AFL-CIO Now Blog

03/04/2021 - 3:46pm
Women's History Month Profiles: Valerie King Valerie King

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 Valerie King.

Valerie King is an organizer with the Utility Workers (UWUA) and chairs the union’s Women’s Caucus. She has elevated women’s voices within the union and helped grow their visibility as members across the organization in a few short years. She did this through expanding the size of the Women’s Caucus and through organizing several successful initiatives, including the Rosie the Riveter 5K run/walk.

Thu, 03/04/2021 - 09:30

Tags: Women's History Month


03/03/2021 - 3:00pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IUOE Local 49 Urges Investments in Minnesota’s Infrastructure 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.

With an anticipated $1.6 billion budget surplus, state lawmakers in Minnesota are debating how to spend these extra funds. Members of the Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 49 are calling for the money to be invested in the state’s infrastructure. “An economic recovery, the likes of which we haven’t seen in some time, is at hand,” said Local 49 Business Manager Jason George. “Rebuilding our state’s infrastructure is the path forward that will lift all boats. This is something we hope both political parties will agree on.”

Wed, 03/03/2021 - 08:30

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


03/03/2021 - 3:00pm
Women's History Month Profiles: Geoconda Argüello-Kline Geoconda Argüello-Kline

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 Geoconda Argüello-Kline.

Geoconda Argüello-Kline was raised in Managua, Nicaragua, and came to the United States as a political refugee in 1979. In 1983, she moved to the Las Vegas Valley and worked as a guest room attendant at the Fitzgeralds Hotel, where a difficult contract fight spurred her desire to obtain better working conditions and protect her family. She became involved in the Culinary Workers Union-UNITE HERE Local 226 as a negotiating committee leader and a picket line captain. In 1990, she joined the union’s staff and since then has held many positions and worked tirelessly for the working people of Nevada and beyond. Under Argüello-Kline’s leadership, no other organization in Nevada has done more to support working families during the COVID-19 pandemic than the Culinary Union.

Wed, 03/03/2021 - 09:30

Tags: Women's History Month


03/02/2021 - 8:30pm
Record Number of Women Lead Rockford United Labor Sara Dorner

Rockford United Labor, a central labor council in Illinois that's affiliated with AFL-CIO, set a record for the most women to serve on the council's board in its 66-year history. Sara Dorner (AFSCME) made history as the first woman to hold the office of president for the council. Dorner just completed a term as vice president.

Joining Dorner on the Rockford United Labor board are Sandra Patlan (AFSCME) and Christina Magee (Rockford Education Association-NEA). In addition to Dorner being the union's first woman president, Patlan is the first Latina elected to a leadership position at Rockford United Labor.

Patlan is excited about the opportunities being in leadership opens up. She said: "Being part of this union is just like, it's a big door opening, not just for me but for others that can’t speak for themselves, whether it's in the workplace place or in the community."

Check back throughout the month as we will be highlighting other local leaders and activists as part of our Women's History Month activities. 

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 10:56

Tags: Women's History Month


03/02/2021 - 2:00pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Western Region Solidarity: IUE-CWA Walmart Actions Alaska Rally

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 the Communications Workers of America (CWA), state federations and central labor councils across the AFL-CIO Western Region held protests at Walmart in solidarity with more than 80 Ohio workers whose jobs producing Walmart’s “Made in America” light bulbs are being shipped to China.

While Walmart boasts a public commitment to supporting American manufacturing, the producer of its store-brand LED light bulbs, GE-Savant LLC, recently announced it intends to move the product line to China for production, permanently laying off more than 80 workers. The Walmart brand light bulbs are currently made by IUE-CWA workers in Bucyrus, Ohio, one of the only residential lighting plants left in the United States; nearly all other residential light bulbs are now produced in China.

In a show of increased public pressure for Walmart to stand up to its supplier and demand they keep manufacturing jobs for the retailer’s in-house “Made in America” LED light bulb line, we thank the Alaska AFL-CIO, Arizona AFL-CIO, Alameda Labor Council, Contra Costa Labor Council, Oregon AFL-CIO, South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council and the Washington State Labor Council for their organized actions.

