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CWA Demands General Electric Use Expertise and Excess Capacity to Manufacture Ventilators In-House to Help Address COVID-19 Pandemic

Union leaders from manufacturing and healthcare are calling on General Electric (GE) to use its highly-skilled workforce and unused manufacturing capacity to make much needed ventilators in-house to help address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Posted: March 30, 2020, 9:00 pm

Using Trash Bags for Gowns: Interview with a New York Nurse

March 30, 2020 / Chris Brooks

The United States now leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases and New York City is the epicenter of the outbreak with over 30,000 confirmed cases.

Health care workers in New York City say the hospitals feel like a war zone. Patients are stacked in beds that line the hallways. So many people are dying that semi-truck trailers in hospital parking lots are being used as make-shift morgues.

Posted: March 30, 2020, 7:28 pm

Women's History Month Profiles: Roxanne Brown

Women's History Month Profiles: Roxanne Brown
Roxanne Brown

For Women's History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various women who were, and some who still are, leaders and activists working at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Today, we are looking at Roxanne Brown.

Roxanne Brown currently serves as international vice president at large for the United Steelworkers (USW). She has served USW's membership for more than two decades.

During her career, she has helped advance legislation to strengthen U.S. defense procurement laws and shape environmental policies to benefit USW members with jobs. She helped build bridges between USW members and the Environmental Protection Agency to achieve mutually beneficial goals. She worked to rally 20,000 people to protect the steel industry from foreign dumping.

She was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and raised in New York. Through the And Still I Rise program, Brown wrote about her work. Here are some key excerpts.

On the challenges of moving to clean energy:

Much of the work that we’re trying to do is to help design good, sensible and reasonable clean energy policies that take my members into account on the industrial side, and in the building and construction trades. We want to ensure that all of us play a role in this new, emerging economy.

On the gender wage gap:

We have to create that equality across the board. Every wage gap that exists is money that’s leaving the pockets of women all over the country. I grew up in a single-family household. My mom was a single mom. Every penny counts when you’re a single mom. The labor movement understands that. This is why wage equality has been one of its biggest fights.

On how she got into union work:

I grew up around unions, but didn’t know what they were. I’m from Jamaica. My family settled in New York. The women in my family worked in healthcare and food services. An aunt who worked for the county hospital was a member of the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA). She would take me to union picnics and union parties, but I had no idea what CSEA was. I just thought it was the hospital party. That was my very first experience with unions. I started with the Steelworkers when I was 19 years old. 

On why she loves her fellow union members:

My very first day with the Steelworkers, I met a group of legislative interns who were members. That is when I fell in love with my union, because I fell in love with our members. They were nontraditional and diverse. They were from all walks of life. We’re the largest union in the paper sector; the oil sector; chemicals and rubber; and the auto industry. We actually have more people working in the auto industry than the United Auto Workers because our members make the components for automobiles—steel, aluminum, seats, glass and tires—literally everything.

On diversity in the labor movement:

It is very helpful for the future and growth of our union for our members to be more comfortable with diversity, particularly as more and more public sector workers are organized and we get more nurses, bus drivers, and cab drivers in the fold. For our union to fully move into the 21st century, it needs to be inclusive. I’m part of us moving in that direction.

On the purpose of unions:

I want young people, people of color, immigrants, and women to know that unions are about power. They are about economic power. They are about educational power—because those wages allow people to send their kids to school. They are about financial power for the future, because a lot of these union jobs have very strong retirement benefits associated with them.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 03/30/2020 - 11:03
Posted: March 30, 2020, 3:03 pm

Class, Capitalism, and Coronovirus at Disney’s Newest Attraction

Last week the Coronavirus forced Disney to announce that its American parks are now closed indefinitely, resulting in the longest interruptions of any kind since they opened in 1955 (Disneyland) and 1965 (Walt Disney World). Disney has been on my … Continue reading
Posted: March 30, 2020, 12:23 pm

CWA Statement on Passage of Economic Stimulus Bill to Respond to COVID-19 Crisis

Thanks to House and Senate Democrats, the legislation passed today to respond to the COVID-19 crisis is much improved for working families.

Posted: March 27, 2020, 8:25 pm

VIDEO: Educators Speak Out on Organizing During the Coronavirus Crisis

Black slingshot on blue background with text "Conversations with Troublemakers"

Two hundred education workers from across the United States and Canada were on a call together to learn from each other about how to organize in the face of the novel coronavirus. As the virus extended its reach in Seattle and New York City, educators fought to shut down the schools.

Posted: March 27, 2020, 7:30 pm

It Didn’t Have to Be Like This

March 27, 2020 / Stephanie Luce

We have been forced to choose between two terrible options:

    1. Lock ourselves down to prevent the spread of the virus, resulting in massive job loss—while many vulnerable workers are still forced to work in unsafe conditions, or

    2. Maintain some business as usual, stemming the economic impact but putting tens of millions of people at risk.

It didn’t have to be like this.

We could not have prevented the virus itself, nor the resulting loss of life altogether. But imagine if:

Posted: March 27, 2020, 7:03 pm

WEBINAR: Organizing without a Union During the Coronavirus / Organizándose sin sindicato durante el coronavirus

Some employers are laying us off and canceling our health care. Others say workers must show up for work regardless of the danger—and then not giving us the protective equipment we need.

What can non-union workers do to protect themselves, their families, and the public?

Find out how to take on the boss and organize on the job in this webinar organized by Labor Notes, the Food Chain Workers Alliance, and the Pioneer Valley Workers Center.

Posted: March 27, 2020, 6:53 pm

Fighting the Coronavirus: Making Ventilators

Fighting the Coronavirus: Making Ventilators

Trevar Smedal is a member of Machinists (IAM) Local 1406 employed at General Electric's Datex-Ohmeda in Madison, Wisconsin. He and his co-workers are in a race against the clock to produce ventilators needed in the worldwide fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch the video to hear Trevar's story.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 03/27/2020 - 14:37
Posted: March 27, 2020, 6:37 pm

‘Now, I’m Unemployed’: How Coronavirus Killed Off the Capitol Hill Internship

They thought they were getting their foot in the door for a career in politics. Now, their internships have abruptly ended — and their ambitions are on hold. Congress’ frenzied effort to respond to the coronavirus crisis has been one of the most furious sessions of lawmaking in history. Just days after a congressional staffer […]
Posted: March 27, 2020, 3:50 pm

N95 masks pour in from unions, corporations, schools, churches … while the federal government lags

Donald Trump keeps coming up with excuses for why the federal government is not providing medical professionals with the protection they need as they fight coronavirus. And other groups keep coming up with the N95 masks that are so badly needed. On Thursday, SEIU-UHW, a union representing healthcare workers, announced it had located 39 million N95 […]
Posted: March 27, 2020, 3:40 pm

