AFL-CIO Now Blog

02/25/2021 - 11:30am
Black History Month Profiles: Darrell Copeland Darrell Copeland

This year, for Black History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making Black history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only their community, but also to improve conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is Darrell Copeland.

Darrell Copeland hails from Atlanta and he puts his heart and soul into growing the labor movement and bringing the dignity of union representation to nonunion workers. Copeland is a humble, capable and dynamic union leader with high expectations and a positive attitude while embracing change. Open-minded and motivated to serve, he played an important role in the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers' (BCTGM's) campaign to win the U.S. Senate runoff elections in Georgia. He was also important in the recent BCTGM organizing victory in Memphis, Tennessee, at the Blue City Brewery, and he continues to build experience as a passionate and effective union organizer throughout the South.

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 09:27

Tags: Black History Month


02/25/2021 - 11:30am
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: National Nurses United Leads Coalition to Urge CDC to Acknowledge COVID-19 Aerosol Transmission 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.

National Nurses United (NNU) is leading a group of 44 allied unions and organizations, including the AFL-CIO—representing more than 13 million members and their communities—to urge the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to update its COVID-19 guidance to fully reflect the latest scientific evidence regarding coronavirus transmission through aerosols that infected people emit when they breathe, speak, cough, sneeze or sing. Today, NNU’s coalition delivered a petition with over 10,000 signatures, including scientific experts, urging the CDC to recognize COVID-19 aerosol transmission.

“Since the start of the pandemic, the nation’s nurses have demanded that the CDC’s guidelines be based on scientific evidence,” said Bonnie Castillo, RN, executive director of NNU. “Nurses know that to effectively battle this virus, we all need to get on the same page about how it spreads….We urge the Biden administration to honor its commitment to listen to experts in the battle against COVID-19, which includes having CDC and other federal agencies explicitly recognize aerosol transmission.”

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 08:30

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19


02/24/2021 - 5:00pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Across America, Workers Hold Day of Action to Save Union Jobs Walmart Protest

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.

Braving bitter cold temperatures across much of the country, hundreds of union members, environmental activists and community groups turned out in force for a national day of action on Saturday to raise awareness of the IUE-CWA’s campaign to save union jobs at the GE-Savant lighting plant in Bucyrus, Ohio, and help the environment. According to IUE-CWA, GE-Savant intends to transfer its LED lightbulb product line to China, permanently laying off more than 80 workers, and possibly closing the plant. “People are saying that if these jobs go, then it’s only a matter of time before the plant closes,” IUE-CWA Local 81201 President Adam Kaszynski told The Daily Item. “The hypocrisy of the situation is glaring because they’re going to have to send these back from China to sell them in the United States, increasing the carbon footprint. Walmart certainly has the power to demand that these lightbulbs are manufactured in Bucyrus.” Kaszynski (not pictured) led rallies with the North Shore Labor Council at Walmart stores in Lynn and Salem, Massachusetts.

Wed, 02/24/2021 - 08:30

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19


02/24/2021 - 10:46am
Black History Month Profiles: John Coats John Coats

This year, for Black History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making Black history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only their community, but also to improve conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is John Coats.

John Coats has been teaching in Philadelphia for more than three decades and is one of the most dedicated people you'll meet. A building representative for 28 years, he has also served for 14 years as a member of the executive board of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Local 3 of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). He is an incredible advocate for his students and for his union.

Wed, 02/24/2021 - 09:30

Tags: Black History Month


02/23/2021 - 10:00pm
Organizing Institute Partners with NBWCP for First-Ever Black Lead Organizer Training Organizing Institute

We are just coming off of the first-ever AFL-CIO Organizing Institute (OI) Advanced Organizer Workshop for Black lead organizers and campaign strategists. In commemoration of Black History Month and the history and impact of Black organizers in the civil rights and labor movement, the OI partnered with the National Black Worker Center Project (NBWCP) on a training specifically designed on developing Black lead organizers.

