AFL-CIO Now Blog

06/25/2024 - 2:30pm
Getting Out the Union Strong Vote: 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 X (formerly Twitter).

Alaska AFL-CIO:

Arizona AFL-CIO:

California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO:

Colorado AFL-CIO:

Connecticut AFL-CIO:

Florida AFL-CIO:

Illinois AFL-CIO:

Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO:

06/25/2024 - 2:30pm
Pride Month Profiles: Jamie Martinez Jamie Martinez

For Pride Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various LGBTQ+ workers who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Jamie Martinez of the United Steelworkers (USW).

USW Local 1155L member Jamie Martinez fought like hell for the past several years to ensure that they, and their fellow union siblings at Bridgestone-Firestone in Tennessee, have access to gender-affirming health care. “While ‘no’ was the first answer I got, ‘yes’ was the only one I accepted,” Martinez said. Martinez also proudly serves on the USW LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee.

Tue, 06/25/2024 - 10:02

Tags: Pride

06/25/2024 - 2:30pm
Service & Solidarity Spotlight: WGAE Members at iHeart Podcast Network Ratify First Union Contract

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our Service & Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Writers Guild of America East (WGAE) members at iHeart Podcast Network ratified their first collective bargaining agreement, covering the 100-member bargaining unit. The three-year contract was overwhelmingly ratified. Details of the contract include: a minimum starting salary of $63,000 for unit members in New York or Los Angeles and $58,000 for members in other locations; annual minimum salary increases of 3% in the first year of the contract, and 2% in the second and third year of the contract; time-and-a-half for work assigned on a holiday; severance of up to 16 weeks; improved bereavement paid time off; the right to bargain over any implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace; overtime protections and comp time for those who don’t receive overtime; greater transparency on show metrics and spending; and other gains.

The iHeart Podcast Network’s bargaining unit wrote: “We are incredibly proud to announce the ratification of our first contract. After two long years of bargaining we've landed on a contract that we feel greatly improves our working and every day lives. We are excited to begin life under a union contract and to continue to advocate for our entire unit.”

Tue, 06/25/2024 - 11:13

06/24/2024 - 8:00pm
Increased Grassroots Momentum Behind Organizing: 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.

Workers Are Voting to Join Unions at Record High Rates: “Why it matters: It's a reflection of increased grassroots momentum behind organizing—helped along by a strongly pro-worker National Labor Relations Board, under Biden appointee Jennifer Abruzzo. Zoom in: Workers voted in favor of a union 74% of the time this year (through April)—a jump from 2019 when it was 69%. In 2023, there were 1,777 union elections—the highest number since 2010, when there were 1,942.”

Gwen Mills Elected President of UNITE HERE, First Woman to Lead the Union in Its 130-Year History: “‘On behalf of the 12.5 million union members in the AFL-CIO, I am thrilled to celebrate the election of Gwen Mills to her first full term as President of UNITE HERE. President Mills is a visionary leader who has helped guide UNITE HERE through some of the hospitality industry’s most challenging and transformational moments. When the pandemic devastated the hospitality industry and nearly all UNITE HERE workers lost their jobs, President Mills put members to work and created one of the country’s most powerful and effective get-out-the-vote operations, unleashing victories up and down the ballot in the 2020 and 2022 elections,’ said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. ‘Under her leadership, UNITE HERE is delivering historic new contracts for workers, expanding into new workplaces and regions, and bringing in more women and people of color—not only to be a part of the movement, but to lead it. President Mills and UNITE HERE show us every day what a modern, inclusive and resilient union looks like—a union that empowers its members to fight and win. We look forward to continuing our fight together to improve the lives of hospitality workers—and all workers—across this country.’”

Groups Urge FEMA to Recognize Extreme Heat, Wildfire Smoke as a ‘Major Disaster’: “The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), one of the petition’s signatories, pointed to the need for more labor protections for those called in to assist with these weather events. ‘Too many workers are exposed to extreme heat and wildfire smoke on the job without adequate safety measures in place. Not only do we need to develop strong worker protection standards to meet the demand of the changing environment and intensifying climate disasters, we need the federal government to take action now to release resources,’ Liz Shuler, president of AFL-CIO, said in a statement.”

