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NewsFeed - Labor
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Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with nurses banding together to make patients' lives better and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life. The end of 2019 saw a flurry of wins for working people, so this is the first in several posts over the next week that will cover the victories of the last quarter of the year.
California Nurses Win New Master Contract: Nearly 4,000 registered nurses at eight Tenet hospitals in California approved a new master contract. The nurses are members of California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU). The new agreement enhances recruitment and retention, assures eight-hour rest periods between shifts, adequate breaks, scheduling improvements, better health and safety, wage increases, and protections for the nurses' health care. “We are very proud of what we’ve achieved with this new contract. It is a testament to what registered nurses can accomplish collectively when we stand together as committed patient advocates,” said Ginny Gary, an registered nurse at the Los Alamitos Medical Center. “This new agreement is a win for the nurses and our patients, for our families and for the communities we serve across the state.”
University of Chicago Nurses Avert Strike with Tentative Deal: The nurses, members of National Nurses United (NNU), planned for a one-day strike and the hospital said it would lock out the nurses in response. The strike was canceled when the the agreement was reached. “Both sides have been working since March on a contract that not only recognizes the valuable contributions our nurses make to our organization, but also ensures [the University of Chicago Medical Center] remains at the forefront of medical care and scientific research for years to come,” said Debra Albert, the hospital’s chief nursing officer.
Last of the Big Three Detroit Auto Makers Reaches Agreement with UAW: UAW and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) reached a tentative four-year agreement that would cover hourly workers at the company. The deal secures $9 billion of company investments that will create nearly 8,000 jobs. "FCA has been a great American success story thanks to the hard work of our members. We have achieved substantial gains and job security provisions for the fastest growing auto company in the United States," said Rory Gamble, the acting president of the UAW.
Philadelphia Public Defenders to Become UAW Members: A majority of the 200 lawyers at the Defender Association of Philadelphia voted to be represented by the UAW. The lawyers represent some 70% of those arrested for criminal offenses or probation violations in the city. In a petition to management, the attorneys said: “We have all chosen this work because we are passionate about protecting the constitutional rights of our clients and giving them a voice in a system that otherwise does not. We believe that by collectively improving our workplace, we will better serve our clients.”
New Mexico Faculty Vote to be Represented by AFT: More than 70% of faculty at the University of New Mexico (UNM) voted to be represented by AFT. More than 1,600 full- and part-time faculty across five campuses will also be members of the American Association of University Professors. The new unit, United Academics of the University of New Mexico, will begin bargaining with the university on its first contract. Hilary Lipka, a temporary part-time faculty member in religious studies, said: "This is a historic moment for faculty at UNM. Our victory reflects how important it is that the university treats faculty with dignity and respect. We look forward to sitting down with the administration and negotiating a contract that acknowledges the work and value that part-time faculty contribute to the university."
Zoellner Arts Center Stagehands Join IATSE: In a unanimous vote, stagehands who work at the Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania voted unanimously to join Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 200. The workers support the 200-plus annual events held at the arts center. The new unit will meet with Lehigh to begin negotiations on a collective bargaining agreement.
Los Angeles Times Newsroom Employees Reach Tentative Agreement: Nearly 500 members of the Los Angeles Times newsroom will now be represented by the L.A. Times Guild, an affiliate of The NewsGuild-CWA (TNG-CWA). The contract is more than a year in the making and will provide raises and other benefits over the life of the three-year contract. “We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved together,” said Carolina A. Miranda, co-chair of the L.A. Times Guild. “It’s a difficult time in the industry, but we’ve landed significant pay increases and a broad safety net of job protections that are some of the best in the industry. We’re grateful that Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is actively reinvesting in The Times. This is a win for journalism and a win for L.A.”
Hormel Workers Across the Country Approve New Contract: Thousands of Hormel workers nationwide approved a new contract that strengthens wages, expands health care and increases pension security. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), which represents the Hormel workers, said: “By strongly voting for a new contract that improves wages and benefits, thousands of our hardworking members sent a powerful message this week about the power that comes from workers standing together."
Houston Mayor Signs $12 Minimum Wage for Airport Workers: After months of workers demanding that city leaders raise the minimum wage at George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for all airport workers in Houston to $12 an hour. The rate is a first step in pursuit of $15 an hour minimum wage at the airports in Houston. “We are excited that Mayor Turner met with airport workers and listened to their struggles, and thankful that he took action to raise wages," said Willy Gonzalez, secretary-treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 23. "This is a great step forward for Houston’s airport workers. For many of our members, this will make the difference between whether or not they can pay rent at the end of the month.
