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You Did That!: The Working People Weekly List

You Did That!: The Working People Weekly List

Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s this week’s Working People Weekly List.

NYC Unions Rally Against Cable Giant Charter/Spectrum: "Trumka, in a rousing speech, told workers, 'Your hard work made Charter Cable one of the most profitable companies in the United States, $3.5 billion they made last year. You did that! Local 3 members did that! So where is the company? Get to the table today and negotiate a contract.'"

Vice Video Staffers Unionize with WGA East and Motion Picture Editors Guild: "Vice Media employees who create video content across the company’s media outlets have unionized. The Writers Guild of America, East, said today that it will represent the workers along with the AFL-CIO and the Motion Picture Editors Guild, IATSE Local 700."

A Radical Republican Proposal to Roll Back Worker Protections: "Last week, the Republican-led House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing on H.R. 3441, the so-called Save Local Business Act—a bill that has almost nothing to do with saving small and local businesses. According to its sponsors, the legislation was introduced to overturn the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB’s) 2015 decision in Browning Ferris Industries."

Cuomo, de Blasio Join Cable Workers in Rally to Seek New Contract with Spectrum: "AFL-CIO national president Richard Trumka came to town to support the striking cable workers. 'We will not retreat in the face of corporate greed,' he said. 'We’re going to get a fair deal here.'"

The Everyday Heroes of the Hurricanes: "Alseen Bell’s cell phone rang as she stood in the living room of her flood-ravaged home, surveying the devastation left behind by Hurricane Harvey. The call was from her local union, the Houston Federation of Teachers, asking how she had come through the storm and if she needed help. 'It was like an answer to my prayers,' Alseen says. Within hours, three of our members were alongside her, pulling up carpet, cleaning and offering encouragement."

Dozens of Unions to Join IBEW Local 3 in Major NYC Rally Against Charter Communications Amid Six-Month Strike: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is among the many labor leaders to respond. Trumka is coming to the city to headline a major rally and march starting at 3 p.m. on Monday in Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza."

McMillan Elected New President of North Carolina AFL-CIO: "The president of the North Carolina AFL-CIO for the past 20 years is retiring, and the longtime second-in-command of the state umbrella organization for unions is succeeding him. Delegates to the state AFL-CIO convention elected MaryBe McMillan unanimously Friday as president. James Andrews chose not to seek re-election after more than 40 years in the labor movement. McMillan has been secretary-treasurer since 2005."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 09/22/2017 - 14:17
Posted: September 22, 2017, 6:17 pm

Video Workers at Vice Vote to Join the Union Family

Video Workers at Vice Vote to Join the Union Family
VICE Union
VICE Union on Twitter

Workers for Vice Media voted this week to come together in union, with content creators joining the Writers Guild of America, East, (WGAE) and post-production employees becoming members of the Motion Picture Editors Guild (MPEG), an affiliate of the Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). Vice said it will recognize the unions after a third-party card-check confirmed that the majority of the employees in each unit voted to unionize.

Some 430 staff and freelance employees working on video content for, the Viceland cable channel and Vice programming on HBO will now have a stronger voice in the workplace.

WGAE Executive Director Lowell Peterson said:

VICE is at the forward edge of the media industry's transformation. The WGAE knows it is essential for people who create content in this dynamic environment to have a seat at the table as the way the work is done—the way the content is made and distributed—continues to change. We have built a constructive relationship with VICE management and applaud the company for continuing to respect the right of its employees to engage in collective bargaining

MPEG President Alan Heim said:

We’re proud to welcome aboard the post-production professionals whose talents and hard work helped build VICE into the news and entertainment juggernaut it has become. These craftspeople on the cutting edge of our industry have made clear that the future of work in this business is one in which traditional union values of mutual aid and solidarity remain vital. We salute VICE for offering a model of how responsible employers respect their employees’ desire for a voice on the job, instead of trying to squash workers’ organizing efforts. And we’re both proud and grateful to have arrived at today’s victory in partnership with our sister unions, The Writers Guild of America, East, and SAG-AFTRA. This achievement shows what working people can accomplish together through alliances across craft and jurisdictional lines.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka congratulated the Vice workers:

We're very proud to welcome #ViceUnion workers to the union family #1u

— Richard L. Trumka (@RichardTrumka) September 21, 2017
Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 09/22/2017 - 13:25
Posted: September 22, 2017, 5:25 pm

What We're Reading

Homegoing, a novel by Yaa Gyasi, follows 300 years of history through the stories of the descendants of two sisters torn apart by the African slave trade. One sister stays in Ghana and one is brought to the U.S. One memorable character begins working in a coal mine as a prisoner, in conditions not too different from slavery. When he is released he keeps working alongside white workers in the mines of Pratt City, Alabama, and gets involved in the union during a strike over wages and safety. He eventually becomes a union leader. The heartbreaking stories follow U.S.

