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Pride Month Profiles: Aimee Stephens, Gerald Lynn Bostock and Donald Zarda

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 10:56
Pride Month Profiles: Aimee Stephens, Gerald Lynn Bostock and Donald Zarda

For Pride Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various LGBTQ Americans who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Our first profile this year is the three plaintiffs in the 2020 Supreme Court cases that led to the landmark decision protecting the workplace rights of LGBTQ Americans: Aimee Stephens, Gerald Lynn Bostock and Donald Zarda.

Aimee Stephens was a funeral director at R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes in Michigan. When hired, Stephens lived and presented as a man. When she informed the owner and operator of the funeral home that she intended to transition from male to female, Stephens was fired. Stephens filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging unlawful discrimination. The EEOC investigated and filed a lawsuit. The case was originally decided in favor of the funeral home but was overturned on appeal and made its way to the Supreme Court.

Gerald Lynn Bostock, a gay man, worked for the Juvenile Court of Clayton County, Georgia. He began participating in a gay recreational softball league. His participation in the league was criticized, and several months later an internal audit was conducted to look into Bostock's program. He was fired for conduct "unbecoming of a county employee." Bostock sued the county, claiming he was fired because he was gay. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia dismissed the complaint, but Bostock's appeal was upheld and the divided rulings led the case to be heard by the Supreme Court.

Donald Zarda, a gay man, worked as a skydiving instructor at Altitude Express in New York. Zarda was fired after he informed a client that he was gay and she complained to management. Zarda was fired, and he alleged that he was fired because of his sexuality. He sued, but the District Court rejected his claim. He appealed and the initial ruling was overturned. Altitude Express appealed.

The three cases were combined and this week the Supreme Court sided with the LGBTQ workers, saying that firing them because of their sexuality was a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Pride At Work Executive Director Jerame Davis called the ruling "a huge win for equality." He continued:

Today, the Court recognized that discrimination based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity is rooted in sex discrimination. The approximately 11.5 million LGB people and 1.5 million transgender people in the United States are now protected from discrimination in workplaces across the country. While many lower courts already have recognized that, we now have clarity from the highest court in the land.

The Supreme Court extended protections to millions of LGBTQ Americans because three individuals⁠—Aimee Stephens, Gerald Lynn Bostock and Donald Zarda⁠—faced discrimination and refused to accept it. That's the type of courage that Pride Month celebrates.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 06/16/2020 - 12:56

Tags: LGBTQ Rights

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Ohio University Workers Rally to Save Jobs

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 08:43
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Ohio University Workers Rally to Save Jobs Southeast Ohio Area Labor Federation

During the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

In Athens, Ohio, Southeast Ohio Area Labor Federation President John Johnson (AFSCME) coordinated a protest last week with dozens of members of AFSCME Local 1699 at Ohio University, demanding that pending layoffs of 140 workers be stopped and that all furloughed workers be brought back. Union members also demanded that Ohio University President Duane Nellis proactively work for the passage of the HEROES Act, which could provide $37 billion in federal aid to higher education.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 06/16/2020 - 10:43

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Pride Month: The Working People Weekly List

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 07:16
Pride Month: 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.

Profiling Labor Leaders and Activists for Pride Month: "For Pride Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various LGBTQ Americans who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights."

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Seafarers to Reopen Hiring Halls Next Week with New Safeguards: "The Seafarers (SIU) union, under the leadership of President Michael Sacco, has announced that it will reopen its hiring halls on June 15."

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

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: USW Endorses ‘Workers First’ Plan for Reopening Michigan’s Economy: "The United Steelworkers (USW) union is backing the Michigan Legislative Labor Caucus plan for safely reopening the state’s economy as Michigan continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic."

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Labor in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Washington, D.C.: "Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 51 led a Labor in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter rally in front of the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Monday."

Black Lives Matter: 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."

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: NFL Players Association Committed to Fight for Racial Equality: "For generations, many athletes have helped lead the fight for social change in America."

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Culinary Union Launches Online Safety Resource for Members Returning to Work in Nevada: "The Culinary Workers Union-UNITE HERE Local 226 has launched a new website, CulinaryClean.org, as a one-stop safety resource for its members ahead of the anticipated reopening of Nevada casinos."

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 06/16/2020 - 09:16

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IBEW Instructor Finds His Calling Through Teaching

Mon, 06/15/2020 - 09:53
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IBEW Instructor Finds His Calling Through Teaching

During the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

For Electrical Workers (IBEW) member Jerome Miller, instructing is about more than just sharing his trade; it’s an opportunity to shape future workers. “I want to be the guy that I needed when I was growing up,” Miller said. “I love teaching. I like molding young minds.” IBEW recently featured him in a video, profiling both his work as an instructor and his family life. He joined the union when he was 20 years old and looking for a summer job. Miller went on to work as a journeyman electrician for 11 years before becoming a part-time instructor with the IBEW. His passion for mentoring young apprentices seeking a profession in the electrical trade helped him earn the 2019 IBEW Hour Power Instructor of the Year award.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 06/15/2020 - 11:53

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Seafarers to Reopen Hiring Halls Next Week with New Safeguards

Fri, 06/12/2020 - 07:05
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Seafarers to Reopen Hiring Halls Next Week with New Safeguards Seafarers

During the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out their friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

The Seafarers (SIU) union, under the leadership of President Michael Sacco, has announced that it will reopen its hiring halls on June 15. The union is implementing strict safeguards to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Modifications have been made at the halls, including extensive cleanings, installation of dividers, shipments of personal protective equipment for members and staff, and the rearranging of seats to promote social distancing, as an initial step in the reopening transition. Members also will be required to wear a face covering and bring a completed COVID-19 screening questionnaire when coming to the halls.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 06/12/2020 - 09:05

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: USW Endorses ‘Workers First’ Plan for Reopening Michigan’s Economy

Thu, 06/11/2020 - 11:03
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: USW Endorses ‘Workers First’ Plan for Reopening Michigan’s Economy USW

During the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of these stories every day. Here's today's story.

The United Steelworkers (USW) union is backing the Michigan Legislative Labor Caucus plan for safely reopening the state’s economy as Michigan continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic. The Workers First Reopening Plan, a package of 11 bills, includes measures such as expanded paid sick leave and workers’ compensation, extended hazard pay for front-line workers, strict health and safety standards, scheduling policies, mental health assistance, and safeguards against retaliation against workers.

“This plan ensures that the reopening of our economy prioritizes the safety of workers, families and communities over the profits of corporations,” said Michael Bolton, director of USW District 2, which represents tens of thousands of workers in Michigan and Wisconsin. “We all want to go back to work, but we can’t do so at the expense of the very people we need to ensure that our economy can function.”

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 06/11/2020 - 13:03

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Profiling Labor Leaders and Activists for Pride Month

Thu, 06/11/2020 - 07:52
Profiling Labor Leaders and Activists for Pride Month

For Pride Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various LGBTQ Americans who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights. 

First, let's take a look back at LGBTQ Americans we've profiled in the past:

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

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 06/11/2020 - 09:52

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Labor in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Washington, D.C.

Wed, 06/10/2020 - 10:20
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Labor in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Washington, D.C. IUPAT

During the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 51 led a Labor in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter rally in front of the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Monday. IUPAT General President Kenneth Rigmaiden, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre (UFCW), Mine Workers (UMWA) President Cecil Roberts and Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) International President Sara Nelson joined union members protesting to end racial injustice in America.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 06/10/2020 - 12:20

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: NFL Players Association Committed to Fight for Racial Equality

Tue, 06/09/2020 - 12:57
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: NFL Players Association Committed to Fight for Racial Equality

During the COVID-19 pandemic, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out their friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

For generations, many athletes have helped lead the fight for social change in America. While NFL players remain physically distant from their teammates because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the members of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) are coming together in solidarity to demand racial justice. NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith told ESPN that members of the NFLPA are actors for change in the community. “Our core mission isn’t just to provide an escape for people,” he said. “And when our [members] decide to be part of their community and be agents for positive change, this is a union that is always going to support them and stand shoulder to shoulder with them.”

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 06/09/2020 - 14:57

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Culinary Union Launches Online Safety Resource for Members Returning to Work in Nevada

Mon, 06/08/2020 - 10:01
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Culinary Union Launches Online Safety Resource for Members Returning to Work in Nevada UNITE HERE

During the COVID-19 pandemic, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out their friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

The Culinary Workers Union-UNITE HERE Local 226 has launched a new website, CulinaryClean.org, as a one-stop safety resource for its members ahead of the anticipated reopening of Nevada casinos. After months of advocating for increased transparency, the Culinary Union announced in a statement it is pleased that most major gaming companies have posted their COVID-19 safety plans on their public-facing websites.

