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Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Train Dispatchers

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Train Dispatchers

In this weekly series, we take a deeper look at each of the AFL-CIO's affiliates. Next up is the American Train Dispatchers Association.

Name of Union: American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA)

Mission: To provide representation for train dispatchers and other railroad employees in contract negotiations with railroads both individually and collectively with other rail unions, discipline and grievance handling and contract enforcement, and to engage in legislative activities and regulatory processes on behalf of its craft and rail labor in general.

Current Leadership of Union: Leo McCann currently serves as president of the ATDA, a post he has held since 1999. Ed Dowell has served as secretary/treasurer since 2015. Paul E. Ayers, John Salvey, Rory Broyles and Barry Cross hold the positions of vice president. The organization also has a board of trustees with three members and a support staff of four full-time employees at its headquarters in Cleveland.

Members Work As: Train dispatchers, assistant and chief train dispatchers, power supervisors, power directors and load dispatchers, conductors and engineers, maintenance of way workers and yardmasters working for freight, passenger and commuter railroads across the country.

Industries Represented: The U.S. railroad industry.

History: While earlier efforts had been made to organize train dispatchers, the organization that would be successful, the ATDA, was founded in 1917 and its first meeting was held in Spokane, Washington. The craft union came together to organize and represent people working as train dispatchers in the nation’s railroad industry. Eventually, the organization expanded to include assistant and chief train dispatchers and power supervisors and directors who supervise and manage the power supply for electrically powered trains. In the 1990s, other crafts such as train and engine crews, maintenance of way workers and yardmasters joined the organization.

Community Efforts: In addition to representing and negotiating contracts for its members, the officers and staff of the ATDA promote legislation and regulatory improvements that benefit the safety and well-being of its members, the rail industry and every community where the railroad provides a vital service. The ATDA also serves on committees that manage and improve health care benefits and partners with organizations like Union Privilege to provide additional benefits to its members.

Learn More: WebsiteFacebook

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 03/25/2019 - 12:00
Posted: March 25, 2019, 4:00 pm

Women's History Month Profiles: Maida Springer Kemp

Women's History Month Profiles: Maida Springer Kemp
Maida Springer Kemp (right)
Kheel Center

For Women's History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various women who were leaders and activists working at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Today's profile is Maida Springer Kemp.

Maida Springer Kemp was born in Panama, but moved to Harlem at the age of 7. Her mother, Adina Steward Carrington, listened to the messages of Marcus Garvey and passed the lessons she learned to her daughter, teaching her to be hopeful and to value education.

She joined the labor movement during the Great Depression, when she became a member of the Dressmakers' Union, Local 22 of the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union. Her interest in unions spiked after hearing a 1929 radio address by A. Philip Randolph. According to Springer Kemp biographer Yevette Richards, Randoph's speech helped her realize that there were larger forces that hindered working people.

In 1933, Local 22 launched a successful general strike of dressmakers. Afterwards, Springer Kemp quickly moved up the union's ranks. In 1938, she began serving on the executive board and in 1940, she became the chair of the local's education committee. She became known as "the pride of ILGWU" and Randolph began to mentor her and helped raise her profile by choosing her as one of the first African Americans to march in New York's grand union parade.

In 1945, Springer Kemp became the first black woman to represent U.S. labor overseas, when the AFL and CIO sent her as part of a group observing wartime conditions in Great Britain. Her time in England would be just the beginning of her international efforts to promote union organizing. She helped found the first women's labor movement in Turkey before becoming a key figure in establishing relationships between leaders in the emerging African and U.S. labor movements. She advised newly-formed unions in Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and other African nations and helped run a scholarship program for union members. She officially joined the AFL-CIO's International Affairs Department in 1959, a position which she held until 1965. 

From 1970 to 1973, she served as the Midwest Director of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, where she worked on voter registration and education. She also worked for the African American Labor Center and coordinated relief programs after drought struck in Africa. She later became a consultant with the Asian American Free Labor Institute and worked as a consultant and lecturer promoting women's labor rights and unionism in Africa.

She continued to promote equality for working women and supported the labor movement long after her retirement in 1981. She died in 2005 at the age of 94, leaving behind a legacy that helped improve the lives of working people around the world.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 03/25/2019 - 04:00
Posted: March 25, 2019, 8:00 am

Minnesota Amazon Workers Walk Off the Job over Speed-Up

Amazon workers with fists raised gathered around a sign.
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After yet another speed-up in a workplace notorious for its lightning pace of work, workers at a Minnesota Amazon warehouse walked off the night shift for three hours.

The March 7 walkout at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Shakopee, Minnesota, was these workers’ second job action in three months.

The strikers work in the stow department, shelving items after they have been unloaded from inbound trucks and processed. Once shelved, the merchandise is then compiled into customer orders by pickers.

Posted: March 22, 2019, 1:55 pm

Bargaining Update

The latest bargaining information for the University of California, the New Jersey Executive Branch, Frontier Airlines, and NBC Universal.

Posted: March 21, 2019, 6:09 pm

Organizing Update

Newsroom employees at the Morning Call in Allentown, Pa., voted overwhelmingly to join the NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia.

Posted: March 21, 2019, 5:57 pm

CWA Secures Agreement with Facebook on Sweeping Reforms to Curb Discrimination

Under the agreement, the tech giant will make sweeping changes to its paid advertising platform to prevent discrimination in employment, housing, and credit advertising.

Posted: March 21, 2019, 5:54 pm

At Shareholder Meeting, Call Center Workers Call on Maximus to Respect Right to Organize

Maximus employees also called on the company to meet with a committee of workers to discuss how improved working conditions would help achieve better outcomes for Maximus and its customers.

Posted: March 21, 2019, 5:51 pm

CWA Urges Congress to Pass "No Tax Breaks for Outsourcing Act"

The Republican corporate tax cut bill contained a provision that rewards and incentivizes the offshoring of more American jobs.

Posted: March 21, 2019, 5:44 pm

Next Steps on the "For the People Act"

CWA members made thousands of calls to their representatives in Congress, and their efforts paid off when Congress passed the For the People Act.

