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NewsFeed - Labor
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Statement from the CWA Executive Board on the Need to Dismantle the Racism that Plagues Our Communities
As we reach a tragic milestone of 100,000 deaths due to COVID-19, we find ourselves confronting the other plague that has been rampaging through our communities since long before the pandemic: Racism.
The organized labor movement has begun swinging into action to support protests against the racist police murder of Minneapolis resident George Floyd.
Floyd was filmed being suffocated to death under the knee of police officer Derek Chauvin on Monday in a video that reverberated around the country and has sent the Twin Cities into turmoil.
Protesters lit shops and even a police precinct on fire on Thursday as public rage boiled over in Minneapolis’s third precinct over the ever-continuing string of police murders of Black people in the United States.
Driving two 26-foot trucks packed with food, members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) Local 6 set out on the road to bring urgently needed food relief to union families in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. They started their journey in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on May 26, loading up the trucks with thousands of pounds of union-made rolls, breads, cereals and snacks.
Their journey lasted three days as they stopped along the way in Muncy, Norristown and Philadelphia. At every destination, they dropped off food for labor councils to distribute to union families in need. They stopped in Mays Landing, New Jersey, to reload their trucks—and added three additional truck to the caravan—before reaching their final stop in Atlantic City for the New Jersey State AFL-CIO’s event on May 28, Operation Feed Atlantic City.
“It’s been a wild ride,” said Hank McKay, the president of Local 6, who was driving one of the trucks. “When I woke up this morning, my back was hurting. But it’s all worth it,” he said with a laugh in his voice. McKay drove 500 miles for the first day of their trip.
And BCTGM has been sharing their progress every step of the way, using #OnTheRoadWithHank to keep their members updated on social media and the union’s blog. McKay and the rest of the BCTGM team, including Local 6 Financial Secretary-Treasurer Edgar Rodriguez, Business Agent Danny Melendez and member Wilfredo Rodriguez, loaded up and distributed nearly 30,000 pounds of union-made food, including bread, rolls, cereals and snacks.
Melendez and Edgar Rodriguez drove the trucks as McKay followed the caravan. All of the products were donated by Kellogg's and Bimbo Bakeries USA. Both of these companies have been excellent employers of BCTGM members, providing hazard pay, bonuses, increased safety measures, masks, temperature checks and increased sick time since the pandemic started.
President Pat Eiding (HFIU) of the Philadelphia Council of the AFL-CIO thanked them for helping feed Philadelphia’s union families: “The BCTGM always comes through. This is a really tough time for this city’s union workers. Thank you, BCTGM International President Anthony Shelton. These union products will help put bread on the tables of working families and for that we thank you all.”
And what motivated McKay and members of Local 6 to take on this difficult task? “It was just the right thing to do,” McKay said. “This is the least we can do for our union brothers and sisters, and I’m very humbled to be in this position to help out union families.”
BCTGM will be conducting similar food relief caravans in the days ahead, and the AFL-CIO joins in thanking the members of Local 6 for their extraordinary support of union families.
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.
California Labor Federation:
Instead of providing drivers with a livable wage & the basic protections that all workers deserve during this crisis, @Uber @Lyft & @Doordash are spending $110 million on a deceptive ballot measure. Join us in stepping up for gig workers! https://t.co/Co45JR8DUo #SickofGigGreed— California Labor Federation (@CaliforniaLabor) May 28, 2020
Join us June 3 to tell Cory Gardner puts Colorado workers first! We are demanding Senator Cory Gardner join our working family champions to pass meaningful measures based on compassion, science, dignity and common sense.https://t.co/04We21GZSs#copolitics #coleg— Colorado AFL-CIO (@AFLCIOCO) May 28, 2020
Registered nurses at HCA hospitals across Florida are standing up for better safety on the job and against the profit-driven layoffs of workers on the frontlines of this pandemic. https://t.co/HRr4OuoJkq— Florida AFL-CIO (@FLAFLCIO) May 28, 2020
Georgia State AFL-CIO:
We believe in the importance of access to health care, and so does our endorsed candidate, @AuforGA! We believe she would bring much-needed wisdom, skills, and a commitment to good policy to the Capitol. #gapol #1u #gaaflcio pic.twitter.com/vDoozQrnrE— Georgia AFL-CIO (@AFLCIOGeorgia) May 26, 2020