“From dealers to bellmen, cooks to guest room attendants, all casino workers deserve to be safe and protected,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Union. “The Culinary Union demands that the Nevada Gaming Commission, the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the Clark County Commission mandate all casinos follow the updated guidance from [the Southern Nevada Health District] regarding COVID-19 testing of 100% of front-line workers.”

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 06/08/2020 - 12:01

Tags: COVID-19

We Can't Look Away: The Working People Weekly List

Mon, 06/08/2020 - 09:31
We Can't Look Away: The Working People Weekly List

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

Working People Respond to the Killing of George Floyd with Nationwide Protests: "In response to the killing of George Floyd and the protests across the country, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) said:

"My heart is heavy at the events of the past few days. I watched the video of George Floyd pleading for his life under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. No person of conscience can hear Floyd’s cries for help and not understand that something is deeply wrong in America.

"What happened to George Floyd, what happened to Ahmaud Arbery, what happened to far too many unarmed people of color has happened for centuries. The difference is now we have cell phones. It’s there for all of us to see. And we can’t turn our heads and look away because we feel uncomfortable."

Economy Gains 2.5 Million Jobs in May; Unemployment Declines to 13.3%: "The U.S. economy gained 2.5 million jobs in May, and the unemployment rate declined 13.3%, according to figures released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The improvements reflect a limited resumption of economic activity that was previously curtailed because of the COVID-19 pandemic."

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Philadelphia's APRI Chapter Organizes Food Drive: "The Philadelphia chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) organized a food distribution for the suburbs of Collingdale and Darby Township, Pennsylvania. Community volunteers joined with members of APRI—including National Vice President Richard Womack (CWA) and chapter President Thelma Clements—to hand out food to some 300 people in need."

On the Road to Helping Union Families: "Driving two 26-foot trucks packed with food, members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) Local 6 set out on the road to bring urgently needed food relief to union families in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. They started their journey in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on May 26, loading up the trucks with thousands of pounds of union-made rolls, breads, cereals and snacks."

#MemorialDay2020: In the States Roundup: "It's time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states."

Labor Radio–Podcast Weekly: Immigrant Solidarity, Oral History and More: "The latest episode of the "Labor Radio–Podcast Weekly" features immigrant solidarity, oral history and more."

Save the News: Meet Andy Nguyen: "The NewsGuild-CWA member Andy Nguyen didn’t think he was going to lose his job when he received the email for the 'all-staff' meeting. But that is exactly what happened. Dozens of journalists got laid off, including him, because of the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic."

Chinese American UNITE HERE Member Shares Her COVID-19 Story: "This week we are lifting up Andee Huang, a laid-off Chinese American hotel worker from Boston and a member of UNITE HERE Local 26. She'd been working at the Westin Boston Waterfront for 13 years. Ever since she and all her co-workers lost their jobs in March, Huang has been helping other workers apply for unemployment, food assistance and other needs."

Service + Solidarity: Meet Jennifer Cody: "Jennifer Cody is an actress from New York and a member of the Actors' Equity. Her industry is 100% unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Broadway is closed for the indefinite future. Learn more about how dancers, singers and the rest of her community are affected during these dangerous times."

Maine AFL-CIO is Using All the Digital Tools in Its Toolbox to Help Workers: "With unprecedented numbers of Mainers out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic, the state’s labor movement is deploying digital tools in innovative ways to help workers who are being impacted by COVID-19. The Maine AFL-CIO is using a full range of online platforms to support those who are applying for unemployment insurance (UI) and pressure policymakers to fix the system."

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Mine Workers Stand with Navajo People: "During the COVID-19 pandemic, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out their friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story."

Why Domestic Workers Like Nicanora Montenegro Should Be Considered Essential Workers: "Nicanora Montenegro is a Filipina American in-home support services (IHSS) provider in San Diego and the district chair of United Domestic Workers of America (UDW)/AFSCME Local 3930. As an IHSS provider, she takes care of the most vulnerable folks in our community who are also the most at risk of COVID-19."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 06/08/2020 - 11:31

Union Member Candidate Wins in Massachusetts

Mon, 06/08/2020 - 08:29
Union Member Candidate Wins in Massachusetts NEA

With our nation in crisis, the labor movement is taking the lead to elect hundreds of union members up and down the ballot this year. In Massachusetts, we have already scored an important victory as Carol Doherty (NEA), an educator and union member, won a special election for the state House of Representatives on June 2. A former elementary public school teacher and president of the statewide Massachusetts Teachers Association-NEA (MTA-NEA), she is currently a member of the Taunton School Committee in southeastern Massachusetts.

“Our campaign was one for working families—powered by positivity, determination and the endless support of folks like you,” Doherty wrote in a message to her supporters. The local and statewide labor movement passionately backed her candidacy as she won the 3rd Bristol District’s special election with an impressive 57% of the vote, flipping a seat long held by an anti-worker representative. 

“Everyone came together on this. Every single union got involved to support Carol’s campaign,” said Kevin Brousseau (OPEIU), political director of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. “She ran a good grassroots campaign.”

The Massachusetts AFL-CIO has a history of not only encouraging union members to run, but also focusing the labor movement’s efforts and resources to make sure that they win. Members of the Plymouth-Bristol Central Labor Council, under the leadership of President Jim Pinkham (UWUA), coordinated dozens of union member volunteers to campaign in this special election.

“It’s important that we elect folks who don’t just understand our issues, but live our values every day,” Brousseau said. The Massachusetts AFL-CIO started a union member candidate recruitment and training program last year, which has already seen remarkable results.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 06/08/2020 - 10:29

Tags: COVID-19

Economy Gains 2.5 Million Jobs in May; Unemployment Declines to 13.3%

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 08:01
Economy Gains 2.5 Million Jobs in May; Unemployment Declines to 13.3%

The U.S. economy gained 2.5 million jobs in May, and the unemployment rate declined 13.3%, according to figures released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The improvements reflect a limited resumption of economic activity that was previously curtailed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

The @BLS_gov revised the numbers for March and April down, making earlier job losses even greater by 642,000. So, the gains reported for May are an inching back from a worse position than understood. @AFLCIO #JobsDay

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) June 5, 2020

A troubling sign ahead is the continued loss of jobs in local government education. Local governments are strained by the added costs from COVID and lost another 309,000 jobs in education in May. This will make reopening schools difficult. @AFTunion @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) June 5, 2020

The @BLS_gov reports that food services clawed back 1.37 million jobs in May from its loss of 5.4 million in April, but accommodations lost another 148,200 jobs in May. @unitehere @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) June 5, 2020

Air transportation continued to shed jobs, down 50,300 in May, and almost 130,000 less than in March. @afa_cwa @WeAreALPA @IAMBobMartinez @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) June 5, 2020

The @BLS_gov reports Black women saw their unemployment rate edge up from 16.4 to 16.5%, but their share holding jobs also edged back to 50.0. They are the group facing the greatest difficulty with accessing unemployment benefits through May 10 according to @MinneapolisFed data pic.twitter.com/o4qgQhrJin

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) June 5, 2020

Uniquely, the @BLS_gov reported an increase in the unemployment rate for Asian Americans, from 14.5 to 15.0% with an edging back in their share employed from 51.9 too 51.7% @APALAnational @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) June 5, 2020

The @BLS_gov reports the unemployment rate for Hispanic women dropped back from 20.2 to 19.0% in May, but remains the highest among adult women @WeAreUnidosUS @IWPResearch @LCLAA @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) June 5, 2020

The @BLS_gov reports the bounce back from the shock in April has been widespread, most notably for the heaviest hit leisure and hospitality sector, but continued losses in transportation, mining and information (movies) @sagaftra @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/vgw4ZBbWKV

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) June 5, 2020

While the number of gains the @BLS_gov reported in May sound impressive, this puts the fall in the unemployment rate in context, given where things stood at the end of April @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/vFJj2B3pE8

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) June 5, 2020

Last month's biggest job gains were in leisure and hospitality (1.2 million), construction (464,000), education and health services (424,000), retail (368,000), other services (272,000), manufacturing (225,000), professional and business services (127,000), financial activities (33,000), and wholesale trade (21,000). The biggest job losses were in government (-585,000), information (-38,000), mining (-20,000), and transportation and warehousing (-19,000).

In May, the unemployment rates declined for Hispanics (17.6%), adult women (13.9%), whites (12.4%) and adult men (11.6%). The jobless rates for teenagers (29.9%), blacks (16.8%) and Asians (15.0%) showed little change over the month.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) increased in May and accounted for 5.6% of the unemployed.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 06/05/2020 - 10:01

Working People Respond to the Killing of George Floyd with Nationwide Protests

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 14:12
Working People Respond to the Killing of George Floyd with Nationwide Protests

In response to the killing of George Floyd and the protests across the country, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) said:

My heart is heavy at the events of the past few days. I watched the video of George Floyd pleading for his life under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. No person of conscience can hear Floyd’s cries for help and not understand that something is deeply wrong in America.

