AFL-CIO Now Blog

03/16/2021 - 10:00am
Women's History Month Profiles: Anne Feeney

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 Anne Feeney.

Feeney, who died of COVID-19 in February, was a major player in the folk music circuit and the first woman to be president of a musician’s union. In her iconic music career, she performed more than 4,000 shows throughout the United States and Europe and collaborated regularly with artists like Pete Seeger, John Prine, and Peter, Paul and Mary. Her anthem "Have You Been to Jail for Justice" is sung on picket lines and in jail cells worldwide. She regularly performed at union halls, on picket lines and at rallies. She also graduated with a law degree and practiced law for more than a decade, primarily representing refugees and survivors of domestic violence.

Mon, 03/15/2021 - 09:30

Tags: Women's History Month


03/15/2021 - 3:30pm
Reinforcing Values and Solidarity Highlight AFL-CIO Executive Council Meeting AFL-CIO

The AFL-CIO concluded its two-day Executive Council meeting, which centered on fighting for economic relief for working people as we navigate the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to voting unanimously to review archaic Senate rules and delay the AFL-CIO Convention, the council also passed statements mourning the passing of John Sweeney and honoring our retired leaders.

The following statements passed the council:

Senate Rules Cannot Be Used to Block a Workers First Agenda: The AFL-CIO calls on the Senate to work with the president and the House to enact a Workers First Agenda—investment, democracy, freedom and dignity in the workplace and justice in our economy. But if that proves to be impossible under the Senate’s current rules—we call for swift and necessary changes to those rules so that the will of the people of the United States expressed in the 2020 elections can be turned into the progress our country and our people desperately need.

NFLPA Demonstrates the Power of Collective BargainingWe applaud the efforts of the NFL Players Association, its Executive Committee, including President JC Tretter and Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, former President Eric Winston, and all of the player leadership and staff not only for their work on behalf of their members, but for their support for unions across the country.

Protecting Workers from COVID-19Strong, swift action by the Biden administration, including an immediate Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety, has already resulted in stronger federal guidelines. However, more robust actions are needed to ensure that workers are provided the protections necessary to combat this virus in U.S. workplaces, keeping our communities safe as well.

Unions Commit to Repatriate Our Deported PatriotsRepatriating our veterans and protecting their family members will be a core part of the labor movement’s comprehensive immigration strategy, and we will highlight the stories of these patriots to challenge the criminal narrative that has plagued the immigration debate for too long.

Build Back Better with Unions—Pass the PRO Act and Legislation to Ensure Public Sector Collective Bargaining RightsWe are in a historic moment with an unmistakable mandate. The PRO Act and legislation to ensure public sector workers full bargaining rights must become the law of the land at once.

Resolution Delaying AFL-CIO Convention Due to PandemicThe next regular AFL-CIO Convention will take place before June 30, 2022, in Philadelphia, on days and during times designated by the AFL-CIO President, in consultation with the Executive Council.

On the Service of George E. McCubbin IIIThe AFL-CIO Executive Council recognizes the distinguished service of George E. McCubbin III, former national vice president for AFGE’s 12th District, which covers Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada.

On the Retirement of Bruce SmithThe AFL-CIO Executive Council congratulates Bruce R. Smith, our friend and brother, on his well-deserved recent retirement from the United Steelworkers (USW). Smith was the president of the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers International Union (GMP) until its merger with the United Steelworkers in 2016. 

On the Retirement of Robert A. Scardelletti: We congratulate our brother and friend, Robert A. “Bob” Scardelletti, on his retirement as national president of TCU/IAM. 

On the Passing of Larry WillisThe AFL-CIO Executive Council mourns the untimely passing of Larry Willis, a longtime champion of transportation workers and president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD).

On the Passing of John SweeneyThe AFL-CIO Executive Council mourns the passing of John Sweeney, president emeritus of the AFL-CIO.

Mon, 03/15/2021 - 10:25

03/15/2021 - 3:30pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: UNITE HERE Local 11 Celebrates Serving 3 Million Meals to the Community

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 March 3, Hospitality Training Academy and UNITE HERE Local 11 hospitality workers (pictured above), in partnership with local Los Angeles hotels and event venues, celebrated an incredible milestone of 3 MILLION meals served through their "Serving Our Community" program.

The visionary program was launched during the pandemic to help bring meals, which have been a lifeline through the now yearlong pandemic, to approximately 10,000 homebound seniors, people experiencing homelessness and low-income families. By partnering with the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and the city and county of Los Angeles, the program also provided more than 1,000 jobs to recently laid-off union and nonunion hospitality workers, including taxi drivers who serve as the delivery drivers.