Working or Unemployed, Construction Workers Are Screwed

With no firm national standards about shutting down construction projects as the coronavirus stalks the nation, building trade unions and their members are facing a grim multidimensional crisis: high unemployment, faltering pensions, lost benefits, plummeting dues revenue—and, for those who do remain on the job, the constant question of whether they should quit in order […]
Posted: March 27, 2020, 3:37 pm

Workers, Supported by CWA, Call on Maximus to Meet with Organizing Committee Immediately to Address COVID-19 Crisis

As Maximus continues to take inadequate precautions to protect its employees at large federally contracted call centers, the workers who are organizing to join CWA are calling on Maximus CEO Bruce Caswell and senior leadership to immediately meet (via video) with their organizing committee to address the safety precautions the company must take to protect its workers, their families, and our communities from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Posted: March 27, 2020, 2:25 pm

New York Nurses Are Living a Heartbreaking Nightmare

Masked health care workers in a hospital hold signs reading: "We... are... here... at... work... for.. you... Please... stay... home... for us."
March 27, 2020 / Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez

UPDATE, March 29: Judy writes: "It’s SO MUCH WORSE NOW. Nostalgia for the day I described." -Ed.

Last Sunday I worked in the Montefiore Medical Center Moses Division Emergency Department and I want to share with you the real-life story—and most certainly not the worst story.

To back up... I had some concerning symptoms that started the previous Sunday at about 10 a.m. but escalated severely by Tuesday night. I was “approved” for COVID testing only because I had these symptoms and, perhaps, due to my age.

Posted: March 27, 2020, 12:45 pm

Amazon Says It’s Giving Part-Time Workers PTO—But There May Be a Catch

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon has rolled out a new policy that extends paid time off to thousands of part-time operations employees. The change follows a months-long campaign by workers in Amazon’s last-mile delivery stations to demand PTO, touted in the company’s public communications as an “essential” benefit offered to all its workers. After […]
Posted: March 26, 2020, 9:43 pm

CWA COVID-19 Response Update – March 26, 2020

As the COVID-19 crisis spreads and deepens across the world, we know that you are concerned about your health and safety on the job and about the possibility of layoffs and furloughs.

Posted: March 26, 2020, 8:36 pm

In Memoriam – March 26, 2020

CWA has established a memorial page for members who have lost their lives to COVID-19.

Posted: March 26, 2020, 8:27 pm

We Need To Use The National Defense Production Act NOW

CWA members are on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. Shortages of N95 respirators, surgical masks, latex gloves, and other protective equipment leave essential workers at risk of infection.

Posted: March 26, 2020, 8:17 pm

Senate Passes Coronavirus Relief Bill But More Remains to Be Done to Help Working People

CWA legislative activists have been engaging with their members of Congress and Senators to make sure that the coronavirus emergency relief bill addresses the needs of working people, not just CEOs and Wall Street.

Posted: March 26, 2020, 8:11 pm

Bargaining Update

The latest bargaining information for AT&T West and Altice.

Posted: March 26, 2020, 8:03 pm

WEBINAR: Don't Die for Wall Street: Essential Workers on Why Everyone Else Should Stay Home

You must register to participate in this webinar. Please register here.

Defying health experts who say we need a five-week national lockdown, Republicans and employers are pushing for workers to endanger themselves and everyone around them by returning to work in April.

The Denier in Chief is leading the charge to get everyone back on the job. Essential workers are living with how bad things are now--and they know how bad it will get if millions start defying doctors' orders.

Posted: March 26, 2020, 4:05 pm

Walkouts Spread as Workers Seek Coronavirus Protections

As the coronavirus spreads, more and more workers who are still on the job are taking action to defend their health and safety and demand hazard pay. Here's a round-up. (For an earlier round-up, see “Organizing for Pandemic Time-Off,” Labor Notes, March 16, 2020.)

Posted: March 26, 2020, 1:43 pm

Put Workers First: In the States Roundup

Put Workers First: In the States Roundup
In the States

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.

Find state-by-state COVID19-related resources here.

Alaska AFL-CIO:

Here’s what we are watching today as part of our #AtHomeAction.#akleg #akgov

— Alaska AFL-CIO (@AKAFLCIO) March 24, 2020

Arizona AFL-CIO:

Our @afscme2384 Brothers and Sisters need Personal Protective Equiptment (PPE’s) to SAFELY do their jobs! @MayorGallego @CityofPhoenixAZ @PHXDistrict5 @PhxDistrict8 @Pastor4Council @PhxDistrict7

— Arizona AFL-CIO (@ArizonaAFLCIO) March 23, 2020

Arkansas AFL-CIO:

Please call your Senators and ask that they put workers FIRST. Workers are keeping this nation together right now. Workers MUST stick together. #1u #ARLabor #ARUnions

— Arkansas AFL-CIO (@ArkansasAFLCIO) March 23, 2020

California Labor Federation:

.@Uber's proposal drew sharp criticism from labor unions. “A ‘third way’ is just a euphemism for creating a new underclass of workers with fewer rights and protections,” said @ArtPulaski executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation

— California Labor Federation (@CaliforniaLabor) March 25, 2020

Colorado AFL-CIO:

With the freedom to join a union, public service workers have the voice on the job they need to advocate for better resources & training to respond to #Covid_19. Call your Representative @ 1-877-682-6145 & tell them to support the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act #PSFN

— Colorado AFL-CIO (@AFLCIOCO) March 12, 2020

Connecticut AFL-CIO:

The #COVID19 pandemic has exposed the shortcomings of our worker protection and health care systems. Contact the Governor and your legislators to urge them to ensure the health and economic security of all working people in Connecticut:

— Connecticut AFL-CIO (@ConnAFLCIO) March 23, 2020

Florida AFL-CIO:

The current administration has quietly pushed for rules making it harder for public sector unions during the pandemic.

There’s nothing more disgusting than union busting, especially during a crisis!

— Florida AFL-CIO (@FLAFLCIO) March 24, 2020

Georgia AFL-CIO:

.@BrianKempGA grocery store, pharmacy, and food production workers ARE emergency service providers. Include us in your emergency declaration so we can keep on feeding America during this crisis. Send a message to Gov Kemp & share this link: #1u #gapol

— AFL-CIO Georgia (@AFLCIOGeorgia) March 25, 2020

Indiana State AFL-CIO:

Using power and privilege to exploit the weak and vulnerable in the face of a common threat is morally repugnant. #1u #coronavirus

— Indiana AFL-CIO (@INAFLCIO) March 25, 2020

Maine AFL-CIO:

How many will die before @GDBIW & the @USNavy begin taking the #COVID19 crisis seriously?

