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NewsFeed - Labor
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After holding steady for decades, the percentage of American workers in all jobs who would say yes to join a union jumped sharply this past year, by 50%, says a new, independent study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The evidence is clear: The popularity of the labor movement is surging as more people want to join unions than ever before. Every worker must have the freedom to negotiate in a union over pay, benefits and working conditions.
The national narrative that the economy is doing OK, while working people struggle and billionaires bask in their latest round of massive tax cuts, is all wrong.
The truth is more working people want collective power. From 1977 to 1995, the percentage of all workers who would say yes to a union drive stayed flat, at about 32% of nonunion workers. Today, that number is 48%, a remarkable 50% increase.
This independent study from MIT confirms a broad trend we’ve seen in recent months as teachers have marched and rallied en masse for better school funding and higher pay, as tens of thousands of workers have voted to join unions and as the concept of unionism has spread in countless other ways in America.
The rich and powerful still hold many of the levers of power in America, but working people are claiming our seat at the table. We demand that every worker have the freedom to form or join a union.
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.
Did you know that @TheActorsFund provide free and confidential assistance nationally to everyone who works in performing arts and entertainment—including actors, dancers, musicians, stagehands, playwrights and many more? Find out today if you qualify -https://t.co/OuVQjharjo— Actors' Equity (@ActorsEquity) June 20, 2018
Congratulations John! Thank you for your years of dedicated service to both the EPA and AFGE! https://t.co/N3sI4HgY21— AFGE (@AFGENational) June 19, 2018
93% of our members at AFSCME Local 2410 (Finkelstein Memorial Library) voted to ratify our new contract! Congratulations to our outstanding negotiating team for winning a fair contract for our members. #NeverQuit #AFSCMEStrong pic.twitter.com/4YXr4ErAce— AFSCME Council 66 (@AFSCMECouncil66) June 19, 2018
The House #FarmBill means undergraduate and graduate students will continue to struggle with food insecurity and poverty. Current time limit on #SNAP particularly affects graduate employees – the House #FarmBill makes it worse. #HandsOffSNAP pic.twitter.com/9Cd4JsbV2a— AFT (@AFTunion) June 20, 2018
Air Line Pilots Association:
Witnessing a minor accident before your first flying lesson may not be the best omen. But Dad’s CIRP training through ALPA helped him talk to his son and get him ready for the cockpit. Read the full story, and Happy #FathersDay from ALPA! https://t.co/7gRhUukGnD pic.twitter.com/1FJtdKwXle— ALPA (@WeAreALPA) June 17, 2018
Alliance for Retired Americans:
More than $8 in $10 in SNAP benefits go to households that include a child, a senior, or person with a disability. Yet these are some of the people hit hardest by the House GOP Farm Bill. #HandsOffSNAP https://t.co/4bbb19MyJ2— Alliance Retirees (@ActiveRetirees) June 20, 2018
Amalgamated Transit Union:
American Federation of Musicians:
Musicians deserve to be FAIRLY paid for their work—that’s all musicians all the time!. Musicians are still making more from vinyl than from YouTube. And YouTube has 1.3 billion users regularly watching music videos. https://t.co/dNC9I8pbRg— Amer. Fed. Musicians (@The_AFM) June 21, 2018
American Postal Workers Union:
"The White House proposal on restructuring the federal government... delivered nothing but misinformation & if implemented, would end regular mail & package services at an affordable cost to 157 million addresses every day." #saveourservice #1u #apwunited https://t.co/MsAI7H5z07— APWU National (@APWUnational) June 22, 2018
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance:
We. will. not. be. banned.— APALA (@APALAnational) June 15, 2018
Join us on decision day when SCOTUS announces its ruling on the Muslim Ban. We need to join together to say #NoMuslimBanEver.
