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Viewpoint: As the West Coast Burns, We Don’t Need Unity. We Need to Point the Finger at Those Responsible

building and vehicle totally destroyed by fire

#NeverForget. #SupportOurTroops. #BostonStrong. Americans often react to tragedy with calls for unity. People want to feel that we’re in this together.

But as fires burn throughout the West Coast, I’d like to offer an alternative vision. What we need now is to point the finger at those responsible. Rather than unity, we need blame and accountability.

Posted: September 25, 2020, 7:13 pm

National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Dora Cervantes

National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Dora Cervantes
Dora Cervantes

Throughout National Hispanic Heritage Month, the AFL-CIO will be profiling labor leaders and activists to spotlight the diverse contributions Hispanics and Latinos have contributed to our movement. Today's profile covers Dora Cervantes.

In nearly 30 years in the labor movement, Cervantes has participated in nearly every aspect of the fight for the rights of working people, and she has a distinguished career that is still going stronger than ever. Cervantes joined the labor movement in 1989, when she became a reservations agent for Southwest Airlines in Houston. Before long, she was an active member of Machinists (IAM) Local 2198, serving as an organizer, shop steward, recording secretary and then vice president.

After a decade of dedicated service, she was chosen to serve as an apprentice organizer for Air Transport District 142 and then became a general chairperson for the district the following year. Tom Buffenbarger, then-IAM international president, later appointed her to serve on IAM's 2002 Blue Ribbon Commission. In the following years, she served as a special representative in the Transportation Department of the IAM Grand Lodge and then Grand Lodge representative.

In 2012, Cervantes was chosen to serve as assistant secretary to then-IAM General Secretary-Treasurer Robert Roach Jr. The next year, she became the first Hispanic woman to serve as a general vice president for IAM. In 2015, she became IAM's 12th general secretary-treasurer, the first woman to direct the union's finances. She continues in this capacity today.

She also serves as a national board member for the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, is an active member of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, is a member of United Against Human Trafficking and is a trustee for the National IAM Benefit Trust Fund and the IAM National 401(k) Plan.

Cervantes holds a bachelor of arts degree in labor studies from the National Labor College and helps teach the Spanish leadership series for the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center and the IAM-Aviation High School Partnership Program.

Cervantes spoke to IAM's ViewPoints program in 2015:

This post originally appeared on the AFL-CIO blog in 2018.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 09/25/2020 - 13:38
Posted: September 25, 2020, 5:38 pm

Your Letters and Parcels Are Piling Up Thanks to the New Privatizer General

As a postal worker I’ve seen firsthand how new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has changed mail delivery in his first months on the job, all in the name of “efficiency.” The results aren’t pretty.

DeJoy’s cost-cutting initiatives in July began with the order that all trucks must leave on time. These trucks take the mail, for instance, from a mail sorting plant to a post office.

Posted: September 25, 2020, 5:05 pm

Return of the Lockout: Uber and Lyft Try to Strong-Arm California

In August a California court ordered Uber and Lyft to reclassify more than 100,000 drivers as regular employees. The two companies, which depend on a business model that defines drivers as independent contractors, got the decision lifted for at least a few months. But in the meantime their threat to shut down operations in California—and […]
Posted: September 25, 2020, 4:28 pm

American Workers Have Lost Control of Their Time. It’s Time To Take It Back.

It wasn’t sup­posed to be like this, accord­ing to John May­nard Keynes. In 1930, the econ­o­mist pre­dict­ed that his grand­chil­dren would be work­ing 15-hour work weeks. Tech­nol­o­gy would have advanced to the point two gen­er­a­tions after his own that work­ers’ aver­age time on the job would be a frac­tion of what it once was. We would all be […]
Posted: September 25, 2020, 3:39 pm

What a Just Transition Would Actually Mean for Workers

just tran•si•tion noun 1. A frame­work to address the liveli­hoods and needs of the work­ers and com­mu­ni­ties most impact­ed by the switch to renew­able ener­gy?“We want [a plan to] mobi­lize the econ­o­my in a way that tran­si­tions us off of fos­sil fuels in 11 years, but also pro­tects every sin­gle work­er [and] their abil­i­ty to have a job and health­care.” —Nicole […]
Posted: September 25, 2020, 3:36 pm

What’s at Stake for the Labor Movement on Election Day? Everything.