Tell Assistant Navy Secretary James Geurts, GD CEO Phebe Novakovic, BIW President Dirk Lesko & BIW VP @jonfitz207 to protect workers & the public! #mepolitics

— Maine AFL-CIO (@MEAFLCIO) March 24, 2020

Massachusetts AFL-CIO:

A message from President Steve Tolman regarding the working people's priorities during COVID-19 response efforts:

(1/x) #mapoli #1u

— Massachusetts AFL-CIO (@massaflcio) March 24, 2020

Metropolitan Washington (D.C.) Council, AFL-CIO:

“It’s very bad”: DC hotel workers cope with COVID-19 - Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO

— MetroDCLaborCouncil (@DCLabor) March 25, 2020

Michigan AFL-CIO:

Please help our brothers and sisters fighting on the frontlines to #stopthespread. If you have any of these critical materials, please ship or drop them to the regional emergency management coalition site that’s closest to you: #coronavirus #COVIDー19

— Michigan AFL-CIO (@MIAFLCIO) March 23, 2020

Minnesota AFL-CIO:

With N-95 collection drive, @mnnurses gear up for challenge ahead (via @unionadvocate) #1u #COVID19

— Minnesota AFL-CIO (@MNAFLCIO) March 25, 2020

Missouri AFL-CIO:

🚨 Gov. Parson continues to drag his feet on decisive action that will help workers and protect our communities. Working families across Missouri are hurting during this crisis. We need Governor Parson to lead. We need you to take action now! ✊

— Missouri AFL-CIO (@MOAFLCIO) March 25, 2020

Montana AFL-CIO:

It took a pandemic for the world to realize how grossly irresponsible billion-dollar corporations like @McDonalds are by not giving their workers paid sick leave.

— Montana AFL-CIO (@MTaflcio) March 23, 2020

Nebraska State AFL-CIO:

While public health officials work to limit the spread of the #coronavirus (#COVID19), we're asking for your help with another potential public health issue: a severe shortage of blood for patients. Healthy donors are urged to make an appt w/ the @RedCross

— NE State AFL-CIO (@NEAFLCIO) March 23, 2020

New Jersey State AFL-CIO:

Today the State Senate passed over two dozen bills to assist residents, workers and businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. Of particular interest to the New Jersey State AFL-CIO and its members are bills assisting workers.

— New Jersey AFL-CIO (@NJAFLCIO) March 19, 2020

New York State AFL-CIO:

Learn more about the #COVID19 relief available to workers at

Stay safe, Stay #UnionStrong!

— NYSAFLCIO (@NYSAFLCIO) March 20, 2020

North Carolina State AFL-CIO:

ICYMI: the House Select Committee on #COVID19 wants your input on how they should act during this unprecedented time. Public comment portal here: #ncpol #ncga

— NC State AFL-CIO (@NCStateAFLCIO) March 25, 2020

North Dakota AFL-CIO:

Call 1-866-832-1560 and Tell @SenJohnHoeven and @SenKevinCramer to put working people like us first, not big business and the 1%. Now is not the time for crony capitalism.#1u #ndpol #aflcio

— North Dakota AFL-CIO (@NDAFLCIO) March 22, 2020


That’s our Senator! Always and forever standing up for working people.

— Ohio AFL-CIO (@ohioaflcio) March 25, 2020

Oregon AFL-CIO:

.@OregonGovBrown issued an executive order today urging Oregonians to stay home. Here's 4 ways you can help fight #COVID19 and protect workers while social distancing: #1u #UnionStrong

— Oregon AFL-CIO (@OregonAFLCIO) March 23, 2020

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO:

We want protective equipment and hazard pay, because our co-pays are so high.- @Teamsters Local 249 #COVID19 @AlleghenyLabor

— PA AFL-CIO (@PaAFL_CIO) March 25, 2020

Rhode Island AFL-CIO:

Visit our website for Coronavirus COVID-19 resources. #coronavirus #COVID19

— Rhode Island AFL-CIO (@riaflcio) March 19, 2020

Texas AFL-CIO:

"There’s so much we could have done, and should have done, that would have made our ability to respond so much more effective. There’s nothing inevitable about what’s happening right now; we’ve been warning the state about this for years.” - @RickTxAFLCIO

— Texas AFL-CIO (@TexasAFLCIO) March 25, 2020

Virginia AFL-CIO:

#SocialDistancing is not social isolation.
Safe activities:
🌻Yard work
🎲Family game night
🚶‍♀️Going on a walk
📲Calling or texting a friend or older neighbor
🍝Cooking a meal
💻Virtual trivia nights
📕Reading a good book
🎮Playing video games
📺Streaming a show#COVID19VA

— Virginia AFL-CIO (@Virginia_AFLCIO) March 25, 2020

Washington State Labor Council:

Get the latest information on how to apply for unemployment benefits in Washington state, including eligibility for workers temporarily laid off due to the governor's "stay home" order. @ESDwaWorks

— WA State AFL-CIO (@WAAFLCIO) March 25, 2020

West Virginia AFL-CIO:

1/2 Members of IUPAT District 53 (construction trades) are gathering N95 Respirators & protective suits, distributing to local healthcare/nursing home facilities. This load of 75 masks/150 suits headed to facilities in Parkersburg area. Keep up good work, stay safe👊! #wvpol

— West Virginia AFLCIO (@WestVirginiaAFL) March 23, 2020

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO:

Evers Administration Issues 'Stay-At-Home' Order For Wisconsin,

— WI AFL-CIO (@wisaflcio) March 25, 2020
Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 03/26/2020 - 09:03
Posted: March 26, 2020, 1:03 pm

Statement from CWA President Chris Shelton on Airlines Provisions in Coronavirus Economic Stimulus Package

The coronavirus economic stimulus package agreement reached in the U.S. Senate that includes $25 billion in grants for airlines to keep employees on payroll through September 30. Shame on any airline that does not take this opportunity to provide stability for its workers and their families during this time of fear and uncertainty.

Posted: March 26, 2020, 1:23 am

Good News and Bad News Come with Huck-Konopacki Labor Cartoons’ Latest Book

Cartoon. First panel, a tower of workers holds up boss. Second panel, boss flounders mid-air after workers vanish. At bottom handheld signs say "Justice, Respect" "Fair Pay" "Workplace Rights." Caption: "Always keep in mind, your boss needs you... more than you need your boss."

There’s good news and bad news about TORN, the latest book of cartoons from Gary Huck and Mike Konopacki. The good: It’s a doozy! The bad: It’s their last one.

After 37 years of syndicating Huck/Konopacki Labor Cartoons to unions and newspapers, these Wisconsin-bred practitioners of pushback, parody, and in-your-face outrage against enemies of the working class sent out their last monthly package in February.

It was a great run while it lasted, as some high-profile admirers have attested over the years:

Posted: March 25, 2020, 7:42 pm

$1,200 per Adult, $500 per Child: Stimulus Bill Nears Passage

Capitol building in daytime.
March 25, 2020 / Amy Hanauer

This story has been updated to reflect changes in the policy and political debate.