What happened to George Floyd, what happened to Ahmaud Arbery, what happened to far too many unarmed people of color has happened for centuries. The difference is now we have cell phones. It’s there for all of us to see. And we can’t turn our heads and look away because we feel uncomfortable.

Trumka continued:

Racism plays an insidious role in the daily lives of all working people of color. This is a labor issue because it is a workplace issue. It is a community issue, and unions are the community. We must and will continue to fight for reforms in policing and to address issues of racial and economic inequality.

We categorically reject those on the fringes who are engaging in violence and destroying property. Attacks like the one on the AFL-CIO headquarters are senseless, disgraceful and only play into the hands of those who have oppressed workers of color for generations and detract from the peaceful, passionate protesters who are rightly bringing issues of racism to the forefront.

But in the end, the labor movement is not a building. We are a living collection of working people who will never stop fighting for economic, social and racial justice. We are united unequivocally against the forces of hate who seek to divide this nation for their own personal and political gain at our expense.

We will clean up the glass, sweep away the ashes and keep doing our part to bring a better day out of this hour of darkness and despair.

Today and always, the important work of the AFL-CIO continues unabated.

Here is what other organizations that represent working families said:

A. Philip Randolph Institute:

AFGE:

In seeking justice for the deaths of Mr. Arbery, Ms. Taylor, and Mr. Floyd, we must recommit to the pursuit of economic justice as well. We cannot ignore what we’ve witnessed in videos and urge a return to business as usual.   

We understand and share the pain and the fear that has led to street protests in cities throughout America. We are committed to the struggle for equal justice. But we cannot condone violence or the vilification of all law enforcement. AFGE proudly represents thousands of law enforcement officers, and we understand that those who violate the public trust are the exception, not the rule. 

In our workplaces and in our communities, we must reject the culture of divisiveness and rancor that asks us to deny the inherent human dignity of our brothers and sisters because of their race, their creed, their religion, their gender, their age, their disability, or their sexual orientation. As a union, we will continue our struggle for unity and solidarity. 

With all of us working together, practicing compassion and empathy with our fellow citizens, and doing our part to promote the well-being of all, the good people of this country will secure that more perfect union, and the blessings of liberty and justice for every American.

AFSCME:

The state of America today, further shattered by George Floyd’s murder, breaks every patriotic heart. The raw outrage we see in the streets comes as a pandemic has needlessly killed more than 100,000 of our loved ones and more than 40 million Americans are out of work, afraid they won’t be able to provide at the dinner table let alone pay next month’s rent or mortgage.

We have tried to address the problem of systemic racism peacefully. But those attempts⁠—including kneeling during the national anthem⁠—were met with scorn, mockery and blacklisting. Now we are at the point where millions have nothing left to lose, and they are channeling their anger through violence.

But as an African American man who lived through the 1960s, a father who has two sons and three grandsons and is concerned about their future, and as someone who leads one of the largest labor unions in the country⁠—one that is strongly allied with the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement⁠—I propose a better way to channel our anger and our energy. Peaceful protests must continue. In the process, we cannot tear down the very vital services our families, friends and neighbors need to make it through this pandemic.

The vulnerable need access to grocery stores and pharmacies. Workers cannot afford the closure of more businesses due to riots. Any anger and energy spent destroying the vital services our nation needs in this tumultuous time in our history is a dishonor to George Floyd’s memory and only sinks us further into chaos.

If we want to crush systemic racism, this is where we should begin: by registering to vote and bringing down every politician from the top down who has built a career out of stoking racial flames, failing to prepare our nation for this pandemic, and doing nothing as millions more file jobless claims each week.

We must educate ourselves on where they stand. We must register to vote. And we must destroy the rigged system that has enabled their rise to power.

I know a thing or two about organizing protests. These gatherings began as peaceful demonstrations to protest the murders of unarmed African Americans and to call for an end to racial injustice. Unfortunately, there are some outsiders who have used these peaceful protests to stoke violence in communities across the country.

But make no mistake: the rage we see is real, and it is pulsating through our communities. I call on all of us to channel that rage toward our ultimate goal: an America that lives up to its promise for all.

Alliance for Retired Americans:

The Alliance for Retired Americans shares the pain of the entire country after witnessing the video of George Floyd dying in handcuffs with a knee on his neck when he had said he could not breathe. Regrettably our horror did not end there.

The violent events of the past week may have started in Minnesota, but the aftermath has now touched all Americans in every community⁠—including retirees.

Older Americans are all too familiar with racism, having lived through the civil rights battles of the 1960’s and then seen its ugly reappearance in our daily lives with every decade that followed.

Older Americans have been touched personally⁠—not just by the unnecessary tragic killing of another black man in police custody, but by the failure of our nation to come together in grief.

The freedom to protest peacefully is enshrined in our Constitution, but the hatred, division, and rioting that came with it should never be a part of those protests.

Terrence Floyd, George's brother, was right on the mark when he asked that the demonstrations for justice occur peacefully. To do anything else would be a distraction from the real issues confronting black America.

Our condolences go out to the family and friends of George Floyd and anyone who has been touched by violence during the past week.

Having the building that is our headquarters set ablaze is a stark reminder that, as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, ‘the labor movement is not a building.’
 
The 4.4 million members of the Alliance want seniors everywhere and all our fellow Americans to know that we share your grief, and with it, the hope for better days ahead.

Amalgamated Transit Union

We are deeply disturbed and angered by the tragic death of George Floyd, an African-American who was held, handcuffed, on the ground by a white Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck as he pleaded, “I can’t breathe.”

Those all-too-familiar words, first uttered by Eric Garner, an African-American who was suffocated during a 2014 arrest by a white New York police officer, come as a tragic reminder of the injustice inflicted on persons of color every day in the United States.    

We as a nation must not tolerate the brutality on display in this ugly event, nor can we continue to abide the hate and racial profiling that make awful incidents like this all too common.

We are calling for a full and independent investigation into Floyd’s death, and for appropriate action to be taken to ensure that justice is served. 

Furthermore, as our members—bus drivers—have the right to refuse work they consider dangerous or unsafe during the pandemic, so too Minneapolis bus drivers—our members—have the right to refuse the dangerous duty of transporting police to protests and arrested demonstrators away from these communities where many of these drivers live. This is a misuse of public transit.

The Amalgamated Transit Union has a long history of fighting for social justice as well as the rights and equal treatment of all people regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. 

If any good is to come of this, we in the labor movement and the nation must unite to stop the systemic cycle of injustice, racism and hatred that plagues our country.

American Federation of School Administrators

The brutal public killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, not long after the shootings of Brionna Taylor in Kentucky and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, ignited righteous protests against racism across fifty states.  The anguish sweeping the nation reflects generations of failure of the “good people” to reform police practices and to address both overt and implicit racism in every sector of society, including our schools.  And our schools are among the places where these events must be most urgently addressed.

This is so partly because it is our students who will be most bewildered and terrified by this horror and will turn to us, their school leaders, as well as their teachers and counselors, to help make sense of what has happened to them and their families and channel their fear and anger into meaningful actions. If they are children of color, particularly African American children, their hurt and outrage will be particularly intense for they will have personal experience with racism, no matter how young they may be. This, I know because I was one of those children.

It is a blessing and a burden that they will depend so much on us. As leaders of schools, we have been struggling to deal with the massive impact of the global pandemic on our education system, our economy and our own personal lives. In the midst of this, we are now called upon to deal with a crisis of racial inequality that has not been properly addressed in this country for centuries.  Are we now ready to have a serious conversation about race?

It will not only be the children, but the entire school community of parents, teachers and staff who will lean on us for strength and hope. Some among us will march and raise our voices with the protestors to insist on reform, and combat the haters, or the misguided ones, who attempt to divide us with violence. But each and every one of us will be called upon to educate our adult communities about the importance of the vote, participation in the census, and the need to communicate a sense of our nation’s history, in all its beauty and ugliness.

We will have to do much better than the good people who have gone before us and help use this tragedy as an opportunity to finally make a difference.

American Postal Workers Union:

In line with this convention action and with human decency and compassion, with unity and solidarity of all people and the continuing struggle for freedom and civil rights, we encourage our members and locals to speak out, protest and demand justice for George Floyd’s family and community as part of the broader struggle of “liberty and justice for all.”

Let’s fight for a new day. Whether a person is jogging, doing their jobs, birdwatching, driving, being arrested, attending union meetings, or going to and from work, all human beings, regardless of our race and the color of our skin, have the right to be treated with respect and dignity and to life itself.

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance:

It was just a few weeks ago that our communities had to rally for justice for Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. It has been six years since we heard Eric Garner cry “I can’t breathe.” We will not see justice for Black people until we address our nation’s violent carceral system, which is more clear than ever with the COVID-19 pandemic. Transforming our nation’s harmful carceral system means that police officers should maintain social distancing by decreasing their presence in our communities and that folks jailed, incarcerated, and detained should be released so that they can practice social distancing and better hygiene. 