Amer­i­ca is in cri­sis. There can be no doubt about that. All of our imme­di­ate crises—the pan­dem­ic and the unem­ploy­ment and the eco­nom­ic col­lapse and the death spi­ral of var­i­ous pub­lic insti­tu­tions—have lent the upcom­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tion an air of emer­gency. For work­ing peo­ple in Amer­i­ca, though, the emer­gency is noth­ing new at all. What […]
Posted: September 25, 2020, 3:27 pm

Midwest Elected Officials Call on AT&T to Suspend Job Cuts to Aid Pandemic Recovery

Elected officials from Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Indiana released letters Wednesday calling on AT&T to suspend its job cuts and offshoring to support America's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Posted: September 24, 2020, 7:04 pm

CWA Veterans Come Together for Social Change

Fourteen military veterans from across CWA completed the first ever CWA Veterans for Social Change Training Institute last week.

Posted: September 24, 2020, 6:56 pm

Keep the Pressure on to Extend PSP Program and Save Thousands of Jobs

With just six days left to extend the critical PSP, CWA members are mobilizing across the country to put pressure on Senators and Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell to take action.

Posted: September 24, 2020, 6:47 pm

CWA, Filipino-American, and Human Rights Groups Applaud Newly-Introduced Philippine Human Rights Act

As Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte escalates his campaign to punish and execute trade union activists, CWA and others united to urge Congress to pass the Philippine Human Rights Act.

Posted: September 24, 2020, 6:35 pm

Organizing Wins in Minneapolis Serve as a Model for the Labor Movement

Organizing Wins in Minneapolis Serve as a Model for the Labor Movement
Minneapolis Model

More than six months have passed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., and more workers across America are joining together in solidarity to create changes in our workplaces. Minneapolis is one city that has seen a wave of worker actions and organizing wins in the hospitality sector, and the labor movement’s successes there will undoubtedly inspire workers in other parts of the country who are looking to form a union

As the Minneapolis hospitality sector moved to reopen this past spring, many service workers began to harness their collective voice to protect their health and safety on the job. Workers at Tattersall Distilling (pictured above) were the first to announce their intention to unionize in June, citing concerns over coronavirus protections as well as pay and benefits. After a series of well-attended community rallies in support of their organizing attempt, Tattersall’s front-end and bottling workers voted to form a union with UNITE HERE Local 17. Employees at Stilheart Distillery, Lawless Distilling and Fair State Brewing followed shortly after, announcing earlier this month that they too had voted to form unions at their respective workplaces.

Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou (UFCW), president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation (MRLF), pointed out that the murder of George Floyd and the nationwide grief over his death prompted many of these workers to fight against disparities in their workplaces. Despite words of condemnation about Floyd’s death from local restaurant and bar owners, workers in many establishments believed that not enough action was being taken to foster equality at work. “What I’m hearing from workers, it’s not just about health and safety. It’s about disparities in our workplaces as well,” Glaubitz Gabiou explained. “These bosses would pay lip service, but their words weren’t living up to their actions.”

The renewed effort to organize workers in the Minneapolis hospitality and entertainment sectors was started in part by a unique program to support laid-off workers. The MRLF-led community services program uses organizers to help workers in need access unemployment benefits and health insurance, while also engaging them in organizing conversations and developing potential organizing leads. The relief effort for laid-off workers in the hospitality and entertainment sectors is a partnership between the labor council and its affiliates, including Local 17.

The Minnesota AFL-CIO has also been involved in these campaigns, sharing its expertise and working behind the scenes to help drive turnout in support of workers’ actions. “Worker safety is community safety,” said state federation Organizing Director Todd Dahlstrom (SEIU).