Posted: September 22, 2017, 2:12 pm

URGENT: Call Your Senator to Oppose New Health Care Repeal Bill

After so many failed attempts to gut health care, the Republican leadership can't seem to help itself.

Posted: September 21, 2017, 5:44 pm

Bargaining Update

The latest bargaining news for AT&T Mobility.

Posted: September 21, 2017, 5:40 pm

Pickup Tour to Keep Good Jobs in the U.S. Makes Final Stop at the U.S. Capitol

At the final stop of the 2017 Midwest Pickup Tour, CWAers called on President Trump to keep his campaign promise to stop the offshoring of U.S. jobs.

Posted: September 21, 2017, 5:35 pm

Call Center Legislation Update

The latest developments in call center legislation from Georgia, West Virginia, and Ohio.

Posted: September 21, 2017, 5:23 pm

New Jersey CWAers Ready to Elect Phil Murphy for Governor

CWA members across New Jersey are pushing forward in support of candidate for NJ governor, Phil Murphy.

Posted: September 21, 2017, 5:12 pm

Joining Together to Help Others: Worker Wins

Joining Together to Help Others: Worker Wins

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with stories of teachers and nurses joining together to help patients and students and includes numerous examples of workers organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.

D.C. Teachers Overwhelmingly Approve New Contract: Educators in Washington, D.C., voted 97% to 3% to ratify a new three-year contract. The new contract will improve student learning, increase salaries, address issues related to extended school years and launch a new era of collaboration between the teachers and the school district.

Shasta Regional Medical Center RNs Join California Nurses Association: With 90% of the vote in favor of joining together, the 350 registered nurses at Shasta Regional Medical Center in Redding, California, are now members of the California Nurses Association, an affiliate of National Nurses United. "We joined CNA because we want only the best care for our community's patients. In order to have the protection to advocate for them, we need to unionize with CNA," said Dani Gunderson, an emergency room RN at Shasta Regional.

Adjunct Faculty at Temple Win First Contract: The 1,400 adjunct faculty at Temple University in Philadelphia fought for and gained recognition in the school's new contract with the Temple Association of University Professionals, an affiliate of the AFT. The contract includes a significant wage increase and job protections and gives adjunct faculty a pathway to the respect they deserve. The contract, which also includes full-time faculty and librarians, was a hard-fought victory that was bargained over 15 months.

StoryCorps Staff Vote to Join Communications Workers of America (CWA): Despite an anti-union campaign from management, staff members at StoryCorps, a nonprofit based in Brooklyn, New York, that curates and shares stories of everyday Americans, voted to join CWA with 83% of the vote. The workers joined together to negotiate over wages, benefits, unexpected layoffs, working conditions, severance packages and pay transparency.

Airport Fuelers at Anchorage Airport Win 'Best Contract' They've Seen in Years: The intense negotiations led to a battle in federal court, but airport fuelers at the airport in Anchorage, Alaska, won a new three-year agreement that increases wages, maintains health care coverage and sick leave, improves bereavement leave, and increases the flexibility of vacation time.

Machinists at Mahle Engine Components End Strike and Protect Against Layoffs Without Adequate Notifications: Among other key components, Machinists (IAM) Local 1471 members at Mahle Engine Components in McConnelsville, Ohio, voted to accept a contract that rejected language that would've allowed shutdowns and layoffs without notification for periods of less than a week. The workers rejected that language and fought for a better contract.

Third Group of Employees at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center Vote to Join Together in a Union: After an inspiring nine-month contract campaign, 900 employees at PeaceHealth overwhelmingly voted (90% in favor) to ratify their first contract, joining two earlier campaigns that mean that collectively more than 2,500 working people at the center are now standing together in a union. The new service unit members fought for the power of a collective voice, due process on the job, a wage increase and to bring to a halt PeaceHealth's practice of sending collection agencies after its own employees when they couldn't pay high medical bills.

Hundreds of Kroger Workers Win More Than $300,000 in Back Pay: When Kroger employees, members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400, discovered that full-time associates had been cheated out of holiday pay in violation of the contract, they came together and took the case to arbitration. After numerous delays, persistence paid off and the employees were awarded back pay and interest.