At 1:30 a.m. today, Senate and House leaders and the Trump administration reached a deal on an enormous $2 trillion proposal to dramatically expand unemployment benefits, provide direct payments to American households, give money to state governments and Native American tribes, and assist businesses reeling from the economic catastrophe unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Posted: March 25, 2020, 5:32 pm

Graduate Student Workers: UC Must Pay!

grad students blocking traffic in the street with signs that read "The Pay Is Too Damn Low"
March 25, 2020 / Yulia Gilich

University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) graduate student workers have been on a wildcat strike for a raise since December 2019. Since February, nearly 80 strikers have been fired, while the strike has spread to other UC campuses.

Graduate student workers at 10 UC campuses across the state receive the same wages—$2,434 a month—which after taxes amounts to $19,000 a year, given that we are only paid for nine months.

Posted: March 25, 2020, 4:53 pm

Women's History Month Profiles: Jessie Lopez de la Cruz

Women's History Month Profiles: Jessie Lopez de la Cruz
Jessie Lopez de la Cruz

For Women's History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various women who were, and some who still are, leaders and activists working at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Today, we are looking at Jessie Lopez de la Cruz.

In 1919, Jessie Lopez was born in Anaheim, California. Her family was poor enough that she began working in fruit and vegetable fields at five. Her family soon began working as migrant farmworkers, and they were hit hard by the Great Depression. 

While working in San Juan Capistrano in 1932, Jessie was asked to help translate during a strike of Mexican workers, as she had the best English of the workers, who were mostly Mexican. In 1938, she married another farmworker, Arnold de la Cruz, and they went on to have six children.

She continued as a farmworker for decades before becoming inspired to start organizing workers. She wouldn't become an organizer until she was in her 40s. Her husband, Arnold, began working with César Chávez and the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) in 1965. Meetings were held in the couple's home, and soon Jessie began to volunteer as well.

After the NFWA became the United Farm Workers (UFW), Jessie became the top recruiter in the union. She led or participated in a variety of actions, such as picketing stores, to advocate for the safety of Mexican American workers and against employer corruption and abuse. 

UFW established its first hiring hall in 1968 and Jessie became the manager. Her tireless efforts led her to even more exposure and activity in organizations like the Fresno County Economic Opportunity Commission, Central California Action Associates, California's Commission on the Status of Women.

Jessie worked to improve UFW as well. Her advocacy led the union to expand opportunities for women in leadership positions, despite strong opposition.

She retired from UFW in 1993 and spent her retirement working with California Rural Legal Assistance and her local Catholic charity. After she died in 2013, her biography was adapted into a television miniseries.

Watch a video with more about the story of Jessie Lopez de la Cruz:

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 03/25/2020 - 11:03
Posted: March 25, 2020, 3:03 pm

Everyone can get coronavirus, but economic inequality means it will be worst for those at the bottom

Coronavirus doesn’t spare the powerful. As of this writing, two members of the House, a senator, and the president of Harvard University have tested positive. But as with so many things in the unequal United States of America, it’s going to be worse for people who are already vulnerable: low-income people, people in rural areas, homeless people, single parents, inmates, and more. There’s […]
Posted: March 25, 2020, 12:12 pm

Trump administration wants states to zip their lips about soaring unemployment numbers

Unemployment is skyrocketing as entire industries shut down or scale back dramatically in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Unemployment claims rose 30% last week, with 281,000 newly jobless people filing for unemployment insurance. But the numbers that are still to come are going to be much worse. How much worse? Well, the Labor Department is asking states not […]
Posted: March 25, 2020, 12:09 pm

Worried Call Center Workers Do Not Understand Why They Are Risking Their Lives for Customer Service

As the coronavirus has shuttered swaths of America’s offices, many workers in corporate call centers say they are still expected to work, risking their own health. Call centers have been deemed “essential” by the Department of Homeland Security, but employees with little paid sick leave say they feel forced to work, in constant fear of infection, in […]
Posted: March 24, 2020, 7:48 pm

Talking About COVID-19: Labor Podcast and Radio Roundup

Talking About COVID-19: 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.

America’s Work Force: The Benefits of Mechanical Insulation: Insulators Union Labor Management Cooperative Trust Executive Director Pete Ielmini talking about the benefits mechanical insulation offers to mechanical systems and the companies where it is properly installed and maintained.

Belabored Podcast #193: Work in the Time of CoronavirusAs the coronavirus spreads across the world, we discuss what it means for workers in health care, the gig economy and other front-line industries.

Building Bridges: What Is to Be Done: Forging a systemic response to address the health and economic crisis of the pandemic, with Dean Baker, senior economist and co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Heartland Labor Forum: It's been 55 years since Selma: How far have we come? Also updates on how the pandemic is affecting Kansas City workers.

IAFF Podcast: Managing Your Retirement Accounts in the Era of COVID-19: "IAFF [Fire Fighters] Financial Corp Chief Financial Officer Carrie Tucker sits down with Mark and Doug to discuss the recent stock market volatility, how it is affecting retirement accounts and what firefighters should be doing during this unprecedented time."

Labor History Today: The Great Postal Strike, Watergate and “Casey Jones, the Union Scab.”

Labor Live@5 (D.C.): A D.C.-based women's social justice a cappella group, SongRise, encourages perseverance, raises awareness, breaks down barriers, touches hearts and inspires action through song. 

State of the UnionsA discussion with Matt Morrison, executive director of Working America, about how the affiliate union is mobilizing millions of workers from all demographics who otherwise lack representation at work.

UCOMM: Understanding the NFLPA Contract BattlePlus, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) on the PRO Act, teachers fight for more funding and more.

Union City Radio: Resources to help survive the economic impact of coronavirus.

Union Strong: COVID-19 relief for working people.

Willamette Wake-UpThe crisis in private sector pensions with Don McIntosh.

WorkWeek: The San Francisco housing and homeless crisis with San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston, port safety with ILWU Local 10 President Trent Willis and more. 

You Are the Current Resident (NALC): A discussion with Executive Vice President Brian Renfroe and Mark Sims, COVID-19 updates and more.

Your Rights At Work (D.C.): The latest on workers and the coronavirus.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 03/24/2020 - 09:10
Posted: March 24, 2020, 1:10 pm

Our Response to the Coronavirus: The Working People Weekly List

Our Response to the Coronavirus: 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.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Talks About the Coronavirus’ Impact on America's Workers: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka talks about the coronavirus’s impact on American workers and what he expects ahead. He talks about the U.S. economy more widely as well, labor’s relationship with Congress and the administration and presidential politics."

AFL-CIO President Trumka on Our Response to the Coronavirus: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was on Bloomberg Radio discussing our response to the coronavirus and our demands moving forward."

