AFL-CIO Now Blog

03/29/2021 - 6:30pm
Protect Our Pensions: 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.

Alabama AFL-CIO:

Alaska AFL-CIO:


03/29/2021 - 6:30pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IAM Supports Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act

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.

In a letter to House leadership, Machinists (IAM) International President Robert Martinez Jr. urged representatives to support the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1195). This bipartisan legislation would create and maintain needed protections against workplace violence for health care and social service workers. A 2016 U.S. Government Accountability Office study concluded that rates of violence against health care workers are up to 12 times higher than rates of violence for the overall workforce.

“Health care and social service workers who are called on to help us and our families in times of need deserve a safe and secure work environment,” Martinez wrote. “This legislation would instruct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue a workplace violence prevention standard requiring employers in the health care and social service sectors to develop and implement a plan to protect their employees from workplace violence.”

Mon, 03/29/2021 - 08:41

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


03/29/2021 - 6:30pm
Women's History Month Profiles: Jackie Anklam

This year, for Women's History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making women's history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only their community, but also to improve conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is Jackie Anklam.

Jackie Anklam of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9899 in Saginaw, Michigan, is a true woman of steel. An environmental technician at St. Mary’s Hospital, she is among the essential workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic going to work every single day to make sure others get the care they need. While doing her job, she also represents hundreds of steelworkers at Ascension St. Mary’s. Anklam, a member of the USW's Health Care Workers Council, fought for respirators and personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning supplies and gowns for those on the front lines. The fight became personal when Anklam’s father died of complications of COVID-19 in a Michigan hospital that ran short of PPE. Activism is nothing new for Anklam. In 2017, she won a USW Cares Jefferson Award for her heroic work bringing safe drinking water to the people in Flint, Michigan, when a state of emergency was declared due to water contamination.

Mon, 03/29/2021 - 09:30

Tags: Women's History Month


03/26/2021 - 5:30pm
Women's History Month Profiles: Laurel Brennan Laurel Brennan

This year, for Women's History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making women's history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only their community, but also to improve conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is Laurel Brennan.

Laurel Brennan is currently serving her seventh term as the secretary-treasurer of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, a position she has held since 1997. She is the first woman to be elected to this position in New Jersey. 

Brennan began her career in the labor movement with an internship with the New Jersey State Federation of Teachers. She also worked for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, the Philadelphia-South Jersey District Council and the Southern New Jersey Central Labor Council, where she was the first woman elected to the position of secretary-treasurer. She formed the Southern New Jersey chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, for whom she also served on the national executive board. She also developed and organized the Women in Leadership Development (WILD) Conference, sponsored by the New Jersey State AFL-CIO.

Fri, 03/26/2021 - 13:56

Tags: Women's History Month


03/26/2021 - 11:30am
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: South Florida AFL-CIO: Labor Activists Gather to Unveil Miami Mural

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.

South Florida advocacy, civil rights and labor groups, including the South Florida AFL-CIO, gathered on March 18 to unveil “Rise,” a mural created to call attention to a long list of bills in the Florida Legislature that are anti-worker and racially oppressive. Next to the child in the mural, a rainbow of colors drips down and a stack of books represents the critical learning tools that help to ensure a functioning democracy and a free and fair society—justice, voting, equality, free assembly and labor representation. A hummingbird with its wings spread out floats above, and in the middle is a quote from Maya Angelou: “[B]ut still, like the air, I’ll rise!”

One such bill the Florida AFL-CIO is speaking out against is Senate Bill 50, which seeks to begin collecting sales taxes on internet transactions. The bill includes an amendment coming that will give that new revenue, upward of a billion dollars, to big corporations to keep their meager unemployment insurance premiums the same as they have been for two decades, with no increases in eligibility or benefits for unemployed workers.

“Without the principles here on this wall, America is nothing, Florida is nothing, Miami-Dade County is nothing,” said South Florida AFL-CIO President Jeffrey Mitchell.

