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As contract bargaining opened today for more than 13,000 AT&T West workers, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) bargaining team urged AT&T to negotiate an improved contract that includes wage increases, benefit protections and a commitment to keeping good, family-supporting jobs in the region.
For Black History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various African American leaders and activists who have worked at the intersection of civil and labor rights, with a particular focus on voting rights. Without access to the ballot box and an assurance that everyone's vote counts, civil and labor rights are among the first to be taken away from working people. Today, we're looking at Lottie Rollin.
Charlotte "Lottie" Rollin was born in 1849, the second of five African American sisters born to a free black family in South Carolina. While older sister Frances would be more well-known and all five sisters were activists, Lottie would have a special focus on voting rights.
Lottie followed Frances into activism after the family moved to Columbia. In March 1869, she argued for women's suffrage before the state legislature, becoming one of the first African American women to formally speak to a state government in the South after the Civil War. The next year she organized a "Women's Rights Convention." She chaired the event and her sister Katherine served as secretary.
In the following years, Lottie founded South Carolina's branch of one of the leading voting rights organizations in the country, the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). She recruited her sisters to the state AWSA and they led a big push for a state constitutional amendment for women's suffrage in 1872. The amendment was defeated as radical Reconstruction ended.
In the years after the failure of the amendment, the Rollin family, particularly Lottie, were more and more in danger from the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists. All five sisters eventually would be forced to leave the South. Lottie ended up in Brooklyn.
At the 1870 women's rights convention, Lottie Rollin spoke to her passion:
It had been so universally the custom to treat the idea of woman suffrage with ridicule and merriment that it becomes necessary in submitting the subject for earnest deliberation that we assure the gentlemen present that our claim is made honestly and seriously. We ask suffrage not as a favor, not as a privilege, but as a right based on the ground that we are human beings, and as such, entitled to all human rights...until woman has had right of representation this will last, and other rights will be held by an insecure tenure.
Read more about the Rollin sisters and their activism in Columbia, South Carolina, and beyond.
For Black History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various African American leaders and activists who have worked at the intersection of civil and labor rights. First, let's take a look back at our past profiles:
- Muhammad Ali
- Arlene Holt Baker
- Ella Josephine Baker
- Rachel Bryan
- William Burrus
- Hattie Canty
- Charlene Carruthers
- Septima Poinsette Clark
- Echol Cole
- Fannie Lou Hamer
- Fred Hampton
- Elle Hearns
- Charles Horhn
- Velma Hopkins
- Marsha P. Johnson
- William Lucy
- Doug Moore
- Isaac Myers
- Bree Newsome
- OUR Walmart workers
- Lucy Gonzales Parsons
- A. Philip Randolph
- Fred Redmond
- Keith Richardson
- Kenneth Rigmaiden
- Bayard Rustin
- Umi Selah
- Augusta Thomas
- Rosina Tucker
- Robert Walker
- Sue Cowan Williams
- Diann Woodard
Check back throughout February as we add even more names to this prestigious list.
There’s only one living member of Congress who’s ever been invited to speak at a Labor Notes Conference (or for that matter, subscribed to this magazine), and he’s currently leading the polls for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Then-Congressman Bernie Sanders opened the 1993 Labor Notes Conference with his proposed “Workers’ Bill of Rights” to raise the minimum wage, shorten working hours with no loss in pay, divert military spending to create civilian jobs, facilitate union organizing, and create a single-payer health care system.
The Communications Workers of America and AT&T have agreed to extend the AT&T Mobility Southwest contract, which was set to expire at midnight last night, February 21, 2020, until 11:59 pm on February 22, 2020 to allow additional time to resolve outstanding issues.
At a lotion factory outside Chicago, workers endured years of sexual harassment, coercion, gender and racial discrimination, and unsafe working conditions.
Last year the women at Voyant Beauty came together to fight back.
The workers at Voyant are overwhelmingly female, and almost all long-term temps. They blend, bottle, pack, and ship beauty products for brands like Victoria’s Secret, Johnson & Johnson, and Aveeno.
BLACK WORKERS SHUT OUT
Before the organizing came a hiring discrimination lawsuit, filed in 2012.
Update: Local 26 announced today that it will call a one-day strike next week by its 4,000 members who clean commercial office buildings. Earlier this week, the union reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract covering 2,000 security officers, with raises of 14 percent.—Eds.