Mon, 03/15/2021 - 08:36

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19


03/15/2021 - 3:30pm
Women's History Month Profiles: Samantha Lippert-Kendall Samantha Lippert-Kendall

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 Lippert-Kendall.

After graduation from college, Lippert-Kendall found success in the building trades. She successfully completed the Registered Apprenticeship Program with the Heat and Frost Insulators (HFIU) and works as a mechanic. The member of Local 2 leads by example and has become a valued member of the union.

Mon, 03/15/2021 - 09:29

Tags: Women's History Month


03/12/2021 - 3:00pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Solidarity Center Launches Podcast Solidarity Center Podcast

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.

This week, the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center launched its new podcast, which is an interview show that highlights and celebrates the individuals working for labor rights, the freedom to form unions and democracy across the globe. The show is hosted by Shawna Bader-Blau, who serves as executive director for the Solidarity Center. The Solidarity Center works in more than 60 countries helping working people overcome the challenges we face: poverty, wages, lack of legal protections, discrimination and abuse.

In the debut episode Bader-Blau is joined by Brenda Modise, a union activist with FEDUSA in South Africa, to mark International Women's Day. Modise talks about how union women around the world successfully pushed the International Labor Organization for adoption of Convention 190 to end gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) at work and about how unions in South Africa are part of a wide feminist network campaigning to end GBVH there. 

Learn more at The Solidarity Center Podcast, or find the show on Spotify, Apple, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Thu, 03/11/2021 - 15:34

Tags: Podcast


03/12/2021 - 3:00pm
Women's History Month Profiles: Leeann Foster Leeann Foster

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 Leeann Foster.

Leeann Foster is the epitome of a Woman of Steel. She is a new international vice president for the United Steelworkers (USW), one of two women leading North America’s largest industrial union. She leads USW’s major bargaining in the paper sector, heads the Women of Steel Leadership Development Program and was integral in the 2005 merger with PACE and USW. Foster co-chairs the IndustriALL Global Union Federation Pulp and Paper Sector Working Group and is a commissioner in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

Fri, 03/12/2021 - 09:30

Tags: Women's History Month


03/11/2021 - 9:00pm
20 Ways the American Rescue Plan Helps Working People

This week, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion bill to help fight the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. President Biden signed the law, which will provide significant assistance to the American people during this unprecedented crisis. Here are 20 ways the American Rescue Plan will help working people: 

1. Funds public health: Provides $48.3 billion for testing, contact tracing and personal protective equipment (PPE); $7.5 billion for vaccine distribution; $5.2 billion for procurement of vaccines and supplies; and provides $10 billion to expand domestic production of PPE, vaccines and medical supplies under the Defense Production Act.

2. Increases workplace safety: Provides $200 million for pandemic-related worker protection activities at the Labor Department, half of which would go to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to support OSHA enforcement and worker training in high-risk sectors such as meat processing, health care, correctional facilities and agriculture.

3. Provides relief for state, local and tribal governments: Provides $350 billion in aid to state, local, tribal and territorial governments to help deal with the budgetary impact of the pandemic.

4. Reopens schools safely: Provides $125 billion in state grants to help local educational authorities reopen K-12 public schools safely, address instruction loss and support students as they recover from the effects of the pandemic. Provides $39.6 billion to colleges and universities and their students, at least half of which must be spent on emergency financial aid grants.

5. Makes direct payments: Provides $1,400 in direct payments to individuals making less than $75,000 and married couples making under $150,000, and for dependents claimed on federal tax returns.

6. Extends unemployment benefits: Extends pandemic-related unemployment assistance that was set to expire on March 14, including the current $300 supplement to unemployment benefits, for another six months through Sept. 6. Provides that the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits received by taxpayers making less than $150,000 will not be subject to federal taxation.

7. Provides relief for multiemployer pensions: Provides approximately $86 billion in financial assistance to struggling multiemployer pension plans, which the plans will not have to repay, to cover all benefits due through plan year 2051, with no cuts to accrued benefits.

8. Fully subsidizes COBRA: Subsidizes 100% of health care premiums of COBRA-eligible individuals who lose their job or had reduced hours, who will not have to pay any premiums, for six months. The employer or health plan can claim a refundable tax credit against their Medicare payroll tax liability for the cost of the premiums.

9. Provides payroll support to the airline and aerospace industries: Provides $15 billion for the wages and benefits of employees of airlines and contractors in the airline industry, on terms similar to airline payroll support in previous legislation: no layoffs or pay cuts through Sept. 30 or whenever the assistance is exhausted, whichever is later, and the continuation of current restrictions on stock buybacks, dividend payments and executive pay. Provides another $3 billion to create a payroll support program for aviation manufacturers.