“We are reverting to an era of Jim Crow laws where the people, particularly people of color, will be denied the right to vote, a living wage, an education or seek other opportunities. It is the sole duty of our elected representatives to protect the rights of any and all citizens and to forbid this type of legislation from coming to fruition.”

Fri, 03/26/2021 - 08:36

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19


03/26/2021 - 11:30am
Women's History Month Profiles: Kandy Bernskoetter Kandy Bernskoetter

This year, for Women's History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making women's history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only their community, but also to improve conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is Kandy Bernskoetter.

First Officer Kandy Bernskoetter has been a member of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) since 2003. She is a passionate unionist who works tirelessly leading ALPA’s efforts to connect with members, build unity and promote the benefits of ALPA membership internally and externally. In addition to her numerous roles leading programs that provide assistance and support for FedEx pilots, Bernskoetter also serves as ALPA’s national membership committee chair, sits on the Federal Aviation Administration’s Women in Aviation Advisory Board, and is a member of ALPA’s Female Pilots Working Group.

Fri, 03/26/2021 - 09:30

Tags: Women's History Month


03/25/2021 - 5:00pm
Success in the Tech Industry: Worker Wins

Despite the challenges of organizing during a deadly pandemic, working people across the country (and beyond) continue organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life. This edition begins with:

CODE-CWA's Tech Industry Organizing Efforts Lead to Union Recognition at Mobilize: Workers at Mobilize, a community-organizing app, announced the formation of a new union as part of the Campaign to Organize Digital Employees' (CODE-CWA's) efforts to organize in the tech industry. EveryAction, which owns Mobilize, agreed to voluntarily recognize the union. This is the third big win for Communications Workers of America (CWA) in tech sector organizing, after recent wins at Glitch and Google. Jared McDonald, a member of the organizing committee, said: "They said, 'Yeah, we want to do this the right way, we're highly invested in the labor movement as well, and workers' rights, and their ability to organize in the collective bargaining unit. Obviously we have a privileged position where we work for a progressive employer, but if we don't do it, how are the people who are going to work for less progressive employers going to do it?"

Glitch Workers Secure Historic Collective Bargaining Contract: Workers at app developer Glitch have secured a collective bargaining agreement, the first contract signed by white-collar tech workers in the United States. Members overwhelmingly ratified the contract, which lasts for 11 months. The workers, represented by the CWA, organized a year ago and won voluntary recognition of the new union. The contract includes significant protections, including “just cause” protection and recall rights for 18 employees laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sheridan Kates, a senior software engineer and bargaining committee member, explained the union’s willingness to work with management to come to a mutually beneficial agreement: “There’s a lot of fear that you can’t be nimble with a union in the tech industry, but this shows there are ways to do it. We have an 11-month contract. We didn’t focus on wages and benefits. We didn’t want to hamstring Glitch. We wanted to see ourselves as partners with management and codify the things that are important to us as a union. Having voluntary recognition helped us not have to go into this in an adversarial way. We recognized that we were coming to the table from a place of wanting to do right by each other.”

Journalists at McClatchy Organizations in Washington State Win Voluntary Recognition: Journalists at four McClatchy news organizations in Washington state, The News Tribune, The Olympian, The Bellingham Herald and the Tri-City Herald have organized as the Washington State NewsGuild. Management agreed to recognize the new affiliate of The NewsGuild-CWA. Stephanie Pedersen, Northwest regional editor for McClatchy, said: “The leadership team and our colleagues fundamentally share the same mission: to produce strong local journalism that serves our communities. Recognition allows us to begin negotiations so we may continue to deliver on that mission.”

Comcast Workers in Massachusetts Win Seven-and-a-Half-Year Battle to Secure First Contract: Comcast technicians, members of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 2322, in Fairhaven Massachusetts, won their first contract after forming a union seven and a half years ago. The new contract includes significant wage and benefit gains, fair overtime rules, increased job security and workplace safety measures. Local 2322 Business Manager Eric Hetrick said: "The techs showed amazing determination. Once they won their union certification election, they used their Section 7 rights under the National Labor Relations Act to engage in ‘concerted activity’ and management's obligation to bargain changes in wages and working conditions to stay united and keep the pressure on.”

