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Review: Chinese Workers Strike against Runaway Factories

China has more strikes per year than any other country, many thousands. These strikes are often unplanned, spontaneous, even chaotic, and the bosses stop at nothing to suppress them: they lie, cheat, call in the police, and hire gangsters to intimidate strikers or even beat them up.

But the strikes keep happening—especially when it becomes clear, usually by the removal of machinery, that the owner is relocating the factory. These frequent relocations have one main cause: employers are moving to regions of China where the wages are lower.

Posted: July 20, 2018, 5:36 pm

Holding Wall Street Accountable

Holding Wall Street Accountable
Dodd-Frank
Getty Images

Tomorrow marks the eighth anniversary of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a key piece of legislation passed to combat the dangerous corporate behavior that sparked the global financial crisis. A decade after the Great Recession, working people are fighting corporate assaults on these commonsense reforms. As AFL‑CIO President Richard Trumka said today, “The labor movement fought hard to win these protections for working people....We need more people whose financial decisions are protected and fewer hedge fund managers who gamble with our lives.”

At the AFL‑CIO Convention last year, working people recognized that Wall Street’s excessive wealth and power is corrupting our economy and our democracy. We resolved to fight back together, working to secure sound regulations that will reign in Wall Street excess, including:

  • Protecting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which protects consumers from tricks and traps in consumer financial products like mortgages and credit cards.

  • Closing the tax loophole for private equity and hedge fund managers that allows these millionaires and billionaires to pay rates lower than middle-class professionals.

  • Closing the CEO performance pay loophole that encourages lavish executive pay packages at taxpayer expense.

  • Levying a tiny tax on Wall Street trades to generate revenue for investments in jobs, education and infrastructure.

  • Ending “too big to fail” banks by restoring a 21st century version of the Glass–Steagall Act’s division between commercial/consumer-oriented banks and investment banks.

  • Taking on Wall Street firms like private equity funds and big banks when they behave in ways that harm working people.

  • And fighting to expose corporate political spending and lobbying that undermines our democracy.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 07/20/2018 - 11:55
Posted: July 20, 2018, 3:55 pm

True Patriotism: The Working People Weekly List

True Patriotism: The Working People Weekly List
Working People Weekly List
AFL-CIO

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

Trumka: True Patriotism in Missouri: "AFL‑CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) spoke at the Missouri AFL‑CIO’s 29th Biennial Convention yesterday, rallying a packed audience of local union leaders and working Missourians in the fight against Prop. A. He recalled the charge that President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered to Americans in the midst of the Great Depression: 'True patriotism urges us to build an even more substantial America where the good things of life may be shared by more of us.'"

18 Regional Hot Dog Toppings for Your Union-Made Cookout: "When you fire up the grill, there’s a good chance your hot dog was made by a United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) member. Oscar Mayer, Boar's Head, Ball Park, Hebrew National and Nathan’s Famous hot dogs are all made by hardworking men and women in union-represented processing facilities across America. While the hot dog might be quintessentially American, what you choose to put on your dog can say a lot about where you live."

Social Security Administration Management Launches All-Out Attack on Our Union, Employees: "In yet another example of an irresponsible, undemocratic, unprecedented attempt to wipe out labor unions from the United States, the Trump administration has ordered federal agencies across the country to begin implementing the three controversial executive orders to obstruct our work fighting discrimination, retaliation and injustices in the federal workplace."

A Dark Veil: "The Trump administration on Tuesday rescinded the Department of Labor’s “persuader rule” requiring companies to disclose any consultants or lawyers contracted for anti-union persuasion efforts. The most recent in a series of anti-worker regulatory rollbacks, the decision has drawn harsh condemnation from union leaders and working people."

Stay Cool with These Ethical Summer Essentials: "Summer’s officially here and it’s time to tame those rays. Whether you’re embracing the blaze on a summer hike, beating the heat by the pool or enjoying that good old fun in the sun somewhere else, Labor 411 has a list of essentials for all your summer adventures. And when you choose one or more items from the list below, you will be supporting ethical companies that treat their employees well and give them good pay and benefits."

Trumka on Crooked Conversations Podcast: 'Collective Action Is on the Rise': "On this week's episode of Crooked Conversations, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka sat down in Missouri for a live recorded conversation with Let America Vote President Jason Kander. The pair discussed the importance of unions, the rise of collective action and the future of the labor movement."

I’ve Worked for Tips for 60 Years. D.C. Council Should Listen to the Voters Who Want to Raise My Wages: "When people ask me when I’m going retire, my answer is always the same: About 15 minutes before I’m dead. I turn 70 this year, and I’ve been working in D.C.—always for tips—since I was 12. My first job, at the concession stand at Arena stage in the early 60s, was one of the better ones. My bosses were kind, and I got to watch the shows that came through town. By the time I got my second job, my wages were 66 cents an hour—not exactly the stuff nest eggs are made of."

