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Trump’s SEC Chairman Proposes to Disenfranchise Investors and Reduce Shareholder Democracy

Tue, 11/05/2019 - 09:36
Trump’s SEC Chairman Proposes to Disenfranchise Investors and Reduce Shareholder Democracy

In a partisan 3-2 vote, the Trump administration’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed to curtail the rights of investors to file proposals for a vote at company annual meetings. If adopted, these changes will hinder shareholder proposals by union members and their pension plans to hold corporate management accountable.

"We strongly oppose the SEC's shareholder proposal rule changes that will limit the ability of working people and their pension plans to have a voice in the companies that we invest in," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA). The proposed changes include dramatic increases in stock ownership requirements and vote resubmission requirements.

Corporate CEOs of the Business Roundtable and the Chamber of Commerce have long wished for these changes to the shareholder proposal rule. In a 2017 letter to the SEC, the AFL-CIO showed how these proposed rule changes will undermine efforts to increase corporate responsibility for environmental, social and governance issues.

"The right to petition corporate management by filing shareholder proposals is an integral part of shareholder democracy in the United States,” Trumka explained. “The SEC should protect the rights of working people as the real main street investors, not the interests of overpaid and unaccountable corporate CEOs."

For more information about the efforts of SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, nominated by President Trump, to disenfranchise investors and reduce shareholder democracy by curtailing the shareholder proposal rule, please visit the Investor Rights Forum.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 11/05/2019 - 11:36

Standing Up Against Corporate Greed: The Working People Weekly List

Mon, 11/04/2019 - 10:30
Standing Up Against Corporate Greed: 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.

UAW Members at GM Ratify New Agreement: "The longest and largest automotive strike in decades came to an end this week as UAW members employed by General Motors Co. ratified the tentative agreement between the union and the automaker. Nearly 50,000 UAW members went on strike Sept. 16 seeking fair wages, affordable quality health care, profit sharing, job security and a defined path to permanent seniority for temps. With the victory of the UAW members, working people across the country lauded the strikers and thanked them for standing up against corporate greed."

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Flexing Labor’s Muscle: "On the latest episode of 'State of the Unions,' podcast co-host Tim Schlittner talks to union member and Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Mark Pocan (Wis.) about strikes, trade, health care, LGBTQ equality and the freedom to form a union."

LGBT History Month Pathway to Progress: The Founding of Pride At Work: "History has long been portrayed as a series of 'great men' taking great action to shape the world we live in. In recent decades, however, social historians have focused more on looking at history "from the bottom up," studying the vital role that working people played in our heritage. Working people built, and continue to build, the United States. In our series, Pathway to Progress, we'll take a look at various people, places and events where working people played a key role in the progress our country has made, including those who are making history right now. In honor of LGBT History Month, we will take a look at the founding of Pride At Work."

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

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

Union Apprenticeship Works: 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."

Building Pathways: 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."

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

 

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 11/04/2019 - 12:30

A Boss Is a Boss: Labor Podcast and Radio Roundup

Mon, 11/04/2019 - 10:20
A Boss Is a Boss: Labor Podcast and Radio Roundup

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

Belabored Podcast #186: 'A Boss Is a Boss': Two organizers discuss recent efforts to unionize nonprofit workers. Plus: an interview with Chicago teacher Kenzo Shibata about the first day on the picket line. With Sarah Jaffe and Michelle Chen.

Building Bridges: 'Analyzing Bernie Sanders’ Workplace Democracy Plan': "Shaun Richman is an In These Times contributing writer and the program director of the Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies at SUNY Empire State College. Senator Bernie Sanders has announced his Workplace Democracy Plan to build worker power on the job by protecting unionizing and strikes by workers. In many ways it goes back to the intent of New Deal Legislation, which has been seriously weakened over the years by right wing legislation and court decisions. But it also builds on them calling for new private and public sector workers rights and forms of union representation that transcend the National Labor Relations Board framework of enterprise based contract bargaining."

CTU Speaks! 'Five Days Later!': Five days into the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) strike, Jim sits down with Cook County Commissioner, CTU member and former middle school teacher Brandon Johnson. Brandon puts the strike in historical context and helps us understand it as a potential pivot point for the city, while also underscoring the ways that CTU has been impactful for labor and education across the country.