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 08:30

Tags: Community Service, COVID-19


03/02/2021 - 2:00pm
Women's History Month Profiles: Denicia Montford Williams Denicia Montford Williams

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 Denicia Montford Williams

As a vice president of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO, associate director of the state’s chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) and member of Pride At Work, Denicia Montford Williams (AFT) is a tireless advocate for LGBTQ rights and for racial justice in the state. She works as the program manager for the North Carolina APRI chapter. She also started a spinoff chapter of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition. Montford Williams leads a voter-registration drive in nine North Carolina counties, advocates for worker-friendly laws, and hosts workshops related to financial and physical health. She seeks to include LGBTQ people more into advocacy work. She recently was elected to the state AFL-CIO's board of directors, becoming the first openly LGBTQ director in the board's history.

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 09:32

Tags: Women's History Month


03/01/2021 - 7:30pm
The Need for Labor Law Reform: 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.

The Amazon Workers’ Campaign Shows the Need for Labor Law Reform: "The organizing drive still underway by workers at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Bessemer, Ala., reveals some of the many ways our current labor law gives employers too much power to stand in the way of workers trying to gain a collective voice. Workers at Amazon want a union to bargain better pay, safety protections, and dignity on the job. Instead of respecting its workers’ choice, what has Amazon done? Amazon has forced workers to attend small group meetings where supervisors rail against the union."

House Passes Equality Act to Boost LGBTQ Protections: "The House voted 224-206 on Thursday to pass the Equality Act, which would expand federal protections for LGBTQ people by prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Why it matters: The legislation passed in the House in May 2019 but never reached the Republican-controlled Senate under former President Trump. Democratic leaders believe there is a chance to pass the act into law this year with a 50-50 split in the Senate, but it is uncertain whether enough Republicans will support the bill for it to move forward."

Amazon Workers’ Fight to Unionize Draws Help from Around the World: "Roughly a hundred organizers have been calling workers from Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse in recent weeks, making the case for why they should unionize. The robust phone-banking operation reflects the high stakes for organized labor as workers at the facility consider forming the first Amazon union in the U.S. The organizing effort extends well beyond the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which would represent the facility’s employees. The phone campaign includes around 20 organizers on loan from the AFL-CIO, the influential labor federation that includes 55 unions. A dozen nurses who recently unionized their hospital in North Carolina also have been pitching on the effort, calling workers to tell them large-scale labor victories are possible in the South."

Multimillion-Dollar ‘Union Avoidance’ Industry Faces New Scrutiny: "Workers unionizing with the Retail, [Wholesale and Department Store Union] at an Amazon distribution center in Bessemer, Alabama, have been met with a range of tactics to dissuade them from voting for a union, including frequent text messages, paid social media advertisements, and 'classes' intended to warn them against unionization."

Four Million Hotel, Restaurant Workers Have Lost Jobs. Here’s How They’re Reinventing Themselves: "Workers at America’s hotels, restaurants, bars and convention centers have been among the hardest hit during the Covid-19 pandemic. Lockdowns and the lack of travel have caused many gathering places to close or reduce their staff. Since February 2020, the leisure-and-hospitality sector has shed nearly four million people, or roughly a quarter of its workforce. As of January 2021, 15.9% of the industry’s workers remained unemployed; more than any other industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a result, millions of hospitality workers—a group that includes everyone from front-desk clerks to travel managers—are trying to launch new careers. Some have transitioned to roles that tap skills honed over years of public-facing work in high-pressure environments. Others have seized the moment to remake themselves for different occupations. Many remain conflicted about leaving an industry they say continually provides new experiences and engenders lasting relationships."

Trumka Talks Importance of Infrastructure Investment: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka joined Bloomberg Radio to discuss how important it is to rebuild our infrastructure with good union paying jobs and how that will benefit our communities."

2.5 Million Women Left the Work Force During the Pandemic. Harris Sees a ‘National Emergency.’: "Vice President Kamala Harris said on Thursday that the 2.5 million women who have left the work force since the beginning of the pandemic constituted a 'national emergency' that could be addressed by the Biden administration’s coronavirus relief plan."

