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Updated: 2 hours 33 min ago

US Unions Bring Solidarity to Striking Mexican Workers

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 10:51
US Unions Bring Solidarity to Striking Mexican Workers AFL-CIO

A delegation of union leaders from the national AFL-CIO, the Texas AFL-CIO, the UAW and the United Steelworkers (USW) traveled to Matamoros, Mexico, last week to support tens of thousands of factory workers who have launched a wave of strikes to demand wage increases and democratic control of their unions.

Since Jan. 25, at least 48 factories that produce auto parts and other goods for export to the United States have signed agreements to increase wages by 20% and pay a bonus of 32,000 pesos (about $1,750). This is a huge victory for the workers, most of whom make around $2 per hour. In the past week, the strike wave has spread beyond the factories to supermarkets and other employers, with all the workers demanding "20/32." The leaders of the Matamoros unions, which historically have been close to the employers, were forced to endorse the workers’ demands.

The delegation visited the picket line at Advanced Scientifics, a subsidiary of Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher Scientifics, which produces medical supplies. Some 70 workers have been camped outside the plant 24 hours a day in near-freezing temperatures.

"It’s heartbreaking to see workers who make life-saving equipment treated with so little respect," said USW District 13 Director Ruben Garza. "This is what happens when we sign trade agreements like [the North American Free Trade Ageement] that have no real protections for workers’ rights."

While the wage increase and bonus are a huge victory, the employers and the Confederation of Mexican Workers unions are striking back already. In the past week, as many as 2,000 strike leaders have been fired and blacklisted, despite legal prohibitions and non-reprisal agreements signed by the employers. The U.S. delegation met with fired leaders from several factories who are planning a public protest to demand reinstatement. Here are their testimonies:

  • "We were told we were fired because we offended the company."
  • "The union never helped us, they deceived us. So we had to put our own courage on the line to confront them."
  • "We need to be firm. I have a family, too. My greatest wish is that justice is served. I don’t want just a salary, I want justice!"

"These workers—many of whom are working mothers—are fighting for the pay they’re owed, for better working conditions and for respect on the job," said Texas AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Montserrat Garibay. "They are using their voices, and it is time to listen. The Mexican and U.S. governments must both demand that these U.S. companies honor their agreements and stop firing and blacklisting these courageous workers."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 02/11/2019 - 12:51

Tags: Mexico

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Amalgamated Transit Union

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 06:02
Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Amalgamated Transit Union AFL-CIO

Next up in our new series of taking a deeper look at each of our affiliates is Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU). The series will run weekly until we've covered all 55 of our affiliates.

Name of Union: Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU)

Mission: To fight for the rights of transit workers and promote mass transit.

Current Leadership of Union: Lawrence J. Hanley is the current international president of ATU.

Oscar Owens serves as international secretary-treasurer and Javier M. Perez Jr. serves as international executive vice president.

Current Number of Members: Nearly 200,000.

Members Work As: Metropolitan, interstate and school bus drivers; paratransit, light rail, subway, streetcar and ferry boat operators; mechanics and other maintenance workers; clerks, baggage handlers, municipal employees and others.

Industries Represented: Mass transit and related industries.

History: As industrialization advanced in the United States in the late 1800s, more and more workers needed transportation and workers to run that transportation. Mass transit workers in the early days largely worked with horses that pulled streetcars. The drivers often worked 18-hour days while the horses actually only worked four hours a day or less. The harsh treatment, lack of benefits and low pay set the seeds for the rise of ATU.

Early on, there were numerous attempts to form a union of transit workers, but efforts had little success until 1888, when Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, led efforts to organize the streetcar workers. In 1892, the first convention of what would become ATU was held in Indianapolis. 

Although the year after the first convention was challenging, the union became a beacon of hope for transit workers. Within that first year, 28 local divisions were formed and the first Canadian local was chartered in 1893. Seven years later, membership had reached 8,000.

In the years that followed, ATU would continue to expand rapidly amid an era of strikes and violence. The stronger the organization got, the more impact it had. ATU not only pushed for labor reforms such as the six-day workweek and the eight-hour day, but championed technology and rules that make mass transit safer for both workers and riders.

Current Campaigns: Stop Assaults on Transit WorkersMake Sure Transit Operators Have Bathroom BreaksEnd Fatalities and Injuries Resulting from Poor Transit Bus Design.

Community Efforts: ATU has community partnerships with a wide variety of organizations in pursuit of their values and mission, including: the AFL-CIO, Americans for Transit, the BlueGreen Alliance, the Coalition for Smarter Growth, Good Jobs First, the Industrial Areas Foundation, Jobs With Justice, the Labor Project for Working Families, the Partnership for Working Families, the Sierra Club, Transit Riders for Public Transit, the Transportation Equity Network, Transportation for America, U.S. PIRG, USAction and Working America.

Learn More: WebsiteFacebookTwitterYouTube.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 02/11/2019 - 08:02

Profiling African American Labor Champions: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 12:45
Profiling African American Labor Champions: 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.

Black History Month Labor Profiles: Arlene Holt Baker: "For Black History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various African American leaders and activists who have worked at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Our first profile this year is Arlene Holt Baker."

AFL-CIO Is Profiling Labor Leaders and Activists for Black History Month: "For Black History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various African American leaders and activists who have worked at the intersection of civil and labor rights. First, let's take a look back at our past profiles."

Writers Unite!: Worker Wins: "Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with writers organizing and winning new contracts and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life."

The State of the Union Is…: "When President Donald Trump takes to the House floor to deliver his State of the Union address this evening, we hope to hear a concrete plan to fund the government and make the economy work for those of us who work the hardest. But so far, his actions in office suggest otherwise. Ahead of the big speech, let’s break down his record."

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Air Line Pilots Association: "Next up in our series of taking a deeper look at each of the AFL-CIO's unions is the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). The series will run weekly until we've covered all 55 affiliates."

Thousands of NASA Contractors Still Without Pay After 5-week Shutdown. Can Congress Step In?: "Contractors are at the mercy of the deals that companies sign with federal agencies. In the case of the Space Coast and NASA, several workers represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 2061 in Cape Canaveral, including [Dan] Faden, say their contracts have changed in recent years to cut out the provision that previously guaranteed them back pay in the event of a shutdown. Some of the 600 Space Coast contractors represented by the union have already been told outright they won’t see those two paychecks. Others are in limbo, waiting for their companies to determine if they can scrape together back pay."

Hundreds of Federal Workers Haven’t Received Back Pay from Shutdown: Report: "Numerous federal workers still owed back pay have not received all of the compensation they are due from the recent 35-day partial government shutdown, The Associated Press reported Wednesday. The news outlet spoke to workers from various agencies that were shuttered from the end of December and through much of January, a period during which hundreds of thousands of federal employees missed two paychecks. Michael Walter, who does food safety inspections for the Department of Agriculture (USDA), told the AP that he got his back pay on Wednesday, nearly two weeks after the shutdown ended. Two co-workers told him they had not yet received back pay."

SAG-AFTRA Launches Podcast; First Two Episodes Available Now: "SAG-AFTRA today announced the launch of the SAG-AFTRA podcast. Hosted by President Gabrielle Carteris and National Executive Director David White, each episode features in-depth interviews, industry insights and compelling stories affecting the entertainment and media industry. The podcast soft launched in January with the introductory episode 'Making a Revolution.' The next two episodes are available now with subsequent releases available every other Tuesday. 'We are so excited to bring this podcast to the members. It is an opportunity for us to discuss the critical issues that affect our livelihoods within the industry, and will help us to continue laying the groundwork for the future,' said Carteris."