Heartland Labor Forum: 'Disappearing the Poor and the New Servant Economy of Wealth Jobs': "The Trump administration wants to redefine who is poor. Experts say they want to disappear the poor. Then, Mark Muro of Brookings Institute will talk to us about wealth work. That’s the growing number of jobs in what’s called the 'new servant economy.' Thursday at 6 p.m., rebroadcast Friday at 5 a.m. on KKFI 90.1 FM or streaming."

Labor History Today: 'Immigrant Girl, Radical Woman': "On this week’s show: Robbin Légère Henderson talks about her grandmother, Matilda Rabinowitz Robbins, on the Tales from the Reuther Library podcast. Henderson shares stories from Robbins’ autobiography, Immigrant Girl, Radical Woman: A Memoir from the Early Twentieth Century, explaining how the optimism of a 13-year-old immigrant from the Ukraine was soon undone by the realities of working in garment sweatshops on the East Coast, leading to Matilda Robbins’ brief but influential role as a labor organizer for the International Workers of the World from 1912 to 1917. She was one of only two women organizers for the IWW during its early years, along with Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. Plus a clip from 'Mother Jones in Heaven,' a one-woman musical by Si Kahn, starring Vivian Nesbitt as 'Mother' Jones, with musical accompaniment by John Dillon, recently performed at The Robin Theatre in Lansing, Michigan."

Union City Radio: Airs weekdays at 7:15 a.m. on WPFW 89.3 FM. Bus drivers strike in Lorton, Virginia; hotel workers settle in Baltimore; STRIKE! The game of worker rebellion; Washington, D.C., residents urged to testify at City Council health committee hearing; D.C. janitors approve contract.

Union Strong: "TWU Local 100 is in a contract fight with the MTA. We cover everything from the Trash Train competition to the trash email that went public, all on the day of a massive rally taking place tonight in NYC."

Willamette Wake Up: Features an interview with Graham Trainor, the new president of the Oregon AFL-CIO. We cover racism and sexism, some features of labor's program in Oregon, the recent Oregon AFL-CIO convention, and some of labor's challenges and opportunities. KMUZ is at 100.7 or 88.5 in the Keizer-Salem-Turner area, or at https://kmuz.org regardless of where you are. Our labor segment will run at around 8:10 a.m. on Friday morning.

Working History: Making the Woman Worker: "On SLSA's latest Working History podcast, 'Making the Woman Worker,' Eileen Boris discusses her new book, Making the Woman Worker: Precarious Labor and the Fight for Global Standards, 1919-2019, the history of the International Labor Organization's labor protections for women, domestic and home workers in the global north and global south, and ongoing fights to recognize precarious labor from the care economy to the gig economy."

Your Rights At Work: Health care in southeast D.C. with Ward 8 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Chris Hawthorne, District of Columbia Nurses Association nurse Roberta Lenoir and organizer Djawa Hall with SEIU 1199. Plus latest labor news updates. Thursdays 1-2 p.m. on WPFW 89.3 FM.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 11/04/2019 - 12:20

Tags: Podcast

Economy Gains 128,000 Jobs in October; Unemployment Up Slightly to 3.6%

Mon, 11/04/2019 - 08:21
Economy Gains 128,000 Jobs in October; Unemployment Up Slightly to 3.6%

The U.S. economy gained 128,000 jobs in October, and the unemployment rate increased slightly to 3.6%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

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

Unemployment rates for whites and Blacks continue to converge, last year, Black over white unemployment was 6.2:3.3 and now is at 5.4:3.2.  A reminder of what some @federalreserve argued couldn't happen without extreme inflation. Full employment is good for everyone @AFLCIO

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

After last year's revisions downward, and a continuation of the trend to start the year, the good news is @BLS_gov has revised August and September numbers up a combined 95,000.  This brings average payroll gains to 176,000 over the last 3 months; a good sign. @AFLCIO

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

Jobs in food services continue to grow--despite the industry whining about increased minimum wages.  Last month @BLS_gov reported gains of 48,000 with a 3 month average gain of 38,000.  The House has passed @BobbyScott bill to #Fightfor15, but Mitch McConnell--crickets.  @AFLCIO

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

September and October, Local government employment has finally recovered to its July 2008 level, over 11 years ago.  That means we still have fewer @AFSCME  @IAFFNewsDesk, @AFTunion   per person than back then. Lower public investment is not good. @AFLCIO @RepRoKhanna pic.twitter.com/z9eiDemkDk