Posted: March 21, 2019, 5:41 pm

Oakland Teacher Strike Builds Steam In California School Funding Fight

Woman on megaphone supporting Oakland teachers and students during Oakland teacher strike.
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On the heels of Los Angeles teachers’ winning strike in January, teachers in Oakland 340 miles north joined the strike wave. Three thousand teachers, alongside parents and students, led picket lines February 21-March 1 at the city’s 86 schools.

These strikes, plus rumblings from other California teacher unions, are ramping up the pressure on school boards and legislators to invest in public schools and stop privatization statewide.

Posted: March 21, 2019, 4:24 pm

Women's History Month Profiles: Dolores Huerta

Women's History Month Profiles: Dolores Huerta
Dolores Huerta
Wikimedia Commons

For Women's History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various women who were leaders and activists working at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Today's profile is Dolores Huerta.

Huerta was born in 1930 to Alicia and Juan Fernández in Dawson, New Mexico. Her father was a farmworker and miner who became a state legislator after her parents divorced and Huerta moved with her mother to California. There, her mother worked as a waitress and cannery worker before eventually buying a small hotel and restaurant. Huerta learned her compassion from working people and her dedication to community activism from her mother.

After graduating from the University of Pacific's Delta College, Huerta taught school. After witnessing many hungry children of farmworkers in her classes, she decided she could do more good by organizing farmworkers than she could teaching their children. In 1955, she co-founded the local chapter of the Community Service Organization. While registering Hispanic voters and fighting for economic rights for farmworkers, she also founded the Agricultural Workers Association. After meeting César Chávez, the two founded the National Farm Workers Association, the predecessor to the United Farm Workers (UFW), which formed in 1965.

With UFW, Huerta organized workers, negotiated contracts and advocated for safer work conditions for farmworkers. She was a key organizer in the 1965 Delano grape workers strike and lead negotiator for the contract that followed. She built upon that success and led the table grape boycott efforts of the late 1960s that led to a collective bargaining agreement in 1970. The 1973 boycott of grapes led to the passage of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975.

Huerta continued to serve as vice president of UFW until 1999. In the years after the successful grape boycotts, she fought for legislation that would expand working people's voices in government and politics and focused on helping elect more Latinos and women to public office.

She was awarded the Elanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award in 1998 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. She remains active today, serving as a board member of the Feminist Majority Foundation, president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation and in an emeritus role for UFW.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 03/21/2019 - 09:24
Posted: March 21, 2019, 1:24 pm

Low-wage federal workers still want their shutdown pay, please

It will take Lila Johnson months to rebound from the financial hit she endured earlier this year, going for weeks without pay during the federal government shutdown. A contracted custodian who has worked for the past 21 years at the Department of Agriculture, Johnson still has not been reimbursed for her lost income, and her rage […]
Posted: March 20, 2019, 8:45 pm

At Shareholder Meeting, Call Center Workers Send Clear Message: Maximus, Respect Our Right to Organize!

Maximus workers attended the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Reston to call on Maximus to respect their right to organize free from fear, intimidation, and interference.

Posted: March 20, 2019, 7:28 pm

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: A Conversation with House Blue Collar Caucus Co-Chairs

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: A Conversation with House Blue Collar Caucus Co-Chairs

In the latest episode of "State of the Unions," Julie and Tim talk to the co-chairs of the House Blue Collar Caucus. Reps. Brendan Boyle (Pa.) and Marc Veasey (Texas) both come from union families and formed the caucus in the aftermath of the 2016 election to better connect with blue-collar workers. They say the path to a stronger America runs through the labor movement and any plan to rebuild our economy must include the working people who make it go. 

"State of the Unions" is a tool to help us bring you the issues and stories that matter to working people. It captures the stories of workers across the country and is co-hosted by two young and diverse members of the AFL-CIO team: Mobilization Director Julie Greene and Executive Speechwriter Tim Schlittner. A new episode drops every other Wednesday featuring interesting interviews with workers and our allies across the country, as well as compelling insights from the podcast’s hosts.

Listen to our previous episodes:

State of the Unions” is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and anywhere else you can find podcasts.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 03/20/2019 - 10:22
Posted: March 20, 2019, 2:22 pm

Your Favorite Podcast May Soon Be Union as Gimlet Media Becomes First in the Industry to Organize

Last week, the 83-member production staff of audio media company Gimlet Media announced its unionization with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). The move marks the first instance of unionization at a podcasting company. According to a statement from the Gimlet Union Organizing Committee, which shepherded the union drive, the union will consist of […]
Posted: March 19, 2019, 8:41 pm

Disgraceful: The Working People Weekly List

Disgraceful: The Working People Weekly List
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 the latest edition of the Working People Weekly List.

Obama Expanded Overtime Pay to 4 Million Workers. Now Trump Is Scaling That Back: "Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO labor federation, called the new rule 'disgraceful.' '[This] is part of a growing list of policies from the Trump administration aimed at undermining the economic stability of America’s working people,' he tweeted on Friday. The public can comment on the rule proposal for 60 days before the Department of Labor sends a final version to the White House for review. If the White House approves the new rule, which is likely, it will be the Trump administration’s latest victory in its quest to undo Obama-era regulations meant to benefit workers."

Organized Labor Opposes Proposed New NAFTA Deal: "The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest federation of labor unions, won’t support the USMCA trade agreement if an early vote is pursued, the organization announced March 14. The federation’s executive council voted to oppose the deal after a two-day meeting, saying that it lacks sufficient enforcement mechanisms that would strengthen labor conditions in Mexico. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, if ratified, would replace the existing North American Free Trade Agreement."

AFL-CIO Backs Legislation That Would Power Up American Working Families: "Bill Samuel, the AFL-CIO’s Government Affairs Director, discussed some of the labor federation’s top legislative goals with People’s World as the council meeting opened here Tuesday. High on labor’s list is 'some version,' as he put it, of the Workers Freedom to Negotiate Act, a bill that has already been introduced into Congress. What the federation is aiming for is a law that will make it much easier to organize a union and bargain with employers. As it stands now, workers who try to form a union often face harassment and loss of their jobs. Current law also allows employers not just to target organizers but to drag their feet and stall in the bargaining process after the union has been established."