Workers at Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, Join the Culinary and Bartenders Union: In August, a majority of workers at the Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, chose to unionize with Culinary Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165. Once negotiations are complete, 325 new members will be able to exercise their freedom to negotiate for fair wages, job security, health benefits and dignity on the job.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 09/21/2017 - 11:37
Posted: September 21, 2017, 3:37 pm

9th Circuit Revists Ruling on Unequal Pay in Some Situations

In a conundrum with profound implications, a federal appeals court will revisit whether – in some circumstances — men can be paid more than women for the same job. On the surface, that conflicts with the Equal Pay Act. But a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit ruled in April that salary history could justify […]
Posted: September 21, 2017, 12:41 am

Trumka: Charter/Spectrum Employees Want Fair Return on Their Work

Trumka: Charter/Spectrum Employees Want Fair Return on Their Work
Charter/Spectrum March
IBEW Local 3

This week, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka joined union and community leaders marching across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York to show solidarity for Charter/Spectrum workers who are on strike. To those who marched, Trumka spoke about how the hard work of Charter/Spectrum employees have made it one of the most profitable cable companies in the United States. He also spoke to the reasons workers are on strike: 

Working people want a fair return on their work. They want good wages and a decent retirement. They want to provide for their families and enjoy the good things in their lives. They want CEO Tom Rutledge to get to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair deal today.

Here are some key tweets from the march and rally:

I am proud of every single #local3 member. Going on strike takes tremendous sacrifice and I'm proud to join you today.

— Richard L. Trumka (@RichardTrumka) September 18, 2017

Huge showing of solidarity today in NYC for @IBEW LU 3 #SpectrumStrike "the labor movement has your back" -@RichardTrumka #1u

— Liz Shuler (@lizshuler) September 19, 2017

Solidarity forever! Awesome to see unions from across @NYSAFLCIO coming together to support #spectrumstrike

— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) September 18, 2017

Local 3 member Marvin Phillips on Charter CEO Tom Rutledge: "When I was little, my Mom told me to stand up to bullies." #spectrumstrike

— IBEW (@IBEW) September 18, 2017

New York Local 3 getting support from other labor allies today. #spectrumstrike

— IBEW (@IBEW) September 18, 2017

The labor movement is the demand for respect and fairness. Proud to stand with @IBEW Local 3 #SpectrumStrike

— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) September 18, 2017

.@AFLCIO Pres Trumka: if @GetSpectrum wants to get to you, they have to get thru all of us first. #SpectrumStrike #NYC1u

— NYC CLC (@CentralLaborNYC) September 18, 2017

Getting ready to walk with @IBEW Local 3 members. #spectrumstrike

— AFL-CIO (@AFLCIO) September 18, 2017

Proud to join the fight with #local3 today, tomorrow, and as long as it takes. #1u

— Richard L. Trumka (@RichardTrumka) September 18, 2017
Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 09/20/2017 - 12:53
Posted: September 20, 2017, 4:53 pm

The Senate Is in a Hurry to Cut Our Health Care

The Senate Is in a Hurry to Cut Our Health Care
They're Baaaaack!

Do you remember "Repeal and Replace," "Repeal and Run" and "Skinny Repeal"? Those were all plans pushed by the Senate Republican leaders at the end of July in a frantic, failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and make massive cuts in our health care. Millions of working people stood up and spoke out to stop those cuts. Now, however, Republican leaders are back, just as desperate but hopeful they can sneak something through.

The media are calling the new Senate Republican proposal the Graham-Cassidy plan because two of its lead authors are Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.). A more accurate way to think of it is as "Repeal, Replace and Run."

This plan wipes out major parts of the ACA. There are no more federal tax credits to help the middle class pay health insurance premiums. No more Medicaid expansion for low-income working people. No airtight ban on discriminatory premiums for people with pre-existing medical conditions. Insurance companies can impose an age tax by charging older Americans up to five times what they charge young adults. Employers are let off the hook completely: No employer would be required to contribute toward any worker’s health care; but the 40% tax on middle-class worker health benefits would be made permanent.

In place of much of this, the federal government would give out time-limited block grants to states to do with what they please. This money would run out in 10 years, unless Congress votes to extend it. Graham and Cassidy designed these block grants to shift costs to states, providing much less money, on average, than people in a state would get under the ACA. On top of that, they end the federal funding guarantee for Medicaid, the program that covers the more than 70 million people who are struggling the most to make ends meet. They convert federal support for Medicaid to capped amounts per person, which they designed to shrink over time compared to the cost of the medical care that it needed.

Republican leaders are pushing hard to pass something before the end of September. That is when time officially expires on their attempt to repeal the ACA and cut health care using a special rule. This allows them to pass a highly partisan bill with just 50 votes.

Republican leaders are in such a rush that they plan to vote on the bill before they even know fully what the bill will do. Congress' independent budget experts say they will not be ready with an analysis of what the bill does to the federal budget or health care coverage until sometime in October. Congressional Republicans are prepared to do this despite warnings from other experts that this bill could take health care away from as many as 32 million people. This is like buying a used car before you get the Carfax report you ordered. When that report finally comes pointing out all the defects, however, there is no "lemon law" to let the American people return this clunker of a bill.