Louis Re-elected as Missouri AFL-CIO President: "The Missouri AFL-CIO has chosen Mike Louis to continue in his role as president of the organization. 'Thank you to all of my sister and brother delegates for your support,' Louis said in a statement. 'I will continue to fight as hard as I can to save Missouri from the lies of right to work and to ensure that Missouri’s working-class families live in dignity. It is my honor and a privilege to continue to serve along with Jacob Hummel Secretary-Treasurer and Reggie Thomas Vice President as the President of the Missouri AFL-CIO.'"

Are Tariffs Being Used How They Are Supposed to Be?: "U.S. steel manufacturing is supposed to benefit from the administration tariffs says AFL -CIO trade specialist Celeste Drake. 'The workers who are in the steel and aluminum industry and the businesses that employ them I think are going to be the primary beneficiaries.'"

Stiglitz: Benefits of Multiple Layers of Financial Regulation So Much Higher Than Costs: "Joseph Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University, who was the Nobel laureate in economics in 2001, spoke at a talk on Monday with Damon Silvers, the director of policy and special counsel at the AFL-CIO, part of a day-long strategy session on 'Bargaining for the Common Good in the World of Global Finance' held by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung office in New York, a non-profit political German foundation."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 07/20/2018 - 10:24
Posted: July 20, 2018, 2:24 pm

18 Regional Hot Dog Toppings for Your Union-Made Cookout

18 Regional Hot Dog Toppings for Your Union-Made Cookout
Cleveland Polish Boy
stu_spivack

When you fire up the grill, there’s a good chance your hot dog was made by a United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) member. Oscar Mayer, Boar's Head, Ball Park, Hebrew National and Nathan’s Famous hot dogs are all made by hardworking men and women in union-represented processing facilities across America. While the hot dog might be quintessentially American, what you choose to put on your dog can say a lot about where you live.

Here are some of the most popular regional hot dogs, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council:

1. New York City: New Yorkers eat more hot dogs than any other group in the country. From downtown Manhattan to Coney Island, when you buy your hot dog in the Big Apple, it will come served with steamed onions and a pale, deli-style yellow mustard.

2. Chicago: The possible antithesis to New York dogs, Chicago dogs are layered with yellow mustard, dark green relish, chopped raw onion, a pickle spear, sport peppers, tomato slices and topped with a dash of celery salt and served in a poppy seed bun.

3. Atlanta and the South: Buying a hot dog at Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves, or elsewhere in Atlanta and the South, you’ll find your dog topped with coleslaw and perhaps some delicious Vidalia onions.

4. Kansas City: Get the mints out—you’ll need them when you order up a hot dog in KC, as it is served with sauerkraut and melted Swiss cheese on a sesame seed bun.

5. The Rockie Dog: Served at Coors Field, the home of the Colorado Rockies—is a foot-long dog with grilled peppers, kraut and onions.

6. The Fenway Frank: Served at none other than Fenway Park—is the only dog to eat while watching the Red Sox. It’s boiled and grilled and served in a New England-style bun with mustard and relish. New England dogs also can be found topped with Boston baked beans

7. Sonoran Dog: This Southwestern favorite features a grilled, bacon-wrapped hot dog on a sturdy bun, pinto beans, grilled onions and green peppers, chopped fresh tomatoes, relish, tomatillo jalapeno salsa, mayonnaise, mustard and shredded cheese.

8. The Texas Dog: Chili, cheese and jalapenos make this the favored item at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

9. Michigan Coney Island Dog (aka Michigan Coney): This favorite of Michiganders features a meaty chili sauce on top of a hot dog with mustard and onion.

10. West Virginia Dog: This favorite features chili, mustard and coleslaw atop a wiener on a steamed bun.

11. New Jersey Dog: A variety of hot dog styles can be found in New Jersey but the one most unique to the state is the Italian Dog. It’s a hot dog in thick pizza bread topped with onions, peppers and deep fried potatoes.

12. Philadelphia Dog: A classic Philadelphia dog is one of the most interesting ones you’ll find. It features the brotherly love of an all-beef hot dog with a fish cake inside the bun as well. It is often topped with a sweet vinegary slaw and spicy mustard.

13. Cleveland Polish Boy: Cleveland is home to two unique hot dog offerings. The Polish Boy is a kielbasa or hot dog served on a bun covered with a layer of french fries, a layer of sweet southern-style barbecue sauce or hot sauce and a layer of coleslaw. It is commonly found in carts around town. At Indians games and elsewhere in the city, you can also top your hot dog with Stadium Mustard, a type of brown mustard with similar flavor to a spicy Dijon mustard.

14. Cincinnati Coney: The home of famous chili is also the home of some delicious chili dogs. These are topped with Cincinnati-style chili and usually also feature a heaping mound of grated cheddar cheese on top.

