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NewsFeed - Labor
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Within the massive and stunningly persistent social insurgency in Hong Kong against authoritarian domination, thousands of unionized workers are risking white terror... the threat of constant surveillance, discipline and loss of livelihood. Teachers, social workers, civil servants, and - most visibly - airline staff have joined protests and publicly shown support for the goals of political liberties. The response of the Chinese government - carried out by local agents in government, business, and organized crime gangs - has been direct suppression.
Citing the importance and urgency of building worker power, the Communications Workers of America’s Executive Board voted unanimously to make supporting the Protecting the Right to Organizing (PRO) Act a litmus test for 2020 incumbent political candidates to receive a CWA endorsement.
Forty-nine thousand auto workers are on strike at General Motors in the largest private sector strike since the last time union and company clashed, in 2007. Now, there is a tentative agreement with the company.
In this webinar, rank-and-file autoworkers debated whether to support the agreement and go back to work, or vote it down and stay out on the picket lines in the hope of achieving something better.
Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association.
Name of Union: Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association (MEBA)
Mission: To elevate and maintain the rights and advance and safeguard the economic and working conditions of its members for their better protection and advancement.
Current Leadership of Union: Marshall Ainley has been MEBA’s president since January 2014. A 1982 graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, he worked with the Military Sealift Command at sea and ashore for 10 years and earned his chief engineer’s license and Group 1 membership in the MEBA. He sailed with Maersk as chief engineer for the nine years before his election as MEBA president. Bill Van Loo has served as MEBA’s secretary-treasurer since 2006. Previously, he was elected twice to the position of MEBA branch agent in Baltimore and has served as a delegate at nine national MEBA conventions. He is a third-generation member who graduated from the Calhoon MEBA Engineering School in 1983 and sailed for 17 years before beginning his service as an official in 2002. In addition to Ainley and Van Loo, MEBA’s five-person executive board includes our coastal vice presidents: Executive Vice President Adam Vokac, Gulf Coast Vice President Erin Bertram and Atlantic Coast Vice President Jason Callahan.
Members Work As: Primarily engine and deck officers on U.S.-flagged vessels, but we also represent shoreside professionals at ports, offices and in the service industries.
Industries Represented: The maritime workforce.
History: MEBA is the nation's oldest maritime labor union, established in 1875. In the late 19th century, the forefathers of the MEBA fought to eradicate dangerous and deadly working conditions on early steam-powered vessels—conditions that threatened not only MEBA brothers and sisters, but all passengers at sea. MEBA was the first union to bargain for a 40-hour workweek while at sea. MEBA helped secure overtime pay and night relief. The union won the right to man their own hiring halls and to have union representatives visit ships to ensure proper working conditions. The tenacity and vision of MEBA’s founding members was ultimately rewarded. Today, with thousands of marine engineers and deck officers, MEBA members are unparalleled in maritime training and experience.
The leader in continuing education for maritime officers, the union’s training facility in Easton, Maryland, ensures that MEBA continues to be the finest source of maritime labor. The mission of MEBA’s Calhoon School is to provide professional MEBA marine engineers and deck officers with internationally recognized, state-of-the-art training and experience that enhances the safety, reliability and profitability of their vessels while preserving and protecting the natural environment. The school’s world-class bridge simulator allows the facility to offer the intensive, cutting edge training to deck officers that our engineers have typically enjoyed.
The MEBA draws the majority of our membership from the nation’s maritime academies. MEBA is proud to provide a wide variety of lucrative opportunities to Kings Point graduates. Marine officers crew the most technologically advanced ships in the U.S.-flag fleet, including tankers, a cruise ship, Great Lakes vessels and container ships. Members sail aboard government-contracted ships of the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command and the Maritime Administration’s Ready Reserve Force, on tugs and ferry fleets around the country, as well as vessels and in various capacities in the shoreside industries.
MEBA’s expertise and proven track record of readiness, safety and loyalty in answering America’s call to action is unrivaled. In times of military contingency, members sail into war zones to deliver critical defense cargo to the nation's fighting forces. MEBA members braved the perilous waters of the North Atlantic and the dangers of the Murmansk Run during World War II. Members served in every U.S. conflict since 1875 from Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf to Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Members brought critical food-aid to starving people in Ethiopia, Somalia and in dozens of other regions around the world. As America watched the tragedy of September 11 unfold, MEBA was there, ferrying thousands of people to safety in New York. During the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the tsunami in southeast Asia and through other trying times, MEBA was there, with the professionalism, pride and patriotism that has long been the hallmark of the American mariner.
MEBA members have continually answered the country's call for military sealift power at a moment’s notice—fighting injustice around the globe—and doing what's right for the country. MEBA's officers have repeated their substantial contributions to the nation’s defense since 1875, in times of both peace and war. While the future of the maritime industry is in question, one thing is certain, the members of the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association will unceasingly fight to preserve America’s fourth arm of defense—the U.S. Merchant Marine.
Current Campaigns/Community Efforts: MEBA provides members with information through the publications Marine Officer and the Telex Times. The MEBA Political Action Fund makes sure that the voices of members are heard in the policy-making realm. The Calhoon Engineering School is the union’s continuing education facility that provides state-of-the-art training to keep members on the front-end of evolving industry needs and requirements. The American Maritime Congress is a research and educational organization. MEBA offers medical and retirement and other employee assistance plans along with a member help line.
“They always say it will take multiple agreements to reach equality—we can’t win it all in one go,” said Sean Crawford, a second-tier worker at Flint Truck Assembly in Michigan.
For Crawford, the GM strike, the longest at a Big 3 company in 50 years, was the best chance the union had to put an end to the many tiers that have fractured the workforce.
Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s the latest edition of the Working People Weekly List.
Imagine a President Uniting People: "Imagine a president lifting 40 million citizens out of the poverty he had struggled under. Imagine a president making it easier for people who had been excluded from their nation’s wealth to get decent jobs, basic public services, a college education or technical training. Imagine a president uplifting his country on the world stage as a model for shared prosperity and an economy that works for working people regardless of their race. Imagine that president leaving office after two terms with an approval rating over 80%. Where do you imagine that president should be nine years after leaving office?"
Brazilian and U.S. Workers Confronting Common Threat Build Solidarity in the Global Labor Movement: "This week, the AFL-CIO joins much of the global labor movement in Brazil to participate in the 13th Congress of Brazil's largest labor organization, the Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT). Fred Redmond, AFL-CIO vice president and United Steelworkers vice president for human affairs, is leading the AFL-CIO delegation."
A Seat at the Table: Worker Wins: "Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with nurses banding together to make patients' lives better and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life."
Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Laborers: "Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Laborers."
Economy Gains 136,000 Jobs in September; Unemployment Declines to 3.5%: "The U.S. economy gained 136,000 jobs in September, and the unemployment rate declined to 3.5%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "
Working People Show Solidarity with GM/UAW Strikers: "As the strike by UAW members at General Motors approaches three weeks, labor activists and their allies have shown their solidarity with the UAW members by joining them on the picket lines. Here are some highlights from those visits."
Live from the Picket Line: Labor Podcast and Radio Roundup: "In addition to the AFL-CIO's own 'State of the Unions,' there are a lot of other podcasts out there that have their own approach to discussing labor issues and the rights of working people. Here are the latest podcasts from across the labor movement in the United States."
Hey, New York Times, Women Wear Hard Hats, Too!: "In a tribute to the hard hat, which was invented 100 years ago, The New York Times curiously equates the safety gear with masculinity. But women wear hard hats, too, and always have."
‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Dignity of Work: "On the latest episode of 'State of the Unions,' podcast co-hosts Julie Greene and Tim Schlittner talk to Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) about worker power, automation, trade and his decision to stay in the U.S. Senate."
In addition to the AFL-CIO's own "State of the Unions," there are a lot of other podcasts out there that have their own approach to discussing labor issues and the rights of working people. Here are the latest podcasts from across the labor movement in the United States.
Belabored Podcast: Riding for Deliveroo, with Callum Cant: An inside look at the gig economy. Plus: updates from the GM strike, a teachers’ strike looming in Chicago and more.
Building Bridges: Your Community and Labor Report: Striking Auto Workers need and deserve to win big!
Community Radio and Workers' Rights Movements: "This show looks at the role of radio in workers’ movements. These workers’ movements interrogate the relationship between a community and its systems of communication. From the mines in Bolivia to tomato fields in Florida, radio has served as a place for workers to organize and mobilize, build up spirits and solidarity. Some stations are worker-owned, supported by union dues or cooperative membership. Some begin as programming on local stations and grow to become their own stations or a network of programs. These case studies are an incomprehensive smattering of examples of how working people have utilized the airwaves to fight for rights in the workplace—to create accountability and build autonomy."
Heartland Labor Forum: "We’ll ask what Trump is up to with his apprenticeship proposal and find out from a union leader who knows what a real apprenticeship looks like. Then we ask if the U.S. Constitution can stand up to a presidency that’s out of control and unaccountable to Congress or the courts. Join us when we talk to longtime activist legal scholar Burt Neuborne with a new book called When at Times the Mob is Swayed: A Citizens Guide to Defending our Republic. Thursday at 6 p.m., rebroadcast Friday at 5 a.m. on KKFI 90.1 FM.
Labor History Today: Sex Workers Outreach Project Makes History in Minneapolis: On this week’s show: Dr. Jayne Swift on the historic city ordinance just passed this August that has the potential to change the face of the adult entertainment industry in Minneapolis. Plus, Steve Striffler on Solidarity: Latin America and the U.S. Left in the Era of Human Rights. Interviews by Patrick Dixon.
Resistance Radio: "An online complement to the recent Interference Archive exhibit showcasing the power of radio in the service of social movements and underrepresented communities. We’re sharing stories of the people, stations and organizations from around the world who have battled the system to bring their diverse programming onto the airwaves."
The State of Working America: The Economic Policy Institute has launched a new podcast, which "will give a voice to workers, and place their struggles in a larger policy context." The 30-minute podcasts address a wide range of issues, including: wage stagnation, inequality, worker power, racism, trade and education. New episodes on Tuesdays.
UCOMM Live: Trump's Plan to Destroy Federal Unions: "On this week's show, we have a leaked memo on Trump's plan to destroy federal unions as he orders agencies to follow his anti-union executive order. In 2016 West Virginia repealed their prevailing wage law and the results are in for how bad that turned out. We explain Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro's plan to strengthen collective bargaining and AT&T is under attack from a vulture capitalist.
Union City Radio: This week’s topics: What’s in that bacon? Sherrod Brown on automation; bus driver runs for Bowie City Council; Sherrod Brown on progressive populism; Kroger member wins back pay, gets job back after year-long suspension
Workers Beat: Airs on KNON radio in Dallas at 9 a.m. Saturdays. The most recent episode features Summer Lollie as guest. "Summer works for the Texas AFL-CIO but has assignments in the Dallas area. She attended the Sky Chef picket on October 9 and is familiar with the entire contract fight concerning food caterers for American Airlines. She has also been out on the General Motors picket lines."