RSVP for alerts at https://t.co/guJFKZmEjE. #WeWillNotBeBanned pic.twitter.com/y3HWmp0FuL
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA:
Flight Attendants take pride in the job we do to bring families together. @afa_cwa condemns any action to purposefully separate children from their parents. We applaud the statements made today by @United and @AmericanAir. Read more > https://t.co/qk7jt3VDE1— AFA-CWA (@afa_cwa) June 20, 2018
Through the "Investing in Canada" plan, the Government of #Canada will invest more than $180 billion over 12 years in public #infrastructure. #apprenticeships #SkilledTrade #1u #construction https://t.co/aHkYWjIgdG— Bricklayers Union (@IUBAC) June 22, 2018
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists:
Communications Workers of America:
As Envoy Air agents returned to bargaining, @RepSchakowsky sent a letter w/31 Members of Congress to @AmericanAir CEO Doug Parker calling on the company to pay its employees living wages at subsidiaries Envoy Air & @piedmontair. Thx for your solidarity! https://t.co/0naVsyzQg0— CWA (@CWAUnion) June 22, 2018
Department for Professional Employees:
In Florida, @Deloitte seeks to hire thousands of H-1B guest workers, who can be paid below market wages. We must reform the H-1B visa program so that it works for U.S. professionals and people working on H-1B visas #1u https://t.co/IuFeE5FitU— DPE (@DPEaflcio) June 20, 2018
Farm Labor Organizing Committee:
Help us in our fight against Reynolds Tobacco by boycotting their e-cigarette line, VUSE. https://t.co/9zTljHxeNb— Farm Labor Organizing Committee (@SupportFLOC) June 21, 2018
Heat and Frost Insulators:
“It’s all on me, what I want to get out of the apprenticeship. It is beneficial and it is going to lead me to where I want to be at in life.” https://t.co/TbB61E9KdM— Insulators Union (@InsulatorsUnion) June 21, 2018
International Labor Communications Association:
Planning to travel for the 4th of July? Support the @unionplus travel campaign and go on a labor history adventure with your family. Union Tips for U.S. Trips 🚗 - Union Monuments https://t.co/1ReUnERnJN #1u— ILCA Communications (@ILCAonline) June 15, 2018
Jobs With Justice:
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement:
As we are waiting for SCOTUS to deliver it’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, watch this video from @WorkingAmerica explaining what the Janus case is really about: https://t.co/LTPC2wcrLM #Janus #UnionStrong— LCLAA (@LCLAA) June 15, 2018
Did you know? Prevailing Wage benefits taxpayers because the use of skilled local workers helps control construction costs by increasing project efficiency - requiring contractors to spend LESS on fuels, materials, & equipment. #ProtectPrevailingWage #LIUNA pic.twitter.com/9PxhbB0Ca2— LiUNA Chicago (@LiUNAchicago) June 21, 2018
📣 VICTORY ✊ https://t.co/AuVlZNceLP— Machinists Union (@MachinistsUnion) June 22, 2018
Metal Trades Department:
National Air Traffic Controllers Association:
The AFL-CIO recently launched a messaging campaign to stand up for the freedom to join a union. The campaign’s website, https://t.co/syRSECVeCy, details 2018 labor successes, including progress for workers in a wide range of industries. pic.twitter.com/54KS6AxqTA— NATCA (@NATCA) June 22, 2018
National Association of Letter Carriers:
National Domestic Workers Alliance:
Today on #WorldRefugeeDay our hearts are with all the people and families who have fled their home countries due to violence, persecution or more. We must treat refugees with dignity and not vilify them, like the Trump administration is currently doinghttps://t.co/AU3GfFBf3v— Domestic Workers (@domesticworkers) June 20, 2018
National Nurses United:
National Taxi Workers Alliance:
LINK! https://t.co/OL86bRbJcD— NY Taxi Workers (@NYTWA) June 20, 2018
NFL Players Association:
North America's Building Trades Unions:
VEGAS https://t.co/U4K7C6G7sZ— The Building Trades (@BldgTrdsUnions) June 19, 2018
Painters and Allied Trades:
This is why the @GoIUPAT encourages card carrying members to take representation to every level of every branch of goverment! The relationship between labor and democracy is critical to the survival of our movement! @AFLCIO @AFSCME @AFLCIOLatino @unitehere https://t.co/Qr5V6nWJkq— GoIUPAT✊🏽 (@GoIUPAT) June 22, 2018
Plasterers and Cement Masons:
CPWR has put out a notice of a recall on Honeywell safety products hard hats. If you have one of the hardhats listed, please stop using it immediately and contact the manufacturer at (888) 212-6903 or visit https://t.co/DqjBdSwmjQ and select “Voluntary Product Recall”. pic.twitter.com/yjwSp21udK— OPCMIA International (@opcmiaintl) June 21, 2018
Pride At Work:
Remember: corporations aren't our friends no matter how many branded condoms they hand out this month!! 🙃https://t.co/dzJhSCq56y— Pride at Work (@PrideatWork) June 5, 2018
Printing, Publishing and Media Workers:
Powerful billionaires are using the Supreme Court Case, Janus v. AFSCME to attack unions, divide working people, and further rig the economy against working families.— CWA Printing Sector (@CWAPrintingSect) June 21, 2018
Get notified when the Supreme Court makes its decision and stay informed to take... https://t.co/kmlLN23x11
Professional Aviation Safety Specialists:
An executive order issued against federal workers may force gov labor relations employees to violate laws. PASS & coalition of unions have sent letter to @US_OSC asking OSC to be proactive to protect these professionals from retaliation. #1u #publicservice https://t.co/wMxJHc340A— PASS (@PASSNational) June 20, 2018
Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Workers:
Column from NYC Councilmember @FranciscoMoyaNY and NYS Assemblymember @aridia_espinal: True stories of salon and car wash workers show cruelty of subminimum wage— RWDSU (@RWDSU) June 22, 2018
Link: https://t.co/q7Yz4LREsB via @CrainsNewYork pic.twitter.com/Erb9bvUGp6
Introducing our new AFSA mobile app! Get member alerts, news, convention updates and more! Download it on your smartphone here: https://t.co/8YYsVGKleY— AFSA Leadership (@AFSAUnion) June 21, 2018
