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NewsFeed - Labor
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Last year, in communities all across the country, millions of Americans mobilized and called for an economy that works for all of us. From state houses and governors mansions to Capitol Hill, we elected advocates who committed themselves to advancing that cause. That election was defined by a movement of hard working people who stood together to reject the meager crumbs we are being handed and reclaim what is rightfully ours.
In electing more than 900 union members to office, we secured a great opportunity to right the structural wrongs of our economy. Our mission was not simply to rack up victories on election night last November. We changed the rulemakers. Now it is time for them to change the rules. As legislators move past the manufactured crisis that defined the first weeks of the 116th Congress, working people are ready to fight for that change.
Above all, that means affirming our ability to have a real voice on the job. A recent study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that half of all nonunion workers, or more than 60 million Americans, would choose to join a union if they were given the chance, yet aspiring union members continue to face countless obstacles. The power of working people must be unleashed. Whether we work for private companies or public employers, in an office or a mine or a factory, all of us have the right to freely negotiate higher wages and better working conditions.
Congress should modernize the badly outdated National Labor Relations Act to truly protect our freedom to organize and mobilize together. Top lawmakers have put forth promising proposals that would ensure workers can organize a union without facing scorched earth tactics and hostile campaigns from corporations. If workers sign up for a union, they deserve to know their decision is protected by law. It is not the job of executives, governors or right wing operatives to make those decisions for them.
However, our fight will not end with one piece of legislation. An agenda for working families means building a fairer economy and a more just society for everyone in our country, whether you are in a union or not. That means achieving full employment where every American is able to access a good job, passing a $15 federal minimum wage, and refusing to approve any trade agreement that lacks enforceable labor protections.
It means providing a secure and prosperous future for all our families by expanding Social Security, strengthening our pensions, and making a serious federal investment in our infrastructure. It means defending the health and lives of working people by shoring up the Affordable Care Act, removing onerous taxes on health insurance plans negotiated by workers, expanding Medicare coverage to more people, and lowering prescription drug costs. It means passing laws that ensure paid sick and family leave.
All of these guarantees are long overdue for working people, but there is arguably no task so vital as defending our right to safety and dignity on the job. Congress should also extend comprehensive federal protections, including the Equality Act, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status, to LGBTQ and immigrant workers, whose livelihoods and families too often rest on the whims of their employers.
As one of a handful of men in my family to survive the scourge of black lung in the coal mines of Pennsylvania, I cannot overstate the dire need for broadly strengthened safety regulations, including the expansion of Occupational Safety and Health Administration coverage to all workers, toughened federal enforcement, and ironclad whistleblower protections.
Corporations and right wing interests continue to try their best to deny working people our fair share of the enormous wealth that we produce every day. In November, we stood up to change that twisted status quo. We made our voices heard at the ballot box, and we intend to hold the people we elected accountable to an economic agenda that will raise wages, move our country forward, and lead to better lives for all of us.
The latest bargaining information about the University of California and the Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association.
Workers at the Hartford Courant, the oldest continuously run U.S. newspaper, have won voluntary recognition for their union from ownership company Tribune Publishing.
In order to get the Republican corporate tax cut bill passed, many big businesses made big promises to workers that their wages would go up.
Members from seven different Georgia campuses met with their state Senators and Representatives to gain additional sponsors on legislation to guarantee a fair pay raise for all Georgia higher education workers.
Casual dockworkers in the Port of Valparaíso, one of the largest ports in Chile, in December ended a 36-day strike.
The majority of Chile’s fruit exports pass through this port. The strike came at the beginning of summer in the southern hemisphere—the height of the season for fruit, one of the biggest export industries in the country.
Isaac Myers was born in Baltimore in 1835 to free parents. The city's schools excluded African American children, so Myers had to learn to read and write from his minister. At 16, Myers took an apprenticeship with Thomas Jackson, an African American ship caulker who was well-known in the city. Myers learned quickly, and by the time he was 20, he had been placed in charge of a crew that caulked large clipper ships. Myers stayed in the trade for nearly a decade before moving on to open a grocery business in the early 1860s.
The Baltimore shipyards of the time employed both free blacks and slaves leased to the shipyard owners, including Frederick Douglass, who worked as a caulker in the few years leading up to his escape to freedom. In 1838, African American workers formed the Caulkers Association, one of the first African American trade unions in the United States. By the 1850s, black caulkers were paid well—well enough, in fact, that white workers and immigrants who also worked in the shipyards began speaking out against the African American workers. In 1858, riots began. Some shipyard owners, wary of the conflict, stopped hiring black caulkers. In 1865, white workers engaged in a strike that forced shipyards to fire African American workers, leading to more than 1,000 dock workers being fired.