Your Rights At Work: On this week's show: Maria Naranjo, district chair of SEIU 32BJ; Al Neal, sportswriter for People's World; Sam Weinstein, Utility Workers (UWUA) retiree active in British labor movement; Mark Gruenberg, editor for Press Associates Union News Service; and David Schloss, partner in the law firm of Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis.
Labor Notes and International Labor Rights Forum co-hosted a webinar on October 17, 2019 on how labor activists across Asia are building power in the face of multinational corporations.
What are the opportunities and challenges for strengthening solidarity across the region? How can we organize in our own unions to build a movement that can tackle rising inequality across borders? How is state repression impacting how activists organize? These were some of the questions discussed with activists from Japan, Myanmar, Cambodia, and the Philippines.
Members at the Los Angeles Times reached a tentative agreement with management.
Billionaire Paul Singer's hedge fund Elliott Management has bought shares of AT&T and launched a campaign arguing for the company to cut costs by laying off workers.
The Arizona Republic newsroom employees vote to join with CWA.
On a National Day of Action on Wednesday, hundreds of CWA members across the country made phone calls to Congress to pressure them to pass the PRO Act.
CWAers briefed members of Congress and their staff this week on how the recent rise of stock buybacks is harming workers, communities, and the whole economy.
It's time to stop making it easier and more profitable for companies to ship our jobs overseas.
The Protect Call Center Jobs Act of 2019 would have protected California's working families and taxpayers.
CWA activists and local leaders held watch parties this week for the third Democratic Primary Debate.
A delegation of CWA members went on a fact-finding delegation to investigate the working conditions at call centers in the Philippines.
On the latest episode of “State of the Unions,” podcast co-hosts Julie Greene Collier and Tim Schlittner talk to Maine Senate President Troy Jackson (IUPAT, IAM) about his path to power and the experiences that have shaped his life and career.
Listen to our previous episodes:
- Talking to Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) about worker power, automation, trade and his decision to stay in the U.S. Senate.
- Checking in with AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council Executive Director Brad Markell about the UAW strike at General Motors and interviewing Veena Dubal, an associate law professor at UC Hastings College of the Law, whose work helped pave the way for passage of A.B. 5, the landmark pro-worker legislation in California.
- SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris discussing the future of work, sexual harassment and her journey from young actor to labor leader.
- North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU) Chief of Staff Mike Monroe exploring the Department of Labor proposal that would undermine world-class apprenticeships in the construction industry.
- A discussion with Texas AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Montserrat Garibay (Education Austin/AFT-NEA) in the wake of the deadly mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.
- UNITE HERE President D. Taylor talking about the activism of airline catering workers and the current moment for union organizing.
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.
There is one week remaining to vote on the recently negotiated Production Contract. The negotiating team and National Council recommend that members vote to ratify this contract. To read more about the 2019 Production Contract, visit the Member Portal - https://t.co/a8hHBqSUjW pic.twitter.com/dz1COzzdli— Actors' Equity (@ActorsEquity) October 8, 2019
“It’s been a long road, but I’m pleased that we reached our first contract. It’s been a tremendous experience affiliating and working with @wfsec28 to secure a contract that will make a significant difference in improving the well-being of our AAGs.” https://t.co/jigr3BQ6va— AFSCME (@AFSCME) October 10, 2019
Air Line Pilots Association:
ALPA congratulates Capt. Kurtis Ludwig (DAL) on his induction to the “Hall of Fame” at @ERAUPrescott for his work on behalf of the ALPA ACE Club to promote the pilot profession and mentor aspiring aviators. Thank you for your service to the aviation industry! pic.twitter.com/sUlGEhd6Kh— ALPA (@WeAreALPA) October 7, 2019
Alliance for Retired Americans:
Amalgamated Transit Union:
American Federation of Musicians:
"They’re making billions & claiming poverty. People value music in movies," said @ChrisABmusic, an orchestrator, negotiating committee member, & #UnionMusician. #BandTogether #1u ✊🏿✊🏻✊🏽📽️🎬🎼 https://t.co/xpfvCyhG13 via @WSJ— AFM (@The_AFM) October 8, 2019
American Postal Workers Union:
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance:
🎉Announcing The APALA STORE LAUNCH! 🎉— APALA (@APALAnational) October 10, 2019
Save the date for ✨Tuesday, November 15th✨ & pick up all new APALA merchandise & rep AAPI worker pride✊
Make sure to be following our social media to be updated including a secret #giveaway for a $20 value item. #APALAStoreLaunch pic.twitter.com/VdeZhhwJNi
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA:
ICYMI: Yesterday, @afa_cwa Hawaiian Airlines Flight Attendants & #labor allies took to the picket line in #HNL for a new contract. “We will not agree to concessions while Hawaiian Airlines makes record profits," said Sharon Soper, AFA Hawaiian President. #ContractNow #1u pic.twitter.com/bkXv6m68Fq— AFA-CWA (@afa_cwa) October 10, 2019
Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers:
ATTN: #Boilermakers L-696 (Wisconsin) and Fincantieri Marinette Marine are partnering to hire skilled trades people 👨🏭⛴️ For more information and how to apply visit: https://t.co/2wDF4JW4a7 pic.twitter.com/T1injLSpAN— Boilermakers Union (@boilermakernews) October 10, 2019
