AFL-CIO Now Blog

04/14/2021 - 10:00am
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Northern Valley Labor Council Distributes Food to Families in North Dakota and Minnesota Northern Valley Labor Council

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 Northern Valley Labor Council in North Dakota, led by President Mark Froemke (BCTGM), plans to distribute more than 1,300 boxes of food and gallons of milk later this month for community members in need. The North Dakota AFL-CIO, the St. Paul (Minnesota) Regional Labor Federation and the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program are also sponsoring the events. Distribution will take place in Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and Belcourt, North Dakota, as well as in Mahnomen, Minnesota. The union is working with Native American tribes to make sure the distribution announcement reaches those communities as well.

Wed, 04/14/2021 - 09:30

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


04/13/2021 - 10:00am
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: RWDSU Continues Fight to Hold Amazon Accountable RWDSU

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.

Today, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) announced it is filing objections to the conduct of the election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), charging that Amazon interfered with the right of its Bessemer, Alabama, employees to vote in a free and fair election. RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said: We demand a comprehensive investigation over Amazon’s behavior in corrupting this election….We won’t rest until workers’ voices are heard fairly under the law. When they are, we believe they will be victorious in this historic and critical fight to unionize the first Amazon warehouse in the United States.”

Tue, 04/13/2021 - 09:00

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19


04/12/2021 - 3:30pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Colorado AFL-CIO Fights to End the Exploitation of Farmworkers Colorado 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 César Chávez Day, the Colorado General Assembly passed a joint resolution recognizing César Chávez. However, Colorado does not give farmworkers basic rights under the law. The Colorado AFL-CIO has been fighting to pass S.B. 21087 to make Colorado’s laws reflect our values such as dignity and respect on the job.

“In 1929, Colorado State Federation officials helped 500 beet workers at Fort Lupton apply for an AFL charter. However, the Great Western Sugar Company ran a number of members off the job. We are fighting for the same basic rights and protections for agricultural workers that those beet workers deserved 90 years ago,” said Dennis Dougherty (IBEW), executive director of the Colorado AFL-CIO.

The bill would allow farmworkers to organize, bargain and strike, granting them protections other workers get from the Colorado Labor Peace Act. It requires agricultural employers to pay overtime when workers exceed 12 hours per day or 40 hours per week. It also requires agricultural employers pay the state minimum wage of $12.32 an hour. Currently farms and ranches are exempted and are only required to pay the federal minimum wage. The bill also would limit the use of the short-handled hoe, a tool that has become a symbol of oppression because of the pain that often occurs when workers bend over to use it. It also creates new protections for whistleblowers and sets new standards for housing and health.

This bill is long overdue, and the state federation and allies are fighting to get it passed through the Legislature. On César Chávez Day, the Colorado AFL-CIO also released a video of labor activist Dolores Huerta calling on legislators to pass S.B. 21087.

Mon, 04/12/2021 - 09:00

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19


04/09/2021 - 7:46pm
Not A Spectator Sport: The 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.

'Passing the PRO Act Is Not a Spectator Sport': AFL-CIO Leads National Day of Action: "The AFL-CIO is encouraging people to call U.S. senators on Thursday to urge them to support the passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, a historic piece of legislation that would significantly strengthen workers' right to form unions and help reverse a decades-long assault on labor waged by corporations and their political allies. 'Passing the PRO Act is not a spectator sport. All of us must act—and act today by driving calls into the Senate,' AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said Thursday. 'From Alabama to Alaska, we are going to make our case for an economic and political system that works for working people.'"

Biden Is Rebuilding the National Labor Relations Board: "On his first day in office, President Joe Biden fired Peter Robb, the Trump-appointed general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the agency responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal labor law. A new report by the nonpartisan US Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows why Biden was right to fire Robb—and to do so quickly. The GAO found that Robb was dismantling the agency from the inside. He reduced staff size, destroyed employee morale, and failed to spend the money appropriated by Congress. This all occurred while Robb was pursuing an anti-worker, pro-corporate agenda."