Myers had stayed in contact with his friends who worked in the shipyards during the conflict. He worked his way up to be a high-ranking clerk in a wholesale grocery business. In response to the strike by white workers who targeted black shipyard workers, Myers organized a group of both African American and white business owners to create a new shipyard that would function as a cooperative. The new Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry Dock Company employed more than 300 African American workers and the pay was good. The new shipyard was successful until 1884, when they lost the lease. Myers served as a board member for the company and an unofficial spokesperson.
Meanwhile, Myers focused most of his time on helping expand the black trade unionist movement. By 1868, he was president of the Colored Caulkers' Trade Union Society of Baltimore. He used that position to reach out to African American union members in other trades and cities in an effort to bring organizations that allowed African Americans to join into the National Labor Union, a new national federation of local unions. At the NLU's 1869 national convention, Myers and a delegation of African American union leaders addressed the gathering, making the case for equal treatment and acceptance of black leaders by the white leaders of organized labor. Myers said:
I speak today for the colored men of the whole country...when I tell you that all they ask for themselves is a fair chance; that you shall be no worse off by giving them that chance....The white men of the country have nothing to fear....We desire to have the highest rate of wages that our labor is worth.
The NLU rejected Myers plea, but they offered him and others the opportunity for African American unionists to join an affiliated, but separate, organization. Myers and other leaders formed the Colored National Labor Union. Over the next several years, Douglass had become the most well-recognized leader in the CNLU, which was hit hard by the depression of 1873. Both the NLU and CNLU folded because of the depression.
That didn't slow down Myers' organizing efforts. He launched a new organization, the Colored Men's Progressive and Cooperative Union, which was open to members of all occupational backgrounds. The new union not only allowed both white and black members, it was one of the few unions of the day to also welcome women.
In the 1870s, Myers became pretty heavily involved in politics and worked as a Customs Service agent and postal inspector. He continued to help organize in the South before returning to Baltimore in 1880 to run a coal yard. He stayed active in African American community organizations and edited the Colored Citizen, a weekly newspaper up until his death in 1891 at 56.
Check out all of our Black History Month labor profiles.
“Don’t start those buses tomorrow,” said Joe White, executive director of the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association.
He was announcing the second statewide education strike in West Virginia in a year, alongside the leaders of the state’s two teacher unions.
The next morning, February 19, buses throughout the state sat idle in garages.
And by the middle of the day, strikers declared victory with the defeat of an anti-union, pro-privatization education bill in the state House.
The teacher strike wave keeps gathering steam. After three days out, February 11-13, Denver teachers won a settlement that achieved their main goal—to dramatically reduce the effects of the district’s chaotic merit pay system.
Oakland teachers, meanwhile, have announced they will strike February 21.
The new contract in Denver will put more money into base pay and into steps and lanes, which reward teachers for their years of experience and level of higher education.
Name of Union: American Federation of Government Employees
Mission: The union exists for the purpose of promoting unity of action in all matters affecting the mutual interests of government civilian employees in general, all other persons providing their personal service indirectly to the United States Government and for the improvement of government service.
Current Leadership of Union: J. David Cox Sr. is currently serving his third term as AFGE's national president. Cox, who is from North Carolina, began working in health care in 1970 and became a registered nurse in 1983. That launched a public sector career with the Veterans' Administration that lasted until 2006, when he became AFGE's national secretary-treasurer. Everett Kelley serves as national secretary-treasurer and Jeremy Lannan serves as national vice president for women and fair practices.
Current Number of Members: 315,000.
Members Work As: Food inspectors, nurses, correctional officers, lawyers, police officers, census workers, scientists, doctors, park rangers, border patrol agents, transportation security officers, mechanics, computer programmers and more.
Industries Represented: Members work for the federal government or the government of the District of Columbia.
History: AFGE formed in 1932, during the depths of the Great Depression. Federal employees were refused most of the rights they have today. Politicians had crippled the civil service, and AFGE's founding members came together in opposition to these attacks. In the decades leading up to World War II, new chapters of the union began to form across the country. In the 1940s and 50s, AFGE fought for and won a pay raise of nearly 16%, the largest increase for the federal government workforce in the country's history. They also won within-grade pay increases, transportation allowances and payment for accrued annual leave, overtime, and night and holiday work. Finally, in 1962, federal workers secured the right to collectively bargain when President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10988. Since then, AFGE has continued to fight for government workers and has won real bargaining rights and extended the dignity of a union contract to hundreds of thousands of Americans. Check out AFGE's Labor History Timeline to learn more.
Current Campaigns: Stop the Shutdown seeks to end the unfair and unnecessary shutdown of the federal government. AFGE is also fighting to protect the rights for TSA workers; protect correctional officers; protect official time for federal employees and to fully fund and resource the Veterans Administration. AFGE's Use Your Voice empowers young workers to engage their fellow AFGE members, friends and family to register to vote and turn out to the polls on Election Day. Family First is a campaign to pass paid parental leave for all working families.