Raise the Wage Act Would Hike Salaries for 40 Million: "Backed by a wide range of unions and women’s groups, veteran lawmakers, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., have reintroduced the Paycheck Fairness Act—a measure designed to put enforcement 'teeth' into the nation’s 56-year-old equal pay law....The Coalition of Labor Union Women enthusiastically backed the Paycheck Fairness Act and helped ensure every House Democrat, plus one Republican is a co-sponsor....Other union signers were the AFL-CIO, the Pennsylvania Federation of Labor, the Government Employees (AFGE), both teachers’ unions, Graphic Communications Conference Local 24M/9N, IBEW District 3 and Local 29, the Machinists, the Auto Workers, the Letter Carriers, the Steel Workers and their District 10 and Local 1088, the Mine Workers, IATSE, the Service Employees and their Local 668, the Transport Workers."

Golden Invites Maine AFL-CIO Leader to Trump's State of the Union Speech: "In a move meant to send a message to Maine’s blue-collar workers, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden invited Cynthia Phinney of Livermore Falls, president of Maine’s AFL-CIO, to be his guest at Tuesday’s State of the Union speech. 'One of my top priorities in Congress is fighting for Maine’s working people,' the 2nd Congressional District Democrat said Friday. 'That’s something Cynthia has done every day for decades.' 'I am feeling tremendously honored,' Phinney said Friday. She said 'it’s a big deal' to be among the few able to attend “this most symbolic and substantial event.'"

GM to Start Laying Off 4,000 Salaried Workers on Monday: "Layoffs for about 4,000 salaried staff at General Motors are due to start Monday—a previously announced move that comes just as President Donald Trump prepares to trumpet American manufacturing at next week's State of the Union address. The layoffs are part of a 15% reduction in white collar jobs in North America that the automaker first announced back in November. At the same time, it announced plans to close four U.S. plants as well as a fifth in Canada."

Being a Union Member Offers Opportunities: "There are certainly many arguments regarding the pros and cons of unions. I spent time engaging with these arguments during my training to become a social scientist. Ultimately, I began to see the issue of union membership differently as I transitioned from primarily identifying as a student to identifying as a worker. Some economist's detached perspective on unions seemed much less important after I personally encountered issues with working conditions, wages or benefits across different employers. I came to a point where I was ready to join a union, and fortunately one was available to me."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/08/2019 - 14:45

Black History Month Labor Profiles: Arlene Holt Baker

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 08:50
Black History Month Labor Profiles: Arlene Holt Baker Center for Community Change

For Black History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various African American leaders and activists who have worked at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Our first profile this year is Arlene Holt Baker.

Arlene Holt Baker began her work in the labor movement in Los Angeles in 1972. As a member of AFSCME, she began organizing clerical employees who worked for the city. That process taught her that collective bargaining was the way to empower people economically. Her undying optimism was boosted by the fact that soon after she started her organizing work, William Lucy took office as AFSCME's secretary-treasurer, the first African American to hold one of the union's top offices. Her belief in the work she was doing was strengthened when she saw Lucy's picture hung on the wall in AFSCME's LA office. "I felt somehow that it was destiny to be there with an organization that believed in social and economic justice," she said.

Arlene's mother, Georgia Louise Leslie, was a domestic worker who sacrificed daily to make sure that Arlene and her six brothers and sisters could  thrive despite not having much. Georgia taught Arlene and her siblings to support their community and instilled in them the value of volunteerism. She inspired Arlene to continue fighting even when times got tough.

In the ensuing years, Arlene moved through the ranks of AFSCME while successfully helping organize California's public-sector workers and winning contracts that improved wages and secured equal pay for women. She worked as the international union area director for AFSCME from the late 1980s up until 1995. During that time, she worked on the state's Comparable Worth Task Force Committee and the Southern California Industrial Relations Research Association. She also worked on AFSCME's political activities, particularly in mobilizing voters.

In 1995, she joined the AFL-CIO as Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson's executive assistant. Among her successes in that role, she helped defeat the anti-working people Prop. 226 in California and helped organe support for migrant workers who wanted to unionize. She was chosen as the first director of the AFL-CIO Voice@Work campaign in 1999, launching a program to engage elected officials, religious and community leaders, and others to support workers' freedom to form unions. In 2004, she served as president of Voices for Working Families, an effort to register and mobilize women and people of color from under-registered communities. In 2006, she returned to the AFL-CIO to lead recovery efforts on the Gulf Coast, helping to bring good jobs and affordable housing in the aftermath of Katrina and other devastating hurricanes.

In 2007, Arlene was unanimously approved to serve the remainder of Linda Chavez-Thompson's term as executive vice president after Chavez-Thompson retired. Arlene became the first African American to hold one of the AFL-CIO's three highest offices. As executive vice president, Arlene fought for working people in many areas, with particular focus on collective bargaining rights, health care, fair trade, immigrant rights, LGBTQ+ rights, voting rights and the right for all union members to fully participate in democratic unions that reflect the rich diversity of the workplace. She was elected to a full term in 2009 and served the federation until her retirement in 2013.

Check out all of our Black History Month labor profiles.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/08/2019 - 10:50

Tags: Black History Month

AFL-CIO Is Profiling Labor Leaders and Activists for Black History Month

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 07:51
AFL-CIO Is Profiling Labor Leaders and Activists for Black History Month AFL-CIO

For Black History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various African American leaders and activists who have worked at the intersection of civil and labor rights. First, let's take a look back at our past profiles:

Check back throughout February as we add even more names to this prestigious list. 

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 02/06/2019 - 09:51

Tags: Black History Month

Writers Unite!: Worker Wins

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 12:25
Writers Unite!: Worker Wins Slate Union

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

Dodo Staffers Ratify First Contract with WGAE: Staffers at online publication, the Dodo, voted unanimously to ratify their first union contract. The publication, which is dedicated to compassion for animals and animal-related causes, has nearly three dozen covered employees. The bargaining committee for the workers said: "This contract was achieved through the collective action and mutual support of all of our colleagues, and we are so proud of the standards we established together. We are very excited to join our colleagues at Thrillist as we ratify the second union contract at Group Nine, and we look forward to other shops in digital media working together to provide themselves with the same fair and basic protections."

Slate Editorial and Podcast Staff Ratify First Collective Bargaining Agreement: Editorial and podcast staff at Slate, ratified their first collective bargaining agreement with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). The 51 members will see annual pay increases, anti-harassment policies, a diversity task force, paid time-off and numerous other benefits. The bargaining committee issued a statement that said: "It’s a new day at Slate! Our contract is built on principles of equity and diversity. And yes, we have union security! Management recognized our profound objections to a 'right to work' provision and honored our demand for a union shop. We will all pay our fair share for the representation we receive. One of our primary reasons for undertaking this process was our profound love of Slate. We felt so lucky to work with management last week to put our shared goals into action. Our contract reflects our fundamental values as a company and a workplace. We’re very proud of it."

Writer-Producers at Peacock Productions Ratify First Collective Bargaining Agreement: Writer-producers at Peacock Productions, Comcast/NBCUniversal's nonfiction television division, ratified their first collective bargaining agreement. The workers, represented by WGAE, addresses one of the most pressing challenges in the field, portable health benefits. Lowell Peterson, executive director of WGAE, explained the importance of portable health benefits: "Nonfiction television writer-producers move from company to company as their shows wrap. Some producers make health benefits, but those benefits don’t mean much to freelance employees as it takes too long to qualify, the benefits aren’t worth the out-of-pocket cost, and employer-paid coverage terminates when the employee moves on. By contrast, if an employer pays contributions to the Entertainment Industry Flex Plan on behalf of a WGAE member, those contributions remain at the flex plan even if the employee changes jobs. The money can still be used to buy flex plan insurance or cover eligible benefits. As the WGAE negotiates more and more contracts that provide for employer contributions to the flex plan, health benefits in nonfiction television will become truly portable."