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

Part of the average wage problem is that lower than average wage industries (the bottom half of the graph) are showing much greater job gains (the farther right on the graph) than higher wage industries: Why state minimum wage increases are pushing up wages. #Fightfor15 @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/igabWzyQyP

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

It is troubling that despite many improvements in unemployment rates, long term unemployment remains a bigger problem than before 2008.  It helps explain the frustration many people experience, despite low unemployment rates.  @AFLCIO #JobsReport pic.twitter.com/jOr7WwzpQe

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

Despite a slightly accelerated rate of job growth the last 3 months, the broadest measure of labor market slack (including those who are part-time but want full-time work and discouraged workers) has been essentially flat. @AFLCIO  #JobsReport pic.twitter.com/Se0UyzMiiS

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

#OneJobShouldbeEnough @IWPResearch @HeidiatIWPR 5.7% of women are working two jobs, and the number working two full-time jobs is up over last October.  #Fightfor15 America needs a raise.  @BobbyScott got the House to pass a raise, Mitch McConnell is doing nothing! @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/NjWZlsnUdN

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

The problem for the long-term unemployed is not easily explained by some skill bias, since unemployment rates for all education levels have fallen back to 2008 levels--though the college educated are a slight bit higher. @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/AseiIaI9D4

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

Last month's biggest job gains were in food services and drinking places (48,000), professional and business services (22,000), social assistance (20,000), financial activities (16,000), and health care (15,000). Manufacturing employment decreased by 36,000 and federal government employment was down 17,000 as a large group of temporary census workers completed their work. Employment in other major industries, including mining, construction, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, and information, showed little change over the month.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for teenagers (12.3%), blacks (5.4%), Hispanics (4.1%), adult men (3.2%), whites (3.2%), adult women (3.2%) and Asians (2.9%) showed little or no change in October.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) declined in October and accounted for 21.5% of the unemployed.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 11/04/2019 - 10:21

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

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

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

Listen to our previous episodes:

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

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

Tags: Podcast

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

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

History has long been portrayed as a series of "great men" taking great action to shape the world we live in. In recent decades, however, social historians have focused more on looking at history "from the bottom up," studying the vital role that working people played in our heritage. Working people built, and continue to build, the United States. In our series, Pathway to Progress, we'll take a look at various people, places and events where working people played a key role in the progress our country has made, including those who are making history right now. In honor of LGBT History Month, we will take a look at the founding of Pride At Work (P@W).

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: Pride at Work

Egregious Worker Rights Violations Cause Thailand to Lose Trade Benefits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: Thailand

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

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

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

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

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

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

Number of Members: 15,878.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn More: WebsiteFacebookYouTubeInstagramTwitter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Industries Represented: The maritime workforce.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn More: Website, Twitter, Facebook.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The State of Working America: Labor Podcast and Radio Roundup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: Podcast

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

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

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

Listen to our previous episodes:

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

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

Tags: Podcast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about Tenayuca and the pecan strike.

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

Imagine a President Uniting People

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

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

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

Trumka said:

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

Lula Livre! Free Lula!

Lula said: 

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

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

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

Brazilian and U.S. Workers Confronting Common Threat Build Solidarity in the Global Labor Movement

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 11:26
Brazilian and U.S. Workers Confronting Common Threat Build Solidarity in the Global Labor Movement AFL-CIO

This week, the AFL-CIO joins much of the global labor movement in Brazil to participate in the 13th Congress of Brazil's largest labor organization, the Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT). Fred Redmond, AFL-CIO vice president and United Steelworkers vice president for human affairs, is leading the AFL-CIO delegation.

Addressing the entire congress, Redmond pointed out the many challenges workers face in both Brazil and the United States, calling for unity and solidarity to move forward. In particular, he denounced the anti-worker laws and policies being driven by right-wing presidents in Brazil and the United States to weaken unions and collective bargaining.

Redmond also lamented that the current presidents in both countries have risen to power and exercise it by increasing fear and hatred, especially racial prejudice, rather than by leading.

Finally, he rallied the hundreds of delegates to the global labor movement's call for the immediate release of Brazil's former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, unjustly imprisoned for the last year and a half. Redmond closed by announcing to the crowd the upcoming visit of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) to present the 2019 George Meany–Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award to Lula in prison. The decision to give the award to Lula was announced in March.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 10/10/2019 - 13:26

A Seat at the Table: Worker Wins

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 09:55
A Seat at the Table: Worker Wins OPEIU Local 40

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with nurses banding together to make patients' lives better and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.