AFL-CIO Calls on Federal Government to Protect Entertainment Industry Workers: "With hundreds of thousands of entertainment industry workers suddenly unemployed by the coronavirus shutdown, unions and guilds affiliated with the AFL-CIO’s Department for Professional Employees are calling on President Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Congress to quickly pass emergency relief legislation to enhance and expand state unemployment benefits and send direct cash to the impacted workers they represent.” 

‘At War with No Ammo’: Doctors Say Shortage of Protective Gear Is Dire: "With coronavirus cases soaring, doctors, nurses and other front-line medical workers across the United States are confronting a dire shortage of masks, surgical gowns and eye gear to protect them from the virus."

The Delivery Workers Who Risk Their Health to Bring You Food: "As New Yorkers barricade themselves in their homes to practice “social distancing,” delivery workers, typically an overlooked group, have now taken on outsized significance and are on the front lines of the outbreak. With demand for deliveries surging, a largely immigrant work force has become a critical link, providing food, groceries, medication and many other items that many people can no longer easily access or are unwilling to go out and purchase. Beside risking their own health, workers typically earn meager salaries and have no health insurance or any other labor protections."

Airline Union Leader: ‘The Casualties Are Starting to Pile Up’: "The airline layoffs that began this week will snowball and cripple the industry’s ability to recover once the novel coronavirus pandemic is contained unless federal lawmakers act swiftly to prop up payrolls, the leader of the nation’s top flight attendants union said Friday."

Trumka Praises Workers, Slams Trump and Profiteers on Coronavirus Pandemic: "Workers, union and non-union, are responding magnificently to the coronavirus pandemic, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says. Business and GOP President Donald Trump are another matter."

'I Can’t Overstate How Devastating This Crisis Has Been': "Karen Kent, head of UNITE HERE Local 1, estimates that three-fourths of the 16,000 hospitality workers her union represents are out of work or laid off as a result of coronavirus-related cancellations and cutbacks."

How to Keep U.S. Workers Safe During Coronavirus: "Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka join 'Morning Joe' to discuss safety for U.S. workers and what the labor movement is doing in this time of crisis."

As Coronavirus Deepens Inequality, Inequality Worsens Its Spread: "As the coronavirus spreads across the globe, it appears to be setting off a devastating feedback loop with another of the gravest forces of our time: economic inequality. In societies where the virus hits, it is deepening the consequences of inequality, pushing many of the burdens onto the losers of today’s polarized economies and labor markets. Research suggests that those in lower economic strata are likelier to catch the disease. They are also likelier to die from it."

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on the Coronavirus Pandemic: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was on Bloomberg Business discussing the coronavirus pandemic and its effect on the American worker."

Gig Economy Workers Are Our Newest First Responders: "These low-paid, unsung workers—Instacart shoppers but also the Amazon delivery folks and everyone else who is doing gig work today that helps other people engage in self-protective social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic—are now the equivalent of first responders."

Women's History Month Profiles: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn: "For Women's History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various women who were, and some who still are, leaders and activists working at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Today, we are looking at Elizabeth Gurley Flynn."

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Answers COVID-19 Questions on Facebook Live: "In a Facebook Live event Wednesday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) spoke about working people's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and answered questions from union members."

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Working America, AFL-CIO's Community Affiliate: "On the latest episode of 'State of the Unions,' podcast co-host Julie Greene Collier and guest co-host Carolyn Bobb sit down with Matt Morrison, executive director of Working America, the 3.5 million-member community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, to discuss how the affiliate is mobilizing millions of workers from all demographics who otherwise lack representation at work."

Transit Workers Win Organizing Victories: Worker Wins: "Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with a series of wins for transit workers and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 03/23/2020 - 14:28
Posted: March 23, 2020, 6:28 pm

The Response to COVID-19: What Working People Are Doing This Week

The Response to COVID-19: 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.

Actors' Equity:

Thank you @SenGaryPeters for introducing this legislation. This would protect arts workers by allowing them to apply for unemployment insurance for jobs they had accepted but had not yet started due to postponement by the coronavirus.

— Actors' Equity (@ActorsEquity) March 20, 2020


Thank you @FederalNewsNet for recognizing federal employees who continue to make our government work during these uncertain times. #1u #COVID19

— AFGE (@AFGENational) March 20, 2020


“When things like these episodes break out, we’re on the front lines.” – Leo Laffitte, a custodian for 18 years at the Hartford Public Library, a member of AFSCME Local 1716 and a district vice president for @AFSCMECT4.

— AFSCME (@AFSCME) March 20, 2020

Air Line Pilots Association:

READ: ALPA signs on to #aviation labor #union letter to Cong. "It is imperative that any relief package focus on the workers ...Any federal aid must keep employees on payroll, protect labor rights & come w/ statutory guarantees that the money will go to the frontline workforce"

— ALPA (@WeAreALPA) March 19, 2020

Alliance for Retired Americans:

Election workers are wary. Fearing infection, voters aren't showing up at the polls. #COVID19 has made it even more important for all 50 states to have the option to vote by mail. Sign our petition to demand action:

— Alliance Retirees (@ActiveRetirees) March 19, 2020

Amalgamated Transit Union:

ATU Coronavirus (COVID-19) Alert. To download and share with your fellow ATU members, please click here: #TogetherWeFightTogetherWeWin #1u #OneATU

— ATU, Transit Union (@ATUComm) March 16, 2020

American Federation of Musicians:

The Coronavirus Response Act helps many working people, but it does not help all of us. Many musicians can't qualify for unemployment or other benefits. Tell your legislators to provide relief NOW. #1u #CoronavirusResponse

— AFM (@The_AFM) March 20, 2020

American Federation of Teachers:

We want to take a moment to thank all the nurses, healthcare professionals, educators, faculty, support staff, public employees, and all others who are on the front lines to keep our communities safe during this pandemic. #ThankAFirstResponder

— AFT (@AFTunion) March 19, 2020

American Postal Workers Union:

Today the union signed two memoranda of understanding with USPS temporarily expanding paid leave for PSEs and expanding the use of dependent care leave for postal employees with unexpected childcare needs as a result of the pandemic. #APWUnited

— APWU National (@APWUnational) March 18, 2020

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance:

APALA releases guidance on how to protect AAPI workers in light of the outbreak of COVID-19!

>>>TAKE ACTION 1. Share the guidance on how to protect AAPI workers!
2. Print out and hang the poster in your workplace or place of business to show support!

— Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (@APALAnational) March 5, 2020

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA:

We've seen catastrophe before. We know what didn't work & we won't let that happen again. We need relief that focuses on REAL people.

Tell Congress: Any public relief plan should be #PeopleFirst plan w/ legally-binding rules, incl paycheck continuation.

— AFA-CWA (@afa_cwa) March 20, 2020


We can all use a little good news right now. If you or a #Boilermaker you know has stepped up in a special way during this pandemic crisis, share your story with the Boilermaker Reporter at We are #unionstrong in this together.