If you've had enough, call your senators at 888-865-8089 and tell them not to take health care away from millions of Americans.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 09/20/2017 - 10:46
Posted: September 20, 2017, 2:46 pm

How 1,000 Nurses in Northern Michigan Went Union

September 20, 2017 / James Walker
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Nurses in rural northern Michigan made history August 9-10 when we won labor’s biggest organizing victory since “right to work” took effect in the state in 2013. By a vote of 489–439, more than 1,000 RNs at Traverse City’s Munson Medical Center, the area’s largest employer, will be represented by the Michigan Nurses Association.

Posted: September 20, 2017, 1:19 pm

How the Canadians Are Trying to Use NAFTA to Raise Your Wage

Finally, after nearly a quarter of a century, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is being renegotiated. This is a good thing. NAFTA is called a “trade deal,” but it’s mostly a collection of rules that give corporations more power over the three economies of North America. It gives companies tools to undermine laws and rules that protect America’s working […]
Posted: September 20, 2017, 12:23 am

CWA: Senate Republicans Want to Devastate Health Care for Millions, Democrats Look to Expand Coverage

Statement by the Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton on Senate Republicans on health care plan. 

Posted: September 19, 2017, 8:23 pm

How the Canadians Are Trying to Use NAFTA to Raise Your Wage

How the Canadians Are Trying to Use NAFTA to Raise Your Wage
Right to work

Finally, after nearly a quarter of a century, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is being renegotiated. This is a good thing. NAFTA is called a "trade deal," but it’s mostly a collection of rules that give corporations more power over the three economies of North America. It gives companies tools to undermine laws and rules that protect America’s working families. It increased threats by U.S. employers to close workplaces and move to Mexico. And once the companies got there, NAFTA provided strict rules for them, but only vague guidelines to protect working people’s rights and freedoms.

NAFTA negotiations have not progressed very far, and it is too early to say whether the effort will bring a New Economic Deal to working people or simply more crony capitalism. But there was some fantastic, surprising, excellent news recently.

The Canadian negotiating team did something big: They told the U.S. negotiators that U.S. laws that interfere with people’s freedom to negotiate on the job are dragging down standards for Canada and need to be abolished. Guess what? Canada is right.

These laws, known as "right to work," are another example of the wealthiest 1% rigging the rules to weaken the freedom of people joining together in union and negotiating with employers for better pay, benefits and conditions at work. Not surprisingly, states with these freedom-crushing laws are less safe and have lower wages, dragging down workplace standards for those in other states, and apparently in Canada, too.

Canada gets the obvious: These laws take away working people’s freedom to join together and raise their wages. Canada is pushing the United States to be fairer to working people, just as the U.S. is pushing Mexico to be fairer to its working people. Will the U.S. negotiators see the light and agree to this proposal in NAFTA? We certainly hope so. It will tell us a lot about who the president stands with: Corporate CEOs or working families?

Learn more about laws that take away working people’s freedom.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 09/19/2017 - 11:59
Posted: September 19, 2017, 3:59 pm

Wage gap between blacks and whites is larger today than it was 40 years ago

It’s near impossible for black Americans to achieve parity with their white counterparts in the labor market, according to two new studies which show that they are underpaid and discriminated against throughout the hiring process. Earlier in September, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco reported that the wage gap between black and white Americans is increasing, […]
Posted: September 19, 2017, 12:31 am

310,567 Signatures Block 'Right to Work' in Missouri

September 18, 2017 / Judy Ancel
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The results astounded everyone who thought they knew the Missouri labor movement: more than 300,000 signatures to repeal “right to work.”

Thousands of union members and allies marched through the streets of the state capital August 18 to deliver 163 boxes of petitions signed by 310,567 Missourians. The signers called for a referendum to repeal the right-to-work law passed by the legislature earlier this year.

Posted: September 18, 2017, 1:55 pm

Equal Opportunity Is Not Enough

We middle-class professionals are a crafty bunch, especially our intellectual elite.  One of our cagiest moves recently involves our expressions of concern about increasing income and wealth inequality in the U.S.  While eloquently expressing how guilty we feel about our … Continue reading
Posted: September 18, 2017, 11:23 am

North Carolina’s Labor Federation Elects First Woman President

North Carolina’s Labor Federation Elects First Woman President
MaryBe McMillan
North Carolina State AFL-CIO

MaryBe McMillan becomes the first woman to lead the North Carolina labor movement after being unanimously elected president of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO during the 60th annual convention that wrapped up today.

McMillan has served as secretary-treasurer of the state federation since 2005. She has spearheaded the cause of getting national and international unions to invest in and organize the South. Before beginning her career in the labor movement, she worked with housekeepers trying to organize at North Carolina State University and, after receiving her Ph.D in sociology, did public policy research for several progressive nonprofits. In 2004, she took a job at the AFL-CIO's Union Community Fund, where she met North Carolina State AFL-CIO President James Andrews—beginning a 12-year partnership fighting for working families in North Carolina.

