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As the tax deadline looms and millions scurry to get their forms sent on time, Tax Day is a good time to dispel the myth that the U.S. Postal Service is funded by tax dollars.
In fact, the Postal Service receives zero tax dollars for its operations. Without taking a dime in taxes, the Postal Service maintains the lowest prices for mail services in the industrialized world and delivers to 159 million addresses, six—and now often seven—days a week—all funded by revenue from the sale of stamps and other postal products.
While private courier companies only deliver where a profit can be made, the public post office provides universal service to everyone, no matter age, wealth, race, who we are or where we live.
It is little wonder that the Postal Service, a public institution enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and the crucial anchor of the growing e-commerce revolution, remains the most trusted federal agency. A recent Pew Research Center survey revealed that 88% of the population has a favorable view of the Postal Service, with the highest favorability ratings coming from young adults. Whether sending or receiving medicine, packages, greeting cards, letters, periodicals, catalogs or ballots, every person, household and business in this country is a postal customer.
Still, that persistent myth—that the Postal Service is a burden to taxpayers—is precisely the false narrative that led Congress to pass the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. That act manufactured a financial crisis by compelling the Postal Service to pre-fund all retiree health care costs, 75 years into the future—for workers not even born yet. This mandate transferred postal revenues to the U.S. Treasury and robbed the Postal Service of $5.6 billion a year over a 10-year period. No other company or agency faces, or could be expected to survive, such an onerous financial burden.
Adding to the absurdity is the fact that, prior to the 2006 law, the Postal Service had been reliably paying its annual retirement health benefit premiums on time.
Fast forward from 2006 to last year. Exactly one year ago, in April 2018—again using the guise of taxpayer protection—President Donald Trump established a postal task force to study Postal Service finances. However, before the task force even published its findings, the White House Office of Management and Budget in a June 2018 report on reforming government laid bare their goal of selling the Postal Service to the highest corporate bidder.
Postal privatization, if allowed to move forward, would surely enrich some Wall Street investors and a few powerful corporations. For the rest of us, it would result in diminished postal services and higher prices. This is exactly what happened when other nations, such as the United Kingdom, went down this path. Evidence of this can be seen in both the OMB report and the task force report that followed in December, which called for higher rates, cuts to service and lower wages and benefits for postal workers, all as a first step toward total privatization.
Other task force “solutions” include eliminating delivery days, slowing service speed, allowing anyone who pays a fee access to your secure and private mailbox, reducing door delivery, undermining the universal service obligation and piecemeal privatization that will all undermine the future of a vibrant public postal service.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Congress should simply fix the pre-funding fiasco they created in 2006. In addition, the Postal Service should provide an array of expanded services such as increased financial services and paycheck cashing, notary and various licensing services, internet access and electric automobile charging stations.
Everyone who sends and receives mail and packages has a stake in making sure that the U.S. Postal Service remains owned by, and in the service of, the people. Ask your member of Congress to co-sponsor House Resolution 33 and Senate Resolution 99. Both resolutions oppose privatizing the Postal Service.
Let’s ensure that the postal eagle, symbolizing its public ownership, is never sacrificed on the altar of private profit and replaced by the vulture of corporate greed. The U.S. Postal Service operates without tax dollars and provides a necessary and popular public service. Keep it—it’s yours.
This post originally appeared at The Cap Times.
A general strike in Poland’s education sector that began on Monday, April 8 continues with no end in sight. According to organizers from the two unions that initiated the strike—the Polish Teachers’ Union (ZNP) and the Trade Union Forum (FZZ)—on the first day of the strike 14,000 schools and kindergartens out of 20,400 such institutions joined the walkout. Teachers at 2,000 of those schools have since returned to work, but there are strong indications that this will be a longer protest, comparable in scope to the mobilizations by the country’s teachers between 1991 and 1993.
Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Railroad Signalmen (BRS).
Name of Union: Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen
Mission: To represent the men and women who maintain railroad signal systems and highway-rail grade crossing warning devices across the nation. In addition, the BRS negotiates contracts and promotes safety in the industry for its members and the traveling public. Local lodges elect delegates to national conventions, which is the organization's supreme authority. Delegates set policy, review the general state of the union, establish collective bargaining goals and elect Grand Lodge officers, who direct the organization between conventions.
Current Leadership of Union: Jerry Boles was elected to serve as president of the BRS in 2019. Mike Baldwin serves as secretary-treasurer. The BRS also has six vice presidents who serve in various capacities: Joe Mattingly (Midwest), Kelly A. Haley (Headquarters), James Finnegan (Commuter/Passenger), Tim Tarrant (East), Cory Claypool (West) and Brandon Elvey (NRAB).
Current Number of Members: 10,000-plus.
Members Work At: various railroad and supplier locations installing, repairing and maintaining railroad signal systems and highway-rail grade crossing warning devices. The signal system is used to direct train movements and the crossing warning devices warn motorists when a train is approaching a crossing. These members have been installing positive train control (PTC) equipment since Congress mandated the railroads install PTC back in 2008. PTC is an advanced train control system designed to automatically stop a train before certain accidents occur. In particular, PTC is designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, over speed derailments, train movements over track switches not properly lined and train movements into roadway worker work zones.
Industries Represented: The railroad industry and suppliers in the United States.
History: At the turn of the century, railroad signaling became an emerging craft as railroads increasingly incorporated new technology. In 1901, the BRS was founded to improve the safety and efficiency of railroad operations, and to represent the men and women who install and maintain signal systems. Over the ensuing decades, the organization grew into a national union consisting of working people across the Unites States.
Community Efforts: The BRS maintains a regular schedule of training for members as well as ongoing membership on various committees including the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee, which assist the Federal Railroad Administration in developing new regulatory standards to promote railroad safety. The BRS is actively engaged in Operation Lifesaver, a nonprofit public safety education and awareness organization dedicated to reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings, and trespassing on or near railroad tracks.
Learn More: Website.
A tentative agreement between the 31,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) in New England and management at Stop & Shop supermarkets has been reached, effectively ending the historic strike that captured the country’s attention.
The proposed deal will preserve health care and retirement benefits, provide wage increases and maintain time-and-a-half pay on Sundays for members of UFCW locals 328, 919, 1459, 1445 and 371.