Alvina Yeh, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance said, “We are equally enraged and ashamed to learn that an Asian American police officer, Tou Thao, just stood watch as his co-worker treated George Floyd inhumanely. This hits home for us as we close out Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a time when so many of us reflect on our Asian American identity and how it had emerged from the black liberation movement. We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again because the work continues; we all have a role in responding to atrocious acts of violence. As Asian American and Pacific Islander working people, we commit to leveraging our power to dismantle oppressive systems, addressing anti-blackness in the AAPI community, and loving and fighting for our black siblings.”

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA:

Our union's mission statement compels us to act for the safety of our members and the freedom and well-being of working people. Unions play a critical role for our country in condemning racism and taking action to end it. Throughout our history racism has been exploited by the ruling class to promote the idea of competition among those who do the work of our country and create the value that makes a few people rich. 

We often say in our unions "an injury to one, is an injury to all." That statement is a moral imperative to all who believe in the promise of a free society. As American author Emma Lazarus wrote, "Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” Our union will begin discussions today on the actions we must take to defend our members' rights, safety and freedom. Acting for our members means that we act to defend the freedoms of every person, especially those who face systemic oppression and state-sanctioned violence. We ask all Americans to join us and contribute to the solution.

Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers:

We condemn the shocking and horrible death of George Floyd.

Racism causes pain to people of color every day in America. As we have throughout history, the BCTGM will continue to stand together against racism, inequality and injustice.

The BCTGM categorically rejects violence and the destruction of property....

The BCTGM remains united with the labor movement as we pledge to continue our fight for social, economic and racial justice.

California School Employees Association:

Now, as in the 1960s, we must follow Dr. King's insistence that nonviolent protest is the most effective protest. CSEA encourages you to stand up, speak out, and be heard⁠—but do it safely. If you choose to join your community in a demonstration, please promote Dr. King's nonviolent ideals, discourage destruction of property, and use the power of words to defeat the scourge of hate. Use your individual and collective strength to protest effectively and peacefully, and, in so doing, send a clear message to leaders across California and the nation.

There is strength in numbers; it's our 250,000 members who use their strength to improve their working conditions and their lives. We understand it is essential to channel our anger, frustration, and pain as we seek understanding on how such a tragic event could occur. Use this moment to channel these emotions and feelings into action leading to actual change. The most effective way to do that is to engage in electing leaders who pledge to enact meaningful reform in law enforcement practices and our justice system.

Let us stand united in this effort.

Coalition of Black Trade Unionists:

On Monday, May 25, George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minnesota was assassinated by police officers. His death was recorded on video. His pleas for help captured by the audio. The smug look on the officer’s face as he pressed his knee on George’s neck forever imprinted in our minds. We as Americans have lost our ability to trust and believe in our law enforcement and to have faith that our elected leaders are operating with our best interests. While the COVID-19 death toll surpassed 100,000 lives, law enforcement was shooting tear gas canisters, a noxious gas known to cause respiratory issues at protesters demanding justice. Yet when armed men held a state capital hostage, the White House asked the governor to negotiate with the domestic terrorist. America has failed leadership. As a result we must look to the international community for support and guidance. 

CBTU is joining in the call with the NAACP to ask the United Nations to intervene and label the historic and consistent abuse of Blacks in this country and specifically right now as a Human Rights Violation. History is repeating itself and we need the world stage to recognize this moment. When we ran off plantations, they sent the dogs after us. When we marched in Selma, they sicced dogs on us. And when we marched for justice for George Floyd in front of the White House, the racist occupant tweeted he follow the tradition of Bull Connor and sic vicious dogs on us again. History is repeating itself and we must acknowledge that this is plantation treatment.

But this is not a Black versus White issue. This is a Justice issue. It is a time when we the people need to take back control of our governing institutions. While we have seen images of police using excessive force, I have also seen officers marching side by side with protesters, taking a knee in solidarity, and hugging their community members in love and compassion. The institution of law enforcement has been militarized and weaponized. But the people behind the shield are still our brothers and sisters and cousins and friends. They are still our neighbors and many of them agree that this is a travesty. Many of them have broken their silence to  correctly call the death of George Floyd a murder.

While looking to the world stage to call out this situation we must also take our peaceful protests in the streets to the ballot box. We must vote out the politicians who protect and empower racists. We must purge our government of white supremacists. Once again CBTU calls on the Congressional Black Caucus and all Legislators to re-implement Obama Era policies on law enforcement. We call on the Biden campaign to advocate and endorse the policies passed when he was Vice-President. And we call on the Justice Department to follow those standards and  exceed expectations. We must never retreat from fight for the justice and freedom that our ancestors spilled their blood for.

Coalition of Labor Union Women:

CLUW President Elise Bryant shared the following words: “The senseless murder of an unarmed man at the hands of a police officer is a horrible crime under any circumstances, but the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer while other officers stood in accomplice is an outrage. White men can march on a state capital with automatic weapons, scream (unmasked) into the face of state police and nary a person is arrested much less beaten or held down until they are choked to death. The Coalition of Labor Union Women call upon each and every state, county and municipal government to put an to the senseless state-sanctioned murder of unarmed Black men and women at the hands of the police."

Communications Workers of America:

This work is necessary because these incidents did not happen in isolation. They happened in the context of 400 years of structural and systematic anti-Black racism. They happened in the context of centuries of stolen labor; economic pillaging by corporate America of Black communities; underfunding of public schools and services; over-criminalization and incarceration of Black bodies; the use of police as military-like forces in poor, Black and Brown neighborhoods; outsourcing of good, union jobs; persistence of food deserts in urban areas; the treatment of addiction as a crime rather than a disease; the fractured, profit-driven health care system; and the “surgical precision” of Black voter disenfranchisement.

The only pathway to a just society for all is deep, structural change. Justice for Black people is inextricably linked to justice for all working people - including White people. The bosses, the rich, and the corporate executives have known this fact and have used race as one of the most effective and destructive ways to divide workers. Unions have a duty to fight for power, dignity and the right to live for every working-class person in every place. Our fight and the issues we care about do not stop when workers punch out for the day and leave the garage, call center, office, or plant.

We will never build enough power as working people if an entire community is living under the threat of death and subject to discrimination based on the color of their skin. We will never build enough power if an entire community has its neck under an oppressor's knee.

If we are to make progress, we must listen to the experiences and stories of Black CWA members, Black workers, and the Black community. We must join together - every one of us - to dismantle this system of oppression. This means every White union member, Black union member, Latino union member and every ally, must fight and organize for Black lives. Thoughts and prayers aren't enough. No amount of statements and press releases will bring back the lives lost and remedy the suffering our communities have to bear. We must move to action.

Department for Professional Employees:

“Black lives matter,” said DPE President Jennifer Dorning. “The deaths of George Floyd and many other black people at the hands of the police is horrible and unacceptable. Floyd, his family, and the countless black families who have lost loved ones due to racist violence deserve justice.”

“Racism and racial inequities exist across the country and union professionals continue to use their collective voice to work towards racial justice in and out of the workplace. Union professionals are diverse in their races, ethnicities, and backgrounds, but all are united in making the lives of working people better, and that includes eradicating oppression and discrimination.”

“I strongly condemn the use of force by police forces and the national guard against nonviolent protestors in cities across America. The right to assemble and protest is a core value of the labor movement and at the heart of the American democratic system. Additionally, I decry the intentional targeting of journalists and news professionals.”

Electrical Workers:

The cause of labor has always been the cause of human solidarity, human dignity and justice and equality for all, so the IBEW cannot afford to stay silent as our African-American brothers and sisters suffer in fear of violence at the hands of either the state or by private citizens like we saw with the case of Ahmaud Arbery.

We believe that we as a country are better than what we saw happen in Minneapolis. And we believe that the majority of our police officers, who are dedicated public servants protecting their communities every day, are better than what we saw there as well.

But it’s all too clear that the plague of racism which has beset this nation since its birth remains to be overcome.

This is the time for all those who love America and care deeply about its values to speak out in the name of justice and against systemic racism. More than ever, every American, regardless of race, gender, faith, sexual orientation, or gender identification, must come together to heal the wounds of division and hate.

The labor movement has long stood shoulder to shoulder with those fighting for civil rights and a society free from the blight of racism and discrimination.

And the IBEW is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with those peacefully calling for justice for George Floyd and all victims of racism.

Fire Fighters:

Peaceful protests by our neighbors exercising their first amendment rights across America are being interrupted by violence and unrest. In the middle of the challenges and turmoil, I am proud of our IAFF fire fighters, paramedics and EMTs who are once again proving their dedication to keeping their communities safe when they are needed most.

