To Washington, D.C. insiders, this month’s budget negotiations are just the latest partisan exercise in a series of manufactured crises that too often result in short-term solutions. But for those who live and work outside of the Beltway bubble, much more is at stake.
What happens in the coming days has the potential to fundamentally shift the balance of power in the workplace. Nothing less than the right to dream, live, work and retire in security is on the table as Congress faces key decisions and deadlines.
It is hard to be optimistic given the House and Senate’s last major action: a budget-busting, worker-bashing tax cut designed to further enrich big corporations, concentrate wealth in the hands of the few and ship jobs overseas.
The bill President Trump signed into law is a moral and economic abomination, which is why poll after poll show the vast majority of Americans oppose it. If there was ever a time to change course and start governing on behalf of working people, this is it.
Read the full post in The Hill.
Marking one of his first actions in office, Governor Phil Murphy (D) signed an executive order, promoting equal pay for equal work for women. The New Jersey State AFL-CIO released the following statement following the announcement:
"Governor Murphy’s executive order to promote equal pay for equal work makes it clear that his administration will fight for all working families and do everything in its power to ensure justice and equality in the workplace," stated New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech. "On behalf of the state labor movement, we praise this long overdue action and look forward to a new era of progress for our state’s working families."
New Jersey State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Laurel Brennan stated, "Our state is positioned to advance the fight for women’s equality and economic justice, and the steps taken today show that organized labor, along with our state leadership, are ready to lead the way."
This past weekend in Houston, the AFL-CIO hosted its Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference, with a theme of "Reclaiming Our Dream: Strategize, Organize, Mobilize." Hundreds of working family advocates came together to shift the rules and build power so that working communities can thrive and families can enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Here are some key tweets from the weekend:
To widespread encouragement, Fred Redmond of #USW calls out @realDonaldTrump for racist remarks about Haiti & African nations to open #1uMLK. Then moment of silence. #TxAFLCIO #AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/E7IgpAhzqc— Texas AFL-CIO (@TexasAFLCIO) January 12, 2018
‘Colin Kaepernick had a lot to risk and yet he took action. There’s a whole lot to learn from the courage he showed. If the flag means anything, it means the right to protest and speak out’ @richardtrumka #1uMLK— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) January 12, 2018
When asked what did you do for the least, the last & the lost, the men & women of labor can say they were there for the least, the last & the lost! @RepAlGreen reminds #1uMLK why we join together this weekend pic.twitter.com/GXvCJnQicT— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) January 13, 2018
Unionists answers the call when Community is in need.. regardless of economic status, legal status, gender or sexual identity. Unionists fight to rebuild & strengthen our communities. Dora Cervantes, Secretary General for the mighty @MachinistsUnion & @LCLAA E-board memb #1uMLK pic.twitter.com/wupylHY4Bj— Cesar Moreno Perez (@profe_c) January 13, 2018
TWU Members working in a disaster relief food bank to provide basic needs for families. Standing together as a Union family helping those who need help in Houston. #1uMLK @transportworker pic.twitter.com/EEtXa472hg— Gary L Shults (@ShultsGL) January 13, 2018
Dr. King taught us how to confront an unjust power structure. Labor has the infrastructure to fight the horrible extremism we’re facing in this political moment. We know how to get it done. - @LCLAA Exec Director @Hesanche to #1uMLK pic.twitter.com/0IYBzP7z8q— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) January 14, 2018
Jaida Curtis representing @CLUWNational talks about the importance of connecting the activism of young people and seasoned organizers to build power for working people #1uMLK @AFLCIONextUp pic.twitter.com/KB266mbxm9— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) January 14, 2018
.@Rafael_Navar National Political Director for @cwaunion - We have to double down on the most important resource of our movement, our people. We have to develop political programs that turns them into future Dr. Kings and Fannie Lou Hamers #1uMLK pic.twitter.com/N6E47bLMPe— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) January 14, 2018
.@AFSCME President, Lee Saunders, talking about the #IAM2018 campaign to lift up racial justice, labor rights, & economic justice. Inspired by sanitation workers in Memphis & MLK who marched with them. https://t.co/USueMgHdrB #1uMLK pic.twitter.com/TMUpcGYuef— APALA (@APALAnational) January 15, 2018
Even in the darkest hours I feel hope in our movement, because our movement has the most courageous and selfless leaders I have ever met - Sec-Treasurer @lizshuler introducing @APWUnational Sec-Treasurer Liz Powell, At the River Where I Stand awardee #1uMLK pic.twitter.com/AYjr7eEt14— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) January 15, 2018
Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with a victory for Christmas tree workers in North Carolina and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.