Workers walked off the job on April 11 after management proposed cuts to their health care benefits and wages, despite the company receiving a $225 million tax break in 2017.
The entire labor movement stood behind the workers, with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler (IBEW) visiting picket lines last week.
In response to the tentative agreement, UFCW said in a statement:
We are incredibly grateful to our customers and everyone who proudly stood together with us every day for a contract that invests in the communities we serve, and makes Stop & Shop a better place to work and a better place to shop.
Under this proposed contract, our members will be able to focus on continuing to help customers in our communities enjoy the best shopping experience possible and to keep Stop & Shop the number one grocery store in New England. The agreement preserves health care and retirement benefits, provides wage increases, and maintains time-and-a-half pay on Sunday for current members.
Today is a powerful victory for the 31,000 hardworking men and women of Stop & Shop who courageously stood up to fight for what all New Englanders want—good jobs, affordable health care, a better wage, and to be treated right by the company they made a success.
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.
A. Philip Randolph Institute:
Attention all brothers and sisters, AND Youth Members! Please find the application for the A. Philip Randolph Institute 2019 NEC here!! If you have any questions, please direct them to Jaida Curtis at firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking forward to seeing you all!— APRI National (DC) (@APRI_National) April 10, 2019
Ballots for the upcoming referendum vote will be sent out during the last week of April. Make sure your contact information, including your email and mailing address, is up to date in the Member Portal. https://t.co/KlcvpKvaYM pic.twitter.com/Tr4bTGehY7— Actors' Equity (@ActorsEquity) April 18, 2019
Trade proposals for #NAFTA 2.0 fail to ensure labor rules will be enforced. Contact your Representative at 855.856.7545 and tell them no vote on #NAFTA 2.0 until its fixed. #NoVoteTillItsFixed pic.twitter.com/YaiRYNcHFj— AFSCME (@AFSCME) April 17, 2019
The ideals and ideas I have outlined are not quixotic fantasies. They are pragmatic strategies that create the sustainable teaching and learning culture that enables the freedom to teach. - @rweingarten #FreedomToTeach— AFT (@AFTunion) April 18, 2019
Air Line Pilots Association:
DYK: Our ALPA pilots are busy promoting the #pilot profession to members of the military at today's @Rotary2Airline Convention in Fort Campbell, KY. Thank you to our ALPA pilot volunteers! #aviationcareers pic.twitter.com/f8SQipHewF— ALPA (@WeAreALPA) April 13, 2019
Alliance for Retired Americans:
The #GOPTaxScam did nothing for working Americans. Wealthy corporations didn't even use the millions they made from the tax cuts to raise wages or give out bonuses. https://t.co/ZAzYzyHXnL #Shame #RepealTaxCuts pic.twitter.com/j26tBNjcye— Alliance Retirees (@ActiveRetirees) April 17, 2019
Amalgamated Transit Union:
American Federation of Musicians:
American Postal Workers Union:
President Dimondstein writes:— APWU National (@APWUnational) April 15, 2019
“The U.S. Postal Service operates without tax dollars and provides a necessary and popular public service. Keep it — it’s yours.” #TaxDay #USMailNotForSalehttps://t.co/4UAZSYE02P
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance:
Our TPS, DACA, and DED siblings belong in our communities. Call on Congress to be bold and pass the #DreamAndPromiseNow ! Show your support and sign the petition today: https://t.co/mmwUWsgYvl …#SaveTPS #TPSJUSTICE #DACA pic.twitter.com/KIJ5Voqc9E— APALA (@APALAnational) April 17, 2019
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA:
#TBT to last week's Chicago (ORD) demonstration to support AFA Air Wisconsin Flight Attendants! Almost 100 people demonstrated to pressure Air Wisconsin management and United Airlines to negotiate a FAIR contract. #1u #ContractNow pic.twitter.com/m1topQ03wT— AFA-CWA (@afa_cwa) April 18, 2019
Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers:
BCTGM stands in #solidarity with striking @UFCW members @stopnshop_ne in New England. If you see a picket line - don’t stop & shop there until the strike is over! sign the petition at https://t.co/irbqoqbS9R #1u #jobs #wages #LaborRights pic.twitter.com/Ifp17tXIhj— BCTGM International (@BCTGM) April 17, 2019
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists:
Coalition of Labor Union Women:
Did you know your post office receives ZERO tax dollars to deliver mail to every address in our country at consistently low rates? Let’s keep the USPS a public good, not sell it to corporations for private profit. #USMailNotForSale #TaxDay https://t.co/opknPNw9cy— CLUW National (@CLUWNational) April 15, 2019
Communications Workers of America:
Before the #GOPTaxScam passed, massive companies made promises that they'd use their tax breaks to create jobs & raise wages. That's not what happened.— CWA (@CWAUnion) April 17, 2019
Check out the op-ed by CWA President Shelton. Congress needs to start holding corporations accountable!https://t.co/mhwst57szH
Department for Professional Employees:
Farm Labor Organizing Committee:
Heat and Frost Insulators:
Mechanical Insulation is the one thing that goes into a building and starts paying for itself as soon as the system is activated - immediately saving energy and reducing greenhouse emissions. Learn more here: https://t.co/2daFpcwFV0— Insulators Union (@InsulatorsUnion) April 17, 2019
International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers:
International Labor Communications Association:
Our annual ILCA Labor Media Contest is open. The first and largest competition exclusively for labor journalists, the contest recognizes excellence in labor journalism, photography, film, podcasts, websites, and social media. https://t.co/CIvnK9ZwBD— Labor Communications (@ILCAonline) April 9, 2019
Iron Workers from local 433/416 topped out Los Angeles Stadium in Inglewood on Monday. https://t.co/LdFQUNKGiB— Ironworkers. (@TheIronworkers) April 17, 2019
Workplace violence is the 3rd leading cause of death on the job. One in every 6 workplace deaths are from workplace violence. Help end workplace violence and support HR 1309 Workplace Violence prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act— IUE-CWA (@IUE_CWAUnion) April 18, 2019
Jobs With Justice:
For years, working people have joined together and rallied for higher minimum wages across the country. Not only are we winning that fight, but big opponents are starting to back down. #fightfor15http://bit.ly/2ZeB0c9— Jobs With Justice (@jwjnational) April 17, 2019
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement:
LCLAA proudly supports the work of @AnnaAlvaradoArt who is an artist and youth empowerment advocate from East LA. With her art, she seeks to capture the emotional rawness of the female spirit encouraging Latinas to see perfection in their imperfections. #TrabajadorasTuesday pic.twitter.com/6LoE9WuaWi— LCLAA (@LCLAA) April 16, 2019
Our second session in #PuertoRico was emotional and inspirational. In partnership with @LIUNA @LiUNAEasternReg and @LiunaPR these sisters, brothers and now, new Instructors, are leading the #rebuilding of their Island. Power of #training #education. #feelthepower #trainingliuna pic.twitter.com/wc4vXv6Ofc— LIUNA!Training (@TrainingLiuna) April 18, 2019
Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO:
Trade Unions Pave Pathways to Good Jobs https://t.co/KP5p8mzl4g— Metal Trades Dept. (@metaltradesafl) April 16, 2019
In Morgantown, WV today! President Roberts is speaking to District 2 and District 31 members about our pension fight. “We will win, because we will never quit.” -@CecilRoberts pic.twitter.com/rtzFvGyZfs— United Mine Workers (@MineWorkers) April 4, 2019
Attention Chicago/Midwest AGMA members - On May 6th, The Actor's Fund (in partnership with SAG-AFTRA) will present a Myers-Briggs Career Development Workshop led by T.A.F. Career Counselor and Myers-Briggs Master Practitioner Maryellen Langhout.— AGMA (@AGMusicalArtist) April 17, 2019
National Air Traffic Controllers Association:
After 53 years, retired charter member Joe Bellino – the Union’s first NGL RVP & second EVP – was invited by the National Pathfinder Association (NPA) to become a lifetime Associate Member #3. Less than 1% of military members are Pathfinder qualified. https://t.co/MZVRJIuk9x pic.twitter.com/CGomRsw02j— NATCA (@NATCA) April 18, 2019
National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-CWA:
National Association of Letter Carriers:
Thank you for supporting the #StampOutHunger #FoodDrive, Mayor @billpeduto! NALC Branch President Ted Lee, left, & Retired Letter Carrier Alex Criego (food drive coordinator), right, met w/ City of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto who committed to assisting in this year's food drive. pic.twitter.com/g8WTXZcp5n— Letter Carriers (@NALC_National) April 18, 2019
National Domestic Workers Alliance:
Teresita also wrote a piece for the @nytimes in 2017 about why she and other caregivers, housecleaners and nannies participated in the #WomensMarch: “to show our collective power as the past, present and future of America.” https://t.co/k7ctPk0uWt— Domestic Workers (@domesticworkers) April 18, 2019
National Federation of Federal Employees:
National Nurses United:
.@NNUCorey closes out with a call to action: The way we win is to educate, agitate, and organize. #Veterans, nurses and other VA workers have to join together, take to the streets, and organize town halls to educate the community about what is happening in the VA. ✊ pic.twitter.com/HjRTt8EjL4— NationalNursesUnited (@NationalNurses) April 18, 2019
National Taxi Workers Alliance:
Brothers & sisters, reach out for help if you need it. We are here for each other. Come by the NYTWA office any time you need to talk or be in the company of fellow drivers M-F 12pm-8pm. There are resources available for you. We are in this fight together. https://t.co/Wf1FxvLsuk— NY Taxi Workers (@NYTWA) April 13, 2019
NFL Players Association:
North America's Building Trades Unions:
Office and Professional Employees:
Working families have suffered as a direct consequence of #NAFTA. We can’t let the renegotiation of the trade deal be dominated by corporations and billionaires. Call your representative NOW at 1-855-856-7545 and tell them to stand up for working families. #1u #UnionStrong pic.twitter.com/Vt3aIeY1Up— OPEIU (@opeiu) April 16, 2019
Painters and Allied Trades:
The United States is receiving a D+ on its Infrastructure Report Card. The IUPAT has joined the fight to push Congress to pass an infrastructure bill that will change this ranking significantly. #InfrastructureNow #RebuildUSA pic.twitter.com/VHsnqy0dG0— GoIUPAT✊🏽 (@GoIUPAT) April 18, 2019
Plasterers and Cement Masons:
“Today, the biggest obstacle that stands between us and the places we work, live and play is thousands of miles of crumbling roads, highways and bridges ... Every day we fail to invest, we’re putting more lives at risk.” https://t.co/KXSI1G1cEk— OPCMIA International (@opcmiaintl) April 15, 2019
Pride At Work:
"Anyone who qualifies for service under military standards should be allowed to serve.— Pride at Work (@PrideatWork) April 12, 2019
This unfair policy treats transgender people different than other service members, which is antithetical to the core values of our military." #TransMilitaryBan pic.twitter.com/4hQOhLjI3g
Professional Aviation Safety Specialists:
PASS is honored to support @FedsHelpingFeds at this year's Public Service Walk & Run April 28, on behalf of our members @FAANews. Join the PASS team here: https://t.co/NPiYWr0PVi All proceeds go to the only charity dedicated to helping federal workers in need. #publicservice— PASS (@PASSNational) April 12, 2019
Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union/UFCW:
Congrats to #sagaftramember Vickie Thomas on her well-earned induction to the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame. For more than 25 years she’s kept Detroiters informed and her service as a union steward and mentor to fellow members has been invaluable. https://t.co/dVwa3WWjsr pic.twitter.com/FFSeMUyhsv— SAG-AFTRA (@sagaftra) April 16, 2019
Big win for the U.S. Merchant Marine (and apologies for the double post) https://t.co/1j58Yn5BHP— Seafarers Union (@SeafarersUnion) April 3, 2019
The world creates as much as 50 million tons of e-waste/yr valued at $60 billion+ dollars but only 20% is formally recycled. This “toxic flood of electronic waste” should be converted into source of #decentwork per @ilo@LURNetwork @ClimateReality https://t.co/VpKi5dGU01— Solidarity Center (@SolidarityCntr) April 18, 2019
"Too often, politicians & CEOs forget that behind every train that rolls across the country…Are thousands of dedicated, hardworking union members...And too often CEOs think it’s ok to attack your rights to be part of the labor movement." - @TTDAFLCIO Larry Willis #IAMtranspo19 pic.twitter.com/gCg4fB5xFC— Transportation Communications Union/IAM (@TCUnionHQ) April 9, 2019
