Category: From AFL-CIO

California Protects Precariat Workers

From the AFL-CIO

In a historic win for California’s workers, the California Legislature approved a bill Sept. 13 that makes the misclassification of employees as independent contractors more difficult.

Sponsored by the California Labor Federation, Assembly Bill 5 codifies and expands on a 2018 California Supreme Court decision.

The bill also will help curb the rampant exploitation of workers by unscrupulous employers and give California’s working people the basic rights and protections we all deserve. Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to sign the bill into law.

 “The time is up for unscrupulous employers who claim their workers are ‘independent’ in order to cut corners on costs,”  California Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez said about A.B. 5

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Oregon AFL-CIO Cements Deal to Make Portland Baseball Stadium Union-Friendly

From the AFL-CIO

The Oregon AFL-CIO and allies negotiated a historical deal with the Portland Diamond Project that will mean a stadium being built in order to attract Major League Baseball to the city will be union-friendly. In signing the labor harmony agreement, the Portland Diamond Project has voluntarily agreed to allow workers at the stadium to organize and form unions.

 

This is the first labor harmony agreement (also known as a labor peace agreement) for a sports arena in Oregon. The agreement sets rules for union organizing between the employer and the unions that could represent working people at the venue in the future. The agreement covers workers in concessions, sales, property service, security, hospitality, stage and theatrical presentations, entertainment and audiovisual services. Future discussions will address ballpark construction jobs.

Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain (IAFF) was excited by the agreement:

By signing this agreement, the Portland Diamond Project has shown us they value and respect the rights of working people and care for the prosperity of the community. Oregon’s unions are proud to be a part of the efforts to bring baseball to the Rose City and to be a part of the only unionized sports arena in the state of Oregon. By giving workers the unfettered opportunity for union representation, we are securing a bright economic future for the women and men who will make baseball happen in Portland. When working people stand together in unions, we get a fair return on our hard work.

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Never Underestimate the Collective Power of Working People

Liz Shuler

Liz Shuler Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO

Working people accepted the challenge of Janus v. AFSCME and used this test to reignite our solidarity and prove that we are stronger than any corporation, politician or high court. It takes more than a court case to tear down a century and a half of grit and gumption. 

Together, union members from communities across the country reclaimed our power and redefined this past year with a historic movement of collective action.

Teachers captured the country's attention, walking off the job for the fair treatment they deserve in states where collective bargaining is illegal. Workers at Marriott hotels in eight major cities across the country won groundbreaking protections against harassment and assault and a voice in how technology impacts their work. Grocery store employees throughout New England won better wages and respect after a massive strike that garnered support from workers and communities across America. Now, airline catering workers voted to authorize a strike and demand that “One Job Should Be Enough.”

But, it’s not just union members calling for a fair return on work.

This week, Wayfair employees embraced the power of collective action when they walked out of their workplace to protest the immoral abuse of migrants in detention centers at the border. 

Google workers worldwide staged massive protests last fall, demanding an end to workplace harassment. 

And, video game developers are joining together to fight for a voice at work.  

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The Soul of a Union Man

Leo W. Gerard

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

I was raised in a company house in a company town where the miners had to buy their own oilers – that is, rubber coveralls – drill bits and other tools at the company store.

That company, Inco Limited, the world’s leading producer of nickel for most of the 20th century, controlled the town of Sudbury, Ontario, but never succeeded in owning the souls of the men and women who lived and worked there.

That’s because these were union men and women, self-possessed, a little rowdy and well aware that puny pleas from individual workers fall on deaf corporate ears.

As I prepare to retire in a couple of days, 54 years after starting work as a copper puncher at the Inco smelter, the relationship between massive, multi-national corporations and workers is different.

Unions represent a much smaller percentage of workers now, so few that some don’t even know what a labor organization is – or what organized labor can accomplish. That is the result of deliberate, decades-long attacks on unions by corporations and the rich. They intend to own not only workers’ time and production but their very souls.

I’d like to tell you the story of Inco because it illustrates the arc of labor union ascendance and attenuation over the past 72 years since I was born in Sudbury. 

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Union Member Brings Unemployment Benefit Increase Bill to Governor’s Desk

Delaware Gov. John Carney signed a bill Sunday that raises the region’s lowest unemployment benefit. Under the bill, the maximum weekly payment will rise from $330 to $400—a long-overdue increase since the last update in 2002.   

The bill was marshaled through the General Assembly by Rep. Ed Osienski, a member of Sprinkler Fitters Local Union 669. 

“The unemployment benefit provides a vital lifeline to residents who find themselves out of work due to no fault of their own. The bills don’t stop coming in, even if the pay does,” Osienski said after the bill was signed. “It’s troubling that we have not increased this weekly benefit since 2002, which has made it more difficult for Delawareans to make ends meet during these times when they’re most in need of this assistance.”  

The Delaware AFL-CIO worked with Osienski and other allies on the bill, which passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. The increase was the first in 17 years and comes long after the recession of 2008 and 2009. The high jobless rate at that time left no room for an increase.

This victory comes on the heels of several other legislative wins that the Delaware AFL-CIO has achieved by working with union members elected to state office. Earlier achievements this year include expanding collective bargaining rights and worker training programs.

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Reposted from AFL-CIO

Working People Win in Delaware

From the AFL-CIO

Delaware recently became the latest state to allow more public employees to collectively bargain for fair wages and working conditions and improve access to apprenticeship programs, thanks to the advocacy of union members in public office.