UChicago Medicine Ingalls Registered Nurses Organize: Registered nurses at UChicago Medicine Ingalls voted 72% in favor of joining National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU). The hospital is in Harvey, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Cathy Vaughn, an RN in the special care nursery, said: "Nurses at Ingalls are so excited to have won a seat at the table! We are ready to begin advocating to improve standards for our patients. This victory means that decisions about patient care are made at the bedside, not in the boardroom."

El Paso Nurses Organize with NNOC/NNU: Registered nurses at the Providence East Campus in El Paso, Texas, vote to join NNOC/NNU, in an election certified by the National Labor Relations Board. Nearly 500 nurses will now be represented by NNOC/NNU. RN Lena Gonzalez said: “This victory is positive on so many levels. We won because nurses from throughout the hospital are ready to stand united as strong patient advocates. We know we can accomplish much more together as union members than any one individual ever could.” 

Google Contract Workers in Pittsburgh Vote to Join USW: Contract workers for Google in Pittsburgh voted to join the United Steelworkers. This is one of the first victories for the union, which is seeking to organize at Google and other tech companies. The Google workers say that the company does not provide sick days, pays substandard wages that aren't connected to inflation and that workers are forced to take vacation days during national holidays.

Kaiser Permanente Workers Avoid Strike After Reaching Tentative Agreement: Working people at Kaiser Permanente have won a new collective bargaining agreement after 85,000 employees from 11 unions threatened a nationwide strike. The new four-year deal comes after five months of bargaining. The tentative agreement, which must be approved by the members of the various unions, provides annual pay increases and new job training and educational opportunities for workers.

Fred Meyer Workers in Portland Win New Contract After Boycott: Portland employees at Fred Meyer stores have reached a tentative agreement with management. The workers, represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, still have to ratify the contract. In a statement, the union said: “Our boycott against Fred Meyer was highly effective, due to your hard work in building relationships with your communities, who stood strong and proud with us.”

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Members Agree to One-Year Contract: In advance of the concert season, members of the Musicians Association of Metropolitan Baltimore (Local 40-543 of the American Federation of Musicians) and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra reached an agreement on a one-year contract. Orchestra members had engaged in a 14-week work stoppage, during which time the musicians were locked out and did not receive paychecks. Local 40-543 Secretary-Treasurer Mary C. Plaine said: “Baltimore Symphony Musicians and Local 40-543 are grateful to all of our AFM sisters and brothers who through their verbal and financial support helped us reach this agreement. It is good to know we can count on our colleagues as we continue our fight to preserve and grow the artistic legacy of the BSO.”

After a Year of Negotiations, Auburn Community Hospital Workers Win Contract: Ending almost a year of negotiations, health care workers at Auburn Community Hospital, represented by AFSCME Local 3124, voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract that solidifies health insurance and increases wages, among other benefits. Maureen Coleman, president of AFSCME Local 3124, said: “Since negotiations began last fall, it’s been our priority to protect our health coverage by including it in our collective bargaining agreement. This will require ACH to negotiate the impact of any future changes to its employees’ health plan with us.”

Fiesta Henderson Hotel and Casino Workers Join Culinary Union: Workers at Fiesta Henderson Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas voted to be represented by the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165, affiliates of UNITE HERE. This is the seventh casino owned by Station Casinos Las Vegas to unionize since 2016. Culinary Workers Union Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Argüello-Kline said: “We call on Station Casinos to immediately to negotiate and settle a fair contract for the workers at Fiesta Henderson, Fiesta Rancho, Sunset Station, Palms, Green Valley Ranch, Palace Station and Boulder Station.”

Writers and Assistant Producers at WBBM Newsradio Agree to New Contract: News writers and assistant producers at WBBM in Chicago, WCBS in New York and KNX in Los Angeles have reached an agreement with Entercom Communications, which owns the CBS-affiliated stations. Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East, which represents the workers, said: “This contract was won with incredible solidarity across three geographically separate stations. Together, we were able to secure a contract that makes significant financial gains and guarantees important workplace protections.”