Stress on the Front Lines of COVID-19: "Worry, exhaustion, constantly changing safety rules and long hours of wearing PPE are just a few things America’s health-care workers cite as the hardest parts of going to work on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. Their work has saved countless lives but also taken a personal toll: 62% say worry or stress related to covid-19 has had a negative effect on their mental health. A 55% majority feel 'burned out' going to work. Nearly half of all health-care workers say worry or stress has caused them to have trouble sleeping or to sleep too much."

Black Workers Being Left Behind as Economy Recovers from Pandemic: "In March, the unemployment rate for Black workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 4.7%, compared to 3.6% for white Americans, according to Labor Department data that’s not seasonally adjusted. To be sure, that gap did shrink from the prior month. The disparity is nearly double between Black and white workers who graduated high school, the data show.  'If even the best-educated Black person doesn’t do as well in the economy, then that must be discrimination,' said William Spriggs, chief economist at the AFL-CIO."

The Filibuster Threatens Both Civil Rights and Workers’ Rights: "The GOP’s embrace of the filibuster to thwart President Biden’s legislative agenda reveals how the struggles to extend civil rights and labor rights are inextricably intertwined. The use of the anti-democratic device to block civil rights legislation is well known. In 1957, Senator Strom Thurman of South Carolina talked for 24 hours and 18 minutes to stall the first piece of federal civil rights legislation enacted since the Reconstruction era, a bill that empowered federal prosecutors to prevent interference with voting."

Biden’s Infrastructure Package Is Designed to Boost Unions: "Many of the new jobs are likely to be union positions, because the plan targets sectors that already have high levels of union participation, said Greg Regan, president of the Transportation Trades Department, a coalition of unions in industries such as aviation and rail transit."

Florida Labor Unions Say Proposal Will Lead to 'Disaster' for State Worker Pensions"'The people making these decisions fundamentally do not understand how pensions work,' AFL-CIO spokesman Rich Templin said. 'And the actions they are taking will prove disastrous.' Templin said over the next few days public sector labor union members will call, text, email, and talk in-person to lawmakers about the dangers lurking in the bill."

‘She-Wees’ and Plastic Bags: Amazon’s Pee Scandal Is Much Worse for Women: "Motherboard spoke to six women who have driven Amazon delivery vans during the past year. Some fast during work hours, even in the heat of the summer, to avoid wasting time finding a bathroom. Others either hold their pee for up to 10 hours, squat over trash bags, or purchase 'she-wees,' female urinals that cost roughly $13.99, on Amazon.com. An Amazon delivery driver trainer who works out of an Amazon warehouse in South Bend, Indiana, told Motherboard that drivers frequently dump bags or bottles with pee and poop on the side of the road. 'I am a trainer for my [delivery company] and I tell all the new girls to invest in a she-wee or you will not make it at this job,' she said. Motherboard granted the driver anonymity because she feared retaliation from her employer."

Fri, 04/09/2021 - 10:16

04/09/2021 - 1:30pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: On the Yellow Brick Road to Success: BAC Volunteers for Community Improvement Project in Hawaii

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.

For many students who live near Kalihi Waena Elementary in Hawaii, the rainy winter months often mean walking through the mud to get to school. Now, thanks to the hard work and volunteerism of members of Bricklayers (BAC) Local 1, these students are getting a much-needed upgrade to their path to the school. The volunteer union members have started work on a new “yellow brick road” connecting nearby housing units to the school. The project also calls for fresh fruit trees to be planted along the route to school. “It feels wonderful to give back to the community and the volunteers came out not only just for the community, but for the strength of the union,” Ikaika Castillo, BAC training coordinator, told KITV.

Fri, 04/09/2021 - 09:30

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19


04/08/2021 - 6:46pm
Pass the PRO Act: 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:

Kansas State AFL-CIO:

Maine AFL-CIO:

Massachusetts AFL-CIO:

Minnesota AFL-CIO:

Missouri AFL-CIO:

Montana AFL-CIO:

Nebraska AFL-CIO:

Nevada State AFL-CIO:


04/08/2021 - 12:30pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Massachusetts AFL-CIO Calls on Governor to Ensure Budget Supports Working Families Massachusetts 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.