Indiana State AFL-CIO:
Feel free to slide into our DMs or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org https://t.co/9rYXYo8GS5— Indiana AFL-CIO (@INAFLCIO) May 28, 2020
Iowa Federation of Labor:
Support these union endorsed candidates pic.twitter.com/eEkk9N9W5y— Iowa AFL-CIO (@IowaAFLCIO) May 27, 2020
Michigan State AFL-CIO:
Remember, if you experience unsafe working conditions due to #COVID19, you can refuse work and report it to @Mndli at 651-284-5050. Under @GovTimWalz’s executive order, you are protected from retaliation. Message us if you have questions. #1u #StaySafeMN pic.twitter.com/1VBgRSanTb— Minnesota AFL-CIO (@MNAFLCIO) May 18, 2020
It is obvious that the leadership care about one thing and one thing only, and that is to prevent the people of Missouri from having a voice in the Capitol. #moleg https://t.co/w8yPkArqvf pic.twitter.com/ls6h5L454U— Missouri AFL-CIO (@MOAFLCIO) May 26, 2020
Montana State AFL-CIO:
New Jersey State AFL-CIO:
It’s time for Congress to put up the cash to replace our aging water pipes, union says https://t.co/mQC7oGEwAP— New Jersey AFL-CIO (@NJAFLCIO) May 27, 2020
New Mexico Federation of Labor:
New York State AFL-CIO:
A big #UnionStrong thank you to @dianesavino for supporting S8266 to ensure the workers carrying us through #COVID19ny get the care, wage replacement & death benefits they are entitled to if they get sick or die simply from doing their job. @NYSWorkersComp— NYSAFLCIO (@NYSAFLCIO) May 25, 2020
is failing them. #1u pic.twitter.com/AsaYcsa1IE
North Carolina State AFL-CIO:
If you are in or near #Columbus June 3 and support the #HEROESAct, join us for the Central Ohio @AFLCIO #WorkersFirst Caravan. We will meet at the @UFCW Hall at 2PM. Click here to RSVP: https://t.co/UPNhkkOxiD— Ohio AFL-CIO (@ohioaflcio) May 28, 2020
Oklahoma State AFL-CIO:
Happy Memorial Day to past, present and fallen soldiers. In honor of may, in memory of all. pic.twitter.com/eihJaSysIX— Oklahoma AFL-CIO (@OK_AFL_CIO) May 25, 2020
Another heartbreaking day in America. We stand in solidarity with the family, friends, and loved ones of #GeorgeFloyd, the Black community, and everyone demanding accountability and justice. We must do more. #SayTheirNames #blacklivesmatter pic.twitter.com/P6TuPgsTim— Oregon AFL-CIO (@OregonAFLCIO) May 28, 2020
Rhode Island AFL-CIO:
Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council:
Mark your calendars! In less than a week, working families across Tennessee will join thousands of people throughout the country in a Workers First Caravan, an all-out action of national solidarity on June 3rd calling for implementation of America’s Five Economic Essentials. pic.twitter.com/TvhqdktGY1— Tennessee AFL-CIO (@tnaflcio) May 28, 2020
Working people from Austin, Ft. Worth, Houston, and El Paso will join thousands across the country in a Workers Caravan, an all-out action of national solidarity calling for passage of the HEROES Act.— Texas AFL-CIO (@TexasAFLCIO) May 26, 2020
Staging location/route details coming soon! pic.twitter.com/rIcAZhelcM
We weighed in on this... https://t.co/yb8dBMYetT— Virginia AFL-CIO (@Virginia_AFLCIO) May 28, 2020
Washington State Labor Council:
Wisconsin State AFL-CIO:
CWA has endorsed Joe Biden for President, citing his strong record of fighting for workers' rights to organize and bargain collectively.
Cardin Introduces Legislation to Protect CWA Members' Jobs and our Communities from Unsafe "One-Touch-Make-Ready" Policy
Last week, Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) introduced a bill to clarify that the FCC's "one-touch, make-ready" rules do not supersede collective bargaining agreements.
Journalists at the Bradenton Herald and the Seattle Times vote to join with CWA.
Nurses presented a banner to Engine No. 6 firefighters who have been providing meals and moral support to CWA members during the pandemic.
On Friday, CWAers in District 6 held a day of action to celebrate essential workers at AT&T Mobility.
Wondering about recommended health and safety protocols at your workplace? Looking for information on state and federal benefits for workers affected by the pandemic?
The latest episode of the "Labor Radio–Podcast Weekly" features immigrant solidarity, oral history and more. This week’s highlights from labor radio and podcast shows focusing on working people include:
“You know, I'm not just the epithet that they give me, we shape history every day and collective actions here could shape history in a new way,” Cristobal Cavazos of Immigrant Solidarity DuPage on "Labor Express Radio," Chicago's only English-language labor news and current affairs radio program.
“My Pietro. He worked in the sheds for 15 years. Always he was not satisfied. Always, he said someday he would find other work. But no other work he found.” That’s from the latest episode of "En Masse," where interdisciplinary artist, labor activist and political educator Liz Medina brings together oral histories and social theory with stories of struggle and hope from the working class.