“Twin Cities janitors and security officers vote to authorize strike over pay and sick leave,” read the headline in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
"We need to make sure our members know about every single thing Trump has done to make working people's lives worse since he was elected."
Workers from several media outlets have voted to join with CWA.
This week, CWA members at AT&T Southwest Mobility voted to authorize a strike, with a vote supported by 98% of workers.
On Valentine's Day, CWA members across the country held protests to call out Members of Congress who voted against the PRO Act.
CWA's contract with Frontier in California expires later this year.
AT&T Southwest Mobility workers, represented by the Communications Workers of America, today authorized a strike, with a vote supported by 98% of workers. The strike authorization comes as CWA's contract with AT&T, covering more than 8,000 Southwest Mobility workers, is set to expire on Friday, February 21, 2020.
Communications Workers of America Urges DCCC to End Campaign Support for Democratic House Members Who Voted Against PRO Act
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) this week sent a letter to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chair Cheri Bustos to urge the Committee to cease providing campaign support to the seven Democratic House Members who voted against final passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.
We have good news and bad news.
The good news is that locals representing more than 60,000 Auto Workers (UAW) members have passed the Article 8 resolution calling for a special convention to amend our union constitution and mandate the direct election of top officers. It’s pretty astonishing to see just how quickly momentum built for this effort.
UAW Local 774 was the first local to pass the resolution, on November 22. Over the next four months, 25 more locals passed it, taking a bold step together to demand union democracy.
If you’re a union member, unfortunately the chances are good that you’ve had, or will have, your heart broken at least once by one of your own leaders.
Maybe it happened when you first tried to get active in your union, but found that leaders didn’t welcome you into their inner circle. You wondered whether there was some special skill you lacked, and you ended up confused and self-doubting. Maybe you just gave up.
Last June at the House Ways and Means Committee Hearing on Medicare for All, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas lamented, “That great health care plan that your union negotiated for you? It’s gone. Banned under Medicare for All.”
A right-wing congressman with a 7 percent lifetime voting score from the AFL-CIO crying crocodile tears for union health care plans can easily be dismissed as just another absurdity of America’s political dysfunction.
Thanks to the tireless work of CWA members and a broad coalition of labor, civil rights, environmental, religious, immigrant rights, and women's groups, the U.S. House passed historic legislation to make it easier for workers to join a union.
For Black History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various African American leaders and activists who have worked at the intersection of civil and labor rights, with a particular focus on voting rights. Without access to the ballot box and an assurance that everyone's vote counts, civil and labor rights are among the first to be taken away from working people. Today, we're looking at the Rev. George W. Lee.
In 1955, the murder of Emmett Till shocked the United States and was a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement. But Till wasn't the only prominent murder of an African American in Mississippi that year and the murder of the Rev. George W. Lee not only informed the reaction to Till's murder, but Lee's murder was part of the pathway to the passage of the Voting Rights Act a decade later.
Lee lived in Humphreys County, which was only one county away from where Till was murdered later in the year. Before becoming an activist, Lee grew up in Edwards, Mississippi. His mother was an illiterate plantation woman who died when Lee was young. While living with his aunt, Lee successfully graduated high school, which was rare for Southern black men. He later worked in New Orleans before becoming a preacher in Belzoni, Mississippi, in the state's delta area.
Poverty was high in Belzoni, and Lee worked hard to improve himself. He served as pastor at four different churches, opened a grocery store and his wife, Rosebud, ran a printing business out of the house. Lee was the first black person in Humphreys County to register to vote in recent memory. He and a friend Gus Courts, then co-founded a local branch of the NAACP. By 1955, Lee and Courts had registered nearly all of the county's 90 eligible black voters.
But local whites, led by the notorious Citizens Councils were purging black people from the voting rolls through economic pressure, intimidation and violence. Many of Belzoni's black citizens were pressured into dropping themselves from the voting rolls, but Lee and Courts stood firm. Lee was a vice president in the Regional Council of Negro Leadership. The organization not only focused on improving the skills of black people in the state, but they also pursued voting rights and led a successful boycott of gas stations that discriminated against black people.