GM has earned $35B in profits in the last 3 years, partly as a result of the concessions the workers made over a decade ago. But when it comes to reciprocity, the company adopted a hard-line approach in negotiations w/ workers. #UAWStrike #1u #solidarityhttps://t.co/T6kAIFePnB— Bricklayers Union (@IUBAC) October 10, 2019
California School Employees Association:
These are some pictures from one of last year's Maintenance & Operations Academies. It's important to attend trainings like this to stay up to date on workplace health and safety! pic.twitter.com/HvH31uPkDS— CSEA (@CSEA_Now) October 10, 2019
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists:
You are invited to join us to celebrate the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) Thirty Third Annual Ernest and De Verne Calloway Awards Banquet.— CBTU STL (@cbtu_stl) October 1, 2019
DATE: Sat., Oct. 19, 2019
Marriott Grand Hotel
LOCATION: 800 Washington Avenue St Louis, Missouri 63101 pic.twitter.com/fP23tQuoRv
Coalition of Labor Union Women:
.@Equalmeansequal has rented a house in Virginia & hitting the ground, giving out free ice cream until Nov 6th. Sign up to join the fun & ensure Virginia becomes the 38th state to ratify #ERA. Help USA women get equal rights under law. https://t.co/66KS9doJpL #iScream4Equality pic.twitter.com/Rs48FOBUP1— CLUW National (@CLUWNational) September 29, 2019
Communications Workers of America:
AT&T workers in PR & the Virgin Islands played a critical role in making sure people could reach their loved ones in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Now, instead of doing the right thing & investing in good jobs, AT&T is doing a billionaire’s bidding by abandoning these communities.— CWA (@CWAUnion) October 9, 2019
Department for Professional Employees:
Canada can't afford to go backward when it comes to workers' rights. Vote! https://t.co/RUR0qis87s— IBEW (@IBEW) October 8, 2019
Farm Labor Organizing Committee:
On this #WorldMentalHealthDay, remember YOU matter. Contact the #IAFF Center for Excellence if you are struggling with depression, PTSD, anxiety or stress related issues https://t.co/cCY6sAS8X2 pic.twitter.com/kmchtdqmE8— IAFF (@IAFFNewsDesk) October 10, 2019
Heat and Frost Insulators:
The HFIAW "Professional Craftsman Code of Conduct" (PCCC) is a program to promote jobsite excellence and customer satisfaction. Learn more about what makes the insulators quality of work so high here: https://t.co/CcZUZD17bU— Insulators Union (@InsulatorsUnion) October 10, 2019
International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers:
The Iron Workers Local 155 in Fresno got involved in solar projects that popping up across the valley, fueled by federal and state tax incentives and California’s climate policies. #Cleanenergy #renewableenergy #ThursdayThoughtshttps://t.co/fZIXXAneEE— Ironworkers. (@TheIronworkers) October 10, 2019
Jobs With Justice:
Once again, the NLRB has thwarted graduate employees from their freedom to join in union. They're still looking for ways to organize and earn a fair return on their work. https://t.co/gDbFn5svdG— Jobs With Justice (@jwjnational) October 10, 2019
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement:
Register today and join @LCLAA, unions, labor organizations, and other supporters to advocate for #Trabajadoras on #LatinaEqualPay Day on 11/20. Recent data shows that Latinas only earn ¢53 to the $1 white non-Hispanic make for the same work. https://t.co/CvDUvFlp7Q pic.twitter.com/0vg3OE35jY— LCLAA (@LCLAA) October 7, 2019
Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO:
GE, Who Paid Its CEO $15 Million Last Year, Just Froze Workers’ Pensions https://t.co/dCCrZMGxIu— Metal Trades Dept. (@metaltradesafl) October 7, 2019
What is DANC? Dance Artists’ National Collective (DANC) – check out this article to see what this organization is doing to advocate for freelance dancers!#UnionYes #UnitedWeDance #UnionStronghttps://t.co/2T64MuahGl— AGMA (@AGMusicalArtist) October 7, 2019
National Air Traffic Controllers Association:
With the help of member donations and contributions, the @natcacharitable supported 34 backpack programs across the country. "We have given almost $65,000 worth of backpacks and school supplies," said NCF President Corrie Conrad. Give today: https://t.co/RzDf9E2mqn pic.twitter.com/agjUFBsYdg— NATCA (@NATCA) October 10, 2019
National Association of Letter Carriers:
When his customer didn't collect her previous day's mail, our member, David Rink, was worried. The carrier alerted a neighbor, & when they both went to check on the woman, they heard faint cries for help. The woman was lying incapacitated on her floor. Paramedics arrived. #Heroes pic.twitter.com/xmg5v1SuO6— Letter Carriers (@NALC_National) October 10, 2019
National Day Laborer Organizing Network:
National Domestic Workers Alliance:
“We can make the biggest change by building coalitions and building power in the local communities where we live and where we work. And if we can make change at the local level, then we can help drive change at the national level.” @MonicaRamirezOH https://t.co/S0YGVnh8ea— Domestic Workers (@domesticworkers) October 9, 2019
National Nurses United:
$300 million in cuts are expected if GateHouse & Gannett merge. The NewsGuild & @CWAUnion is passing out flyers at 50+ GH-owned papers in 14 states today.— NewsGuild (@news_guild) October 10, 2019
Tell @GateHouse_News: Hold the line on corporate greed. Put local journalism first.https://t.co/rCI9WKrfU1 pic.twitter.com/a5p6kZyFde
NFL Players Association:
You good?— NFLPA (@NFLPA) October 10, 2019
Earlier this year we launched a comprehensive mental health and wellness committee with the @NFL that included adding a behavioral health clinician at each team facility and more on-the-go resources for players: https://t.co/BA1esnBgLo. #worldmentalhealthday
North America's Building Trades Unions:
Office and Professional Employees:
Mergers & acquisitions don’t happen in a Wall Street vacuum—they happen in your backyard, costing you more & getting you less. We need #MedicareForAll to protect working people & those unable to work from attacks by Wall Street & insurance companies. https://t.co/0LPEIfywn8— OPEIU (@OPEIU) October 10, 2019
Painters and Allied Trades:
Do you have questions about your pension? Check out our new video series! First up: "What is a Pension?" https://t.co/plMPwuJPQl— GoIUPAT✊🏽 (@GoIUPAT) October 10, 2019
Plasterers and Cement Masons:
Professional Aviation Safety Specialists:
FAA Admin Steve Dickson came to PASS HQ today, met w our Exec Board, including Natl Pres Perrone & Natl VP Aguirre. PASS looks forward to partnering w Dickson on issues critical to workers we represent at FAA, safety of aviation system & safety of flying public. @FAANews @USDOT pic.twitter.com/AVqkrEXbpD— PASS (@PASSNational) October 8, 2019
Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union:
RWDSU members at Valley View Nursing Home in Norwich, NY, have ratified their first union contract!— RWDSU (@RWDSU) October 10, 2019
Workers secured annual pay increases, more time off and guaranteed scheduling protections. Great job team! https://t.co/0V7if7dyle pic.twitter.com/gpU0L4ic6Z
Happy to help support 1,117 #soccer players in #Colombia, women & men, seeking #rights and dignity at work through the Colombian Association of Professional Footballers (Acolfutpro). https://t.co/376cnIOXSN @AFLCIOGlobal #futbol— Solidarity Center (@SolidarityCntr) October 9, 2019
Theatrical Stage Employees:
Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO:
TTD President Larry Willis: If lawmakers are serious about creating good jobs, buffering against an economic downturn, and boosting the U.S. economy, they should continue to look for opportunities to invest in #infrastructure. via @businessinsider https://t.co/BJCqU2oH2E— Transp. Trades Dept. (@TTDAFLCIO) October 4, 2019
We are standing up for:— UAW (@UAW) October 9, 2019
✓Affordable Quality Health Care
✓Our Share of Profits
✓A Defined Path to Permanent Seniority for Temps
We stood up for GM and now it is their turn to stand with us! #Solidarity #UAWStrike #StandWithUS pic.twitter.com/LuRCQ0Hb9B
Union Label and Service Trades Department:
Workers at Kickstarter have majority support for their union, but the company refuses to recognize them. The time for voluntary recognition is now! Sending much love and solidarity to Kickstarter United. #1u #UnionsForAll https://t.co/OmAqTvhkH8— Union Label Dept. (@ULSTD_AFLCIO) October 8, 2019
Union Veterans Council:
🚨UNION HIGHLIGHT🚨 @steelworkers International President & Union Vet Tom Conway hosted an incredible training & orginizing session with the newly launched #VetsOfSteel 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸— Union Veterans Council (@unionveterans) October 10, 2019
If you’re a USW Union Vet drop a comment below 👇 #UnionVetMovement #1u pic.twitter.com/fcYFmU28pz
We’re out in front of @DFWAirport Terminal D to show support to DFW Sky Chefs workers as they call on @AmericanAir to end poverty wages in the airline catering industry! #1job #AirportStrikeAlert pic.twitter.com/t9vDPFIsqM— UNITE HERE Local 23 (@unitehere23) October 9, 2019
United Food and Commercial Workers:
Happy #CustomerServiceWeek! We’re proud to represent #UFCW members from across the U.S. From grocery stores to department stores, the excellent customer service that they provide is the reason consumers return to their stores and continue putting money back into local economies. pic.twitter.com/73kKUl8him— UFCW (@UFCW) October 7, 2019
One thing we are proud of is our interaction w/ our members, just having conversations about what’s important to them. Thank you to our Cement Council for this amazing week. #USWUnity pic.twitter.com/ffAuJHtNuN— United Steelworkers (@steelworkers) October 10, 2019
United Students Against Sweatshops:
“This is the biggest severance victory USAS has ever won and I’m both grateful and proud to be a part of the fight. However, Nike still needs to be held accountable for choosing profit over people in Indonesia. While the supplier paid the workers $4.5 million in owed severance... pic.twitter.com/uNUGpuObnC— USAS (@USAS) October 4, 2019
United Union of Roofers and Waterproofers:
Today is National Depression Screening Day. The Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention provides free screenings for depression and other behavioral health disorders that can increase an individual’s risk for suicide. Go to https://t.co/fATdmCb8wT pic.twitter.com/o2x6BRtBlY— Roofers Union (@roofersunion) October 10, 2019
It's our 16th birthday!🎂🎈Since '03, we've been organizing working people to build political power & make real economic change. Ahead of 2020, this mission is more important than ever. Send us a b-day gift so we can do this for another 16 years: https://t.co/K8jti3liGp #1u pic.twitter.com/MVo9vO98Dv— Working America (@WorkingAmerica) October 10, 2019
Writers Guild of America, East:
History has long been portrayed as a series of "great men" taking great action to shape the world we live in. In recent decades, however, social historians have focused more on looking at history "from the bottom up," studying the vital role that working people played in our heritage. Working people built, and continue to build, the United States. In our new series, Pathway to Progress, we'll take a look at various people, places and events where working people played a key role in the progress our country has made, including those who are making history right now. In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, today's topic is the San Antonio pecan shellers strike.
In the 1930s, pecans grown in Texas accounted for half of all of the nation's production. San Antonio was the center of the industry in Texas, as half the state's commercial crop grew within 250 miles of the city. The dominant company was the Southern Pecan Shelling Co., which produced as much as one-third of the nation's entire crop, depending on the year.