As always, the safety of our members is our top priority. So, it was with disappointment and outrage that I witnessed our members – who are integral to keeping everyone, including protesters, safe—attacked over the weekend. In cities from Atlanta and Austin to Cleveland and Minneapolis and St. Paul, our members were subjected to having bricks or large fireworks hurled their way, simply for doing their jobs. This is inexcusable.

Throwing rocks, fireworks or directing violence toward fire fighters, paramedics and EMTs is never acceptable.

Fire fighters will continue to respond when needed; it is their job and their calling. On behalf of our 320,000 IAFF members, please allow your fire fighters on the frontlines to do that job, keeping everyone safe, without violence or incident.

International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers:

Our sadness is eclipsed only by our outrage that once again a black man has fallen victim to the homicidal actions of a police officer. Mr. Floyd's tragic death serves as another reminder of the brutality, racial profiling, and systematic oppression inflicted upon black men and women, and upon people of color in the United States every day. George Floyd's name is added to the ever-growing list of names like Breonna Taylor, a black woman shot and killed in her home by police in March in Louisville; Ahmaud Arbery, a black man shot and killed by three white civilians in February while out for a jog; and so many other black men and women. Systematic racism, violence, and oppression are the normal state for people of color in America and the death of Mr. Floyd serves yet another reminder of this state of injustice.

IFPTE condemns these actions and calls for complete and swift justice for Mr. Floyd and his family. IFPTE further calls for continued transparency of these injustices and condemns all attempts to minimize the enormity of this tragedy, suppress resistance, and further divide this nation. It is incumbent upon the labor movement to stand on the side of justice, to unite against racism, and to stand against hatred, white supremacy and its systematic oppression and criminalization of people of color. We in labor remind all our sisters and brothers in this country that Black Lives Matter. We call upon the FBI and Department of Justice to meaningfully investigate and prosecute racial injustice expressed through all manners of life, be it housing, healthcare, education, incarceration and the like. We further call upon the United States Senate along with the House of Representatives to immediately conduct hearings on the systemic racism that exists in our country in order to pass legislation to protect our communities of color and dismantle the system of oppression that continues to be normal in America today.

Laborers: 

LIUNA is united in grief and sadness over the heinous and unconscionable killing of George Floyd. Once and for all, we must come together as a nation and as a people, to stamp out and extinguish the flames of bigotry, discrimination, and racial, social, and economic injustice.

We stand shoulder to shoulder with all those who are committed to tearing down the walls of inequality and racism that have plagued our nation for far too long. The men and women of LIUNA strongly support the right to peacefully demonstrate, which is a founding principle of our nation, our union, and our society. We condemn the lawless cowards who are exploiting these terrible times - acting with violence and disregard for the values of our democracy.

In memory of George Floyd and all those who have tragically and unjustly lost their lives, we must recommit ourselves to the fight to eradicate bigotry and discrimination and to bring about the critical reforms our country so desperately needs. We must never forget that one of the most powerful tools of social change that is available to us—is the ballot box. We must be united in our vigilance and determination to elect leaders at every level of government that reflect our values for justice, equality, and fairness for all.

Longshoremen:

The tens of thousands of members of the International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO join with all decent Americans in calling for immediate justice for the apparent murder of George Floyd, by holding those responsible for his death be held accountable.  The charge today of third-degree murder against fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is but a start, though woefully delayed given the overpowering and clear video evidence you and other leaders in Minnesota had access to for days.  There were other Minneapolis police officers involved in the brutal actions that led to Mr. Floyd death, as several videos clearly illustrate.  A crime is a crime, even if it’s perpetrated by those very public servants who are supposed to protect and defend.

We are exhausted and enraged that African-Americans, like Mr. George Floyd, are being slaughtered needlessly by law enforcement officers with cover-ups more common than vigorous investigations.  The grief and outrage expressed in the demonstrations on the streets of Minneapolis and other cities across America in the wake of Mr. Floyd’s murder, are the by-products of policies and practices that are discriminatory and seemingly target minorities.

For more than a century, the ILA has championed Civil Rights; Human Rights and Workers’ Rights.  We now join in this urgent and important fight for justice for Mr. Floyd and for those who caused his untimely death to be held accountable.

Machinists:

As members of our great union, we know what is possible when people join together. We have seen the power of solidarity. We have transformed workplaces, communities and our entire nation.

We have also witnessed the destructive consequences of dividing people against one another. We face a clear choice: Do we join in solidarity with each other, in accordance with our values—and do the hard and difficult work of building a racially just society—or do we allow misinformation, fear and suspicion to continue to divide us?

We must stand in solidarity with one another. There is too much at stake. Our country holds remarkable promise—we can be a beacon of light to the rest of the world if we are willing to act in solidarity.

We have seen our country make great strides in living up to its promise of equality. We have seen gains and we have seen setbacks. Progress in human rights, equality and dignity never comes without a struggle—it is always a fight. We must never be passive or quiet. In this fight, we must stand with those who seek racial justice and equality.

Today, and always, we join those who seek to make real the promise of equality, dignity and justice for all.

Maritime Trades Department:

The Sisters and Brothers of MTD affiliates who crew U.S.-flag ships, who build U.S.-flag vessels, who work on U.S. docks, and who supply these American workers know the value of teamwork and working together.

These members of our Port Councils and unions have marched, do march and will march when we witness and experience injustice. The death of George Floyd was uncalled for and only the latest. The call for justice is valid. We will continue to work to bring equality and justice for ALL Americans. It must happen.

However, destruction solves nothing. Words mean little if there is no action. It is way past time for all Americans to realize that “We, the People” needs to truly come to all—people of color, native Americans, immigrants seeking a better life.

Unionism is solidarity. The MTD stands, marches and fights for solidarity–peaceful solidarity–for all.

Metal Trades Department:

Systemic issues such as police brutality, poverty, and racial inequality plague us. The horrific events surrounding George Floyd’s death, the terrifying reports of the killing of Ahmed Aubrey, the deaths across the country of far too many black and brown men and women. It is no wonder we are seeing such fervent protests.

We can utter platitudes and quote the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr., and other great civil rights leaders, but until we actually face the continued problems of unequal justice and institutionalized racism, underinvestment in our communities of color and the continued oppression of black and brown Americans, labor cannot claim to be a great movement.

We must, in the labor movement and at every level of government, from city councils to the office of the President of the United States, admit that racial and income inequality are real, racism in America is real, and detrimental to our society. We must admit that we have a problem. We must truly believe and act as if, “an injury to one is an injury to all.”

Until that happens, America’s greatness will always be challenged.

Mine Workers:

The senseless murder of George Floyd last week was the latest in a long, outrageous chain of injustices suffered by African-Americans and people of color in America. It is past time that we confront the ugly history of racism and inequality in our nation, and work to put it behind us once and for all.

None of our children or grandchildren should ever grow up in fear of being injured or killed merely because of the color of their skin. I join with those who protest George Floyd’s killing, and who seek justice for it and for their families.

There is a difference between peaceful protest and the violence we have seen sweep across America these last several nights. I do not support looting, burning and destruction of property as a form of protest, because it is not.

It is becoming clearer every day that most of the worst violence has been committed by radical underground groups on both the right-wing and left-wing fringes. They are not protesting; they are engaging in violence to fulfill their own twisted agendas. We must not allow their actions to lead us from the path of unity and healing.

At a time when so much is confronting America, we need leaders who will unite our nation, not look for ways to divide it even further for mere political gain. I call on every elected official in our country to seek out paths forward that will bring us together, so that we can truly be, ‘one Nation, under God, with liberty and justice for ALL.

National Air Traffic Controllers Association:

NATCA believes Black Lives Matter.

NATCA members join our Union brothers and sisters and stand with Americans who continue to protest across the United States, as well as with activists around the world. It is inspiring to see millions of Americans coming together through their pain, anger, and sadness about the killing of George Floyd. We grieve with them and stand in solidarity in calling for an end to systemic bigotry, discrimination, and racial injustice.

Union members have stood shoulder to shoulder with men and women in the civil rights movement throughout history. Inequality and racism are labor issues because they also are workplace issues. Unions help overcome them by establishing work rules and pay systems that are objective and treat all employees impartially. Unions also promote fairness within the workplace and enforce worker rights.

National Association of Letter Carriers:

As letter carriers, we are proud to be part of a vital institution that helps bind our nation together. As a union, we aim to be an organization that brings together members of all races, creeds and ethnicities in the spirit of love and solidarity.  We embrace our nation’s core aspirational belief in “liberty and justice for all.” For that belief to be fully realized for any of us, it must be true for all of us. In the labor movement, we embrace a similar idea–an injury to one is an injury to all.

The crisis of police violence against people of color in America is not just a problem for minorities. It is crisis for all Americans that must be addressed. It requires all of us to accept the need for deep structural reform that respects the human rights of all while honoring the essential work of our police. Even as we battle a terrible pandemic and its economic effects, we must make that reform the vital work of our democracy.