In addition, sisters, who are members of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), share their stories; "Workers Beat Radio" votes by mail; "UCOMM Live" reports on unemployment claims in New Jersey; and "Labor History in 2" discusses Chicago’s first teachers’ strike.
Check out all the shows on Labor Radio/Podcast Network.
The NewsGuild-CWA member Andy Nguyen didn’t think he was going to lose his job when he received the email for the “all-staff” meeting. But that is exactly what happened. Dozens of journalists got laid off, including him, because of the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Learn more about how journalists and the whole journalism industry are being affected during these dangerous times.
Nurses in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina filed a petition in March to form a union with National Nurses United. Roughly 1,600 nurses are expected to be eligible to vote.
Despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and a relentless union-busting campaign that has delayed the election, nurses at Mission Hospital in Asheville say they are on the brink of a historic labor victory in the country’s second least unionized state.
When the Orlando Sentinel’s newsroom employees won our election in May with 81 percent voting for The NewsGuild, the organizing committee had not seen our co-workers in person for nearly two months. The election was conducted entirely by mail. Supporters watched the vote count at the National Labor Relations Board’s Tampa office by videoconference.
Yet we were confident of victory because over two years, we had laid a solid foundation for the union.
One reason today's horrific recession feels so familiar is that we're still digging out of the last one. When the housing market collapsed in 2008, 10 million people lost their homes and 9 million lost their jobs. The poverty rate went up and has stayed up even when unemployment fell to record lows.
Workers this spring were forced to find new ways to assert their rights when faced with a deadly foe and employers indifferent to their lives.
Sometimes they resorted to the oldest trick in labor's book, the strike, especially wildcat strikes early on in the pandemic, and especially non-union workers. Sometimes they were forced to organize and protest virtually, making the most of social media. And the car caravan was reborn as an appropriately distanced tactic.
This week we are lifting up Andee Huang, a laid-off Chinese American hotel worker from Boston and a member of UNITE HERE Local 26. She'd been working at the Westin Boston Waterfront for 13 years. Ever since she and all her co-workers lost their jobs in March, Huang has been helping other workers apply for unemployment, food assistance and other needs.
Huang says: "We need to stand up and fight until we win." That’s why we are fighting for major changes that will bring us through COVID-19 as safe as possible and build strong and prepared communities for the future.
Join us to support the Paycheck Guarantee Act to end mass unemployment and return millions of workers back to payroll and health care.
A video taken by an auto worker and obtained exclusively by Labor Notes shows a rowdy and chaotic scene inside Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan Truck Plant on Wednesday as workers refused to work after a co-worker tested positive for COVID-19.
Some stood by the lines; others simply went home.
Jennifer Cody is an actress from New York and a member of the Actors' Equity. Her industry is 100% unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Broadway is closed for the indefinite future. Learn more about how dancers, singers and the rest of her community are affected during these dangerous times.
With unprecedented numbers of Mainers out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic, the state’s labor movement is deploying digital tools in innovative ways to help workers who are being impacted by COVID-19. The Maine AFL-CIO is using a full range of online platforms to support those who are applying for unemployment insurance (UI) and pressure policymakers to fix the system.
Like many states, Maine’s UI system was unprepared for the crisis and has been overwhelmed by the volume of claims. President Cynthia Phinney (IBEW) of the Maine AFL-CIO explained: “After eight years with an anti-worker governor, there are so many hurdles that people have to jump through to access the benefits that they’re entitled to. The system was designed to prevent people from getting even a single dollar if they’re not supposed to, rather than have as its top priority helping workers who are unemployed.”
The state federation is responding to this challenge by using all the digital tools in its toolbox. There is a new page on its website devoted to providing UI assistance, including a form for workers to ask questions and request help. The form includes a spot for workers to fill in their union affiliation so the state federation can refer them to trained organizers and activists from their own union who can help. “If a person can be connected with someone from their union, all the better,” Phinney said.
In addition, the Maine AFL-CIO created a Facebook group where people can ask questions, talk about common problems and learn how to overcome them. More than 1,000 Facebook users have joined. “It’s developed beautifully because people who are part of the group are answering questions for other people and sharing their experiences,” Phinney said.
“We trained a lot of people to help unemployed workers fill out their UI forms. They’re helping workers get their claims approved so they can avoid a dragged-out process,” Phinney said. The state federation worked with Maine Equal Justice and the state's Department of Labor to host a webinar on changes to the UI system to accommodate workers impacted by the pandemic.
And Maine’s labor movement is helping more than just union members; unrepresented workers are being assisted as well. The state federation has helped about 3,000 individuals seeking UI assistance. “Many of them are just so grateful to have found somewhere where someone will answer their questions,” Phinney explained. She said that for many unrepresented workers looking for help with their UI application, this is their first contact with a labor union organization.