Steelworker Wins Election to Local Maine School Board: "United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9 member Kathy Wilder won a write-in election for school board in Maine School Administrative District (MSAD) 54 on March 4. Wilder, who works as a chemical prep operator at Sappi Fine Paper in Skowhegan, says that her priorities will be student achievement, fiscal responsibility, clear communications and social justice."

Paving the Way: 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."

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: AFSCME: "Next up in our series taking a deeper look at each of our affiliates is AFSCME."

Our Time Is Now: Leading with Passion, Purpose and Power: "More than 300 union sisters from all sectors of organized labor gathered at the Hilton East Brunswick Hotel on March 1 for the 16th annual Women in Leadership Development (WILD) Conference. This two-day conference featured several distinguished speakers, including Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler (IBEW) and Alice Paul Institute Executive Director Lucienne Beard."

Economy Gains 20,000 Jobs in February; Unemployment Down to 3.8%: "The U.S. economy gained 20,000 jobs in February, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.8%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is a dramatically lower level of job growth than we have seen in recent years and is good reason for the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee to express caution in considering any interest rate hikes."

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 03/19/2019 - 14:54
Posted: March 19, 2019, 6:54 pm

Facebook Agrees to Sweeping Reforms to Curb Discriminatory Ad Targeting Practices

A historic civil rights settlement was announced with Facebook today encompassing sweeping changes that the tech giant will make to its paid advertising platform to prevent discrimination in employment, housing, and credit advertising.

Posted: March 19, 2019, 6:12 pm

'It's Different Here' Is No Excuse

I talk with labor activists all across the country. Plenty are inspired by strikes that happen elsewhere. But over and over I hear the same excuse for why they can’t make big demands or go on strike themselves: “It’s different here.”

How is it different? Pick your poison: It’s the South. It’s the public sector. It’s illegal. Our union leaders would never support us. Everyone is too scared. Too apathetic.

This year, the teacher union movement is supplying the best reply to “It’s different here.” Here’s what we’ve seen in 2019 so far:

Posted: March 19, 2019, 5:02 pm

These are the stories of LGBTQ people who need the Equality Act’s protections

Congressional Democrats reintroduced a sweeping nondiscrimination bill last week to bolster protections for LGBTQ Americans. If passed into law, the bill would clarify existing protections and fill the gaps in federal nondiscrimination laws. The bill would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation […]
Posted: March 18, 2019, 8:35 pm

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Actors and Artistes

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Actors and Artistes

The AFL-CIO is taking a deeper look at each of our affiliates in our regular weekly series. Next up is the Actors and Artistes (4As).

Name of Union: Associated Actors and Artistes of America

Current Leadership of Union: Gabrielle Carteris, who is also the president of SAG-AFTRA.

The 4As works to advance and protect the welfare of the people who work to entertain and inform others in person and through every medium of recording and transmission. There are five member unions that make up the 4As. Actors' Equity (AEA) and SAG-AFTRA are directly affiliated with the AFL-CIO. Three other unions are part of the AFL-CIO through their membership in the 4As: the Musical Artists (AGMA), the Variety Artists (AGVA) and the Italian American Actors (GIAA).


Musical Artists (AGMA)

Mission: To represent members and to guarantee that our nation's artistic institutions adhere to fair labor practices, securing both gainful employment and quality of life for our artists.

Current Leadership of Union: John Coleman serves as president. The other officers are: Gregory Stapp (first vice president), George Scott (second vice presiden), J. Austin Bitner (third vice president), Jane Shaulis (fourth vice president), Louis Perry (recording secretary) and Raymond Menard (treasurer).

Members Work As: Soloists, choral singers, actors, ballet dancers, production staff and related jobs.

Industries Represented: America's operatic, dance and choral heritage.

History: AGMA formed in 1936 as an organization of solo musical artists. In August of the next year, AGMA was granted a charter from the 4As to cover the fields of grand opera, concert and recital. AGMA pursued a campaign to organize artists throughout the country and the first collective bargaining agreement that AGMA successfully negotiated that fall was with the Southern California Symphony Association.

Current Campaigns and Community Efforts: AGMA maintains an active list of auditions relevant to members, provides visa consultation services and publishes AGMAzine.

Learn MoreWebsiteFacebookTwitter.


Variety Artists (AGVA)

Mission: To represent performing artists and stage managers for live performances in the variety field.

Current Leadership of Union: Judy Little serves as executive president. Other officers include Christopher Johnson (executive vice president) and Susanne K. Doris (executive secretary-treasurer).

Members Work As: Variety performers, including singers and dancers in touring shows and in theatrical revues, theme park performers, skaters, circus performers, comedians and stand-up comics, cabaret and club artists, lecturers, poets, monologists, spokespersons and those working at private parties and special events.

Industries Represented: Any performances in the variety area.

History: AGVA was founded in 1939.

Current Campaigns and Community Efforts: AGVA helps members obtain benefits beyond timer periods specifically related to shows and contracts. It also offers current and previous members assistance through the AGVA Sick & Relief Fund, which also regularly contributes to industry-related charities and presents shows to raise the funds available for relief. AGVA also provides members visa application assistance.

Learn MoreWebsiteFacebookTwitter.


Italian American Actors (GIAA)

Mission: To preserve the history and promote awareness of Italian heritage amongst its members. GIAA is committed to helping advance, promote, foster and protect the welfare of its members, not only within its own jurisdiction, but within the jurisdiction of its sister unions.

Current Leadership of Union: Carlo Fiorletta is the president of GIAA. Other officers include: Carson Grant (first vice president), Debbie Klaar (second vice president), Mara Lesemann (secretary/treasurer), Elaine Legaro (councilor), Ron Piretti (councilor), Simcha Borenstein (alternate councilor), Dana Halsted Moss (alternate councilor) and Lauren Cozza (alternate councilor).