VICE Media Staffers Ratify Four New Contracts: Workers at VICE Media have approved four new collective bargaining agreements with WGAE. The contracts cover WGAE staff at VICE Editorial, VICE News, VICELAND and VICE Digital. WGAE's Peterson said: "Collective bargaining ensures that WGAE-represented employees have the opportunity to discuss what’s most important in their work lives, what needs to be changed and what needs to be strengthened. We are very pleased by the concrete gains negotiated for people who craft content on the entire range of platforms, and we look forward to a productive relationship with VICE management for years to come."

Unionized Cannabis Retailer Opens in Oregon: Seattle-based cannabis retail chain Have a Heart opened its first store in Oregon and quickly ratified a collective bargaining agreement with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). Have a Heart workers at five stores in Washington state are already represented by UFCW. The new contract provides health care, pension benefits, holiday pay, paid time off, bonuses, a joint labor-management committee to address safety and other benefits.

Steelworkers Ratify Six-Year Agreement with National Grid: After a lockout that lasted nearly seven months, members of the United Steelworkers (USW) at National Grid ratified a new collective bargaining agreement. The new contract includes wage increases, increases safety and preserves affordable health care for the 1,200 members covered under the contract. USW International President Leo W. Gerard said: "This agreement is a testament to the commitment these hardworking union members have to their community and to each other. They demonstrated their strength and solidarity every day, and they should be proud of what they’ve achieved with this contract."

Iowa General Mills Workers Join RWDSU: More than 500 workers at General Mills in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). The union will now begin contract negotiations with General Mills. Employee Tim Sarver said: "I'm proud to say I’m now part of the RWDSU and I know everyone who works alongside me knows that representation from the union will change our future here. It’s about time General Mills workers had a real seat at the table with the company and we’re ready to get to work on a fair contract."

Workers at Irvine Marriott Join UNITE Here: More than 100 housekeepers, cooks, dishwashers and servers at the Mariott in Irvine, California, voted to be represented by UNITE HERE. Housekeeper Araceli De La Rosa said the resolve of the workers was enough to overcome a campaign from management that led to the filing of seven unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board. She said: "Management used every trick in the book to try to confuse, intimidate and divide us. But I’m proud to say that we stood strong and we won! We voted 'yes' and now we can fight for the respect and the compensation we deserve."

Maine Millwrights Win Significant Wages Increases in New Contract: Millwrights in Skowhegan, Maine, represented by the Machinists approved a new contract that includes a significant wage increase and avoids a strike. The new contract between the union and Sappi North America lasts three years. Sarah Bigney, of the Maine AFL-CIO, said: "The contract ratification comes after an earlier contract offer was unanimously rejected in a vote last week, when the union then voted to authorize a strike. The union went back to the bargaining table with Sappi and won significant improvements. They voted last night to ratify that offer."

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 02/05/2019 - 14:25

Tags: Organizing

The State of the Union Is…

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 11:39
The State of the Union Is… .

When President Donald Trump takes to the House floor to deliver his State of the Union address this evening, we hope to hear a concrete plan to fund the government and make the economy work for those of us who work the hardest. But so far, his actions in office suggest otherwise. Ahead of the big speech, let’s break down his record.

Over the past two years, the Trump administration has overseen a wide-ranging and deeply harmful assault on the rights, dignities and livelihoods of working people. Here are just a few of the president’s worst anti-worker actions:

  • Denied a pay check to 40% of the federal workforce through the longest government shutdown in history.

  • Jammed through massive corporate tax cuts on the backs of working people, encouraging further outsourcing and automation.

  • Derailed the Department of Labor’s overtime rule, blocking millions of workers from receiving a pay raise.

  • Proposed widespread cuts to health care, targeting critical funding for Medicare and Medicaid, as well as the health coverage of millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions.

  • Undermined the new conflict of interest rule, potentially costing working people more than one-quarter of our retirement savings.

  • Stacked the National Labor Relations Board with union-busting corporate lawyers.

  • Made workplaces more dangerous by rolling back important federal safety regulations.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 02/05/2019 - 13:39

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Air Line Pilots Association

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 06:46
Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Air Line Pilots Association AFL-CIO

Next up in our series of taking a deeper look at each of the AFL-CIO's unions is the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). The series will run weekly until we've covered all 55 affiliates.

Name of Union: Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA)

Mission: The mission of ALPA is to promote and champion all aspects of aviation safety throughout all segments of the aviation community; to represent, in both specific and general respects, the collective interests of all pilots in commercial aviation; to assist in collective bargaining activities on behalf of all pilots represented by the association; to promote the health and welfare of the members of the association before all governmental agencies; to be a strong, forceful advocate of the airline piloting profession, through all forms of media, and with the public at large; and to be the ultimate guardian and defender of the rights and privileges of the professional pilots who are members of the association.

Current Leadership of Union: Capt. Joe DePete is the 11th president of ALPA and was elected in 2018. Since joining the association in 1986, he has held several key positions, most recently as first vice president and national safety coordinator. Capt. Bob Fox serves as ALPA’s first vice president, Capt. Bill Couette is the organization’s vice president–administration/secretary and Capt. Joseph Genovese is the vice president–finance/treasurer.

Current Number of Members: More than 61,000.

Members Work As: Airline pilots.

Industries Represented: The airline industry in the United States and Canada; serving as the bargaining agent for pilot groups from 33 commercial airlines, including both passenger and cargo operations.

History: As the 1920s concluded, life for airline pilots was difficult and dangerous, with many companies treating this employee group like an expendable commodity. Consequently, many airline pilots died in aircraft accidents during this period.

In 1931, pilots in the United States came together to form the first professional union of pilots, ALPA, to promote aviation safety and give these flyers a greater voice in their workplace. During World War II, the union began advocating for the creation of an independent safety board (which would finally take shape in the 1960s, after decades of work).

After the war, ALPA would band together with pilot unions from around the world to form the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) to influence international travel and safety standards.

With new technological advances in air transportation, ALPA created an air safety structure to fight for crew fatigue rules and rest requirements, along with other safety priorities. The association began working with aircraft manufacturers to improve cockpit features. In addition, the rise of terrorist attacks on aircraft represented a new safety concern for ALPA, identifying the need for greater security measures.

The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 would also change the landscape for the airline industry, reinventing the way airlines conducted business but also introducing a new wave of safety concerns. ALPA continued to fight to make the skies safer and achieved numerous victories (including securing mandated “fasten seatbelt” signs in aircraft cabins and policies such as a nationwide anti-skyjacking strategy, which was adopted by federal regulators).

The 9/11 terrorist attacks revitalized the need to revisit security, and ALPA responded, successfully pushing for programs to provide more thorough screening of passengers and cargo.

Decades of hard work on air safety concerns also paid off, as the total number of airline accidents in the United States and Canada dropped by more than 70% in the decade ending in 2007.

These and other accomplishments in recent years have not diminished the union’s focus on safety and security, with top priorities including science-based fatigue rules for all airline pilots, improved pilot training and professionalism, and the safe integration of commercial space vehicles and remotely piloted aircraft (such as drones) into civil airspace.