New @UNDP report finds that #Africa’s new wealth is increasingly concentrated in a few hands & economic inequality the worst in sub-Saharan Africa, where 10 of the world’s 19 most unequal countries are located.https://t.co/iWsUE8bhnO— Solidarity Center (@SolidarityCntr) June 20, 2018
Theatrical Stage Employees:
Transportation Trades Department:
Powerful corporations & wealthy CEOs have bankrolled the Supreme Court Case #Janus v. AFSCME from the beginning. Once they’ve dismantled the public sector do you think they'll stop? TTD Prez Larry Willis breaks it down: pic.twitter.com/UHuVYaKntx— Transp. Trades Dept. (@TTDAFLCIO) June 20, 2018
"This news that the iconic Blazer nameplate will be built in Mexico is disappointing to UAW families and communities across this country." - UAW Vice President Terry Dittes https://t.co/6NpJGiqtWb— UAW (@UAW) June 21, 2018
Union Label and Service Trades:
Protecting an Icon The IBEW Logo. IBEW isn't the only union that has issues with people illegally using their logo. If you know of others, be sure and report them. Our union logos and or "bugs" are a symbol of excellence and many are trademarked. https://t.co/Nr0KMJLZoO— Union Label Dept. (@ULSTD_AFLCIO) June 18, 2018
Union Veterans Council:
Great story from the Waukesha County Labor Council & @MALC_WI "Volunteer efforts similar to this can and will be replicated by our Union Veterans Committee’s nationwide," said Will Attig @AmericanLegion @wisaflcio https://t.co/Mx1JfFzWwW— UnionVeteransCouncil (@unionveterans) June 15, 2018
United Food and Commercial Workers:
UFCW International President @Marc_Perrone: “This exact bill failed last month for good reason. It puts hundreds of thousands of good jobs at risk of being eliminated & makes it more difficult for hard-working people to feed their families." https://t.co/5ncr3UV8sX— UFCW (@UFCW) June 22, 2018
United Students Against Sweatshops:
"While the overall unemployment rate sits at a low 3.8 percent, the rate of involuntary underemployment is more than twice that... This proposal would leave those who are unable to find a job with neither income nor food assistance."https://t.co/IL4mIUnVvy pic.twitter.com/Q8wCtYfNaD— Working America (@WorkingAmerica) June 20, 2018
Writers Guild of America, East:
While President Trump's executive order puts a stop to these separations for the time being, it also directs immigration officials to detain families indefinitely -- another inhumane practice.
This radical plan would weaken both agencies, leaving working people and children more vulnerable to corporate abuses at work and in the education system.
The latest bargaining information for Envoy Air and Piedmont Airlines, Nokia, and the City of Boston Credit Union.
Members of the Florida Times-Union voted to join with Newsguild-CWA.
Twelve CWAers from CenturyLink, members of CWA Locals 7101 and 7102, gathered in Des Moines, Iowa, in early June for a two-day combined stewards' training and CWA STRONG organizing training.
CWA President Chris Shelton traveled to Liverpool, England, this week to participate in UNI Global Union's Global Congress.
As CWAers fight for higher wages and to protect the right to join together to create better workplaces, Democrats in the U.S. Senate and House introduced strong new legislation to help achieve those goals.
Instead of using their massive windfall from the Republican corporate tax cut bill to create jobs and raise workers' wages, corporations have been funneling their profits back into their companies through buybacks.
CWA, NABET-CWA, and TNG-CWA today filed a petition with the FCC to deny the potential merger between Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media Company, saying that the merger does not serve the public interest.
At its core, income inequality is simply about a lack of power among the masses and an abundance of it for a few at the top. Its real-world effects are wage stagnation, less access to health care and secure retirements, and higher poverty. Throughout much of the 20th century, there was a powerful mechanism to keep inequality in check: unions.
When a large swath of the workforce had the ability to negotiate with employers over wages, benefits and working conditions, a balance of power existed. By standing together in a union, working people got a fair share of the economic gains they helped create. It extended beyond workplaces that were joined together in union by raising standards across the board, leading to an economic boost for all workers. But as unions declined, worker bargaining power dipped, ushering in the exploding inequality that we’re all feeling in one way or another today.
So, what do we do? A growing number of economists are looking to our past for the answer: strong unions.
Economists are again starting to suspect that unions were a better deal than the textbooks made them out to be. A recent paper by economists Henry Farber, Daniel Herbst, Ilyana Kuziemko and Suresh Naidu concludes that unions were an important force reducing inequality in the U.S.
Since past data tends to be patchy, Farber et al. combine a huge number of different data sources to get a detailed picture of unionization rates going all the way back to 1936, the year after Congress passed a law letting private-sector employees form unions. The authors find that as unionization rises, inequality tends to fall, and vice versa. Nor is this effect driven by greater skills and education on the part of union workers; during the era from 1940 through 1970, when unionization rose and inequality fell, union workers tended to be less educated than others. In other words, unions lifted the workers at the bottom of the distribution. Black workers, and other nonwhite workers, tended to benefit the most from the union boost.
But powerful political winds stand in the way of a union resurgence. Billionaire CEOs and corporate special interests are spending big to stop working people from having the freedom to join unions. "Right to work" laws have proliferated in the past decade. Flawed trade policy shipped what were once good union jobs overseas. Automation and contingent work exacerbate the problem. And now, the conservative justices on the Supreme Court threaten to deal another blow to working people in the Janus v. AFSCME case.