Working people in the industry faced low wages (averaging between $2 to $3 a week) and terrible working conditions. Shelling factories suffered from inadequate ventilation, poor illumination and a lack of indoor running water or toilets. The pecans produced a fine brown dust that contributed to diseases like tuberculosis. San Antonio had one of the highest rates of TB in the country as a result.
Owners had little or no regard for workers. One owner said: “The Mexicans don’t want much money. Compared to those shanties they live in, the pecan shelleries are fine. They are glad to have a warm place to sit in the winter. They can be warm while they’re shelling pecans, they can talk to their friends while they’re working.... If they get hungry they can eat pecans.”
Pecan shellers soon joined the International Pecan Shellers Union No. 172, a chapter of the United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing, and Allied Workers of America, which belonged to the newly formed Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). On Jan. 31, 1938, the workforce of shellers, mostly Hispanic women, walked off the job. The 12,000 workers engaged in a three-month strike. The strike began after the Southern Pecan demanded pay cuts for the workers. Shellers, who had previously earned 6 or 7 cents a pound, saw their wages cut to 5 or 6 cents a pound. Crackers went from 50 cents per 100 pounds to 40 cents.
The strike was originally led by Emma Tenayuca, who was active in various efforts to combat discrimination against Mexican Americans. She joined the women's auxiliary of the League of United Latin American Citizens in high school and was first arrested for protesting when she was 16. After high school, she worked several jobs, but her true calling was organizing. She began to organize with the Workers Alliance before later helping the pecan shellers.
Local officials were not happy about the strike. Police Chief Owen Kilday believed that the strike was part of a Communist plot to gain control of the west side of San Antonio. Tenayuca was arrested as soon as the strike started. Kilday said of her: “The Tenayuca woman is a paid agitator sent here to stir up trouble among the ignorant Mexican workers.” She was neither, her family had deep roots in San Antonio and her strike efforts were unpaid.
Other leaders feared that Mexican American laborers would become aware of their own power and would become more active. Protesters picketed over 400 local factories, but Kilday cracked down, eventually making more than 700 arrests. Gov. James Allred urged the Texas Industrial Commission to investigate the strike and the industry's reaction and found that police interference with lawful assembly was unjustified.
In the end, both sides agreed to arbitration and the initial settlement was for a 7- to 8-cent wage. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was passed soon after that would establish a minimum wage of 25 cents an hour. The CIO was afraid that the big jump in wages would lead to massive layoffs, and they joined with employers to lobby Congress to give the pecan industry an exemption.The exemption was denied, however, and over the next three years, 10,000 shellers were replaced by machines. While the pecan strikers ultimately failed to sustain the industry, their efforts were pivotal in expanding both labor rights and justice for Hispanic working people, in Texas and beyond.
Imagine a president lifting 40 million citizens out of the poverty he had struggled under. Imagine a president making it easier for people who had been excluded from their nation’s wealth to get decent jobs, basic public services, a college education or technical training. Imagine a president uplifting his country on the world stage as a model for shared prosperity and an economy that works for working people regardless of their race. Imagine that president leaving office after two terms with an approval rating over 80%. Where do you imagine that president should be nine years after leaving office?
Imagine it or not, the president described above is in jail, unjustly convicted to prevent him from running again in 2018—even though he led in all the polls. His name is Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) traveled to Curitiba, Brazil, this week, joining the global labor movement to demand Lula’s release and present the country’s former president the 2019 George Meany–Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award. The AFL-CIO announced the award in March to recognize Lula’s lifelong work. In Brazil this week, the AFL-CIO extended its solidarity and support to Lula, the whole Brazilian labor movement, and the country’s vibrant social and political activists and groups who continue fighting for a better life and social justice.
The AFL-CIO and its unions will work to engage American workers and their families who remember what it’s like to have a president who works for the people. The struggle to free Lula and defend democracy in Brazil is not just for Brazilians, but for all of us.
Lula Livre! Free Lula!
They are talking about lightening my sentence or letting me finish it under house arrest, but I insist that I will stay right in this jail until I prove my innocence. I will not trade my dignity to get released. And I will keep fighting for all Brazilians and our democracy. We will prove that the judges and prosecutors and media lied to put me here and steal our democracy. We will take it back.
Lula is a political prisoner because of all the good he did to make development more equitable in Brazil, improving workers' rights, and the inclusion and access to social and human rights, in general. The AFL-CIO, its unions and the International Trade Union Confederation and the global labor movement are calling for Lula’s immediate release because of his life’s work for democracy and social justice and because of the many illegalities committed in the process that has put him in prison.
This week, the AFL-CIO joins much of the global labor movement in Brazil to participate in the 13th Congress of Brazil's largest labor organization, the Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT). Fred Redmond, AFL-CIO vice president and United Steelworkers vice president for human affairs, is leading the AFL-CIO delegation.
Addressing the entire congress, Redmond pointed out the many challenges workers face in both Brazil and the United States, calling for unity and solidarity to move forward. In particular, he denounced the anti-worker laws and policies being driven by right-wing presidents in Brazil and the United States to weaken unions and collective bargaining.
Redmond also lamented that the current presidents in both countries have risen to power and exercise it by increasing fear and hatred, especially racial prejudice, rather than by leading.
Finally, he rallied the hundreds of delegates to the global labor movement's call for the immediate release of Brazil's former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, unjustly imprisoned for the last year and a half. Redmond closed by announcing to the crowd the upcoming visit of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) to present the 2019 George Meany–Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award to Lula in prison. The decision to give the award to Lula was announced in March.
Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with nurses banding together to make patients' lives better and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.