Before long, Lee had developed into a top-notch public speaker who rallied black voters with words like: "Pray not for your mom and pop. They've gone to heaven. Pray you can make it through this hell." The racists of Belzoni reacted just as strongly. Less than a month after Lee gave spoke those words at the Regional Council of Negro Leadership convention, he was murdered. Just before midnight on May 7, 1955, an assailant fired three shotgun blasts into Lee's car and he died from the shots before he could be treated at the local hospital.
At the time Medgar Evers was a field secretary for the NAACP, and he was assigned to investigate the Lee murder. The work Evers did in this case was a springboard for his later civil rights activism. Evers found that Lee had received a threatening note to drop his voter registration three days before the murder. The autopsy found that lead pellets consistent with buckshot killed Lee, but the local sheriff claimed that the death was a traffic accident and that the lead pellets were "dental fillings" knocked loose during the car crash that ensued from the assault.
Much like Emmett Till later that year, Lee's funeral was a media event for black newspapers. Rosebud Lee decided to hold an open-coffin ceremony. Black newspapers shared the photo of Lee's mutilated corpse. When Till was lynched, his photo in black newspapers was an important part of spurring action in the civil rights movement. Lee's funeral was a precursor to that type of communication to the public during the civil rights movement. Civil rights activists continued searching for evidence to pinpoint Lee's killers, but the FBI investigation ran out of steam because potential witnesses were afraid to talk. No one was ever charged with Lee's murder. Later, Lee's partner Gus Courts was also shot, although he survived the assault.
The efforts of Lee (and Court) were important in showing how to register black voters in the South in the face of violent opposition. Rosebud's decision to reveal the violence against her husband to the world would set the table for the successes of the civil rights and voting rights movements.
Officials in the Auto Workers (UAW) have been working arm in arm with the Big Three automakers since the 1980s to increase productivity. So perhaps it was inevitable that union officials’ hands would find their way into the employers’ deep pockets.
Now some UAW officials and corporate executives are behind bars. A federal investigation has revealed that Fiat-Chrysler (FCA) funneled millions of dollars into the UAW.
Earlier this month, responsible investors filed thousands of comments with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to oppose a rule making that will entrench corporate CEOs from accountability on environmental, social and governance issues. Pension plans, socially responsible investors, faith-based funds, individual investors and investor rights groups strongly opposed the SEC power grab by CEOs and their corporate lobbyists.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) said: “We strongly oppose the SEC's shareholder proposal rule changes that will limit the ability of working people and their pension plans to have a voice in the companies that we invest in.” The SEC voted to propose these pro-CEO rule changes in a partisan 3–2 vote in November last year.
The SEC’s proposals include a variety of new restrictions on the ability of shareholders to file proposals. These shareholder proposals encourage reforms on topics including executive compensation, workers’ rights and board diversity. The SEC estimates that its proposed rule changes will reduce the number of shareholder proposals by more than 37%.
Secondly, the SEC has proposed to allow companies to undermine the independence of proxy advisers who recommend how shareholders vote at company annual meetings. The SEC proposal will allow companies to “pre-review” proxy voting advice before it is given to investors. Companies may threaten to sue if proxy advisers do not make their requested changes.
In two letters to the SEC, the AFL-CIO defended the rights of union members’ pension plans to file shareholder proposals and to vote proxies using independent advice. “The SEC should protect the rights of working people as the real main street investors, not the interests of overpaid and unaccountable corporate CEOs,” Trumka explained.
When Congress passed a nearly $2 trillion tax cut for corporations and the wealthy in 2017, we warned that the obscene cost of this tax cut bill would be used as a pretext to cut programs that benefit working people.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) said at the time that the 2017 tax bill was:
Nothing but a con game, and working people are the ones they’re trying to con. Here we go again. First comes the promise that tax giveaways for the wealthy and big corporations will trickle down to the rest of us. Then comes the promise that tax cuts will pay for themselves. Then comes the promise that they want to stop offshoring. And finally, we find out that none of these things is true, and the people responsible for wasting trillions of dollars on tax giveaways to the rich tell us we have no choice but to cut Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, education and infrastructure. There always seems to be plenty of money for millionaires and big corporations but never enough money to do anything for working people.
Now those predictions are coming true, as President Trump has released his new budget plan for the coming year.