Theatrical Stage Employees:
Congratulations to the technicians at @tarragontheatre who yesterday voted unanimously to be represented by @iatse58. Welcome to the @IATSE and @IATSECANADA family! #growthequalsstrength pic.twitter.com/5vOf6Ss3qS— IATSE Local 58 (@iatse58) April 17, 2019
The Richmond Board of Education has refused to listen to parents, to drivers, to children and have neglected the system putting Augusta's children in harms way. The TWU is leading the charge to ensure the safety of our children! #ToxicSchoolBus https://t.co/2Xgm3efthh— TWU (@transportworker) April 18, 2019
Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO:
This 👏 is 👏 not 👏 okay. Last year there were more than 100 documented assaults on transit workers & more than 2,300 cases of harassment. Congress must act now by passing the Bus Operator and Pedestrian Protection Act.https://t.co/rfLWUcbWec— Transp. Trades Dept. (@TTDAFLCIO) April 17, 2019
Did you pay federal income taxes this year? 60 of America's largest corporations didn't! Get the details: https://t.co/e73Wz58rb6— UAW (@UAW) April 17, 2019
Union Label and Service Trades Department:
Stamp Out Hunger food drive is next month. pic.twitter.com/kofTYqcuoa— Union Label Dept. (@ULSTD_AFLCIO) April 11, 2019
Union Veterans Council:
Congrats to Union Veteran @pamforpa for flipping a red seat blue with the help of the Allegheny/Fayette Union Veterans Council.— Union Veterans Council (@unionveterans) April 3, 2019
This is what happens when me mobilize our veterans to be their own voices of change. @Darrinkellypgh @PaAFL_CIO pic.twitter.com/aF5V7t57Ez
We’re demanding that Marriott disclose the total number of incidents of sexual harassment and assault in their hotels.— UNITE HERE (@unitehere) April 18, 2019
The public, survivors, and employees deserve to know the REAL totals, not just the 44 formal legal complaints. #MeTooMarriott #MoreThan44 pic.twitter.com/mqgowYBvFV
United Food and Commercial Workers:
Kristen with @UFCW Local 1445 works at #StopandShop as a deli manager & joins @AFLCIO's State of the Unions podcast to share why she's on the picket line & how its bringing people together to protect good #NewEngland jobs. RT and listen here: https://t.co/JQEFJRRj6e pic.twitter.com/XFnYRO5nZx— UFCW (@UFCW) April 17, 2019
United Students Against Sweatshops:
USAS students from across the country are sharing the stories of brave Indonesian Nike workers who are ready to fight by spreading their truth. Meet the women behind the Nike swoosh. #nikewalkthetalk #nikewomentruthtour pic.twitter.com/RwDhmdDGxZ— USAS (@USAS) April 11, 2019
United Union of Roofers and Waterproofers:
Although the reasons are complex, 2 leading factors of why black women have a higher risk of dying from pregnancy complications are b/c of lack of access & poor quality of care.— Working America (@WorkingAmerica) April 17, 2019
We can change that. #BMHW19 #BlackMaternalHealthWeek #MedicaidExpansion https://t.co/eafp8R9niG pic.twitter.com/AMEhPZ29BO
Writers Guild of America, East:
"The Writers Guild of America today filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court seeking to establish that talent agency packaging fees are illegal under both California and federal law." #ClientsOverConflictshttps://t.co/2eygQvFWXN— Writers Guild of America, East (@WGAEast) April 17, 2019
Of the 1,600 members of University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate Employees (GEO) Local 6297 who struck for three weeks in March and April, almost half were international workers. Though we often feel vulnerable, given that we’re in the U.S. on visas, we were fed up with the UIC administration ignoring our financial needs and grievances.
Bargaining updates for Envoy Air, Frontier Communications, AT&T Midwest, AT&T Legacy T and AT&T Southeast.
Editorial staff of Quartz, a news outlet that covers technology, geopolitics, work, and culture, announced this week that an overwhelming majority of eligible staff have signed on to join the NewsGuild of New York/CWA Local 31003.
On Saturday, outsourced workers from across Ohio gathered in Akron to testify at a field hearing about corporate job outsourcing and union busting co-sponsored by Cleveland Jobs With Justice and the Ohio Poor People’s Campaign with support from CWA and other unions and community groups.
CWAers across the country are making progress on passing legislation to protect call center jobs from offshoring!
This week, CWAers, along with other unions and allies, successfully beat back an attempt by state legislators to split the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and diminish its authority.
CWAers, along with several other public interest groups, delivered a petition to the FCC on Tuesday with more than 60,000 signatures opposing the potential T-Mobile/Sprint merger, saying that the merger would lead to lost jobs, higher prices for consumers, and less competition.
This month, five CWA Next Generation Lead Activists led a Reversing Runaway Inequality training at the CWA national headquarters.
The NewsGuild-CWA and Teamsters represent thousands of employees at Gannett and DFM.
A flagging union has found new hope in a flurry of organizing victories. Now in the union’s presidential election, members are mulling what’s the best way to keep growing—stick with the incumbent, or replace him with a young leader from last year’s biggest organizing drive?
Jon Schleuss, 31-year-old challenger to head the 20,000-member NewsGuild, led the 2018 drive at the Los Angeles Times. The landslide there was a breakthrough for the union, kicking off a banner year of growth.
In the latest episode of "State of the Unions," podcast co-hosts Julie and Tim talk to Kristen Johnson, a deli manager and shop steward at the Stop & Shop in Somerville, Massachusetts. Kristen and more than 30,000 of her co-workers, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), are out on strike for fair pay, benefits and respect on the job.
"State of the Unions" is a tool to help us bring you the issues and stories that matter to working people. It captures the stories of workers across the country and is co-hosted by two young and diverse members of the AFL-CIO team: Mobilization Director Julie Greene and Executive Speechwriter Tim Schlittner. A new episode drops every other Wednesday featuring interesting interviews with workers and our allies across the country, as well as compelling insights from the podcast’s hosts.