Southern California Grocery Store Workers Avert Strike After Reaching Agreement: Some 47,000 grocery store workers at Vons, Pavilions and Ralphs averted a strike after the parent companies (Albertons and Kroger Co.) of the three chains reached an agreement. The workers, represented by UFCW, had previously authorized the strike. UFCW Local 135, in San Diego, responded to the announcement: “We are proud to announce that a tentative agreement has been reached with both companies. We know the road to get here has been a long one for you and your co-workers. Your dedication to standing up for good jobs⁠—engaging tens of thousands of customers with over 200 community rallies and store actions⁠—has been the driving force behind getting a deal that you can be proud to have stood up for. Because you are part of a union family, you have a voice, and a vote. Let’s make it count.” The membership has since ratified the contracts.

Employees at McLaren Macomb Hospital Join OPEIU: More than 300 employyes at McLaren Macomb hospital in Mount Clemens, Michigan, have voted to join OPEIU. The vote to associate with Local 40 was successful by 172-113. The workers covered include clerical associates, couriers, critical care techs, dispatchers, lab assistants, patient access reps, patient sitters, pharmacy techs and several other classifications. Local 40 President Jeff Morawski said: “This is the proudest day in the history of Local 40. The workers’ voices were heard loud and clear, and I am excited and proud to welcome them to Local 40. When workers win an election to form a union, everyone wins.”

CWA Members Reach Deal with AT&T Southeast: More than 20,000 employees at AT&T in nine states have reached a "handshake deal" on a new collective bargaining agreement. CWA District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt said: “CWA members’ spirit and solidarity over the last four days showed the company that we would not back down until they bargained with us in good faith. This was a historic strike that showed the power that working people have when they join together.”

Harvard Graduate Students Reach Tentative Agreement with University: After meetings throughout the summer, the Harvard Graduate Students Union (an affiliate of UAW), reached tentative agreements on three contracts. But the graduate students say there is still work to be done. Bargaining committee member Cole M. Meisenhelder said: “On many remaining issues, the administration has told us ‘we have nothing else to say.’ As long as the administration refuses to negotiate over the health plan or denies student workers a neutral process for cases of discrimination or harassment, we will not be able to come to tentative agreements on these issues. This includes the creation of funds totaling more than half a million dollars to assist bargaining unit members in covering the costs of dental and dependent health care, as well as child care. As the negotiations are ongoing, we look forward to continuing to work on these important issues at the bargaining table.”

Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants Vote Overwhelmingly to Join AFA-CWA: Flight attendants that work for Cathay Pacific Airlines voted by 97% to be represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. AFA-CWA President Sara Nelson said: “We are so proud to welcome our sisters and brothers at Cathay Pacific who chose to join with AFA Flight Attendants around the world. Their Cathay Cabin Crew counterparts in Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and Canada all have contracts with higher pay, benefits and job security. It's past time for these hardworking U.S.-based Flight Attendants to have a contract that lifts up good American jobs. Cathay Pacific Cabin Crew will surely enrich AFA’s history that includes decades of Flight Attendants working together to raise the bar for our entire profession.”

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 10/10/2019 - 11:55

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Laborers

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 08:08
Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Laborers

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

Name of Union: Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA)

Mission: To help working men and women unite for a stronger voice in the economies and governments of the United States and Canada. As an affiliate of the AFL-CIO and North America’s Building Trades Unions, LIUNA works predominantly to help construction craft laborers improve their lives through collective bargaining, organizing, training programs, safer job sites and the enforcement of workers’ rights.

Current Leadership of Union: Terry O’Sullivan became the general president of LIUNA in 2000 and has since been elected to three terms. He first joined the union in 1974. He served in several previous positions, including vice president and Mid-Atlantic regional manager; assistant to the general president; chief of staff; Tri-Funds administrator; assistant director of the Construction, Maintenance and Service Trades Department; and administrator of the West Virginia Laborers’ Training Center. O’Sullivan is a San Francisco native. Armand E. Sabitoni serves as general secretary-treasurer and as New England regional manager. In addition to O’Sullivan and Sabitoni, LIUNA is governed by a 14-member general executive board.

Number of Members: 500,000

Work Members Do: Construction of highways, bridges, tunnels, transit systems, buildings, industrial plants and manufacturing facilities; construction and maintenance of energy infrastructure, including renewable energy projects, pipelines, and natural gas and nuclear plants; environmental remediation of lead, asbestos and other hazardous materials; weatherization and landscaping. In addition, the union represents 70,000 public service employees who provide health care services, maintain parks and, through the affiliated National Postal Mail Handlers Union, process mail.