But even as the billionaires push to destroy unions, we’re gaining popularity. Union favorability among the public has spiked, especially among young people. A recent study by the Pew Research Center reveals that 68% of 18- to 29-year-olds view unions favorably. Workers are finding new and creative ways to organize, as the recent rash of digital media unionization campaigns shows. Collective action is on the rise, as the successful teachers’ strikes sweeping the country demonstrate.
The bottom line: The only way to rebalance our economy and restore some power to working people is by increasing opportunity for workers to stand together in a union.
Without a union, the boss and the investors get the extra money that the workers would otherwise get. There is no rational argument against unionizing everybody in sight.
Advice we’d be wise to take.
This post originally appeared at the California Labor Federation.
Throughout Pride Month, the AFL-CIO will be taking a look at some of the pioneers whose work sits at the intersection of the labor movement and the movement for LGBTQ equality. Our next profile is Mara Keisling.
Mara Keisling is the founder and, since 2003, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, the nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization advocating for transgender people.
Keisling grew up in Harrisburg, Pa., as one of seven siblings whose father was chief of staff to the governor. After studying at Penn State and Harvard, Keisling began a career in social marketing and opinion research. Experiencing and witnessing discrimination turned Keisling into an activist, eventually leading to her becoming co-chair of the Pennsylvania Gender Rights Coalition and a steering committee member of the Statewide Pennsylvania Rights Coalition.
Recognizing the need for a more coordinated voice for transgender people in Washington, D.C., Keisling founded the NCTE in 2003 and focused on social justice through advocacy, collaboration and empowerment. Since then, her vision and strategy have led to a series of ground-breaking organizational and coalition victories that have helped move the U.S. closer to transgender equality.
Under Keisling's leadership, the NCTE has had a long string of successes:
Keisling’s work with the Center has involved several prominent achievements, including the first-ever trans-inclusive federal legislation, modification of State Department rules for changing gender markers on passports and the first congressional hearing on transgender issues. She has also lobbied for a trans-inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, legislation that has languished in Congress for years.
Many other federal and state victories have resulted from the efforts of the NCTE and coalition partners. Most notably was the creation of the National Transgender Discrimination Study, launched in 2009, and the follow-up in 2015 with the U.S. Trans Survey. For the first time, the 2009 study documented the experiences of thousands of transgender Americans in the areas of employment, housing, health care and the criminal justice system.
The original study is a ground-breaking look into the lives and experiences of transgender Americans and the report released in 2011 was cited an estimated 15,000 or more times in the media. The survey was particularly important in providing an accurate portrayal of the rates of trans suicide attempts, homelessness, employment discrimination, health care discrimination and transition surgery experiences.
The 2015 follow up survey was much larger, with more than 27,000 participants, more than four times bigger than the previous study. Improved study methods also improved the quality of the study, which contains expanded insight into trans seniors, people of color, immigrants, sex workers and military service members and veterans, as well as allow for more state-specific analysis. The newer survey also sought to compensate for the exclusion of transgender people in other research. Because of the work of Keisling, the NCTE and the coalition they built, we know more about life as a transgender person and the obstacles they face in the U.S. than ever before.
Keisling is also a founding board member of the Stonewall Democracy Fund, and has served on the board of directors of Common Roads, an LGBTQ youth advocacy group.
After American Airlines Authorizes $2 Billion in Stock Buybacks, over 30 Members of Congress Call on Company to Raise Wages for Passenger Service Agents
Amid growing concern about corporate stock buybacks in the wake of the Republican tax bill, Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) led thirty-one members of Congress in sending a letter to American Airlines CEO Doug Parker calling on the company to invest in its workforce. Despite promises that tax windfalls would be used to raise wages and create jobs, American Airlines recently authorized $2 billion in stock buybacks over the next two years.
Strikes are won by workers—often with a little help from their friends.
During their two-week strike, West Virginia’s salaried classroom teachers still got paid, because superintendents closed schools. The days missed were treated like snow days to be made up later. But workers paid by the hour or day—such as substitute teachers, teaching aides, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers—weren’t getting paychecks. Few had much savings to fall back on.
On Tuesday, Washington, D.C., voters will have an opportunity to vote on Initiative 77, a ballot measure supported by a wide array of progressive and labor organizations that would eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers and give many working families a much-needed raise.
Initiative 77 would increase the tipped minimum wage to match the full wage: If it passes, the initiative would phase out the tipped minimum wage, leaving a flat $15 per hour minimum wage for D.C. workers. This would be phased in between now and 2025, giving restaurant and bar owners more than enough time to adjust to the change.
Tipped workers aren't limited to restaurants and bars: Many other workers get tips, too, including manicurists/pedicurists, hairdressers, shampooers, valets, taxi and rideshare drivers, massage therapists, baggage porters and others. Very few of them get anywhere near the 20% standard you see in high-end restaurants and bars.
The current law is changing, but it will still leave tipped workers behind: The current minimum wage in D.C. is $12.50 an hour, with a minimum wage of $3.33 for tipped workers. If tipped workers don't earn enough from tips to get to $12.50, employers are supposed to pay the difference. After existing minimum wage increases are fully implemented, the full minimum wage for D.C. will be $15 an hour, while the tipped minimum will increase to $5. The cost of living in D.C. is higher than every state in the United States except Hawaii.