"James has mentored and inspired countless labor leaders and activists in North Carolina and beyond," said McMillan. "For over 40 years, he has fought tirelessly to make our state a better place for working people. Our labor movement is much stronger because of James’ leadership, and so many of us are better leaders because of his example. I know that I am."

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper awarded Andrews the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the state’s highest honor, for his more than four decades of service to the labor movement.

McMillan knows challenges lie ahead, but she is ready to lead with the support of the most diverse board in history that includes two members from the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) and the first LGBTQ member.

"I look forward to working with our affiliates to build the movement we all want—one that is constantly growing, that is both big enough and bold enough to set the agenda and drive our politics, that is unafraid to hold our politicians and our own leaders accountable—a movement with the power to change this state and this nation."

The 60th annual convention featured workshops on storytelling, internal and community organizing, and strategic planning for the future of North Carolina’s labor movement. It also highlighted the debut of a North Carolina labor history exhibit from the Knights of Labor in the 19th century to the Duke Faculty union in 2016.

"I am proud to call the new president of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO my friend," said AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre. "MaryBe is a champion of working people in North Carolina, and we will stand with her in the fight to ensure we all have the freedom to join together and negotiate. We will march with her to end discrimination at the polls in North Carolina and across America. And we will organize and mobilize across the state and the South."

For highlights from the convention, including photos and video, check out the hashtag #ncafl60.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 09/15/2017 - 13:27
Posted: September 15, 2017, 5:27 pm

OSHA's Claims About Hiding Information on Worker Deaths Fall Flat

Since January, government agencies under the Donald Trump administration have taken steps to hide information from the public–information that was previously posted and information that the public has a right to know. But a recent move is especially personal. Two weeks ago, the agency responsible for enforcing workplace safety and health—the Occupational Safety and Health […]
Posted: September 15, 2017, 4:49 pm

Popular Support for Working People at Highest Level in a Decade: The Working People Weekly List

Popular Support for Working People at Highest Level in a Decade: The Working People Weekly List
Charter-Spectrum Rally
IBEW Local 3

Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s this week’s Working People Weekly List.

Support for Labor Unions Is at Decade High, Poll Finds: "Union approval is at its highest level among Americans in a decade—but still not as high as it once was. A Gallup Poll released for Labor Day found 61% of adults in the U.S. approve of labor unions—the highest percentage since 2003, when approval was at 65%. The 2017 approval rate is up 5 percentage points from last year and 13 points above the all-time low of 48% in 2009."

Canada Is Using NAFTA to Demand Protection for U.S. Unions: "As unions and Big Business prepare to square off in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, there will be heated debate over the continental trade pact’s impact."

President Trump Has Reached a Compromise with Top Democrats on DACA: "The top House and Senate Democrats said Wednesday they had reached agreement with President Donald Trump to protect thousands of younger immigrants from deportation and fund some border security enhancements—not including Trump’s long-sought border wall."

Poll: Majority Wants Congress to Establish Path to Citizenship for DACA Recipients: "A majority of voters want Congress to pass legislation that allows undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to become citizens if they meet certain requirements, according to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted following the Trump administration’s decision to wind down the program protecting these so-called Dreamers from deportation."

Labor Unions Are Stepping Up to Fight Deportations: "Yahaira Burgos was fearing the worst when her husband, Juan Vivares, reported to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in lower Manhattan in March. Vivares, who fled Colombia and entered the U.S. illegally in 2011, had recently been given a deportation order. Rather than hide, he showed up at the ICE office with Burgos and his lawyer to continue to press his case for asylum."

Unions Aren't Obsolete, They're Being Crushed by Right-Wing Politics: "Growing up in heavily Republican Missouri years ago, Dawn Burnfin was sure that workers in the modern world didn't need the labor movement. 'I was taught that unions were just a bad deal all the way around,' she said. 'I don't know if anybody specifically took me aside and said, "Hey, unions are bad." It was just the implied attitude of everyone there.'"

OSHA's Claims About Hiding Information on Worker Deaths Fall Flat: "Since January, government agencies under the Donald Trump administration have taken steps to hide information from the public—information that was previously posted and information that the public has a right to know."

AFT Survey Shows Strong Parental Support for Public Schools: "Too often, the voices of the parents of public school children are left out of our national discussions about education. The AFT sought to change this and commissioned a survey that interviewed 1,200 public school parents to learn how they feel about the issues that directly affect their children."

Responding to Harvey and Irma: What Working People Are Doing This Week: "Welcome to our regular feature, a look at what the various AFL-CIO unions and other working family organizations are doing across the country and beyond. The labor movement is big and active—here's a look at the broad range of activities we're engaged in this week."

Working Families Remember 9/11: "On the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, America's working people commemorate those who lost their lives and those who worked tirelessly to help us recover and rebuild. Here are their words...."

