Category: Union Matters

Support the Equality Act

From the AFL-CIO

Rep. David Cicilline and Sen. Jeff Merkley last week reintroduced the Equality Act in the 116th Congress. A landmark piece of civil rights legislation, the bill would extend comprehensive protections to LGBTQ working people.

Currently, private employers in 29 states can legally fire workers based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Equality Act would ensure that civil rights protections are extended equally to LGBTQ Americans.

Amending existing federal civil rights laws, it would explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in education, employment, housing, credit, federal jury service, public accommodations and the use of federal funds.

More than 70% of Americans—including a majority of Republicans—support passing the kinds of protections found in the Equality Act.

The Equality Act’s record number of co-sponsors in the House of Representatives is 239.

 “No one’s civil rights should depend on the ZIP code they happen to be in at the moment.” —Pride At Work Executive Director Jerame Davis

A Just, Inclusive and Sustainable Economy

From the AFL-CIO

This week, labor leaders from across the country descended on New Orleans to map out the path ahead for our movement. From trade and public education to equal pay and paid leave to back pay for federal contract workers and bargaining power for all, the AFL-CIO Executive Council tackled the issues that will define working people’s fight for economic justice in 2019 and beyond.

Sending waves through Washington yesterday, the Executive Council’s most notable decision was its announcement that, “if the administration insists on a premature vote on the new NAFTA in its current form, we will have no choice but to oppose it.” Here are a few highlights from the statement:

  • Trade policy must be judged by whether it leads to a just, inclusive and sustainable economy....By that measure, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has driven the outsourcing of so many good jobs, has been a catastrophic failure. More than 850,000 U.S. jobs were shipped overseas under NAFTA between 1993 and 2013.
  • By design, NAFTA distorted power relationships in favor of global employers over workers, weakened worker bargaining power and encouraged the de-industrialization of the U.S. economy.
  • After a quarter-century of this race to the bottom, workers in all three NAFTA countries find it more difficult to form unions and negotiate collective bargaining agreements.
  • The NAFTA renegotiation requires strong labor rights provisions and strong enforcement provisions that as of today are not yet in the agreement.
  • The current effort by the business community to pass the new NAFTA is premature, and if it continues, we will be forced to mobilize to defeat it, just as we mobilized to kill the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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Union Fights Back

From the AFL-CIO

As a wave of collective action continues to sweep the country, working people are taking on one of the country’s most powerful corporations. In the face of shameless union-busting, labor leaders and Boeing workers are fighting back for the rights and dignities they deserve.

First, Boeing announced that virulently anti-union former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was joining its board of directors.

This, for example, is one thing Haley said about labor organizations: “I'm not going to stop beating up on the unions....We're going to keep fighting the unions. I'm going to keep being a union buster.”

Machinists (IAM) International President Robert Martinez Jr. was quick to call out Boeing’s decision.

“The IAM has serious concerns about the nomination of Nikki Haley to Boeing’s board,” he said. “As governor of South Carolina, Haley had a record of using anti-union rhetoric and inserting politics into working people’s decisions.”

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Latest Manufacturing Numbers Could Be Trend or Blip: AAM Statement

The U.S. manufacturing sector experienced minimal gains in February, posting only 4,000 new jobs. Over the past year, the sector saw average increases of 22,000 new jobs per month.

Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul said:

“Manufacturing barely continued a positive run of job gains in February. While it’s too early to tell whether this is a trend or a blip, there are policies that can boost factory jobs. Infrastructure investment, which has broad, bipartisan appeal, would be a good start.

“The trade deficit with China may also be dampening the full potential of American manufacturing. This makes a tough, enforceable deal with China even more important. We urge the administration not to settle for the sake of expediency.”

 

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Sen. Schumer Blasts GOP for Advancing Dangerous Judicial Nominations to Second Circuit

Statement by Sen. Chuck Schumer

News reports continue to suggest that President Trump is close to cementing an agreement with Beijing that, unfortunately for American workers, would fall far short of expectations. Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that China is drafting new laws on foreign investment to pacify the United States. But those new laws DO NOT INCLUDE any changes to how China forces American businesses to transfer technology and know-how as the cost of doing business. Our best companies, if they were allowed to sell in China unfettered, they would have huge amounts of profit and they would employ huge amounts of people here in America. China doesn’t let that happen, while they can sell freely here. The president was right to target China. President Trump will have taken defeat out of the jaws of an almost victory if he now backs off for the sake of a photo-op or some brief changes in what China purchases, and forsakes American wealth, American workers which China is stealing. They are stealing our wealth, un-employing our workers every single day.

If President Trump accepts a short-term purchase of American goods in exchange for a reduction in our tariffs, without structural reform to China’s predatory trade policies, shame on him. If he thinks that photo-op will help him, it won’t. If he thinks that temporary little bump in China buying more soybeans or soy products, it won’t. He will lose, because one of the best things that he has done, something I’ve praised him for, and many other Democrats, and many other Americans have, will be gone.

