AFL-CIO Now Blog

05/20/2021 - 1:30pm
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Kaori Ogasawara Paris

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Kaori Ogasawara Paris.

Kaori Ogasawara Paris is an Airbus A320 pilot for United Airlines who is an active volunteer for the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). At ALPA, Paris is involved with the Education Committee where she meets with women and girls who have an interest in pursuing a career as a professional airline pilot. Paris is also on the U.S. Department of Transportation's National In-Flight Sexual Misconduct Task Force as a representative from ALPA.

Thu, 05/20/2021 - 08:44

05/20/2021 - 1:30pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Women of Steel Raise Funds and Awareness for Victims of Domestic Violence Women of Steel

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.

The Women of Steel committee at United Steelworkers (USW) Local 310L in Des Moines, Iowa, recently raised $1,125 for the Soaring Hearts Foundation, a cause near and dear to their hearts. Unfortunately, the local lost one of their union sisters to domestic violence in 2014, and the foundation’s founder, Tiffany Allison, a domestic abuse survivor, helped her family and the local navigate their grief and trauma. Then in 2017, the local lost yet another sister to domestic violence, and Tiffany was once again at their side. “We have maintained a relationship with Tiffany and try to support her work,” the committee said.

The Women of Steel committee out of Local 8-957 in West Virginia also continued their campaign to keep alive the memory of their union sister Tammy Teagarden and her children, who were killed in a domestic violence incident several years ago. This year the committee filled gift bags for women and children residing at several domestic violence shelters. A special catered dinner was also provided.

Thu, 05/20/2021 - 08:00

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


05/19/2021 - 7:30pm
Agency, Representation and Justice: 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 Musicians:

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:

Boilermakers:


05/19/2021 - 1:00pm
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Editha Adams Editha Adams

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Editha Adams.

Editha Adams is a home caregiver who was born in the Philippines and raised in Japan. Now she serves as statewide president of a union, United Domestic Workers, AFSCME Local 3930, representing more than 140,000 care workers, the majority of whom are women of color. Adams wins for her members by working with allies such as the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) and the California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA) to strengthen community bonds and to lift up social justice, justice in aging and disability rights in the labor movement.

Wed, 05/19/2021 - 09:44

05/19/2021 - 1:00pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Washington State Labor Movement Applauds Historic Farmworker Overtime Pay Law

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.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation earlier this week at the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1439 union hall in Yakima that will make Washington the first state in the nation to bring the 40-hour workweek and overtime pay to all agricultural employees. Passage of legislation ensuring the 40-hour workweek and overtime pay rights for all Washington farm workers has been a priority for the Washington State Labor Council and its affiliated unions, including the United Farm Workers and Familias Unidas por la Justicia. S. 5172 establishes a three-year phase-in period for the new requirement that agricultural employers pay overtime to their employees.

“S. 5172 will end a racist legacy and correct an injustice that has existed for too long,” said Larry Brown (IAM), president of the Washington State Labor Council. This major victory for farmworkers has drawn national attention. Inslee also signed bills that will increase worker safety protections and expand support for frontline workers during public health emergencies.

Wed, 05/19/2021 - 08:30

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


05/18/2021 - 12:46pm
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Zenei Triunfo-Cortez Zenei Triunfo-Cortez

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Zenei Triunfo-Cortez.

Zenei Triunfo-Cortez is an RN who serves as one of the presidents of National Nurses United (NNU) and one of the presidents of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (the state affiliate of NNU). She is an inspiring advocate for Asian Americans in the labor movement. Her work has long inspired nurses of Filipina descent, which has been especially critical during the pandemic, when COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on Filipina registered nurses, who compromise nearly one-quarter of all RN COVID-19 deaths.

Tue, 05/18/2021 - 09:00

05/17/2021 - 6:00pm
Schools Must Be Open in Fall: 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.

President of Key Teachers’ Union Shares Plea: ‘Schools Must Be Open’ in Fall: "Randi Weingarten, president of the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union, called on Thursday for a full reopening of the nation’s schools for the next academic year, saying: 'There is no doubt: Schools must be open. In person. Five days a week.' 'It’s not risk-free,' Ms. Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, which has 1.7 million members, said. She argued that the health risks can be managed through a range of practices—some of them relatively simple, such as masking and handwashing, and some of them more difficult to achieve at scale, such as decreasing class sizes to maintain distance and procuring additional spaces to meet outside cramped school buildings."

Want a Healthier Workplace Culture? Unionize: "A workplace’s culture is shaped by many factors. In my personal experience—as both a labor advocate and a manager—a positive workplace culture starts with employees knowing that their contributions are appreciated by management. Unfortunately, this is not the case for far too many working people who have no collective voice on the job. The exceptions are the 14.3 million workers—including more than six million professionals—in the United States who are represented by unions. These workers are able to secure respect by creating a healthy and collaborative workplace culture through negotiating with their employers."

Green Future Needs to Be Built with Union Jobs and Prevailing Wage: "While the future of clean energy jobs is a hot topic of debate these days, the Joe Biden administration is right to connect labor standards to renewable energy tax credits, pushing the industry towards good, union jobs."

Dozens of Large Companies 'Rigged' CEO Pay During Pandemic, Study Claims: "'CEO pay last year revealed the dirty secret that CEOs are not really paid based on their own individual performance,' said Brandon Rees, deputy director of corporations and markets at the AFL-CIO. 'When you compensate CEOs based on share prices, it incentivizes destructive behavior, but also contributes to economic inequality.'"