Members Work As: GIAA is the only ethnic acting union in the United States. It is an Italian actors union for Italian speaking performers.

Industries Represented: The arts and entertainment industries.

History: GIAA was founded in 1937.

Community Efforts: GIAA provides news and casting opportunities to its members.

Learn MoreWebsiteFacebook.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 03/18/2019 - 09:51
Posted: March 18, 2019, 1:51 pm

The Oppositional Politics of Race and Class in the Brexit Debate

I live in a relatively affluent predominantly white neighbourhood in the South of England. One day in the city centre I am approached by an older white homeless man; he is weaving, unwashed, I can smell alcohol on his breath. … Continue reading
Posted: March 18, 2019, 12:06 pm

Erie Locomotive Plant Workers Strike against Two-Tier

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This article has been updated since the original version, first published March 1.

At a sprawling locomotive manufacturing complex a mile long and a mile wide in Erie, Pennsylvania, 1,700 workers struck for nine days and fended off their new employer’s efforts to impose a raft of concessions, including two-tier wages.

Temperatures were below freezing. Strikers stood on a dozen picket lines ringing the plant, feeding wood into burn barrels and making life difficult for any non-union employees who tried to drive through the gates.

Posted: March 15, 2019, 10:15 pm

CWA Statement on Envoy Passenger Service Agents Contract Ratification Vote

Passenger service agents have voted against ratification of the tentative contract agreement between the Communications Workers of America and Envoy Air.

Posted: March 15, 2019, 9:46 pm

A Just, Inclusive and Sustainable Economy

A Just, Inclusive and Sustainable Economy
New Orleans E.C. Meeting

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.

  • 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.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 03/15/2019 - 15:12
Posted: March 15, 2019, 7:12 pm

What If My Security Clearance Is Altered Revoked?

Many federal jobs (civilian and military) require a specific level of security clearance. If your security clearance is revoked, or if the minimum clearance level changes, you stand to lose your current position and possibly your government career. You do have remedies to appeal a change in security clearance status. You also have rights if […]
Posted: March 15, 2019, 5:11 pm

Women's History Month Profiles: Frances Perkins

Women's History Month Profiles: Frances Perkins
Frances Perkins

For Women's History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various women who were leaders and activists working at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Today's profile is Frances Perkins.

Perkins was born in Boston in 1880, descendant from a long line of Maine farmers and craftsmen. At Mount Holyoke College, she studied the natural sciences and economic history and was exposed to a variety of works and lectures who exposed her to new ways of thinking about the social problems she witnessed.

After graduation, she learned more about the plight of working people when she volunteered in New York's settlement houses. She heard stories directly from workers about the dangerous conditions of factory work and the desperation of being unable to collect promised wages or secure medical care for workplace injuries. She left her teaching career, just as it was beginning, to earn a master's degree in economics and sociology.

In 1910, she became secretary of the New York Consumers' League and was part of a team that lobbied the state legislature for a bill limiting the workweek for women and children to 54 hours. On March 25, 1911, she was attending a social function near the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory when the fire began. She witnessed the entire event. She was deeply affected by it:

Up until that point she had lobbied for worker rights and on behalf of the poor, but she had been on a conventional trajectory, toward a conventional marriage, perhaps, and a life of genteel good works. After the fire, what had been a career turned into a vocation. Moral indignation set her on a different course. Her own desires and her own self became less central and the cause itself became more central to the structure of her life. The niceties of her class fell away. She became impatient with the way genteel progressives went about serving the poor. She became impatient with their prissiness, their desire to stay pure and above the fray. Perkins hardened. She threw herself into the rough and tumble of politics. She was willing to take morally hazardous action if it would prevent another catastrophe like the one that befell the women at the Triangle factory. She was willing to compromise and work with corrupt officials if it would produce results. She pinioned herself to this cause for the rest of her life.

The results were obvious. 

Perkins began to focus more on practical remedies to the challenges faced by working people. She held to a strong belief that legislation was the most important avenue to "right industrial wrongs," and she simultaneously championed labor organizing and collective action. In 1918, she was invited by Gov. Al Smith to join the New York State Industrial Commission, becoming the first woman to serve. By 1926, she had become the commission's chairwoman. In 1929, Gov. Franklin Roosevelt appointed her as the industrial commissioner for the state. She led a series of progressive reforms that included expanding factory investigations, reducing the workweek for women to 48 hours and championing minimum wage and unemployment insurance laws.

In 1933, Perkins was chosen by President Roosevelt to serve as secretary of labor, making her the first woman ever appointed to a federal Cabinet position. She focused on creating a safety net to counteract the Great Depression's effects on working people. This was evident in the legislation she helped secure, including the Wagner Act (which gave workers the right to organize unions and bargain collectively), the Fair Labor Standards Act (which established the first minimum wage and created a maximum workweek) and the Social Security Act of 1935.

She also played a crucial role in the dramatic labor uprisings of the 1930s and 1940s. She consistently supported the rights of workers to organize unions of their own choosing and to pressure employers through economic action. She successfully resolved strikes with gains for workers time and time again, most notably helping end the 1934 San Francisco General Strike without violence or the use of federal troops, an option that was on the table.

In 1945, Perkins resigned from her position as labor secretary to head the U.S. delegation to the International Labor Organization conference in Paris. President Harry Truman appointed her to the Civil Service Commission, a job she held through 1953. She also returned to the classroom to teach at Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She died in New York in 1965 at the age of 85 and was buried in her family's plot in New Castle, Maine.

Read more about Perkins.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:37
Posted: March 15, 2019, 2:37 pm

TV Review: That Time the A-Team Helped Organize Farmworkers

The A-Team was a hit show among my friends when it first aired in 1983. Growing up in a union family, one episode that stood out for me was “Labor Pains,” when the A-Team helped farmworkers organize a union. I recently watched it again to see how well it presents unions and the organizing process.

Posted: March 15, 2019, 1:48 pm

Bargaining Update

The latest bargaining information for the University of California and Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.