10. Boosts transportation: Provides $30.4 billion for grants to transit agencies, which can be used for operating expenses, including payroll costs and PPE, and $1.7 billion for Amtrak in fiscal year 2021, including funding to recall furloughed workers and restore the frequency of long-distance routes.

11. Extends the Paycheck Protection Program: Extends eligibility for the PPP forgivable loan program to more tax-exempt groups, including 501(c)(5) labor organizations. Creates a new $28.6 billion grant program for restaurants.

12. Reduces child poverty: Expands the child tax credit through 2021, increasing the maximum credit to $3,600 for each child younger than 6 and $3,000 for other children, and making the credit fully refundable.

13. Expands tax credits for child and dependent care: Expands the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to $4,000 per child or $8,000 for two or more children, and makes the credit fully refundable. Provides $39 billion for child care, including $15 billion in grants to states to help low-income families afford child care and help essential workers regardless of their income, and $24 billion for state grants to child care providers.

14. Funds emergency paid leave for federal workers: Provides $570 million to create an Emergency Federal Employee Leave Fund to provide up to 15 weeks of emergency paid leave for civilian employees and postal workers, including those who have COVID-19, who are caring for someone with COVID-19, are looking after children during virtual classes, or are obtaining a COVID-19 vaccine. Provides $13 million for an Emergency TSA Employee Leave Fund and $9 million for an Emergency FAA Employee Leave Fund.

15. Extends sick, family and medical leave tax credits: Extends current tax credits through September 2021 and expands eligibility to include state and local governments.

16. Extends the employee retention tax credit: Extends the current tax credit through Dec. 31, 2021, and increases the percentage of wages covered for severely distressed businesses.

17. Expands the earned income tax credit: Expands the earned income tax credit for taxpayers without children for 2021 by increasing both the credit percentage and phaseout thresholds.

18. Funds veteran retraining: Provides $386 million to create a rapid retraining program for veterans who are unemployed because of the pandemic.

19. Provides housing assistance: Provides $21.6 billion for emergency rental assistance to prevent evictions and $10 billion to help homeowners avoid foreclosure; $5 billion for emergency public housing vouchers; and $5 billion to address homelessness.

20. Extends nutrition assistance: Extends a 15% increase to monthly benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program through Sept. 30, 2021.

Thu, 03/11/2021 - 11:56

03/11/2021 - 2:46pm
Women's History Month Profiles: Kate Hunt Kate Hunt

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 Kate Hunt.

Kate Hunt began her maritime career as an able seaman (AB) working on ferries in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in 1976. In 1980, she became the first female patrolman for the National Maritime Union, which later merged with the Seafarers (SIU). After the merger in 2001, she began working with SIU crews aboard military sealift command vessels, research vessels and other government-owned ships. In 2018, she was appointed to serve as vice president for SIU’s Government Services Division, a position she still holds.

Thu, 03/11/2021 - 09:30

Tags: Women's History Month


03/10/2021 - 1:46pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Rockford United Labor Volunteers Answer Call for Vaccination Effort Rockford United Labor Volunteers Answer Call for Vaccination Effort

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.

A new COVID-19 vaccination site in Winnebago County, Illinois, has the capacity to vaccinate 2,500 people per day. But county officials organizing the program realized they needed help in setting up all those appointments. That’s when Winnebago County Board Chairman Joe Chiarelli put out a call for volunteers to Rockford United Labor President Sara Dorner (AFSCME), and she went to work finding groups to help out. “I reached out to the [American Association of University Women], League of Women Voters, NAACP and a lot of our partners in the community that we’ve worked with on other issues,” Dorner said. Those groups, along with The Salvation Army, Women’s March Rockford and Rockford Today Network, wasted little time signing up. “I’m watching the spots get filled up as I sit with my computer open,” Dorner said. Together, they logged 160 volunteer efforts, inoculating thousands of residents.

Wed, 03/10/2021 - 08:34

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


03/10/2021 - 1:46pm
Women's History Month Profiles: Dora Cervantes Dora Cervantes

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 Dora Cervantes.

Dora Cervantes made history with the Machinists (IAM) when she became the first woman to direct the international union’s finances. She is also the first Hispanic woman to serve as a general vice president for IAM. She has been a member of the union for more than 32 years after joining Local 2198 in Houston as a Southwest Airlines reservations agent in 1989. Fluent in English and Spanish, Cervantes helps teach the Spanish Leadership series at the IAM’s William W. Winpisinger Education Center.

Wed, 03/10/2021 - 09:34

Tags: Women's History Month

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