15. Washington, D.C.: The nation’s capital is where you’ll find the half-smoke: a half-pork, half-beef sausage that is like a hot dog but with more coarsely ground meat and a little extra spice. A classic half-smoke is topped with chili, mustard and onions. You can find them in hot dog joints around the city as well as at Nationals Park.

16. California: There are many different hot dog varieties sold throughout the state of California, but the one most unique to the state is a bacon-wrapped dog with grilled onions and peppers. These are favorites from carts around Los Angeles and San Francisco.

17. Seattle: The Seattle dog offers a topping twist not found in many places around the country—cream cheese. The hot dogs are split in half and grilled before being put in a toasted bun and are also topped with grilled onions. Sriracha sauce and jalapeños are popular additions as well.

18. Alaska: True to its roots in the far north, the Alaska dog is commonly called a Reindeer hot dog or sausage, but it isn’t actually made from reindeer meat. Instead the meat is typically caribou. The hot dog is served in a steamed bun with grilled onions that are sometimes sautéed in Coca-Cola.

This post originally appeared at UFCW.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 07/19/2018 - 16:02
Posted: July 19, 2018, 8:02 pm

Town Hall Shines Spotlight on Poverty Wages at American Airlines

Piedmont agent Heather Hudson shared her powerful personal story of how the American Airlines-owned subsidiary is paying its workers poverty wages at a town hall event hosted by Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Posted: July 19, 2018, 5:40 pm

Bargaining Update

The latest bargaining information for Verizon, Frontier Communications, and AT&T Midwest and AT&T Legacy T.

Posted: July 19, 2018, 5:35 pm

Organizing Update

Last week, workers at the Verizon Wireless retail store in Hazleton, Pa., voted to join together in a union.

Posted: July 19, 2018, 5:26 pm

CWAers Rally for Life-Saving Safe Staffing Legislation

CWA members across New York have been working with other unions and allies to pass legislation to set a safe limit on the number of patients nurses can be assigned. 

Posted: July 19, 2018, 5:24 pm

Workers Need Jobs and Wage Increases — Not Corporate Stock Buybacks

Corporations like Wells Fargo are pocketing massive, permanent tax breaks from the Republican corporate tax cut bill and enriching CEOs and wealthy shareholders through stock buybacks.

Posted: July 19, 2018, 5:20 pm

CWA Customer Service Members Build Worker Power in North Carolina

Participants completed CWA's two-day political bootcamp and a six-week follow-up political education and leadership development program.

Posted: July 19, 2018, 5:18 pm

CWA Calls on Government to Protect Workers from Heat

The federal government must establish protections for workers who are subject to extreme heat.

Posted: July 19, 2018, 5:14 pm

FCC Concerns and Broad Public Opposition Should Put an End to Potential Sinclair-Tribune Merger

This week, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai expressed "serious concerns," about the potential Sinclair-Tribune merger, joining a chorus of broad public opposition.

Posted: July 19, 2018, 5:08 pm

CWA Members Fight to Save University of Iowa Labor Center

CWA members are fighting to save the University of Iowa Labor Center after University of Iowa Law School Dean Kevin Washburn announced his plan to close the Center within the next year.

Posted: July 19, 2018, 5:05 pm

Workers See Continued Gains In New Four-Year Deal With Verizon

Verizon workers represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) announced a tentative agreement on a four year extension of the current contract, which was set to expire in August 2019.

Posted: July 19, 2018, 5:04 pm

Social Security Administration Management Launches All-Out Attack on Our Union, Employees

Social Security Administration Management Launches All-Out Attack on Our Union, Employees
AFGE
AFGE

In yet another example of an irresponsible, undemocratic, unprecedented attempt to wipe out labor unions from the United States, the Trump administration has ordered federal agencies across the country to begin implementing the three controversial executive orders to obstruct our work fighting discrimination, retaliation and injustices in the federal workplace.

Following a July 5 memo issued by Office of Personnel Management Director Jeff Pon, on July 9 agencies started shutting union volunteers off their intranet and email systems and drastically cut down official time—the hours union volunteers use to respond to workplace disputes such as discrimination and retaliation complaints filed by employees against management. Agencies also prevent our union reps from taking documents off-site and block us from using unpaid leave to represent workers. 

Here’s what happening at Social Security Administration offices nationwide: 

  • Union volunteers were told to evacuate space by July 31. Space includes union offices, filing cabinets and bulletin boards.

  • SSA canceled all negotiated travel and per diem for union officials to travel to meetings with SSA managers, arbitration witnesses, etc.

  • Official time was slashed by 88%. Taking away official time means taking away employees’ rights to protect themselves against abuses and injustices in the workplace. 

  • Union officials can't use any agency equipment, including phones, computers, photocopy machines, faxes, etc., to communicate with employees, management and others in order to represent employees. 