Actors' Equity Reaches Agreement with The Broadway League: An overwhelming 95% of Actors' Equity (AEA) members voted to approve the new production contract with The Broadway League. "This negotiation resulted in not only great compensation increases for our members but created new terms and conditions that provide further protections for stage managers and swings," said Mary McColl, executive director of AEA. "This is the third negotiation we have completed with The Broadway League this year. Thanks to the solidarity and support of our members, all three have been successful."
The settlement provides substantial justice to workers who have been waiting more than 15 years to be made whole for the losses that they suffered.
CWA Local 3645 Vice President Donielle Prophete called on Congress and American Airlines to address serious safety concerns for airline workers.
The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act puts power back in the hands of workers and reverses decades of legislation meant to crush unions.
"Does she think that it is okay for corporations to have so much control over our lives?"
Employees at the South Bend Tribune signed cards indicating their desire to be represented by the NewsGuild-CWA.
CWA Local 4340 member Bill Dunman was elected to the Newburgh Heights, Ohio, City Council last November.
The policy went into effect Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020.
At a hearing hosted by the House Subcommittee on Aviation, CWA member Donielle Prophete called on Congress and American Airlines to address serious safety concerns for airline workers.
They stood on a picket line at the entrance to the school parking lot: seven educators out on strike for the first time.
Public sector strikes are illegal in Massachusetts. But the night before, after two years of fruitless negotiations, the 300 members of the Dedham Education Association had voted overwhelming to walk out.
Now educators lined the main street from the high school to the middle school, celebrating each passing car that honked support.
“I’m nervous,” said one. “I am a new teacher, two years in the district.”
The Greater Boston Labor Council (GBLC), AFL-CIO, made history last week with the election of the first woman of color to its top office. Darlene Lombos takes over as executive secretary-treasurer, replacing Richard Rogers, who officially retired after leading the GBLC for the past 16 years.
Lombos brings more than 20 years of community and youth organizing experience in the labor movement to the position. She served as vice president of the GBLC and has been the executive director of Community Labor United since 2011. A vital asset to the greater Boston community, her work continues to protect and promote the interests of working-class families and communities of color in greater Boston and throughout the commonwealth.
“I am honored to lead such an amazing group of dedicated workers in the Boston area,” said Lombos. “Rich was a true mentor and I look forward to continuing his legacy of empowering working families for years to come.”
Rogers, a member of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) Local 391, leaves behind an impressive legacy in the labor movement. Prior to leading the GBLC, Rogers served on the staff of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO for 21 years, 12 of those as the state federation’s political director. He was the chief organizer for several influential political campaigns, including Ted Kennedy’s 1994 U.S. Senate race and the elections of Jim McGovern and John Tierney to the U.S. House of Representatives. He played an integral role during his four terms as GBLC executive secretary-treasurer in growing and strengthening the Boston-area labor movement.
In recognition of his lifetime of hard work and dedication to the movement, The Labor Guild awarded the prestigious Cushing-Gavin Award to Rogers in December 2019.
NABET-CWA, a sector of the Communications Workers of America, and its Local 11 (New York) and Local 31 (Washington, D.C.), have negotiated one of the largest back pay settlements in the 84-year history of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), requiring CNN America, Inc. to pay a total of $76 million to hundreds of broadcast technicians who were fired when CNN terminated its subcontract with union-represented employees at Team Video Services (TVS).
The U.S. economy gained 145,000 jobs in December, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 3.5%, according to figures released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Preliminary data from BLS also shows, for the first time since 2010, the majority of workers on U.S. payrolls are women, underscoring the importance of addressing the gender wage gap.