Posted: March 14, 2019, 6:12 pm

Workplace safety enforcement plummets under Trump ... but fatality investigations rise

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration did not have enough workplace safety inspectors before Donald Trump arrived on the scene, and as with just about everything else, it’s gotten worse in Trump’s two-plus years in office. The number of inspectors has fallen to a record low in the history of the agency, and a new analysis […]
Posted: March 14, 2019, 5:04 pm

Why Unions Must Bargain Over Climate Change

Union contract negotiations include mandatory and permissive subjects of bargaining. Employers are required by law to negotiate over mandatory subjects—wages, benefits and working conditions. Permissive subjects, such as decisions about which public services will be provided and how, have historically been the purview of management. We only negotiate over how managerial decisions affect members’ jobs. Employers […]
Posted: March 13, 2019, 1:30 pm

Steelworker Wins Election to Local Maine School Board

Steelworker Wins Election to Local Maine School Board
Kathy Wilder

United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9 member Kathy Wilder won a write-in election for school board in Maine School Administrative District (MSAD) 54 on March 4. Wilder, who works as a chemical prep operator at Sappi Fine Paper in Skowhegan, says that her priorities will be student achievement, fiscal responsibility, clear communications and social justice.

"Being elected to the school board is really exciting for me because I grew up in Norridgewock and attended K-12 in MSAD 54," said Wilder after finishing a night shift at the mill. "Now I have to give back to the community by working to make the future a brighter and stronger place for today’s youth."

Wilder worked with the Maine AFL-CIO in 2018 as part of our labor candidates training program to elect more union members and working class people to elected office at all levels. She previously ran for the Maine State Legislature in 2018.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 03/12/2019 - 12:42
Posted: March 12, 2019, 4:42 pm

Paving the Way: What Working People Are Doing This Week

Paving the Way: What Working People Are Doing This Week
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.

A. Philip Randolph Institute:

Strong Unions Mean Strong African-American Communities

— APRI National (DC) (@APRI_National) March 4, 2019

Actors' Equity:

Looking forward to working with @TheUmbrellaArts for their upcoming season, expanding their ability to work with more actors in Boston! #EquityWorks

— Actors' Equity (@ActorsEquity) March 7, 2019


This #WomensHistoryMonth, we're celebrating labor and civil rights leaders who have paved the way for generations to come. #AFGEWomen #1uwomen #1u

— AFGE (@AFGENational) March 7, 2019


San Mateo County human services workers are on strike, demanding greater recognition for the critical role they play in their community. Some 600 members of Local 829 are asking for a fair contract to address caseloads, staffing, retention and more.

— AFSCME (@AFSCME) March 6, 2019


After a decade of neglect, AFT members across the country are standing up. They are taking to the streets to demand the teaching and learning conditions they and their students deserve. #FundOurFuture

— AFT (@AFTunion) March 7, 2019

Air Line Pilots Association:

Get to know your Canadian @WeAreALPA pilot groups. First up, Air Georgian:

— ALPA Canada (@ALPACanada) March 7, 2019

Alliance for Retired Americans:

Lawmakers are trying to curb sepsis infections and get better care for patients with a new bill that would boost punishment for understaffed nursing homes:

— Alliance Retirees (@ActiveRetirees) March 7, 2019

Amalgamated Transit Union:

Milwaukee bus drivers stage protest over proposed health care cuts #MCTS #transit #publictransit #1u

— ATU, Transit Union (@ATUComm) March 7, 2019

American Federation of Musicians:

“As Music Director and a musician of this orchestra, I am with the Musicians," said Ricardo Muti in a letter delivered to Chicago Symphony management. BRAVO! 👏👏👏👏👏 via @crainschicago

— Amer. Fed. Musicians (@The_AFM) March 7, 2019

American Postal Workers Union:

For too long Wall Street robber barons have gambled with our economy while not even paying their fair share in taxes. Enough is enough! #WallStreetTax #TaxTheRich

— APWU National (@APWUnational) March 6, 2019

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance:

"Cindy Domingo epitomizes public service with her tireless dedication and long string of accomplishments in repping communities so often left from the table.” Shout out to our APALA Seattle member for receiving the MLK Jr. Medal of Distinguished Service!

— APALA (@APALAnational) March 7, 2019

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA:

Over 70 years of experience and heart in aviation, the members of the Association of Flight Attendants know the realities of the aircraft cabin better than anyone. We don't just serve drinks. We save lives.

— AFA-CWA (@afa_cwa) March 7, 2019

Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers:

Educators, parents, students and their communities are standing up with a clear message: that we’re not going to accept underfunding and scarcity. It's time to #FundOurFuture! Share this video from @AFTunion:

— BCTGM International (@BCTGM) March 4, 2019


Incredible @ChadlHymas at #Boilermakers CSO Conference: "People who refuse to change the way they’ve done things in the past never solve problems. They find themselves paralyzed by their own patterns...they find themselves trapped in the patterns they’ve created for themselves."

— Boilermakers Union (@boilermakernews) March 5, 2019


Making a successful transition from the #military into the civilian workforce can be difficult, but with the help from @H2Hjobfairs, you can build a lifelong career in the trowel trades. Check it out: #skilledtrades #1u #construction

— Bricklayers Union (@IUBAC) March 6, 2019

California School Employees Association:

Great keynote speech by State Superintendent @TonyThurmond to a crowd of more than 1,200 @CSEA_Now members attending the 22nd Annual Paraeducator Conference in Sacramento today. “Classified employees are the backbone of our schools!”

— CSEA (@CSEA_Now) March 6, 2019

Coalition of Black Trade Unionists:

Another great piece by Bill.