FLOC Helps Christmas Tree Workers in Wage Theft Victory: Working people at a Christmas tree farm in North Carolina got some cheerful news when the wage theft case they pursued with the help of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) led to a $350,000 settlement with the company.
Green Valley Ranch Continues Organizing Trend at Station Casinos: Green Valley Ranch became the fourth Station Casinos-operated property where workers voted to join together in union since 2015. More than 900 workers will be represented by the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165, Nevada affiliates of UNITE HERE.
D.C. Streetcar Workers Win First Contract: After nearly two years, D.C. Streetcar workers have voted for representation by Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689. The streetcar's private operators, The Midtown and RATP Dev North America, signed a deal that includes competitive wages and affordable health insurance.
Retired Mine Workers Stave Off Another Attack on Health Care from CONSOL: Some 3,400 retired miners represented by Mine Workers (UMWA) and their dependents and widows will continue to receive health care after a federal appeals court rejected an attempt by Consol Energy to stop paying retiree benefits, despite a promise to pay them in a collective bargaining agreement.
Nurses Continue to Organize Across the Country: National Nurses United (NNU) and their affiliates have continued a long string of victorious organizing campaigns by successfully organizing at Maine Coast Memorial Hospital and by ratifying a new contract at Rideout Regional Medical Center in California.
Omni Air International Flight Attendants Ratify Their First Contract: Flight Attendants at Omni Air International (represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA [AFA-CWA]), voted by 78% to ratify their first contract. The new deal includes immediate pay raises, defined schedules and work rules, and increased job security.
New York Papa John's Workers Win Back Wages: New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a settlement with the franchise owner of three Papa John's Pizza franchise stores in Brooklyn. The owner will pay nearly $172,000 to more than 100 workers after the stores were found to have violated minimum wage and overtime laws, as well as taking unlawful deductions from workers' wages.
Firefighters Finally Secure Congressional Reauthorization of Safety Programs: Two programs designed to maintain the safety of firefighters, Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER), were reauthorized as the last act of legislative business for 2017. The two programs will be each funded with $750 million, providing critical resources for firefighters in every state.
Hard Rock Las Vegas Workers Reach Settlement: After the Culinary Workers Union filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging that the company had committed federal labor law violations, Hard Rock reached a settlement with the workers.
More Than 350 Emissions Workers in Michigan to Join UAW: After a vicious anti-union campaign by management, 366 working people at the Eberspächer emissions plant in Brighton, Michigan, will be joining UAW. The factory supplies emissions systems to CNH Industrial, Freightliner, Mack, Detroit Diesel and Volvo Trucks.
Beginning in 1960, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and then-President George Meany of the AFL-CIO began a relationship that would help bring the labor and civil rights movements together with a combined focus on social and economic justice.
Meany was an outspoken defender of individual freedom, and in March 1960, he emphasized the crucial link between the union and the civil rights movements. He told an AFL-CIO gathering, "What we want for ourselves, we want for all humanity." Meany met with King to privately discuss how they could work together. King proposed that the AFL-CIO invest pension assets in housing, to help lessen economic inequality. The AFL-CIO then established the Investment Department in August 1960 to guide union pension funds to be socially responsible investors.
