AFL-CIO Now Blog

05/10/2021 - 1:30pm
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Bethany Khan Bethany Khan

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 Bethany Khan.

Bethany Khan is the director of communications and digital strategy at the Culinary Workers Union, UNITE HERE Local 226. She graduated from the University of Minnesota and used the skills she learned in college to fight for justice. Khan has family members who are undocumented immigrants and this has inspired her to work with the Culinary Workers Union to fight for comprehensive worker-centered immigration reform. Khan was named one of "40 under 40" to watch at the American Association of Political Consultants in 2018. She serves as a board member for Planned Parenthood of Nevada, the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada Advisory Board and the Las Vegas Sun’s Community Editorial Review Board, where she represents the interests of the 57,000 members of the Culinary Workers Union and their families.

Mon, 05/10/2021 - 09:30

05/10/2021 - 1:30pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: AFGE Local 2328: Union Holds Workers Memorial Day Event at VA Medical Center AFGE Local 2328

 

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.

Dozens of workers from AFGE Local 2328 showed up and showed out for a rally at the Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Virginia commemorating those who lost their lives on the job, while urging U.S. Sen. Mark Warner to pass the PRO Act, in an April 28 rally.

“[We honor] all workers who died over the past year in the line of duty, committing and doing their jobs,” said Local 2328 President Sheila Elliott in an article by the Virginia Daily Press. “We are working on regulations and guidance that are many years old, and a lot of this stuff needs to be updated. We still have a long way to go.”

“At the very beginning of the pandemic, it was chaos. There was mixed messaging, there was not enough equipment,” added Local 2328 Vice President Stacy Shorter. “It’s been a horrible, horrible year. And we’ve been suffering and struggling in this constant battle. We really were trying to make sure that our staff had adequate protections in the workplace. It took us a while to really get to the place where we feel comfortable right now.”

Mon, 05/10/2021 - 08:30

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


05/07/2021 - 6:30pm
Economy Gains 266,000 Jobs in April; Unemployment Little Changed at 6.1% Bureau of Labor Statistics

The U.S. economy gained 266,000 jobs in April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 6.1%, according to figures released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In response to the April job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs said: "There was no progress in reducing the number of long-term unemployed, they remained nearly unchanged at 4.2 million and are 43% of the unemployed. That number will be difficult to clear by September when key provisions of federal support for unemployed workers will lapse." He also tweeted:

Last month’s biggest job gains were in leisure and hospitality (+331,000), other services industry (+44,000), local government education (+31,000), social assistance (+23,000) and financial activities (19,000). The biggest job losses were seen in manufacturing (-18,000), retail trade employment (-15,000) and health care (-4,000). Employment changed little in other major industries, including construction, mining, wholesale trade and information.

In April, the unemployment rates for teenagers (12.3%), Black Americans (9.7%), Hispanics (7.9%), adult men (6.1%), Asian Americans (5.7%), adult women (5.6%) and White Americans (5.3%) showed little or no change.

The number of long-term unemployed workers (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) barely changed in April and accounted for 43% of the total unemployed.

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 12:42

05/07/2021 - 12:00pm
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Jeffrey Omura Jeffrey Omura

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 Jeffrey Omura.

Jeffrey Omura was recently elected to his second term as a councilor of Actors’ Equity Association. Omura came to labor leadership through his work in member organizing as one of the creators and leaders of the #FairWageOnstage campaign. Realizing that arts workers were being forgotten in pandemic relief efforts at every level of government, Omura helped create the Be An #ArtsHero campaign to organize the industry to collectively lobby Congress for arts relief. He is currently running for New York City Council.

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 09:28

05/06/2021 - 5:30pm
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Betty Tam Betty Tam

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 Betty Tam.

Betty Tam works as a marketing data analyst at Union Plus and is a member of the Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU). Tam is an essential asset at Union Plus and always has an uplifting, positive attitude, and co-workers say it is a joy to work with her. Tam's expertise in data analysis helps Union Plus promote union benefits to the right union audiences across many platforms. Her hard work deserves much praise and respect.

Thu, 05/06/2021 - 10:28

05/06/2021 - 11:30am
Fighting for Worker Power: 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:


05/06/2021 - 11:30am
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: SMART and AFSA Team Up to Tackle Indoor Air Quality in Schools

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.

Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools not only can get students and educators sick, but it also impacts the teaching and learning of our children. The COVID-19 crisis has put a spotlight on decades of neglect and the growing deficiencies of school infrastructure, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning, also known as HVAC systems. The vast majority of classrooms in the United States fail to meet minimum ventilation rates, and those inadequacies have a major impact on our ability to provide safe learning environments as the virus remains in our communities.