D.C. has a particular problem with the minimum wage: As one of the places in the United States with the highest costs of living, low-wage workers are hit harder by discriminatory laws. D.C. has the largest gap in the country between its tipped minimum wage and its prevailing minimum wage. Tipped workers in D.C. are twice as likely to live in poverty as the city's overall workforce. Tipped workers in D.C. are forced to use public assistance at a higher rate than the overall population, with 14% using food stamps and 23% using Medicaid.
Wherever tipped wage jobs exist, they are typically low-wage, low-quality jobs: Nationally, the median wage is $16.48 and tipped workers median wage is $10.22. Nationally, 46% of tipped workers receive public assistance, whereas non-tipped workers use public assistance at a rate of 35.5%. Workers at tipped jobs are less likely to have access to paid sick leave, paid holiday leave, paid vacations, health insurance and retirement benefits. Seven of the 10 lowest-paying job categories are in food services, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Tipped workers are more likely to end up in poverty: In states where the tipped minimum wage is at the federal standard of $2.13, the lowest in the country, the poverty rate for all workers is 14.5%, which breaks down to 18% for waitstaff and bartenders and 7% for non-tipped employees. What day of the week it is, bad weather, a sluggish economy, the changing of the seasons and any number of other factors completely outside of a server's control can influence tips and make a night, a week or a season less likely to generate needed income.
The predictions of doom and gloom about raising the minimum wage or the tipped minimum wage never come true: Eight states already have eliminated the tipped wage and the restaurants in those states have higher sales per capita, higher job growth, higher job growth for tipped workers and higher rates of tipping. In fact, states without a lower tipped minimum wage have actually seen sectors where tipping is common grow stronger than in states where there is a subminimum wage. This is consistent with the data from overseas where countries have eliminated tipping and subminimum tipped wages. In states without a subminimum tipped wage, tipped workers, across the board, earn 14% higher. Increased minimum wages lead to employers seeing a reduction in turnover and increases in productivity. And, while there are certainly some exceptions, tippers in states without subminimum wage don't tip less.
Tipped workers are more likely to be women, making lives worse for them and their families: Of the 4.3 million tipped workers in the United States, 60% of them are waiters and bartenders. Of that 2.5 million, 69% of them are women. Furthermore, 24% are parents, and 16% of them are single mothers. Half of the population of tipped bartenders and waitstaff are members of families that earn less than $40,000. Increasing the tipped minimum wage lets parents work fewer nights and have more time at home with their families. It also helps provide for a more steady, predictable income. Since 66% of tipped workers are women, a lower tipped minimum wage essentially creates legalized gender inequity in the industry. These lowest-paid occupations are majority female. More than one in four female restaurant servers or bartenders in D.C. live in poverty, twice the rate of men in the same jobs.
Harassment and objectification are encouraged by the tipped system: The stories about harassment in the restaurant industry are legion. Servers are forced to tolerate inappropriate behavior from customers in order to not see an instant decrease in income. This forces them to subject themselves to objectification and harassment. Workers in states with a subminimum tipped wage are twice as likely to experience sexual harassment in the workplace. In D.C., more than 90% of restaurant workers report some form of sexual harassment on the job. Women's tips increase if they have blond hair, a larger breast size and a smaller body size, leading to discrimination against women that don't have those qualities. Nearly 37% of sexual harassment charges filed by women to the EEOC come from the restaurant industry. This rate is five times higher than the overall female workforce. LGBTQ servers also face a higher rate of harassment in order to obtain tips. Sexual harassment of transgender employees and men is also high in tipped environments. Some 60% of transgender workers reported scary or unwanted sexual behavior. More than 45% of male workers reported that sexual harassment was part of their work life, as well.
The subminimum tipped wage harms people of color: Research shows that tipping has racist impacts, too. Nonwhite restaurant workers take home 56% less than their white colleagues. Research shows that if the minimum wage had held the value it had in 1968, poverty rates for black and Hispanic Americans would be 20% lower. While many restaurants and bars claim to be race-neutral in hiring, the evidence shows that race often has an impact on who gets hired for jobs that directly interact with customers. And fine-dining environments, the ones where servers and bartenders make the most in tips, are much more likely to hire white servers and bartenders, particularly white males. Also, customers, generally speaking, tip black servers less than white servers. For instance, black servers get 15-25% smaller tips, on average in D.C.
The people behind the opposition to 77 are not worker- or democracy-friendly: Public disclosures show that the Save Our Tips campaign that opposes Initiative 77 is heavily funded by the National Restaurant Assocation. This particular NRA represents the interests of, and is funded by, big corporations, such as McDonald's, Yum! (which owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut & KFC), Burger King, Darden Restaurants (which owns Olive Garden, Red Lobster and others) and more. The group spends as much as $98 million to oppose minimum wage increases, safety and labor requirements and benefit increases and requirements. Meanwhile, the CEO of the NRA, Dawn Sweeney, took home $3.8 million in total compensation.