The Massachusetts AFL-CIO, led by President Steven Tolman (TCU/IAM), testified before the state’s Joint Ways and Means Committee to express concerns about the budget submitted by the governor.

“This budget must support workers who have been and will continue to report to jobs outside of their homes to ensure that the public has access to the goods and services that our society has finally deemed ‘essential,’” Tolman said. “We must also ensure that unemployed and underemployed workers who are struggling to make ends meet have access to strong social safety nets that allow them to stay in their homes, maintain their healthcare coverage, and keep food on the table.”

Among the specific concerns are provisions in the budget that would limit sick time for state employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, reduce funds for workforce development and weaken public bidding laws.

Thu, 04/08/2021 - 09:32

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


04/07/2021 - 12:00pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: New York State AFL-CIO Backs ‘Fair Share’ Revenue Raisers New York State 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.

New York labor and faith leaders joined together last week for a press conference in support of the strategic “fair share” revenue raisers in the New York State Assembly and Senate one-house budgets and are urging their adoption in the final budget. The groups are pushing the state to look past the short-term relief from the federal government and move toward sustainable revenue streams that ask the wealthy to pay their fair share and that will preserve public services once federal aid is exhausted.

According to Mario Cilento (TNG-CWA), president of the New York State AFL-CIO, “The federal aid coming into New York state will only do so much—it will help us for about the next two years, but after that, the state will be addressing budget deficits on its own. These ‘fair share’ revenue raisers would affect a tiny portion of individuals in our state while ensuring we don't harm our health care system and still help fund education, state services and our local governments into the future.”

Wed, 04/07/2021 - 09:26

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


04/06/2021 - 5:30pm
Solidarity Works: 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 Musicians:

American Federation of Teachers:

American Postal Workers Union:

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance:

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA:

Boilermakers:

Bricklayers:

Coalition of Labor Union Women:

Communications Workers of America:

Department for Professional Employees:

Electrical Workers:

Fire Fighters:

Heat and Frost Insulators:


04/06/2021 - 5:30pm
Washington Teachers’ Union President Elizabeth Davis Passes Elizabeth Davis Chris Garlock/Union City

The Washington, D.C., metro area labor movement lost one of its most outspoken leaders Sunday night when Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) President Elizabeth Davis died in a car crash.

Davis had been “at the forefront of public education advocacy and reform, leading the WTU’s transformation into a social justice, solution-driven organization dedicated to advancing and promoting quality education for all children,” WTU said in a release Monday morning. Davis worked hard at “improving teaching and learning conditions and aggressively amplifying the voice of teachers in the dialogue around issues of teaching and learning,” the union added. “We are confident that her legacy will continue to shape the WTU as well as education across the district.”

“Elizabeth Davis fought every single day, not just for her members, but for all the city’s students and parents,” said Metro Washington Council (MWC) President Dyana Forester. “As a D.C. parent myself, and also as a lifelong city resident and labor activist, Sister Davis was a constant inspiration to me and to so many others. The thoughts and prayers of the Metro Washington Council go out to her family, her union and to all whose lives were touched by Liz. Her loss is shared by the entire local labor community, and we shall carry on her legacy of battling for justice even as we mourn her passing.” 

Davis was a longtime member of the MWC’s Executive Board.

The first time Davis stood up to D.C. school administrators was in the 1960s, The Washington Post reported. “Davis, then a teenager, staged a walkout at Eastern High to protest the lack of African American history and culture in her school’s curriculum. Hundreds of students joined her. And it worked, she said. The curriculum changed.”

“That was the beginning,” Davis told the Post in an interview in February. “It was exciting. It was exhilarating. We were organizing.”

This post originally appeared at Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO.

This post originally appeared at Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO.

Tue, 04/06/2021 - 16:09
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