  • Management walked away from our contract ground rules agreement signed on March 19, 2018. They are imposing no travel reimbursement for negotiators, no caucus space or use of management equipment. They have imposed a shorter bargaining period into the ground rules. 

  • Management eliminates grievance/arbitration option for terminations, performance appraisals and awards. These are now excluded from the grievance procedure.

  • Management fast-tracks performance terminations—with a 30-day improvement period instead of the 150 days under the 2012 contract. 

Red for Feds Day of Action 

Our union has filed lawsuits against the administration. Our union also has been joined by other unions and even members of Congress who are disgusted by this administration’s behavior. The hearing is set for July 25, which is our Day of Action. We will gather in Washington, D.C., and take action in our communities nationwide.

Here's how you can stand up for workers like us on July 25: 

  • Wear red to work. By all of us wearing #RedForFeds on Wednesday, July 25, we can show our strength and our solidarity.

  • Join us in Washington, D.C. If you are able to travel, meet us for our rally outside the courthouse. We will meet on Wednesday, July 25, at 12:30 p.m. at John Marshall Park (333 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.). 

If you're able, join us for our day of action. Click here for more details and to RSVP.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 07/19/2018 - 11:01
Posted: July 19, 2018, 3:01 pm

A Dark Veil

A Dark Veil
DOL
AFL-CIO

The Trump administration on Tuesday rescinded the Department of Labor’s “persuader rule” requiring companies to disclose any consultants or lawyers contracted for anti-union persuasion efforts. The most recent in a series of anti-worker regulatory rollbacks, the decision has drawn harsh condemnation from union leaders and working people.

When the Labor Department issued the rule in 2016, it was hailed as a win for workplace transparency. Workers would have the right to know when their bosses hired outside union-busters to influence organizing decisions.

Then-Secretary of Labor Tom Perez explained it would “ensure that workers have the information they need to make informed decisions about exercising critical workplace rights….Informed decisions are the best decisions.”

In the wake of Tuesday’s announcement, AFL-CIO National Media Director Josh Goldstein slammed the administration’s decision to shield the “sinister practices of employers and their hired guns.”

“By repealing the persuader rule, the Department of Labor is siding with corporate CEOs against good government and transparency,” Goldstein said. “They have thrown a dark veil over the shady groups employers hire to take away the freedoms of working people.”

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 07/19/2018 - 08:08
Posted: July 19, 2018, 12:08 pm

Trumka: True Patriotism in Missouri

Trumka: True Patriotism in Missouri
Missouri AFL-CIO Convention
Missouri AFL-CIO

AFL‑CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) spoke at the Missouri AFL‑CIO’s 29th Biennial Convention yesterday, rallying a packed audience of local union leaders and working Missourians in the fight against Prop. A. He recalled the charge that President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered to Americans in the midst of the Great Depression: “True patriotism urges us to build an even more substantial America where the good things of life may be shared by more of us.”

Working people in Missouri are speaking out and mobilizing their neighbors against a corporate-backed attack on our fundamental economic rights. As union leaders gather in St. Louis, the state’s labor movement is continuing to embody the spirit of collective action currently sweeping the country.

Faced with a right-wing “right to work” law passed by the state legislature, working Missourians took the fight to workplaces and living rooms across the state. As Trumka explained:

You see, the Missouri labor movement defines extraordinary. You needed 100,000 signatures to get right to work on the ballot. You got over 300,000. 213,000 of those were collected by volunteers. Now you are in the process on knocking on hundreds of thousands of doors. Don’t let up. The next three weeks will make the difference.

Trumka connected the efforts in Missouri to the larger fight working people in America face:

We face our own decision today...our own test of progress. And just as FDR had to battle the forces of wealth and greed in his time, we now must confront a corporate onslaught of historic proportions. They want to rip apart the New Deal piece by piece. They want to bankrupt our unions. They want to leave us poor and weak and divided. And the Supreme Court just did their bidding, flushing 41 years of fairness down the toilet in Janus v. AFSCME.

These corporate leeches, wrapped in the American flag and hijacking words like “freedom” and “rights,” have brought the fight here to Missouri. They think they can steamroll us into submission. They think they can send us running for the hills. Well, brothers and sisters, I’ve got news for them: The only place we’re running is to the polls on Aug. 7 to defeat Proposition A!

Trumka also spoke about the impact working people can have on these battles:

You know, I'm a student of the Civil War. History books talk a lot about the leaders. General A did this. General B did that. They don’t talk a lot about the people who really won battles and won wars. They don’t talk about a private or a corporal who sacrificed their own lives for a brother or a sister next to them. You see, the uncommon heroes are workers. People like us. The rank and file. The soldier who's in the trenches. Because when ordinary people come together, we can do extraordinary things.