Listen to our previous episodes:
- Talking about the #StampOutHunger food drive with Brian Renfroe, National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) executive vice president, and Christina Vela Davidson, NALC assistant to the president for community services.
- House Blue Collar Caucus co-chairs Brendan Boyle and Marc Veasey talk about how any plan to rebuild our economy must include working people.
- A conversation with Kim Kelly, a labor columnist for Teen Vogue.
- A special Black History Month discussion with IUPAT General President Kenneth Rigmaiden.
- Kooper Caraway, the 28-year old president of the Sioux Falls AFL-CIO, on how the labor movement can reach young people.
- Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy with former Mayor Andrew Gillum of Tallahassee, Florida.
- Special #StopTheShutdown episode with AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr.
The gloves are off in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Employees showing up to work this morning at the country's sole Volkswagen plant were read a letter from the company's top management expressing their opposition to unionization.
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.
Support Stop & Shop Workers: "Some 31,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) are on strike at Stop & Shop supermarkets across New England, walking off the job to fight back against slashed health care benefits. Stand with our brothers and sisters today and sign UFCW’s petition demanding that executives agree to a fair contract that reflects the true value of their workers."
Protecting the Most Vulnerable: In the States Roundup: "It's time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states."
Meet the First Woman President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO: "Elected the first woman president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, Stephanie Bloomingdale has more than two decades of experience in labor as an organizer, negotiator, trainer and activist. She served as secretary-treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO for eight years before her election as president in September 2018. Previously, she was director of public policy for the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, working on behalf of nurses and health care workers throughout the state. Bloomingdale has a statewide reputation as a tenacious fighter and tough negotiator, skills she says she had to develop to survive 20 years of arbitrations, grievance hearings and battles in the legislature."
Rutgers Faculty Picket Board of Governors Meeting at University’s Newark Campus: "'An injury to one is an injury to all!' 'Rutgers is for education! We are not a corporation!' The chants of frustrated faculty members disrupted an otherwise quiet campus in Newark on Tuesday, as hundreds gathered outside of the Rutgers University Paul Robeson Center to picket the board of governors meeting."
Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: American Postal Workers Union: "Next up in our series that will take a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the American Postal Workers Union (APWU)."
Collective Voices Lead to Victory: Worker Wins: "Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with grocery store workers using their collective voices and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life."
Economy Gains 196,000 Jobs in March; Unemployment Unchanged at 3.8%: "The U.S. economy gained 196,000 jobs in March, and the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.8%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Continued lower levels of job growth provide good reason for the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee to express caution in considering any interest rate hikes."
Education Minnesota Is Gaining Strength One Conversation at a Time: "Just over 18 months ago, the leaders of Education Minnesota (an affiliate of both the AFT and the National Education Association) decided that something had to change. With the Janus v. AFSCME decision looming, and the 2018 midterm elections set to follow, the 90,000-member union knew that membership engagement had to be its top priority."
‘Anthem’ Voice Actor on Unionization, Struggles of Creation: "The refutation came as there is a growing push for more workers rights and unionization from many members of the gaming community, including the grassroots organization Gamer Workers Unite. Even the AFL-CIO, America’s largest labor organization, recently asked games industry employees to fight for adequate pay and sensible work hours. 'This is a moment for change,' said AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Liz Shuler. 'It won’t come from CEOs. It won’t come from corporate boards. And, it won’t come from any one person. Change will happen when you gain leverage by joining together in a strong union. And, it will happen when you use your collective voice to bargain for a fair share of the wealth you create every day.'"
Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM).
Name of Union: Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union
Mission: The primary goal of the BCTGM has not changed in more than 130 years—to bring economic justice in the workplace to all workers in our jurisdiction and social justice to workers throughout the United States and Canada.
Current Leadership of Union: David B. Durkee has served as BCTGM international president since September 2012. Prior to his election as international president, Durkee served as international secretary-treasurer, international executive vice president, international director of organization and international representative.
Durkee began his life as a BCTGM activist in 1973 when he joined Local 280 (Evansville, Indiana) as a baker at Lewis Brothers Bakery. He was re-elected as international president by delegates to the BCTGM international constitutional conventions in 2014 and 2018.
Members Work As: Manufacturing, production workers, maintenance and sanitation workers.
Industries Represented: The BCTGM represents working men and women at some of the most widely recognized companies in the baking, candy, snack food, dairy, tobacco and grain milling industries in North America.
History: The Bakery and Confectionery Workers International Union of America, one of the pioneers of the North American labor movement, was organized in 1886. In 1957, the American Bakery and Confectionery Workers' International Union was formed. In 1969, the two organizations united.
The Tobacco Workers International Union was founded in 1895 and was also in the forefront of the labor movement. As it and the Bakery and Confectionery Workers' International Union of America shared many common goals, both organizations came to realize those goals best could be achieved through a merger. That merger, creating the BC&T, took place in 1978.
The American Federation of Grain Millers (AFGM) had roots stemming back to the late 1800s. In 1936, the National Council of Grain Processors was formed when federal grain milling unions agreed to unite as a national union under the American Federation of Labor (AFL). In 1941, the council was renamed the American Federation of Grain Processors and in 1948 was granted an international charter as the AFGM.
Shared goals and industries caused the Jan. 1, 1999, merger between the BC&T and AFGM, resulting in the BCTGM.
Current Campaigns: The BCTGM's Check the Label campaign urges consumers to boycott Nabisco-Mondelēz products made in Mexico. The BCTGM also is leading the fight to find a legislative solution to America’s growing pension crisis.
Some 31,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) are on strike at Stop & Shop supermarkets across New England, walking off the job to fight back against slashed health care benefits. Stand with our brothers and sisters today and sign UFCW’s petition demanding that executives agree to a fair contract that reflects the true value of their workers.
Thanks to the tireless labor of tens of thousands of working people, Stop & Shop is thriving. Its parent company, Ahold Delhaize, recorded profits of more than $2 billion last year. Over the past three years, its shareholders have pocketed $4 billion in stock buybacks.