The first law, which Delaware Gov. John Carney signed on May 30, solidifies collective bargaining rights for 2,000 additional state employees.

“This is a proud moment for our unions that represent state workers,” said James Maravelias (LIUNA), president of the Delaware State AFL-CIO. “This shows our constant commitment to their livelihood and our ever-present representation.”

Carney signed a second bill into law on Friday during the 2019 Delaware Building and Construction Trades Council’s graduation banquet for apprentices at the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters (UA) Local 74 Executive Hall in Newark.

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Delaware Governor Signs Bill Protecting Collective Bargaining Rights of 2,000 More State Employees

Michael Gillis AFL-CIO

Delaware Gov. John Carney signed a bill on Thursday that allows more public employees to collectively bargain for fair wages and good working conditions in the state. Previously, only select professions were afforded this protection and now more than 2,000 workers will have all the benefits that collective bargaining brings. Passage of the bill was possible through the direct and sustained involvement of a number of union members that have been elected to the state legislature.

The Delaware State AFL-CIO played a critical role in moving the bill through the legislature to the governor’s desk. "This is a proud moment for our unions that represent our state workers," said James Maravelias, president of the Delaware State AFL-CIO. "This shows our constant commitment to their livelihood and our ever-present representation."

"Allowing more state workers to collectively bargain for better wages is a critical step toward improving the lives of all Delaware families," said state Sen. Jack Walsh, the prime sponsor of the legislation. "As the state’s largest employer, we have led the way time and again when it comes to caring for our workers. From paid parental leave and loan forgiveness for public school teachers to cost-of-living wage hikes and stronger labor unions, we are creating a stronger workforce and a brighter future for thousands of our residents."

Michael Begatto, executive director of AFSCME Council 81, praised Carney for helping get the bill through the General Assembly. "It’s not just a big moment, this is a huge moment," he said. "I won’t use the words of our former vice president, but this is a big deal. Believe me, it’s that big of a deal."

Murdered Trade Unionists: The Truth Behind Colombia’s Trade Agreement

Cathy Feingold

Cathy Feingold Director of the International Department, AFL-CIO

Any mention of Latin America has become a synonym of mass migration, autocratic governments and unstable economies. Yet, Colombia continues to shine as the exception. This week marks the seventh anniversary since the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) entered into force. It can be argued that during these years this South American nation has become a haven of economic and social stability. Or not.

One only has to look behind all the fanfare and a “parallel reality” appears. Violence in Colombia is still harrowing. From the oil to the sugar to the flower sector, workers and trade unionists report a deterioration of their rights at the workplace, continued labor intermediation that weakens the power of workers, and an increase in the culture of violence and impunity. From January 2016 through April 2019, 681 social leaders and human rights defenders have been murdered; and between 2016 and 2018, 70 trade unionists have been killed. In fact, from the year the TPA went into force until today, 172 trade unionists have been murdered.

When the United States and Colombia began negotiating their trade agreement, we already saw the negative effects of the original NAFTA—from mass migration and a spike in violence in Mexico to widening inequality in the United States. After pressure from labor and human rights organizations, in April 2011, the U.S. and Colombian governments agreed to an “Action Plan Related to Labor Rights” (Labor Action Plan) that outlined specific steps to be taken by the Colombian government within a concrete timeline.

Colombia made commitments, both under the trade agreement and in other global fora, to improve worker rights, end attacks and murders of trade unionists, and bring perpetrators of violence to justice. The country also signed a peace accord with the FARC that committed to ending the conflict and addressing many of the core factors that continue to lead to high levels of inequality and violence.

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#BuildForTomorrow

From the AFL-CIO

It’s Infrastructure Week, a time to call on our elected leaders to rebuild and modernize America’s crumbling infrastructure.

This year’s Infrastructure Week comes at a time when 79% of voters say investing in America’s infrastructure is a top priority.

Here is what inaction is costing us:

Inaction is costing Americans an average of $3,000 every year.

It’s time to tell Washington to stop delaying. Take action and fix our infrastructure. Learn more at Infrastructure Week.

 “We cannot and will not tolerate more inaction. The future prosperity of working families and our communities across America is at stake, as is our national commitment to the simple but powerful idea that when we invest in the nation’s infrastructure, our economy expands and working people thrive.” —2017 AFL-CIO Convention Resolution 7: Reviving Our Communities and Putting Millions to Work Rebuilding the Country

 

Union Matters

America’s Wealthy: Ever Eager to Pay Their Taxes!

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

Why do many of the wealthiest people in America oppose a “wealth tax,” an annual levy on grand fortune? Could their distaste reflect a simple reluctance to pay their fair tax share? Oh no, JPMorganChase CEO Jamie Dimon recently told the Business Roundtable: “I know a lot of wealthy people who would be happy to pay more in taxes; they just think it’ll be wasted and be given to interest groups and stuff like that.” Could Dimon have in mind the interest group he knows best, Wall Street? In the 2008 financial crisis, federal bailouts kept the banking industry from imploding. JPMorgan alone, notes the ProPublica Bailout Tracker, collected $25 billion worth of federal largesse, an act of generosity that’s helped Dimon lock down a $1.5-billion personal fortune. Under the Elizabeth Warren wealth tax plan, Dimon would pay an annual 3 percent tax on that much net worth. Fortunes between $1 billion and $2.5 billion would face a 5 percent annual tax under the Bernie Sanders plan.

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No Such Thing as Good Greed

No Such Thing as Good Greed