One of these heroes is Quiema Spencer, a pipe fitter in Kansas City. As a gay, black woman...she hasn’t had it easy. She's always had to work that much harder to build a better life. But she says it wasn't until she joined a union that she truly found her voice. Locking arms with her brothers and sisters in Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Local 533, she realized that we don’t have to take the crumbs we’re being handed anymore. Together, we can demand better. Now Quiema is knocking doors and making calls so every working person in this state and across the country can find their voice, just like she did.

Trumka closed out with optimism and a call to arms:

The labor movement, we are that bull in the ring. We’ve been getting hit over and over again. Every day. From every direction. They’ve held down our pay. They’ve attacked our health care. They’ve tried to kill our pensions, destroy our jobs and leave us begging for scraps. They want national right to work. They want to make the Supreme Court a corporate boardroom.

Well, guess what? Their time is up. Unions are on the move. In every city and every state. Young and old. Black and white. Immigrant and native-born. Gay and straight. Rural and urban. Republican and Democrat.

We’re spoiling for a fight. I say, bring it on! We've taken their best shot, and we're still standing. We’re the true American patriots. We’re fearless. We’re strong. We’re powerful. We’re united. We’re rising in solidarity…real solidarity…where your picket line is my picket line, and my picket line is your picket line. And we won’t stop until we take our country back.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 07/18/2018 - 10:28
Posted: July 18, 2018, 2:28 pm

Groups Petition OSHA to Issue Heat Standard

Peggy Frank, a 63-year-old California postal worker — and also a mother and grandmother — died last week while working her usual route in unusually hot weather. Frank’s heat-related death was not a freak occurrence, nor was it unusual. “An average of more than 2.2 million workers in the agriculture or construction industries worked in extreme heat each […]
Posted: July 18, 2018, 7:56 am

Stay Cool with These Ethical Summer Essentials

Stay Cool with These Ethical Summer Essentials
Ethical summer
Labor 411

Summer’s officially here and it’s time to tame those rays. Whether you’re embracing the blaze on a summer hike, beating the heat by the pool or enjoying that good old fun in the sun somewhere else, Labor 411 has a list of essentials for all your summer adventures. And when you choose one or more items from the list below, you will be supporting ethical companies that treat their employees well and give them good pay and benefits.

Drinks

  • Blumers Root Beer
  • Crystal Springs Water 
  • Dr. Pepper 
  • Gatorade 
  • Hawaiian Punch
  • Minute Maid Lemonade

Beer

  • Bud Light 
  • Budweiser 
  • Dundee Summer Wheat Beer 
  • Henry Weinhards Summer Wheat Ale 
  • Sam Adams Whitewater IPA

Hats 

  • Hatco 
  • Korber Hats 
  • Unionwear

Ice Cream 

  • Breyers 
  • Creamland 
  • Good Humor 
  • Hiland 
  • Perry’s 
  • Tillamook

Sunscreen 

  • Bain de Soleil
  • Coppertone

This post originally appeared at Labor 411.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 07/17/2018 - 14:34
Posted: July 17, 2018, 6:34 pm

Union Tips for U.S. Trips: National Parks

Union Tips for U.S. Trips: National Parks

America’s 60 national parks are filled with treasures that often rival those around the world. Right in our own backyards, union families can experience wonders from glaciers to coral reefs. With so many to choose from, we picked our favorite features and found that “Made-in-America” has never looked so stunning!

1. Endangered GlaciersNorth America was once covered in glaciers.

2. Fantastic Forests

3. Amazing Rock Formations

4. Grand Canyons

  • Yellowstone, Wyoming, is home to its own 24-mile long Grand Canyon. 
  • Grand Canyon, Arizona, where the 277 mile-long canyon is the second most visited national park in the U.S. and is often listed as one of the Wonders of the World.

5. Hot Springs and Geysers

  • Yellowstone which sits in three states—Wyoming, Montana and Idaho—has about 10,000 geysers, hot springs, bubbling mud pots and hot spring terraces.
  • Hot Springs, Arkansas, has 47 hot springs that provide the famous Bathhouse Row with therapeutic waters.

6. Vast Sandy Deserts

  • Death Valley, which sits in both California and Nevada, is the hottest lowest, and driest place in the U.S. It’s so infamous that almost 100 movies and television shows have featured Death Valley. 
  • Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, boasts the tallest sand dunes in North America.