Yet, Stop & Shop executives want even more—and they’re targeting the same workers who built that immense wealth. Going nearly two months without a contract, UFCW members have faced threats to their wages, health care, retirement and overall livelihoods.
Walking out of more than 240 stores throughout New England, working people are standing up for their most fundamental rights and dignities in the country’s largest private-sector work stoppage in years.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka sent a message to the Stop & Shop workers:
For the third time in five years, auto workers will vote on whether to form a union at the country’s sole Volkswagen plant, located in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
On Tuesday, the United Auto Workers (UAW) filed for an election to represent all 1,709 of the plant’s hourly employees, requesting that the election be held on April 29 and 30.
The union’s first attempt in 2014 failed after a slim majority of workers voted no, following a barrage of threats by politicians and business-backed anti-union groups.
It's time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states. Click on any of the links to follow the state federations on Twitter.
Proposal to lower minimum wage for young workers dead https://t.co/aGJRsWeL9N— Arizona AFL-CIO (@ArizonaAFLCIO) April 8, 2019
The official vote for HB1955.— Arkansas AFL-CIO (@ArkansasAFLCIO) April 5, 2019
Thank the 52 members who voted to keep in place the very limited protections for injured workers & surviving families. #arpx #arleg
California Labor Federation:
"Side hustles are not simply a new version of working as a “wage slave” so that we can do what we love...Instead, far more often, people take on 2nd or 3rd side hustles because of wage stagnation or low pay at their full-time jobs." #AB5 #DisruptInequality https://t.co/MnX5AqDUUa— California Labor Federation (@CaliforniaLabor) April 8, 2019
There’s only one way for these workers to push back against the way they’re exploited while franchises like Call of Duty churn out money for those at the very top: unionization. https://t.co/sX5DrSm9z2— Connecticut AFL-CIO (@ConnAFLCIO) April 9, 2019
Idaho State AFL-CIO:
Indiana State AFL-CIO:
Iowa Federation of Labor:
Submit 2019 Hall of Fame Nominations https://t.co/VTyaL6CbDC— Iowa AFL-CIO (@IowaAFLCIO) April 9, 2019
Kansas State AFL-CIO:
Working people everywhere thanks you Governor Kelly for the veto of— Kansas AFL-CIO (@KansasAFLCIO) March 25, 2019
SB 22. pic.twitter.com/ZEDqMXlbc6
Kentucky State AFL-CIO:
From Insider Louisville: “City worker unions reject mayor’s request for pay freeze”— Kentucky AFL-CIO (@aflcioky) April 8, 2019
“Ron Richmond of AFSCME Council 962 — representing city workers at the Louisville Free... https://t.co/CRhvRAFA1i
Sherry Nadeau delivering powerful testimony about how unfairly the workers comp system has treated her husband, who was disabled 13 years ago after his employer accidentally ran him over #mepolitics— Maine AFL-CIO (@MEAFLCIO) April 8, 2019
Metro Washington (D.C.) Council AFL-CIO:
Teachers circulate petition to fully fund DC schools https://t.co/de6xcOreP3— MetroDCLaborCouncil (@DCLabor) April 5, 2019
This is an important victory for working people who were denied the opportunity to seek justice after being wrongfully accused of committing fraud by the Snyder Administration— Michigan AFL-CIO (@MIAFLCIO) April 5, 2019
Nevada State AFL-CIO:
New Hampshire AFL-CIO:
Thanks to the Portsmouth Herald & Foster's Daily Democrat for running Pres. Glenn Brackett's op-ed: ""Now is the time to remember those who kept our towns safe, educated our children, and managed our roads and parks." https://t.co/5vToZ0Zjq6— NewHampshire AFL-CIO (@NHAFLCIO) March 27, 2019
New Mexico Federation of Labor:
New York State AFL-CIO:
North Carolina State AFL-CIO:
North Dakota AFL-CIO:
Here in North Dakota, women are paid on average $0.79 for every $1 paid to male counterparts. All women deserve to be paid equally & recognized for their contribution to the economy and our communities.— North Dakota AFL-CIO (@NDAFLCIO) April 2, 2019
https://t.co/Oqrju3Ff7s #EqualPayDay pic.twitter.com/CmnAtkCLDK
Usually we turn on the news and are divided. We need to hear and see more stories like this showing the goodness of people and celebrating our differences! pic.twitter.com/0ZLQCbwI9T— Ohio AFL-CIO (@ohioaflcio) April 7, 2019
Oklahoma State AFL-CIO:
Did you know that the average 1st year apprentice in OK makes $16.52 an hour?— Oklahoma AFL-CIO (@OK_AFL_CIO) April 8, 2019
Check out the 2019 OK Apprenticeship Book and Report which goes into detail on all the union construction apprenticeship programs in OK and how to apply.
Check it out here - https://t.co/0cRhuarw8r
ICYMI: PA Workers were winning all over the Commonwealth! https://t.co/akNQZI4tF2— PA AFL-CIO (@PaAFL_CIO) April 5, 2019
Rhode Island AFL-CIO:
South Carolina AFL-CIO:
Please keep our Brothers family and friends in your thoughts and prayers. https://t.co/xXbSSAEGeH— SC AFL-CIO (@SCAFLCIO) April 7, 2019
Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council:
This practice is disturbingly common in many states, including Tennessee.— Tennessee AFL-CIO (@tnaflcio) April 9, 2019
"In all, these copycat bills amount to the nation’s largest, unreported special-interest campaign, driving agendas in every statehouse and touching nearly every area of... https://t.co/QxtZryu4op
Texas AFL-CIO Launches Union Candidate Training https://t.co/RaXkXsXwxZ— Texas AFL-CIO (@TexasAFLCIO) April 8, 2019
The Gender Wage Gap Is Robbing Women Of Billions | WUNC https://t.co/YNf6T8iRUg— Virginia AFL-CIO (@Virginia_AFLCIO) April 4, 2019
Washington State Labor Council:
West Virginia AFL-CIO:
Working WVians, who struggle to have their voices heard above special interests, cannot compete w/political donations of wealthy residents & out-of-state corporations. WV needs more transparency of political spending, not more money flooding into our state’s elections! pic.twitter.com/G2oxgX2A28— West Virginia AFLCIO (@WestVirginiaAFL) March 21, 2019
Wisconsin State AFL-CIO:
Get the WI AFL-CIO Union Families Budget Breakdown:https://t.co/Jq5YuB86UT— WI AFL-CIO (@wisaflcio) April 6, 2019
The latest bargaining information for the University of California and Cornerstone Staffing Solutions, Inc. (RightStone).