The president proposes to cut $2 trillion from safety net programs, which is about the same amount as the cost of the 2017 tax bill. His budget plan would cut $1 trillion from Medicaid and subsidies for the Affordable Care Act. The Labor Department gets whacked by $1.3 billion. Trade Adjustment Assistance for people who lose their jobs to imports is slashed by nearly $400 million, and a program to help U.S. manufacturing companies create jobs is eliminated. The budget plan also eliminates subsidized student loans and the public service student loan forgiveness program.
While supporters of the 2017 tax bill promised it would benefit working people, almost all of its benefits have gone to corporations and the wealthy, and very little has trickled down to working people. Paychecks are still flat, and too many working people still have to work more than one job just to make ends meet. Wages grew by only 0% in September, -0.1% in October, -0.1% in November and -0.1% in December, when adjusted for inflation.
To make things worse, the president’s budget proposes another tax cut that goes disproportionately to the wealthy—extending the tax cuts from the 2017 tax bill for another 10 years at a cost of $1.4 trillion over the next decade. Two-thirds of these tax cuts would go to the richest 20% of all taxpayers. Here we go again.
They keep running the same play because it keeps working. Since 2001, the wealthiest 1% of all taxpayers have gotten $2 trillion in tax cuts, and federal tax revenues have been reduced by $5.1 trillion. This is money that should have been used to make life better for working people—for example, by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, funding quality public education for every child and guaranteeing retirement security for our seniors—rather than building up the fortunes of the 1%.
University of California President Janet Napolitano proudly touted her opposition to Trump’s racist immigration policies before he even moved into the Oval Office. Now she’s following in Trump’s footsteps, threatening international students with actions that could lead to their deportation in an attempt to smash a wildcat strike at the university’s Santa Cruz campus.
There are the things politicians say, and then there are things they do. When Donald Trump was running for office, he promised there would be no cuts to Medicaid. As president, he promised “health care for everyone.” His aides promised “no one will lose coverage” and “no one will be worse off.” These promises sounded great and reassured voters.
But then last week, the administration quietly released a new policy that is the equivalent of a ticking time bomb—a health care IED that looks harmless but has the potential to cause tremendous financial damage to state Medicaid programs and take health care away from people who can least afford it.
The new policy caps what the federal government will pay for health care under Medicaid. Currently, the federal government pays for at least half of the cost of all of the health care needed by everyone eligible for the coverage. Under the new policy, there will be a ceiling on federal funding for those people who qualified for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That lump sum payment may not be enough, if for example, the cost of medical care rises faster than expected. Since the goal of the policy is to save money, it is expected that states will reduce the level of coverage or limit eligibility if they bump up against the ceiling of federal funding.
According to Kaiser Family Foundation, some 12 million additional people in 35 states have used the ACA to get coverage through the Medicaid program. Many of these are workers who were not eligible for traditional Medicaid.
We often do not appreciate how access to Medicaid has improved the health of working families. According to the Center for American Progress, Medicaid expansion under the ACA has reduced mortality rates by 6% in the newly eligible beneficiary population and reduced racial disparities in cancer treatment. Medicaid expansion has also reduced the rate of hospital closures, lowered uncompensated costs, raised wages in the health care field and increased state revenue. States that expanded Medicaid saw an average 13% decline in residents with medical debt—further evidence of how the Medicaid benefit improves the living standard of working families that would otherwise face major medical bills.
A block grant would allow states to reduce benefits for this group of people that are new to Medicaid and cut funding for a range of “optional” services like dental care and prescription drug coverage traditionally offered under the program. Medicaid cuts would hurt immigrant enrollees, but it would also harm their U.S. citizen children. As FamiliesUSA notes, when parents have a hard time accessing Medicaid, their children are likely to lose access to care as well.
The guidance issued by the administration ignores the historical lessons of the past: We need a flexible health care program that helps individuals and communities respond to recessions, epidemics or natural disasters. Would Houston or Iowa be better off with reduced Medicaid spending after the devastated floods in their community? Would California be better off after an awful series of wildfires destroyed whole communities? Would the country be better able to handle the thousands of people who may need emergency care in a medical pandemic with capped funding?
Replacing the open-ended federal commitment to state Medicaid programs with block grants is a gamble for governors, and the odds are this bet will end up devastating state budgets and forcing harmful cuts in coverage and benefits.
