AFL-CIO Weblog

Syndicate content
AFL-CIO Now Blog
Updated: 1 day 10 hours ago

Best Candidates for Working People, 2018: Martin Heinrich

Thu, 2018-10-18 09:29
Best Candidates for Working People, 2018: Martin Heinrich AFL-CIO

This November's elections are shaping up to be among the most consequential in recent U.S. history. Throughout the summer and fall, we've been taking a look at the best candidates for working people. Today, we feature Sen. Martin Heinrich from New Mexico.

Here are some of the key reasons why Heinrich is one of the best candidates for working people in 2018:

  • His father Pete was an immigrant who served in the U.S. military before becoming a lineman with the Electrical Workers (IBEW), so Heinrich grew up in a union household.

  • As Albuquerque City Council president, he fought to raise the minimum wage, institute community policing and create green building codes.

  • In the Senate, he serves on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where he is leading efforts to create good jobs and a cleaner energy future.

  • Heinrich also serves on the Armed Services Committee where he has worked tirelessly to help service members and veterans get prepared for the careers of today and tomorrow.

  • He has worked to close the gender pay gap.

  • Heinrich has fought to raise the federal minimum wage to $15.

  • He has worked with local businesses and national labs to develop new products and businesses that create local jobs.

  • Heinrich wants to expand investment in education and infrastructure.

  • He has championed renewable energy investments in New Mexico to export clean energy to other states, creating more jobs in the process.

  • Heinrich created public land protections that have helped fuel the state's outdoor recreation industry, creating thousands of jobs.

  • He secured job retraining benefits for laid-off miners.

  • Heinrich is working to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug costs for seniors.

  • He wants to expand Medicare, Medicaid and other programs to provide access to quality health care.

  • Heinrich helped win a delay in the so-called Cadillac Tax on many union health plans and is working to eliminate the tax altogether.

  • He helped close the Medicare Part D "donut hole."

  • Heinrich supports comprehensive immigration reform that protects Dreamers and includes an earned and fair path to citizenship.

  • He voted to strengthen education benefits for veterans and their children.

To learn more about Heinrich, visit his website.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 10/18/2018 - 09:29

Tags: Elections 2018

The U.S. Needs to Do More to Protect Basic Labor Rights in Honduras

Wed, 2018-10-17 16:00
The U.S. Needs to Do More to Protect Basic Labor Rights in Honduras AFL-CIO

The U.S. Department of Labor recently issued a “progress” report on the Honduran government’s implementation of an action plan (MAP) negotiated between the parties in 2015. The MAP was developed in response to a complaint filed in 2012 by the AFL-CIO, Honduran unions and Honduran nongovernmental organizations under the Central America Free Trade Agreement’s (CAFTA) labor chapter, which included cases concerning child labor, illegally low pay, and denial of the right to organize and to bargain. The U.S. government found that nearly every claim in the petition was supported by the evidence and that the Honduran government had in fact routinely failed to enforce its laws.

While a handful of the 17 cases in the 2012 complaint have been resolved due to the intervention of the U.S. government, the situation in Honduras is fundamentally unchanged. The majority of cases in the complaint are unresolved, particularly in the agricultural sector. Meanwhile, employers commit new systematic violations. Despite an important new labor inspection law and the hiring of new inspectors, labor law continues to be violated routinely without meaningful consequences. While fines have been increased and levied, none are actually being collected, nor are the violations being resolved. Since 2012, we have seen numerous unions busted—some with government involvement and all without government action to provide a remedy. Violence against trade unionists remains a serious problem. For example, in 2017, a worker and union member at a melon exporter was attacked and wounded with a machete as a consequence of his union activity. Trade unionists also have suffered in post-election violence. No one has been held accountable for these crimes. In the coming weeks, we will provide a detailed report card on the MAP.

After focusing on progress, the current U.S. government report concludes that much work remains to be done, with persistent shortcomings in enforcement. The report names a few of the most notably intransigent employers violating the law such as Kyungshin Lear in auto parts and SurAgro-Fyffes in produce. Just as employers such as Hanesbrands and Pinehurst in the maquila sector have been freed from targeted enforcement after remediating previous violations, those employers who remain in violation should be effectively targeted for increased enforcement. The report also raises, for the first time, the issue of ongoing violence against unions, yet fails to hold Honduras and its employers accountable for the failures documented in the workers' 2012 petition and 2015 U.S. government report.