The next year, King spoke to the AFL-CIO Executive Council, comparing what labor had achieved to what the civil rights movement wanted to accomplish: "We are confronted by powerful forces telling us to rely on the good will and understanding of those who profit by exploiting us. They resent our will to organize. They are shocked that active organizations, sit-ins, civil disobedience, and protests are becoming every day tools just as strikes, demonstrations, and union organizations became yours to insure that bargaining power genuinely existed on both sides of the table." At the AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention later that year, Meany made civil rights a prominent item on the agenda, and King spoke to the delegates about uniting the two movements through a common agenda, noting that African Americans are "almost entirely a working people."
Not only did the AFL-CIO provide much-needed capital to the civil rights movement, but numerous affiliates did as well. Several combined to give more than $100,000 to King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The UAW directly funded voter registration drives in predominantly African American areas throughout the South and paid bail money for jailed protesters. Meany and the AFL-CIO also used their considerable political influence in helping to shape the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Union activists were a key part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom as well. The Industrial Union Department of the AFL-CIO endorsed the march, as did 11 international unions and several state and local labor councils. A. Philip Randolph, then-president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, was a key organizer of the event. UAW President Walter Reuther was a speaker at the march, condemning the fact that African Americans were treated as second-class economic citizens.
King's final act in pursuit of social and economic justice was in support of the sanitation strike in Memphis, Tennessee. After his death, then-President Lyndon B. Johnson sent the undersecretary of labor to settle the strike, and the city acceded to the demands of the working people, leading to the creation of AFSCME Local 1733, which still represents sanitation workers in Memphis.
In 1964, Meany sent a letter to all AFL-CIO affiliates outlining an new pathway that would directly support housing construction and homeownership. In 1965, the Investment Department helped establish the Mortgage Investment Trust, which was the formal embodiment of the socially responsible investment plan and gave a boost to badly needed affordable housing construction. In 1984, the Mortgage Investment Trust was replaced by the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust, one of the first socially responsible investment funds in the United States. Since it was created, the HIT has grown to more than $4.5 billion in net assets and has helped finance more than 100,000 affordable housing units and helped create tens of thousands of union jobs.
The partnership between civil rights and labor launched by King and Meany has helped the country make great strides in the intervening years, and the partnership continues.
Our series on Martin Luther King Jr., to mark the 50th anniversary of his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968, covers some of the lesser known parts of his history. Follow the links below to discover more about this civil rights icon.
1. Jay Smith, United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals' (UNAC/UHCP's) counsel, who shared a story his mentor, Jerome A. "Buddy" Cooper, told about King's Birmingham campaign.
2. King is perhaps best known for his iconic 1963 I Have a Dream speech. Less is known about predecessors to that speech, like the one King gave to the AFL-CIO in 1961.
3. King began with prepared remarks, the most famous part of the speech containing the theme 'I Have a Dream' was created on Aug. 23, 1963, as King addressed the crowd of more than 250,000 on the Mall in Washington, D.C.
4. King accepts the Nobel Peace Prize and then joins workers on strike in Atlanta to publicize their campaign during 10 days in December 1964.
5. International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 made King an honorary longshoreman in 1967. When King was assassinated, the ILWU showed they truly regarded him as one of their own.
6. Jerry Wurf, AFSCME’s president in 1968, was a strong and consistent supporter of King, as well as the civil rights movement in general.
This post originally appeared at UNAC-UHCP.
The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a monumental case that will impact voting rights.
The case, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), challenges a procedure the state of Ohio uses to remove voters from the registration rolls based on their failure to vote. The precedent set by this Supreme Court case will have ramifications for voting rights for generations and, if the court decides against APRI, it could potentially harm entire swaths of the voting public.