In response to the December job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs tweeted:
@BLS_gov continues to show modest wage gains, up only 2.9 percent over the year. Combined with modest employment growth, clearly the @federalreserve was correct to reverse course on interest rate hikes it had planned beginning back in 2018. @AFLCIO #JobsReport— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) January 10, 2020
The industries with the lowest wages (moving down the graph below the dotted horizontal line) and the greatest job gains (moving to the right from the dotted vertical line). This composition effect helps to slow overall wage growth. @AFLCIO #JobsReport pic.twitter.com/QFrHWlT2M7— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) January 10, 2020
At 3.1% for Leisure & hospitality (mostly food service workers) and 4.2% for Retail trade, both industries where the minimum wage increases have been important, saw higher year-over-year wage growth than the average. @ernietedeschi @AFLCIO #JobsReport pic.twitter.com/D6XgCROogR— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) January 10, 2020
The weakness in wage growth, and the deceleration in job growth contribute to this sad statistic: Employment in motor vehicle production fell from 1.005 million in December 2018 to 986,900 last month. At 3.5% unemployment selling cars should be easy. @UAW @AFLCIO @bencasselman— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) January 10, 2020
State government (on left) and local government employment continue their climbs back to restoring the needed public investment for sustained growth. But, in December state government employment took a small dip, losing 8,000 while local employment grew 14,000. @AFSCME @AFTunion pic.twitter.com/YgVBb1QB9d— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) January 10, 2020
Last month's biggest job gains were in retail trade (41,000), leisure and hospitality (40,000), and health care (28,000). Mining lost jobs (-8,000). Employment in other major industries—including construction, manufacturing, financial activities, transportation and warehousing, wholesale trade, information, professional and business services, and government—showed little change over the month.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for teenagers (12.6%), blacks (5.9%), Hispanics (4.2%), adult men (3.1%), whites (3.2%), adult women (3.2%) and Asians (2.5%) showed little or no change in December.
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was unchanged in December and accounted for 20.5% of the unemployed.
In a big victory for CWA members, who have been writing letters, sending postcards to legislators, making phone calls, and traveling to the state capitol in Albany time and time again to get this bill passed, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York State Call Center Jobs Act into law on January 2.
On the latest episode of “State of the Unions,” AFL-CIO podcast co-hosts Julie Greene Collier and Tim Schlittner talk to Fire Fighters (IAFF) General President Harold Schaitberger about the union’s one-of-a-kind behavioral health treatment facility in Maryland dedicated to treating IAFF members struggling with addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and other related behavioral challenges. They discuss the toll of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on firefighters and their families, the response of the IAFF in its wake, and the life of a firefighter.
Listen to our previous episodes:
A chat with the podcast team on their favorite episodes of 2019.
A discussion with Cas Mudde, a political scientist at the University of Georgia, on the resurgence of right-wing politicians and activists across the globe, much of it cloaked in populist, worker-friendly rhetoric.
Talking with Guy Ryder, the director-general of the International Labor Organization, about the international labor movement, the idea of “decent labor” and the future of work.
A discussion with Union Veterans Council Executive Director Will Attig about his work connecting the labor movement and the veterans community.
A conversation with Rep. Mark Pocan (Wis.), a union member and Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair, about strikes, trade, health care, LGBTQ equality and the freedom to form a union.
A chat with Maine Senate President Troy Jackson (IUPAT, IAM) about his path to power and the experiences that have shaped his life and career.
We organized a seven-day strike last February and March that united 3,000 Oakland public school educators with parents and community against a billionaire-backed school board.
By striking, we forced our boss to double the compensation offer, take all concessions off the table, and admit that privatization was hurting our kids.
Here’s how we organized a shutdown seven months into our first year in office.
At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, the AFL-CIO is partnering with SAG-AFTRA to host the second annual Labor Innovation & Technology Summit. The summit, led by AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris and UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor, brings together union, technology, entertainment and media leaders to explore how these industries intersect and the potential impact for America’s workers and for the country’s creative culture.
As the voice of working Americans, unions play a critical role in ensuring that rapidly evolving technology, which will bring so many great things to humanity, doesn’t roll over humans in the process. Recognizing that this can only be accomplished by partnering with the tech industry, the second annual Labor Innovation & Technology Summit brings together diverse voices for a frank conversation about where we are, where we’re going and the critical milestones along the way.
About the AFL-CIO Commission on the Future of Work and Unions
For the better part of four decades, workers have been more productive than ever, creating massive amounts of wealth—but rigged economic rules, unmitigated corporate greed and unrelenting political attacks have weakened our voices, stifled our wages and eroded our economic security. Yet, as we write this report, a wave of collective action is sweeping the nation. Working people across industries and demographics are joining together for a better life. This uprising comes at a critical moment, as the astounding technologies of the digital revolution have the potential to improve workers’ lives but also threaten to degrade or eliminate millions of jobs.
The AFL-CIO Commission on the Future of Work and Unions, formed by a unanimous vote of the 2017 AFL-CIO Convention, is putting working people where we belong—at the center of shaping the economy, work, unions and the AFL-CIO.