Community Efforts: Each One, Teach One is a mentorship program for AFGE members. AFGE is part of AFL-CIO's Union Veterans Council whose mission is to inform, organize and mobilize union veterans. AFGE Y.O.U.N.G. seeks to mobilize young union members to become leaders for social change. AFGE's Pride program supports the union's LGBTQ membership and allies. HISCO supports professional advancement, leadership development and education opportunity for AFGE members of Hispanic origin.
The simple yellow protest signs were stenciled “Green Jobs for All.” Speaker after speaker stepped into the middle of the office floor, marked with a U.S. House of Representatives seal. Representative-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, fresh off her election win, gave the protesters high fives.
That was the scene in November when the youth climate justice organization Sunrise Movement held a sit-in at the office of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who was soon to be the Speaker of the House.
Most Americans had never heard of the “Green New Deal” at the time.
They did it to public workers. Next they want to do it to railroad and airline workers.
A right-wing policy think tank filed a Janus-style lawsuit against the Machinists on January 8, claiming that non-members shouldn’t be required to pay fees for union representation.
The plaintiffs are customer service agents at United Airlines. They’re covered by the Railway Labor Act, which governs unionization and collective bargaining for hundreds of thousands of union members who work for railways or airlines—from flight attendants to freight train engineers.
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.
Number of Workers Striking Across the U.S. Jumped in 2018: "Almost 500,000 workers participated in work stoppages last year, driven primarily by protests in the education, health-care and social-assistance industries, the Labor Department said. Overall, there were more such disputes than in any year since 2007, and more people on strike or lockout than any year going back to 1987. 'If you think that neither the political system nor the economy is working for you, you turn to each other, knowing it’s the only way you can make change,' said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, which represents 12.5 million unionized workers."
Let’s Not Forget Unions and Collective Action When Discussing Victories on Workers’ Rights: "Too often in our public discourse about workplace issues, the crucial role of labor unions and the legal right of workers to join together in collective action to improve their working conditions is forgotten or ignored."
Trump Wrong to Scapegoat Immigrants, AFL-CIO President Says: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka discusses the trade war between the U.S. and China and the implications for the U.S. labor force with Bloomberg's Jason Kelly on "Bloomberg Markets: Balance of Power."
Was It Worth It? Many Suffered in Trump’s Wall Budget Loss: "Wall or no wall, that wasn’t the question during a silent demonstration in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building. For 35 minutes on Wednesday afternoon, members of the American Federation of Government Employees and others held their fists high to mark the number of days in the longest shutdown that ended three weeks ago. In solemn fashion, they declared not to tolerate such an assault on the government and its workforce. Arms were raised. At the sound of triangle chimes and a small bell rung on each minute, individuals lowered one arm and then raised the other. Each minute was displayed on a paper plate, so the demonstrators would know how much they had to endure."
Congress’s Spending Deal Doesn’t Include Back Pay for Federal Contractors: "Democratic lawmakers led by Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith wanted to attach a bill guaranteeing back pay for federal contractors to a final spending package in an effort to provide some financial relief for as many as 580,000 workers who may have missed out on wages during the recent shutdown. Contractors say they struggled with everything from covering medications to buying baby formula. The legislation, which would have been the first law of its kind to grant contractors back pay after a government shutdown, had been caught up in spending negotiations and faced Republican pushback, according to multiple Democratic sources. As Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) told reporters pointedly on Wednesday, 'I’ve been told the president won’t sign that....I guess federal contractors are different in his view than federal employees.'"
Working People Rally to Protect Dreamers and Workers with TPS: "More than 1,000 of our union brothers and sisters from across the country marched on Capitol Hill Tuesday to call on Congress to save the temporary protected status (TPS) program and allow the workers who depend on it to continue to pursue their dreams in America."
Painters Lend Helping Hand in the Construction Trades: "Work in the construction trades is very physically and mentally demanding. For some workers, those conditions, combined with other factors, can lead to the need for support from the community. The Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) union is stepping up to provide that support for workers who are dealing with depression or substance abuse with IUPAT Helping Hand, a new program designed to raise awareness and provide resources for working people who are struggling."
No More Shutdowns: In the States Roundup: "It's time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states. Click on any of the links to follow the state federations on Twitter."
U.S. Unions Bring Solidarity to Striking Mexican Workers: "A delegation of union leaders from the national AFL-CIO, the Texas AFL-CIO, the UAW and the United Steelworkers (USW) traveled to Matamoros, Mexico, last week to support tens of thousands of factory workers who have launched a wave of strikes to demand wage increases and democratic control of their unions."
Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Amalgamated Transit Union: "Next up in our new series of taking a deeper look at each of our affiliates is Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU). The series will run weekly until we've covered all 55 of our affiliates."
The NABET-CWA Network Negotiating Committee reached a tentative agreement this week with NBC Universal on a new contract to replace the Master Agreement, which expired on March 31, 2018.
Organizing news from BuzzFeed News, the Hartford Courant, and Parking Production Assistants.
CWA President Chris Shelton testified in front of Congress on Wednesday at a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology hearing on the T-Mobile/Sprint merger.
USIC workers, members of CWA Local 1101, voted overwhelmingly to keep their union last week.
CWAers across the country are making major strides on passing legislation to protect call center jobs from offshoring!
At a press conference this week, CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens and AFA-CWA International President Sara Nelson called on Congress and the White House to avoid another federal government shutdown in order to keep workers and the flying public safe.
More than 1,000 of our union brothers and sisters from across the country marched on Capitol Hill Tuesday to call on Congress to save the temporary protected status (TPS) program and allow the workers who depend on it to continue to pursue their dreams in America.
Despite the wind and rain, workers from UNITE HERE, the Laborers (LIUNA), the Bricklayers (BAC), the Ironworkers, the Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) rallied at the U.S. Capitol, demanding #TPSJustice.
TPS provides people from countries experiencing crises such as war, natural disaster or ongoing violence the opportunity to build a life in the United States. TPS holders are major contributors to our workplaces, economy and communities. They deserve a stable future, but the Trump administration has terminated the program for the 400,000 who have 275,000 U.S. citizen children.
Here is what people said on Twitter from the rally:
Our big day is here, join us starting at 9 am, at the White House, as we march for the Justice of the TPS Community 👊🏾✊🏽. #TPSMarch #TPSJustice #ResidencyNow #ProtectTPSFamilies #TpsPeoplesSummit pic.twitter.com/KIrsBiXBHP— Nat’l TPS Alliance (@TPS_Alliance) February 12, 2019
“Everything I do is for them. I can’t imagine what I would do if I lost them.” TPS recipient Doris talks about her 3 US citizen children and the nightmare she faces if Congress doesn’t act quickly to #ProtectTPS. Join us in fighting for #TPSjustice: https://t.co/YLAlU3HeBF pic.twitter.com/fqol6uXF9Q— iAmerica Action (@iAmericaAction) February 12, 2019
CALL IN DAY: Has your Representative committed to preventing the termination of TPS and providing permanent protections for people whose lives are in limbo? Call and find out: 202-335-9949 #TPSJustice #SaveTPS pic.twitter.com/4J18UQzZwA— Working Families United (@wfucoalition) February 12, 2019
It is cold and rainy at the White House today, but that won't stop us from fighting for #TPSJustice - we're out here to fight for our brothers and sisters who are TPS holders because they too deserve a pathway to become permanent residents. pic.twitter.com/cQWlcOdYGR— APALA (@APALAnational) February 12, 2019
“We are not standing in the rain because we like to stand in the rain. We are here for a cause. We are here because we don’t know what is coming next!” - Cristina Wilson #TPSjustice pic.twitter.com/7zGVr0i6Hx— Nat’l TPS Alliance (@TPS_Alliance) February 12, 2019
We're at the #TPSMarch march today in Washington, where thousands have shown up to defend this humanitarian program.— WOLA (@WOLA_org) February 12, 2019
Find out more about Trump’s attacks against the TPS community and what’s at stake: https://t.co/jcJ5REuPXY#TPSJustice #ResidencyNow #ProtectTPSFamilies pic.twitter.com/lT7mR8mGBh
I had the privilege of sponsoring “The Last Dream: Stories Created & Performed by the Children of TPS” by the #Boston Experimental Theatre to create space for these children, children of #TPS recipients, to tell their stories & demand #TPSJUSTICE. pic.twitter.com/ey4I3cLUOC— Rep Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) February 12, 2019
Rain or shine, we're proud to stand with our partners who are fighting for TPS recipients — immigrants who have built careers and made their lives here for decades now. #SaveTPS #TPSJustice pic.twitter.com/k8DcQRiXrU— Planned Parenthood Action (@PPact) February 12, 2019
Ana has lived & worked here for nearly two decades with #TPS. Today she is taking her mssg to Congress to advocate for a permanent solution for her & over 300,000 TPS holders who work hard for this country & deserve a pathway to citizenship. #SaveTPS #TPSjustice @WorkersUnitedWS pic.twitter.com/ysPfl4Dj6C— iAmerica Action (@iAmericaAction) February 12, 2019