APRI argues that Ohio’s voter purge procedure violates the National Voter Registration Act—sometimes called the Motor Voter law—which prohibits a state from removing a person from the voter registration rolls because of that person’s failure to vote. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with APRI that Ohio’s removal procedure violates federal law, which prompted Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to ask the Supreme Court to weigh in. Under Ohio’s process, if a registered voter does not vote or update their registration during a two-year period, the county board of elections will send a postal notice to the voter asking them to confirm their registration at that address. Recipients of the notice are removed from the rolls if they neither respond to the notice nor subsequently vote during the following four-year period.
For many people—including working people and especially low-wage workers—voting is not easy and this "use it or lose it" policy is unfair. Limited voting hours, erratic job schedules, child care needs, the closing of neighborhood polling places, inadequate or inaccessible transportation and the costs associated with obtaining a photo ID, to name just a few obstacles, mean that many eligible voters are unable to cast ballots on Election Day—despite registering where necessary, being motivated to vote in the particular election and, in some cases, even arriving at the correct polling place and waiting in line. As a result, Ohio’s voter purge procedure falls disproportionately on those citizens for whom various features of the voting process already present significant obstacles to participation.
At a time when we should all be working to bring our government closer to the people, voter purges like Ohio’s disenfranchise many voters who wish to have their vote counted. A bad ruling in this case could allow states hostile toward voting rights to undermine the Motor Voter Act by purging voters from the rolls just because they did not vote in certain elections. It’s happened before, and it will keep happening unless the Supreme Court sides with APRI and with the voters of Ohio.
We need to resist these cynical and unfair attacks on our democracy. And we need to stand up for our right to vote. Our future and the future of our democratic institutions depend on it.
Pierrette "Petee" Talley is secretary-treasurer of the Ohio AFL-CIO.
The NFL’s regular season is over, and the playoffs are here. No matter who you’re backing for Super Bowl LII, you’ll need the fridge to be stocked for all the games leading up to the big day. This list of brews and munchies will both satisfy your cravings and help boost our country’s middle class. With more than 250 ethically made beers and a ton of game-day snacks to choose from, you’ll be set to host a killer ultimate playoff-watching party that also supports good employers who treat their workers fairly.
Enjoy the games, and together we’ll eat, drink and party our way to a stronger America.
The U.S. economy gained 148,000 jobs in December, and unemployment was unchanged at 4.1%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This continues the recovery of the labor market at a tempered rate, which means the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee should continue to let the economy grow and not raise interest rates.
In response to the December jobs numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs tweeted:
Over the year, retail trade reported job loss (-67,000) as concentration of market power continued, reversing job gains of 203,000 in 2016. A sign of hyper-inequality is a collapse in retail competition @AFLCIO @UFCW— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) January 5, 2018
This month many minimum wage workers will get a wage increase. The food service industry--which whines those increases risk jobs- -continues job growth at a high rate, up 25,000 in December and 249,000 over the year. @AFLCIO @UFCW— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) January 5, 2018
Last month's biggest job gains were in health care (31,000), construction (30,000) and manufacturing (25,000).
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for teenagers (13.6%) declined in December. The jobless rates for adult men (3.8%), adult women (3.7%), whites (3.7%), blacks (6.8%), Asians (2.5%) and Hispanics (4.9%) showed little or no change.
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed in December and accounted for 22.9% of the unemployed.
In a 15-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl ruled on Dec. 29 that the company failed to prove that Local 6 members violated a no-strike clause in the collective bargaining agreement.
Some 400 Local 6 members went on strike Sept. 7, 2016. Members returned to work in late October 2016, although a new contract has still not been reached and negotiations have yet to be scheduled.
While Just Born’s lawsuit said the members’ decision to go on strike violated a no-strike provision of the union contract, which had expired the previous June, Schmehl wrote that there was no evidence to conclude that the members gave up their right to strike.
Despite the ruling, Just Born has filed an appeal to the decision.
"It was a frivolous lawsuit from the beginning," said Hank McKay, BCTGM Local 6 president. McKay noted that instead of spending money on lawsuits and other legal actions against the members, Just Born "could put the money toward settling the expired union contract."