Industries Represented: Construction and public service. These working men and women are employed by various agencies, including the Postal Service, the Indian Health Service, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Park Service. 

History: The first recognized union for laborers was formed in Philadelphia in 1836. In 1903, American Federation of Labor President Samuel Gompers called for a convention to establish an international union of construction laborers and the International Hod Carriers and Building Laborers' Union was founded. (A hod is a tray connected to a pole handle that is used to shoulder loads of construction materials, such mortar or brick.)

At its first convention, the union represented more than 8,000 laborers in 17 different cities, most of whom were immigrants seeking a better life. In 1912, the union changed its name to the International Hod Carrier's Building and Common Laborers of America. By the end of the decade, the union had nearly 550 locals and more than 96,000 members. As the union grew, it became a stronger voice for immigrant and African-American workers. In the 1920s, the union chartered its first public sector local.

Pensions were a key issue for laborers before World War II. Most members worked for multiple contractors during their careers, making it impossible to earn pensions. The union established portable multi-employer plans, which have helped secure retirement for millions of working people.

During World War II, the union suspended all dues and pledged full support for the National Defense Program. By 1941, membership neared 300,000. After the war, a massive construction boom helped membership exceed 430,000.

In 1965, the union changed its name to the Laborers' International Union of North America, or LIUNA for short. The union’s successful fights for healthcare and expanding pension coverage became vital organizing tools.

In the ensuing decades, the union expanded it's focus on member benefits, political organizing and training. Many locals began to offer additional services, from health clinics to drug and alcohol rehabilitation resources. Its political organizing strength became sought after by candidates for state, local and federal office. Its training programs grew to invest tens of millions of dollars each year to help new members develop careers and enable existing members to find additional opportunities. In this era, the union adopted its stylized LIUNA Feel the Power mark and recognizable orange brand.

Current Campaigns/Community Efforts: The union strives to harness the power of its half-million members by encouraging the aggressive use of mobilization, organizing and communications tools at each of its 400 local unions. The LIUNA Action Network mobilizes members to take a stand on important issues. See how every new member is equipped to be an integral and active part of the union with a Member Orientation Guide. Through the LIUNA Training and Education Fund, members have access to free world-class skills training, enabling them to expand their work opportunities. Through various organizing efforts, the union fights to help non-union workers improve their lives by uniting with the union and by defending the rights of all workers, whether immigrant or native born. LIUNA also supports constituency groups for women, African Americans and Latinos. To see the amazing work LIUNA members do, visit Great Projects. Check out LECET's labor-contractor initiative, which helps connect skilled workers with the contractors who need them. To learn how the union strives to make job sites safer and workers healthier, visit the Laborers' Health and Safety Fund and its publication Lifelines

Learn More: WebsiteFacebookYouTubeInstagram, Twitter

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 10/07/2019 - 10:08

Economy Gains 136,000 Jobs in September; Unemployment Declines to 3.5%

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 11:58
Economy Gains 136,000 Jobs in September; Unemployment Declines to 3.5%

The U.S. economy gained 136,000 jobs in September, and the unemployment rate declined to 3.5%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

In response to the September job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs said: "It is surprising the rate of job creation has slowed, and the rate of labor force participation has stayed almost constant but this lower job growth is sufficient to keep the share of people with jobs rising slightly, and unemployment falling. It clearly reflects the slowing growth rate of the American workforce as the Baby Boom ages." He also tweeted:

The unemployment rate for white men and Latinos are virtually equal at 2.9 and 3.0% though because Latinos have a much higher labor force participation rate, a higher share of Latinos are working 77.6 compared to 69.7% for whites @Marietmora @UnidosUS_Econ @AFLCIO #JobsReport

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 4, 2019

The broadest measure of labor market slack fell to 6.9% in September.  With weak wage growth and moderate job growth, the labor market is still tightening.  But the Census report on record levels of inequality are showing employment a weak antidote to address that trend. @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 4, 2019

The "reference week" for the @BLS_gov September jobs report was just before the @UAW strike of GM, but employment in motor vehicle manufacturing slipped 4,000.  So, little evidence of a speed up to increase inventory ahead of the strike. #JobsReport @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 4, 2019

The lack of broad income growth leaves retail floundering despite low unemployment.  @BLS_gov reports over 11,000 jobs lost in September in retail.  This is another sign of how this recovery is weakened by growing inequality. #JobsReport @UFCW @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 4, 2019

Last month's biggest job gains were in health care (39,000), professional and business services (34,000), government (22,000), and transportation and warehousing (16,000). Employment declined in retail trade (-11,000). Employment in other major industries, including mining, construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, information, financial activities, and leisure and hospitality, showed little change over the month. 