AFL-CIO Commission on the Future of Work and Unions
An Open Letter to Game Developers from America's Largest Labor Organization
By Liz Shuler, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer
Now it’s time for industry bosses to start treating you with hard-earned dignity and respect. While you’re putting in crunch time, your bosses are ringing the opening bell on Wall Street. While you’re creating some of the most groundbreaking products of our time, they’re pocketing billions. While you’re fighting through exhaustion and putting your soul into a game, Bobby Kotick and Andrew Wilson are toasting to “their” success.
America’s Biggest Labor Federation Asks Game Developers to Unionize
By Emily Gera
A leading figure from America’s biggest labor organization penned an open letter to game developers encouraging unionization across the games industry. AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Liz Shuler took to Kotaku with a post that asks workers in the games industry to fight for adequate pay, sensible work hours, and against toxic work conditions.
Amid Game Industry Layoffs, AFL-CIO Says It’s Time for Workers to Organize
By Charlie Hall
On Feb. 15, just days after massive layoffs at Activision Blizzard, the AFL-CIO issued a powerful public statement of support to game developers in the United States. Also known as the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, the AFL-CIO represents more than 12 million workers in 50 different labor unions, including a unit here within Vox Media. Its message, published in an open letter at Kotaku, was both simple and profound.
Activision Blizzard CEO's $30M Pay Under Fire from Labor Union: 'Like Legal Highway Robbery'
By Patrick Shanley
The AFL-CIO, the nation's largest federation of unions, has taken aim at Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and his annual compensation in 2018 following a massive round of layoffs earlier this year which saw nearly 800 employees lose their jobs. AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Liz Shuler, in a statement published Tuesday, highlighted Kotick's financial compensation in 2018—which was $30.8 million, the majority of which came from stock options ($19 million)—saying, "This is like legal highway robbery."
Workers at Amazon’s DSM1 warehouse in Sacramento celebrated Christmas in their own fashion—by walking out. It was the latest move in their campaign for paid time off.
Night-shift workers delivered a petition with 4,015 signatures to management during their 2:30 a.m. break on December 23. After reading out loud their demands for a meeting with management and paid time off, 36 of the 100 night-shift workers clocked out at 2:45 a.m. and walked off the job mid-shift.
Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Office and Professional Employees.
Name of Union: Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU)
Mission: "To improve the lives of working families by bringing economic justice to the workplace and social justice to our communities. Acting as a strong and united voice in the workplace and in the communities in which we live, OPEIU seeks to bring the benefits of representation to all working people and their families."
Current Leadership of Union: Richard Lanigan serves as president of OPEIU. He was first appointed president by the OPEIU executive board in 2015 and was elected to the position in 2016. Lanigan worked his way through college as a union member before joining OPEIU Local 153 in 1980. After law school, he served as assistant to the OPEIU general counsel. In 1994, he was elected both as secretary-treasurer of Local 153 and joined the international executive board as vice president. Mary Mahoney has served as secretary-treasurer since 2010. OPEIU has 17 vice presidents.
Number of Members: 103,000.
Members Work As: Healthcare employees, including registered nurses and podiatrists, clerical workers, credit union employees, nonprofit employees, teachers, Minor League Baseball umpires and helicopter pilots.
Industries Represented: OPEIU members work at credit unions, hospitals and medical clinics, insurance companies, higher education, nonprofits, transportation, shipping, utilities, hotels, administrative offices and more.
History: The American Federation of Labor granted the first clerical federal charter to Local 1 of the Stenographers, Typists, Bookkeepers and Assistants Union in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1906. Membership grew slowly until the passage of the Wagner Act in 1935. The legislation granted collective bargaining rights to working people and propelled thousands of clerical employees to form dozens of clerical unions. In 1936, Mollie Levitas called for a resolution recognizing an international union of office workers. Nine years later, AFL granted a charter to the Office Employees International Union (OEIU), which had 22,000 members. In 1965, after the AFL merged with the Congress of Industrial Organizations, the OEIU rebranded as the Office and Professional Employees International Union. In the following decades, the union grew at a fast rate, reaching 110,000 members by 2010.
Current Campaigns/Community Efforts: White Collar Magazine provides news and information for office workers. The OPEIU Nurses Council brings together members of the union who work in nursing to address mutual concerns. OPEIU members have access to a free college assistance program and national 401(k) and health plans for local unions to negotiate into their employer contracts. The Rising Stars initiative seeks to create and network OPEIU youth programs across the country. The OPEIU Store sells merchandise branded with the union's name and logo.
