AFL-CIO Now Blog

03/24/2021 - 4:46pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Labor Movement Mourns Shooting Victims in Colorado

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 labor movement mourns the shocking mass shooting that took place yesterday in Boulder, Colorado. United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7 represents 32 members who work at the King Soopers grocery store where 10 people were killed. Kim Cordova, president of Local 7, issued this statement: “No one should have to fear for their lives while they grocery shop or go to work every day. Unfortunately, our grocery members, front-line essential workers, have lived in fear each and every day during the pandemic….For the last year our members and other associates have fought an invisible enemy, COVID-19, but today several innocent souls were killed by an evil human. We call on government officials and employers to do more to protect our members and communities from the constant threat of violence.”

Wed, 03/24/2021 - 08:30

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19


03/24/2021 - 10:30am
Women's History Month Profiles: Heather Skopik Heather Skopik

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 Heather Skopik.

The backbone of her county’s health system, Skopik has been working in the building trades for more than 30 years. She is a proud member of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 501 and part of a great team serving the Department of Health Services in Los Angeles County. She has worked as both an engineer and a teacher throughout her career.

Wed, 03/24/2021 - 09:30

Tags: Women's History Month


03/23/2021 - 3:30pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Sacramento Central Labor Council Helps Vaccinate Union Members Sacramento Central 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.

On Friday, the Sacramento Central Labor Council held a vaccination event where some 650 union members received the COVID-19 shot. Speaking at last week’s event, Fabrizio Sasso (SEIU), executive director of the labor council, said: “It’s important that every union member knows when they are eligible for their vaccine. Our role at the labor council is to insure that they have access to one.” Commenting on the importance of these clinics for the wider community, Sasso added, “It’s good for the community to see workers in their uniforms, their postal worker in uniform, their county or state worker in uniform, getting their vaccinations, because it makes it real, it makes it clear how many essential workers there are and how important it is to protect them.”

The labor council credited statewide and local unions from across the labor movement in California: UNITE HERE Local 49, Sacramento Area Fire Fighters-IAFF Local 522, the California Nurses Association/NNU (CNA/NNU), United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) 8-Golden State, American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 0066, National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 133, Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1245, UDW/AFSCME Local 3930, AFGE District 12, Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 39, SEIU-United Service Workers West, and SEIU locals 1000 and 1021.

Tue, 03/23/2021 - 08:30

03/23/2021 - 3:30pm
Unions Change Lives: 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.

Eight People Describe How Unions Changed Their Lives: "As companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google fight aggressively (and insidiously) against workers’ attempts to unionize, it’s a good time to get familiar with what unions can actually do for people. Because unions can help workers win more rights, companies sometimes take months before recognizing a union (like at BuzzFeed) or concluding negotiations—a process Gimlet leadership is accused of exploiting in the months before a Spotify acquisition. Even and especially when it’s met with resistance from companies, power of organized labor can and does better conditions and protect people against workplaces that would rather exploit them."

The Pandemic Accelerated Job Automation and Black and Latino Workers Are Most Likely to Be Replaced: "'When technology comes into a union worksite, we're able to negotiate to get a fair share of the increased productivity and make sure it's healthy and safe—it's called bargaining acquiescence. We bargain to get a fair share for workers. But society as a whole doesn't have that,' says Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO."

Katherine Tai Confirmed as Biden’s Trade Representative: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka tweeted that Ms. Tai’s confirmation was a 'win for working people.' Myron Brilliant, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, tweeted that his business group 'looks forward to engaging with Tai and the Biden administration on a pro-growth #trade agenda.'"

Essential Workers Mark One-Year Anniversary of COVID-19: "On March 13, 2020, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency because of the spread of COVID-19. Today, several of Minnesota's essential workers marked the grim anniversary with a call for change. From outside the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations building, down the street from the Capitol, they called on Minnesota lawmakers to pass a Quarantine Pay Bill. It would allow essential workers to be paid when they need to take time off work for COVID-related reasons. It would also provide retroactive pay for those who've already gone without it. Mary Turner is president of the Minnesota Nurses Association. 'They're not covered when they have to go to quarantine,' Turner said. 'They go without pay when they have to care for a sick family member or a child without a classroom. They have isolated themselves in hotel rooms, basements, even backyards because most of all they can't afford to get sick.'"

Julie Su Is the Right No. 2 Choice to Help Lead Biden's Labor Department: "When President Biden nominated Julie Su, California’s current Labor Secretary, to serve in the number two spot in the U.S. Department of Labor, many in this state and across the country applauded the choice. But in recent weeks, Su has come under fire from some for her handling of unemployment benefits during the pandemic. These attacks, however, are unfounded. Su’s experience, expertise and tireless dedication to helping working Americans make her the perfect candidate to serve as deputy labor secretary in Biden’s administration."

No, the PRO Act Wouldn’t 'Kill' Freelancing: "Private opposition to the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act has so far been surprisingly muted. The proposed bill is remarkably comprehensive in nature, encompassing the most far-reaching rewrite of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) since the Taft-Hartley Act passed in 1947. Perhaps this is because few insiders believe the PRO Act can pass a deadlocked Senate without a clearer commitment by Democratic politicians to gut the legislative filibuster, but whatever the case, you have to do some digging to see any real organized campaign against the bill as a whole. Even then, it’s the usual suspects ringing the alarm bells: the Chamber of Commerce, the Associated Builders and Contractors, the HR Policy Association, and other organizations which historically have strongly opposed unionism and any pro-worker legal amendments."