UNITE HERE Local 17 has taken the lead on these organizing wins, and the local and state labor bodies have been working closely with the union’s officers and members. Local 17’s secretary-treasurer, Sheigh Freeberg, said that working in partnership with the MRLF and the Minnesota AFL-CIO has allowed his union to extend its resources. “It’s been really helpful to brainstorm with them on safety provisions and keep each other updated,” Freeberg said. “What we’ve been able to accomplish can be attributed to them, too.”

Last weekend, workers at Spyhouse Coffee went on a one-day unfair labor practice strike over their safety concerns. Organizers on the ground report that progress is already underway at their cafes across the city. Further organizing leads are being pursued, and with such outstanding progress across Minneapolis, there are likely to be more victories for workers in the days and weeks ahead.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 09/24/2020 - 14:29
Posted: September 24, 2020, 6:29 pm

CWAers are Fired Up to Beat Trump and Retake the Senate!

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of CWA members have gathered virtually to make calls for Biden-Harris and pro-worker U.S. Senate candidates!

Posted: September 24, 2020, 6:16 pm

Fair 5G Webinar Exposes San Diego's Backroom Deal with Verizon

Last week, Fair 5G, a CWA project, held a webinar exposing Verizon's empty promises regarding the 5G rollout in San Diego.

Posted: September 24, 2020, 6:07 pm

How We Can Fix Our Broken Senate

The House of Representatives has passed hundreds of bills that would help working families, but Mitch McConnell has blocked them all.

Posted: September 24, 2020, 6:02 pm

50 Reasons the Trump Administration Is Bad for Workers

50 Reasons the Trump Administration Is Bad for Workers

As a candidate, Donald Trump promised to protect workers and fight for us. President trump hasn't lived up to that noble rhetoric. The Economic Policy Institute reports on 50 ways that the Trump administration has been bad for workers. 

The authors of the study said:

The Trump administration’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic marks the administration’s most glaring failure of leadership. However, the administration’s response to the pandemic is in no way distinct from its approach to governing since President Trump’s first day on the job. The administration has systematically promoted the interests of corporate executives and shareholders over those of working people and failed to protect workers’ safety, wages and rights.

Read the full report to find out all 50 of the ways Trump has been bad for working people.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 09/24/2020 - 13:23
Posted: September 24, 2020, 5:23 pm

Lessons from the NBA Strike for Black Lives

Black and white photo of a crowd people, mostly Black, various ages, all with fists raised in the air.

In their righteous wildcat strikes, professional athletes showed us both how collective action can directly challenge power but also how a workplace campaign can get cut short if we’re not prepared.

Posted: September 24, 2020, 4:31 pm

Corona-fied: Employers Spying on Remote Workers in Their Homes

The future of work is here, ushered in by a global pandemic. But is it turning employment into a Worker’s Paradise of working at home? Or more of a Big Brother panopticon? Disturbing increases in the use of digital surveillance technologies by employers to monitor their remote workers are raising alarm bells. With the number […]
Posted: September 24, 2020, 3:14 pm

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: SMART Members at Wolf Metals Integral to Creating Units That Sanitize PPE

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: SMART Members at Wolf Metals Integral to Creating Units That Sanitize PPE

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

On a Thursday in March, when much of the country was being told to shelter in place due to the effects of COVID-19, members of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 24 in Ohio were beginning to modify and transform Critical Care Decontamination System (CCDS) units to disinfect personal protective equipment (PPE), including N95 masks for health care workers. By Monday, SMART members at Wolf Metals had created four units, with more created since then, to help combat the spread of COVID-19 among front-line health care workers. Local 24 Business Manager Rodney French credited the local union’s partnership with Wolf Metals and noted, “This is the kind of work sheet metal workers were built to do as we stand on the leading edge of the response to this deadly pandemic.” He added, “No matter what the consequences, the men and women of this organization will stand ready to serve our local communities through thick and thin.”

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 09/24/2020 - 09:05
Posted: September 24, 2020, 1:05 pm

Trump Administration Moves to Suppress the Proxy Voting Rights of Working People’s Retirement Plans in Corporate Elections

Trump Administration Moves to Suppress the Proxy Voting Rights of Working People’s Retirement Plans in Corporate Elections

In a partisan 3-2 vote, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved rule changes that will make it harder for investors to hold corporate CEOs accountable by filing shareholder proposals on environmental, social and governance issues. The AFL-CIO strongly opposed these rule changes as a threat to shareholder democracy.

