AFL-CIO Now Blog

12/04/2020 - 1:50pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IAFF Members Lead Campaign for Referendum to Hire Six New Firefighters

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.

Members of the Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 3432 in the small city of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, led a campaign last month for a local referendum to increase the property tax levy to fund the hiring of six new firefighters. “Having six new firefighters/paramedics will enable us to better serve the community without exhausting our members with excessive amounts of overtime,” said Local 3432 President Tony Thomas. “The IAFF was with us every step of the way. From help with campaign strategy and messaging to the development of yard signs, mailers and ads, the international provided invaluable service and support.” Voters passed the referendum 66% to 34%.

Fri, 12/04/2020 - 10:34

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


12/04/2020 - 1:50pm
Strengthening Collective Bargaining Rights: In the States Roundup In the States

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:

Michigan AFL-CIO:


12/03/2020 - 11:47am
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Rebuilding the Energy Industry: Wyoming AFL-CIO Comes Out in Support of Energy Rebound Program

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 Wyoming State AFL-CIO and its 18,000 union members are applauding Gov. Mark Gordon for investing money from the CARES Act into the state’s new “Energy Rebound Program” to keep energy workers on the job throughout the pandemic. The $15 million state initiative will save jobs in the struggling oil and gas sector. In a recent column for SweetwaterNOW, state federation Executive Secretary Tammy Johnson (USW) emphasized the importance of using the funding to keep in-state workers employed. “Done right, this cash will put hundreds of oil and gas workers back to work in the state. Yet this effort will miss its mark, if these dollars are not specifically earmarked to provide jobs to Wyoming workers,” she wrote.

Thu, 12/03/2020 - 10:07

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19


12/02/2020 - 4:47pm
Amtrak to Give Horn Salute to Honor Legacy of TTD President Larry Willis

On Wednesday, Dec. 2, Amtrak will honor the legacy of Transportation Trades Department (TTD) President Larry Willis with a horn salute. Larry died Sunday from injuries he sustained in a cycling accident near Great Falls Park in Maryland. He was 53.

“Larry was a true champion of the nation’s transportation network and the workers who make it possible,” said Amtrak CEO William Flynn. “Larry was a strong advocate for Amtrak and believed in the need for a robust, modern, well-funded national passenger rail network for the nation. Our thoughts are with Larry’s family, his TTD and labor colleagues, and all of those in the transportation industry that were touched by Larry’s deep passion and fierce advocacy for transportation workers during this difficult time.”

Amtrak engineers across the country will simultaneously blow one long whistle at noon ET on Wednesday, Dec. 2, to honor Larry’s life work in support of passenger rail and his deep passion and fierce advocacy for transportation workers.

“The collective hearts of America’s labor movement, particularly transportation unions, are broken by the tragic death of our brother. Larry brought a love of workers and a deep understanding of transportation issues to his leadership of TTD,” AFL-CIO President RIchard Trumka said. “He paid incredible attention to detail, always looking for opportunities to win more power and prosperity for the working people who move America.”

“For more than 20 years, Larry dedicated his life to the labor movement, working tirelessly to enhance the rights and livelihoods of those who work on the front lines of our transportation system,” TTD Secretary-Treasurer Greg Regan said. “His mastery of complex legal and regulatory issues set the foundation for TTD’s policy leadership, and raised the bar for demanding and enforcing worker protections throughout our nation’s transportation system.”

Willis leaves behind his wife, Amy, and daughter, Samantha.

“Larry’s passing is a reminder that we cannot take a single day for granted, and the AFL-CIO will honor his memory by fighting for the issues he championed and the people he loved,” said Trumka. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Larry’s wife and daughter, along with the entire TTD family, during this difficult time.”

In Remembrance of Larry Willis, 1967-2020 Tue, 12/01/2020 - 14:05

12/02/2020 - 4:47pm
Breakthrough for Organized Labor and Clean Energy

Her goal was to go beyond good intentions and rhetoric. So Liz Shuler, as secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, the second-highest position in the labor movement and, as it happens, highest-ranking woman in the federation’s history, went to Scandinavia in 2019. She leveraged AFL-CIO’s relationships with their sister union federations to talk directly with top management at some of the largest renewable energy companies in the world.

The big idea was to make an example of offshore wind—a template for how union labor will build the clean energy future. 

Over the next year, she worked to bring leading renewable energy project developers from Norway and Denmark to the table with building trades unions. She connected state labor federations along the East Coast of the U.S. in a working group on offshore wind. She quietly talked with elected leaders. This is her forte. She comes from a building trades union; she’s adept at building bridges. And through months of crises, amid a pandemic, she kept the conversation alive. 

But Shuler isn’t one for self-promotion. She lets results speak for themselves.  

Here they are: a game-changing partnership that sets the standard for the entire offshore wind industry. And with it, an example for solar and other emerging technologies. 

It’s based on a model the Rhode Island Building & Construction Trades Council pioneered for the Block Island Wind Farm project—the first offshore wind project in the U.S. Now, Danish renewable energy group Ørsted and North America’s Building Trade Unions (NABTU) have a deal to use union labor to build multiple offshore wind projects up and down the East Coast.

Pick your adjective. Breakthrough. Landmark. The Danish fantastiske. However you want to say it, this is a big deal. It’s a framework for an emerging, high-growth industry. It involves a company ranked most sustainable in the world, and as NABTU President Sean McGarvey put it, “Our highly trained men and women professionals have the best craft skills in the world.” Now they’ll have a path to offshore wind work up and down the Atlantic coast. 