The PRO Act Would Undo Decades of Southern Anti-Union Laws Rooted in Racism: "'We have a generational opportunity to make America's economy and democracy work for working people again,' North Carolina State AFL-CIO President MaryBe McMillan said in a statement. 'The PRO Act does that by ending misleading and racist 'right to work' laws and creating meaningful consequences for employers that retaliate against workers for simply exercising their right to organize.'"

The PRO Act Could Do More Than Revive Unions: "A gap this wide indicates a serious problem. If Americans like unions and want to join them but aren’t, it’s likely because they can’t. Fortunately, a possible fix awaits: The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act would mark the biggest expansion of collective-bargaining rights in decades. President Biden has said he supports the bill, and he may soon be in a position to make good on that support. The bill passed the House with bipartisan support late on Tuesday evening, and is headed now to the Senate."

For Blue-Collar Workers, It’s Fear. For White-Collar Workers, It’s Isolation. COVID-19 Changed Work for Everybody: "Work has changed for people in one of two ways—they either work in person and face a swath of protocols and potential exposure to COVID-19, or they can work from home, siloed to their kitchen tables and deprived of the social aspect of work. 'People really had to make the very real choice…between being safe on the job and having a job,' said Rebecca Reindel, safety and health director with the AFL-CIO, an organization of workers’ unions. 'Many workers were hesitant to go back.'"

Uber Eats and Deliveroo Riders in Spain to Get Collective Bargaining Rights: "Delivery riders for apps like Uber Eats and Deliveroo will be granted the same rights as employees in Spain, including the right to collectively bargain, according to an announcement from the Spanish government on Thursday. Spain will become the first country in the world to formally give gig economy delivery drivers rights similar to employees. Gig economy riders will also get access to information about the algorithms used to dispatch deliveries, giving workers a peek under the hood—a dramatic change that will likely send shockwaves throughout the industry."

Mon, 03/22/2021 - 12:36

03/23/2021 - 3:30pm
Women's History Month Profiles: Erica Stewart Erica Stewart

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 Erica Stewart.

In 1998, Stewart joined Boilermakers (IBB) Local 693 at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi after serving in the U.S. Army. Throughout her career as a union boilermaker, she has consistently stepped up to advocate for other tradeswomen in many official and unofficial capacities. As she has ascended into higher and higher leadership roles, she has made it a priority to offer her hand to lift up future tradeswomen leaders. Stewart leads the Boilermakers Women's Committee and is a member of the Tradeswomen's Committee of the North America’s Building Trades Unions, among other roles.

Tue, 03/23/2021 - 09:30

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19


03/22/2021 - 2:30pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: AFGE Member Ceretta Smith Wins Grovetown City Council Election Ceretta Smith

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.

AFGE member Ceretta Smith has won her City Council campaign in Grovetown, Georgia, a city in Columbia County.

In her work as a union activist for AFGE, Smith’s leadership has shone in several roles: women’s and fair practices coordinator, chief steward, legislative political coordinator, local president and Georgia state council president.

“My background drives my aspirations to make sure that everyone has a voice in shaping local government,” Smith says on her campaign website. “I believe we need more people in local government that will put people first: leaders that will listen and lead from a place of understanding and compassion and consider every voice in our community.”

Mon, 03/22/2021 - 08:33

03/22/2021 - 2:30pm
Women's History Month Profiles: Kristin Donner Kristin Donner

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 Kristin Donner.

At the Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) District 2 convention in 2019, Donner helped write and pass two resolutions supporting gender equality and worker wellness. By taking action as an active member of the Animation Guild/IATSE Local 839, and her district, she set District 2 on the path forward.

Sun, 03/21/2021 - 13:18

Tags: Women's History Month


03/22/2021 - 2:30pm
Women's History Month Profiles: Lisa Gregory Lisa Gregory

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 Lisa Gregory.

Gregory comes from a proud, multigenerational union family. She was a member of the UAW for 10 years prior to joining the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) in 2013. Gregory is a hardworking member of Local 58G at the JM Smucker Company in Toledo, Ohio. She won the respect of her peers and was elected to several positions within the local union, last serving as vice president. She was hired as an international representative and is known for her tireless efforts to help organize the unorganized, fight for equality in the workplace through good contracts and provide outstanding service to BCTGM members in union shops throughout the eastern United States.

Mon, 03/22/2021 - 09:33

Tags: Women's History Month


03/22/2021 - 2:30pm
Women's History Month Profiles: Samantha Dulaney Samantha Dulaney

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 Samantha Dulaney.

In 2008, Dulaney was appointed IATSE in-house counsel, and in 2014, became general counsel. She is the first woman to hold this post.

Mon, 03/22/2021 - 07:30

Tags: Women's History Month


03/21/2021 - 1:00am
Women's History Month Profiles: Joannie McDuffey Joannie McDuffey

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 Joannie McDuffey.

McDuffey has been a Theatrical Stage Employee (IATSE) Local 100 member since 2017. "Joannie is a dedicated hardworking A2 who is a pleasure to work with. I am proud to have her represent Local 100 in celebration of Women’s History Month," said Local 100 President Greg Calvin.

Sat, 03/20/2021 - 10:36

Tags: Women's History Month

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