"Corporate CEOs are rejoicing in reaction to Trump’s SEC vote to restrict the ability of investors to file shareholder proposals,” explained AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA). “As a result, working people’s retirement plans will be disenfranchised from having a voice for corporate accountability. This will not stand!”

Today’s SEC vote is not the only effort by the Trump administration to undermine the voting rights of working people’s retirement plans. Earlier this month, the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration proposed new regulations to suppress proxy voting by retirement plans in corporate elections.

Proxy voting is the right to vote at shareholder meetings. It includes voting on important issues such as the election of directors, executive compensation and shareholder proposals on environmental, social and governance issues. For more than three decades, the Labor Department has recognized that the right to vote is a valuable asset.

If adopted, the Labor Department’s new proposed rule making will require that retirement plans first conduct an expensive economic analysis before casting any proxy vote. In effect, the proposed rule’s cost-benefit analysis requirement will act as a deterrent to proxy voting by retirement plansa form of voter suppression.

Even more radically, the proposed rule encourages retirement plans to always vote with corporate management or to refrain from voting altogether. Such a rule will effectively urge retirement plans to violate their fiduciary duty to cast votes in the best interests of retirement plan participants and beneficiaries.

The AFL-CIO strongly believes the retirement savings of working people are our deferred wages and should be voted in our long-term interests. As the corporate scandals of the Enron and WorldCom era showed, the corporate governance of a company is arguably just as important as a company’s financial performance.

Comments on the Department of Labor’s proposed rule on Fiduciary Duties Regarding Proxy Voting and Shareholder Rights are due on Oct. 5.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 09/24/2020 - 08:42
Posted: September 24, 2020, 12:42 pm

National Hispanic Heritage Month Profile of Labor Leader Ernesto Galarza

Throughout National Hispanic Heritage Month, the AFL-CIO will be profiling labor leaders and activists to spotlight the diverse contributions Hispanics and Latinos have contributed to our movement. Today’s profile features Ernesto Galarza. Ernesto Galarza was born in Jalcocotán, Nayarit, Mexico, in 1905 and immigrated to California with his family after the Mexican Revolution began. As a youth, […]
Posted: September 23, 2020, 2:44 pm

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: California Labor Federation Wins New Protections for Workers

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: California Labor Federation Wins New Protections for Workers

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Last Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a package of bills to expand worker protections. The new state laws will provide a workers’ compensation presumption for front-line workers who are afflicted with infectious diseases on the job and a requirement for employers to give timely notification of COVID-19 cases in the workplace. The California Labor Federation, under the leadership of Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski (IAM), took charge of the fight for these new policies. “Since the pandemic began, the California labor movement has strongly advocated for the most robust worker protection policies in the country. Today’s signing of a package of bills to bolster worker protections as the COVID-19 crisis continues shows our commitment as a state to policies that put the health and safety of workers first,” Pulaski said. “While more work must be done in 2021 to strengthen protections to ensure essential workers putting their lives at risk return home safely to their families after each shift, today the governor gave a much-needed boost to all workers across the state.”

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 09/23/2020 - 09:50
Posted: September 23, 2020, 1:50 pm

Pandemic Spurs Nashville Restaurant Workers to Organize

Restaurant workers in Nashville are experimenting with new forms of organizing in response to years of management abuse and the new threat of COVID-19.

In early March, just as the pandemic was looming on the horizon, but before any government-mandated shutdowns, a chef in the city’s rapidly growing restaurant industry started a Facebook page called “Nashville Hospitality Union.” Soon more than 1,000 restaurant workers had joined the page.

Posted: September 23, 2020, 1:17 pm

Return of the Lockout: Uber and Lyft Try to Strong-Arm California

In August a California court ordered Uber and Lyft to reclassify more than 100,000 drivers as regular employees. The two companies, which depend on a business model that defines drivers as independent contractors, got the decision lifted for at least a few months.