Development of 15 active commercial leases in the U.S. will support $25 billion in annual economic output and about 83,000 jobs in the next decade. This, and 30 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 1 gigawatt can power about 110 million LED bulbs. Multiply that by 30, and you’ve got a lot of power.

Plus proof of concept. Thinking of adapting to climate change as a matter of either-or when it comes to jobs is a false choice. President-elect Joe Biden made that argument when announcing his climate policy: “When I think about climate change, the word I think of is ‘jobs.’” And if you’re wondering what kind of jobs, in Biden’s 15-page plan, the word union appears 32 times. 

The announcement is progress on two fronts: clean energy for a sustainable future and jobs for economic recovery. With the future uncertain for sectors like hospitality, where workers are disproportionately women of color, an equitable economic recovery depends on pathways to good-paying jobs in high-demand growth industries. 

A little-known fact everyone should know: After the U.S. military, NABTU and its employer partners run the largest workforce training network in the country. And NABTU-registered apprenticeships are the gold standard for construction craft training. Offshore wind offers another accessible path to family-supporting construction careers. 

There is more work ahead to bring low-road employers in the renewable sector up to union standards. But the agreement between Ørsted and NABTU shows results—the promise of good union jobs. NABTU crafted the agreement language, and throughout the process, their leadership brought credibility and consistency. Ultimately, the agreement is a hopeful paradigm in workforce-development and labor-management cooperation. 

It was possible thanks, in part, to leaders building bridges with eyes on the horizon and a vision to move labor forward. As Shuler said, “This is the first big step toward the vision we share with President-elect Biden of a growing clean-energy economy powered by union jobs, and the AFL-CIO is pleased to be part of this growing energy market and looks forward to the future.”

Tue, 11/24/2020 - 10:46

12/02/2020 - 4:47pm
Local Union President Elected to the New York State Senate Mannion

Labor stalwart John Mannion has been officially elected to the New York state senate to represent a district in the Syracuse suburbs. Mannion is the president of a local New York State United Teachers (NYSUT/AFT-NEA) union and he received steadfast support in his campaign from the Central New York Area Labor Federation and its affiliates.

A popular high school teacher in his district, he leveraged his ties with his community and his regional labor movement to secure the win. “This year we have faced unimaginable challenges—an uncontrolled pandemic, the economic uncertainty that followed and a federal government that has failed to respond….As I head to Albany next session, I hope that my work there will help restore our faith in our elected leaders and government,” Mannion wrote in an email to supporters. His election to the state senate in a close race means that pro-labor senators will hold a 43–20 supermajority in the upper house for the first time ever.

Wed, 12/02/2020 - 10:59

12/02/2020 - 4:47pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: College Students Campaign in Runoff Election with Support from Georgia AFL-CIO Clark Atlanta Students

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.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s reign of power over the U.S. Senate may be coming to an end soon if voters in Georgia manage to flip two seats in runoff elections early in the new year. Working people are campaigning in support of pro-labor candidates Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock. Students at Clark Atlanta University, with support from the HBCU Green Fund and the Georgia State AFL-CIO, led voter registration drives this weekend targeted at registering new voters. Students and volunteers also participated in door-to-door literature drops in Clayton County to remind voters about the runoff election on Jan. 5 and that early voting starts on Dec. 14.

Wed, 12/02/2020 - 09:53

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


12/02/2020 - 4:47pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Iowa Federation of Labor Joins Legal Fight Over State OSHA Protections

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 Iowa Federation of Labor joined the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa and a number of other unions and advocacy groups in filing a federal complaint against the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on Nov. 13, asserting that regulators failed to protect people from COVID-19 outbreaks during the pandemic.

President Charlie Wishman (AFT) of the Iowa Federation of Labor said his labor federation joined the suit because there seems to be a lack of concern for the health and safety of working Iowans. 

“Iowa OSHA is supposed to protect workers, not corporations. Now with COVID-19, we’re seeing more of the same, but with a new and terrible twist,” Wishman said. “When Iowa workers are exposed to COVID-19, it doesn’t threaten just their health and the health of their co-workers. It also threatens the health of their families, their friends and everyone they come into contact with. Worker health is community health.”

Mon, 11/23/2020 - 13:44

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


12/02/2020 - 4:47pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: MM&P Members Rescue Downed Pilots in the Pacific MM&P

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 officers and crew of the Horizon Reliance rescued two pilots who had been forced to land their plane on the ocean and debark to a life raft about 1,000 nautical miles from Honolulu. The ship received an alert by satellite call from the Coast Guard on Nov. 6 and quickly began steaming toward position 80 nautical miles to the southwest. Aboard the Horizon Reliance were Masters, Mates & Pilots (MM&P) members Capt. Mark Tuck, Chief Mate Steve Itson, Second Mate Joseph Comerford II and Third Mate William Laprade. Within two hours of spotting the downed pilots in their life raft, the rescue mission was successfully completed.

Fri, 11/20/2020 - 10:00

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19


12/02/2020 - 4:47pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: RSVP: FLOC Benefit Concert ‘Songs for Justice’

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 Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) and the Campaign for Migrant Worker Justice, FLOC’s education and training partner, are hosting their annual Songs for Justice benefit concert virtually on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. ET. This event is the only annual fundraising campaign, and it serves as a night of community and celebration. FLOC President and founder Baldemar Velasquez and the Aguila Negra Band will perform a mix of traditional Mexican folk music. Suggested donations are $10 per person and the event will be streamed live. Click here to RSVP.

Fri, 11/20/2020 - 12:04

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19

Syndicate content
Union built by Prometheus Labor