Over 6.5 years, the governments of the United States and Honduras have consulted regularly on the MAP and have implemented a number of capacity-building programs. However, conditions on the ground for most Honduran workers remain just as dire as they were in 2012. Workers trying to use trade agreements to defend their rights have seen this before. A CAFTA petition to defend workers in Guatemala lingered in the enforcement system for over nine years before being dismissed without any improvement in conditions. The same cannot happen here. We urge the U.S. government, therefore, to move to the next step in the dispute settlement process to show that the steps taken so far are woefully insufficient to establish respect for basic labor rights in Honduras.

The above photo was taken at a memorial for Berta Cáceres, a Honduran indigenous rights and environmental activist who was murdered in 2016.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 10/17/2018 - 16:00

Tags: Honduras

Introducing the 'State of the Unions' Podcast

Wed, 2018-10-17 12:12
Introducing the 'State of the Unions' Podcast AFL-CIO

The AFL-CIO has launched another tool to bring you the issues and stories that matter to working people. Our new podcast, “State of the Unions,” officially debuted today with an interview with Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician who helped expose the Flint, Michigan, water crisis.

One in four Americans listen to podcasts on a monthly basis. “State of the Unions” will capture the stories of workers across the country. It’s hosted by two young and diverse members of the AFL-CIO team: Political Mobilization Director Julie Greene and Executive Speechwriter Tim Schlittner. A new episode will drop every other Wednesday featuring interesting interviews with workers and our allies across the country, as well as compelling insights from the podcast’s hosts.

Learn more about Julie and Tim in their inaugural episode and check out their interview with Dr. Hanna-Attisha.

The upcoming schedule is as follows:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 31: Mayor Dahlia Vertreese (IUOE) of Hillside, New Jersey.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 14: Post-election recap and analysis.

State of the Unions” is available on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and anywhere else you can find podcasts.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 10/17/2018 - 12:12

Best Candidates for Working People, 2018: Paulette Jordan

Wed, 2018-10-17 08:03
Best Candidates for Working People, 2018: Paulette Jordan AFL-CIO

This November's elections are shaping up to be among the most consequential in recent U.S. history. Throughout the summer and fall, we've been taking a look at the best candidates for working people. Today, we feature Idaho gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan.

Here are some of the key reasons why Jordan is one of the best candidates for working people in 2018:

  • She will look at every opportunity to raise the minimum wage gradually.

  • Jordan wants to expand and further develop the state's renewable energy resources, including wind, solar, water, geothermal and biomass.

  • She will invest in STEM education at the high school level.

  • Jordan plans to create public-private partnerships among universities, technology companies and the Idaho National Laboratory that will expand job opportunities in the information technology sector.

  • She will pursue a strategic national marketing campaign to boost the state's tourism industry and create jobs.

  • Jordan is proposing a plan for a statewide transportation system that will link rural areas to urban areas and increase tourism opportunities.

  • She will expand broadband access, particularly in rural areas and on tribal lands.

  • Jordan wants to implement an opt-in statewide universal preschool program to help prepare more students for participation in higher education and the workforce and create more education jobs.

  • She wants to improve teacher pay to make Idaho competitive with neighboring states.

  • As a legislator, she introduced a bill to forgive teachers' student loan debts if they worked in rural schools and she wants more programs like this to be instituted.

  • Jordan wants to expand advanced placement and dual-credit classes in high schools to help students be more prepared for higher education.

  • She favors expanding Medicaid.

  • She will pursue a public medical school to increase the number of doctors, nurses, physician assistants and pharmacists working in the state.

  • Jordan wants to expand Idaho's participation in the clean energy and sustainability sector.