— Boilermakers Union (@boilermakernews) March 19, 2020


In response to questions from those in the #construction industry, @CPWR has developed guidance on #COVID-19. Check it out: #coronovarius #1u

— Bricklayers Union (@IUBAC) March 19, 2020

California School Employees Association:

Nearly all of California schools are closed or have announced that they will close because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Governor Newsom has indicated that they may not reopen before the summer break. Please view this thread for more information.

— CSEA (@CSEA_Now) March 18, 2020

Coalition of Black Trade Unionists:

NEW: Statement by CBTU President Terry Melvin on the coronavirus and CBTU’s convention in May.

— CBTU (@CBTU72) March 17, 2020

Coalition of Labor Union Women:

In EVERY state, public service workers are on the frontlines of fighting #COVID19. But in 24 states, they lack the freedom to collectively bargain for improvements that protect all of us. Tell your Rep. to pass the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act 1-877-682-6145 #PSFN

— CLUW National (@CLUWNational) March 12, 2020

Communications Workers of America:

Nearly all of California schools are closed or have announced that they will close because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Governor Newsom has indicated that they may not reopen before the summer break. Please view this thread for more information.

— CSEA (@CSEA_Now) March 18, 2020

Department for Professional Employees:

"Elected officials have a moral responsibility to ensure emergency relief packages address these workers’ unique circumstances." - DPE President @J_Dorning #1u

— Department for Professional Employees (@DPEaflcio) March 20, 2020

Electrical Workers:

Message from @IBEW_CCO James Barry regarding recent updates and Government response to COVID-19 Pandemic

— IBEW (@IBEW) March 20, 2020

Fire Fighters:

Listen to Episode 1 of our #COVID-19 Podcast
Please subscribe, like and share!

— IAFF (@IAFFNewsDesk) March 19, 2020

Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers-USW:

The General Executive Board is placing a suspension on all Local Union Meetings until such time as the COVID-19 virus national emergency quarantine and isolation recommendations are lifted.
Read more from the General Executive Board here:

— Insulators Union (@InsulatorsUnion) March 20, 2020

International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers:

Great resource for Californians from the amazing staff at @LegalAidAtWork !!

— IFPTE (@IFPTE) March 19, 2020

International Labor Communications Association:

Bookmark this @AFLCIO #COVID19 resource page #1u

— Labor Communications (@ILCAonline) March 18, 2020


The growing COVID-19 crisis has roiled the U.S. construction industry from coast to coast, with contractors large and small mired in uncertainty and wondering what their next steps should be. #SocialDistanacing #ThursdayThoughts

— Ironworkers. (@TheIronworkers) March 19, 2020

Jobs with Justice:

Like so many other working people, minor league baseball players are struggling to make ends meet. A brand new organization just launched with aims on changing that. Excited to see what @MiLBAdvocates has in store!

— Jobs With Justice (@jwjnational) March 20, 2020

Labor Council for Latin American Advancement:

¿Qué debo hacer protegerme del coronavirus? ¿Cómo puedo evitar el contagio? ¿Quiénes son las personas que corren mayor riesgo? Mantengámonos informados!

— LCLAA (@LCLAA) March 16, 2020


We have updated our #COVID19 resource center.

📍 Virus prevention tips
📍 Specific guidance for transportation and healthcare workers
📍 Messages and status updates from IAM leadership

— Machinists Union ✈️🚊🚀 (@MachinistsUnion) March 12, 2020

Maritime Trades Department:

We may be waiting on a vaccine for COVID-19, but we already have an antidote for when the boss tries to lay you off for getting sick. It’s called a union. Tell your Congressmember to support the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act at 1-877-682-6145 #PSFN

— MaritimeTrades (@Maritime_Trades) March 12, 2020

Metal Trades Department:

With all of the uncertainty surrounding the stock market and the economy the MTD has posted "A guide to market fluctuations" from Capital Group | American Funds.

— Metal Trades Dept. (@metaltradesafl) March 12, 2020

Mine Workers:

While the coronavirus, at this time, is primarily occurring in America’s coastal states, it will soon move inland. We want to make sure that UMWA members and their families have the proper resources to remain as safe and healthy as possible.

— United Mine Workers (@MineWorkers) March 19, 2020

Musical Artists:

In response to the public health crisis brought on by COVID-19, members of the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds (COBUG) issued the following statement: #AGMAendures #WeAreAGMA

— AGMA (@AGMusicalArtist) March 18, 2020

National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-CWA:

COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
March 16, 2020

— NABET-CWA (@NABETCWA) March 16, 2020

National Association of Letter Carriers:

Mandatory Stand-Up Talk on new customer signature capture process. (Mar 19):

Executive VP Renfroe delivers updates on #COVID19, including the new signature capture process. Listen to the podcast (Ep. 2):

— Letter Carriers (@NALC_National) March 20, 2020

National Day Laborer Organizing Network:

Too many low wage and migrant workers are excluded from paid sick leave n other protections, so we are launching the Immigrant Worker Safety Net Fund to provide immediate support so workers can take care of themselves and their families. Will you chip-in?

— NDLON (@NDLON) March 19, 2020

National Domestic Workers Alliance:

Slowing the spread of the #coronavirus requires most of us to stay home. But many care workers cannot . We can help domestic workers — and all of us — stay safe by donating to the #CoronavirusCareFund. We're all in this together!

— Domestic Workers (@domesticworkers) March 16, 2020

National Nurses United:

Solidarity with workers taking action to protect themselves and their communities during the #COVID19 pandemic!#1u

— NationalNursesUnited (@NationalNurses) March 18, 2020

National Taxi Workers Alliance:

Drivers: We want you to stay safe. We want you to have financial support. Please read our message about available resources. We are here for you during this crisis.

— NY Taxi Workers (@NYTWA) March 16, 2020

The NewsGuild-CWA:

Connectivity is essential in times of crisis.That's why our parent union @CWAunion & allies are asking broadband CEOs to lift data caps, waive fees, & do everything in their power to help people connect to the world from home & stop the spread of COVID-19.

— NewsGuild (@newsguild) March 17, 2020

NFL Players Association:

Players: NOW is the time to reset and refocus. Work on your resume, connect with people you always said you'd get around to connecting with, take an online course.

We have resources with @AthlLife that can help you prepare:

— NFLPA (@NFLPA) March 19, 2020

North America's Building Trades Unions:

In response to the construction industry's questions regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, the following are steps EVERYONE should be taking now:

— The Building Trades (@NABTU) March 12, 2020

Office and Professional Employees:

OPEIU members can access hardship benefits — including healthcare assistance, financial assistance, and homeowner assistance — via @UnionPlus. Learn more at the link below. #1u #COVID19 #OPEIU

— OPEIU (@OPEIU) March 19, 2020

Painters and Allied Trades:

Construction workers demand health coverage for the insured and uninsured. Congress needs to recognize that layoffs, jobsite shutdowns, long-term unemployment and prolonged economic uncertainty put us ALL at risk. #SaveWorkers #WeAreUnion

— GoIUPAT✊🏽 (@GoIUPAT) March 20, 2020

Pride At Work:

Big heartfelt thanks to the millions of grocery and restaurant workers who are on the front lines making sure we have food. They all deserve affordable healthcare.