7. Sublime LakesFor some truly great lakes look to these national parks:

8. Coral ReefsTropical marine life may not spring to mind when thinking of national parks but there are several dedicated to preserving endangered coral reefs including: 

9. Massive Caves/Caverns:

Before you leave town, be sure you're taking advantage of all the Union Plus travel benefits—including:

This post originally appeared at Union Plus.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 07/17/2018 - 09:25
Posted: July 17, 2018, 1:25 pm

Trump's Supreme Court pick is eager to take the war on workers up a notch

Another week, another bout of Supreme Court-related horror for workers. Up this week, Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. It’s bad. It’s really, really bad—a reminder that, even following a disastrous-for-workers Supreme Court session, things can get worse. Daily Kos’ own Meteor Blades wrote about Kavanaugh’s awful SeaWorld dissent, noting that Kavanaugh’s demeanor as he makes […]
Posted: July 17, 2018, 7:53 am

Trumka on Crooked Conversations Podcast: 'Collective Action Is on the Rise'

Trumka on Crooked Conversations Podcast: 'Collective Action Is on the Rise'
RLT & Jason Kander
AFL-CIO

On this week's episode of Crooked Conversations, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka sat down in Missouri for a live recorded conversation with Let America Vote President Jason Kander. The pair discussed the importance of unions, the rise of collective action and the future of the labor movement.

See a few highlights below, and check out the full episode here.

On Unions:

Trumka: My son was about 4 years old at the time, and we were in the backyard. And he had one of those little motorized jeeps. He and his buddy were riding around in the back, and I was on the phone talking to somebody about the union, and he heard me say that. So he pulls up in the jeep and he said, "Dad, what's a union?"

And I said to him—there was a little hill there—I said, "Both of you get out of the jeep." I said, "Rich, push that jeep up the hill." And he'd pushed it up a little bit, and he'd slide backward...and he finally gives up. And his buddy Chad was with him. And I said, "Chad, now you help him." And the two grunt a little bit, but they get the jeep to the top of the hill.

And I said, "Son, that's what a union is." It allows people to come together to do things together that they can't do individually. That's a union.

On Young Workers:

Trumka: We organized 262,000 new members last year. And 75% of those members were under the age of 35. Young people are starting to get it more and more and more. They're coming along and saying, “Look, this economy isn't working for us.” So how do we change it? We change it by coming together with our fellow workers, getting the ability to bargain collectively, so we can get a fair share of the wealth that we produce.

On Running for Office:

Trumka: If you’re running for office out there, here’s my advice to you. Stick to kitchen table economics. What are you going to do to help people with their wages, with their health care, with their pension, with their school district, with their retirement?

On Training Workers:

Trumka: One of the best-kept secrets in the United States is that...the labor movement trains more people every year than anybody else other than the military.

Kander: And often times, they’re training folks who just came out of the military as well.

Trumka: We have a special program for that called Helmets to Hardhats. We bring people coming out of the military. We bring them into our apprenticeship program….They are the best skilled people out there. Our building trades people are second to none in the world. People from around the world come and ask us to train them.

On Collective Action:

Trumka: I'm more optimistic right now than I've been in a lot of years, because what we see is collective action is on the rise….People are starting to look for change, and they've decided—rightfully so—that the best way for them to get change is to join with their fellow workers and their neighbors and demand change.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 07/16/2018 - 12:20
Posted: July 16, 2018, 4:20 pm

The Power Is in Our Hands: The Working People Weekly List

The Power Is in Our Hands: The Working People Weekly List
Reject Brett Kavanaugh
AFL-CIO

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

After Janus, Electrical Workers Show the Power Is in Our Hands: "The Supreme Court’s recent Janus decision was despicable, spitting in the face of decades of common-sense precedent. There’s no question about that. But Janus is not the end of our fight."

Trump's Supreme Court Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh Is Deeply Troubling: "Working families deserve a Supreme Court justice who will respect the rights of working people and who will enforce decades of legal precedent that protect us in the workplace. On Monday night, President Donald Trump rejected working men and women by selecting Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy created by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement."

Thousands Rally for Private Pension Fix: "'An attack on one worker is an attack on all workers, and seeing working people come together to fight for what’s right, to have the American people rally with us to protect the benefits we’ve earned is a beautiful thing,' Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga told the crowd that filled the lawn in front of the Statehouse and wound around both sides of the building. 'Nothing is more sacred than the promise of a secure retirement after a lifetime of hard work,' he said."

Could Missouri's Right-to-Work Vote Be a 'Turnaround' for Labor? Unions Hope So: "'Everyone is wanting to write the labor movement’s obituary,' AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler said at a Kansas City rally Tuesday. 'Are we going to let that happen?' The crowd of about 250 union members and volunteers returned a resounding, 'No.' They were gathered for rally at a local pipe-fitters union hall before setting out for a canvassing effort. Shuler flew in from Washington, D.C., to visit what she called the 'ground zero' in the fight over labor."

AFL-CIO Chief Warns Red to Blue Candidates That Being a Democrat Isn’t Enough: "House Democratic candidates in town this week for training at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington got a visit from AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka for some tips on how they can win back working-class voters. 'I don’t have to tell you that you can’t count on the D next to your name to gain our support,' Trumka told Democratic leadership and a room full of candidates on Red to Blue, the DCCC’s program for its strongest candidates."