Hundreds of Texas state workers, members of the Texas State Employees Union-CWA Local 6186, gathered in Austin on Wednesday for a huge lobby day to take a stand for economic and social justice for state workers.
Elected the first woman president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, Stephanie Bloomingdale has more than two decades of experience in labor as an organizer, negotiator, trainer and activist. She served as secretary-treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO for eight years before her election as president in September 2018. Previously, she was director of public policy for the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, working on behalf of nurses and health care workers throughout the state. Bloomingdale has a statewide reputation as a tenacious fighter and tough negotiator, skills she says she had to develop to survive 20 years of arbitrations, grievance hearings and battles in the legislature.
What is the state AFL-CIO? What is its role?
The Wisconsin AFL-CIO is a federation of many different labor unions from many different sectors, public and private, service workers, manufacturing, building trades, retail, health care, transportation...people doing all types of work come together in the AFL-CIO to maximize our collective power.
You have the honor of being the first woman elected president of the state AFL-CIO, so can you talk to us about that?
My hope is that we’ll soon reach a time when this is no longer notable, a time when it’s simply accepted that the president, man or woman, was elected based on the qualities and skills that he or she brings to the job. I do believe that my election is a step in that direction.
As I travel around the state, so many of the women union members I meet are very excited, not only for me but also for themselves and their daughters. They see that they also can raise their hands and say, “why not me?” as they move into leadership roles. That’s why I think this is significant for all of us in the state of Wisconsin. Some people have said, “Well, Stephanie, isn’t this a good ol’ boys club?” and I can honestly say that has not been my experience. The men and women I work with value effective leadership and dedication. I think what’s important to them is that they can trust my commitment to building our collective power through the union movement.
We understand that your family is also involved in the labor movement in Wisconsin. Can you talk about that, as well as what inspires you personally to do this work?
The reason I do this work is because I do believe that unions are the only way that working people can truly get ahead. Now, if you’re fortunate enough to be born to billionaire parents with connections that will never allow you to fail and will always provide you with a golden parachute, that’s great. But for everyone else that has to get up every day and go to work for someone else, there has to be a way to protect and expand the opportunity to do better. The best way to do that is to have strong unions.
As for my family, my husband, Doug Savage, is an AFT [American Federation of Teachers] member and he has been very supportive of my work in the union movement since day one.
Lots of women carry full loads. Our work, our families, taking care of the kids, being involved in the community, involved in the PTOs, and for me, I believe that I’ve been fortunate in that my kids really have grown up in the labor movement. They’ve been helping out with the union since they were very little. I think that not only helped them to solidify their beliefs and attitudes and opened up new opportunities for them, but it also helped me to be able to do my job, because it was a family affair. I’ll never have to tell my children to vote; they’ve been coming with me whenever I’ve gone to vote, and they’ve learned that it’s their responsibility in this country to be a part of the solution. If they see something that’s wrong, it’s up to them to make it right. That is something we believe very strongly in our family.
When the kids were very little, I would bring them to the union office (the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals), I would give them little jobs to do, like paying them five cents a table for each one they cleaned, and after a while, my oldest son, Nicholas, said, “This is not enough money. This five cents a table is not enough.” So he called my Aunt Audrey, and he had her help him negotiate a better rate. It cost me more than double to get the tables washed after that, but Nicholas learned how to get what he needed and he didn’t even have to go on strike!
Not only did they do that, but they grew up going door-to-door with me, candidate after candidate, learning about the issues and the tools we use to make politics work for working people. In the November 2018 election, my younger son Spencer and I were going door-to-door for Tony Evers and Mandela Barnes. Once we got out there, I realized that he knows how to do all this on his own. He wanted to knock on the doors and talk to the voters himself about why Evers and Barnes were the best candidates for working people. I was very proud of him.
Can you tell us about Scott Walker’s attempts to bust the power of labor unions in the state of Wisconsin through Act 10 and “Right to Work,” and how labor has responded?
Scott Walker made it his mission to try to destroy the middle class each and every way he could while he was in office. He started with Act 10, which sought to destroy the collective bargaining rights of teachers and public-sector workers. His plan was to divide and conquer; we know that for a fact because he was caught on tape talking to Diane Hendricks [the conservative billionaire owner of ABC Supply who contributed $500,000 to Walker’s 2012 campaign to defeat a recall effort] when she asked him what he was going to do about the unions, and he said he would start with the public-sector unions and then use divide and conquer and go after the private-sector unions.
One thing he didn’t count on was our solidarity as union men and women. I think we demonstrated very clearly that “an injury to one is an injury to all” is more than just a labor movement platitude. Public- and private-sector unions stuck together throughout these attacks, beginning with Act 10 and on through Right to Work, attacks on prevailing wage and all the other anti-worker policies. Speaking of that, “Right to Work” is really a misnomer. It may sound good to some, but it’s just another attack on labor unions that amounts to the right to work for less. We like to say it’s a so-called right to work, because what it actually is meant to do is weaken unions.
Truly, attacks on working people happened throughout Walker’s entire tenure as governor. By any standard, Wisconsin workers have suffered some of the nation’s most serious attacks on our ability to have a voice in our workplace through a strong union. Scott Walker prided himself on being the union-buster-in-chief. So, was it difficult? Yes. Did we suffer a lot of hard knocks over those eight years? Sure, but we’ve taken those punches and we’ve always come back swinging. We know no matter how long the odds, the only time we’re sure to lose is if we leave the ring. Even though we had a governor and state legislature stacked against us, we never gave up, we never stopped fighting, because we knew we were on the right side—and no governor, no politician anywhere has the right to take away the ability of workers to organize ourselves into unions.
And in retrospect, these attacks had a silver lining. More people today know about unions and their importance in the economy, and more people understand that you can’t have a fair society, democracy or economy if workers don’t have the ability to come together as a team to advocate for ourselves; the way they accomplish this is through a union. Speaking at the Italian equivalent of the AFL-CIO recently, Pope Francis actually said that without strong unions there can be no strong society.