The Save Our Tips campaign is managed in part by Lincoln Strategy Group. In 2016, the group did $600,000 worth of work for the Donald Trump presidential campaign. Lincoln Strategy is managed by Nathan Sproul, a Republican consultant and former executive director of the Arizona Christian Coalition. Sproul has a history of being accused of fraudulent election-related activities, including destroying Democratic voter registration forms and creating a fake grassroots effort to undermine the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Another corporate-sponsored group, the Employment Policy Institute, has come out strongly against the initiative and created a website to attack it and ROC. The Institute is the creation of Rick Berman, a wealthy corporate lobbyist who runs campaigns against public interest groups like the Humane Society and labor unions.
Up until 1996, the tipped subminimum wage had been tied into being 50% of the prevailing minimum wage. That year, legislation decoupled the two and the subminimum wage for tipped jobs has stayed at $2.13 nationally, while some states have raised it. The NRA, headed up then by former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain, who would go on to run for president, led the charge to separate the two minimum wages.
The separate tipped minimum wage is a burden on employers and invites misuse: The system of tracking tips and wages so that employers can make up the difference is a complex one that is burdensome for employers. The system requires extensive tracking and accounting of tip flows. Not only this, employers are allowed to average tips over the course of a workweek and only have to pay the difference if the average is less than the minimum wage. Tips can also be pooled among various types of restaurant employees. Tip stealing and wage theft are hard to prove and workers are often reluctant to report them out of fear that they will be given fewer shifts or fired.
Employers frequently fail to pay the balance to their employees: While the law requires to make up the balance when tipped wages don't reach the full minimum wage, employers often fail to do so. The Department of Labor investigated more than 9,000 restaurants and found that 84% had violated this law and had to pay out nearly $5.5 million in back pay because of tipping violations. How many didn't get caught?
Restaurants are using union-avoidance tactics to sway employees against the initiative: Numerous reports from workers at D.C. restaurants have made it clear that not only are employers singing on to public letters and posting signs against Initiative 77, they are trying to sway their employees, too. Tactics that have been reported are straight from the union-advoidance industry. Many employers are forcing employees to listen to their opinion on the measure. Others have instructed them to evangelize to customers. Some are sending instructions to their employees on how to volunteer at the polls against the Initiative. Others have shared explicitly political videos with employees. Some managers have gone as far as to speak negatively about community organizations advocating for Initiative 77.
Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s this week’s Working People Weekly List.
Pride Month Profiles: Miriam Frank: "Throughout Pride Month, the AFL-CIO will be taking a look at some of the pioneers whose work sits at the intersection of the labor movement and the movement for LGBTQ equality. Our next profile is Miriam Frank."
Vote to Pay LGBT Servers a Secure, Living Wage: "The Washington, D.C., restaurant scene has reached soaring heights over the past few years. That prosperity—and the dining experiences we’ve grown accustomed to—has been built by working people putting in exhausting hours on the restaurant floor and behind the bar."
Pride Month Profiles: Tom Barbera: "Throughout Pride Month, the AFL-CIO will be taking a look at some of the pioneers whose work sits at the intersection of the labor movement and the movement for LGBTQ equality. Our first profile is Tom Barbera."
Union Veterans and Labor Volunteers Team Up with Community to Restore Interior of American Legion: "Nearly 100 union volunteers spent their Saturday painting the interior of an American Legion post. The effort, led by the Milwaukee Area Labor Council, Union Veterans Committee and the Community Service Liaison, began after legionnaire Jim Heimann noticed his home post of more than two decades was beginning to look a little dingy. Heimann is a Vietnam veteran who describes the Legion as a 'place to be with other veterans who have gone through what you’ve gone through.' Union veterans couldn’t agree more with Heimann: A gathering place for veterans is essential to the men and women who have served our country to maintain camaraderie."
Fun Ethical Essentials for Father’s Day: "There is no instruction manual for actually becoming a parent, but we know a thing or two about the kinds of things that dads are into. With Father’s Day coming up fast, Labor 411 has a few suggestions for your Dad Essentials Kit. These items work equally well for new fathers and for the men who have had years of experience at this 'dad' thing. Best of all, the items below are all made by ethical employers who treat their workers with respect and dignity. As you assemble your ethical Dad Essentials Kit, you’ll be helping to strengthen the middle class."
Worker and Consumer Groups to Santander: You’re on Notice: "The Texas heat would not be enough to deter a powerful and broad coalition of consumer groups, unions and international representatives with the UNI Global Union from delivering a powerful message to Santander Consumer USA at its annual shareholders meeting: Listen to your workers and stop practices that lead to racial discrimination in vehicle lending. According to reports by consumer advocate organizations, dealer interest rate markups on vehicle loans have resulted in racial disparities for African American and Latino borrowers compared with similarly situated white borrowers."
ITUC Report: Democratic Space for Working People Is Shrinking: "A new report from the International Trade Union Confederation concludes that the world is seeing shrinking democratic space for working people and unchecked corporate greed on the rise. The 2018 ITUC Global Rights Index documents violations of internationally recognized collective labor rights by governments and employers."
Grand Theft Paycheck: How Big Corporations Shortchange Their Workers: "A new report, Grand Theft Paycheck: The Large Corporations Shortchanging Their Workers’ Wages, reveals that large corporations have paid out billions to resolve wage theft lawsuits brought by workers. The lawsuits show that corporations frequently force employees to work off the clock, cheat them out of legally required overtime pay and use other methods to steal wages from workers."
The Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act Reminds Us to Keep Working to Close the Gender Pay Gap: "Sunday was the 55th anniversary of the signing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 into law. The landmark law was the first that required equal pay for equal work for women."
The late 1960s and 1970s gave rise to grassroots movements for union democracy all over the United States. The ones in the Auto Workers and Mine Workers have been written about the most, but Steelworkers Fightback was no less momentous.
AFL-CIO and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) issued a joint statement today on trade and multilateralism:
The working people of the United States and Europe have been harmed by unfair trade practices, including China’s deliberate overproduction of steel and aluminum, intellectual property theft, forced transfer of production, and violation of basic labor rights.
The working people of the United States and Europe have supported the growth of multilateral global governance since the end of the Second World War, and have continued to support that structure even as it has been increasingly captured by the interests of global corporations and the failed ideology of neoliberalism. A global economy requires multilateral institutions; the alternative is a war of all against all. We support the reform of the multilateral system so that it is more democratic, more open and takes into consideration labor-social-environmental rights, but we oppose efforts to destroy it. The refusal of the Trump Administration to engage productively in established multilateral processes at the OECD and the G-7 in recent weeks has been detrimental to the international system and we urge the Trump Administration to change course.
We support trade that is fair and effectively enforced, in particular when it comes to protecting and enhancing key international labor rights such as freedom of association, right to organize and collective bargaining. This is the only way to ensure a level playing field for workers’ rights and avoid a race to the bottom on wages and working conditions. So far, our respective governments and the European Commission have paid too much attention to international trade liberalization, while neglecting the consequences on workers’ rights and their conditions. This neglect now threatens the underlying legitimacy of the international system and must be addressed.
When states or firms break trade rules or exploit loopholes, working people are the first to be harmed, and we expect our elected governments to stand up for us. When unfair trade practices go unaddressed, working people suffer further harm. That is why we have long advocated for swift and concrete global actions to address harmful, state-driven trade-distorting practices. To avoid a spiraling trade crisis, a comprehensive multilateral approach must be developed so no country has to go it alone.
We believe that trade enforcement is most effective when our governments cooperate to achieve shared goals. The priority should be to work together to thoughtfully and effectively address trade practices, including those by China, that for too long have allowed global companies to profit at our expense instead of with us. A rules-based trading system requires that rules be enforced. We are united in support for a concerted approach to China’s trade-distorting practices and in our opposition to a trade war. We believe the failure on the part of multilateral institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) to effectively address China's trade-distorting practices is a threat to the multilateral system itself and must be addressed.
Global shared prosperity, sustainable development, inclusive growth, and respect for international labor rights require comprehensive trade reform and multilateral action. We urge all of our governments and the European Commission to work together, not at cross-purposes, to achieve these goals.
Throughout Pride Month, the AFL-CIO will be taking a look at some of the pioneers whose work sits at the intersection of the labor movement and the movement for LGBTQ equality. Our next profile is Miriam Frank.
Miriam Frank began her career as a professor in Detroit who launched women's studies at the community college level in the 1970s. She worked with the National Endowment for the Humanities to bring discussions and cultural events to union halls and community centers. She moved to New York to teach at New York University in the 1980s.
In 1995, she began work on Out in the Union: A Labor History of Queer America (2014), in which she collected oral histories from LGBTQ union activists, many of whom spoke to her at great risk to their personal safety and professional life. A decade later, the work was published and the voices of the activists she captured gave human shape to the intersection between the rights of working people and the rights of the LGBTQ community.
In 2015, she was interviewed by Katherine Turk. Frank spoke about the need for her research:
The field of LGBTQ history includes many studies of queer working-class communities but very few investigations of the actual work lives of queer working-class people in those communities. Traditional labor history considers the everyday lives of working-class people at their jobs in terms of unionization, job mobility, and racial, ethnic and gender segmentation in the workforce. Queer workers and queer issues have not been a topic.
She spoke of the relevance of those workers' words today:
The U.S. labor movement has a great history of strong political coalitions that have pressed for reform on economic and social problems. I wanted readers to consider how LGBTQ trade unionists developed alliances to apply their organizations’ principles and resources to queer union members’ economic status, basic civil rights, and workplace cultures. The successful LGBTQ coalitions that first emerged in the 1970s continue today, influencing collective bargaining priorities, community organizing, regional politics, and trade union ethics.
She described where the movements for labor and LGBTQ rights first started to collaborate:
But as gay liberation entered the political mainstream during the mid-1970s the strategy shifted from radical confrontation to a lesbian/gay civil rights agenda. Two issues emerged, both of them popular and possibly winnable: legal sanctions to halt sexual orientation discrimination and legalization of domestic partnerships. Anti-discrimination policies were included in unions’ constitutions in the early 1970s and the first collective bargaining agreement to protect domestic partners was ratified in 1982. Lesbian and gay advocates in the labor movement based their claims on union principles as old as the labor movement itself—an injury to one is the concern of all.