UChicago Medicine Ingalls Registered Nurses Organize: Registered nurses at UChicago Medicine Ingalls voted 72% in favor of joining National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU). The hospital is in Harvey, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Cathy Vaughn, an RN in the special care nursery, said: "Nurses at Ingalls are so excited to have won a seat at the table! We are ready to begin advocating to improve standards for our patients. This victory means that decisions about patient care are made at the bedside, not in the boardroom."
El Paso Nurses Organize with NNOC/NNU: Registered nurses at the Providence East Campus in El Paso, Texas, vote to join NNOC/NNU, in an election certified by the National Labor Relations Board. Nearly 500 nurses will now be represented by NNOC/NNU. RN Lena Gonzalez said: “This victory is positive on so many levels. We won because nurses from throughout the hospital are ready to stand united as strong patient advocates. We know we can accomplish much more together as union members than any one individual ever could.”
Google Contract Workers in Pittsburgh Vote to Join USW: Contract workers for Google in Pittsburgh voted to join the United Steelworkers. This is one of the first victories for the union, which is seeking to organize at Google and other tech companies. The Google workers say that the company does not provide sick days, pays substandard wages that aren't connected to inflation and that workers are forced to take vacation days during national holidays.
Kaiser Permanente Workers Avoid Strike After Reaching Tentative Agreement: Working people at Kaiser Permanente have won a new collective bargaining agreement after 85,000 employees from 11 unions threatened a nationwide strike. The new four-year deal comes after five months of bargaining. The tentative agreement, which must be approved by the members of the various unions, provides annual pay increases and new job training and educational opportunities for workers.
Fred Meyer Workers in Portland Win New Contract After Boycott: Portland employees at Fred Meyer stores have reached a tentative agreement with management. The workers, represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, still have to ratify the contract. In a statement, the union said: “Our boycott against Fred Meyer was highly effective, due to your hard work in building relationships with your communities, who stood strong and proud with us.”
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Members Agree to One-Year Contract: In advance of the concert season, members of the Musicians Association of Metropolitan Baltimore (Local 40-543 of the American Federation of Musicians) and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra reached an agreement on a one-year contract. Orchestra members had engaged in a 14-week work stoppage, during which time the musicians were locked out and did not receive paychecks. Local 40-543 Secretary-Treasurer Mary C. Plaine said: “Baltimore Symphony Musicians and Local 40-543 are grateful to all of our AFM sisters and brothers who through their verbal and financial support helped us reach this agreement. It is good to know we can count on our colleagues as we continue our fight to preserve and grow the artistic legacy of the BSO.”
After a Year of Negotiations, Auburn Community Hospital Workers Win Contract: Ending almost a year of negotiations, health care workers at Auburn Community Hospital, represented by AFSCME Local 3124, voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract that solidifies health insurance and increases wages, among other benefits. Maureen Coleman, president of AFSCME Local 3124, said: “Since negotiations began last fall, it’s been our priority to protect our health coverage by including it in our collective bargaining agreement. This will require ACH to negotiate the impact of any future changes to its employees’ health plan with us.”
Fiesta Henderson Hotel and Casino Workers Join Culinary Union: Workers at Fiesta Henderson Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas voted to be represented by the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165, affiliates of UNITE HERE. This is the seventh casino owned by Station Casinos Las Vegas to unionize since 2016. Culinary Workers Union Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Argüello-Kline said: “We call on Station Casinos to immediately to negotiate and settle a fair contract for the workers at Fiesta Henderson, Fiesta Rancho, Sunset Station, Palms, Green Valley Ranch, Palace Station and Boulder Station.”
Writers and Assistant Producers at WBBM Newsradio Agree to New Contract: News writers and assistant producers at WBBM in Chicago, WCBS in New York and KNX in Los Angeles have reached an agreement with Entercom Communications, which owns the CBS-affiliated stations. Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East, which represents the workers, said: “This contract was won with incredible solidarity across three geographically separate stations. Together, we were able to secure a contract that makes significant financial gains and guarantees important workplace protections.”
Southern California Grocery Store Workers Avert Strike After Reaching Agreement: Some 47,000 grocery store workers at Vons, Pavilions and Ralphs averted a strike after the parent companies (Albertons and Kroger Co.) of the three chains reached an agreement. The workers, represented by UFCW, had previously authorized the strike. UFCW Local 135, in San Diego, responded to the announcement: “We are proud to announce that a tentative agreement has been reached with both companies. We know the road to get here has been a long one for you and your co-workers. Your dedication to standing up for good jobs—engaging tens of thousands of customers with over 200 community rallies and store actions—has been the driving force behind getting a deal that you can be proud to have stood up for. Because you are part of a union family, you have a voice, and a vote. Let’s make it count.” The membership has since ratified the contracts.
Employees at McLaren Macomb Hospital Join OPEIU: More than 300 employyes at McLaren Macomb hospital in Mount Clemens, Michigan, have voted to join OPEIU. The vote to associate with Local 40 was successful by 172-113. The workers covered include clerical associates, couriers, critical care techs, dispatchers, lab assistants, patient access reps, patient sitters, pharmacy techs and several other classifications. Local 40 President Jeff Morawski said: “This is the proudest day in the history of Local 40. The workers’ voices were heard loud and clear, and I am excited and proud to welcome them to Local 40. When workers win an election to form a union, everyone wins.”
CWA Members Reach Deal with AT&T Southeast: More than 20,000 employees at AT&T in nine states have reached a "handshake deal" on a new collective bargaining agreement. CWA District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt said: “CWA members’ spirit and solidarity over the last four days showed the company that we would not back down until they bargained with us in good faith. This was a historic strike that showed the power that working people have when they join together.”