Maybe that is why the administration’s new Medicaid policy was rolled out as if the president has something to hide. Department of Health and Human Services officials have purposely issued the policy through an administrative process that doesn't allow for public comment. Taking this quiet approach makes sense, though, since this is the same policy that was rejected three times by Congress in 2017 and was unpopular at the polls in 2018. We can only hope that voters will take the same notice of it in 2020 and let their state officials know that this is not a good option for their communities.
Protesting low wages in one of the most unaffordable cities in the country, graduate students at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) went on a wildcat grading strike in December and are now organizing for a full strike, beginning February 10.
Graduate student workers at the 10 UC campuses across the state receive the same wages—$2,434 a month, which after taxes amounts to just over $18,000 a year, given that we are only paid for nine months.
The U.S. economy gained 225,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 3.6%, according to figures released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the year, wages were up 3.1%. This was very tepid wage growth for this level of unemployment, and shows the labor market has not reached full employment.
In response to the January job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs tweeted:
Since last January, @BLS_gov reports wages were up 3.1% for all workers. This is modest for this point in a recovery with sustained low unemployment rates. @AFLCIO There is clear room for the @federalreserve to hold its policy as we remain far from indicators of escalating wages— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 7, 2020
Construction had continued gains, +44,000 for January, but manufacturing showed losses, led by a drop of 10,600 in autos and auto parts. Retail trade continued weakness, led by drops in department stores -16,900. And transportation showed gains led by messengers +14,300 @AFLCIO— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 7, 2020
After many months where the adult white and Latino male unemployment rates were equal, the unemployment rate for Latinos jumped to 3.4% from 3.0%, while the white rate barely edged up from 2.8 to 2.9% @AFLCIO— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 7, 2020
The unemployment rate for non-veteran women fell since last January from 4.0 to 3.7%, but rose for women veterans from 2.7 to 3.2% (it fell for male veterans) mostly because of a jump for the most recent Gulf War II era veterans. @AFLCIO— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 7, 2020
226,000 jobs was a good number, but job gains (moving to the right in the chart) were not broad across all industries. The Education & Health sector continued to be the strongest. Higher (moving up in the chart) and lower wage industries were mixed in gains and losses @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/I8RRNn8pkd— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 7, 2020
January is a trigger date for many states to automatically adjust their minimum wages. Average wages for retail trade jumped 4.1% since last January and 3.4% for leisure & hospitality (food services mostly) compared to the 1.5% in education & health (an average wage industry).— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 7, 2020
In a good sign for January, more women who were unemployed in December found a job (844,000) than quit looking and dropped out of the labor force (701,000); and the 2.633 million who found jobs, from having been out of the labor force, were 75% of net gains in women's employment.— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 7, 2020
Payroll employment +226,000 in January, @BLS_gov reports that their benchmark estimate for job gains in 2019 were revised downward by 12,000 from previous reports. There were also adjustments to the household survey effecting the counts of employed and work force size. @AFLCIO— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 7, 2020
January proves December was no fluke, women remain the majority of US workers. Education & health (77.4% female) a sector with 24.5 million workers is almost twice the size of the male dominated (72.3% male) manufacturing sector (12.8 million workers) and comparable average wages— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) February 7, 2020
Last month's biggest job gains were in construction (44,000), health care (36,000), leisure and hospitality (36,000), transportation and warehousing (28,000) and professional and business services (21,000). Manufacturing declined (-12,000). Employment in other major industries, including mining, wholesale trade, retail trade, information, financial activities and government, changed little over the month.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for teenagers (12.2%), blacks (6.0%), Hispanics (4.3%), adult men (3.3%), adult women (3.2%), whites (3.1%) and Asians (3.0%) showed little or no change in January.
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was unchanged in January and accounted for 19.9% of the unemployed.
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.
Building Bridges: Peter Dolack, an organizer with Trade Justice New York Metro and author of It’s Not Over: Learning From the Socialist Experiment and What Do We Need Bosses For: Toward Economic Democracy, discusses the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Heartland Labor Forum: "Very few newspapers have labor reporters any more, but these days there’s a proliferation of podcasts and blogs on the internet. We’ll find out about a website called organizing dot work. Then UAW Local 31 President Clarence Brown led his local in their 40-day strike against General Motors. We’ll talk to him about the strike and the future of labor and the UAW."