— CBTU (@CBTU72) March 7, 2019

Coalition of Labor Union Women:

The #UnionDifference is clear: women in unions earn $231 more a week than non-union counterparts. #AAPIEqualPay

— CLUW National (@CLUWNational) March 5, 2019

Communications Workers of America:

It's Throwback Thursday! CWA Local 7800 members & family picket outside the US West Headquarters in Seattle, on Aug. 16, 1998. Members were striking against mandatory overtime & reduction of wages & benefits. 34,000 union workers in 13 states participated. #tbt #ThursdayThoughts

— CWA (@CWAUnion) March 7, 2019

Department for Professional Employees:

“Strategic investment in our arts and cultural organizations is not an extra, it’s a path to prosperity.” #artsadvocacy #UnitedForTheArts

— Department for Professional Employees (@DPEaflcio) March 7, 2019

Electrical Workers:

‘Times Are Changing:’ More women breaking into construction industry

— IBEW (@IBEW) March 4, 2019

Farm Labor Organizing Committee:


— Farm Labor Organizing Committee (@SupportFLOC) March 7, 2019

Fire Fighters:

The #IAFF is urging Congress to support federal #firefighters need for fair and equitable compensation and retirement benefits #FirefightersforFairness

— IAFF (@IAFFNewsDesk) March 7, 2019

Heat and Frost Insulators:

Unlike typical post-high school education, a registered apprenticeship won’t leave you in debt, but rather help you build a stable, middle class life. Does this appeal to you? Learn more about joining the Insulators Union here:

— Insulators Union (@InsulatorsUnion) March 7, 2019

International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers:

Great article! The struggles facing #GameWorkers have been faced by many different industries in the past. The answer is to take your voice back, and form a #union!

— IFPTE (@IFPTE) March 5, 2019

International Labor Communications Association:

If March roars in like a 🦁, we’re editing the thought to say the first two months of 2019 were roaring, if partially hibernating. Let's catch up and plant the seeds for a fruitful year.

— Labor Communications (@ILCAonline) March 1, 2019


Iron Workers General Organizer Vicki O'Leary addressed the North American Iron Workers/IMPACT Conference general session about how workplace harassment threatens job site safety. #NWIC #InterntionalWomensDay #BeThatOneGuy #ImpactOfChange

— Ironworkers. (@TheIronworkers) March 7, 2019

Jobs With Justice:

This is more like it: working people > subsidies for the biggest and wealthiest companies in the world.

— Jobs With Justice (@jwjnational) March 7, 2019

Labor Council for Latin American Advancement:

LCLAA is proud to have played a role in this amazing outcome aimed at protecting equal pay!

— LCLAA (@LCLAA) March 7, 2019


ICYMI - Another win for workers in West Virginia, Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Bailey has tossed out #RighttoWork” law – AGAIN! #RightToWorkIsWrong #RTW

— LIUNA (@LIUNA) March 7, 2019


After decades of anti-worker rulings, unions are now challenging Taft-Hartley on free speech and other constitutional grounds. Via @theprospect:

— Machinists Union (@MachinistsUnion) March 6, 2019

Maritime Trades Department:

UMWA’s Allen Updates Board on Pension Crisis | Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO

— MaritimeTrades (@Maritime_Trades) February 28, 2019

Metal Trades Department:

“The AFL-CIO and our affiliates have long supported a substantial, long-term infrastructure investment plan — one that lifts up working people, grows the economy, creates ‘high...

— Metal Trades Dept. (@metaltradesafl) March 7, 2019

Mine Workers:

UMWA members attend the Congressional hearing on “The Cost of Inaction: Why Congress Must Address the Multiemployer Pension Crisis.” Retirees and employers will speak about their concern that some of the nation’s largest multiemployer pension plans soon becoming insolvent.

— United Mine Workers (@MineWorkers) March 7, 2019

Musical Artists:

Today, the American Guild of Musical Artists announced the installation of John Coleman as President of the Union, following the resignation of James Odom.

To view the press release, please visit our website - #UnionStrong

— AGMA (@AGMusicalArtist) March 1, 2019

National Air Traffic Controllers Association:

NATCA members at Atlanta-area facilities safely handled more than 1,500 general aviation flights in the 36 hours surrounding #SuperBowl LIII. Feb. 4 was the busiest day for the Atlanta TRACON in more than a decade, handling more than 4,000 total flights. Well done!

— NATCA (@NATCA) March 7, 2019

National Association of Letter Carriers:

Our member Chris Metropulos rescued a woman trapped on the second floor of a burning building. With help from a man, Chris locked elbows w/ the man & convinced the woman to jump to safety. Emergency responders later arrived to battle the fire & treat the woman. #Heroes #Wisconsin

— Letter Carriers (@NALC_National) March 7, 2019

National Day Laborer Organizing Network:

“There is nothing temporary about our families.” - @TPS_Alliance Coordinator Jose Palma#TPSJustice #ResidencyNow

— NDLON (@NDLON) March 6, 2019

National Domestic Workers Alliance:

Mechelle Vinson filed a lawsuit against her supervisor for sexual harassment in the office and took her case all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1986, the Court ruled, for the first time, that sexual harassment is discriminatory and illegal. #WHM2019

— Domestic Workers (@domesticworkers) March 7, 2019

National Nurses United:

No one should be left to die simply because they are too poor to afford health care.

Take action- make sure your Congressperson is on the right side of history and supports #MedicareForAll.

Call 202-858-1717 today. #ThursdayThoughts

— NationalNursesUnited (@NationalNurses) March 7, 2019

National Taxi Workers Alliance:

Good news folks: Uber is now on the hook for unemployment insurance contributions for NY drivers! Uber withdrew its appeal of a ruling that found 3 former NYC Uber drivers and ALL SIMILARLY SITUATED drivers to be employees for the purposes of unemployment benefits!

— NY Taxi Workers (@NYTWA) March 4, 2019

The NewsGuild-CWA:

Great showing by our @BostonNewsGuild members in support of a fair contract for their members @BostonGlobe

— NewsGuild (@news_guild) March 6, 2019

NFL Players Association:

ICYMI: Our president dropped some knowledge about the salary cap

— NFLPA (@NFLPA) March 7, 2019

North America's Building Trades Unions:

To celebrate National Women in Construction Week, we will share some of the top stories and initiatives highlighting the increased role that WOMEN play in the #BuildingTrades.