Harvard Graduate Students Reach Tentative Agreement with University: After meetings throughout the summer, the Harvard Graduate Students Union (an affiliate of UAW), reached tentative agreements on three contracts. But the graduate students say there is still work to be done. Bargaining committee member Cole M. Meisenhelder said: “On many remaining issues, the administration has told us ‘we have nothing else to say.’ As long as the administration refuses to negotiate over the health plan or denies student workers a neutral process for cases of discrimination or harassment, we will not be able to come to tentative agreements on these issues. This includes the creation of funds totaling more than half a million dollars to assist bargaining unit members in covering the costs of dental and dependent health care, as well as child care. As the negotiations are ongoing, we look forward to continuing to work on these important issues at the bargaining table.”
Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants Vote Overwhelmingly to Join AFA-CWA: Flight attendants that work for Cathay Pacific Airlines voted by 97% to be represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. AFA-CWA President Sara Nelson said: “We are so proud to welcome our sisters and brothers at Cathay Pacific who chose to join with AFA Flight Attendants around the world. Their Cathay Cabin Crew counterparts in Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and Canada all have contracts with higher pay, benefits and job security. It's past time for these hardworking U.S.-based Flight Attendants to have a contract that lifts up good American jobs. Cathay Pacific Cabin Crew will surely enrich AFA’s history that includes decades of Flight Attendants working together to raise the bar for our entire profession.”
Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Laborers.
Name of Union: Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA)
Mission: To help working men and women unite for a stronger voice in the economies and governments of the United States and Canada. As an affiliate of the AFL-CIO and North America’s Building Trades Unions, LIUNA works predominantly to help construction craft laborers improve their lives through collective bargaining, organizing, training programs, safer job sites and the enforcement of workers’ rights.
Current Leadership of Union: Terry O’Sullivan became the general president of LIUNA in 2000 and has since been elected to three terms. He first joined the union in 1974. He served in several previous positions, including vice president and Mid-Atlantic regional manager; assistant to the general president; chief of staff; Tri-Funds administrator; assistant director of the Construction, Maintenance and Service Trades Department; and administrator of the West Virginia Laborers’ Training Center. O’Sullivan is a San Francisco native. Armand E. Sabitoni serves as general secretary-treasurer and as New England regional manager. In addition to O’Sullivan and Sabitoni, LIUNA is governed by a 14-member general executive board.
Number of Members: 500,000
Work Members Do: Construction of highways, bridges, tunnels, transit systems, buildings, industrial plants and manufacturing facilities; construction and maintenance of energy infrastructure, including renewable energy projects, pipelines, and natural gas and nuclear plants; environmental remediation of lead, asbestos and other hazardous materials; weatherization and landscaping. In addition, the union represents 70,000 public service employees who provide health care services, maintain parks and, through the affiliated National Postal Mail Handlers Union, process mail.
Industries Represented: Construction and public service. These working men and women are employed by various agencies, including the Postal Service, the Indian Health Service, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Park Service.
History: The first recognized union for laborers was formed in Philadelphia in 1836. In 1903, American Federation of Labor President Samuel Gompers called for a convention to establish an international union of construction laborers and the International Hod Carriers and Building Laborers' Union was founded. (A hod is a tray connected to a pole handle that is used to shoulder loads of construction materials, such mortar or brick.)
At its first convention, the union represented more than 8,000 laborers in 17 different cities, most of whom were immigrants seeking a better life. In 1912, the union changed its name to the International Hod Carrier's Building and Common Laborers of America. By the end of the decade, the union had nearly 550 locals and more than 96,000 members. As the union grew, it became a stronger voice for immigrant and African-American workers. In the 1920s, the union chartered its first public sector local.
Pensions were a key issue for laborers before World War II. Most members worked for multiple contractors during their careers, making it impossible to earn pensions. The union established portable multi-employer plans, which have helped secure retirement for millions of working people.
During World War II, the union suspended all dues and pledged full support for the National Defense Program. By 1941, membership neared 300,000. After the war, a massive construction boom helped membership exceed 430,000.
In 1965, the union changed its name to the Laborers' International Union of North America, or LIUNA for short. The union’s successful fights for healthcare and expanding pension coverage became vital organizing tools.
In the ensuing decades, the union expanded it's focus on member benefits, political organizing and training. Many locals began to offer additional services, from health clinics to drug and alcohol rehabilitation resources. Its political organizing strength became sought after by candidates for state, local and federal office. Its training programs grew to invest tens of millions of dollars each year to help new members develop careers and enable existing members to find additional opportunities. In this era, the union adopted its stylized LIUNA Feel the Power mark and recognizable orange brand.
Current Campaigns/Community Efforts: The union strives to harness the power of its half-million members by encouraging the aggressive use of mobilization, organizing and communications tools at each of its 400 local unions. The LIUNA Action Network mobilizes members to take a stand on important issues. See how every new member is equipped to be an integral and active part of the union with a Member Orientation Guide. Through the LIUNA Training and Education Fund, members have access to free world-class skills training, enabling them to expand their work opportunities. Through various organizing efforts, the union fights to help non-union workers improve their lives by uniting with the union and by defending the rights of all workers, whether immigrant or native born. LIUNA also supports constituency groups for women, African Americans and Latinos. To see the amazing work LIUNA members do, visit Great Projects. Check out LECET's labor-contractor initiative, which helps connect skilled workers with the contractors who need them. To learn how the union strives to make job sites safer and workers healthier, visit the Laborers' Health and Safety Fund and its publication Lifelines.