On the collective bargaining front, ALPA continues to promote a system of pattern bargaining to ensure that its members receive fair pay and benefits for the services they perform, safe and reasonable working conditions, and a better quality of life.

Current Campaigns: Known Crewmember helps improve the efficiency and effectiveness of security procedures for airline employees. Jumpseat works to establish guidelines and fairness in the use of airplane jumpseats. Cleared to Dream recruits new pilots into the industry. Trained for Life focuses on training and expertise in order to reduce airline-related death and injury.

Community Efforts: Pilots for Pilots helps ALPA members and their families who have been harmed by natural disasters.

Learn More: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube.

You can also check out this video to learn more about ALPA's history:

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 02/04/2019 - 08:46

Get To Know Us: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 02/01/2019 - 08:35
Get To Know Us: 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 this week’s Working People Weekly List.

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Actors' Equity: "This is the first post in our new series that will take a deeper look at each of our affiliates. The series will run weekly until we've covered all 55 of our affiliates. First up is Actors' Equity (AEA)."

Government Reopens, But Federal Workers Won’t Forget: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said he’s glad the shutdown is over, but he isn’t giving the president credit for it. According to Trumka, the president was forced to give in and capitulate to the people. 'President Trump didn’t want to end this shutdown—the collective action of working people demanded it,' stated Trumka. 'By marching, rallying and protesting together, we forced him to the table and ensured that the labor and dedication of our public servants will not be taken for granted.'"

House Approves Pay Raise for Federal Workers: "The House passed legislation to provide a pay increase for federal government workers on Wednesday, less than a week after the end of the partial government shutdown. Twenty-nine Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the measure, which cleared 259-161. The Federal Civilian Workforce Pay Raise Fairness Act, introduced by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), would provide a 2.6% pay raise, matching what was approved for the military earlier this year."

While Everyone Was Focused on the Shutdown, the White House Rolled Back Worker Safety Rules: "During the president’s 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government, the White House quietly dissolved a 2016 regulation requiring certain employers to electronically submit reports of workplace injuries to the Department of Labor.... The process to amend the regulation was 'clearly rushed,' Peg Seminario, the safety and health director of AFL-CIO told Vox, 'because the Trump administration wanted to relieve employers of having to report their injury data.'"

Undocumented Worker Who Worked for Trump Golf Course to Attend State of the Union: "An undocumented worker who recently worked for Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., and left after she publicly disclosed her immigration status will attend President Trump’s State of the Union address next week. Victorina Morales, who was born in Guatemala, will be a guest of Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, a New Jersey Democrat, when the president speaks to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night. Watson Coleman’s office confirmed the decision Wednesday."

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Mornings with Maria: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka discusses the fallout from the government shutdown."

AFL-CIO President Shuts Down Fox Host's Attack on Immigrant Workers: "What we want to do is make sure every worker in this country has the same rights so that they can't be exploited, because what happens right now with undocumented workers is, they're great when no one's around; when they try to organize and get a voice, then they start squeezing them."

NASA Is Reopened, But Thousands of Contractors Are Still Waiting on Paychecks: "While the federal employees who returned to work Monday received backpay for the 35 days the federal government was shut down, Americans like [Michele] Seeley who work as contractors for federal agencies don’t have the same protections. Millions of contractors lost a month of paychecks, and legislation to get them backpay hasn’t made it out of committee in either the Senate or the House."

The Lowest-Paid Shutdown Workers Aren’t Getting Back Pay: "Unlike the 800,000 career public servants who are slated to receive full back pay over the next week or so, the contractors who clean, guard, cook and shoulder other jobs at federal workplaces aren’t legally guaranteed a single penny. They’re also among the lowest-paid laborers in the government economy, generally earning between $450 and $650 weekly, union leaders say."

Unionists, Allies to Keep Pressure on After Trump Lockout Ends: "Organized labor is not resting on its laurels after the nation’s unions led the people power movement that beat down GOP President Donald Trump’s partial federal government lockout/shutdown. 'Trump didn’t want to end this shutdown—the collective action of working people demanded it,' the AFL-CIO said. 'By marching, rallying and protesting together, we forced him to the table and ensured the labor and dedication of our public servants will not be taken for granted.'"

So Much for the Labor Movement’s Funeral: "Something funny happened on the way to the labor movement’s funeral. 'Folks were writing our obituary. They thought this was going to be our death knell. They failed,' Lee Saunders, AFSCME’s president, crows. 'They overreached. Now we’ve got the momentum. We’re organizing like never before.'"

Improving Safety: 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."

 

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/01/2019 - 10:35

Economy Gains 304,000 Jobs in January; Unemployment Rises to 4%

Fri, 02/01/2019 - 07:58
Economy Gains 304,000 Jobs in January; Unemployment Rises to 4%

The U.S. economy gained 304,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate rose to 4%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wage growth of 3.2% is positive but insufficient to restore labor's share of national income, and too low to conclude that labor markets are tight. Because 19 states boosted their minimum wage, wages in leisure and hospitality (the bulk of whom are fast-food workers) gained 4.7% in wage growth, while in manufacturing wages only rose 2.4%. The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee made the right decision to hold back on further rate increases.

In response to the January job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs tweeted:

#JobsDay #NumbersDay In one sign the government shutdown effected today's @BLS_gov report, Investigation and security services show a drop of 4,800 jobs @AFGENational @AFLCIO @IAMBobMartinez

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 1, 2019

 

#JobsReport #NumbersDay Another sign of the government shutdown, payrolls for services to buildings and dwellings (janitorial support) shows a drop of 100 @AFGENational @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 1, 2019

 

#JobsReport #NumbersDay another sensitive area to the federal government shutdown, payrolls at museums, historical sites down 200.  Some employees at these facilities are private contractors @AFGENational @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 1, 2019

 

#JobsReport in the broadest measure of unemployment (U-6 including part-time workers who wanted full-time work) jumped up to 8.1%.  Suggesting some private contract workers got reduced hours instead of being totally laid off during the shutdown @AFGENational @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/1jpznG7YGE

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 1, 2019

 

#JobsReport Not a good sign, Hispanic unemployment rate increased in January from 4.4 to 4.9%, partly from an increase in participation but also a drop in employment of 122,000 @AFGENational @AFLCIO @LCLAA @Marietmora @WeAreUnidosUS

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 1, 2019

 

#JobsReport A likely outcome of the federal government shutdown was the 560,000 increase in workers reporting part time work who wanted full-time work, but had reduced hours because of business conditions @AFGENational @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 1, 2019

 

#JobsReport Compared to last January, wages were up 3.2%.  A good gain, but still modest for now the longest streak of monthly job gains.  The @federalreserve FOMC made the right call to keep rates constant. @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 1, 2019

 

#JobsReport @BLS_gov revisions upward for November, but downward for December means a net decline of 70,000 in previously reported job gains over those two months. @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 1, 2019

Last month's biggest job gains were in leisure and hospitality (74,000), construction (52,000), health care (42,000), professional and business services (30,000), transportation and warehousing (27,000), retail trade (21,000), manufacturing (13,000), mining (7,000) and federal government (1,000). Employment showed little change over the month in other major industries, including wholesale trade, information and financial activities.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates rose for teenagers (12.9%), blacks (6.8%) and Hispanics (4.9%). The jobless rate declined for Asians (3.1%). The jobless rate for adult men (3.7%), adult women (3.6%) and whites (3.5%) showed little change in January.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) declined in January and accounted for 19.3% of the unemployed.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 02/01/2019 - 09:58

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Actors' Equity

Mon, 01/28/2019 - 08:13
Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Actors' Equity .