Twenty-five Black lead organizers from the Electrical Workers (IBEW), American Postal Workers Union (APWU), NBWCP, United Steelworkers (USW), UNITE HERE, and Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU) from across the country came together to share experiences, sharpen their campaign management skills and reinforce best practices to win campaigns for recognition in workplaces and communities.

Thank you to:

  • NBWCP Executive Director Tanya Wallace-Gobern and NBWCP Deputy Executive Director Shanika Houlder-White for partnering with the AFL-CIO OI to make this happen, and for taking time from their own work to serve as facilitators for the empowering workshop.

  • AFSCME Associate Organizing Director Ashley Jenkins and AFL-CIO Internal Organizing Coordinator Handel Lundy for taking time from their campaigns to serve as facilitators.

  • OI Senior Trainers Tiffany Bender (lead) and Patricia Recinos (co-lead), OI Senior Administrator Indeya Taylor and AFL-CIO Meetings and Travel Senior Planner Roberta Loving for all the work, planning and execution in making this historic lead organizer workshop a success.

Click the video to check out how Arrion Brown (APWU), Monique Hennagan (OPEIU), Semi Cole (NBWCP) and Keith Rivers (IBEW) share what they learned and how they plan to take back to, and win, the campaigns they are leading.  

Although this was the first workshop for Black lead organizers and strategists, we will continue partnering with unions and allied organizations to sharpen the skills of women and organizers of color, from entry-level to lead organizers.

We thank you for your continued support and trust in the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute. The OI will post the 2021 OI Digital Three-Day Training Schedule later this week. Check out aflcio.org/oi for updates.

We look forward to training organizing teams to empower working people to win respect and dignity on our jobs.

Tue, 02/23/2021 - 10:39

Tags: Black History Month, Organizing Institute


02/23/2021 - 4:00pm
Black History Month Profiles: Trina Dean Trina Dean

This year, for Black History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making Black history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only their community, but also to improve conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is Trina Dean.

A Philadelphia public school parent and educator, Trina Dean has taught for 12 years and serves as a building representative and associate secretary on the executive board of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 3. Dean is a remarkable advocate and educator, and she fights tirelessly for a school system that her students and fellow educators deserve.

Tue, 02/23/2021 - 09:30

Tags: Black History Month


02/23/2021 - 4:00pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: North Carolina State AFL-CIO Issues Workers First Agenda for State A Workers First Agenda

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.

North Carolina State AFL-CIO President MaryBe McMillan (IUOE) reported the state federation and its affiliated unions have announced a Workers First Agenda for the 2021–22 legislative session. The priorities include requiring the state’s Department of Labor (NCDOL) to respond to COVID-19 related complaints about unsafe working conditions, ensuring safe and adequate housing for migrant farmworkers, maintaining a stable workers’ compensation program, and more. In the agenda, the North Carolina State AFL-CIO explained:

“Our priority is ensuring that working people receive adequate resources to survive the pandemic. Ultimately, however, we want working families to do more than just survive. Beyond the pandemic, we want working people to be able to thrive, to build better lives for themselves and their children, to enjoy the fruits of their labor, and to live with dignity. It is time for policymakers to recognize the significant contributions and sacrifices made by working people. It is time to put workers first, just as they have done for all of us during this unprecedented crisis.”

Tue, 02/23/2021 - 08:30

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19


02/22/2021 - 9:30pm
Making History: 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.

Amazon Workers Could 'Make History' with Historic Union Vote in Alabama: "The Retail Wholesale Department Store Union, or RWDSU, the union organizing workers at the warehouse in Alabama, has been in contact with the White House about the effort, Reuters reported earlier this month. 'We have a new administration in Washington that has a completely different attitude towards the importance of unions,' RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum told Yahoo Finance Live last week. 'So it seemed like the right time and the right place to hold an election on unionization.'"