— Pride at Work (@PrideatWork) March 16, 2020

Professional Aviation Safety Specialists:

LAS tower: PASS alarmed that FAA tech ops workers not immediately informed about test results so they could take proper precautions. Learned about exposure AFTER tower at McCarran was evacuated. FAA must act!@repdinatitus @SenJackyRosen @SenCortezMasto

— PASS (@PASSNational) March 19, 2020

Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union:

RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum's latest column: "The goal of any recovery action and legislation needs to be simple: no worker should suffer loss of income because of this pandemic, including those who aren’t sick or caring for the ill."

— RWDSU (@RWDSU) March 19, 2020


If your employer has reduced your hours or shut down operations due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance. We’ve built a database of governmental agency websites:

— SAG-AFTRA (@sagaftra) March 18, 2020

School Administrators:

School principals say, "It's time to shut down all U.S. schools." @khefling, @PerezJr, @NickNiedz, @cnnbrk, @MSNBC, @FoxNews, @CBSNews, @ABC, @NBCNews, @AP

— AFSA Leadership (@AFSAUnion) March 15, 2020


Important update for SIU members:

— Seafarers Union (@SeafarersUnion) March 20, 2020

Solidarity Center:

As #journalists are thrown out of countries or otherwise prevented from doing their job reporting on #coronavirus, govts are jeopardizing the dissemination of essential facts the public needs to keep themselves safe. #pressfreedom @pressfreedom @RSF_inter

— Solidarity Center (@SolidarityCntr) March 20, 2020

Theatrical Stage Employees:

#IATSEWomen are leading the charge in our efforts to get congress to include entertainment workers in a #COVID19 federal relief package.

Nearly 60% of those who sent letters to congress through our Action Network link are women!#WomensHistoryMonth

— IATSE (@IATSE) March 20, 2020

Transport Workers:

TWU Local 2055 Secretary Treasure Gary Criscuolo (left, green hard hat & Executive Board member Nick Pascale Chicago (right) appeared in a @FOX61News news segment about cleaning @MetroNorth trains during the #coronavirus pandemic #TWURailroadDivision

— TWU (@transportworker) March 19, 2020

Transportation Trades Department:

From TTD President Larry Willis: Lawmakers must ensure bailout & stimulus funds flow to working families, collective bargaining rights must be preserved #COVID19

— Transp. Trades Dept. (@TTDAFLCIO) March 17, 2020


“We’ve been working very closely with the FCA leadership and are very pleased that they have taken this step to help us protect the hard-working men and women and our communities across the nation." - UAW President Rory Gamble

— UAW (@UAW) March 18, 2020


🙏Hope is NOT a strategy.

📝We need a PLAN OF ACTION that addresses urgent & immediate needs of the American worker—not just the American industry.

📲Tell Congress they MUST prioritize #WorkersFirst in any #AirlineBailout.


— UNITE HERE (@unitehere) March 20, 2020

United Food and Commercial Workers:

America’s grocery workers on front lines of #Coronavirus are working long hours to make sure families have food & supplies they need.

These workers need #PaidLeave to keep our communities strong.@SenateMajLdr @SpeakerPelosi @SenSchumer @GOPLeader must cover these workers now.

— UFCW (@UFCW) March 17, 2020

United Steelworkers:

Help keep your members safe & healthy. Check out some materials you can download & share with your local at #Coronavirus #Covid19 #1u

— United Steelworkers (@steelworkers) March 20, 2020

Utility Workers:

If your lights are on, your home is warm, & you have fresh flowing tapwater... thank the UWUA members from across the nation working around the clock to keep all of these services intact. RETWEET to show your support for our hardworking utility workers! #1u #COVID19 #coronavirus

— UWUA National (@The_UWUA) March 18, 2020

Working America:

Big Pharma greed is death profiteering.

— Working America (@WorkingAmerica) March 20, 2020

Writers Guild of America, East:

Schiff is 💯! Many entertainment workers don’t get leave and unemployment benefits due to the unique nature of their work. We need that to change!

Pls call your Reps at 202-223-3121 & urge them to include entertainment industry workers in the next #COVID19 economic relief bill.

— Writers Guild of America, East (@WGAEast) March 19, 2020
Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 03/23/2020 - 13:10
Posted: March 23, 2020, 5:10 pm

OSHA Needs A Prescription for Safety Now

Kimberly Delbrune-Mitter, a cardiac nurse, cares deeply about her patients and remains steadfast in her desire to help them, even as COVID-19 spreads across America. What plagues her about the new disease isn’t that she might encounter it. It’s the lack of guidance, vital information that would help her balance quality care and her own […]
Posted: March 23, 2020, 3:25 pm

Corona and Class Warfare Part II: Stopping a Multi-Dollar CEO Pension Tax Break

Last week I asked everyone to consider the coronavirus pandemic as a pretty clarifying picture of class warfare—who are the people who get hurt most when millions of jobs go away or at best are in limbo because of a nationwide shutdown? It’s working people, minimum wage workers, service workers—almost none of whom have enough […]
Posted: March 23, 2020, 3:11 pm

Corona in the Age of Class Warfare; McKayla’s Bid to Knock Out Hoyer

Pandemics might be one of the single best mass events to shine a light on class warfare, especially in the U.S. Rich people don’t have to worry about getting sick—they can afford extensive care in a country in which millions of working-class people can’t even afford to see a doctor for a run-of-the-mill reason. If […]
Posted: March 23, 2020, 3:09 pm

The Class System of Higher Ed Goes Online

Most American colleges and universities moved courses online over the last week. That shift highlights the class disparities of higher education. For example, at Georgetown, by the time the University President announced that classes were moving online, more than 30 … Continue reading
Posted: March 23, 2020, 12:24 pm

CWA President Chris Shelton Statement in Response to the Senate Republican Stimulus Bill

The GOP stimulus bill as introduced is a monumental failure by a shameless group of privileged politicians who have no idea what working people are going through.

Posted: March 22, 2020, 10:35 pm

Women's History Month Profiles: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

Women's History Month Profiles: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

For Women's History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various women who were, and some who still are, leaders and activists working at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Today, we are looking at Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was born in 1890 in Concord, New Hampshire, to a radical, activist working-class family. When she was 10, the family moved to the South Bronx, where she attended public school. By the time she was 15, Flynn was active in socialist groups. At 15, she gave her first public speech, and the next year she was expelled from high school. She became a full-time organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

In the years leading up to World War I, Flynn was active on women's rights, free speech for IWW speakers and organizing textile strikes in places like Lawrence, Massachusetts, and Paterson, New Jersey. She also worked to organize garment workers in Pennsylvania, silk weavers in New Jersey, restaurant workers in New York City and miners in Minnesota. 