RN Response Network to Deploy Additional Nurse Volunteers to Houston Post-Hurricane Harvey: "National Nurses United’s (NNU’s) Registered Nurse Response Network (RNRN), a national network of volunteer nurses, will deploy its second delegation of RN volunteers to Houston, beginning Monday, Sept. 11, to provide medical assistance in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, NNU announced today."

Freelancing Ain't Free: "When is the moment in time for a freelance writer that a late payment becomes wage theft, and what do you do about it?"

Attention, Kentucky: Closing a Pension Is Never a Good Idea: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it—and it’s prime time for Kentucky lawmakers to learn a history lesson."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 09/15/2017 - 11:57
Posted: September 15, 2017, 3:57 pm

OSHA's Claims About Hiding Information on Worker Deaths Fall Flat

OSHA's Claims About Hiding Information on Worker Deaths Fall Flat

Since January, government agencies under the Donald Trump administration have taken steps to hide information from the public--information that was previously posted and information that the public has a right to know. 

But a recent move is especially personal. Two weeks ago, the agency responsible for enforcing workplace safety and health—the Occupational Safety and Health Administration—removed the names of fallen workers from its home page and has stopped posting information about their deaths on its data page. In an attempt to justify this, the agency made two major claims discussed below. Like many efforts to decrease transparency by this administration, these claims are unfounded, and the agency whose mission is to protect workers from health and safety hazards is clearly in denial that it has a job to do. Here's how:

OSHA claim #1: Not all worker deaths listed on the agency website were work-related because OSHA hasn't issued or yet issued a citation for their deaths.

Fact: It is public knowledge that 1) OSHA doesn't have the jurisdiction to investigate about two-thirds of work-related deaths but does issue guidance on a wide variety of hazards to workers that extend beyond their enforcement reach, and 2) OSHA citations are not always issued for work-related deaths because of a variety of reasons, including limitations of existing OSHA standards and a settlement process that allows employers to remedy certain hazards in lieu of citation. (The laborious process for OSHA to develop standards deserves a completely separate post.) But neither of those points mean the agency cannot recognize where and when workers are dying on the job, and remember and honor those who sought a paycheck but, instead, did not return home to their families.

In fact, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, also housed in the Department of Labor, counts and reports the number of work-related deaths each year. The agency reported that in 2015, 4,836 working people died of work-related traumatic injury—"the highest annual figure since 2008." So, another agency already has taken care of that for OSHA (whew!). But this is just a statistic. Luckily for OSHA, employers are required to report every fatality on the job to OSHA within eight hours, so the agency has more specific information that can be used for prevention, including the names of the workers and companies involved, similar to the information the public has about deaths that occur in any other setting (outside of work).

OSHA claim #2: Deceased workers' families do not want the names and circumstances surrounding their loved ones' death shared.

Fact: Removing the names of fallen workers on the job is an incredible insult to working families. The shock of hearing that your family member won't be coming home from work that day is devastating enough, but then to hear that their death was preventable, and often the hazards were simply ignored by their employer, is pure torture. The organization made up of family members who had a loved one die on the job has stated repeatedly that it wants the names of their loved ones and information surrounding their deaths shared. It does not want other families to suffer because of something that could have been prevented. The organization has made it very clear that it opposes OSHA's new "out of sight, out of mind" approach.

So why shield this information from the public? We know the Chamber of Commerce and other business groups have long opposed publication of this information. The Trump administration seems to live by very old—and very bad—advice from powerful, big business groups whose agenda it's pushing: If we don't count the impact of the problem or admit there is a problem, it must not exist.

Find out more.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 09/15/2017 - 08:41
Posted: September 15, 2017, 12:41 pm

Bargaining Update

Hundreds of AT&T Mobility CWAers protested outside the launch of the iPhone 8 at Apple HQ on Tuesday.

Posted: September 14, 2017, 6:34 pm

Organizing Update

Staff members at StoryCorps voted for representation by CWA Local 1180.

Posted: September 14, 2017, 6:26 pm

Remembering September 11

We honor the memory of those we lost on September 11, 2001.

Posted: September 14, 2017, 6:22 pm

Local 2009 is CWA STRONG

CWA Local 2009 in Huntington, W. Va., represents more than 500 workers at AT&T Mobility, Frontier Communications, and DIRECTV.

Posted: September 14, 2017, 6:17 pm

The Right Wing Has a Vast, Secret Plot to Destroy Unions for Good. Here’s How to Fight Back.

The vast right-wing network of Koch brother-funded “think tanks” is now plotting to finish off the public sector labor movement once and for all. In a series of fundraising documents obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy of Madison, Wis., and published in the Guardian, the CEO of a cartel of 66 well-funded arch-conservative state capitol lobbying […]
Posted: September 14, 2017, 5:06 pm

AFT Survey Shows Strong Parental Support for Public Schools

AFT Survey Shows Strong Parental Support for Public Schools
AFT Report

Too often, the voices of the parents of public school children are left out of our national discussions about education. The AFT sought to change this and commissioned a survey that interviewed 1,200 public school parents to learn how they feel about the issues that directly affect their children.