Labor History Today: "Jacquelyn Dowd Hall discusses her new book, Sisters and Rebels: A Struggle for the Soul of the South in an excerpt from the Working History podcast. Also this week, Karen Nussbaum on Iris Rivera’s historic refusal to serve coffee, Jessica Pauszek reads poetry by a striking British miner’s wife and Tom Zaniello remembers Charlie Chaplin’s 'Modern Times.'"
UCOMM Podcast: "Shedding light on UAW coup/corruption and Trump tries to ban impeachment talk, Remembering Kobe Bryant, Will C has some reflections, Trump is going out of his way to privatize the Post Office, Illinois wants to ban 'Right to Work,' Amazon employees are protesting climate change, [Brian] Schneck talks about his efforts to take the UAW back for the members, Trump bans impeachment talk and we have bets on the Iowa Caucus and the Super Bowl."
Union City Radio: "Big turnout for Murray Women's Club candidate education forum; how labor can help battle addiction; Washington labor leader Jackie Jeter retires; 'a slap in the face'; new online labor bookstore."
Union Strong (NYS AFL-CIO): "New York state has had a call center outsourcing problem that has resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of call center jobs over the past several years. Companies packed up and moved either out of state or out of the country and often after receiving state grants, guaranteed loans and tax benefits. On this podcast, Hae-Lin Choi, the statewide legislative and political director for CWA District 1, explains how a new law aims to change that."
Willamette Wake-Up: "Labor Report with Don Mcintosh on pensions and retirement."
Your Rights At Work (WPFW 89.3 FM, Washington, D.C.): D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine and Assistant Attorney General Randy Chen on recent wins against wage theft, Dolly Parton's pro-labor song from the film "9 to 5" and "Case Closed" with Bob Samet, senior partner at Ashcraft and Gerel.
Martin Scorsese’s movie The Irishman—up for best picture at the Oscars this weekend—is sparking interest in union president Jimmy Hoffa, 45 years after he disappeared.
Few have embodied the tough “labor boss” more than Hoffa, who headed the Teamsters from 1958 to 1967, when he went to federal prison for bribery and jury tampering.
There’s something to admire about Hoffa, who improved the lives of millions through strong contracts and solid benefits. Compared to an empty suit like disgraced former Auto Workers President Gary Jones, he looks pretty good.
On the latest episode of "State of the Unions," podcast co-host Tim Schlittner talks with AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre (UFCW) about his journey from being an Ethiopian refugee to success in the labor movement in Orange County, California, and in Washington, D.C., and the people and institutions that helped him along the way.
Listen to our previous episodes:
A conversation with the Rev. Leah Daughtry, CEO of "On These Things," about Reconnecting McDowell, an AFT project that takes a holistic approach to revitalizing the education and community of McDowell, West Virginia, and how her faith informs her activism.
Talking to Fire Fighters (IAFF) General President Harold Schaitberger about the union’s behavioral health treatment center dedicated to treating IAFF members struggling with addiction and other related behavioral challenges. The discussion also addresses the toll of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on firefighters and their families, the response of the IAFF in its wake, and the life of a firefighter.
A chat with the podcast team on their favorite episodes of 2019.
A discussion with Cas Mudde, a political scientist at the University of Georgia, on the resurgence of right-wing politicians and activists across the world, much of it cloaked in populist, worker-friendly rhetoric.
Talking with Guy Ryder, the director-general of the International Labor Organization, about the international labor movement, the idea of “decent labor” and the future of work.
A discussion with Union Veterans Council Executive Director Will Attig about his work connecting the labor movement and the veterans community.
Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with organizing efforts at a publishing giant and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life. The end of 2019 saw a flurry of wins for working people, so this is the second in several posts that will cover the victories of the last quarter of the year.
Employees at Media Giant Hearst Magazines to Join Writers Guild: Employees at one of America’s oldest major magazine publishers are forming a union, becoming the latest big media organization to join the ranks of organized labor. Editorial, photo, video and social media employees working at 24 major Hearst publications voted to be represented by the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). The publications covered include Elle, Esquire, Town & Country, Cosmopolitan and others. Elle Culture Editor Julie Kosin, also a union organizer, said: “We’re excited to be a part of the labor movement among our peers, and most importantly create a fair and equitable workplace for the future of this industry.”