But in the meantime their threat to shut down operations in California—and thereby fire thousands of drivers while ending service to millions of customers—raises the question: What do we call this extraordinary corporate stratagem? A public relations gambit? A pressure tactic? Blackmail? A capital strike?

Posted: September 23, 2020, 8:33 am

Brooklyn Teachers Demand Full Remote Instruction

Outside the gates of Brooklyn’s P.S. 139 hung a poster with a report card for the Department of Education. Teachers frustrated with the ever-evolving plan to reopen schools had issued the DOE the following grades:

Timely submission of directives? F
Using data to drive decisions? F
Keeping stakeholders prepared and informed? F
Wasting time, energy, resources, driving us crazy? A+.

Posted: September 22, 2020, 5:36 pm

Working people’s advocates mourn Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not primarily known for her positions on labor issues, though of course many feminist issues are also workplace ones, and Ginsburg’s anti-discrimination work in the 1970s opened up new possibilities for women. In recent years, Ginsburg wrote powerful dissents to the courts’ conservatives’ support of forced arbitration, in which workers are […]
Posted: September 22, 2020, 3:45 pm

CDC Continues to Choose Politics Over Science

CDC Continues to Choose Politics Over Science

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finally acknowledged airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the COVID-19 disease. But this long awaited recognition was promptly retracted from its website Monday morning with the message, “Posted in error.”

The initial, quiet posting on Friday was not an error; they were facts, based on evidence that reflects our current state of knowledge and supported by scientists and occupational safety and health professionals throughout the world. Early in the pandemic, evidence suggested SARS-CoV-2 spread distances through the air, and the current science is now overwhelming. 

In basic terms, “airborne” transmission means that small virus particles we emit when we cough, speak or breathe can travel distances through the air, linger in the air and make others sick, compared to person-to-person contact and “droplet” transmission, which refers to the large, heavy particles that fall down after they are exhaled. Airborne viruses can spread rapidly throughout groups and are much more contagious than those limited to droplet transmission. Environments that put workers at greater risk of airborne viruses include: 

  • Indoor environments.
  • Poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Crowded conditions.
  • Settings with individuals known to be infected (e.g., health care).

Viruses like the one causing COVID-19 can be transmitted through contact, droplet and airborne routes, which have very important implications for protecting workers on the job. Cleaning measures are useful to protect against “contact” and some simple personal protective equipment like face shields and gowns are useful to protect against “droplet” splashes, but the airborne aspect requires stronger workplace protections, including: 

  • Reducing the number of people in a setting.
  • Spacing people far apart.
  • Reducing the time that people spend in the same spaces.
  • Ensuring adequate ventilation.
  • Reorganizing the workplace, break times and schedules.
  • Using certified respirators that filter small aerosolized particles for workers in high-risk settings.

In addition to elements that are critical for workers no matter the transmission:

  • Early identification and reporting to local health authorities of COVID-19 cases in the workplace.
  • Notification of COVID-19 cases to employees and non-punitive leave protections.
  • Adequate training programs.

The CDC is ignoring airborne transmission because they don’t want to admit there is evidence that:

  1. Soundly supports strong, comprehensive and enforceable safety protections that go beyond sanitation recommendations, generic masks and the “six-foot rule.”
  2. Soundly supports the critical need for certified respiratory protection that filters out small, aerosolized particles for many high-risk workers.

The labor movement has been advocating for these strong workplace safety protections throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue calling on the Donald Trump administration to issue a strong, comprehensive OSHA emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 to require and enforce those safety protections, and to use the Defense Production Act to produce more certified respirators needed to protect workers in high-risk settings since there is a continuing shortage. The Trump administration's CDC has once again let working people down, caving to Big Business pressure instead of issuing clear information on transmission that would save lives and improve livelihoods. More than six months into the pandemic, workers still do not have the protections we need and the Trump administration is still playing political games with workers’ lives.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 09/22/2020 - 11:39
Posted: September 22, 2020, 3:39 pm