Biden's Cabinet to Tout Economic Accomplishments Ahead of Debate: “President Joe Biden’s Cabinet is fanning out nationwide this week to promote ways the administration has worked to reduce costs, a coordinated effort targeting a top issue for voters. As part of the tour, 18 Cabinet members and senior White House officials will hold more than two dozen events in 15 states in the days leading up to the first presidential debate between Biden and former President Donald Trump. The stops include presidential battleground states such as Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada and Pennsylvania, and will feature local officials in tough districts.”

Fire Grants and Safety Act Receives Senate Approval: “The U.S. Senate has passed the Fire Grants and Safety Act (S. 870), as reported by the IAFC. This legislation aims to extend and fund the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program. Edward Kelly, General President of the IAFF, highlighted the impact of AFG and SAFER grants: ‘Lives in every state have been saved by AFG and SAFER grants, including the lives of firefighters.’ He also praised the IAFF’s Government Affairs team for their efforts in advancing the bill.”

How Donald Trump Worked to Destroy America’s Labor Unions: “Although Donald Trump has been eager to garner support from American labor unions for his re-election campaign, there are lots of reasons he’s not going to get it. Chief among them is his record in sabotaging the nation’s labor movement. During his decades as a wealthy businessman, Trump clashed with unions repeatedly. And, upon becoming president, he appointed people much like himself―from corporate backgrounds and hostile toward workers―to head key government agencies and departments. Naturally, an avalanche of anti-union policies followed.” 

U.S. High Speed Rail Coalition Unveils Road Map with Guidance on How to Launch High-Speed Rail Project: “The U.S. High Speed Rail Coalition unveiled a roadmap with guidance on how to launch a high-speed rail project. The first-of-its-kind action plan is intended to equip advocates with practical tips, realistic expectations and strategic support as they work to launch new high-speed train projects in their regions. ‘High-speed rail lines are complex megaprojects with unique challenges,’ said Bernard Cohen, senior advisor for planning and operations at Alternate Concepts Inc., as well as former Massachusetts Department of Transportation secretary and the principal author of the roadmap. ‘We’ve created a practical guide that demystifies what’s involved in launching a new high-speed rail project.’”

Behind the Supreme Court's Anti-Union Gift to Starbucks: “In response, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler rightly noted the court had ‘sided with corporate power…in a direct attack on the fundamental freedom to organize a union on the job. The NLRB exists to resolve labor disputes and ensure workers can exercise our right to join a union, free from intimidation and retaliation. The board obtained an injunction in federal district court to reinstate the Memphis Seven while deciding the case. The system worked as it is supposed to—until the Supreme Court got involved.’”

ALPA: WestJet Encore Pilots Ratify New Contract with Wage Increases that ‘Set a New Standard’: “WestJet Encore pilots have ratified a new five-year contract that secures pay raises and more flexible schedules that enable better work/life balance, their union says. The new contract goes into effect immediately and is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2024, said the Air Line Pilots Association International (ALPA), the world’s largest airline pilot union. ‘The ratification of this contract is a step toward our company and our pilots working together to put the airline in a more competitive position,’ said Capt. Carin Kenny, chair of the WestJet Encore ALPA Master Executive Council. ‘Since negotiations began, we were clear that to attract new pilots to the WestJet Group and retain the ones currently flying for our airline, we needed a contract that provides competitive compensation, improved scheduling flexibility, and a level of career progression.’”

Fri, 06/21/2024 - 10:28

06/24/2024 - 2:00pm
Pride Month Profiles: Dawnya Ferdinandsen Dawnya Ferdinandsen

For Pride Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various LGBTQ+ workers who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Dawnya Ferdinandsen of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW).

Dawnya Ferdinandsen is a member of UAW Local 14 in Toledo, Ohio. She was one of the first women committee members in her local and advocated for wrongfully discharged members, helping to file grievances and make members whole. She has served as the local’s education director and created the first-ever podcast to educate and encourage member engagement in the union’s standing committees. She serves as the vice president of Pride At Work’s Ohio chapter and is an activist who advocates for equity and justice for all workers. She owns and operates her own roofing and construction company, the only woman to do so within her county. 

Mon, 06/24/2024 - 11:23

Tags: Pride

06/24/2024 - 2:00pm
Wisconsin Troublemaker Frank Emspak Passes Frank Emspak

Frank Emspak (June 21, 1943–June 14, 2024) made countless contributions to the labor and civil rights movements, and the struggle for world peace. He followed in his father's footsteps. Julius Emspak (1906–1962) was the leading figure in the dramatic rise of the United Electric Workers (UE) during the 1930s and 1940s. His mother, Stella Abrams, was a labor activist who become office manager and secretary to Julius, who was leading a dramatically rising UE.