America’s mothers call on Congress to enact legislation that affirms the dignity of immigrant women & children and of our nation. We stand with TPS holders and their fight to stay with their families and continue building their lives in the U.S. #SaveTPS #TPSJustice pic.twitter.com/YyZAqkm4oI— MomsRising (@MomsRising) February 12, 2019
“I came here in 1985 w/ dreams & am now a US citizen. I’m here to ask my sen @marcorubio to help us pass legislation to provide a permanent solution for #TPS recipients. If they’re forced to leave, there’s gonna be a big hole in this country.” -Javier, @WorkersUnited #tpsjustice pic.twitter.com/6n3XdDW5J6— iAmerica Action (@iAmericaAction) February 12, 2019
Ending TPS would put more than 400,000 TPS holders and their families at risk for deportation. Advocates took to the streets of D.C. today to demand permanent protection for these workers and families. #TPSJustice #SaveTPS #ResidencyNow pic.twitter.com/PeDcrBE7Ut— Advancing Justice | AAJC (@AAAJ_AAJC) February 12, 2019
In DC fighting for TPS and DACA. Fighting with Working Families United. A group of about 15 international Unions who are fighting for our people. Thank you Congressman Ro Khanna for meetings with us.#SaveTPS #TPSJustice @wfucoalition pic.twitter.com/pHkNzprrdg— IUPAT DC5 ORG (@IUPAT_DC5) February 12, 2019
Threatening #TPS families is just another form of family separation. Govt should lead with compassion, not cruelty and chaos. TY to everyone for sharing your story today. Together, we're going to #SaveTPS. #protectTPS #TPSJustice @fams2gether @MIRACoalition @TPS_Alliance pic.twitter.com/hlldi53DAj— Katherine Clark (@RepKClark) February 12, 2019
Work in the construction trades is very physically and mentally demanding. For some workers, those conditions, combined with other factors, can lead to the need for support from the community. The Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) union is stepping up to provide that support for workers who are dealing with depression or substance abuse with IUPAT Helping Hand, a new program designed to raise awareness and provide resources for working people who are struggling.
Construction workers have the highest rate of suicide and drug abuse of any job category in the United States. Many of these addictions begin as treatment for work-related pain or injury. Workers often return to the job before they are fully healed in order to start earning a full paycheck again. Others come back to work still using painkillers that may affect job performance and safety.
IUPAT Helping Hand is designed to help construction workers and their family and friends get access to resources that can identify warning signs and prevent or alleviate these problems before they get out of hand.
Watch the video above and visit the Helping Hand website to learn more.
It's time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states. Click on any of the links to follow the state federations on Twitter.
After learning OMB Director Donna Arduin and Governor Dunleavy's plan for the budget as well as this newly rolled out supplemental budget, all we can say is someone needs a dictionary.— Alaska AFL-CIO (@AKAFLCIO) January 30, 2019
trans·par·ent:(of an organization or its activities) open to public scrutiny. #akleg #akgov pic.twitter.com/JqgYph6Exw
Congratulations to former UFCW member Cardi B on making history at last nights Grammy’s! https://t.co/yIdRhdgr8Q— Arizona AFL-CIO (@ArizonaAFLCIO) February 11, 2019
California Labor Federation:
"Most gig economy workers are still classified as contract workers, meaning that they aren’t covered by federal minimum wage laws & other labor protections." We need to stop greedy corporations from cheating workers! #CaLeg must vote #YesOnAB5! https://t.co/Y3hoyx5iq8 @LorenaAD80— California Labor Federation (@CaliforniaLabor) February 8, 2019
Sotonye Otunba-Payne, court reporter & member of @AFSCMECT4: "We believe that outsourcing will lead to the destruction of middle-class jobs that are the backbone of our economy" #ThriveTogetherCT #1u pic.twitter.com/76CwOCoPrz— Connecticut AFL-CIO (@ConnAFLCIO) February 11, 2019
“There is a lot of uncertainty, and there is a high stress level in the people. It’s affecting the home life of people. Now they don’t know what their future is.” #NoMoreShutdowns https://t.co/rpipMtFYGI— Florida AFL-CIO (@FLAFLCIO) February 7, 2019
Indiana State AFL-CIO:
Iowa Federation of Labor:
Black Civil Rights Activists https://t.co/RyMY1W3IfC— Iowa AFL-CIO (@IowaAFLCIO) February 11, 2019
Kentucky State AFL-CIO:
“Janus hasn’t had any effect at all on us,” said the Kentucky AFL-CIO president, Bill Londrigan, whose state gained 5,000 new public union members after a series of dramatic teachers’... https://t.co/iFFpkxtN4g— Kentucky AFL-CIO (@aflcioky) February 8, 2019
Federal workers Bill and Rob speak to fellow area union members about the impact of the lockout, aka shutdown, had on their members and families. Never again! @AFGENational #mepolitics #1u pic.twitter.com/R7PYr4e0vr— Maine AFL-CIO (@MEAFLCIO) February 7, 2019
Metro Washington (D.C.) Council AFL-CIO:
DC's JW Marriott engineers join IUOE 99 https://t.co/mTbMguthIY— MetroDCLaborCouncil (@DCLabor) February 8, 2019
Nebraska State AFL-CIO:
Mark your calendars now to help Stamp Out Hunger. pic.twitter.com/YawTXOzhYq— NE State AFL-CIO (@NEAFLCIO) February 6, 2019
Nevada State AFL-CIO:
New Mexico Federation of Labor:
New York State AFL-CIO:
Labor leaders optimistic bill penalizing companies for outsourcing call-center jobs will pass in Dem-controlled Albany https://t.co/AJqcvdG2wE— NYSAFLCIO (@NYSAFLCIO) February 11, 2019
North Carolina State AFL-CIO:
North Dakota AFL-CIO:
Rep. Nelson stands with North Dakota Firefighters and Police and their right to join together and negotiate the terms of their employment. Thank him! firstname.lastname@example.org - 701-550-9731 #HB1463 #NDPOL #1u pic.twitter.com/ealExPZn1T— North Dakota AFL-CIO (@NDAFLCIO) February 5, 2019
Fear @wrightstate faculty, staff, students & @aaupwsu,— Ohio AFL-CIO (@ohioaflcio) February 11, 2019
Thank you for standing united in #solidarity for a better university. The lessons taught on the picket line will last a lifetime (and beyond).
Congratulations and in the best way possible, we say, “Now get o work.”
Oklahoma State AFL-CIO:
Check out IBEW 1141 member Joshua Matthews giving back to his community! https://t.co/NvNHGF7EKX— Oklahoma AFL-CIO (@OK_AFL_CIO) February 11, 2019
10s of thousands of Pennsylvanians are shut out of our workforce. If we want to address workforce development we NEED to address our criminal justice system! @GovernorTomWolf #BudgetAddress #CriminalJustice #CleanSlate pic.twitter.com/5lTNrXJlM2— PA AFL-CIO (@PaAFL_CIO) February 5, 2019
Rhode Island AFL-CIO:
RI labor movement suffered a great loss when Teamster Assistant Business Agent Dennis Lavallee passed away unexpectedly. A planned fundraiser has been set for Saturday, February 23 a trust has been established to assist the Lavallee family.@IBT251 #1U #Teamsters #IBT pic.twitter.com/LMNF6xt4YK— Rhode Island AFL-CIO (@riaflcio) February 11, 2019
South Carolina AFL-CIO:
Workers, AFL-CIO, Democrats open legislative push for $15 minimum wage https://t.co/h83fE8brTY— SC AFL-CIO (@SCAFLCIO) February 9, 2019
Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council:
Electrolux fired 658 employees, contract workers in Memphis the year before closure announcement https://t.co/V9ZzWtVCZo— Tennessee AFL-CIO (@tnaflcio) February 10, 2019
Write your Texas senator now: Vote NO on David Whitley https://t.co/Z4ZqoaPYLt— Texas AFL-CIO (@TexasAFLCIO) February 9, 2019
Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would lift pay for nearly 40 million workers | Economic Policy Institute https://t.co/y7yegm4gRw— Virginia AFL-CIO (@Virginia_AFLCIO) February 5, 2019
Washington State Labor Council:
Our time counts—at work and away from it (WSLC Legislative Update) https://t.co/CGHD5Ve2Bs re: Secure Scheduling, funding community colleges, honoring labor on the 100th anniversary of the Seattle General Strike #waleg #1u pic.twitter.com/gotmegIqN3— WA State AFL-CIO (@WAAFLCIO) February 8, 2019
West Virginia AFL-CIO:
Wisconsin State AFL-CIO:
Unions Join Together to Challenge Wisconsin’s Lame Duck Laws, https://t.co/77fTdYIdIo— WI AFL-CIO (@wisaflcio) February 9, 2019
A delegation of union leaders from the national AFL-CIO, the Texas AFL-CIO, the UAW and the United Steelworkers (USW) traveled to Matamoros, Mexico, last week to support tens of thousands of factory workers who have launched a wave of strikes to demand wage increases and democratic control of their unions.
Since Jan. 25, at least 48 factories that produce auto parts and other goods for export to the United States have signed agreements to increase wages by 20% and pay a bonus of 32,000 pesos (about $1,750). This is a huge victory for the workers, most of whom make around $2 per hour. In the past week, the strike wave has spread beyond the factories to supermarkets and other employers, with all the workers demanding "20/32." The leaders of the Matamoros unions, which historically have been close to the employers, were forced to endorse the workers’ demands.
The delegation visited the picket line at Advanced Scientifics, a subsidiary of Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher Scientifics, which produces medical supplies. Some 70 workers have been camped outside the plant 24 hours a day in near-freezing temperatures.