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Solidarity and Cookies Lift Spirits at Operation Feed Atlantic City

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Solidarity and Cookies Lift Spirits at Operation Feed Atlantic City
Operation Feed Atlantic City

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Nurses bring their healing touch with them wherever they go, and on Thursday members of Shore Nurses Union/NYSNA in New Jersey added a touch of sweetness to the Operation Feed Atlantic City food-distribution program with a donation of 500 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies that will help lift the spirits of laid-off union members and the Atlantic City community. Operation Atlantic City, hosted by the New Jersey State AFL-CIO and now in its eighteenth week, is one of the largest labor-sponsored food relief efforts in the United States. “We’re proud that our unions are part of the largest continuous food-distribution program in the state since the pandemic started,” said state federation President Charles Wowkanech (IUOE). “We're here because the need is still great. We still have thousands of people out of work, struggling to keep the roof over their heads and food on the table.”

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 09/22/2020 - 09:41
Posted: September 22, 2020, 1:41 pm

National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Ernesto Galarza

National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Ernesto Galarza
Ernesto Galarza

Throughout National Hispanic Heritage Month, the AFL-CIO will be profiling labor leaders and activists to spotlight the diverse contributions Hispanics and Latinos have contributed to our movement. Today's profile features Ernesto Galarza.

Ernesto Galarza was born in Jalcocotán, Nayarit, Mexico, in 1905 and immigrated to California with his family after the Mexican Revolution began. As a youth, he assisted his family during harvest season, gathering his first experience as a farmworker. Because he had learned English in school, other Mexican migrant workers asked him to speak to management about polluted drinking water, providing him with his first experience in organizing and activism.

Galarza attended Occidental College on a scholarship and worked summers as a farm laborer and cannery worker. After graduation, he attended Stanford University and earned a master's degree in history and political science. He continued his graduate studies while on a fellowship at Columbia University, where several of his research reports were published. 

Because of his experiences and education, he began to focus his efforts on improving the living conditions of working-class Latinos. This led to him being hired by the Pan American Union (later the Organization of American States) as a research associate. When the union created a Division of Labor and Social Information, Galarza was chosen to lead it. 

In the late 1940s, he was recruited by the National Farm Labor Union, which later became the United Farm Workers, to be director of research and education. Over the next several years, he helped direct numerous strikes and fought back against "right to work" laws. He became a leading figure in exposing abuse of Mexican American workers in government. 

In the ensuing years, Galarza became a leading writer on the plight of Mexican and Mexican American workers and the abuse of farmworkers. During his career, he wrote more than 100 publications and was a professor at the University of Notre Dame, San Jose State University, University of California, San Diego, and University of California, Santa Cruz. 

As an activist, scholar and organizer, it is hard to overstate the impact Galarza had on working-class Mexican American families and our broader culture.

This post originally appeared on the AFL-CIO blog in 2018.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 09/21/2020 - 13:41
Posted: September 21, 2020, 5:41 pm

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: United Steelworkers

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: United Steelworkers

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the United Steelworkers.

Name of Union: The United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW)

Mission: The values upon which the USW was founded in 1942 still guide the organization today. These include: 

  • Uniting in one organization, regardless of creed, color or nationality, all workmen and working women eligible for membership.
  • Increasing the wages and improving the conditions of employment of members by legislation, joint agreements or other legitimate means.
  • Securing equitable statutory old-age pension, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance laws.
  • Enforcing existing just laws and to secure the repeal of those which are unjust.
  • Securing, by legislative enactment, laws protecting the limbs, lives and health of members, protecting their right to organize and other legislation as will be beneficial.

Current Leadership of Union: Thomas M. Conway has served as the international president of the USW since July 15, 2019. Prior to that, he served as the international vice president (administration) since 2005. Born to a New Jersey union household, Conway began his union career in 1978 after serving in the U.S. Air Force.

John E. Shinn serves as international secretary-treasurer, David McCall as international vice president (administration), Fred Redmond as international vice president (human affairs), and Ken Neumann as national director for Canada. Roxanne Brown and Leeann Foster also serve as USW international vice presidents.