Working with the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), the School Administrators (AFSA) union is educating school leaders on what can be done in our communities. State federations and central labor councils can play a vital role in state capitols and with local governments to make sure the needed resources are allocated to help rebuild school infrastructure. To get involved, email takeaction@TheSchoolLeader.org. To read more about this issue or watch a webinar, click here.

Thu, 05/06/2021 - 09:32

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


05/05/2021 - 11:00am
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profiles: Don Villar Don Villar

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 Don Villar.

Don Villar was born into the labor movement and the spirit of social justice. His father was on strike at the time of his birth, fighting for better wages and benefits for bank workers in the Philippines. During his nearly 25-year broadcast journalism career at WLS-TV (ABC) Chicago, Villar won an Emmy for his breaking news coverage. Villar became a member of NABET-CWA Local 41 in 1991, was elected vice president in 2010 and then president in 2015. He became secretary-treasurer for the Chicago Federation of Labor in 2018 and continues to build solidarity across Chicago, Cook County and beyond.

Wed, 05/05/2021 - 09:28

05/05/2021 - 11:00am
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: AFM Members Rally for a New Contract in Fort Wayne AFM

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.

With wages, benefits and working conditions on the line, members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) rallied in Fort Wayne, Indiana, over the weekend to draw attention to their fight for a new contract with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. AFM International President Ray Hair spoke at the rally in support of the orchestra musicians, who have been furloughed because of the pandemic since August 2020. “Why are these musicians out on the street? Why haven’t they had paychecks since last summer? It’s because the management doesn’t want them to,” Hair told WPTA21. “They’re lining their own pockets. Nobody in management would have a job if it weren’t for us.”

Wed, 05/05/2021 - 08:33

Tags: Organizing


05/04/2021 - 5:00pm
18 Important Things You Need to Know from the 2021 Death on the Job Report Death on the Job

For the 30th year, the AFL-CIO has produced the 2021 edition of Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect report on the state of safety and health protections for America’s working families. Since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 50 years ago, federal job safety agencies have issued many important regulations on safety hazards, strengthened enforcement and expanded worker rights. The toll of workplace injury, illness and death remains too high, and too many workers remain at serious risk. There is much more work to be done.

Here are 18 important things from the 2021 Death on the Job report you need to know. In 2019:

1. 275 U.S. workers, on average, died each day from hazardous working conditions.

2. 5,333 workers were killed on the job in the United States.

3. An estimated 95,000 workers died from occupational diseases.

4. The overall job fatality rate was 3.5 per 100,000 workers, the same as the previous year.

5. Latino and Black worker fatalities increased; these workers are at greater risk of dying on the job than all workers.

6. Employers reported nearly 3.5 million work-related injuries and illnesses.

7. Musculoskeletal disorders continue to make up the largest portion (30%) of work-related injuries and illnesses.

8. Underreporting is widespread—the true toll of work-related injuries and illnesses is 7.0 million to 10.5 million each year.

9. States with the highest fatality rates in 2019 were: Alaska, Wyoming, North Dakota, Montana and West Virginia.

10. Industries with the highest fatality rates in 2019 were: agriculture, forestry, and fishing and hunting; mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; transportation and warehousing; construction; and wholesale trade.

11. America’s workplaces have been a primary source of COVID-19 outbreaks, with thousands of workers infected and dying. However, workplace infection and outbreak information is limited because there is no national surveillance system.

12. Workplace violence deaths increased to 841 in 2019, while more than 30,000 violence-related lost-time injuries were reported.

13. Workplace violence is the third-leading cause of workplace death. There were 454 worker deaths that were workplace homicides.

14. Women workers are at greater risk of violence than men; they suffered two-thirds of the lost-time injuries related to workplace violence, and were five times more likely to be killed by a relative or domestic partner in the workplace than men.

15. Deaths among all Latino workers increased in 2019: 1,088 deaths, compared with 961 in 2018. Some 66% of those who died were immigrants.

16. The Black worker fatality rate of 3.6 per 100,000 workers continues to be higher than the national average. In 2019, 634 Black workers died on the job—the highest number in more than two decades.

17. Workers 65 or older have nearly three times the risk of dying on the job as other workers, with a fatality rate of 9.4 per 100,000 workers in 2019.

18. The cost of job injuries and illnesses is enormous—estimated at $250 billion to $330 billion a year.

There is a lot we can do to address these numbers, which are much too high. Read the full report to learn more about the solutions.

Tue, 05/04/2021 - 09:40
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