Belabored Podcast #155: The Future of Collective Action: "But it’s worth remembering that for every devastating Supreme Court decision, anti-union executive order or rollback to public benefits, glimmers of hope are present on the front lines. In the belly of the political beast in D.C., grassroots organizers gathered at the AFL-CIO headquarters to discuss collective action under Trump, beyond the beltway. Activists representing teachers, housekeepers, graduate students and airline workers talked about union power in the wake of the Janus decision and keeping hope alive for the next generation of young labor leaders."

If You Live in Missouri, Vote 'No' on Proposition A: "On Aug. 7, Missouri voters will have the chance to vote against Prop. A, a divisive attack on working people funded by big corporations and their wealthy allies. The misleading measure is a direct attack on the rights of the working people of Missouri."

Are We in a Trade War?: "TV pundits keep repeating that we’re in a 'trade war.' What does that even mean?"

U.S. Trade Deals Mean Justice for Some, Not Justice for All: "2017 was another banner year of justice for sale, reveals the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s annual review of investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) cases. What does the report say? It reveals lots of new ways global investors are undermining democracy in private tribunals."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 07/16/2018 - 11:22
Posted: July 16, 2018, 3:22 pm

Walmart patents technology to eavesdrop on workers

Walmart has just patented surveillance technology which would allow it to eavesdrop on worker’s conversations and help monitor them to ensure they meet the company’s “performance metrics.” The “Listening to the Frontend” system would collect audio data from the stores’ cashier areas, allowing it to pick up everything from beeps to conversations with customers to, potentially, conversations […]
Posted: July 16, 2018, 7:51 am

D.C. Council moves to overrule voters, reinstall tipped wage system

This week, the majority of the D.C. Council supported a repeal of Initiative 77. Initiative 77 is the ballot measure voters approved in June that eliminates the tipped minimum wage and would gradually phase out the tipped workers’ minimum wage, so that by 2026, all workers are paid the same minimum wage. Fifty-six percent of […]
Posted: July 13, 2018, 7:44 am

Woman Who 'Flipped Off' President Loses Termination Lawsuit

The woman who was infamously fired after giving the middle finger to President Trump has lost her wrongful termination case. A Virginia judge tossed Juli Briskman’s lawsuit, finding no First Amendment protection for private sector employees. The ruling was not unexpected. In general, private employees are not shielded from repercussions for their words or actions, […]
Posted: July 12, 2018, 7:40 am

Kavanaugh: Threat to Workers and to OSHA

While most of the discussion of President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court focuses on the possibility that he will be the deciding vote to repeal Rowe v. Wade or that the will bend over backwards to help Trump out of the Russia investigation, there is clear evidence that Kavanaugh is overly […]
Posted: July 11, 2018, 8:05 am

Trump’s Supreme Court Pick Could Spell a Fresh Hell for Workers’ Rights

On Monday, President Donald Trump announced his nomination of conservative Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, Chief Justice John Roberts, a fellow conservative, will become the ideological and political center of the Supreme Court, and protections for women, minorities, voting rights, civil liberties and […]
Posted: July 10, 2018, 10:00 am

When Workers Don’t Get Paid: 3 Contributors to Wage Theft

Wage theft, sometimes known as time theft against employees, has been in the news a lot lately. That’s due to a study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and another by Elizabeth Tippett of the University of Oregon, featured on NPR’s Planet Money podcast. Recently, TSheets, a time tracking software company, ran a survey of […]
Posted: July 9, 2018, 12:53 pm

Iowa’s Next Election: Bridging the Urban-Rural and Class Divide

My home state of Iowa famously gave Barack Obama a convincing victory in the Democratic caucuses in 2008, the first triumph that launched a young U.S. senator from Illinois to become the first African-American president. Obama ultimately won two terms, … Continue reading
Posted: July 9, 2018, 11:18 am

Viewpoint: Making the Union a Personal Choice Gives Ground to the Boss

Editor's note: This viewpoint is part of an ongoing debate about how unions should deal with free riders. Check out previous installments here.

Posted: July 6, 2018, 5:53 pm

Serena Williams’ French Open ordeal proves maternity rights in pro sports have a long way to go

Last month, Serena Williams — the greatest athlete of our time (don’t @ me, it’s true) — played in her first major tournament since giving birth to her daughter. But, as excited as fans and media touts were to have her back competing, most were outraged when they discovered that she would have to enter […]
Posted: July 6, 2018, 10:47 am

Minimum wage workers just got a raise in two states, D.C., and 15 cities or counties

Minimum wage workers in two states, Washington, DC, and 15 cities and counties got a raise on Sunday. These state and local governments had passed laws to increase the minimum wage on a schedule, with July 1 and January 1 being the most common dates for raises. Oregon doesn’t have a single statewide minimum wage, but it […]
Posted: July 5, 2018, 12:33 pm

Welcome, Bianca and Barbara!

Labor Notes is thrilled to announce two fantastic new hires! Bianca Cunningham and Barbara Madeloni will be joining our staff this summer.