2018 could have been a tough act to follow. It’s not every year that a grassroots movement of teachers captures the nation’s attention.
But workers across the country rose to the occasion, making 2019 one of the most exciting years for the labor movement in recent memory.
TEACHERS KEPT AT IT
In terms of the number of workers who went on strike, 2019 is on pace to match 2018.
Labor Notes has been at it for 40 years. But 2019 will go down as one of our busiest and most productive yet.
In addition to putting out our monthly magazine, we crisscrossed the country joining picket lines, organizing Troublemakers Schools, and meeting with workers to help them chart a path forward in their unions and workplaces.
Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the NFL Players Association.
Name of Union: NFL Players Association (NFLPA)
Mission: "To pay homage to our predecessors for their courage, sacrifice and vision; [to] pledge to preserve and enhance the democratic involvement of our members; [to] confirm our willingness to do whatever is necessary for the betterment of our membership—to preserve our gains and achieve those goals not yet attained."
Current Leadership of Union: DeMaurice Smith serves as executive director of the NFLPA. He was elected unanimously in 2009 and re-elected in 2012, 2015 and 2017. Prior to serving the NFLPA, Smith was an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and counsel to former Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder. Eric Winston is currently serving his third term as NFLPA president. Mark Herzlich serves as treasurer and the NFLPA has nine vice presidents: Sam Acho, Lorenzo Alexander, Zak DeOssie, Thomas Morstead, Russell Okung, Richard Sherman, Michael Thomas, Adam Vinatieri and Benjamin Watson.
Number of Members: More than 2,000.
Members Work As: Active or retired members of the National Football League (NFL).
Industries Represented: Players in the National Football League and retirees.
History: The NFLPA began in the mid-1950s, when disgruntled players asked Creighton Miller, the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, to help them form a players' association. Miller was reluctant at first, but soon began working with key players across the league and by November, the majority of players had signed authorizations to allow the new NFLPA to represent them. They met that month and came up with a few proposals–among them: a minimum salary of $5,000, a requirement for teams to pay for players' equipment and the continued payment of salaries for injured players.
The NFL refused to respond to the early proposals until the 1957 Supreme Court ruling in the case Radovich v. NFL, which found that the league was subject to antitrust laws. As a result, the owners quickly and quietly granted many of the NFLPA's demands out of fear that the players would file another antitrust suit if the owners didn't start to cooperate. Still, the owners continued to drag their feet on implementing the new proposals and player frustration grew again. Owners also ignored new proposals from the NFLPA, such as the creation of a pension plan, hospitalization and other benefits. The NFLPA threatened another antitrust suit and the owners again responded immediately, establishing hospitalization benefits, medical and life insurance and a retirement plan.
In the 1960s, labor relations between players and the NFL became strained because of the new American Football League (AFL). The owners attempted to prevent players from using the AFL as leverage by adding a clause that revoked pensions for players who went to other leagues. Another threatened lawsuit forced pension coverage to be provided to all 110 players who were in the league when benefits were introduced. When the NFL and AFL merged in 1966, the former AFL players weren't represented by the NFLPA. The next time the NFL rejected pension demands, the players were locked out and then went on strike. That strike led to the first collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for NFL players, although the former AFL players were still not included in the agreement. The two players associations joined together in 1970 and filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to become a recognized union.
The ensuing decades saw a continuous back and forth as players looked to build more leverage in the growing sport where their play on the field drove the massive financial gains of the owners. In 1971, the NFLPA hired its first executive director and established a headquarters in Washington, D.C. In 1976, the NFLPA won a court case that eliminated the Rozelle Rule, which prevented player movement from team to team, even when contracts expired. Beginning in the late 1970s, the CBAs were often surrounded by strife, with players engaging in several strikes and owners responding in 1987 by fielding teams of replacement players while the NFLPA was on strike.
A shift occurred when Gene Upshaw was elected as the NFLPA’s executive director in 1983. The future of the organization was now driven by the players, who finally were gaining the full voice they had long asked for. Free agency was a top issue, particularly during the 1987 strike and afterward. In another antitrust suit filed in the wake of the strike, the courts ruled that if players were in a union and using their right to strike, they didn't have the right to pursue antitrust lawsuits as individuals. In response, the NFLPA de-certified in 1989 and re-formed as a professional association. This allowed various antitrust lawsuits to go forward and, after years of conflict, a compromise settlement was finally reached in 1993. As a result, the players finally won meaningful free agency and a guaranteed percentage of gross NFL revenue.