In Tuckahoe, New York, Frank Emspak became a political activist in high school and met Dolores Fox, his future wife, who was attending a nearby school. They would later raise two children, Jesse and Freya. Emspak chose the University of Wisconsin–Madison for college and while in Madison, he took part in local civil rights organizing campaigns. While in graduate school he moved into rising anti-war activity.

Beginning in 1973, Emspak worked a shoe manufacturing plant, represented by the UE, and later at the General Electric plant in Lynn, Massachusetts, represented by the International Union of Electrical Workers (IUE). He became a leader in the labor movement in Massachusetts, where he challenged factory management and existing union leadership alike on issues ranging from health and safety to women’s rights and changes in technology. His descriptions of tactics and strategy in his memoir, Troublemaker: Saying No to Power, remain valuable to readers within unions and outside of them.

Emspak soon became a regular guest on radio station WORT and an informal adviser to local unions and the Madison Central Labor Council. In 1998, he set out an ambitious plan for labor information and education on the radio nationally and beyond. He and Ellen La Luzerne created a weekly labor radio program that aired on the station, a wide-ranging, all-volunteer effort focused on the issues and concerns of working people. He produced "Labor Radio" in Madison, Wisconsin, until his final days. For nearly 15 years, Frank, Ellen and others regularly produced the Workers Independent News Service (WIN). Starting in 2002, WIN broadcast on 70 radio stations and later on the internet. His work on “Labor Radio” was recognized with a mayoral proclamation on the 25th anniversary of the program.

Read more.

Mon, 06/24/2024 - 11:35

06/23/2024 - 1:30pm
Pride Month Profiles: Chris Murray Chris Murray

For Pride Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various LGBTQ+ workers who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Chris Murray of UNITE HERE.

“Pride Month is all about celebrating who we are and standing united. In our union, we are one big family and embracing of our diversity. Because we are in a union, I know that we are all equal, deserving of respect and we have the strength of our contracts to protect us,” said UNITE HERE member Chris Murray. “To me, Pride means loving one another for who we truly are. My advice to others: Be yourself and show your Pride.”

Sun, 06/23/2024 - 12:01

Tags: Pride

06/22/2024 - 1:00pm
Pride Month Profiles: O’Sha Stegall O’Sha Stegall

For Pride Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various LGBTQ+ workers who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is O’Sha Stegall of the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU).

O’Sha Stegall is a Pride At Work executive board member and executive board member at large for TWU Local 556. On any given day, you will find Stegall out on the picket lines standing in solidarity with workers and continuing to fight for LGBTQ+ worker power through the work he does with Pride At Work’s Baltimore/D.C. chapter.

Sat, 06/22/2024 - 12:01

Tags: Pride

06/21/2024 - 6:00pm
Pride Month Profiles: Duncan Crabtree-Ireland Duncan Crabtree-Ireland

For Pride Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various LGBTQ+ workers who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Duncan Crabtree-Ireland of SAG-AFTRA.

Out magazine recently named SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland as an Out100 Disruptor, citing his leadership during the union’s 118-day strike. “As one of the few out leaders of a major entertainment group, Crabtree-Ireland knows that the fight for labor and LGBTQ+ equality go hand in hand,” the magazine said. “One of the things that we’re fighting for is basic equity, inclusion and fairness in the industry,” Crabtree-Ireland said. “And I’m proud to say that SAG-AFTRA has been at the forefront of making sure that the entire American scene is represented on film, television and streaming—and that’s a fight that we’re in for the long run.”

Thu, 06/20/2024 - 10:14

Tags: Pride

06/21/2024 - 6:00pm
Pride Month Profiles: Mark Robert Gordon Mark Robert Gordon

For Pride Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various LGBTQ+ workers who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Mark Robert Gordon of SAG-AFTRA.

Arizona native Mark Robert Gordon is a 32-year member of SAG-AFTRA and serves as a delegate to the Maricopa Area Labor Federation and a member of the Arizona AFL-CIO general board. He is a national committeeman to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and serves as the Western states director of the DNC Small Business Council and a member of the DNC’s Labor, Disability and LGBTQ+ caucuses, as well as the DNC’s Veterans and Military Families Council. He has enjoyed a long entertainment career as a critically acclaimed New York stage and screen actor, writer, director, producer and print model.

Fri, 06/21/2024 - 10:14

Tags: Pride

Syndicate content
Union built by Prometheus Labor