Fearing for Their Pensions, Union Members See Hope in Federal Aid: "While the pandemic has brought a lot of economic doubt, there is hope now. Tucked into the $1.9 trillion federal American Rescue Plan is special financial assistance to save more than 200 failing pension plans like Whitaker’s. This will impact millions of workers, including roofers, truck drivers, machinists and musicians—many of whom would have faced huge losses to their retirement benefits but are now breathing a collective sigh of relief."

Lean In Circles Bring Tradeswomen Together to Navigate Bias and Ask for What They Deserve: "Today, LeanIn.Org, North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU), and Canada's Build Together announced Lean In Circles for Union Tradeswomen, a peer mentorship and training program to help women break new ground in an industry that's been historically dominated by men. 'Unions are all about collective voice, and this innovative program offers the perfect opportunity to enhance that solidarity,' said AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Liz Shuler. 'We need more women in the trades, more women in leadership roles, and having programs like this is a meaningful step to create lifelong leadership skills and real tools that will guide tradeswomen throughout their careers. Connecting with other women in similar situations and sharing strategies through networks is invaluable.' Two years in the making, the program was developed by LeanIn.Org in partnership with AFL-CIO and NABTU leaders, subject matter experts, and tradeswomen to address the specific experiences of women in the building trades. The program was piloted in St. Louis, Missouri, and throughout Canada in 2019 and 2020 and received positive feedback from participants: 95% of Circle members said they built strong connections, and 90% of group moderators reported gaining leadership, facilitation, and organizing skills."

Labor Unions Lodge First USMCA Complaint Against Mexican Factory: "The U.S.’s largest labor union is leading a complaint over working conditions at an auto-parts factory in Mexico, the first case to test whether enforcement provisions in a new trade agreement can help to improve working conditions. 'USMCA requires Mexico to end the reign of protection unions and their corrupt deals with employers,' said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. 'The ongoing harassment of Susana Prieto and SNITIS members is a textbook violation of the labor laws Mexico has pledged to uphold.'"

Don't Pin So-Called Labor Shortage on Workers: Economy Was Broken Before COVID-19: "For over a year, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on working people and the communities where we live and work. Millions of front-line workers are going to work today, as they have every day during the pandemic, with few—if any—protections from a virus that has killed 580,000 Americans. But there are also millions of working people who are out of a job through no fault of our own. Today, there are 8.4 million fewer jobs in the U.S. economy than there were in February 2020."

Longtime AFL-CIO Official Takes Up Key Labor Post In Biden Administration: "Today, [Thea] Lee became one of those people in charge when President Biden named her head of the Labor Department's Bureau of International Labor Affairs. In that key post, she will will oversee enforcement of labor provisions in U.S. trade policy, including those in President Donald Trump's major trade deal, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. Among other things, the deal requires Mexico to offer workers greater protections, including against forced labor and violence."

The PRO Act: What’s in It and Why Is It a Labor Movement Priority?: "Enter the Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2021. Better known as the PRO Act, this bill would be the first major worker-friendly labor law reform since the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935, would significantly expand workers’ ability to join and organize unions, and level heavy penalties on employers who stand in their way. There are a number of exciting reforms in the bill, including a federal override of so-called right-to-work laws that weaken unions by allowing members to opt out of paying dues; an end to the hated 1947 Taft-Hartley Act’s ban on secondary strikes (also known as solidarity strikes, these are collective actions that employees in different workplaces can undertake to support another group of workers on strike); an update to the union election process to allow workers to vote online or by phone; enhanced protections for whistleblowers; and a response to the issue of worker misclassification that would give independent contractors—a group left out of the original NLRA that is still denied basic labor rights (especially those who are part of the so-called gig economy)—the right to organize collectively."

Mon, 05/17/2021 - 11:51

05/17/2021 - 12:00pm
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Shwe Aung Shwe Aung

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Shwe Aung.

Shwe Aung has overcome many obstacles as an inspector and member of the Seafarers (SIU) to bring about change to the treatment of vulnerable workers on ships. His story is one of perseverance and proves that standing up for those you work with can make a difference in the world. Aung worked as a Burmese merchant mariner before coming to the United States as a refugee. Once here, Aung became an American citizen, a labor activist and a highly effective international labor leader.

Watch this video to learn more about Shwe Aung, Burmese cowboy:

Mon, 05/17/2021 - 09:43

05/17/2021 - 12:00pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Texas AFL-CIO Continues to Fight Against Voter Suppression

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.

The Texas House last week passed S.B. 7, the dominant voter suppression bill in a legislative session in which monkeying with elections became a top leadership priority despite near-universal agreement that the November election was clean from top to bottom.

The House’s version differs from the Senate’s, creating the possibility of a House-Senate conference committee adopting the worst of both bills because one political party is making the decisions.

Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy (CWA) issued this statement on the 78-64 vote:

S.B. 7 gives new momentum to an ugly legacy of Texas voter suppression, making voting harder, especially for Texans who are Black, Latino, Asian American, immigrants or persons with disabilities. The bill will cost working families jobs, now and in the future, and it will suppress votes, not protect them. S.B. 7 is yet another illustration of how this Legislature has chosen to divide, rather than unite, and to put a purely partisan political playbook ahead of the people of Texas.

Mon, 05/17/2021 - 08:33

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


05/14/2021 - 10:00am
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Michael Carandang Michael Carandang

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Michael Carandang.

Michael Carandang is one of 30 Federal Aviation Administration employees who work in Guam to support the U.S. aviation system. He is an active member of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS) and a union representative for his fellow employees, most of whom are also PASS members. He is proud of his Pacific Islander heritage and is a dedicated federal employee, serving his country since 1982.

Fri, 05/14/2021 - 09:30
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