That year, the NFLPA re-certified as a union and things were relatively calm for nearly two decades until the collective bargaining agreement expired in 2011. Once again, the NFL rejected player requests, the NFLPA de-certified and filed another antitrust lawsuit against the league. The owners proceeded to lock out the players. When the 2011 CBA was agreed upon, the re-certification of the NFLPA was a part of the agreement.
The current CBA, which expires in 2020, features a major shift toward player health and safety. The NFLPA also established the Trust as a separate organization dedicated to helping former players and the NFL created the Legacy Benefit, which will pay $620 million to former players for their contributions to the NFL.
Current Campaigns/Community Efforts: The NFLPA offers a variety of programs to help players with continuing education, personal finance, healthy lifestyles, maximizing on-field performance, career development and business opportunities. The NFLPA also sponsors programs for former players.
The NFLPA highlights the many charitable efforts by NFL players through its Community MVP season, honoring one player per week for his off-the-field outreach while donating $10,000 to his foundation or charity of choice.
United Auto Workers activists are making a push for a specially called national convention to amend the union’s constitution and mandate that its top positions be elected by a direct vote of the members.
So far six UAW locals have passed resolutions, including four that participated in the recent strike at General Motors—Locals 774 and 259 in New York, Local 1853 in Tennessee, Local 838 in Iowa, and Local 167 in Michigan—plus the National Writers Union, Local 1981. Together they represent an estimated 10,000 members.
Early in his new book, Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor, former New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse makes a striking observation. He writes, “There’s a hugely important but often overlooked phenomenon that goes far to explain why so many bad things are happening to American workers, and that is the decades-long decline in worker power, both in the workplace and in politics and policy.” The purpose of this book seems to be to make sure this phenomenon is no longer overlooked.
It's time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states. Click on any of the links to follow the state federations on Twitter.
Our ferry workers aren't waiting around to get a lay-off notice. They are taking early retirement or leaving our beautiful state entirely to escape @GovDunleavy's self-imposed budgetary instability. This is NOT leadership.— Alaska AFL-CIO (@AKAFLCIO) December 6, 2019
Read the story —> https://t.co/yOH5HVsn1P#akleg #akgov pic.twitter.com/Q5rJsIrZi3
California Labor Federation:
Our *NEW* legislative scorecard is up! Congratulations to all those legislators who stood with working people 💯% of the time to build a stronger middle class & protect workers from corporate greed. How does your legislator measure up? 👀👉 https://t.co/wVrf3lJBNv #UnionStrong pic.twitter.com/4cqOcMUdRS— California Labor Federation (@CaliforniaLabor) December 10, 2019
#ThrowbackThursday Colorado AFL-CIO President @Josapagosa wears her grandfather’s 25 years-of-service CF&I Steel pin, lovingly transformed into a ring for Henry Jaramillo by his brothers and sisters. #1u #solidarity #hardwork #PuebloSteel pic.twitter.com/g1RbbHQROd— Colorado AFL-CIO (@AFLCIOCO) December 5, 2019
Important anecdote about the struggles of one low-wage worker who works 40 hours a week, but must commute 4 hours a day for work, has no health insurance, and receives no public assistance. https://t.co/LUSTKnNNoZ #FightFor15— Connecticut AFL-CIO (@ConnAFLCIO) December 9, 2019
Life in the Magic Kingdom isn’t so magical after all. The Orlando area has some of the lowest wages in the country, and combined with a lack of affordable housing, many workers are struggling to make ends meet. https://t.co/TunvtWmjAc?— Florida AFL-CIO (@FLAFLCIO) December 9, 2019
Indiana State AFL-CIO:
Iowa Federation of Labor:
TAX MARCH IOWA RELEASES REPORT— Iowa AFL-CIO (@IowaAFLCIO) December 16, 2019
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is NOT Working for Us!