Infrastructure Is Prime Topic in Biden Meeting with Union Leaders: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a post-meeting statement, 'For working people, this was the most productive Oval Office meeting in years.' Trumka added, 'As we made clear today, America can only build back better if unions are doing the building.'"

Fri, 02/26/2021 - 17:39

03/01/2021 - 1:30pm
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Labor Movement Mobilizes as Texas Recovers Texas 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 unprecedented winter storms of recent days have left millions in Texas reeling with no electricity or running water. The energy capital of the world was suddenly shut down and the loss of basic services left dozens dead. But in difficult times, the labor movement always shows up. Throughout the state and the country, union members are mobilizing to respond.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) is closely monitoring the situation and has offered the help of the national federation. In California, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, under the leadership of President Ron Herrera (IBT), is working to deliver bottled water and food to the affected areas. Union Plus is working with the Texas AFL-CIO to provide members with hardship assistance. Roy Gillespie, the national disaster relief coordinator for the Teamsters (IBT), is coordinating the delivery of much-needed supplies into Texas from all around the country. 

The state federation is actively seeking donations to the Texas Workers Relief Fund to continue to support its central labor councils in their recovery efforts. Please donate as you are able. We’ll continue to keep you updated on ways to help Texas as they begin rebuilding.

In the Lone Star State itself, workers are mobilizing to help those most affected by getting their communities up and running again. Members of the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA) Local 68 in the Gulf Coast area have been sharing videos on Facebook with helpful information for residents. Union members in Austin led the delivery of thousands of pallets of water, with Austin Area AFL-CIO Council members and allies walking door to door and assessing water needs. They were joined by labor council President Jason Lopez (AFSCME). On Wednesday, the Texas AFL-CIO coordinated with the national AFL-CIO, IBT and various local unions and labor councils for a massive water delivery to Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth.

Workers in Texas are also demanding accountability. On Tuesday, Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy (TSEU/CWA, pictured above) issued a statement slamming the state’s leadership for its failure to prepare and respond. He said it was the latest in a long list of debacles:

“As with the pandemic, as with the distribution of vaccines, as with the reliance of the often-unreachable unemployment insurance system because of 1980's computer technology, as with a foster care system under federal court orders, years of knowing neglect by political leadership who rely on reactionary partisanship that shortchanges working people made us worse off. Once again, because too many politicians believed ‘free markets’ would prevail, failure ensued: The lights went out, the heat vanished, the taps had no water and the help we expect was stuck in triage mode.”

And through it all, the state federation is making sure its members’ voices are heard. The Texas AFL-CIO has also been collecting testimonials from union members. Krissy O’Brien (AFSCME) of Austin said, “This was a completely preventable disaster and our state leadership failed us. Gov. Abbott, what did you do to prevent this from happening?”

Mon, 03/01/2021 - 09:30

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service


03/01/2021 - 1:30pm
Women's History Month Profiles: Joelle Hall Joelle Hall

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 Joelle Hall.

Recently elected as the president of the Alaska AFL-CIO, Joelle Hall (UFCW) is the first woman to hold the office since the state federation was chartered in 1943. She previously served as director of operations and has spent more than 20 years shaping Alaskan politics. She has a well-deserved reputation for bipartisan coalition building and the utmost dedication to the principles of the labor movement

Mon, 03/01/2021 - 09:44

Tags: Women's History Month


03/01/2021 - 1:00am
Black History Month Profiles: Fred Smith Fred Smith

This year, for Black History Month, we're taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making Black 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 Fred Smith.

Fred Smith is the vice president (AT&T Mobility) of CWA Local 3902 in Birmingham, Alabama. Smith is a longtime activist and leader both in the union and his community. He currently serves as the chair of the National Civil Rights and Equity Committee, leading the work to ensure workers are free from discrimination in the workplace and the union. Recently, in an effort to build a more inclusive union and labor movement, Smith has been leading trainings developed by the national CWA on “How to Build an Anti-Racist Union.” His advocacy doesn’t stop there. He also serves as the North Alabama Union Liaison for the Poor People’s Campaign fighting for socioeconomic justice for all. 

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 07:54

Tags: Black History Month

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