National Day Laborer Organizing Network:

A catastrophic failure of leadership in the United States has created a vacuum that is being filled by people who will no longer tolerate the state-sanctioned violence, kidnapping, and killing that comes with white supremacy.

We are grateful, unequivocally, to every single person who has actively joined in protesting the murder of George Floyd. They are risking their lives and demonstrating in public to protect all of us and all of our rights.

Today, we are following their example, and we are following their leadership. We will peacefully protest to deliver one simple message: Black lives matter.

National Nurses United:

“There’s a common link between the latest wave of police and white supremacist killings of African Americans and the disproportionate racial impact of the pandemic and the economic crisis,” said NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN.

“Nurses understand that when you have pain and suffering, whether it is one patient or a community that is hurting, the first priority must be healing and recovery, driven by compassion and humanity,” Castillo said. “We’re seeing far too much of the opposite reaction.”

Across the United States, African Americans and in many areas Latinos, have died of COVID-19 in numbers as high as three to four times the rate of whites, and have lost jobs in greater percentages since March. “Coupled with the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, there is a palpable outrage and frustration after years of inaction that has prompted the protests,” said Castillo.

“Instead of addressing the persistent thread of racism, and working for transformative change to policing practices and the health, economic, and political crisis that harms African Americans and other communities of color in far greater numbers, they see inaction, evasion of responsibility, and outright blaming of those most harmed by these policies,” said Castillo.

Nebraska State AFL-CIO:

Racism has no place in this country. The intolerable thoughtless actions of the officers in the death of George Floyd should NEVER be condoned or tolerated. We, the American people are better than this. All people are created equal and should be treated equal. It is disheartening in this day and age that we have become a society who is torn apart by those that excuse these horrific, unnecessary forms of racism. Our hearts go out to the family of George Floyd with the hope that the violence against others stops here. Freedom gives us the right to protest these thoughtless actions of others, but it must be done peacefully. Using violence in the form of protest does not right any wrongs, it just serves to further divide our country. Protest, speak out, use your voice but do so in a constructive, non-violent way. 

New York City Central Labor Council

The New York City Labor Movement stands with working people across our city who are demanding justice for the senseless death of George Floyd, and for an end to the continuing systemic inequalities that are faced by our brothers and sisters of color every day in America.

There are some who have chosen this moment to engage in destructive acts. While we condemn these senseless acts of vandalism, we cannot allow them to distract attention from the many thousands across NYC who are peacefully demanding change.

There are those who will seek to divide us, but we have seen time and time again throughout the history of the labor movement that economic, racial, and social justice are inextricably linked to one another; you cannot achieve any without fighting for all.

The New York City Labor Movement stands with our brothers and sisters in NYC and across the country in demanding an end to pervasive systemic racism that threatens the lives and livelihoods of working families and communities. 

North America's Building Trades Unions:

In response to a grave miscarriage of humanity and justice laid bare for the world to see, thousands of peaceful protesters rightfully demonstrated their abhorrence and intolerance for such behavior in a country they call home. We stand firmly behind the African-American community that for too long has had to endure humiliation and dehumanization in the shadows, in silence and with no prospect of meaningful redress. Real reform must be undertaken and enacted immediately so that the historically brutalized and marginalized among us may have a modest reprieve and a glimmer of hope that a nation that espouses equality and protection under the law for all its people is living up to its stated ideals and foundational promise.

'The greatness of America is the right to protest for right.’ Those who have sought to undermine the legitimacy of these aggrieved community protests with opportunistic and malevolent selfishness have further alienated well-intentioned citizens of all backgrounds and have themselves inflicted injustice on all who call themselves Americans. North America’s Building Trades Unions and, indeed, the American Labor Movement have and will continue to cherish our First Amendment rights to peacefully protest and speak truth to power. We hope that those who have been moved to protest as a result of the outrageous actions of individuals sworn to uphold the law, to serve and protect the communities they police, continue to distinguish themselves from those who seek to undermine and distract from true pain and long suffered trauma.

While we all look around for leadership, we must first recognize and know who we are and look within. It is our hope that Americans of goodwill will now rise and shine as beacons of love and light in this moment of darkness and despair. The men and women of North America’s Building Trades Unions will do whatever it takes to help provide a model of decency, understanding and respect for our fellow citizens.

North Carolina State AFL-CIO:

This is a sad and unsettling time. We’ve experienced months of pandemic-related job loss, sickness, and death, but it’s important to acknowledge that black people are dealing not only with the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19, but also with centuries of racism in America—racism so deep and systemic that it pervades our criminal justice system, our schools, our politics, our economy. With the murder of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and so many other black people at the hands of police or vigilantes, the pain and anger has reached a tipping point.

Enough is enough. Black lives matter.

We need police accountability—too many Black lives have been lost during police encounters. We need action by elected officials to address the growing economic inequality that has left so many black families behind. And we need solidarity. All of us, especially White folks, need to condemn white supremacy and the divide and conquer tactics designed to keep all of us—Black, Brown and White—from uniting and fighting together for our shared dignity, humanity, and ability to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

We at the North Carolina State AFL-CIO commit ourselves to creating change so that black people don’t live in fear for their lives. The labor movement brings people of different occupations, races, and beliefs together. We represent both police officers who risk their lives in the line of duty and black people who fear for their lives during a police encounter. We represent both ICE agents and immigrant workers who worry about deportation. We represent workers who are the victims of gun violence, the workers who manufacture the guns, and the first responders who treat gunshot victims. Our unions can play a critical role in combating racism and violence by bringing people together in common purpose and creating opportunities for honest dialogue that fosters reflection, repentance and reform.

The most important things we as labor leaders can do right now are listen to our black sisters and brothers and work together to strengthen and position our unions to be powerful forces against racism and white supremacy. We must speak up and stand up, and most importantly, we must stand together. No more black and brown people should die senselessly. No more silence about racism and white supremacy inside and outside our movement. We are better than this.

Office and Professional Employees:

The Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), AFL-CIO, is outraged by the murder of George Floyd and stands in solidarity with the peaceful protesters calling for an end to the racial injustice and inequality that plague this nation.

OPEIU has always been committed to finding solutions to economic and societal inequalities both on and off the worksite. The murder of George Floyd is the latest in a long line of instances of police brutality against people of color, and just one of the many insidious examples of systemic racism in this country. This is clear as our nation struggles with a much higher rate of infection among communities of color during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We condemn the violence and looting of the few who are attempting to take advantage of these protests for their own personal gain, and must not allow them to hijack the important message of the peaceful protesters. All elected officials and people of conscience must fully commit to rooting out instances of institutionalized racism in the United States and implementing policies that address abuse at the hands of law enforcement, as well as income inequality, education inequity, minimum wage reform and affordable housing shortages. 

It's time for real and positive change. It's time for our nation to end the centuries-long abuse of communities of color and instead commit ourselves to building a fair and equitable nation for all our citizens. 

Painters and Allied Trades:

Today is a dim moment in America. Although in the last few decades, we’ve made progress, as a united front against the injustices that workers have been subject to, Black Americans are still, systemically and disproportionately murdered, beaten, and incarcerated at rates unheard of in much of the rest of the developed world. In just the last several months we have had to mourn for black and brown working people disproportionately dying from this deadly virus that is COVID-19, while another disease, a much older and more deadly threat, racism, has continued to add to that body count. Today, I say the names of Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, Tony McDade and now of George Floyd as yet another name in a long list of people who have died at the hands of American police officers, so we never forget them.

As general president of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades and as a black American, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired—The forces that allow for the extrajudicial killing of black Americans are the same forces that keep working people fighting for scraps and crumbs. The IUPAT is committed to organizing and building power among all workers to create a more just and equitable society. That includes a society where people who look like me can walk freely and proudly and without fear that they will be unjustly stopped, brutalized, or murdered simply for being black. 

Unions are not only the vehicle for members of all communities to raise a collective voice but organizing around our collective values is what stands at the core of our power. We are the better idea. We are part of the solution. 

Pride At Work:

Pride at Work condemns the murder of George Floyd and we demand swift justice for his family, friends, and community.

Black and Brown people across the United States continue to suffer daily from police brutality and systemic racism. Too many Americans fear that what happened to George Floyd could happen to them. In fact, the LGBTQ community lost one of our own, a Black transgender man named Tony McDade, to police violence just a few days ago in Tallahassee, FL.

Organized labor lives by the motto, ‘An injury to one is an injury to all,’ and right now, there are far too many injuries for any of us to be silent.

From Ahmaud Arbery, to Breonna Taylor, to Sandra Bland, to Eric Garner, to Tamir Rice, to Andre Emmett, to George Floyd and countless others. We will continue to say their names and fight to end the structural racism and bigotry that took their lives. We cannot be silent as our siblings in the struggle are slaughtered in the streets.

