AFL-CIO Now Blog

03/10/2021 - 1:46am
Asking for Basic Protection: 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:

California Labor Federation:

Colorado AFL-CIO:

Connecticut AFL-CIO:

Florida AFL-CIO:

Georgia State AFL-CIO:

Indiana State AFL-CIO:


03/09/2021 - 7:30pm
‘Everyone in the Community Is Cheering Us On’: 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.

‘Everyone in the Community Is Cheering Us On’: "As lead organizer in the potentially historic effort to unionize 5,800 Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, Josh Brewer heads a small army of organizers for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. Brewer recognizes that it’s a high-stakes campaign—it’s the first time a union has sought to unionize all the workers at an Amazon warehouse in the United States. Bessemer, a suburb of Birmingham, was once a thriving union community, with steel mills, coal mines, and a Pullman railcar factory. Brewer, 33, is an ordained minister who gravitated from the pulpit to union organizing because he saw it as a more effective way to lift struggling Americans. The National Labor Relations Board mailed out the unionization ballots on February 8; they are due on March 29, and only then will the ballots be counted. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.”

Right-to-Work Fails Muster: "Al Ekblad, executive secretary of the Montana AFL-CIO, said that in his three decades in and around the labor movement, it was the first time a major piece of right-to-work legislation had hit the House floor. 'It was a defining moment for the people that came to participate as citizen lobbyists,' Ekblad said. 'It’s going up for a vote, so there’s certainly a sense of apprehension until the vote takes place. Nobody’s foolish enough in this world to anticipate that the victory is guaranteed.'”

Nurses Condemn Gov. Abbott’s COVID-19 Decision Lifting Safety Measures Now as 'A Death Sentence': "National Nurses United today condemned the decision of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to remove public safety measures needed to reduce infections, hospitalizations, and deaths amidst a still-virulent pandemic, a decision nurses warn will cost the lives of Texas residents. 'We are appalled that Gov. Abbott could take such an ill-advised step at a time when people are still dying, and the virus continues to spread throughout Texas, including in communities where our members live and work,' said NNU President Jean Ross, RN. 'For the highest public official in the state to tell people to ignore all precautions will only result in avoidable increased pain, suffering, and deaths. It is a shockingly irresponsible decision.' NNU concurs with the statement by Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy, said Ross, that Gov. Abbott’s decision to lift a statewide mask mandate 'would put lives of working people in jeopardy and directly lead to more deaths from #COVID19.'” 

Amazon Workers Bombarded with 'Anti-Union Propaganda' Amid Historic Drive: Union President: "Despite the national spotlight, workers at the warehouse continue to endure grueling and unsafe working conditions as well as aggressive anti-union propaganda, said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which has organized the union drive. 'It's horrible for workers there,' he says. 'Workers are being bombarded with anti-union messages.' 'If you're sitting on a toilet in an Amazon bathroom, they have placed at eye level anti-union propaganda,' he adds.”

Amazon Workers’ Union Drive Reaches Far Beyond Alabama: "Players from the National Football League were among the first to voice their support. Then came Stacey Abrams, the Democratic star who helped turn Georgia blue in the 2020 election. The actor Danny Glover traveled to Bessemer, Ala., for a news conference last week, where he invoked the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s pro-union leanings in urging workers at Amazon’s warehouse there to organize. Tina Fey has weighed in, and so has Senator Bernie Sanders. Then on Sunday, President Biden issued a resounding declaration of solidarity with the workers now voting on whether to form a union at Amazon’s Bessemer warehouse, without mentioning the company by name. Posted to his official Twitter account, his video was one of the most forceful statements in support of unionizing by an American president in recent memory. 'Every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union,' Biden said.”

After Stimulus, Biden to Tackle Another Politically Tricky Issue: Infrastructure: "Richard L. Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, who joined other labor leaders in a meeting in February to discuss infrastructure withBiden, said the president was uniquely positioned to understand the importance of the issue from the perspective of working Americans. 'He was born a blue-collar baby and he’s going to get buried a blue-collar baby,' Mr. Trumka said. A big, bold infrastructure bill, he said, was 'a racial justice bill, a Covid safety bill and the most important climate bill of all time, all in one.'”