Because of these fights, many people, union or non-union, became energized and activated around these issues for the first time in their lives. Our issues were elevated to the forefront more than they had been in many decades. We’ve seen the effects of this not only in Wisconsin but also nationwide; we see this reflected in polling, which shows that unions are more popular now than they have been in decades, and in particular with millenials. They see unions in a positive light, because they sense opportunity and a chance for a decent life slipping away from their generation. Unions represent an opportunity to get that back.
Speaking of millennials, can you talk about the current labor movement and the young people now joining the workforce?
Millennials rightly have a lot of angst about the future. There’s a lot to worry about, starting with the basic question of how to make ends meet. We know we have an economic situation where we have a great deal of wealth in this country, but it’s very sharply divided between a few at the very top and the rest of working people. We want millennials to know exactly what a union is and does and why they’re so important. Without strong unions, there is simply no possibility of having a healthy middle class, and a strong middle class has always been the foundation of our economy. A union enables workers to stand together to maximize our power, negotiate for better wages and better safety conditions. The financial security a union job provides allows workers to truly participate in their communities. It’s hard to coach Little League or organize a neighborhood food drive if you have to work three jobs. So unions not only benefit our members, but the community as a whole.
If we want to talk about how that happens, it’s part of the basic human condition of people wanting to support each other and deliver mutual aid to one another, and this is the way that families support one another, and workers support each other in the workplace.
There are some studies that predict millennials may not be as prosperous as their parents’ generation, despite their generally being better educated through college, training and so forth than any previous generation. How does the labor movement feel about this? Are there reasons for optimism?
I think we are at a real turning point. I think many people now are coming to understand that we can’t just rely on politicians to make sure that workplaces are safe, and workers are paid fair wages. More and more, working people are realizing that we have to take action ourselves to protect our rights to these things. Unions allow us to act together. So if there’s any group of workers that need help, we’re all going to be there for them.
The American myth about the rugged individual really falls apart in the modern workplace. Did you ever notice the people telling workers to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps are the same people making it hard for us to buy boots? I believe that people, especially millennials, are waking up to this and coming to understand that the only way to make sure to have a decent life— not living on a hamster wheel of long hours, low pay and no time for anything else—is to stand together and organize. Again, this is exactly where an organized labor union comes into the picture.
As for our nation’s millennials, more now than ever before, with our gig-economy, people will have to stick together and make sure they don’t get the short end of the stick when it comes to having a fair share of the economic pie and their employer’s profits.
How do you, as president of the state AFL-CIO, feel about things in Wisconsin now, after the election of Gov. Evers and Lt. Gov. Barnes?
The voters made it very clear they were sick of Walker and the direction in which he was taking our state as governor. We’re very excited about Tony Evers and Mandela Barnes; already, we’re seeing positive changes since they took office. The budget that Gov. Evers has proposed is very good for working people; it repeals the so-called Right to Work, and it reinstates prevailing wage for construction jobs and project-labor agreements. It doesn’t do everything that we want, but it absolutely is moving us in the right direction.
But we’re also not naïve. We can do the math in the state Legislature. Because of the gerrymandered electoral maps, anti-worker Republican politicians are still in control. But there’s enormous value in having a governor and lieutenant governor willing to serve as a check on the worst abuses of power and set a new agenda that invests in our roads and other infrastructure, gets rid of the lead in our water pipes and make sure all of our drinking water is safe, makes sure we take the Medicaid expansion and making sure we invest in our kids by putting much-needed dollars into education at all levels.
At the same time, the labor movement knows there is never a political ‘savior’, right?
Yes. We’re well aware that, ultimately, we can’t rely only on our elected officials to ensure workers’ rights. We need to rely on ourselves and on each other to remain very active in our communities and unions. From the earliest days of the union movement, we’ve always been our own best champions. We’ll continue to support our political allies, but we’re well aware that it’s ultimately up to all of us working together for the common good and exercising what really is democracy in the workplace. You soon learn in the labor movement that we’re in a race without a finish line. The secret to success is to stay united. Keep one eye on the horizon and keep putting one foot in front of the other. If we do that, unions will stay strong, our middle class will prosper, and the American Dream will be there for generations to come.
This post originally appeared in the Shepherd Express.
As the bumper sticker has it, unions are “the folks who brought you the weekend.” Unions fought for the 10-hour day, and then the eight-hour day… and then our fight stopped. We never got to a six-hour-day fight.
Instead we started to backslide. We not only lost the weekend; we lost control over our time. This slippage mirrors the decline in real wages over the last generation—both signs that organized labor has gotten weaker.
On Saturday, March 30, 100 union members, labor activists, and allies met in Detroit for a Troublemakers School: a day of skill-sharing and strategizing about workplace organizing.
Though it was gray and drizzling outside, the energy at the Troublemakers School was strong all day, closing out with a call from Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to keep up the fight. Tlaib is pushing for a Green New Deal that would create millions of jobs by converting our economy to sustainable energy and transportation.
What’s the role of a shop steward? Traditionally we think of someone who’s knowledgeable about the contract, the law, and how things function in our workplace and union.
But one role often gets neglected: the peacemaker.
I don’t mean someone who makes peace between workers and the boss. A steward has to be a fighter. But I do mean that the steward should foster a culture of solidarity, establish healthy debate, and facilitate collective decisions.
Since 1979, Labor Notes has been home to the troublemaking wing of the labor movement. The pages of our magazine are filled with the stories of workers who are working to transform their unions, to take on the boss, to fight for racial justice.
We believe that working people's best bet is on ourselves. That's why our trainings, and national conference, focus on connecting workers to one another across unions and industries and provide rank-and-file organizers with the tools they need to get the job done themselves.
When department-store workers fight, we do it fashionably. Have you ever seen a union contract campaign that featured makeovers and feather boas? Read on.
We had worked hard for Macy’s, and frankly we were fed up. Like a lot of working people out there, we work for a company that’s doing fine, yet they want to cut staff and expect us to pick up the slack.
The slack, if there ever was any, was picked up a long time ago. If you’re like us—and like most people in America—you’re struggling to make ends meet even though you have a job.