Pride at Work will continue to band together, to stand up to police violence, and to fight systemic racism and white supremacy in all its forms. We will continue to fight for racial, social, and economic justice now and forever.

Rest in power. Each of you.

Theatrical Stage Employees:

We share in the heartbreak, frustration and anger surrounding the tragic murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police. We stand in solidarity with the African American community as together we grieve yet another lawless, racist killing in our country.

The principle that all people are equal and all people are deserving of respect and fair treatment is a cornerstone of the labor movement. As a labor union that represents black members and people of color of all ethnicities, we have an ethical duty to do everything we can to root out racism in our communities, our homes, and our workplaces, once and for all.

While we are distraught, shaken and angered by the death of George Floyd, we must all join in the conversation for advocacy, effective change, fairness and justice for the African American community. We cannot sit and stay silent as people mourn yet another member of our community, and only the memory of the name be followed by the hashtag #ICantBreathe.

We must and will apply pressure across the board for systematic change to value black lives through full and unified equal protection under the law, public health, medical care, education, housing, business development, and economic change and equality. We are prepared to advocate for specific, necessary policy and legislation, and we stand ready to lock arms with allies who are primarily focused on racial justice and reform.

Transport Workers Union:

George Floyd’s murder was a criminal act and every police officer involved in his senseless killing should be prosecuted. But we cannot see the murder of George Floyd outside of a context of deep-seated and long simmering racial tensions. Watching his murder is watching the American tragedy unfold in real time.

Racism and economic injustice are tied at the hip and in this moment we must remind ourselves that the trade union movement at its best is a powerful force against these poisons. Both on the job and in the street we have fought for fair treatment, decent wages, healthcare, family leave, and retirement security for all workers regardless of race or gender. The Transport Workers Union has always been at the forefront of the battle against racial and economic oppression, breaking the color barriers in every industry where we organize.

Members of the TWU live in our communities and serve our neighbors on the job.  And should they choose to do so, we absolutely support their right to peacefully protest for economic and racial justice alongside their fellow Americans. While criminality must be addressed, and the perpetrators held accountable – among police and protestors alike – this moment demands that we as a society hear the pleas of those peacefully flooding in the streets to seek redress for their grievances.

The nine minutes it took to murder George Floyd have exposed a gaping wound. Now it is incumbent on us and our society to heal it. Let us reflect as a union and a people on the turbulent period we are going through and let us emerge better because of it.

Transportation Trades Department:

In the labor movement, we believe an injustice to one is an injustice to all. That is why immediate and swift justice for those responsible for this loss of life is not enough. As Americans, we must all see racism for the deadly disease that it is and stand against the systemic oppression and murder of people of color that has been allowed to go on for so long in this country.

Transportation labor stands with our brothers, sisters, and other community leaders who are exercising their first amendment freedoms to peacefully draw attention to the need for change. We outright reject those who seek to delegitimize the voices of peaceful protesters by sowing discord and causing destruction. No amount of violence or vandalism will stop us from doing what we have always done: fighting for racial, social, and economic justice.

Union Veterans Council:

As the world watches, it’s clear that our country has fallen short. We must do better to live the values we claim to represent. It’s not enough to say the words; we must listen when our communities cry out for change.

When leaders mock people using their constitutional rights to use their individual platform to bring attention to this very injustice and then cheer on groups that happily fly the American flag alongside the confederate and Nazi flag, we have a crisis of self.

The UVC recommits itself to that work today and tomorrow and we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all who fight for the American values we claim to stand for. We are resolved to not allow this to become just a moment and not allow the voice of the many to be drowned out by the few.

United Auto Workers

I want to send a message to the family of George Floyd. I cannot begin to imagine what you are going through in these hours after your son’s tragic and needless death. As a father and grandfather, I want to personally extend my most heartfelt sympathy to your family.

Sadly, he is one of many African Americans who have been the victim of racial profiling and brutality in this country. We have all seen the headlines. I say this with great sorrow and not to vilify our brave men and women in blue. We represent many police officers and they are truly untold heroes who go to work every day to keep all of us safe. They have bravely been on the front lines of this pandemic, as they are always on the front lines when our nation is in need. But in this case, things went terribly wrong, and we must look at this issue as a nation. No matter how painful, we cannot not turn away.

Now I’m going to speak very plainly here. I am an African American man also from an urban center and you may think that this is why I am speaking out. But I am speaking as an American, as a union tradesman, and I am speaking to us all.

These are unprecedented times for us all. What we need now is not hard heartedness. Not division. Not looking at our differences but looking at who we are and what we value as Americans. And we are ALL Americans. We are this nation and our differences should be our strength, not our weakness. Not our tragedies.

This pandemic, terrible as it is, has in my opinion, shown us that we are in this together and we must rely on one another if we are going to navigate in this worldwide crisis. This is a scary time, and fear and prejudice are our enemies. We must not allow these human failings to prevail. When I look at the terrible, tragic circumstances of Mr. Floyd’s last minutes, begging for his life, I know that we as a nation failed this young man. This must not be our course as Americans. This must not be our story. And this cannot be the future of our nation.

George Floyd’s death is an American tragedy in a time of extreme pain and uncertainty. The color of our skin cannot—and must not—divide us. If this young man’s untimely and terrible death teaches us anything, I hope it is that we need to all see each other as Americans. Each and every one of us—Americans.

And as Americans, I think we need to serve warning that we are watching out for the safety of our fellow Americans and will do what is necessary to keep each other safe. And we will hold those accountable, regardless of who they are, if they put any of us in peril.

We have a word for it at the UAW: SOLIDARITY.

UNITE HERE:

This is not normal. Except it is.

On Monday, George Floyd was murdered by an officer of the Minneapolis Police Department, while three additional officers stood by and watched. Yet again, a Black man was targeted and suffocated to death by the people who should, ostensibly, “protect and serve.” UNITE HERE condemns this action and demands swift and complete justice for Mr. Floyd and his family.

For months we have grappled with “the new normal” of living in the midst of COVID-19. We’ve struggled with job loss, with wearing masks, with the need to socially distance. What we need to grapple with, and change, is the historic normal. The commodification and the brutalization of Black people. From Emmett to Trayvon to Sandra to Tamir to Eric to Philando to Botham to Breonna to George Floyd and too many others—it has become “normal” to see our Black Brothers and Sisters being killed, and we cannot and will not stand idly by.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of Mr. Floyd. Black Lives Matter, George Floyd’s life matters. Justice must be served, and our country must change, because this “normal” should not be normal.

United Food and Commercial Workers

Millions of Americans across the country are rightfully angry about the murder of George Floyd and the abhorrent injustices we have witnessed for far too long. Now more than ever, we must stand together to end the hate and discrimination that is poisoning this nation, and to make clear that we all stand in support of peaceful protests and in opposition to violence of any kind.

Given the social upheaval that we are witnessing, we are urging our elected leaders to speak out for justice and peaceful protests with a united voice. The last thing America needs is more division and dysfunction.

While it may be hard to see right now, our nation will get through this terrible moment. Standing together we can help ensure that all of our communities can recover, heal and rebuild.

United Steelworkers:

At a time when our economy is so troubled, when so many are dealing with the uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic and we are all trying to safely get back to work while making sure our families are healthy, we deserve solutions. Instead we get threats. 

Our labor movement was born out of our inherent right to assemble and protest. We exist solely as a result of our right to act collectively and present grievances both in our workplaces and to our government. 

The history of our union is filled with similar incidents of guardsmen and police forces being used against workers. It’s not a far stretch to envision expanded use of the military against today’s labor movement if we stand by while it happens against these protesters. 

We cannot support a president who threatens such acts against his own citizens. These protesters are justifiably angry, and we share their anger. We will not turn a deaf ear in these desperate times during which so many need so badly to be heard.

Utility Workers

We are sad and angry about the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and the many other men and women who are victims of racism and police brutality around this country today. Black lives matter and everyone should be treated equal. We demand those responsible for their deaths be held fully accountable.

Their deaths and the protests that have resulted over the past several days are directly linked to the systemic racism and oppression that has been unacceptably tolerated for too long in America. Our brothers and sisters of color face danger, racism and economic inequality and we stand together committed to fighting these injustices in a peaceful manner.

We must come together in society to listen and commit to a change, for we are all created equal.

Wisconsin AFL-CIO:

The heart-wrenching video of George Floyd’s last moments as Minneapolis police officers ignored his dying pleas throws into stark relief the gap between the noble principles enshrined in our constitution and the reality Americans of color face every day. 

We in the labor movement are particularly outraged by this unconscionable abuse of power. As union workers, we fight each day to make the proposition that all men and women are created equal into an American reality. In addition to the responsible police officers’ appalling criminal inhumanity, their contempt for the life of a fellow citizen is profoundly un-American.