Events to be held in Des Moines (Monday, 12/16) and Cedar Rapids (Tuesday, 12/17)
The bottom fifth of Iowa taxpayers gained on average... https://t.co/sIvWV6Yd0z
The MA AFL-CIO is proud to endorse @johnmahoneyply for State Senate. For more information and to contribute to the Mahoney campaign, visit https://t.co/BCTXYFwt8I. #mapoli #vote #unionstrong pic.twitter.com/iVnmlUCxwI— Massachusetts AFL-CIO (@massaflcio) December 13, 2019
Metro Washington (D.C.) Council AFL-CIO:
World's largest #Amoco sign and #STL landmark brought to you by @GoIUPAT Local 774! I'm sure if you have ever driven Highway 40 (as people in St. Louis call it) or Interstate 64 (as everyone else calls it) you have seen this iconic sign. It got a facelift! https://t.co/MV7lg8R49Y— Missouri AFL-CIO (@MOAFLCIO) December 14, 2019
New Hampshire AFL-CIO:
New Mexico Federation of Labor:
New York State AFL-CIO:
For App Workers, the #GigEconomy is not a hobby, it's how they pay their bills. App workers deserve respect and the same rights and protections as all other workers. Visit https://t.co/V9xWXc32kr to take action! #EqualRights #Respect #1u #UnionStrong pic.twitter.com/NaqXLgV1PX— NYSAFLCIO (@NYSAFLCIO) December 9, 2019
North Carolina State AFL-CIO:
North Dakota AFL-CIO:
Oklahoma State AFL-CIO:
Check out our December Newsletter with union made Christmas, COLA update, New Voter Portal, and more!— Oklahoma AFL-CIO (@OK_AFL_CIO) December 9, 2019
Check it out here: https://t.co/P3nYny11qw
Oregon AFL-CIO President Graham Trainor issued a statement today regarding the Oregon State Senate’s negotiations on a cap and invest policy: https://t.co/z7rdyvn6gk #ORPOL #ORLEG pic.twitter.com/XuUdGmhuMC— Oregon AFL-CIO (@OregonAFLCIO) December 13, 2019
Rhode Island AFL-CIO:
If you are a RI union member who is considering running for municipal or state elective office in 2020, or who might want to serve as a campaign manager, or campaign worker, you are invited to an Open House on Wed., Jan 22, 2020. More info.-->https://t.co/6N41edMHXQ #1u pic.twitter.com/OeZTRXwiQc— Rhode Island AFL-CIO (@riaflcio) December 10, 2019
Washington State Labor Council:
Call Willapa Valley administrators (360-942-5855) Tell them: Settle a fair contract with striking educators! Pickets are up 7:30a-3p at 22 Viking Way, Raymond, WA. Donate to the strike fund: Willapa Valley EA c/o WEA Chinook, 5220 Capitol Blvd SE, Tumwater, WA 98501 #RedForEd #1u pic.twitter.com/TLAA5fZ3Ns— WA State AFL-CIO (@WAAFLCIO) December 12, 2019
West Virginia AFL-CIO:
“The hospital had a policy where they bought us all a box of Russell Stover candies … Instead of doing that this year, we decided it would be better if we took all of that money and donated to charities that we pick out every year.” https://t.co/gOlKBO8iB7— West Virginia AFLCIO (@WestVirginiaAFL) December 9, 2019
Wisconsin State AFL-CIO:
Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.
Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)
Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.
Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.
Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.
Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.
Members Work As: City letter carriers.
Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.
History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.
The first NALC convention took place in Boston in 1889. At this point, NALC had more than 50 branches, representing 4,600 letter carriers. In 1905, the National Ladies Auxiliary was founded, allowing women to participate in the union for the first time. In the early 1900s, postal workers won the right to organize and affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. Women were first allowed to work as temporary letter carriers as many men went off to fight in World War II.
In the postwar years, NALC has focused on wages and benefits for members. In 1950, NALC began its health benefit plan. In 1964, the Nalcrest retirement community for retired letter carriers opened in Florida. The Great Postal Strike of 1970, which led to the Postal Reorganization Act, brought collective-bargaining rights to letter carriers and other postal employees. In recent decades, NALC has focused in part on legislation and on seeking commonsense legislative and regulatory reform, including the unfair 2006 congressional mandate to pre-fund future retiree health benefits decades in advance, which threatens the viability of USPS by posing an unsustainable—and unique—financial burden. NALC also has continued to regularly negotiate national agreements between letter carriers and the USPS while working to protect the safety, jobs and well-being of letter carriers. Broadly put, NALC is very active in the federal legislative and political arena to protect the interests of its members and to secure the long-term future of the Postal Service.