Number of Members: 850,000.

Members Work As: USW members work in the steel, aluminum, iron ore, cement, glass, rubber, paper and paper products, oil, chemical and manufacturing industries, as well as in mining and other metals. They work as health care workers, professors, bank workers,  grocery workers, security guards, electricians, pharmaceutical workers, public servants and much more.

Industries Represented: Atomic, chemical, education, energy and utilities, glass, molders, pottery, plastics, health care, pharmacies and pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, metals, mining, oil and petroleum, paper and forestry, public employees, rubber and tires, transportation and more.

HistoryWatch this video or read more at the USW website.

Current Campaigns/Community Efforts: Solidarity Works PodcastUSW @ Work and Other PublicationsFair Trade and various ways to engage in activism with USW.

Learn More: WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 09/21/2020 - 12:54
Posted: September 21, 2020, 4:54 pm

The Unsettling

It’s fire season again.  Two years ago, my parents lost their home in Paradise.  This year, I almost lost mine.  I live in Oregon, where scores of fires were stoked up by unusual Eastern blasts of dry wind over the … Continue reading
Posted: September 21, 2020, 11:10 am

CWA Statement on the Death of Justice Ginsberg

Ruth Bader Ginsberg has served as an inspiration for countless activists. In the critical months ahead, we will follow her example and never, ever stop fighting for justice, for equality and for our democracy.

Posted: September 19, 2020, 3:01 pm

Trump hails ‘manufacturing miracle’ as factories bleed jobs

Trump’s anti-trade agenda and a pandemic-induced recession have combined to shutter factories and accelerate decades-old trends toward automation, eliminating hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs, many for good, including in the Rust Belt states he needs to win in November. The president’s path to the Oval Office was paved by his victory in this factory-intense region, where a […]
Posted: September 18, 2020, 6:39 pm

School and Campus Workers Say: Not Until It's Safe

21 adults in masks outside a school. Together they hold "CAUTION" tape. Handmade signs say "100% remote start," "no mas muertes," "ready or not," "we demand safe schools," "no more martyrs for the DOE #Remote until it's safe" and "people got sick in this buidling."

The push to reopen schools and campuses is hitting educators with a brutal fact: your employer will place you in deadly danger for the sake of the economy.

You knew this already if you worked in a meatpacking plant, an Amazon warehouse, or a construction site. But until 2020 you didn’t think a school or university job might kill you.

Posted: September 18, 2020, 6:12 pm

Exceptions to travel restrictions: getting employees back to the U.S.

Since President Trump declared that the COVID-19 outbreak constituted a national emergency in March, restricting immigration has been one of the administration’s preferred tools to address the outbreak.  One of the first steps President Trump took was to issue a series of Proclamations suspending entry of most foreign nationals traveling from certain countries with a […]
Posted: September 18, 2020, 5:24 pm

Unite Here Is 85% Unemployed and Still Fighting Like Hell

No union in Amer­i­ca has been posi­tioned more direct­ly in the bulls­eye of this pandemic’s eco­nom­ic dev­as­ta­tion than Unite Here, the 300,000-member union of hotel, food ser­vice and casi­no work­ers. In April, its mem­bers were suf­fer­ing a stag­ger­ing 98% unem­ploy­ment rate. Almost six months lat­er, the union is stuck at about 85% unem­ploy­ment. Despite that, it is also the only […]
Posted: September 18, 2020, 5:16 pm

VIDEO: Use Information Requests to Put Some Oomph into Your Contract Enforcement

Black and white drawing shows boss looking annoyed while three workers in his office open cabinets and read through his files

Labor Notes is pleased to present a series of free webinars taught by veteran Boston labor lawyer Robert M. Schwartz.

This webinar, held on September 17, was entitled "Requests for Information" and based on Chapter 4 of Schwartz's popular book The Legal Rights of Union Stewards. The session begins around the 22-second mark.

Posted: September 18, 2020, 4:47 pm

Take Action Now to Save Our Aviation Jobs

There are only 13 days left before the aviation Payroll Support Program (PSP) in the CARES Act expires on September 30th.