This is the first post in our new series that will take a deeper look at each of our affiliates. The series will run weekly until we've covered all 55 of our affiliates. First up is Actors' Equity (AEA).

Name of Union: Actors' Equity Association

Mission: To foster the art of live theater as an essential component of society. To advance the careers of members through negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits, including health and pension plans.

Current Leadership of Union: The current president of Equity is Kate Shindle. Shindle was elected in 2015 and is the youngest person to ever hold the Equity presidency (and only the third woman). She originally joined in 1999 and was first elected to Equity's national council in 2008 before starting a three-year term as eastern regional vice president the next year. As an actor, she made her Broadway debut in "Jekyll & Hyde" before appearing in "Cabaret," "Legally Blonde" and numerous other shows. She was an associate producer on the Broadway premiere of the Tony-nominated "A Christmas Story: The Musical." Before joining Equity, she earned the title of Miss America in 1998 and used her platform to advocate for HIV prevention and education, work she continued as a member of Equity. She is a board member of the Actors’ Equity Foundation, the Actors Fund, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and has been a vocal supporter of marriage equality and anti-discrimination laws for the LGBTQ community. Mary McColl currently serves as the executive director for Equity.

Current Number of Members: More than 51,000.

Members Work As: Actors, stage managers, dancers and singers.

Industries Represented: Equity has more than 40 contracts in the theater industry, from Broadway to dinner theater.

History: In the early 1900s, theater acting was alluded to with the phrase "life upon the wicked stage," as actors and stage managers were forced to rehearse without pay, left stranded throughout the country when shows closed on the road, required to pay for their own costumes and worse. In 1913, 112 actors in New York decided they'd had enough. They formed a union that day and adopted the name suggested by William Courtleigh, Actors' Equity. In 1919, the new union was recognized by the American Federation of Labor and shortly thereafter Equity launched the first actors' strike in American theater history. During the strike, chorus and ensemble members also went on strike and formed Chorus Equity, which would later formally merge with Actors' Equity in 1955. At the conclusion of the strike, the theater producers signed a five-year deal that met most of Equity's demands.

Equity has long fought for civil rights. In 1947, Equity resolved that its members would not play at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C., when the theater banned black audience members. This was an early bold stance that not only worked (the theater closed and re-opened with a nondiscrimination policy), it set the tone that Equity would follow to this day, fighting against discrimination in the theater, both on stage and off, and increasing employment opportunities for actors and stage managers of color, women, seniors and those with disabilities. The union has consistently fought to raise wages, expand benefits and protections, preserve historic and advance other reforms that benefit actors and stage managers in the theater and working people broadly.

Current CampaignsEquity's Annual Report gathers and collates data about employment, finances and membership. Equity’s Regional Theatre Report examines annually the density of work opportunities for Equity members across the country. Equity's annual awards recognize the contributions of Equity members to the theater industry. The Actors' Equity Foundation provides grants to nonprofit theaters and institutions serving the arts community. The #ChangeTheStage campaign fights for inclusive hiring across the entertainment industry. Ask if it's Equity! helps fight back against nonunion productions in areas covered by collective bargaining agreements. The Everyone On Stage petition is focused on getting chorus and ensemble performers the Tony Award recognition they deserve. The Not A Lab Rat campaign looks to win better wages and profit participation for Equity members working in the early stages of developing new Broadway shows.

Community Efforts: Equity supports many service organizations, including The Actors Fund, the Career CenterActors Federal Credit UnionArtists Health Insurance Resource CenterBroadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDSCareer Transition For Dancers, the Conrad Cantzen Shoe FundPhyllis Newman Women’s Health InitiativeThe Actors Fund Home and The Samuel J. Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts.

Learn More: WebsiteFacebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 01/28/2019 - 10:13

Stay Strong: The Working People Weekly List

Mon, 01/28/2019 - 06:35
Stay Strong: 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 this week’s Working People Weekly List.

Los Angeles Teachers Stay Strong; Win Improvements: "Less than a month into 2019, the teachers of Los Angeles have proven that last year’s wave of collective action isn’t quieting down. After taking to the streets in a strike that has captured the country’s imagination, members of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) are returning to classrooms today after overwhelmingly approving a paradigm-shifting contract that delivers on key demands."

Honoring Dr. King's Legacy: A Special Conversation with Andrew Gillum: "Julie and Tim talk with the former Tallahassee mayor and 2018 Florida gubernatorial candidate, Andrew Gillum, who calls himself a 'living, breathing, walking, talking result of [Dr. King's] legacy.' Gillum shares his experience on the campaign trail and previews the important fights ahead on voting, worker and civil rights.'"

The Fierce Urgency of Now: "Hundreds of labor and social justice activists descended on the nation’s capital this weekend for the 2019 AFL‑CIO Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka kicked off the gathering by telling participants that this is our moment for action: 'We’re living in the fierce urgency of now. This is a time to take risks. This is a time to get uncomfortable. That’s when real progress is made.'"

We've Had Enough; Do Your Job: In the States Roundup: "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."

Future of Work Commission Urges Bargaining Rights for Digital Platform Workers: "A landmark report by the International Labor Organization’s (ILO’s) Global Commission on the Future of Work, released today, calls for giving full rights and protections, including collective bargaining rights, to digital platform workers. The ILO is the United Nations agency charged with promoting decent work and global labor standards."

The Government Shutdown Creates Headwinds for Airlines: "The Washington impasse comes at a time when the travel and hospitality industries have been reporting healthy profits but face strong headwinds from higher jet fuel prices and increasing costs for employee salaries and benefits. Meanwhile, a coalition of unions representing pilots, flight attendants and other airline workers issued a statement Thursday, calling for an end to the impasse, saying it is threatening the safety of the industry. 'The longer the shutdown goes on, the greater that threat becomes,' the coalition, dubbed the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, said. 'Lawmakers have a responsibility to preserve the safety and integrity of our nation’s aviation system by re-opening the federal government.'"

It’s Not a Shutdown, It’s a Lockout and a Shakedown of Federal Workers: "'Let’s call this shutdown what it is: It’s a lockout,' says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox Sr. says this 'effort at extortion is more of a lockout than a shutdown. But maybe an even more accurate description of this is that it’s a shakedown.'"

Aviation Professionals Warn of Dire Risk Amid Shutdown: "The unions that represent the nation’s air traffic controllers, pilots and flight attendants issued a dire warning on Wednesday, calling the government shutdown an 'unprecedented' and 'unconscionable' safety threat that is growing by the day and must end. The union presidents—Paul Rinaldi of National Air Traffic Controllers Association, Joe DePete of the Air Line Pilots Association and Sara Nelson of the Association of Flight Attendants—did little to assuage those concerns in their statement, saying that the 'air safety environment' is 'deteriorating by the day.' They noted that 'staffing in our air traffic control facilities is already at a 30-year low and controllers are only able to maintain the system’s efficiency and capacity by working overtime.'"

Labor Voices: GM Leaves Workers' Futures Uncertain: "The focus of General Motors’ November announcement shutting down plants in Lordstown, Ohio; Hamtramck and Warren, Michigan; and Baltimore, Maryland, shouldn’t be about money. It should be about people. UAW GM members are dedicated and committed to making a great product, supporting the success of a company, and supporting a solid, prosperous community. Unfortunately, that’s not how it's playing out. UAW GM members are facing the disruption of their families."