The state federation also has launched a direct email campaign to pressure lawmakers to improve the system and has hosted online meetings with Maine’s congressional delegation focused on promoting America’s Five Economic Essentials. They also hold Zoom press conferences that are well-attended by reporters to get the word out about a range of issues, including the state’s UI system and the need for more personal protective equipment for front-line workers.
“This is a moment when people across the country are seeing workers as we have always seen workers: essential,” Phinney said. “Tell your stories and help other workers to get their stories out, because those stories are what bring us together and start us on the road to becoming stronger.”
The U.S. Postal Service is in deep trouble. The postal Board of Governors has asked Congress for $75 billion to keep the agency afloat; without it, the outgoing Postmaster General said, USPS could “run out of cash” by September.
A big drop in letters during the emergency shutdown has intensified the budget crunch, but the underlying crisis predates the pandemic. The good news is, the problem is mostly artificial—Congress created it with the stroke of a pen, and could fix it the same way. If it wanted to.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) has endorsed Joe Biden for President. In a letter to the union’s Executive Board recommending the endorsement, CWA President Chris Shelton said that Biden is “someone who will walk the walk when it comes to fighting for workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out their friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.
Mine Workers (UMWA) President Cecil Roberts:
The coronavirus pandemic that has struck the United States has brought death and economic devastation in multiple regions, but none more so than the Navajo Nation, which has surpassed New York City as the region with the most COVID-19 cases per capita in America. We represent many thousands of Navajo workers, and our prayers are with those who have lost family members and those who are still struggling with this disease.
It is very troubling that critical federal support and supplies that were intended to go to the Navajo Nation were delayed or misdirected. The federal government has a special responsibility to provide support to Native American nations, many of which already suffered from chronic public health issues long before this virus showed up. Simply put, our government failed them.
For many Navajo families, this could not come at a worse time. With the needless and premature closure of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) at the end of last year, hundreds of workers at that plant and the Kayenta coal mine that fed the NGS were thrown out of work. They were already suffering, and now many have lost family members or are caring for severely sick relatives, while trying to keep the virus from spreading even further in their families.
The loss of revenue to the Navajo Nation government from the NGS and Kayenta closures already had a severe impact on the resources it has available to provide for its people before the virus hit. Now, the situation is desperate. I call on the United States government to rapidly increase the level of assistance that is going to the Navajo Nation and all tribal governments.
This disease is especially strong in those communities which already had health issues and a history of poor access to health care facilities, which is true in most rural areas of the country. As we bring more resources to bear to fight this virus throughout the country, we cannot continue to leave rural America behind.
If you know of other stories that we should include in this series, please e-mail them to email@example.com.
The bill contains provisions that would support employment for CWA members and allow them to continue to serve their communities.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CWA/NETT Academy is funding more than $50,000 in training scholarships for CWA members.
The federal government squandered the time the states spent in lockdown. We still face a national shortage of COVID-19 test kits and PPE and there is no nationwide testing or contact tracing program. The United States has 4 percent of the world’s population, but about a third of the world’s coronavirus cases.
What will happen to all the people who catch the coronavirus but never get a positive test? As states gear up to send workers back to work, the number of infections will skyrocket. We are going to need a whole new layer of protection for workers who are scarred by this virus but who cannot document its presence in their bodies.
Belabored: Sarah Jaffe and Michelle Chen report on school employees in Minnesota fighting for safety on the job and an attempt to pass an Essential Workers Bill of Rights in New York City.
Stronger Together: The SEIU Local 503 podcast, where the latest episode focuses on the upcoming Oregon primary, which has both union members and strong union supporters running for office.
Workers Beat Radio: Host Gene Lantz talks with Sioux Falls Central Labor Council President Kooper Caraway, one of the youngest, most hopeful and most outspoken labor leaders in the country.
Labor History in 2:00: Brown v. Board of Education, the day the Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in public education.
Check out all the Labor Radio/Podcast Network shows.
Nicanora Montenegro is a Filipina American in-home support services (IHSS) provider in San Diego and the district chair of United Domestic Workers of America (UDW)-AFSCME Local 3930. As an IHSS provider, she takes care of the most vulnerable folks in our community who are also the most at risk of COVID-19.
This pandemic has illustrated just how essential the often invisible and undervalued work that caregivers, like Montenegro, provide. Without them, front-line workers who are parents or have other family responsibilities wouldn’t be able to go to work, and older adults, people with disabilities and people with chronic illnesses would not be able to shelter in place.
Montenegro and her union have been fighting for the rights and respect that home care workers deserve like better wages, access to health care, paid sick days and more. It's well past time that we all recognize domestic workers as essential workers.
Join our calls to Congress to ensure ALL essential workers have the protections they need, the rights they are entitled to and the compensation they deserve in the next COVID-19 package.