To learn more about Jordan, visit her website.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 10/17/2018 - 08:03

Tags: Elections 2018

National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Baldemar Velásquez

Mon, 2018-10-15 10:56
National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Baldemar Velásquez NC State AFL-CIO

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

Baldemar Velásquez was born in 1947 in Pharr, Texas, the son of migrant farm workers who were the second generation to work in that field in the United States. By the time he was five years old, Velásquez joined his family picking sugar beets and tomatoes. He used that experience, along with the inspiration of Mahatma Gandhi, César Chávez and Martin Luther King Jr., to pursue a career improving the lives of migrant farm workers.

At the age of 12, he led his first strike, helping migrant workers at his summer job win better wages. After high school, he attended several colleges, graduating from Bluffton College in 1969 with a degree in sociology. He continued working while in college, and in 1967, Velásquez founded the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) with his father. The initial idea behind the committee was to organize farm workers to seek improvements in pay, housing and education for pickers. Soon, Velásquez and FLOC were organizing strikes and other actions to convince growers to raise wages and improve working conditions. FLOC had significant success until the American Farm Bureau Federation convinced some growers to withdraw from the market and others to refuse to honor contracts.

In the 1970s, FLOC shifted its attention toward national and international companies, with Velásquez saying that the previous focus on local growers was a mistake and that real change would come from confronting farm-related corporations instead. The new strategy led to victories, including the 1978 strike against the Campbell Soup Co., which was the largest agricultural labor action in the history of the Midwest and which led to the first three-way contract with industry, grower associations and workers. That success led to expanded actions in the South, most notably with successful campaigns for workers at the Mt. Olive Pickle Co. in the 1990s and at R.J. Reynolds tobacco in the 2000s. FLOC became a fully chartered international union and full affiliate of the AFL-CIO in 2006.

His many years of activism on behalf of farm workers led to widespread recognition for Velásquez. In 1989, he was awarded a MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellowship. In 1994, he received the Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award from the National Council of La Raza and the Aguila Azteca Award, the highest honor Mexico gives to non-citizens. He also has been awarded honorary doctoral degrees from several universities, including Bowling Green State University, Bluffton University and the University of Toledo. Velásquez continues as president of FLOC today and advocated on behalf of all workers as a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 10/15/2018 - 10:56

An Upsurge in Collective Action: The Working People Weekly List

Mon, 2018-10-15 10:38
An Upsurge in Collective Action: The 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.

AFL-CIO's Trumka Is Optimistic About the Midterms: "Big labor is optimistic about the 2018 midterm elections because, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, progressives have been working together to oust anti-labor Republicans. 'There’s been this real upsurge in collective action where people say the political system isn’t working for me, the economic system isn’t working for me, so how am I going to make change?' Mr. Trumka said in an interview last week. 'They’ve worked with each other.'"

A Record Number of Women Are Running for Office. This Election Cycle, They Didn't Wait for an Invite: "A record number of women are running for the U.S. House, Senate and state legislatures this year—more than any other election in U.S. history. Traditionally, the major political parties scout out their potential candidates. And typically, says Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, men are sought after more than women."

AFL-CIO Says Ad Investment Marks 'Historic' Initiative in Communities of Color: "GOTV Radio Ad Airing on African American and Spanish-Language Radio. The AFL-CIO this week launched a massive get-out-the-vote campaign, airing ads on African American and Spanish-language radio in 26 targeted media markets across the country. The high six-figure buy marks the largest such investment in communities of color in the AFL-CIO’s history. The ad buy includes multiple media markets throughout Georgia, including Atlanta, Albany, Columbus and Augusta."

Why Nearly 8,000 Marriott Workers Are Striking in 8 Cities: "Thousands of hotel employees are refusing to go to work at Marriott-owned hotels in eight major U.S. cities, citing mounting frustration over stalled negotiations for higher wages and safety measures. As of Wednesday, nearly 8,000 housekeepers, bartenders, and other service workers had walked off the job at 23 hotels in Detroit, Boston, San Diego, San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco, Maui and Oahu, according to their labor union, Unite Here, which represents more than 20,000 Marriott workers in the United States and Canada."

Trade Talks Episode 57: It's Fun to Discuss the USMCA—the New NAFTA: "Soumaya Keynes and Chad Bown describe key elements of the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, or USMCA, announced on October 1, 2018. Beneath the spin, they analyze what the deal really does, including where new market access has been granted, and where new rules have been written. Will the new deal generate American jobs in car manufacturing? Will it strengthen Mexico's labor standards? Will it stop Canada from signing a future trade deal with China?"