Chicago Teachers Union End Strike with New Contract: After an 11-day strike, the Chicago Teachers Union went back to work after approving a new contract. More than 25,000 teachers will be covered under the new contract and 300,000 kids returned to classes. Jesse Sharkey, president of the union, said: “This contract is a powerful advance for our city and our movement for real equity and educational justice for our school communities and the children we serve.”
New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Workers Approve New Contract: The largest union representing Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) workers approved a new contract after six months of tense negotiations and no contract. Previous offers by the MTA sought to cut back on overtime, increase worker health care contributions and limit vacation time accrual for workers, proposals the union called "insulting." The workers are represented by Transport Workers (TWU) Local 100, whose president, Ton Utano, said: “I am happy to report that we have reached a negotiated settlement with the MTA that I believe the Local 100 membership will ratify in overwhelming fashion.”
Massachusetts Marijuana Workers Join UFCW: Working people at Sira Naturals, a marijuana company in Massachusetts, voted to be represented by Local 1445 of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). More than 100 workers will be covered by the new unit. Sira's chief executive, Mike Dundas, said the company voluntarily recognized the union. He said it would help attract and retain employees.
Musicians Reach New Film and TV Contract: Musicians represented by the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) have reached an agreement on a new contract for film and television with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The two-year deal was reached after the two sides settled issues relating to residuals for films and television shows made for streaming services.
Los Angeles Proterra Electric Bus Assemblers to be Represented by Steelworkers: Working people at Proterra's electric bus assembly line plant California voted to join the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 675. The company's leadership was amenable to the drive and worked with USW to help workers understand the need to a carbon-neutral economy. Blanchard Pinto, a supervisor at the plant, said: “This is my first time being in a union, and I’m actually excited about it. It was a no-brainer for me that it was something we could use for the job stability.”
Cedar Rapids General Mills Workers Ratify New Contract: More than 500 workers represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union voted to approve a new three-year contract with General Mills. The workers had threatened to strike before the deal was reached. Tim Sarver, who has worked for General Mills for more than 37 years, said: “I am thrilled to know we will all be going to work tomorrow with the peace of mind of a strong union contract. Over 500 families can sleep well tonight knowing their needed benefits are secure for the next three years. The strength of our union during these first contract negotiations was extraordinary. I am proud to say that a union contract is now part of every balanced breakfast that comes from our General Mills plant.”
NBC News Universal Editorial Staff Vote to Join The NewsGuild: Editorial staffers at NBC News Digital voted overwhelmingly to affiliate with the The NewsGuild of New York (TNG-CWA). After the vote, the editorial workers requested that NBC voluntarily recognize the unit. The new unit covers staff from nbcnews.com, today.com, StayTuned, Left Field, msnbc.com and NBC News Now. Nigel Chiwaya, a data journalist and member of the new unit, said: “NBC News is a storied name in journalism, and we all feel proud to be a part of it. Forming the NBC NewsGuild is our way of protecting the legacy for everyone here now and for those who will come after us. We are organizing to make our newsroom stronger and safer for all.”
Content Producers at Philadelphia's WHYY Join SAG-AFTRA: Journalists and other content producers at WHYY in Philadelphia have voted to join SAG-AFTRA. The vote was nearly unanimous, and the 90 workers represented by SAG-AFTRA will next negotiate their first collective bargaining agreement. In a statement, the union said: “We’re thrilled by our strong showing. We look forward to beginning a democratic process to hear from our members about what they would value most from a contract with management.”
UAW and Ford Reach Agreement: The UAW reached a tentative contract in November. The contract covers 55,000 hourly Ford workers in the United States, the most of any domestic automaker. Rory Gamble, vice president of the UAW Ford Department, said: "Our national negotiators elected by their local unions have voted unanimously to recommend to the UAW-Ford National Council the proposed tentative agreement. Our negotiating team worked diligently during the General Motors strike to maintain productive negotiations with Ford. The pattern bargaining strategy has been a very effective approach for UAW and its members to secure economic gains around salary, benefits and over $6 billion in major product investments in American facilities, creating and retaining over 8,500 jobs for our communities."