A Better Deal for Workers

From the AFL-CIO

Democrats in Congress this week introduced a key piece of legislation designed to combat growing inequality and strengthen working people’s right to fight for our economic rights.

“All working people should have the freedom to join together to negotiate with their employers for better wages and working conditions,” said AFL‑CIO Government Affairs Director William Samuel in a letter urging members of Congress to support the bill. “Help us build an economy that works for all working families and not just the privileged few.”

As corporations continue waging a full-blown assault on the freedoms of working people, our allies on Capitol Hill have introduced a piece of legislation that would mark an enormous step forward in the struggle for economic justice. The most recent proposal in congressional Democrats’ Better Deal agenda, the Workers’ Freedom to Negotiate Act, would enact several key provisions expanding collective bargaining rights, such as:

  • Strengthening penalties against abusive and predatory corporations that violate workers’ rights.
  • Combating misclassification of workers as supervisors and independent contractors.
  • Strengthening our right to strike for the wages, benefits and working conditions that we deserve.
  • Creating a mandatory mediation and arbitration process to ensure that corporations and newly organized unions reach a first contract.
  • Banning state laws that undermine our freedom to join together and negotiate.
  • Protecting the integrity and fairness of union elections from employer propaganda.

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Posted In: From AFL-CIO, Union Matters

Union Matters

Uber Drivers Deserve Legal Rights and Protections

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

In an advisory memo released May 14, the U.S. labor board general counsel’s office stated that Uber drivers are not employees for the purposes of federal labor laws.

Their stance holds that workers for companies like Uber are not included in federal protections for workplace organizing activities, which means the labor board is effectively denying Uber drivers the benefits of forming or joining unions.

Simply stating that Uber drivers are just gig workers does not suddenly undo the unjust working conditions that all workers potentially face, such as wage theft, dangerous working conditions and  job insecurity. These challenges are ever-present, only now Uber drivers are facing them without the protection or resources they deserve. 

The labor board’s May statement even seems to contradict an Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that couriers for Postmates, a job very similar to Uber drivers’, are legal employees.

However, the Department of Labor has now stated that such gig workers are simply independent contractors, meaning that they are not entitled to minimum wages or overtime pay.

While being unable to unionize limits these workers’ ability to fight for improved pay and working conditions, independent contractors can still make strides forward by organizing, explained executive director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance Bhairavi Desai.

“We can’t depend solely on the law or the courts to stop worker exploitation. We can only rely on the steadfast militancy of workers who are rising up everywhere,” Desai said in a statement. 

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Make Father's Day Union Made!