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for teenagers (12.5%), blacks (5.5%), Hispanics (3.9%), adult men (3.2%), whites (3.4%), adult women (3.1%) and Asians (2.5%) showed little or no change in September.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) rose in September and accounted for 22.7% of the unemployed.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 10/04/2019 - 13:58

Live from the Picket Line: Labor Podcast and Radio Roundup

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 08:47
Live from the Picket Line: Labor Podcast and Radio Roundup

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

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

Heartland Labor ForumWhat would happen to a school teacher who thinks she has the answer to the world’s problems and starts teaching in parks and on street corners, and people stop to listen and like what they hear? This week on the Heartland Labor Forum we present a radio play about such a teacher. Tune in to find out how the powers that be react and what the teacher’s message might be. Thursday at 6 PM, rebroadcast Friday at 5 AM on KKFI 90.1 FM or streaming at www.kkfi.org.

Labor History TodayAFL-CIO president Richard Trumka talks with Labor History Today’s Joe McCartin about the current state–and the future–of the American labor movement. Plus, Mark Potashnick on Jim Pohle, the founder of the American Union of Pizza Delivery Drivers, class action law suits, and the app-based revolution in food delivery services.

Tales from the Reuther LibraryIn a two-episode series titled “Immigrant Girl, Radical Woman: A Memoir of Wobbly Organizer Matilda Rabinowitz Robbins," artist Robbin Légère Henderson discusses her exhibition of original scratchboard drawings featured in the illustrated and annotated autobiography of Henderson’s grandmother, Matilda Rabinowitz Robbins, a Socialist, IWW organizer, feminist, writer, mother, and social worker.

UCOMM LiveUnderstanding Impeachment Process: Trump is trying to cut funding for school lunches, leaving half a million kids hungry at school. Nerds who work for a Google contractors have organized with the Steelworkers union, we take a look at what their issues are. Chicago teachers are preparing to strike after the city refused to give them a fair contract that helps their lowest-paid employees. Trump is trying to take away collective bargaining rights for graduate students, we look at why these students need the right to join a union. Police have been some of Trump's strongest supporters, even as other public employees have been attacked by him. LaGrange tries to explain why this is going on. Plus the House has opened an impeachment inquiry into Trump, we explain what impeachment means and what the process is for getting rid of him. The Met's may be out of the playoffs, but 12 teams are continuing on, UCOMM makes our picks on who will make it the World Series.

Union City RadioAirs weekdays at 7:15 AM on WPFW 89.3 FM. Topics: Workers take to the streets; Strike averted at Kaiser; Fresh momentum; BSO musicians reach tentative contract agreement; and DC Labor supports DC statehood.

Union Strong: Scabby the rat is a powerful tool for organized labor and that’s exactly why the rat is now at the center of a legal battle. The National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel is after Scabby and his inflatable friends attempting to either restrict or outright ban the use of them at protests. On this podcast we discuss the impact Scabby has and speak to an attorney at the forefront of the NLRB case.

Willamette Wake UpThe September Salem labor radio segment will run this Friday, at around 8:10 AM (PST), on Salem's KMUZ community radio station. The station broadcasts at 88.5, 100.7 and at https://kmuz.org/. This week we're talking to local community leader and activist Elisa Andrade on paid family medical leave in Oregon and what comes next in the efforts of Family Forward Oregon for equity. Our last show featured Sam Hughes from UFCW Local 555 talking about grocery chain union contract negotiations and Fred Meyers. We ran that at just the right moment. If you don't have the basics down about what's going on at the grocery stores and the possibility of a strike, listen to our last show here.

Your Rights At WorkCarl Goldman (AFSCME, ret) and UAW 229 shop steward Guy White, reporting live from the UAW picket line in White Marsh, Maryland. “Case Closed” with David Schloss, injury attorney and partner in the law firm of Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP. Mark Gruenberg, PAI News, on the passage of the Pro Act by a key House panel.
Airs Thursdays 1-2 PM (EDT) on WPFW 89.3 FM.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 10/04/2019 - 10:47

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