Current Campaigns: NALC stays in regular touch with its members through The Postal Record, the monthly membership magazine; the semi-regular NALC Bulletin and the NALC Activist. The union also sends out regular notifications to members via the NALC Member App for smartphones. NALC members have access to a number of members-only benefits, such as the NALC Health Benefit Plan (though other federal employees also can join the plan), the Mutual Benefit Association insurance company, the NALC Auxiliary and the letter carrier retirement community known as Nalcrest. Union-made clothes bearing the NALC logo and other items can be purchased through the online NALC store.
Community Efforts: The NALC Disaster Relief Foundation helps those in need after disasters. The Letter Carriers' Food Drive, held the second Saturday each May, is the largest one-day food drive in the country. Letter Carrier Heroes recognize the acts of bravery and compassion that letter carriers engage in on a daily basis. NALC’s official charity is the Muscular Dystrophy Association, with letter carriers raising funds to Deliver the Cure. Carrier Alert is a community service program to monitor the well-being of elderly and disabled mail patrons. The Postal Employees’ Relief Fund helps active and retired postal employees, both management and craft, whose home, as a result of a major natural disaster was completely destroyed or left uninhabitable. The Combined Federal Campaign allows federal employees to donate to community service groups of their choice through paycheck deduction.
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.
‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: The Far Right Today: "On the latest episode of 'State of the Unions,' podcast co-host Tim Schlittner and guest host AFL-CIO International Director Cathy Feingold talk to Cas Mudde, a political scientist from the University of Georgia. Mudde has a new book, The Far Right Today, which takes a look at the resurgence of right-wing politicians and activists across the globe, much of it cloaked in populist, worker-friendly rhetoric."
Economy Gains 266,000 Jobs in November; Unemployment Down Slightly to 3.5%: "The U.S. economy gained 266,000 jobs in November, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 3.5%, according to figures released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics."
5 Things You Can Do to Celebrate Our Birthday with Us: "You said it's our birthday! And it is. If you've always wondered what you'd do with the AFL-CIO when we're 64, now's your chance! On this day in 1955, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations came together after a long and winding road."
A Matter of Life and Death: Labor Podcast and Radio Roundup: "In addition to the AFL-CIO's own 'State of the Unions,' there are a lot of other podcasts out there that have their own approach to discussing labor issues and the rights of working people. Here are the latest podcasts from across the labor movement in the United States."
Solidarity Forever: 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."
How Labor Beat Mexico on Trade: "For AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to declare victory on the North American trade agreement reached this week, Mexico had to lose. The point of contention was whether the AFL-CIO could send American inspectors into Mexican factories where workers weren’t being given their full union rights. Mexico hated that idea, saying it would violate Mexican sovereignty. But in the end, Mexico agreed to a small tweak: multinational three-person inspection teams that would include Mexican and American independent labor experts."
Bipartisan Support for New NAFTA Is Rare Achievement in Trade Policy: "'We have secured an agreement that working people can proudly support,' the AFL-CIO’s Trumka said a statement giving his blessing to USMCA, a contrast with his withering attacks on prior free-trade proposals. 'The trade rules in American will now be fairer.'"
AFL-CIO Endorses USMCA as 'Vast Improvement' Over NAFTA: "The AFL-CIO gave a ringing endorsement of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement on Tuesday when House Democrats announced they were satisfied with the trade deal. 'I am grateful to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her allies on the USMCA working group, along with Senate champions like Sherrod Brown and Ron Wyden, for standing strong with us throughout this process as we demanded a truly enforceable agreement,' AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.'"
Low Unemployment Rate Contradicts the Truth: No ‘Good Jobs’ and Low Wages: "The latest jobs report showed a robust 266,000 workers were hired last month, an impressive figure that kept the country’s unemployment rate at 3.2%, the lowest it's been in decades. Likewise, black unemployment was hovering around its lowest levels ever, with November’s 5.5% unemployment rate inflating by just one-tenth of a percentage point from the month prior."
After a much-contested election process, the largest union of journalists in North America has chosen a 32-year-old reporter at the Los Angeles Times to be its new leader.
Jon Schleuss helped win union recognition and a historic first contract at the Times (a non-union paper for 136 years) before ousting NewsGuild President Bernie Lunzer, a three-term incumbent twice his age.
Practically speaking, one of the most useful parts of U.S. labor law is the obligation of employers to furnish records and other information needed to investigate and process union grievances.
Although this duty is not explicit in the National Labor Relations Act, the U.S. Supreme Court has construed it from Section 8(d) of the Act, which requires employers and unions to “bargain collectively.”