Posted: September 17, 2020, 7:26 pm

Organizing Update

Organizing news from around the country.

Posted: September 17, 2020, 7:19 pm

Chicago Health Care Workers on Strike for Safe Staffing, $15 Minimum, PPE

On Friday a Cook County judge filed a partial injunction against nearly 5,500 health care workers preparing to strike the University of Illinois at Chicago’s hospital, clinics, and other campus divisions. The judge cited a “clear and present danger” to patients, reducing the number of union members who could participate in the strike.

But to members of the Illinois Nurses Association and Service Employees Local 73, the clear and present dangers at UIC are unsafe staffing levels, lack of protective equipment, and poverty wages, especially in the coronavirus pandemic.

Posted: September 16, 2020, 8:26 pm

Graduate Employees at University of Michigan Strike over COVID, Police

UPDATE, September 18: GEO membership voted to accept the University of Michigan’s second offer on September 16 and end the nine-day strike. At the union’s largest membership meeting yet, 78 percent of nearly 1,400 members in attendance voted in favor of the agreement. According to a GEO press release, the union won “workable pandemic childcare options; substantive support for international graduate students; transparent COVID-19 testing protocols; and incremental but real movement on our policing demands.”

Posted: September 14, 2020, 10:08 pm

Undelivered: The DeJoy Scandal and Democracy in the Balance

In this turbulent moment, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy aptly symbolizes the precarious state of both our democracy and the workers on whose shoulder its future rests.  Last week,  a Washington Post team uncovered seven former employees of New Breed Logistics … Continue reading
Posted: September 14, 2020, 10:52 am

Unemployed Workers of the World Unite?!?

Karl Marx’s famous phrase spoke of the unemployed as the “industrial reserve army.” His argument was plain. Creating greater unemployment was a key tool in giving employers the upper hand in forcing down wages and disciplining workers. I can still … Continue reading
Posted: September 7, 2020, 12:25 pm

No Class: Why You Should Be Getting Your Labor News from Teen Vogue

Last Wednesday NBA players refused to take the court for their playoff games in order to protest the latest police shooting of an unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake of Kenosha, Wisconsin, who survived the shooting but is now paralyzed. In … Continue reading
Posted: August 31, 2020, 11:07 am

Working-Class Public Housing in the COVID Spotlight

The Covid19 pandemic has highlighted many inequalities experienced by working-class people — insecure work, unsafe work places, access to health care, housing conditions and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on people of colour. Mainstream media has also covered many … Continue reading
Posted: August 24, 2020, 12:13 pm

The Hidden Price of an Education: Black and Working-Class in Academe

In August 2004, I entered a doctoral program at Carnegie Mellon University. My family is from Braddock, Pennsylvania, a largely black neighborhood with working-class roots, and they were ecstatic that I would be their first doctor. I did not know … Continue reading
Posted: August 17, 2020, 11:46 am

Essential Work: The 2020 WCSA Awards

At the center of all the chaos and turmoil of 2020 has been the essential worker on the front lines—from healthcare workers treating those infected with COVID-19 to service workers of all kinds who have kept us fed, supplied, and … Continue reading
Posted: July 13, 2020, 11:50 am

The Downwardly Mobile: How Some People Lose Class Privilege

We have two narratives about class in this country. Perhaps the most prominent is the American Dream – the idea that hard work and moral fortitude can lead people from rages to riches. The second is that of the rigged … Continue reading
Posted: June 29, 2020, 11:55 am

Universal Basic Income and Working-Class Futures

There have been few good things to come out of COVID-19. We’ve seen a genuine sense of community spirit emerge along with greater respect for blue-collar workers in the front line. In the UK, we’ve seen another less obvious shift: … Continue reading
Posted: June 22, 2020, 11:23 am

Racism and the Working Class

When I tell other middle-class professionals who don’t know me well that I’m writing a book about working-class culture, it’s amazing how often they respond approvingly that “white racism” is an important subject.  My reaction, depending on the circumstance, ranges … Continue reading
Posted: June 15, 2020, 12:44 pm