AFL-CIO Now Blog

04/22/2021 - 2:00pm
Black Lives Matter: What Working People Are Doing This Week What Working People Are Doing This Week

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.

Actors' Equity:

AFGE:

AFSCME:

Alliance for Retired Americans:

Amalgamated Transit Union:

American Federation of Teachers:

American Postal Workers Union:

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA:

Boilermakers:

Bricklayers:

Coalition of Black Trade Unionists:

Communications Workers of America:

Department for Professional Employees:

Electrical Workers:

Fire Fighters:

Heat and Frost Insulators:


04/22/2021 - 2:00pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Minnesota AFL-CIO’s Statement on Derek Chauvin’s Conviction Minnesota AFL-CIO

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy (UNITE HERE) issued the following a jury finding former Officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in the death of George Floyd:

“Derek Chauvin has been held accountable for murdering George Floyd. While we celebrate today’s verdict, we have so much work ahead of us in order to build a more just state and nation for everyone. Black Minnesotans continue to face police violence. George Floyd and Daunte Wright should still be alive today.

“As Minnesotans, we must continue working so that whether we’re Black or White, Latino or Asian, Indigenous or newcomer, our families are safe, our voices are heard, and our rights are respected.

“The Minnesota AFL-CIO is committed to building a more inclusive Labor Movement by listening to and elevating the voices of Minnesota’s Black union members as we work to reimagine public safety.

“The Minnesota AFL-CIO and affiliated unions will continue our work to bring racial and economic justice to all workers in our state. That means higher wages through more union jobs, fully funded schools in every zip code, reliable and affordable housing, more access to high quality affordable healthcare, and reimagining public safety in our communities. We must come together as a movement to do this work. We must stand united.”

Thu, 04/22/2021 - 09:32

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


04/20/2021 - 1:30pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Workplace Violence Prevention Act Will Save Lives, Shuler Says Liz Shuler

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

On Friday, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler (IBEW) celebrated the House passing the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1195), which directs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue a federal workplace violence prevention standard to protect workers in health care and social services from injury and death:

“Working people’s lives are on the line. There is an epidemic of violence against health care and social service workers, and it must be stopped. Workplace violence is not ‘just part of the job.’ It is a worsening problem, but it is preventable.

“Of the workers providing critical care on the front lines, women are at the greatest risk, suffering two out of every three serious workplace violence injuries. Workplace violence is the third-leading cause of job death and causes more than 30,000 serious lost-time injuries each year. Nurses, medical assistants, emergency responders and social workers face some of the greatest threats, suffering more than 72% of all workplace assaults.

“Today’s House passage is a much-needed step to protect those who give so much to our communities. The Senate must step up and send this critical, lifesaving legislation to President Biden’s desk.”

Tue, 04/20/2021 - 09:43

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


04/19/2021 - 12:46pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: SMART Local 73 Turns Union Hall into Vaccine Clinic SMART Vaccine Clinic Dave Sylvester

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 73 is partnering with Proviso Township, Illinois, and Jewel-Osco to provide added capacity for COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts, with its union hall functioning as a vaccine injection site. More than 1,400 vaccines were administered on March 29 at the local hall in Hillside, just west of downtown Chicago, for residents of any of the 15 villages in Proviso Township. The union hall effectively functioned as a one-day pop-up vaccine clinic.

Mon, 04/19/2021 - 09:20

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


04/16/2021 - 11:46pm
'This Fight Is Far from Over': The Working People Weekly List Working People Weekly List

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.

'This Fight Is Far from Over': Amazon Union Vote Shows Exactly Why We Need the PRO Act: "'Americans want to organize unions,' said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. 'And it should never be this hard to do so.' 'Working people deserve better than the way Amazon has conducted itself during this campaign,' said RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum in a statement. 'This campaign has proven that the best way for working people to protect themselves and their families is to join together in a union. However, Amazon’s behavior during the election cannot be ignored and our union will seek remedy to each and every improper action Amazon took. We won’t rest until workers’ voices are heard fairly under the law.' Going forward, a clear way to ensure fair, democratic union elections is for the U.S. Senate to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. The PRO Act, which passed the U.S. House in March, would add real teeth to existing federal labor laws. Nearly all of the union-busting tactics deployed by Amazon would be banned and enforced under the bill."

Rep. Andy Levin: Here's What Amazon Got Away with in Union Battle. Here's How to Change That: "Is Amazon the type of American workplace we want? Is this the future we want for our kids? Of course not. Update 1930s labor laws to strengthen unions. I organized a congressional delegation to Bessemer, Alabama, last month to show solidarity with the Amazon warehouse workers organizing a union and view their working conditions firsthand. Amazon's abusive employment practices have been widely reported, but it wasn’t until I talked to the people who clock in for 10 hours every shift that I truly understood how completely Amazon dehumanizes warehouse workers."