At MLK Conference Andrew Gillum Talks About His Gubernatorial Race: "'You can’t call them racist,' Gillum said of the Trump supporters, replying to a question after his speech to the AFL-CIO’s Martin Luther King commemorative conference, in D.C., on Jan. 18. 'If we’re going to win, we have to put in the work, and it’ll require some conversations with people with whom we don’t really feel comfortable. We have to get them to a higher level where we can talk with them' on issues the two sides may have in common, he added."

Nurses Are Calling Out for Job Protections and Marching in the Women's March: "For our patients’ and our own safety, nurses must have the power to speak up. That’s why the right to form a union—what we call 'organizing'—is so important. Not only are the rules about our working conditions, wages, and benefits spelled out in a union contract we negotiate directly with our employers—a process known as 'collective bargaining'—the union harnesses our group power. With the strength of our numbers, we’re able to hold our employers accountable for prioritizing people and not just profits."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 01/28/2019 - 08:35

Los Angeles Teachers Stay Strong; Win Improvements

Wed, 01/23/2019 - 10:24
Los Angeles Teachers Stay Strong; Win Improvements UTLA

Less than a month into 2019, the teachers of Los Angeles have proven that last year’s wave of collective action isn’t quieting down. After taking to the streets in a strike that has captured the country’s imagination, members of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) are returning to classrooms today after overwhelmingly approving a paradigm-shifting contract that delivers on key demands.

For six days, more than 30,000 UTLA teachers went on strike to shine a light on the daily realities of a neglected and underfunded public school system. They demanded better, and by standing together, they won it. Here are just a few critical improvements in UTLA’s new contract:

  • A much-deserved 6% pay raise with no contingencies;

  • A nurse in every school five days a week;

  • A teacher librarian in every secondary school five days a week;

  • Hard caps on class size that will go into effect immediately in 2019–2020, with additional improvements every year after;

  • A commitment to reduce testing by 50%;

  • Hard caps on special education caseloads; and

  • A clear pathway to cap charter schools.

“For too long teachers have lived with a hard truth to tell—that for years our students were being starved of the resources they need,” said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl following the vote. “Our expectations were fundamentally raised by this strike. Together, we said we deserve better, our students deserve better. We must keep our expectations high and not let go of this moment, because the next struggle is right around the corner.”

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 01/23/2019 - 12:24

Tags: Organizing

The Fierce Urgency of Now

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 11:34
The Fierce Urgency of Now AFL-CIO

Hundreds of labor and social justice activists descended on the nation’s capital this weekend for the 2019 AFL‑CIO Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka kicked off the gathering by telling participants that this is our moment for action: “We’re living in the fierce urgency of now. This is a time to take risks. This is a time to get uncomfortable. That’s when real progress is made.”

The MLK Conference also featured a number of panels on Friday evening, including a town hall conversation with Andrew Gillum, 2018 nominee for governor of Florida.

He told participants: “Nobody understands ‘the fierce urgency of now’ better than labor. Dr. King...was laboring to build a better environment. That if you do an honest day’s work, you ought to be paid an honest day’s wage.... You ought to have access to health care, a wage you can live on, and your race, your gender and whom you love should not dictate how you get treated at work.”

You can watch his entire conversation with Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, here.

Hundreds of participants kicked off Saturday morning by rallying at the AFL-CIO headquarters in solidarity with the federal employees affected by the government shutdown. They then took to the streets to join with thousands more activists from across the country to march for workers’ and women’s rights.

Sunday’s awards gala honored fighters like the late Augusta Thomas, national vice president for women and fair practices emeritus, AFGE. You can see a roundup of awardees here.

Monday was a day of community service throughout Washington, D.C. Activists visited patients in nursing homes, cleaned up and painted walls and murals at area schools.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 01/22/2019 - 13:34

Tags: MLK conference

Future of Work Commission Urges Bargaining Rights for Digital Platform Workers

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 07:58
Future of Work Commission Urges Bargaining Rights for Digital Platform Workers ILO

A landmark report by the International Labor Organization’s (ILO’s) Global Commission on the Future of Work, released today, calls for giving full rights and protections, including collective bargaining rights, to digital platform workers. The ILO is the United Nations agency charged with promoting decent work and global labor standards.

The ILO Commission warns that, left to its current course, the digital economy is likely to widen both regional and gender divides. Crowd work and work mediated by digital apps could recreate 19th century working practices and lead to future generations of “digital day laborers.” Among other things, the commission calls for the following:

  • A “universal labor guarantee” to ensure that all workers, regardless of whether they are treated as employees or independent contractors, enjoy fundamental worker rights such as the right to bargain collectively; an adequate living wage; maximum limits on working hours; freedom from forced labor, child labor and discrimination; and the protection of worker health and safety.

  • Universal social protection—namely, universal health care, access to education, income support, unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation and disability and retirement benefits—for all workers in all forms of work, with governments supplementing a guaranteed minimum “social protection floor” with contributory social insurance programs.

  • A global governance system for digital labor platforms to ensure decent work across international jurisdictions.

According to the latest data from the Department of Labor, “electronically mediated work” currently accounts for 1% of the U.S. workforce. According to the latest research by the JPMorgan Chase Institute, digital labor platforms in the transportation sector currently account for 1% of the U.S. workforce, while digital labor platforms outside the transportation sector account for another 0.1%.

The ILO Commission further calls for “reinvigorating the social contract that gives working people a just share of economic progress”—what we might call a “Social Contract 2.0.”

While recognizing that rapid technological advances offer “remarkable opportunities” to promote good jobs and decent work, the commission maintains that we are now facing “one of the most important challenges of our times, as fundamental and disruptive changes in working life inherently affect our entire societies. Without decisive action, we will be sleepwalking into a world that widens inequality, increases uncertainty and reinforces exclusion, with destructive political, social and economic consequences.” While technological advances—such as artificial intelligence, automation and robotics—and the greening of the economy will create millions of new jobs, many jobs will disappear.

To build a fair and equitable future of work, the commission calls for putting people and the work they do at the center of economic policy, social policy and business practice. The commission’s “human-centered agenda” includes the following proposals:

  • Ensure the collective representation of all workers through public policies to actively promote freedom of association and collective bargaining; innovative organizing techniques; and the use of digital means to develop “new forms of connected action.”

  • A measurable agenda for gender equality, including gender-balanced parental leave; investment in public care services; stronger collective representation of women; the elimination of gender-based discrimination, including in the tech sector; pay transparency; and the elimination of violence and harassment at work.

  • More worker sovereignty over working time through minimum hour guarantees; maximum limits on working time; flexible schedules; premium pay for on-call waiting time and for work that is not guaranteed; and the application of technology to achieve balance between work and personal life.

  • Harness technology for decent work through collective bargaining over the design of work; a “human-in-command” approach to artificial intelligence to ensure that final decisions affecting work are taken by human beings rather than algorithms; regulation of the use of algorithmic management, surveillance and control of workers through sensors, wearables or other forms of monitoring; regulation of the use of worker data; and guaranteed access of workers to their own data.

  • Reshape business incentives for long-term investment, including through policies to promote tax fairness; revised corporate accountability standards; and enhanced representation of social and community stakeholders.

  • A universal entitlement to lifelong learning and skills training, including both informal and formal learning and training, from early childhood to adulthood.

  • Public investment in good jobs, including strategic investment in high-quality physical, digital and social infrastructure; the care economy; the green economy; and the rural economy.

  • Public investments to support people going through job transitions, including paid time off for training; quality apprenticeships; youth jobs programs; and the expansion of public employment services.

  • Better measures of economic progress to account for the value of unpaid household work; environmental degradation; and the distributional and equity dimensions of economic growth.