Biden Expressed Solidarity with Alabama Workers Attempting to Unionize an Amazon Warehouse: "President Biden expressed solidarity with workers attempting to unionize an Amazon facility in Alabama in a video released Sunday that emphasized his broad support of the labor movement—without explicitly backing their cause or naming the company itself. Around 6,000 workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, a former steel town outside of Birmingham, are voting over the next week on whether they want to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.”

Mon, 03/08/2021 - 15:17

03/09/2021 - 1:00pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: New Jersey State AFL-CIO: Operation Feed Atlantic City Continues to Give Back to Those in Need Operation Feed Atlantic City

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.

New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech reports that union solidarity brought sunshine and much-appreciated meal kits to laid-off workers in Atlantic City through Operation Feed Atlantic City on Feb. 25.

The food distribution, sponsored by the New Jersey State AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions, the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Agency and the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, was one in the labor movement’s continuing series of support programs for the Shore community that has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Volunteers from UNITE HERE, Operating Engineers (IUOE), Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), NYSNA Shore Nurses and other affiliates dedicated their day to smoothly checking in the 2,000-plus recipients, directing traffic safely and loading the groceries and other goods into waiting trunks and hatchbacks.

“It’s been more than 11 months since the casinos and other entertainment venues were first shut down,” Wowkanech said. “Ever since then, we’ve been here to stand with our brothers and sisters and the whole Atlantic City community to help them keep food on their tables while we work to bring the city back to life.”

Mon, 03/08/2021 - 15:45

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


03/09/2021 - 1:00pm
Women's History Month Profiles: Ethel Everett Ethel Everett

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 Ethel Everett.

Ethel Everett has been an active leader with SEIU Local 509 for 30 years, serving as a union activist, steward and regional vice president for the local’s Department of Children and Families Chapter. She is vice president of the Massachusetts chapter of AFRAM, SEIU’s African American Caucus, and sits on the AFRAM Eastern Region Board. She also serves as a board member for the Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation (WMALF) and co-chairs the WMALF Racial Justice Committee. She’s a committed union leader who always engages her members and is a strong advocate for social and economic justice in her union and community.

Tue, 03/09/2021 - 09:30

Tags: Women's History Month


03/08/2021 - 12:46pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Labor Movement Fighting Anti-Asian Racism in All Forms 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.

Anti-Asian racism has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Working people condemn this vile behavior as a stain on our nation. We will continue to fight these injustices.

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance National President Monica Thammarath (NEA) stated, “It is not right that Asian Americans are afraid to be alone in public, especially our elders who live in poverty and depend on access to community services, and our young people who live in places where there are few community spaces to turn to. We grieve for the elders who have been assaulted in Chinatowns across the nation. We grieve for Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man who was attacked on one of his daily walks in San Francisco. We send our love to Noel Quintana, a 61-year-old Filipino American who was attacked on a Manhattan subway car, and to the 52-year-old Chinese American woman who was attacked outside of a Flushing bakery. We grieve for Christian Hall, a Chinese American teenager who was murdered by the Pennsylvania State Police. We grieve for Angelo Quinto, a 30-year-old Filipino American who was murdered by Antioch, California, police. Our communities are hurting, and we are more agitated than ever to create change.”

“The entire labor movement is appalled by the continued rise in anti-Asian racism across the country. Acts of physical violence, yelling of racial slurs and intimidation tactics used against our Asian American friends, family and communities must be called out and stopped,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA). “Anti-Asian rhetoric is only hurting our nation more during this pandemic, and we all must stand up and condemn in the strongest terms possible that racism in any form is unacceptable.”

“Racism in any form is wrong. Plain and simple. I have been so incensed to see the attacks on our Asian brothers and sisters that I could just scream,” said Clayola Brown (Workers United), AFL-CIO civil rights director and A. Philip Randolph Institute president. “For those of us of color who have endured systemic racism for 400 years, it is scary to see this unrelenting targeting and denigration happening to another group. The kind of ugliness we’ve seen happening to members of the Asian community as they simply go to the store or gather in a park to visit is disgusting and must be stopped. To watch elderly people come under attack and no one come to their aid shows we still have so much more work to do. Humanity must prevail. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘The time is always right to do what is right.’ We must all take responsibility to make sure that no one is targeted, tormented or harassed because of their ethnicity. Until we learn that lesson, we all pay the price for racism.”

