The Shutdown’s Devastating Ripple Effects

From the AFL-CIO

More than a month after it ended, the government lockout continues to hurt working people: More than 1,000 Transportation Security Administration agents still haven’t received back pay, and it’s unclear when they will be made whole.

More than 1 million federal employees and contractors were devastated by the record-breaking 35-day shutdown, including TSA agents, who are among the lowest paid federal employees, earning an average of $37,000 a year—not enough to afford a two-bedroom apartment in the top 20 major U.S. cities.

Now, reports have surfaced that more than 1,000 TSA agents are still waiting for back pay.

During the shutdown, food banks in cities across the country were busier than usual, with some serving as many as five times the average number of visitors. Federal workers missed $2 billion in pay each pay period of the shutdown.

To make matters worse, more than 1 million federal contractors lost a month of paychecks during the lockout and, unless Congress acts, they will never receive that pay.

 “The law says we are entitled to our paychecks in a timely basis and that did not happen this time around. We just can't be held hostage to solve political disputes as the work we do is so important,” Victor Payes, a TSA agent in Los Angeles told NBC Washington.

***

Posted In: 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. 

More ...

A Friendly Reminder

A Friendly Reminder