AFT President Randi Weingarten spoke about the survey:

These results match what I hear from parents and communities across the country. There is zero ambiguity when it comes to what parents want for their children’s education: safe and welcoming, well-funded neighborhood public schools that help children develop their knowledge and skills and ensure equal opportunity for all kids. Parents deeply support the public schools their children attend and are happy with the job public schools are doing. And while we will never be satisfied until every public school is a place parents want to send their children, educators want to work, and kids are engaged and happy, these results confirm the sentiment we’ve seen in other recent polls that show support for public education continuing to rise.

It’s striking that the agenda being pushed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to defund public education and divert resources to vouchers and other privatization schemes—even when they are cloaked as ‘choice’—is completely at odds with parents’ educational priorities. This is true across every race, political persuasion and area of the country. These results should serve as a clarion call to policymakers to stop defunding our schools and instead deliver on the priorities parents want, to reclaim the promise of public education for all children.

The survey found that public school parents:

  • Say that the public schools their children attend provide them with an excellent or good quality education.
  • Are satisfied with their children's public schools when it comes to helping their child or children achieve their full potential.
  • Favor good quality neighborhood public schools over school choice.
  • Say their top priorities are: providing a safe and secure environment for children, making sure students graduate with the knowledge and academic skills to succeed in college, ensuring that all children have the opportunity to succeed, and developing students' critical-thinking and reasoning abilities.
  • But they also have concerns about education issues such as: education budget cuts at both the local and federal levels, shifts in funding away from traditional public schools to vouchers and charter schools, increased class sizes, layoffs of teachers and staff, high teacher turnover rates, and cutbacks in art, music, libraries and physical education to focus more on reading and math.
  • Say the central challenges facing public schools today are inadequate funding, too much standardized testing, large class sizes and lack of support for teachers.
  • Overwhelmingly disapprove of the job Betsy DeVos is doing as education secretary.
  • Express the greatest confidence in educators—both teachers and principals—and parent organizations to have the best ideas for public schools.
  • When it comes to investments to strengthen public schools, they favor expanding access to career and technical education and other vocational programs that prepare students for jobs, reducing class sizes, providing extra resources and support to turn around struggling neighborhood schools, making sure school curriculums include art and music, providing health and nutrition services to low-income children through their public school, improving mentoring for new or struggling teachers, increasing the number of community schools, and providing high-quality preschool to all 3- and 4-year-olds.

Read more about the findings.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 09/14/2017 - 11:31
Posted: September 14, 2017, 3:31 pm

Harvard Hopes Trump Will Help It Undermine Unions

The richest university in the world, with an endowment of $36 billion, is asking the National Labor Relations Board to change how union elections are run. Harvard University sees itself in the vanguard of resistance to the Trump administration. So why is the university now courting the support of Trump's appointees by challenging an obscure—but far-reaching—labor relations rule? In order to prevent a fair vote by its graduate student workforce on whether to unionize.

Posted: September 14, 2017, 2:34 pm

Racial Inequality Is Hollowing Out America’s Middle Class

America’s middle class is under assault. And as our country becomes more diverse, our racial wealth gap means it’s also becoming poorer. Since 1983, national median wealth has declined by 20 percent, falling from $73,000 to $64,000 in 2013. And U.S. homeownership has been in a steady decline since 2005. While we often hear about the struggles of […]
Posted: September 13, 2017, 4:54 pm

Unions and Medicare for All: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

September 13, 2017 / Mark Dudzic
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Bernie Sanders introduced a Medicare for All bill on September 13 in the Senate, backed by 15 co-sponsors. Jane Slaughter of Labor Notes talked with Mark Dudzic, coordinator of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer, about where things stand in the long fight for health care justice.

Labor Notes: After beating back repeal of the Affordable Care Act this summer, where is the movement to win Medicare for All?

Posted: September 13, 2017, 3:04 pm

Freelancing Ain't Free

When is the moment in time for a freelance writer that a late payment becomes wage theft, and what do you do about it?  For A.J. Springer, who recently moved to the District of Columbia, the line was April 27, 2017, when he went public in a Chicago Tribune news story about the $1,755 owed him at the […]
Posted: September 12, 2017, 9:42 pm

Safe Bet: Your Employer Handbook Contains Illegal Rules

September 12, 2017 / Robert Schwartz
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It sometimes looks like union and non-union employers are competing for the fattest book of employee rules. Handbooks frequently exceed 100 pages. Employees who fail to adhere to a standard—even one that is not explained—can be subject to discipline and possible discharge.

This makes it vital for unions to review National Labor Relations Board cases concerning company handbooks; the Board’s thinking on this topic is known as the Lutheran Heritage doctrine.