The commission’s report also highlights the following figures:

  • 190 million: The number of people in the world who are unemployed, of whom 64.8 million are young people.

  • 344 million: The number of jobs that will need to be created by 2030 to address unemployment.

  • 2.78 million: The number of people who die every year as a result of occupational accidents or work-related illnesses.

  • 300 million: The number of workers in the world who live in extreme poverty.

  • 1%: The percentage of the world’s population that received 27% of global income growth between 1980 and 2016, while the poorest 50% received only 12%.

  • 36.1%: The percentage of the global workforce that works excessive hours.

  • 20%: The gender pay gap, or the amount by which women are paid less than men.

  • 53.6%: The percentage of households with internet access (only 15% in emerging countries).

  • 2 billion: The number of people who make their living in the informal economy.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 01/22/2019 - 09:58

Extending a Helping Hand: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 08:31
Extending a Helping Hand: 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 this week’s Working People Weekly List.

Extending a Helping Hand to Those Affected by the Shutdown: "Across the country, working people are marching and rallying for an immediate end to the government shutdown. Already the longest funding lapse in American history, this manufactured crisis has put the weight of ideological extremism on federal workers and their families. As we continue fighting to reopen the government, the labor movement also is joining together to support our brothers and sisters as they go without a paycheck."

Stop Punishing Public Employees for Washington’s Failure to Lead: "How many of us could afford to work without being paid? How many of us would be 'fine' if we were suddenly laid off days before Christmas? For 800,000 Americans, including more than 12,000 Pennsylvania families directly affected by the government shutdown, the possibility of losing their homes, being late on their bills and facing unforgiving debt is all too real."

Federal Workers Seeking Unemployment Aid Doubles in Number: "The number of furloughed federal employees seeking unemployment benefits jumped in the first two weeks of the shutdown, topping 10,000 during the week of Jan. 5. The Labor Department said Thursday that is double the number of federal workers who sought aid in the previous week. Typically fewer than 1,000 former federal employees apply for jobless benefits each week."

As Shutdown Drags On, Some Step Up to Help Unpaid Federal Workers: "When the government shut down in late December, Morgan McKay offered free pizza and wine to furloughed and otherwise unpaid federal workers at her popular Denver restaurant, Oblio’s. Ms. McKay expected to host no more than three or four unpaid workers a night. Instead, a dozen or more have appeared nightly, joined by a new crop of paying customers who come to support her efforts."

Talks Resume as Los Angeles Teachers' Strike Runs for Fourth Day: "Negotiators for striking Los Angeles teachers and America’s second-largest school district returned to the bargaining table on Thursday for the first time since talks collapsed last week, as a walkout by some 30,000 educators ran for a fourth day. The strike has disrupted classes for nearly 500,000 students, though parents have turned out in large numbers to join teachers on picket lines and at their rallies. A recent Loyola Marymount University survey showed broad public support for the union’s cause across all demographics, especially among parents with school age children."

LMU: Majority of Los Angeles County Residents Supports Teachers’ Strike: "Nearly 80 percent of Los Angeles County residents said they support striking Los Angeles Unified School District teachers, according to survey results released Tuesday by Loyola Marymount University. Among respondents, 53% said they 'strongly support' and 24% 'somewhat support' teachers going on strike to achieve their demands in the labor dispute. Backing for the strike was at 60% or higher across all demographic categories, including age, ethnicity, income and political affiliation. Among parents with children at home, just 18% opposed the walkout, according to the survey conducted by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at LMU."

Unions Raise Food and Money for Unpaid Federal Workers: "The Utah AFL-CIO has had a food pantry for years because there are often union members laid off of seasonal work, or whose industries are in a downturn, but this is the first time members of federal employee unions have been in need. 'There’s a lot of unfairness in it,' said Utah AFL-CIO President Jeff Worthington."

TSA Says Financial Stress of Shutdown is Forcing Growing Number of Officers to Stay Home: "Faced with growing numbers of call outs by its workers—and images of some of them lining up for food donations—leaders of the Transportation Security Administration acknowledged Wednesday that 'many employees are reporting that they are not able to report to work due to financial limitations.' Significant numbers of TSA agents have not been coming to work, either because of financial hardship or to underscore their opposition to being forced to work without pay."

Stop Starving Our Schools: "The streets of Los Angeles are packed with the sights and sounds of collective action this week. Braving the cold rain, some 30,000 United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) members turned out for picket lines across the city yesterday, joined by more than 10,000 parents, students and community members. Every L.A. school site—more than 900—participated in the strike, culminating in a 50,000-person march to the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD’s) headquarters."

Thousands Rally in D.C. to #StopTheShutdown: "As the government shutdown became the longest in U.S. history, thousands of working people took to the streets of Washington, D.C., to send a clear message to the president and Congress to stop the shutdown and let federal government employees get to work. Thousands more rallied at other locations around the country."

No Joke: Worker Wins: "Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with several newsrooms using collective action and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 01/18/2019 - 10:31

Extending a Helping Hand to Those Affected by the Shutdown

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 07:28
Extending a Helping Hand to Those Affected by the Shutdown AFL-CIO

Across the country, working people are marching and rallying for an immediate end to the government shutdown. Already the longest funding lapse in American history, this manufactured crisis has put the weight of ideological extremism on federal workers and their families. As we continue fighting to reopen the government, the labor movement also is joining together to support our brothers and sisters as they go without a paycheck.

If you have been impacted by the shutdown, there are a number of resources available to you. We are engaging a network of United Way/AFL-CIO labor liaisons and labor-associated community service organizations across the country to organize support; furloughed workers can call 2-1-1 to talk to a live, trained professional to find support and identify critical services.

Additionally, as a union member, you may be able to access a range of Union Plus benefits, including a $300 furlough grant, mortgage assistance, credit counseling, personal loans, auto insurance, and life and accident insurance.

Other resources available to those affected by the shutdown include:

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 01/17/2019 - 09:28

Tags: Government Shutdown

Stop Starving Our Schools

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 13:37
Stop Starving Our Schools UTLA

The streets of Los Angeles are packed with the sights and sounds of collective action this week. Braving the cold rain, some 30,000 United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) members turned out for picket lines across the city yesterday, joined by more than 10,000 parents, students and community members. Every L.A. school site—more than 900—participated in the strike, culminating in a 50,000-person march to the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD’s) headquarters.

Teachers and their allies aren’t letting up. From the leaders of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and California Labor Federation to working people across the country, the entire labor movement is showing solidarity with UTLA’s fight for better lives, schools and communities. Here are just a few of the realities they’re working to change:

  • The cost of living has increased 27% since 2008.

  • California’s student-to-teacher ratio ranks 48 out of 50 states.

  • Students in transitional kindergarten to sixth grade take more than 100 standardized LAUSD tests.

  • California is the richest state in the nation, yet ranks 43 out of 50 in per-pupil spending.

  • California’s student-to-counselor ratio is 945:1.

  • L.A.’s charter school industry has grown by 287% since 2008, draining nearly $600 million from public schools each year.

Take action today and tell Superintendent Austin Beutner to meet the demands of Los Angeles teachers, parents and students.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 01/15/2019 - 15:37

No Joke: Worker Wins

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 07:17
No Joke: Worker Wins The Onion

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with several newsrooms using collective action and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.

