow transition of unemployed workers to jobs, and weak growth in sectors outside the recovering restaurant sector, long term unemployment is at levels that will be hard to unwind by September when support for unemployed workers is set to fall. @AFLCIO #JobsReport pic.twitter.com/tuGAQcKlyR

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) May 7, 2021

April numbers do not show a scarcity of workers, but a weak labor market. New job entrants (who don't get unemployment benefits) had less luck finding jobs in April, the number unemployed up almost 130,000 and permanent and temporary layoffs were up. @AFLCIO #JobsReport pic.twitter.com/qjxnyo6KyZ

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) May 7, 2021

The #Shecession update. Women gained 161,00 of the 266,000 (60.5%) new payroll slots in April, mostly in leisure & hospitality (+150,000). There was some good news in public sector jobs (+45,000). The majority of public sector workers are women. @AFLCIO #JobsReport pic.twitter.com/yJnw8tZDvX

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) May 7, 2021

Last month’s biggest job gains were in leisure and hospitality (+331,000), other services industry (+44,000), local government education (+31,000), social assistance (+23,000) and financial activities (19,000). The biggest job losses were seen in manufacturing (-18,000), retail trade employment (-15,000) and health care (-4,000). Employment changed little in other major industries, including construction, mining, wholesale trade and information.

In April, the unemployment rates for teenagers (12.3%), Black Americans (9.7%), Hispanics (7.9%), adult men (6.1%), Asian Americans (5.7%), adult women (5.6%) and White Americans (5.3%) showed little or no change.

The number of long-term unemployed workers (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) barely changed in April and accounted for 43% of the total unemployed.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/07/2021 - 12:42

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Jeffrey Omura

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 07:28
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Jeffrey Omura

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Jeffrey Omura.

Jeffrey Omura was recently elected to his second term as a councilor of Actors’ Equity Association. Omura came to labor leadership through his work in member organizing as one of the creators and leaders of the #FairWageOnstage campaign. Realizing that arts workers were being forgotten in pandemic relief efforts at every level of government, Omura helped create the Be An #ArtsHero campaign to organize the industry to collectively lobby Congress for arts relief. He is currently running for New York City Council.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/07/2021 - 09:28

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