Bianca Cunningham will be our newest Staff Organizer. Bianca got her start in the labor movement as a Verizon retail worker—she was a leader in the 2014 drive that won a union at seven stores, breaking into wireless retail for the first time in company history. Those workers went on to win their first union contract when they joined landline workers in the electrifying 2016 Verizon strike.

Posted: July 3, 2018, 6:32 pm

Be Democratic

July 02, 2018 / Labor Notes
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Organizing in its best sense—helping people work together to achieve what they want—is at the root of union democracy.

Posted: July 2, 2018, 7:00 pm

Fight the Boss

July 02, 2018 / Labor Notes
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You’re not asking co-workers to join a social club or an insurance plan. You’re asking them to join a fight over issues that matter.

Posted: July 2, 2018, 6:55 pm

Turn Up the Heat

July 02, 2018 / Labor Notes
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To scale up and tackle big goals takes time and planning. A good campaign starts small and builds.

Posted: July 2, 2018, 6:50 pm

Ask People to Join

July 02, 2018 / Labor Notes
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The best approach is to integrate the membership ‘ask’ into union routines and workplace campaigns

Posted: July 2, 2018, 6:45 pm

Count Noses

July 02, 2018 / Labor Notes
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You’ll need a system to track members and potential members, with maps and lists. Get to know the informal leaders in the workplace.

Posted: July 2, 2018, 6:40 pm

Don't Go It Alone

July 02, 2018 / Labor Notes
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To succeed, your organizing has to combine action on the job with a fight for justice in the wider society.

Posted: July 2, 2018, 6:35 pm

Rebuilding Power in Open-Shop America: A Labor Notes Guide

July 02, 2018 / Labor Notes
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The moment you may have been dreading arrived June 27, when the Supreme Court imposed the open shop on the public sector nationwide with its decision in Janus v. AFSCME District 31.

Instead of the usual mix of articles, this month we’re sharing a special expanded issue of Labor Notes devoted to one topic: our survival guide for rebuilding power in open-shop America. (Are you in the private sector and think this won’t affect you? Don’t get too cozy.)

Posted: July 2, 2018, 4:40 pm

Working-Class Pride: Promise or Peril?

Pride in something seems to be a good thing to have. But pride can lead to prejudice. And it can also lead to displacement and erasure. For many, President Trump’s promise on Inauguration Day, that “From this moment on, it’s … Continue reading
Posted: June 25, 2018, 11:28 am

This is Your Daughter’s Labor Movement

If there is going to be a revival of the U.S. labor movement, it’s likely that women are going to lead it. Women activists, especially young women of color, are doing much more than resuscitating traditional unions; they’re pushing boundaries … Continue reading
Posted: June 18, 2018, 11:36 am

Relocating the Dream: Working-Class Housing as History and Spectacle

This week marks the beginning of the Venice Biennale – an internationally-acclaimed series of events and exhibitions showcasing the arts and architecture. However this year, one exhibition in particular has been met with a wave of campaigning and protest in … Continue reading
Posted: June 4, 2018, 11:25 am

Class at the Forefront: 2018 Working-Class Studies Association Awards

Since the 2016 election, the working class has been repeatedly blamed in the news for electing Trump, though as many have argued, the issue of class is a far more complicated and often misunderstood category that defies such summary scapegoating. … Continue reading
Posted: May 28, 2018, 11:08 am

The Future of Working-Class Studies

In 2005, John Russo and Sherry Linkon published their edited collection New Working-Class Studies, drawing together a rich array of writers across a range of disciplines. This was by no means the first book that addressed working-class life and culture, … Continue reading
Posted: May 21, 2018, 11:08 am

We Need a Working-Class Ranking System

Lists that rank U.S. colleges are everywhere these days.  You can find images of the “most beautiful” or “safest” campuses on Facebook.  Every major news magazine seems to have its own rankings system.  All of this started with US News … Continue reading
Posted: May 14, 2018, 10:56 am

The Royal Family and Their Working-Class Fans

With babies, engagements, and impending weddings, the media have a never-ending supply of stories about the British royal family. While most focus on the younger members, the Queen is never too far away. Various anniversaries are marked with pomp and … Continue reading
Posted: May 7, 2018, 11:26 am

Class, Politics, and the Return of Roseanne

When ABC brought Roseanne back to life on March 27 it attracted more than 25 million viewers to its initial episode—and an additional 5-10 million caught the second airing or streamed it online. In today’s media ecosystem these numbers are … Continue reading
Posted: April 30, 2018, 11:58 am

Becky and the Grind

Becky and the Grind Becky’s aunt had given her $300 to catch up on her electric bill so the power would not be turned off in her apartment.  But when Aunt Millie checked with the electric company, the outstanding bills … Continue reading
Posted: April 23, 2018, 2:26 pm