To Unionize Amazon, We Need to Pass the PRO Act: "The Protecting the Right to Organize Act, currently pending in the Senate, would make these tactics impossible by declaring captive audience meetings an unfair labor practice and removing employers’ ability to litigate the appropriateness of their workers’ bargaining units in the pivotal early stages. The PRO Act would make many more revisions to the NLRA, but these obstacles in particular make organizing an Amazon warehouse virtually impossible when factoring in the rapid turnover of the company’s workforce. Their usage by Amazon was certainly far more impactful upon the final vote than any single strategy that the Union pursued or neglected."

Equal Pay Is Key to the Economic Recovery for Women Workers: "The two major crises that have roiled the country over the past year—the coronavirus pandemic and a long overdue reckoning on the prevalence of racial injustice—have focused new scrutiny on an old problem: the need for better policies to protect women’s jobs and wages. Both crises have been exacerbated by policymakers’ repeated failure to address longstanding inequities and strengthen workplace protections that could bolster women’s economic standing, thus threatening the prospects for a full economic recovery. In this environment, it is fitting that the U.S. House of Representatives is preparing, again, to consider the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that has languished for decades yet includes many much-needed policies to improve workers’ wages, from strengthening equal pay protections and enforcement to combatting discriminatory pay practices."

Bravery, Not Blowout: "RWDSU campaign at Amazon deserves better than uninformed criticism. On Friday, April 9 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) had lost its organizing campaign at Amazon in Bessemer, Alabama, one of the most closely watched union drives in decades, by a vote of 1798 to 738. The NLRB received 3215 ballots, and prior to the public count conducted by zoom, Amazon’s lawyers had challenged most of the almost 600 disputed ballots (which are put aside to be counted in case they might determine the outcome). The proverbial ink was barely dry on the result when organizing gurus published critiques, no doubt written weeks ago, full of heated rhetoric and organizing pearls of wisdom but light on facts—and lighter on an informed understanding of how the campaign had unfolded."

Jill Underly Defeats Deborah Kerr in State Superintendent Election: "'Today, Wisconsin voters continued the call for a better future for all by voting to elect union-endorsed candidate Dr. Jill Underly to lead our public schools out of the pandemic with a focus on equality and a strong, fully-funded public education system that supports every child, every day,' Wisconsin AFL-CIO Stephanie Bloomingdale said in the email."

WGAE, ITV Entertainment Reach Agreement for 'The Chase': "The Writers Guild of America East (WGAE) and ITV Entertainment have reached a deal for writers on ABC format The Chase, marking the end of a near two week-long strike. 'ITV Entertainment and the WGAE are pleased to have come to terms for writers on The Chase to be represented by the WGAE and for the show to be covered by the Minimum Basic Agreement,' WGAE and ITV Entertainment said in a joint statement. 'We are in agreement that fair and positive work practices are essential to our industry and that, especially during the ongoing battle of the pandemic, the priority is to keep production going and to ensure that people can do their work and build sustainable careers.'"

Amazon Bullied Workers into Voting Against a Union: Trumka: "AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka says Amazon bullied workers at an Alabama warehouse into voting against joining a union. The vote is a setback for labor organizers and a significant victory for the world’s largest online retailer. Trumka appears on 'Balance of Power.'"

Biden Picks California’s Doug Parker to Lead Federal OSHA: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka pointed to Parker’s work at the Mine Safety and Health Administration during the Obama administration, where he was deputy assistant secretary for policy, and also his time as an attorney for the United Mine Workers of America. 'He has dedicated his life to advancing the cause of worker safety, because he understands this is a life-and-death struggle for working people in every industry and in every corner of the country,' Trumka said, adding that 'critical work must begin with a long-overdue emergency temporary standard to protect America’s workers from a still-raging pandemic.'"

AFL-CIO’s April 8 Day of Action for ProAct Floods Congress with Calls and Texts: "In an April 8 evening zoom call with female unionists, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler urged all the attendees to 'push this out…through social media.' 'It’s up to us on the ground' to communicate the message that all workers, union and non-union alike, would benefit from the measure giving workers 'the power to negotiate safer working conditions, better benefits and paid sick and family leave, which empowers co-equal caregiving,' among other gains, Shuler said. And the basic message, she added, is that 'the best way to raise wages for working women is a union card.'"

Fri, 04/16/2021 - 09:33

04/16/2021 - 11:30am
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: New Mexico Federation of Labor Wins Paid Sick Leave New Mexico Federation of Labor

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

After nearly a year of hard work, the New Mexico Federation of Labor rejoiced as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed House Bill 20, the Healthy Workplaces Act, into law. This bill institutes earned sick leave for all private sector employees across the state. By signing this legislation, the governor brings New Mexico in step with 15 other states already providing basic worker protections.

Set to become effective July 1, 2022, it will provide all private sector employees (including part-time, temporary and seasonal employees) with paid sick leave. The law provides for up to 64 paid hours per year for qualified leaves (employees earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked).