Mon, 03/08/2021 - 08:38

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


03/08/2021 - 12:46pm
Women's History Month Profiles: Royetta Sanford Royetta Sanford

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 Royetta Sanford.

Royetta Sanford oversaw the first international women’s conference for the Electrical Workers (IBEW) in 1997. Since then, she convened a committee on women’s issues and launched a department within the IBEW International Office that focuses on women’s and civil rights. She then served as the first director of that department. Sanford recently retired from her position as director of human services for the IBEW.

Mon, 03/08/2021 - 09:38

Tags: Women's History Month


03/05/2021 - 10:46pm
Economy Gains 379,000 Jobs in February; Unemployment Down to 6.2% Bureau of Labor Statistics

The U.S. economy gained 379,000 jobs in February, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.2%, according to figures released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In response to the February job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs tweeted:

Last month’s biggest job gains were in leisure and hospitality (+355,000), health care and social assistance (+46,000), retail trade (+41,000) and manufacturing (+21,000). The biggest losses were in construction (-61,000), local government education (-37,000), state government education (-32,000) and mining (-8,000). Employment changed little in other major industries, including wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities and other services.

In February, the unemployment rate increased for Black Americans (9.9%). The unemployment rates for teenagers (13.9%) and Asians (5.1%) declined. The rates for Hispanics (8.5%), adult men (6.0%), adult women (5.9%) and White Americans (5.6%) showed little or no change.

The number of long-term unemployed workers (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) barely changed in February and accounted for 41.5% of the total unemployed.

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 12:55

03/05/2021 - 4:30pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: New Mexico Federation of Labor Paid Sick Leave Bill Advances to Senate Floor 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.

The New Mexico Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO celebrated the state House’s passage of H.B. 20, the Healthy Workplaces Act (paid sick leave), by a 36-33 vote. If this bill passes the Senate, it would make New Mexico the 11th state to have some form of statewide paid sick leave.

In preparation for the vote, the federation released a poll showing that 76% of New Mexicans support a legislative proposal requiring all employers in the state to provide their employees with up to eight days of earned sick days per year to care for themselves, their children or their parents.

Vince Alvarado (SMART), president of the New Mexico Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, said, “The Legislature has debated potential earned sick leave policies for years. With the governor’s leadership, it is now time to pass this policy so parents no longer have to choose between losing a day’s worth of wages or sending sick kids to school.”

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 08:30

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


03/05/2021 - 4:30pm
Women's History Month Profiles: Nicole Jeup Nicole Jeup

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 Nicole Jeup.

Nicole Jeup is an integral part of the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters’ (UA’s) Education and Training Department, specifically with the Veterans in Piping Program, which helps members of the military learn a trade and successfully transition into the workforce. Jeup is a true labor leader, uplifting everyone she works with and helping members of the military change their lives after completing their military service.

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 09:34

Tags: Women's History Month


03/04/2021 - 3:46pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Nebraska State AFL-CIO Pushes for Legislation to Increase COVID-19 Safety Measures 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.

The Nebraska State AFL-CIO, led by President/Secretary-Treasurer Susan Martin (AFSCME), is standing up for working people in the face of the pandemic. The state federation is throwing its support behind the efforts of State Sen. Tony Vargas to increase protections for the state’s meatpacking workers. More than 7,000 workers in processing plants across the state have contracted the virus, leading to 225 hospitalizations and 27 deaths. The majority of meatpacking workers in Nebraska are Latino and immigrants. Many are refugees. Vargas’ proposal was blocked during the closing days of the 2020 legislative session, but that hasn’t stopped working people from pushing for its passage again this year. There are more than 20,000 meatpacking workers in the state, Martin said. “We’re just asking for basic protection and enforcement. If companies are following these practices, there should be no opposition.”

Thu, 03/04/2021 - 08:30

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

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