Grocery Store Workers Have Been on the Front Lines for a Year, but They're Struggling to Get the COVID Vaccine: "Grocery store workers in the United States have been stocking shelves, handling customers and keeping stores tidy in challenging and sometimes dangerous pandemic conditions for almost a year. But a vaccine that once offered these essential workers hope for their safety remains elusive for most. Although coronavirus risks are high and new variants of the virus are spreading, most of the more than 2.4 million low-wage grocery workers in this country have not yet been made eligible for the vaccine. Guidance on vaccine eligibility continues to evolve, leaving these frontline workers unsure of when they'll be able to receive the vaccine. Some workers say they feel let down that they have not been given vaccine priority and are bracing themselves for months more of possible exposure to COVID-19 at their jobs without the best protection against the virus."

Millions of Jobs Probably Aren’t Coming Back, Even After the Pandemic Ends: "Millions of jobs that have been shortchanged or wiped out entirely by the coronavirus pandemic are unlikely to come back, economists warn, setting up a massive need for career changes and retraining in the United States. The coronavirus pandemic has triggered permanent shifts in how and where people work. Businesses are planning for a future where more people are working from home, traveling less for business, or replacing workers with robots. All of these modifications mean many workers will not be able to do the same job they did before the pandemic, even after much of the U.S. population gets vaccinated against the deadly virus."

Biden Meets with Labor, Business on COVID-19 Relief: "The meeting on Wednesday included Richard Trumka, president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), and Elizabeth Shuler, the AFL-CIO’s secretary-treasurer. The AFL-CIO has been one of the loudest groups calling for a $15 minimum wage. Other attendees at the Wednesday meeting, which also covered Biden’s push for an infrastructure measure, included Sean McGarvey, president of the North America’s Building Trades Union, and Robert Martinez Jr., international president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers."

Biden, Union Leaders Huddle on Infrastructure Plan: "Union leaders meeting with Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris included AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions, and Mark McManus, general president of the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters. Biden noted that many of the attendees were longtime friends—'as they say in parts of my state, these are the folks that brung me to the dance'—and the meeting capped a number of actions to appeal to his labor allies."

Biden Nominates Jennifer Abruzzo to Serve as NLRB General Counsel: "Richard Trumka, president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), cheered Abruzzo's nomination, describing her as someone who has 'tirelessly fought for working people her entire career.' 'Even as workers have stepped up to the plate throughout this pandemic, we’ve been denied basic federal protections time and again. Today, is another step toward righting the wrongs of the past four years. The days of the NLRB actively blocking workers from organizing a union are over. We look forward to working people finally getting the fair treatment we deserve,' Trumka said."

Key Players to Watch in Minimum Wage Fight: "'It would actually help millions of workers out there right now,' he recently told CNBC. Trumka added that the economy would also benefit because those workers would boost consumer demand and, in turn, create new jobs."

How Amazon Is Trying to Stop Its 6,000 Alabama Fulfillment Center Employees from Forming a Union: "Amazon is using PowerPoint presentations, text messages, and posters and signs hung on bathroom stalls as part of a ‘disinformation campaign’ to pressure warehouse employees not to form a union, it has been alleged. Employees at the BHM1 fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama that is staffed by some 6,000 workers have recently started to vote on whether to become the first Amazon warehouse workers in the country to unionize. The decision could set off a chain reaction by inspiring workers in many of the other scores of Amazon facilities and warehouses across the country to do the same."

Fri, 02/19/2021 - 10:23

02/22/2021 - 9:30pm
Union-Busting Is Disgusting: 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:


02/22/2021 - 3:30pm
Black History Month Profiles: E.J. Jenkins E.J. Jenkins

This year, for Black History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making Black history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only their community, but also to improve conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is E.J. Jenkins.

United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1014's Jenkins is the epitome of a union activist. He got involved through the USW's Next Generation program for young members and has since been active in civil rights, election and organizing work, and the A. Philip Randolph Institute. He won the Jefferson Award in 2018 for starting Black Labor Week, a program dedicated to educating, empowering and uplifting the community. The program began in Gary, Indiana, and has since expanded under Jenkins' leadership.

Mon, 02/22/2021 - 09:30

Tags: Black History Month

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