She explained how being LGBTQ union members were able to overcome the prejudice against them in unions:
From my interviews I have consistently found evidence of LGBTQ union members supporting one another in organizational decisions and working out their differences in frank dialogue. At best that openness flows from the union hall to the workplace and back again. LGBTQ union members who have come out have usually found fair-minded allies among straight and cisgendered co-workers: on the job and in their organizations
Often what sealed that respect was the willingness of LGBTQ activists to join in the projects of their unions. Everyday tasks, focused planning, and casual conversations gave people paths for productive collaboration. Queer people were seen less as outsiders and more as compatible volunteers; the energies of new activists lightened everyone’s loads.
Nearly 100 union volunteers spent their Saturday painting the interior of an American Legion Post. The effort, led by the Milwaukee Area Labor Council, Union Veterans Committee and the Community Service Liaison, began after legionnaire Jim Heimann noticed his home post of more than two decades was beginning to look a little dingy. Heimann is a Vietnam Veteran who describes the Legion as a "place to be with other veterans who have gone through what you’ve gone through." Union Veterans couldn’t agree more with Hiemann, a gathering place for veterans is essential to the men and women who have served our country to maintain camaraderie.
More than a dozen union organizations teamed up with members of the Legion, the local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter and an area business to complete the job. "It looks fantastic, it’s like a brand new post," Heimann said after seeing the newly painted interior for the first time. "A Veterans Organization [such as the American Legion] is like a brotherhood, just as the unions are a brotherhood and help each other."
Members of the area labor council say they’re grateful for the service the men and women of the armed forces have given, and continue to give. When it comes to brotherhood there is a clear understanding that they’ll always have each other’s backs.
"Labor has a long history of supporting our veterans, this project show us that history is alive and well in the Milwaukee Labor community" said Will Attig, executive director of the National Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO. "Volunteer efforts similar to this can and will be replicated by our Union Veterans Committee’s nationwide. As one, we have and can continue to make a difference."
In all, more than $6,000 in labor and supplies was donated to the American Legion and the work was completed in less than four hours.
There is no instruction manual for actually becoming a parent, but we know a thing or two about the kinds of things that dads are into. With Father’s Day coming up fast, Labor 411 has a few suggestions for your Dad Essentials Kit. These items work equally well for new fathers and for the men who have had years of experience at this “dad” thing. Best of all, the items below are all made by ethical employers who treat their workers with respect and dignity. As you assemble your ethical Dad Essentials Kit, you’ll be helping to strengthen the middle class.
Clothes for Dad
- All American Clothing
- Belleville Boots
- Brooks Brothers
- Ethix Merch
- Stacy Adams
- Thorogood Boots
Gear for Dad
- Remington Arms
- Standard Golf products
- Wilson Sporting Goods
Tools for Dad
- Black & Decker
Drinks for Dad
- Jim Beam
- Wild Turkey
And hundreds more. Check out our listings at Labor 411.
How can building trades unions organize workers in an area where they don’t have much of a foothold? You’ve got to become a fixture in the community, and be in it for the long haul.
That’s the commitment the Painters are making in Nashville, Tennessee, where they just launched the Alianza Laboral (Spanish for “labor alliance”) Worker Resource Center.
As public sector unions contemplate losing key rights under the law, it’s worth remembering that for much of their history, such unions organized with no rights at all.
It wasn’t till 1958 that New York became the first city to authorize collective bargaining for city employees. Wisconsin did the same for state employees in 1959, and federal workers got bargaining rights in 1962.
How They Did It...
Auriana Fabricatore, a shop steward and member of UFCW Local 400, shared how she and her coworkers planned and executed a successful march on the boss, after getting the idea at the 2018 Labor Notes Conference. Read her story here.
March on Your Boss!
Ryan Olds, a labor and community organizer in the East Bay, California, co-taught the March on the Boss workshop at the 2018 Labor Notes Conference, where Auriana Fabricatore got the idea. Ryan developed this worksheet to help you plan a march on the boss in your workplace.
A factory fire recently illustrated just how vulnerable are the supply chains at the heart of the global economy. The fire was at a single supplier—yet it forced Ford to temporarily halt production of the nation’s bestselling truck, the F-150.
Think how much leverage workers could have if we acted like the fire.
This is exactly how large-scale organizing happened in the auto industry. In late 1936, members of the newly organized Auto Workers (UAW) struck several General Motors plants to win union recognition. A month later, GM still hadn’t budged.
Arizona teachers struck statewide April 26 to May 3 over low pay and underfunding due to years of tax cuts.
Governor Doug Ducey had promised 20 percent raises heading into the strike, but teachers were skeptical that money would materialize. Their demands also included raises for other school employees and a return of funding to 2008 levels.
Pueblo teachers and paraprofessionals struck from May 7 to 11, the first school strike in Colorado in 24 years.
The teachers had been working without a new contract since the school year began. Their school district was refusing to grant them a 2 percent cost-of-living increase and to increase contributions to their health insurance, even after an independent factfinder recommended those modest improvements.
Will this spring’s wave of teacher strikes lead to stronger unions? Not if their unions return to business as usual.
The motor force behind the strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina is teachers’ deep frustration. Educators are feeling the pinch from decades of funding cuts that their unions have been unable to stop.