Posted: September 12, 2017, 12:28 pm

Lost wages, serious illness and poor labor standards: The dangers of rebuilding Texas and Florida

As Texas prepares to rebuild after Hurricane Harvey devastated much of the state, and Florida starts picking up the pieces from the destruction wreaked by Hurricane Irma, emergency workers may face exploitation for the sake of greater profits and speedier project completion. Past abuses after similar natural disasters have left laborers without all of their […]
Posted: September 11, 2017, 10:40 pm

Race AND Class, Then and Now

Just a few days after white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, my husband and I went to see Kathryn Bigelow’s film, Detroit. Set amid the 1967 uprising 50 years ago this summer, the film focuses primarily on the brutal torture and … Continue reading
Posted: September 11, 2017, 12:10 pm

Canadian Mounties to the Rescue of American Workers

The Canadian Royal Mounties have offered to ride to the rescue of beleaguered American workers. It doesn’t sound right. Americans perceive themselves to be the heroes. They are, after all, the country whose intervention won World War II, the country whose symbol, the Statue of Liberty, lifts her lamp to light the way, as the […]
Posted: September 8, 2017, 10:26 pm

What We're Reading

We asked Labor Notes staffers and friends which labor books are on their nightstands these days. Here's a sample.

Posted: September 8, 2017, 6:02 pm

With All Eyes on DACA, the Trump Administration Is Quietly Killing Overtime Protections

On September 5, the administration of Donald Trump formally announced that they won’t try to save Obama’s overtime rule, effectively killing a potential raise for millions of Americans. This disturbing development has largely slipped under the radar during a busy news week, marked by Trump’s scrapping of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. […]
Posted: September 7, 2017, 10:32 pm

¡Viva los Troublemakers!

How do you say “troublemaker” in Spanish?

Posted: September 6, 2017, 4:48 pm

Unions and Worker Co-ops, Old Allies, Are Joining Forces Again

In the 1800s unions and cooperatives were part of the same movement. Today once again, unions are collaborating with cooperatives to save jobs, create new ones, and organize new members.

Posted: September 5, 2017, 6:22 pm

Karl Marx Makes a Comeback

Several months ago the Communist party in Russia updated their visual propaganda by giving three of their most controversial icons—Lenin, Stalin, and Karl Marx—a makeover. In their new poster series, Stalin looks handsome and serious in a puff of vaping … Continue reading
Posted: September 4, 2017, 11:30 am

After Nissan: Can We Organize the South?

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It's a truism that for unions to preserve their gains they must organize the South—but as the recent failures at Volkswagen, Boeing, and Nissan made clear, this is easier said than done.

Posted: September 1, 2017, 7:53 pm

Valuing a Lost Work Culture

Late last fall I visited Stoke-on Trent, a city in the North-West of England which was once the epicentre of the UK’s huge pottery industry, now fallen on decidedly hard times. Local artist and academic Neil Brownsword, who had begun … Continue reading
Posted: August 28, 2017, 12:25 am

Getting Over in the Heart of Dixie

When people think about progressive battles in the U.S., they probably don’t think about Alabama. Instead, the state is known as the home of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the kind of conservative, populist politics that led Drew Pendergrass … Continue reading
Posted: August 14, 2017, 11:25 am

The Dual Economy

In his new book The Vanishing Middle Class, MIT economist Peter Temin provides a short and accessible take on this country’s deeply unequal economy, which he argues now represents two different Americas. The first is comprised of the country’s elite … Continue reading
Posted: July 24, 2017, 10:58 am

The Work Lives of Uber Drivers: Worse Than You Think

To be an Uber driver is to work when you want. Or so Uber likes to say in recruitment materials, advertisements, and sponsored research papers: “Be your own boss.” “Earn money on your schedule.” “With Uber, you’re in charge.” The … Continue reading
Posted: July 10, 2017, 12:00 pm

Women Hold the Keys to New Working-Class Prosperity

America rediscovered its working class during the 2016 election, and many Democrats and progressives now call for fresh policies to address the nation’s crisis of bad jobs and stagnant wages. Twenty-first century working-class prosperity, however, must involve a reinvigorated labor … Continue reading
Posted: July 3, 2017, 10:49 am

Fear of Hygge and Working-Class Social Capital

One of the contenders for the Oxford Dictionaries’ “word of the year” in 2016 is the Danish word hygge (pronounced hoo-guh).  As defined by Oxford, it denotes “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment … Continue reading
Posted: June 19, 2017, 11:46 am

Have We Been Had? Why Talking About the Working-Class Vote for Trump Hurts Us

Like many of my friends and colleagues who study class and are worried about the increasing economic inequality of this country, I was at first overjoyed that the recent presidential election would force us to reckon with the subject of … Continue reading
Posted: June 12, 2017, 11:20 am