This weekend we saw thousands of our neighbors take to the streets to voice righteous outrage over not only the killing of George Floyd, but of the entrenched racism that infects our society. While felt most directly and painfully by people of color, this and other forms of injustice must be the concern of every American. Racial inequality and economic inequality are inextricably welded together and must be addressed in tandem. None of us can be fully free until each of us enjoys an equal opportunity to prosper through our labor. This is the very soul of our union movement.

Sadly, a small few have dishonored our efforts to fight for justice by resorting to violence. As Martin Luther King observed, “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.” Violence and vandalism do nothing to further the pursuit of justice. Instead, they delegitimize our cause and empower those who seek to preserve an unjust status quo. 

The struggle to make our nation live up to the values set out by our founders is a never-ending process. In these trying times as always, our union movement proudly stands with every working man and woman as together we build a more just America.

Writers Guild of America, East:

We are saddened but not shocked by the cold-blooded murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Police violence against black people and people of color is an epidemic that cannot be tolerated. What happened in Minneapolis is another example of deadly systemic racism. African Americans have been the victims of injustice for more than 400 years and it continues today.

As members of the labor movement, it is our duty to speak up and do our part to dismantle the systems that allow racism to continue.

We stand in solidarity with and condemn the mistreatment of the CNN reporters who were arrested while covering the news, and are grateful to all the journalists who have been on the ground documenting the uprising against police violence. During times of struggle, the work of a truly free press is even more crucial, and as a union of media workers, we must emphasize the importance of telling these heartbreaking and disturbing stories.

Our union stands alongside those who have risen up in protest, from Minneapolis to New York and everywhere in between, to demand justice and accountability for Floyd, and for all of the other lives that have been stolen and buried by an unequal justice system.

The Writers Guild of America, East condemns the murder of George Floyd, and demands that those responsible be held accountable. We cannot stay silent, and want to be clear in our firmly-held belief that black lives matter, and that an injury to one is an injury to all.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 06/02/2020 - 16:12

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Philadelphia's APRI Chapter Organizes Food Drive

Mon, 06/01/2020 - 10:03
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Philadelphia's APRI Chapter Organizes Food Drive APRI

During the COVID-19 pandemic, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out their friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

The Philadelphia chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) organized a food distribution for the suburbs of Collingdale and Darby Township, Pennsylvania. Community volunteers joined with members of APRI—including National Vice President Richard Womack (CWA) and chapter President Thelma Clements—to hand out food to some 300 people in need.

“I have been working with the Philadelphia APRI chapter to organize community leaders, elected officials and church leaders to come together at this time to provide breakfast and lunch for kids every Monday and Wednesday, and to do major food distributions once a week in different suburbs of Philadelphia,” Womack said. “APRI is uniting labor and the community together to make a difference.”

Various neighborhood churches and grocery stores donated food, and the event was held in conjunction with Collingdale Mayor Felecia Coffee and state Rep. Maria Donatucci. APRI members said they were glad to be a part of this community event and to represent organized labor by helping working families. In a statement, they quoted A. Philip Randolph, who said: “At the banquet table of nature, there are no reserved seats. You get what you can take and you keep what you can hold. If you can’t take anything, you won’t get anything; and if you can’t hold anything, you won’t keep anything. And you can’t take anything without organization.”

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 06/01/2020 - 12:03

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Labor Radio–Podcast Weekly: Immigrant Solidarity, Oral History and More

Thu, 05/28/2020 - 11:25
Labor Radio–Podcast Weekly: Immigrant Solidarity, Oral History and More Labor Radio-Podcast Weekly

The latest episode of the "Labor Radio–Podcast Weekly" features immigrant solidarity, oral history and more. This week’s highlights from labor radio and podcast shows focusing on working people include:

“You know, I'm not just the epithet that they give me, we shape history every day and collective actions here could shape history in a new way,” Cristobal Cavazos of Immigrant Solidarity DuPage on "Labor Express Radio," Chicago's only English-language labor news and current affairs radio program.

“My Pietro. He worked in the sheds for 15 years. Always he was not satisfied. Always, he said someday he would find other work. But no other work he found.” That’s from the latest episode of "En Masse," where interdisciplinary artist, labor activist and political educator Liz Medina brings together oral histories and social theory with stories of struggle and hope from the working class.

In addition, sisters, who are members of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), share their stories; "Workers Beat Radio" votes by mail; "UCOMM Live" reports on unemployment claims in New Jersey; and "Labor History in 2" discusses Chicago’s first teachers’ strike.

Check out all the shows on Labor Radio/Podcast Network.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 05/28/2020 - 13:25

Tags: Podcast

Save the News: Meet Andy Nguyen

Thu, 05/28/2020 - 09:18
Save the News: Meet Andy Nguyen

The NewsGuild-CWA member Andy Nguyen didn’t think he was going to lose his job when he received the email for the “all-staff” meeting. But that is exactly what happened. Dozens of journalists got laid off, including him, because of the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn more about how journalists and the whole journalism industry are being affected during these dangerous times.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 05/28/2020 - 11:18

Chinese American UNITE HERE Member Shares Her COVID-19 Story

Tue, 05/26/2020 - 08:55
Chinese American UNITE HERE Member Shares Her COVID-19 Story

This week we are lifting up Andee Huang, a laid-off Chinese American hotel worker from Boston and a member of UNITE HERE Local 26. She'd been working at the Westin Boston Waterfront for 13 years. Ever since she and all her co-workers lost their jobs in March, Huang has been helping other workers apply for unemployment, food assistance and other needs. 

Huang says: "We need to stand up and fight until we win." That’s why we are fighting for major changes that will bring us through COVID-19 as safe as possible and build strong and prepared communities for the future.

Join us to support the Paycheck Guarantee Act to end mass unemployment and return millions of workers back to payroll and health care.  

Join us to protect essential workers.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 05/26/2020 - 10:55

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Service + Solidarity: Meet Jennifer Cody

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 08:53
Service + Solidarity: Meet Jennifer Cody

Jennifer Cody is an actress from New York and a member of the Actors' Equity. Her industry is 100% unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Broadway is closed for the indefinite future. Learn more about how dancers, singers and the rest of her community are affected during these dangerous times.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/22/2020 - 10:53

Tags: COVID-19

Maine AFL-CIO Is Using All the Digital Tools in Its Toolbox to Help Workers

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 08:25
Maine AFL-CIO Is Using All the Digital Tools in Its Toolbox to Help Workers Maine AFL-CIO

With unprecedented numbers of Mainers out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic, the state’s labor movement is deploying digital tools in innovative ways to help workers who are being impacted by COVID-19. The Maine AFL-CIO is using a full range of online platforms to support those who are applying for unemployment insurance (UI) and pressure policymakers to fix the system.

Like many states, Maine’s UI system was unprepared for the crisis and has been overwhelmed by the volume of claims. President Cynthia Phinney (IBEW) of the Maine AFL-CIO explained: “After eight years with an anti-worker governor, there are so many hurdles that people have to jump through to access the benefits that they’re entitled to. The system was designed to prevent people from getting even a single dollar if they’re not supposed to, rather than have as its top priority helping workers who are unemployed.”

The state federation is responding to this challenge by using all the digital tools in its toolbox. There is a new page on its website devoted to providing UI assistance, including a form for workers to ask questions and request help. The form includes a spot for workers to fill in their union affiliation so the state federation can refer them to trained organizers and activists from their own union who can help. “If a person can be connected with someone from their union, all the better,” Phinney said.

In addition, the Maine AFL-CIO created a Facebook group where people can ask questions, talk about common problems and learn how to overcome them. More than 1,000 Facebook users have joined. “It’s developed beautifully because people who are part of the group are answering questions for other people and sharing their experiences,” Phinney said.

“We trained a lot of people to help unemployed workers fill out their UI forms. They’re helping workers get their claims approved so they can avoid a dragged-out process,” Phinney said. The state federation worked with Maine Equal Justice and the state's Department of Labor to host a webinar on changes to the UI system to accommodate workers impacted by the pandemic.

And Maine’s labor movement is helping more than just union members; unrepresented workers are being assisted as well. The state federation has helped about 3,000 individuals seeking UI assistance. “Many of them are just so grateful to have found somewhere where someone will answer their questions,” Phinney explained. She said that for many unrepresented workers looking for help with their UI application, this is their first contact with a labor union organization.

The state federation also has launched a direct email campaign to pressure lawmakers to improve the system and has hosted online meetings with Maine’s congressional delegation focused on promoting America’s Five Economic Essentials. They also hold Zoom press conferences that are well-attended by reporters to get the word out about a range of issues, including the state’s UI system and the need for more personal protective equipment for front-line workers.

“This is a moment when people across the country are seeing workers as we have always seen workers: essential,” Phinney said. “Tell your stories and help other workers to get their stories out, because those stories are what bring us together and start us on the road to becoming stronger.”

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/22/2020 - 10:25

Tags: COVID-19

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