Keep up with the thread here 👀 #WICWeek2019

— The Building Trades (@NABTU) March 4, 2019

Office and Professional Employees:

The apparent contempt for working people shown by this administration is appalling. First, nearly 1m federal workers are forced to go w/o pay for 35 days. Now they want to roll back OT protections for millions, again shifting wealth from the many into the hands of the few. #1u

— OPEIU (@opeiu) March 1, 2019

Plasterers and Cement Masons:

“The building trades have always maintained a healthy supply of job-ready, skilled, safe workers. ... But [we] cannot do it alone. ... [We] need continued support from the Department of Labor and the Trump administration for their apprenticeship programs.”

— OPCMIA International (@opcmiaintl) February 28, 2019

Plumbers and Pipe Fitters:

Today Working Families United, the AFL-CIO, and more than 30 national unions and labor institutions sent a letter to Congress expressing their support for legislation that makes the protections for TPS holders and dreamers permanent. Find letter below.

— GoIUPAT✊🏽 (@GoIUPAT) March 4, 2019

Printing, Publishing and Media Workers-CWA:

Union Printers Home Foundation Now Accepting Applications for Scholarships

— CWA Printing Sector (@CWAPrintingSect) March 7, 2019

Professional Aviation Safety Specialists:

"MLB players love our caps. People who make them for us deserve fair wages" TY @whatwouldDOOdo @Nationals for supporting union members at New Era—losing jobs as work sent overseas. Unions=America=baseball PASS members at FAA get you safely to games. #1u

— PASS (@PASSNational) March 4, 2019

Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union:

We need mayoral control of @NYCSchools. RWDSU is proud to stand with our brother and sisters in the labor movement to call on the NYS Legislature to renew mayoral control of the NYC school system without delay. #1u

— RWDSU (@RWDSU) March 7, 2019


#Chicago Local Volunteer Day at the Greater Chicago Food Depository (@FoodDepository) was a success! Thank you to all of our members and staff volunteers. #sagaftramembers

— SAG-AFTRA (@sagaftra) March 6, 2019


Climb aboard and sign the petition to support and embrace diversity and not contribute to gender, race, ethnicity, and age stereotypes.

— Seafarers Union (@SeafarersUnion) March 7, 2019

Solidarity Center:

This #IWD2019 Kenya union leader Rose Omamo is championing passage of a proposed @ILO global standard that would address #genderbasedviolence at work. “Our job is to lobby, lobby, lobby and make sure we get support.” @ituc @equaltimes

— Solidarity Center (@SolidarityCntr) March 7, 2019


“He kept the whole train connected in a family kind of way...It rekindled my faith in humans," said passenger Barbara May. So why does @Amtrak want to cut these jobs and service? Stop the #ColdCuts, Mr. Anderson.
CC: @AmtrakCouncil

— Transportation Communications Union/IAM (@TCUnionHQ) March 2, 2019

Theatrical Stage Employees:

This Women's History Month, we're highlighting the stories of IA women who came before and blazed the trail for all of us. Tell us about the groundbreaking women in your local in the replies! #WomensHistoryMonth #UnionStrong

— IATSE (@IATSE) March 4, 2019

Transport Workers:

UnAmerican continues to undermine the safety of its fleet by penny wise, dollar foolish outsourcing. TWU Jet Mechanics uncovered dangerous conditions which included improper electrical wiring. UnAmerican Air needs to stop putting profits before people. @AmericanAir

— TWU (@transportworker) March 7, 2019

Transportation Trades Department:

Teachers, bus drivers, and school support workers want the best for the kids they serve. That's why they're standing united with @AFTUnion to fight for #FundOurFuture - and we're standing with them.

— Transp. Trades Dept. (@TTDAFLCIO) March 7, 2019


This week, GM is idling the GM Lordstown Plant. On Friday, show your solidarity with the affected workers by wearing blue and posting your photo online with the hashtag #GMinvestinUS.

— UAW (@UAW) March 6, 2019

United Food and Commercial Workers:

Citing civil rights, cities are banning cashless retail: Some New Yorkers want to join cities like Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington in banning them, because cashless business discriminates against low-income people. @RWDSU

— UFCW (@UFCW) March 7, 2019

Union Label and Service Trades Department:

"There are many team members working at Whole Foods today whose total compensation is actually less than what it was before the wage increase due to these labor reductions," says Whole Worker, a group organizing for a union at the high-end grocery chain...

— Union Label Dept. (@ULSTD_AFLCIO) March 6, 2019

Union Veterans Council:

Fact of the day: Veterans have a 15% union density #1u @AFLCIO

— Union Veterans Council (@unionveterans) February 23, 2019


"That humble piece of cardboard is a symbol of solidarity—a sign of what labor movements are made of, and a sign of the racial unity they should continue to strive for."#1u #WomensHistoryMonth

— UNITE HERE (@unitehere) March 7, 2019

United Steelworkers:

Yes! We're so happy @PittGrads! Let's do this! More: #1u #UnionYes

— United Steelworkers (@steelworkers) March 7, 2019

United Students Against Sweatshops:

Instead of praising @nike for doing the minimum, call on them to rehire hundreds of Indonesian women organizing for higher pay and better working conditions. Sign our petition here:

— USAS (@USAS) February 27, 2019

Utility Workers:

A truly excellent article from @USATODAY on the enormous potential of carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) to address climate change.