Onion Creative Staff Approve New Contract: The creative staff at The Onion, which includes various other related publications, voted to approve a new contract. Nearly 70 employees are covered by the two-year contract. The Onion Inc. Union, affiliated with the Writers Guild of America, East, wrote: "We’re elated to have reached a first union contract for the members at Onion Inc. In addition to the gains made in our contract, we experienced immediate workplace improvements while organizing, including increased interdepartmental communication and a gender pay parity analysis. As part of the WGAE, we have access to resources and the solidarity of thousands of union members across media and entertainment. We’re proud to be part of a wave that’s raising standards across the industry and we encourage everyone to organize their workplaces."

Law360 Editorial Staffers Unanimously Approve First Contract: After a two-year battle, members of The NewsGuild-CWA who work as editorial staff at LexisNexis-owned Law360, a legal news site, unanimously approved their first contract. The four-year agreement includes a 22% raise and a minimum annual salary of $50,000. In a statement, the unit said: "Last night, we unanimously (168-0!) ratified a remarkable first contract that fiercely protects and improves the working conditions of everyone in the newsroom at Law360. For years, we have been adamant about protecting the editorial integrity of the newsroom and of our bargaining unit. We successfully negotiated language that prevents the company from reinstating non-compete agreements and onerous daily story quotas. We also achieved a provision that preserves the contract in the event of a sale or acquisition of the company."

New York Media Editorial Employees Join NewsGuild: After nearly 80% of eligible staffers signed on, editorial employees of New York Media voted to be represented by The NewsGuild of New York-CWA. The new unit would cover 160 full- and part-time staffers and has asked the company for voluntary recognition of the union. A mission statement from the new unit said: "We believe that unionizing is the best way to address our grievances in the workplace and allow us to continue publishing stories as honest, gritty, and exceptional as this city. We hope that New York Media will recognize our union so that we can begin an amicable collective-bargaining process and build a stronger, more equitable company for another 50 years."

New York City Rideshare App Drivers Win Historic Pay Rules: After a campaign by the Independent Drivers Guild (an affiliate of the Machinists) that involved rallying 16,000 drivers to events, lobbying days and thousands of calls and letters, drivers for rideshare apps in New York have won a minimum pay rate that is equivalent to the city's $15 per hour minimum wage. "Today we brought desperately needed relief to 80,000 working families. All workers deserve the protection of a fair, livable wage and we are proud to be setting the new bar for contractor workers’ rights in America," said Jim Conigliaro Jr., founder of the Independent Drivers Guild. "We are thankful to the Mayor, Commissioner Joshi and the Taxi and Limousine Commission, City Council Member Brad Lander and all of the city officials who listened to and stood up for drivers."

Nurses at NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital Win Union Election: Nurses at the hospital in Cortlandt, New York, voted to join the New York State Nurses Association after an anti-union campaign that led to state officials vowing to investigate labor abuses alleged against the hospital. Nurse and organizer Susan Beck said: "We got an email from our president that said respect will be at the center of how we will continue to work together. That’s what nurses really wanted in the first place."

Educators at Acero Charter Schools Reach Agreement to End Strike: Educators at Acero charter schools in Chicago ended the first strike in charter school history by reaching a tentative agreement with the school network. The 500 educators won pay improvements, reductions in class sizes and language that makes the school a sanctuary for the schools' immigrant students, including protection against federal immigration enforcement on school grounds. Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said: "This was the culmination of our vision over more than a decade of organizing. Our vision is that educators at charter schools and at Chicago Public Schools have common interests. We live in the same neighborhoods, we teach the same kids, and we wage the same struggles over resources and underfunding. We are now a movement that commands national attention and can stop a city."

Environmental Charter School Educators Vote to Join AFT: Educators at Environmental Charter School in Pittsburgh voted to join the AFT. The new unit will represent teachers, nurses, counselors, social workers, academic coaches and educational assistants. They will now proceed with negotiations on their first union contract.

Steelworkers Ratify Contract with ArcelorMittal: Some 15,000 United Steelworkers members have a new four-year labor agreement with ArcelorMittal USA that increases wages and benefits. The workers in six states had voted to authorize a strike during the acrimonious negotiations. David McCall, lead negotiator for USW District 1, said: "We successfully defended all of the rights and protections that management sought to reduce, restrict and eliminate. On top of that, we were able to make improvements, fill gaps and fix the parts of our contracts that members identified as top priorities."

Oregon Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Workers Join AFSCME: Nearly 270 mental health and addiction recovery workers at Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare in Portland and Milwaukie, Oregon, voted to join AFSCME. The workers are pushing for better pay and lower case loads. The fight for unionization at the clinics was a unwelcome one from management, which held numerous anti-union meetings and AFSCME has filed charges against Cascadia for improperly firing a union supporter.

Laid Off Toys 'R' Us Workers Secure $20 Million in Severance Fight: In the process of Toys "R" Us filing for bankruptcy in 2018, 31,000 employees were laid off and did not get severance payments. Meanwhile, some top executives got bonuses. The laid-off workers fought back and have negotiated a settlement with Bain Capital and KKR, private equity firms that owned part of the toy retailer, to pay $20 million in severance payments.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 01/15/2019 - 09:17

Tags: Organizing

#StopTheShutdown: The Working People Weekly List

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 06:45
#StopTheShutdown: 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 this week’s Working People Weekly List.

State of the Unions: Special #StopTheShutdown Episode: A Conversation with AFGE President J. David Cox: "With the government shutdown in its third week, Julie and Tim talk to J. David Cox Sr., national president of AFGE. Cox says his members are being held hostage by extremist politics and is calling on all working people to demand that Congress and the White House reopen the government and put federal employees back to work."

Our Paycheck Is Not a Bargaining Chip: "It’s day 20 of the government shutdown, and the AFL-CIO has called upon the entire labor movement to fight for our affected brothers and sisters."

End the Shutdown: 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."

Economy Gains 312,000 Jobs in December; Unemployment Rises to 3.9%: "The U.S. economy gained 312,000 jobs in December, and the unemployment rate rose to 3.9%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This report shows an increase in unemployed workers and while wage gains are stronger, they are not consistent with a tight labor market. This ongoing financial and economic volatility means that the Federal Reserve needs to hold off on more rate increases."

AFL-CIO's Top 10 Blog Posts of 2018: "Today, we are taking a moment to reflect on a historic year for collective action by highlighting the top 10 most-read posts on the AFL-CIO blog in 2018. Throughout the year, working people across the country joined together to build a better America. These are our stories."

New Congress Begins with Influx of Worker-Friendly Members: "The 116th Congress begins today and it features a diverse group of members who are more friendly to working people than their predecessors in recent Congresses. Not only does the new class of incoming senators and representatives have the largest group of women ever and the first Native American women, the first Muslim American women and the first openly bisexual senator, it features a dozen union members and even more worker-friendly members."

Stop the Shutdown: "The government shutdown is now in its 12th day, meaning some 800,000 federal employees are still without a paycheck because President Donald Trump refuses to sign a federal budget that doesn’t include $5 billion for a border wall. Working people—and their livelihoods—should never be used as political pawns. As congressional leaders prepare to meet with Trump later today, take action now to stop the shutdown."

UAW Releases 2019 Union-Made Vehicle Buying Guide: "No matter when you are buying a new vehicle or for what purpose, you have the opportunity to use this substantial buying power to support working people. The UAW releases a guide every year that lets consumers know which cars are union-made in America. Here is this year's list."

Ohio’s Ironworkers Local 290 Invests in the Future: "One of the country’s best-kept secrets is that the American labor movement trains more workers than any organization other than the U.S. military. Apprenticeships and job training programs represent a powerful, life-changing opportunity that unions are in a unique position to provide. When those resources are made readily available to working people, membership growth often follows."

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 01/15/2019 - 08:45

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