“Today, New Mexico’s workers, families and businesses now have the opportunity to establish a healthier workforce and therefore healthier workplaces. While the pandemic may have brought the critical need for sick leave into focus, the need has always been there. Today, earned paid sick leave becomes reality for tens of thousands of hardworking New Mexicans. Today is a win for working families,” said the New Mexico Federation of Labor in a statement.

Fri, 04/16/2021 - 09:30

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


04/15/2021 - 11:30pm
Pathway to Progress: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 Jimmy Carter signs the PDA Planned Parenthood

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. Today's topic is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978.

In the late 1970s, conditions in the United States were ripe for positive change for working families. Jimmy Carter and a pro-union majority in Congress were pushed by active and organized civil rights and women's movements. Labor unions were ready to push for change.

In 1976, the Supreme Court ruled in General Electric v. Gilbert that employers could refuse benefits to pregnant women. The case was brought by the International Union of Electrical Radio and Machine Workers and after the court ruled against them, unions were inspired to fight harder. At the 1977 convention of the UAW a resolution declaring that "women's issues are also UAW issues" and pushing for stronger benefits related to affirmative action, child care and maternity. A special emphasis was placed on protecting the rights of pregnant workers. The UAW, AFL-CIO, Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the Women's Law Project joined with other unions, civil rights organizations and women's right's groups in order to secure passage of Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which passed in 1978. 

After passage, it was important to get employers to actually respect the law's provisions. Unions had the built-in infrastructure to reach the on-the-ground worksites across the country. The first step was for unions to begin including the protections of the PDA into collective bargaining agreements. This included member and employer education, the remedying violations through grievance procedures and other measures. UAW negotiated with the Big Three automakers in order to secure these benefits and others. Once the Big Three were on board, the changes began to spread to other companies in the industry and beyond.

When the PDA passed, it essentially gave pregnant workers the same rights and benefits as workers with disabilities. Unions made sure that collective bargaining agreements reflected this. That meant that workers got access to paid sick leave and insurance and the option to lighter-duty work. These benefits were scarce at nonunion worksites, except that, no matter where one works, they could no longer be fired for pregnancy. Workers and nonunion workplaces attempted to get the measures of the PDA implemented, but often faced resistance from local management, who clung to stereotypes about women workers and pregnant women.

The UAW and other unions used internal communications, workshops and labor education programs to teach union leaders and shop stewards about the law and its ability to protect working women. Across the country, people were trained to take on the cause of their pregnant colleagues, stand up to management and pursue grievances or strikes to establish the rights included in the law.

The Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), which formed in 1974, had included the PDA as one of its goals from inception. CLUW members came together to figure out how to convince male union leaders to support the law. This effort was instrumental in pushing back against challenges against the law both from within the labor movement and without.

In her summary of union efforts in support of the passage and implementation of the PDA, author Judith A. Scott said that the story of the passage of the PDA "is the story of how the empowerment of working women and collective action were crucial to improving workplace culture and practices for pregnant workers...and why those same factors are necessary today if we are to dramatically better the lives of working women. Through their unions, women workers can assert collective strength to win workplace improvements at the bargaining table and in the legislative arena through effective political campaigning."

Source: "Why a Union Voice Makes a Real Difference for Women Workers: Then and Now," by Judith A. Scott.

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 17:05

Tags: Pathway to Progress


04/15/2021 - 5:00pm
An Insult to All Working People: In the States Roundup 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.

Alaska AFL-CIO:

Arizona AFL-CIO:

California Labor Federation:

Colorado AFL-CIO:

Connecticut AFL-CIO:

Florida AFL-CIO:

Georgia AFL-CIO:

Indiana State AFL-CIO:

Iowa Federation of Labor:

Maine AFL-CIO:

Massachusetts AFL-CIO:

Minnesota AFL-CIO:

Missouri AFL-CIO:

Montana AFL-CIO:

Nevada State AFL-CIO:


04/15/2021 - 11:00am
Build Back Better with Unions: What Working People Are Doing This Week What Working People Are Doing This Week

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.

A. Philip Randolph Institute:

Actors' Equity:

AFGE:

AFSCME:

Alliance for Retired Americans:

Amalgamated Transit Union:

American Federation of Teachers:

American Postal Workers Union:

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance:

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA:

Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers:


04/15/2021 - 11:00am
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Nebraska AFL-CIO Rallies with Meatpacking Workers in Lincoln Nebraska AFL-CIO

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

On April 8, Nebraska State AFL-CIO President/Secretary-Treasurer Martin spoke at a rally in Lincoln, Nebraska, with members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 293 who are in the middle of contract negotiations with Smithfield Foods. Smithfield has refused to negotiate for COVID-19 protections and is opposing any state legislation. Martin talked about how passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act is vitally important in guaranteeing workers the right to negotiate for better working conditions without fear or intimidation by our employers. Some 50 people showed up in the rain to show their support for the workers.

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 09:25

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

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