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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.

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Victory in West Virginia

The labor movement scored another victory for working people this week when a judge struck down West Virginia’s “right to work” law. The defeat of this poisonous anti-worker legislation is a victory for all working people across the country.

Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey of Kanawha County agreed with the West Virginia AFL-CIO and other unions that challenged S.B. 1, which was passed in 2016, for violating the West Virginia Constitution’s prohibition of taking property without due process and compensation.

“Judge Bailey was right-on with her ruling,” West Virginia AFL-CIO President Josh Sword said. “We entered into this lengthy legal challenge nearly three years ago because we knew the law violated the rights of West Virginia workers—and we simply won’t stand for that.”

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Anti-Union Raid Hits Portland

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Think right-wing anti-union raids are past? Not so, even in progressive Portland, Ore. The Northwest Labor Press reported vandals trashed the city’s office of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), an independent union known for its recent organizing wins in Portland and the Twin Cities among fast-food workers.

Vandals smashed a window that sported a Black Lives Matter sign and spray-painted slogans on the IWW office walls, including “Smash Communism.” The vandalism during the night of Jan. 23-24 came four days after local “Patriot Prayer’ members tried to break up a meeting at a nearby restaurant with anti-Muslim taunts and confrontations with pedestrians.

Politically and financially, the vandalism backfired. IWW member Effie Baum told the paper neighbors and backers dropped by with food, flowers and donations. Painters and Glazers unionists repaired the damage. The Northwest Oregon Labor Council condemned the raid as “an attack on all unions.” A go-fund-me page to pay for the repairs raised $5,666, far above its $2,000 target. The extra cash will pay for enhanced security and a wheelchair ramp.

Time to Change the Rules

From the AFL-CIO

In the wake of landslide victories in the midterm elections, working people are ready to fight for meaningful change. “Our mission was not simply to rack up victories on election night last November,” said Trumka. “We changed the rule-makers. Now it is time for them to change the rules.”

President Trumka put forward a comprehensive agenda that will remake the economy to uphold the dignity of all working families. Some key steps include:

  • Modernizing the badly outdated National Labor Relations Act to truly protect our freedom to organize and mobilize together.
  • Achieving full employment and passing a $15 federal minimum wage.
  • Expanding Social Security and strengthening our pensions.
  • Making a serious federal investment in our infrastructure.
  • Shoring up the Affordable Care Act, expanding Medicare, lowering drug costs, and ensuring paid sick and family leave.
  • Defending our right to safety and dignity on the job by passing the Equality Act, restoring the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and temporary protected status, and strengthening the Occupational Safety and Health Administration protections.

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A Billionaire with a Truly Bottom-Line Moral Code

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

Some advice for billionaire investment fund manager Tom Barrack: Don’t give any more lectures on morality. Last Tuesday, this long-time Donald Trump pal — and chairman of his inauguration — did a bit too much moralizing. Speaking in Abu Dhabi, Barrack called the hand-wringing over Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s role in the savage murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi “a mistake.” After all, he noted, “we have a young man and a regime that’s trying to push themselves into 2030.” We ought not, Barrack added, try “to dictate” the Saudi “moral code.” The pushback would be quick and massive. On Wednesday, Barrack apologized, but didn’t, news reports noted, “retract praise for the crown prince.” One possible reason: Barrack’s investment fund has tanked of late, its share price down by over half. Barrack has raised over $1.5 billion in bailout aid from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. He may be hoping for still more.

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Union Matters

A Just, Inclusive and Sustainable Economy

From the AFL-CIO

This week, labor leaders from across the country descended on New Orleans to map out the path ahead for our movement. From trade and public education to equal pay and paid leave to back pay for federal contract workers and bargaining power for all, the AFL-CIO Executive Council tackled the issues that will define working people’s fight for economic justice in 2019 and beyond.

Sending waves through Washington yesterday, the Executive Council’s most notable decision was its announcement that, “if the administration insists on a premature vote on the new NAFTA in its current form, we will have no choice but to oppose it.” Here are a few highlights from the statement:

  • Trade policy must be judged by whether it leads to a just, inclusive and sustainable economy....By that measure, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has driven the outsourcing of so many good jobs, has been a catastrophic failure. More than 850,000 U.S. jobs were shipped overseas under NAFTA between 1993 and 2013.
  • By design, NAFTA distorted power relationships in favor of global employers over workers, weakened worker bargaining power and encouraged the de-industrialization of the U.S. economy.
  • After a quarter-century of this race to the bottom, workers in all three NAFTA countries find it more difficult to form unions and negotiate collective bargaining agreements.
  • The NAFTA renegotiation requires strong labor rights provisions and strong enforcement provisions that as of today are not yet in the agreement.
  • The current effort by the business community to pass the new NAFTA is premature, and if it continues, we will be forced to mobilize to defeat it, just as we mobilized to kill the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

***

More ...

New NAFTA Must Create an Economy for All

New NAFTA Must Create an Economy for All