"It’s heartbreaking to see workers who make life-saving equipment treated with so little respect," said USW District 13 Director Ruben Garza. "This is what happens when we sign trade agreements like [the North American Free Trade Ageement] that have no real protections for workers’ rights."
While the wage increase and bonus are a huge victory, the employers and the Confederation of Mexican Workers unions are striking back already. In the past week, as many as 2,000 strike leaders have been fired and blacklisted, despite legal prohibitions and non-reprisal agreements signed by the employers. The U.S. delegation met with fired leaders from several factories who are planning a public protest to demand reinstatement. Here are their testimonies:
- "We were told we were fired because we offended the company."
- "The union never helped us, they deceived us. So we had to put our own courage on the line to confront them."
- "We need to be firm. I have a family, too. My greatest wish is that justice is served. I don’t want just a salary, I want justice!"
"These workers—many of whom are working mothers—are fighting for the pay they’re owed, for better working conditions and for respect on the job," said Texas AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Montserrat Garibay. "They are using their voices, and it is time to listen. The Mexican and U.S. governments must both demand that these U.S. companies honor their agreements and stop firing and blacklisting these courageous workers."
Name of Union: Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU)
Mission: To fight for the rights of transit workers and promote mass transit.
Current Leadership of Union: Lawrence J. Hanley is the current international president of ATU.
Oscar Owens serves as international secretary-treasurer and Javier M. Perez Jr. serves as international executive vice president.
Current Number of Members: Nearly 200,000.
Members Work As: Metropolitan, interstate and school bus drivers; paratransit, light rail, subway, streetcar and ferry boat operators; mechanics and other maintenance workers; clerks, baggage handlers, municipal employees and others.
Industries Represented: Mass transit and related industries.
History: As industrialization advanced in the United States in the late 1800s, more and more workers needed transportation and workers to run that transportation. Mass transit workers in the early days largely worked with horses that pulled streetcars. The drivers often worked 18-hour days while the horses actually only worked four hours a day or less. The harsh treatment, lack of benefits and low pay set the seeds for the rise of ATU.
Early on, there were numerous attempts to form a union of transit workers, but efforts had little success until 1888, when Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, led efforts to organize the streetcar workers. In 1892, the first convention of what would become ATU was held in Indianapolis.
Although the year after the first convention was challenging, the union became a beacon of hope for transit workers. Within that first year, 28 local divisions were formed and the first Canadian local was chartered in 1893. Seven years later, membership had reached 8,000.
In the years that followed, ATU would continue to expand rapidly amid an era of strikes and violence. The stronger the organization got, the more impact it had. ATU not only pushed for labor reforms such as the six-day workweek and the eight-hour day, but championed technology and rules that make mass transit safer for both workers and riders.
Community Efforts: ATU has community partnerships with a wide variety of organizations in pursuit of their values and mission, including: the AFL-CIO, Americans for Transit, the BlueGreen Alliance, the Coalition for Smarter Growth, Good Jobs First, the Industrial Areas Foundation, Jobs With Justice, the Labor Project for Working Families, the Partnership for Working Families, the Sierra Club, Transit Riders for Public Transit, the Transportation Equity Network, Transportation for America, U.S. PIRG, USAction and Working America.
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.
Black History Month Labor Profiles: Arlene Holt Baker: "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. Our first profile this year is Arlene Holt Baker."
AFL-CIO Is Profiling Labor Leaders and Activists for Black History Month: "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."
Writers Unite!: Worker Wins: "Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with writers organizing and winning new contracts and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life."
The State of the Union Is…: "When President Donald Trump takes to the House floor to deliver his State of the Union address this evening, we hope to hear a concrete plan to fund the government and make the economy work for those of us who work the hardest. But so far, his actions in office suggest otherwise. Ahead of the big speech, let’s break down his record."
Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Air Line Pilots Association: "Next up in our series of taking a deeper look at each of the AFL-CIO's unions is the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). The series will run weekly until we've covered all 55 affiliates."
Thousands of NASA Contractors Still Without Pay After 5-week Shutdown. Can Congress Step In?: "Contractors are at the mercy of the deals that companies sign with federal agencies. In the case of the Space Coast and NASA, several workers represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 2061 in Cape Canaveral, including [Dan] Faden, say their contracts have changed in recent years to cut out the provision that previously guaranteed them back pay in the event of a shutdown. Some of the 600 Space Coast contractors represented by the union have already been told outright they won’t see those two paychecks. Others are in limbo, waiting for their companies to determine if they can scrape together back pay."