Best Candidates for Working People, 2018: Tammy Baldwin: "This November's elections are shaping up to be among the most consequential in recent U.S. history. Throughout the summer and fall, we are taking a look at the best candidates for working people. Today, we feature Sen. Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin."

National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Henry L. 'Hank' Lacayo: "Throughout National Hispanic Heritage Month, the AFL-CIO will be profiling labor leaders and activists to spotlight the diverse contributions Hispanics and Latinos have made to our movement. Today's profile features Henry L. 'Hank' Lacayo."

Best Candidates for Working People, 2018: Julie Blaha: "This November's elections are shaping up to be among the most consequential in recent U.S. history. Throughout the summer and fall, we are taking a look at the best candidates for working people. Today, we feature Minnesota state auditor candidate Julie Blaha."

Economy Gains 134,000 Jobs in September; Unemployment Down Slightly to 3.7%: "The U.S. economy gained 134,000 jobs in September, and unemployment was down slightly to 3.7%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Continued slow wage growth means the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee is premature in raising interest rates."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 10/15/2018 - 10:38

National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Linda Chavez-Thompson

Fri, 2018-10-12 09:14
National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Linda Chavez-Thompson Wikimedia Commons

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

A second-generation American of Mexican descent, Chavez-Thompson grew up in Lubbock, Texas. An oft-told anecdote from her childhood told the story of a young Chavez-Thompson convincing her father that her mother should stay home and care for the household rather than working in the fields. She and her siblings threatened to walk off the job in support of her mother. Her father agreed and Chavez-Thompson got her first organizing victory.

In 1967, she started working as a secretary at the Laborers (LIUNA) local in Lubbock. As the only bilingual staff member, she soon became the union representative for Spanish-speaking LIUNA members. Before long, she was drafting grievances for workers and representing them in administrative proceedings.

Later, she moved to San Antonio and began working with AFSCME. In 1986, she began serving as a national vice president for the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. Her accomplishments and hard work helped her become an international vice president of AFSCME in 1988, and in 1993, she was elected to serve as a vice president on the AFL-CIO Executive Council. In 1995, she won her election to become the federation's first elected executive vice president. She was the first person of color to hold one of the AFL-CIO's top three positions.

During her time as an AFL-CIO officer, Chavez-Thompson focused heavily on recruitment, particularly trying to convince more women and people of color to join unions. She also focused on teaching the importance of unions to young people. Even more successful were her efforts to partner with community groups in recruiting members and fighting back against anti-union efforts. She represented the federation and working people in a variety of organizations, including the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the United Way of America and the Democratic National Committee. She also was elected president of the Inter-American Regional Organization of Workers, a part of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.

Chavez-Thompson retired from the AFL-CIO in 2007.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 10/12/2018 - 09:14

Best Candidates for Working People, 2018: Tammy Baldwin

Wed, 2018-10-10 10:29
Best Candidates for Working People, 2018: Tammy Baldwin AFL-CIO

This November's elections are shaping up to be among the most consequential in recent U.S. history. Throughout the summer and fall, we are taking a look at the best candidates for working people. Today, we feature Sen. Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin.

Here are some of the key reasons why Baldwin is one of the best candidates for working people in 2018:

  • After graduating from Smith College, she worked on pay equity issues in the Wisconsin governor's office.

  • She led efforts against unfair trade deals that ship American jobs overseas.

  • Baldwin voted against repealing the Glass-Steagall Act, a law that could have prevented the 2008 financial crisis.

  • She introduced "buy American" legislation to help rebuild drinking-water infrastructure with American-made iron and steel.

  • Baldwin wants to make the tax system simpler and fairer, and provide working families with a tax cut.

  • She proposed legislation that would strengthen the research and development tax credit, spurring job creation.

  • Baldwin has been an active participant in the NAFTA renegotiation process and favors a renewed deal that ends outsourcing, raises wages and creates jobs.

  • She wants to penalize foreign countries that unfairly dump cheap products into the U.S. economy.