— UWUA National (@The_UWUA) March 5, 2019

Working America:

Abandoning white-working class voters to Republican racial messaging is bad politics and bad for the country. In @Newsweek's new cover story, @MattMorrison explains that politicians can address racial and economic justice at the same time

— Working America (@WorkingAmerica) March 7, 2019

Writers Guild of America, East:

We are thrilled to announce that the 169-member editorial staff at Gizmodo Media Group has unanimously ratified its second collective bargaining agreement with the Writers Guild of America, East! #1u

— Writers Guild of America, East (@WGAEast) March 5, 2019
Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 03/12/2019 - 11:48
Posted: March 12, 2019, 3:48 pm

Women’s national team escalates dispute with U.S. Soccer, filing gender discrimination lawsuit

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team took a big step in its ongoing wage dispute with the U.S. Soccer Federation on Friday — which, not coincidentally, was International Women’s Day — when it filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the organization. “Despite the fact that these female and male players are called upon to perform […]
Posted: March 12, 2019, 1:26 pm

Raising the minimum wage works

Hey, what do you know! It turns out that raising the minimum wage … raises pay for low-wage workers. Somehow, in the United States of America, this needs to be said. The Economic Policy Institute looked at wage growth for the lowest-paid 10 percent of workers across the states, and it turns out that, for states that raised […]
Posted: March 11, 2019, 1:23 pm

Bargaining for the Common Good Comes of Age

The week-long strike by the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) in January 2019 marked the most significant struggle yet in a movement by teachers and other public-sector workers called Bargaining for the Common Good.  By striking over a long … Continue reading
Posted: March 11, 2019, 11:58 am

How to Use Grievances to Organize

Three workers discussing workplace issues.
March 08, 2019 / Mike Parker and Martha Gruelle
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The difference between a truly democratic union and one that follows a servicing model is stark when it comes to grievance handling. In a strong democratic union there may not even be many grievances; members organize to convince supervisors to stop violating the contract without having to use the formal procedure.

Posted: March 8, 2019, 4:02 pm

Time’s Up: Time to Reconsider the “Severe and Pervasive” Standard for Sexual Harassment

“The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements constitute a revolution in women’s rights that is too powerful to be turned back,” said Roberta Kaplan, co-founder of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, in October 2018. But a recent Seventh Circuit decision (Swyear v. Fare Foods Corp.) dismissing an employee’s sexual harassment claim could jeopardize the momentum […]
Posted: March 8, 2019, 1:18 pm

The Better Burn Barrel from the Boeing Strike Lives On

Two photos: 1.Tom with early prototype burn barrel. 2. Wabtech striker warming hands over new barrel.

It’s just what you would expect from airplane engineers on strike—they reengineered the picket line burn barrel to be more efficient.

The strikers were Boeing engineers, members of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), who walked the lines for 40 days in 2000 during a rainy Seattle winter.

Posted: March 7, 2019, 7:13 pm

It's Our World to Make

Teachers on a picket line in Los Angeles January 2019

The guy at the car rental counter found my T-shirt puzzling.

It was early on a Tuesday morning, and I had just flown back into L.A. Why, he wanted to know, was someone from Massachusetts wearing a shirt that said “United Teachers Los Angeles”?

I explained that I had been out the week before to support the teachers strike. I was back for a second round because this strike was important to educators across the country.

“The whole country? Why?”

Posted: March 7, 2019, 4:07 pm

How People with Disabilities Can Find the Best Job Opportunities Out There

Though the number of people with disabilities in the workforce is still lower than the number of those without, things are changing. There are now more good job opportunities for people with disabilities than ever before. As the Brookings Institute notes, “the number of people who cite disability as a reason for not working has […]
Posted: March 7, 2019, 1:13 pm

Strike Wave Wins Raises for Mexican Factory Workers

February 27, 2019 / Paolo Marinaro and Dan DiMaggio
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Mexican maquiladora workers in 70 factories have won big wage increases and bonuses in a strike wave that began in January.

The strikes in the industrial city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, on the border with Brownsville, Texas, have primarily hit auto parts factories, where tens of thousands of workers make goods for General Motors and other car manufacturers.

The first of the strikes began on January 12 at eight factories. Workers were demanding a 20 percent wage increase and an annual bonus of 32,000 pesos ($1,600)—a demand now popularized as “20/32.”

Posted: February 27, 2019, 7:38 pm

Jobs and Medicare for All

You can tell that Medicare for All is becoming a real possibility when it gets a rigorous cost-benefit analysis and when its advocates start seriously raising and addressing the inevitable downsides of the policy.  There is no greater downside to … Continue reading
Posted: February 25, 2019, 12:47 pm

VIDEO: Chinese Students and Labor Activists on Battling the Crackdown at Jasic

In the past six months, over 50 workers, students, and labor activists in China have been arrested or disappeared by the government. Their crime? Supporting workers at the Jasic welding equipment factory in their legal efforts to form a union.

Posted: February 22, 2019, 6:12 pm

Grifting the Working Class

Since the 2016 election, pundits have pondered how a man who began his campaign by gliding down an escalator in a gaudy Manhattan skyscraper festooned with his name managed to ride working-class resentment and anxiety to the presidency. How did … Continue reading
Posted: February 18, 2019, 12:48 pm

Class and the Dignity of Work

In the week before Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown announced his “Dignity of Work” tour, with events in New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina, and his home state, Ohio. The tour placed the working class at … Continue reading
Posted: February 11, 2019, 12:42 pm

Should We Mourn the Loss of Industrial Jobs?

On his show, This Is Me Now, comedian Jim Jefferies recently joked that Canada should build a three-foot wall on its border to prevent ‘Americans [who] are crawling over because their lungs are filled with coal from getting all their … Continue reading
Posted: February 4, 2019, 12:45 pm

The Ghosts of Bisbee

Bisbee ‘17 is a documentary about an Arizona town facing its ghosts.  In June 1917, when copper miners organized by the Industrial Workers of the World had gone on strike for two weeks, 1200 striking workers were rounded up and … Continue reading
Posted: January 28, 2019, 12:29 pm

Working-Class Precarity: An Education

The teacher who most influenced me was Raphael Samuel, one of the leading social historians of his time – though I didn’t know that when I studied with him.  Raph, as we came to know him, had chosen to work … Continue reading
Posted: January 21, 2019, 12:45 pm

Time to Make a Deal on the Federal Minimum Wage

The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 per hour since 2009.  Until last year, when the unemployment rate dropped almost to the level of full employment, wages were stagnant, exacerbating inequality.  In 2018, average hourly earnings went up … Continue reading
Posted: January 14, 2019, 12:54 pm

Blaming Workers Again

Working-class people often get blamed for their troubles. They should have planned better, been less demanding, or just been smarter. Those are just some of the judgments that surfaced again in the weeks after General Motors’ announcement late in November … Continue reading
Posted: January 7, 2019, 1:05 pm