Hundreds of Federal Workers Haven’t Received Back Pay from Shutdown: Report: "Numerous federal workers still owed back pay have not received all of the compensation they are due from the recent 35-day partial government shutdown, The Associated Press reported Wednesday. The news outlet spoke to workers from various agencies that were shuttered from the end of December and through much of January, a period during which hundreds of thousands of federal employees missed two paychecks. Michael Walter, who does food safety inspections for the Department of Agriculture (USDA), told the AP that he got his back pay on Wednesday, nearly two weeks after the shutdown ended. Two co-workers told him they had not yet received back pay."
SAG-AFTRA Launches Podcast; First Two Episodes Available Now: "SAG-AFTRA today announced the launch of the SAG-AFTRA podcast. Hosted by President Gabrielle Carteris and National Executive Director David White, each episode features in-depth interviews, industry insights and compelling stories affecting the entertainment and media industry. The podcast soft launched in January with the introductory episode 'Making a Revolution.' The next two episodes are available now with subsequent releases available every other Tuesday. 'We are so excited to bring this podcast to the members. It is an opportunity for us to discuss the critical issues that affect our livelihoods within the industry, and will help us to continue laying the groundwork for the future,' said Carteris."
Raise the Wage Act Would Hike Salaries for 40 Million: "Backed by a wide range of unions and women’s groups, veteran lawmakers, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., have reintroduced the Paycheck Fairness Act—a measure designed to put enforcement 'teeth' into the nation’s 56-year-old equal pay law....The Coalition of Labor Union Women enthusiastically backed the Paycheck Fairness Act and helped ensure every House Democrat, plus one Republican is a co-sponsor....Other union signers were the AFL-CIO, the Pennsylvania Federation of Labor, the Government Employees (AFGE), both teachers’ unions, Graphic Communications Conference Local 24M/9N, IBEW District 3 and Local 29, the Machinists, the Auto Workers, the Letter Carriers, the Steel Workers and their District 10 and Local 1088, the Mine Workers, IATSE, the Service Employees and their Local 668, the Transport Workers."
Golden Invites Maine AFL-CIO Leader to Trump's State of the Union Speech: "In a move meant to send a message to Maine’s blue-collar workers, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden invited Cynthia Phinney of Livermore Falls, president of Maine’s AFL-CIO, to be his guest at Tuesday’s State of the Union speech. 'One of my top priorities in Congress is fighting for Maine’s working people,' the 2nd Congressional District Democrat said Friday. 'That’s something Cynthia has done every day for decades.' 'I am feeling tremendously honored,' Phinney said Friday. She said 'it’s a big deal' to be among the few able to attend “this most symbolic and substantial event.'"
GM to Start Laying Off 4,000 Salaried Workers on Monday: "Layoffs for about 4,000 salaried staff at General Motors are due to start Monday—a previously announced move that comes just as President Donald Trump prepares to trumpet American manufacturing at next week's State of the Union address. The layoffs are part of a 15% reduction in white collar jobs in North America that the automaker first announced back in November. At the same time, it announced plans to close four U.S. plants as well as a fifth in Canada."
Being a Union Member Offers Opportunities: "There are certainly many arguments regarding the pros and cons of unions. I spent time engaging with these arguments during my training to become a social scientist. Ultimately, I began to see the issue of union membership differently as I transitioned from primarily identifying as a student to identifying as a worker. Some economist's detached perspective on unions seemed much less important after I personally encountered issues with working conditions, wages or benefits across different employers. I came to a point where I was ready to join a union, and fortunately one was available to me."
Thirteen thousand nurses may be on strike in March at three of the largest employers in New York City.
For several months, hospitals in the Montefiore, Mount Sinai, and New York Presbyterian systems have been bargaining jointly with the New York State Nurses Association.
On February 6, 1919, Seattle’s workers struck—all of them. In doing so they took control of the city.
The strike was in support of 35,000 shipyard workers, then in conflict with the city’s shipyard owners and the federal government’s U.S. Shipping Board, which was still enforcing wartime wage agreements.
We know good organizers when we meet them.
They’re accessible. They listen and show respect. They react calmly to all kinds of people, take their time to size up a situation, and engage people on their own terms.
They brim with suggestions for action, but they’re open to new ideas. They’re not bossy. They always take workers’ side against employers—but among workers, they treat divisions with care and diligence.
They don’t act from fear, and they know how to help others lose their fear.
“The straw that broke the camel’s back for me,” said Chicago Teamsters leader Juan Campos, “was seeing the international shoving the UPS contract down the members’ throats.”
That’s why he has joined an opposition slate to challenge the union’s top officers in 2021.
Campos announced January 31 that he will run for an at-large vice president seat, on the ticket with Sean O’Brien of Boston for president and Fred Zuckerman of Louisville for secretary-treasurer.
With the sixth anniversary approaching of the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed over 1,000 workers, conditions in the world’s second-largest garment export industry are tumultuous.