Washington State Labor Council Helps IBEW 900 Secure a Fair Contract: Pushed to the brink of a strike last week, more than 900 members of the Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 46 employed in the union’s second largest unit—Limited Energy Sound and Communication—won a major victory with a new contract that members ratified by an overwhelming majority on Saturday night. “I couldn’t be more proud of the brave 900 for fighting and winning the contract they deserve,” said Sean Bagsby, business manager and financial secretary for Local 46. “I want to thank the Washington State Labor Council, the Seattle Building Trades, the Joint Council of Teamsters #28, MLK Labor and all the many other unions that showed their support during this long contract fight. [National Electrical Contractors Association] saw that the union movement has our backs, and they finally budged and gave The 900 a contract worthy of their support. I believe it wouldn’t have happened without that solidarity from the community of labor unions.”

Austin American-Statesman Journalists Join The NewsGuild: Journalists at the Austin American-Statesman voted to form the Austin NewsGuild, an affiliate of The NewsGuild-CWA. Next steps include electing a unit council and assembling a bargaining committee. This in the third new Guild unit in Texas in recent months as part of an industry-wide surge in union organizing.

Guggenheim Museum Workers Ratify Contract After Yearlong Fight: After a tense year of negotiations, workers at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York signed a new collective bargaining agreement. The contract covers engineering and facilities professionals; art services, preparation and fabrication specialists and staff who prepare, install and maintain exhibitions. The contract includes wage increases, increased transparency and parity in scheduling and other matters and improved health care benefits. Bryan Cook, a member of the Guggenheim Union, said: “Throughout negotiations, it was clear that management understood the level of work we produce in support of world-class exhibitions, but that they had no intention of compensating us fairly."

Staff at Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis (TCI) form TCI United with NPEU: Staff at TCI, a Virginia-based nonprofit that works to advance racial and economic justice, have voted to form TCI United with the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union (NPEU). In a statement, TCI United said: “One of TCI’s core values is that its organizational culture, staff, partners, strategies, and investments should work to advance racial and economic justice within and beyond the organization. We, TCI staff members, are deeply committed to our mission, and believe one of the best ways to realize it is to organize and form a union.”  

RWDSU Members at McNally Jackson Books and Stationery Stores Secure First Contract: Workers at McNally Jackson Books and stationery stores in New York, represented by Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union-UFCW (RWDSU-UFCW), ratified their first contract. The contract provides pay raises of 7%-17%, retirement benefits, additional paid holidays and an increase in vacation days. Rhys Davis, a worker at the Goods for the Study stationery store, said: “We stuck the course throughout the pandemic to get a great contract. I think that’s a testament to the relationship between all of the employees at McNally Jackson and the strength of our union—and our bond.”

Workers at New York Daily News to Form a Union: On Friday, it was announced that workers at the New York Daily News are seeking to form a union. With support from more than 80% of workers, the newly formed bargaining unit is seeking voluntary recognition from its employer. The new union will be a part of The NewsGuild-CWA. “We’re thrilled to welcome our hometown paper back into the Guild,” said Susan DeCarava, president of The NewsGuild of New York, CWA Local 31003. “The fight to save local news and to guarantee that the communities our members serve have access to reliable information and compelling stories is an effort we share with our Guild colleagues nationally. We ask that Tribune Publishing voluntarily recognize the Daily News Union without delay so that, together, we can safeguard and ensure that the news thrives for another 100 years.”