Flynn opposed the war when it broke out, and like many war opponents, she was charged with espionage. The charges were dropped and Flynn began working to defend immigrants threatened with deportation for their opposition to the war.

In 1920, Flynn helped found the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and was elected to the national board. From 1927-1930, she chaired International Labor Defense. During that time she was active in trying to free jailed labor organizers Thomas J. Mooney and Warren K. Billings. For the first half of the 1930s, she withdrew from public life because of bad health, but she returned to public life in 1939 and was re-elected to the ACLU board. When Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin signed a nonaggression pact, the ACLU expelled all Communist Party members from its ranks, including Flynn.

Flynn ran for the Communist Party of America's Central Committee successfully, and ran for a seat in Congress unsuccessfully. During World War II, Flynn fought for women's economic equality. After the war, as communism grew more unpopular in the United States, Flynn shifted back to defending free speech rights for radicals. In 1951, she was arrested for conspiracy to overthrow the government based on the Smith Act of 1940. She spent more than two years in prison.

She returned to political action once she was out of prison, and in 1961, she became the first woman elected national chair of the Communist Pary. A critic of the Soviet Union, Flynn traveled behind the Iron Curtain and was stricken ill. She died in the USSR and was given a state funeral in Red Square.

In his autobiography, journalist Eugene Lyons described Flynn as "the most brilliant woman I had ever met. A veteran of the front trenches in the labor struggle since fifteen, she was, at thirty, attractive, winsomely Irish in her wit and her savor of life, with a remarkably cool intelligence behind her fiery oratory and personality. In the Mesaba Range strike, the Paterson and Lawrence strikes, her eloquence and courage and sweetness had won her tens of thousands of worshipful friends among the workers."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 03/20/2020 - 13:17
Posted: March 20, 2020, 5:17 pm

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Answers COVID-19 Questions on Facebook Live

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Answers COVID-19 Questions on Facebook Live
RLT Coronavirus

In a Facebook Live event Wednesday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) spoke about working people's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and answered questions from union members. 

Lisa, a member of the Ohio Nurses Association/AFT, asked about getting N95 respirators and other vital supplies into the hands of front-line nurses.

Michael, an AFT member in New York, asked what message we can send to ensure that the rich and corporations don’t use this public health crisis to further erode the middle and working classes.

Garrett, a letter carrier in Seattle, asked whether or not this crisis may be an opportunity for the labor movement to increase the number of union jobs in the United States.

Watch the video below to see Trumka's answers to these questions and more discussion of our response to COVID-19. You also can read a transcript of his remarks.

Did you miss the live address that @AFLCIO President @RichardTrumka just gave on Facebook? No worries, we have it here for you. #StateofOurUnions #1u #CoronavirusResponse

Watch now:

— AFL-CIO ✊🏽 (@AFLCIO) March 19, 2020
Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 03/20/2020 - 12:49
Posted: March 20, 2020, 4:49 pm

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Working America, AFL-CIO's Community Affiliate

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Working America, AFL-CIO's Community Affiliate

On the latest episode of "State of the Unions," podcast co-host Julie Greene Collier and guest co-host Carolyn Bobb sit down with Matt Morrison, executive director of Working America, the 3.5 million-member community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, to discuss how the affiliate is mobilizing millions of workers from all demographics who otherwise lack representation at work.

Listen to our previous episodes:

  • A discussion with M.K. Fletcher, AFL-CIO Safety and Health specialist, about all things COVID-19, what the labor movement is doing and how we are responding to ensure that front-line workers' needs are taken care of.

  • Talking with AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre (UFCW) about his journey from being an Ethiopian refugee to success in the labor movement in Orange County, California, and in Washington, D.C., and the people and institutions that helped him along the way.

  • A conversation with the Rev. Leah Daughtry, CEO of "On These Things," about Reconnecting McDowell, an AFT project that takes a holistic approach to revitalizing the education and community of McDowell, West Virginia, and how her faith informs her activism.

  • Talking to Fire Fighters (IAFF) General President Harold Schaitberger about the union’s behavioral health treatment center dedicated to treating IAFF members struggling with addiction and other related behavioral challenges. The discussion also addresses 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.

  • 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 world, much of it cloaked in populist, worker-friendly rhetoric.

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

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 03/18/2020 - 10:38
Posted: March 18, 2020, 2:38 pm

Class and the Challenge of COVID-19

COVID-19, the coronavirus that is spreading across the world, is wreaking havoc on working people and their families.  Weeks after it burst onto the world scene, the end of this deadly threat is still not in sight.  Although it is … Continue reading
Posted: March 16, 2020, 12:13 pm

A Punishment with No End: The Journey of a Working-Class Criminal into Academia

We call ourselves the flower pot kids after the floral themed street names the local council assigned in a vain if well-meaning attempt to brighten up an otherwise dreary area. The council-owned social housing consisted of tattered prefabricated buildings from … Continue reading
Posted: March 9, 2020, 10:57 pm

Class Anxiety: Parasite and Joker

A couple of weeks after the South Korean film Parasite won both Best Foreign Film and Best Picture, Donald Trump went on what the Washington Post called a “nationalistic cultural” rant about the film’s awards. He was upset that a … Continue reading
Posted: March 2, 2020, 12:51 pm

Precarity Goes to the Movies

Two recent events, vastly different in scale and importance, nonetheless point to the importance of the concept of the precariat, a relatively new coinage for the class of exploited, underemployed and temp workers of the world. The Oscars’ celebration of … Continue reading
Posted: February 24, 2020, 12:42 pm

How Polarized Are We?

When I talk with relatives who are not only Trump voters but Trump enthusiasts, I feel pretty damned polarized – especially when I lose my temper and find myself saying some of the things my tribe often hatefully says about … Continue reading
Posted: February 17, 2020, 12:23 pm

Is There a Working-Class Cable News Channel?

The country just began its long march through caucuses and primaries toward the presidential election in November. How will this political story spin out on the major cable news networks, and what will it look like to working-class viewers? The … Continue reading
Posted: February 10, 2020, 12:36 pm

The Class Culture War

New York Times columnist David Brooks has proven himself both interested in and repeatedly confused by the working class. A few weeks ago, in a piece arguing that Bernie Sanders is wrong to blame capitalism for economic inequality, Brooks wrote … Continue reading
Posted: February 3, 2020, 12:43 pm

The Faith and Work Movement Stops Short of Class

The faith and work movement in the United States is an important expression of evangelical attempts to reconcile the demands of the modern workplace with the values of the Christian faith. In a recent opinion piece for The New York … Continue reading
Posted: January 27, 2020, 12:28 pm

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