  • Baldwin helped introduce the Medicare for All Act to expand coverage and make health care more affordable for working families.

  • She introduced legislation to lower prescription drug prices by allowing Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies.

  • Baldwin has worked across party lines to make sure that veterans can find good-paying jobs and the community support they need.

  • She wants to overturn the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United and will fight against dark money and unlimited corporate donations to political campaigns.

  • Baldwin proposed investments in infrastructure that not only repair roads and bridges, but modernize drinking water systems, rural broadband, schools, ports and waterways. The proposal would create as many as 15 million jobs.

  • She has fought to guarantee "buy American" provisions and worker protections in any infrastructure plan.

  • Baldwin has worked to secure increased training and necessary equipment for first responders.

  • She co-chairs a bipartisan caucus to promote workforce readiness, job training and apprenticeships.

  • Baldwin has been a leader in the fight to keep student loan costs low and proposed to make two years of community and technical college debt-free.

To learn more about Baldwin, visit her website.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 10/10/2018 - 10:29

Tags: Elections 2018

National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Henry L. 'Hank' Lacayo

Wed, 2018-10-10 08:24
National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Henry L. 'Hank' Lacayo CSUCI

Throughout National Hispanic Heritage Month, the AFL-CIO will be profiling labor leaders and activists to spotlight the diverse contributions Hispanics and Latinos have made to our movement. Today's profile features Henry L. "Hank" Lacayo.

A longtime staple of labor, political and academic circles in California, Henry L. "Hank" Lacayo was a force from his beginnings in the labor movement in the 1950s all the way up to his passing in 2017. He was born in Los Angeles in 1931 but moved to Mexico when he was young. He returned to California for high school. Upon graduating, he joined the Air Force. After his military service ended, Lacayo went to work at North American Aviation (later Rockwell International) in 1953. Within a few years, he not only became involved in UAW Local 887, he quickly rose to a full-time employee of the local and served as editor of its newspaper.

UAW President Walter P. Reuther encouraged Lacayo to continue his labor activism, and in 1962, he was elected president of Local 887, a position he held for 10 years. He represented more than 30,000 working people at Rockwell, both as union president and chief national negotiator for UAW-Rockwell contracts. His hard work led to an assistant director position for the UAW Western Region, covering nine states, along with serving as the region's political director.

In 1974, he moved to Detroit to work at UAW's national headquarters. He served as an administrative assistant to three UAW presidents and was appointed national director of the political and legislative department and later national director of the public relations and publications departments. He retired from the UAW in 1986 but continued in public life.

He created H.L. & Associates, a consulting firm representing clients in labor and management, government, community relations, senior citizen advocacy and international affairs. He actively participated in the California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI) institute that bears his name, the Henry L. "Hank" Lacayo Institute for Workforce & Community Studies. He also advised presidential administrations, from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama. He devoted time to civic duties, including strengthening the Ventura County Community Foundation and establishing the Destino Hispanic Legacy Fund that provides scholarships and other funding to the Latino community. Lacayo received an honorary doctorate from CSUCI and was inducted into the Pacific Coast Business Times Hall of Fame in 2012.

Check out this video tribute to Lacayo:

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 10/10/2018 - 08:24

Best Candidates for Working People, 2018: Julie Blaha

Tue, 2018-10-09 10:17
Best Candidates for Working People, 2018: Julie Blaha .

This November's elections are shaping up to be among the most consequential in recent U.S. history. Throughout the summer and fall, we are taking a look at the best candidates for working people. Today, we feature Minnesota state auditor candidate Julie Blaha.

Here are some of the key reasons why Blaha is one of the best candidates for working people in 2018:

  • As secretary-treasurer of the Minnesota AFL-CIO and former president of Anoka-Hennepin Education Minnesota (an affiliate of AFT), she worked across the state to help improve working conditions, increase the minimum wage and expand paid sick and family leave.

  • She worked with her town's economic development authority to help people have a voice in their local government and attract businesses that create jobs.

  • Blaha has a long track record as a union treasurer of making sure that members had clear, accurate financial information.