CVS Workers Vote Union YES for a Safer Workplace Amidst COVID-19: Workers at a CVS Pharmacy store in Spring Valley, California, voted to join United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 135 for essential workplace health and safety protections during this pandemic. As COVID-19 cases continue to spike in California, it was workplace safety that drove these workers to form a union. With their newfound collective bargaining rights, workers are prioritizing quarantine pay, free coronavirus testing and hazard pay among their demands. Our new union sisters, brothers and friends will join with UFCW members at 57 other CVS stores and the more than 200,000 working families of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council. “In the midst of this pandemic, workers see the value in belonging to a union,” said UFCW Local 135 President Todd Walters. “The workers at CVS Pharmacy in Spring Valley have chosen to be represented by UFCW Local 135. This is a victory for these essential workers that are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic!”
 
Workers Celebrate Near-Unanimous Vote at Twin City Foods Plant: Twin City Foods employees now have the right to bargain collectively for better benefits at the Pasco plant in Washington. In celebration, they waved signs near an entrance to the plant as they rejoiced in their nearly unanimous 126–2 vote to join UFCW. The efforts to form a union began this past fall as COVID-19 infections spread at the plant, reportedly leading to the death of two workers. Many plant workers were quarantined and forced to use up their limited paid sick leave. Workers also responded to management’s slow implementation of basic COVID-19 prevention safety measures. Twin City Foods employs some 230 year-round packaging employees and brings on another 300 to 400 workers seasonally. The company, based in Stanwood, Washington, processes frozen vegetables and has operations in both Washington and Michigan. The Washington State Labor Council has made support for food and agricultural workers a priority throughout the pandemic.

100 Iowa Valve Plant Workers Vote to Join Machinists Union: About 100 workers at Clow Valve Co. in Oskaloosa, Iowa, have voted to join the Machinists (IAM). These proud new IAM members make iron and brass castings for fire hydrants and water valves. Workers at the plant’s foundries inquired about joining the IAM late last year after the company significantly increased health care costs. Moreover, the company indicated it was potentially making additional future changes to its benefits. “I want to congratulate these brave men and women at Clow Foundry who stood up for a better life for themselves, their families and their communities,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway. “Credit for this organizing win goes to Special Representative Chris Tucker [IAM], Grand Lodge Representative Geny Ulloa [IAM], and their entire team who worked tirelessly to secure a victory for our new members. Welcome to the IAM family, Brothers and Sisters.” Due to a sizable Spanish-speaking population at the plant, IAM organizers were sure to translate all materials about the union.

Thu, 03/25/2021 - 15:25

Tags: Organizing


03/25/2021 - 11:00am
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: USW Members Proud to Produce Johnson & Johnson Coronavirus Vaccine 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.

Members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 10-00086 in West Point, Pennsylvania, are ready to step up to their next fight in helping to defeat the coronavirus. On March 10, their employer, pharmaceutical giant Merck, announced it would be assisting in the production of rival Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. By late May, the workers at Merck’s West Point facility will be mixing the key drug component with other ingredients and filling vials with the vaccine. “Our membership is very proud to be a part of the fight to put an end to this pandemic and save the country, and the world,” said local President Mike Gauger. “We have a very experienced and devoted workforce, and I truly believe when Merck is challenged, they know they can come here to West Point and we can get it done.”

Thu, 03/25/2021 - 08:30

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


03/25/2021 - 11:00am
Time for Equal Pay: 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:

Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers:

Boilermakers:

Bricklayers:

Coalition of Black Trade Unionists:

Coalition of Labor Union Women:

Communications Workers of America:

Department for Professional Employees:

Electrical Workers:

Fire Fighters:

Heat and Frost Insulators:


03/25/2021 - 11:00am
Women's History Month Profiles: Monika Warner Monika Warner

This year, for Women's History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making women's history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only their community, but also to improve conditions for working people across the country. Today's profile is Monika Warner.

Warner is a union leader to her core. At the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), she works closely with the Washington State Labor Council, the local Pride At Work chapter and other groups. She is a mentor and role model to young women at the Federal Aviation Administration who are starting careers as technicians in an industry that is heavily male-dominated, in order to have them reach their full career potential.

Thu, 03/25/2021 - 09:30

Tags: Women's History Month

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