  • As a former public school educator, Blaha knows that government functions best with accurate data. As the state's auditor, she will be dedicated to the highest-quality and most accurate data. 

  • As a math teacher, she not only educated students, but worked with parents and the governor's school finance task force to help make sure students and teachers got the resources they need and deserve.

  • As auditor, she will continue the state's tradition of high-quality government and will maintain high standards of transparency and honesty.

  • She served as treasurer of a multi million dollar organization and union negotiator, giving her the experience to lead quality governmental operations that can help the state achieve higher credit ratings, more grant opportunities and greater efficiency. 

  • Blaha will partner with newly-elected state and local officials to make sure those leaders have the education and information necessary to successfully serve the people of Minnesota.

  • She has built a reputation as an honest broker, a bridge builder and a policy innovator who will be a trusted source of concrete, unbiased context and information to allow Minnesota's government to function at its best.

To learn more about Blaha, visit her website.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 10/09/2018 - 10:17

Tags: Elections 2018

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 2018-10-05 12:52
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: The 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.

National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Esther López: "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 Esther López."

National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: 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."

Oklahoma Union Organizers and Activists 'Training Up' to Win: "Twenty-five energetic and dedicated union member activists and staff, mostly from Oklahoma, came together this past week to 'train up' on fundamental organizing principles critical to winning internal and external union organizing campaigns. The three-day training was held at the Oklahoma AFL-CIO in Oklahoma City. It was great to have so many energetic and committed organizers share their experiences about the work they are doing to organize working people. And this was a fun training!"

Best Candidates for Working People, 2018: David Garcia: "This November's elections are shaping up to be among the most consequential in recent U.S. history. Throughout the summer and fall, we are taking a look at the best candidates for working people. Today, we feature Arizona gubernatorial candidate David Garcia."

Improving Patient Safety: Worker Wins: "Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with nurses across the country winning new contracts and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life."

Support Locked-Out Boilermakers in Montana: "The labor movement supports members of the Boilermakers (IBB) working at Imerys Talc in Three Forks, Montana, who have been unfairly locked out while fighting against an anti-worker contract proposal. These hardworking Americans and their families have been without a paycheck or employer-provided health insurance for 62 days."

NAFTA Renegotiation: We’re Not Done Yet: "So, you may have heard that the North American Free Trade Agreement has been renegotiated. It’s definitely good that the three NAFTA countries (the United States, Canada and Mexico) are finally looking to change the NAFTA rules that have cost good jobs, made it harder to negotiate better wages, polluted our environment and generally left working people behind all across North America."

One Job Should Be Enough: "Weeks after more than 8,300 UNITE HERE members at Marriott hotels across the country voted to authorize strikes, management has still failed to resolve key contract issues, including workplace safety, job protections and a living wage. Ready to fight for their fundamental economic rights, workers are prepared to walk out without notice in San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland and San Jose, California; Oahu and Maui, Hawaii; Boston; Seattle and Detroit."

Best Candidates for Working People, 2018: Ben Jealous: "​​​​​​​This November's elections are shaping up to be among the most consequential in recent U.S. history. Throughout the summer and fall, we are taking a look at the best candidates for working people. Today, we feature Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous."

After Prop A Win, UFCW Local 655 Looks to the Future: "When working Missourians overwhelmingly defeated 'right to work' in August, they landed a gut punch to corporate interests that reverberated across the country."

A NAFTA Deal Should Create Jobs, Protect Our Environment and Safeguard Democracy: "While there are too many details that still need to be worked out before working people make a final judgment on a deal, here is a brief analysis on the trade deal text released late last night (we'll call it 'NAFTA 2018' for clarity). Working families want the United States, Canada and Mexico to go back to the table and finish a deal that creates good, high-wage jobs, protects our environment and safeguards our democracy."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 10/05/2018 - 12:52

Economy Gains 134,000 Jobs in September; Unemployment Down Slightly to 3.7%

Fri, 2018-10-05 10:51
Economy Gains 134,000 Jobs in September; Unemployment Down Slightly to 3.7%

The U.S. economy gained 134,000 jobs in September, and unemployment was down slightly to 3.7%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Continued slow wage growth means the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee is premature in raising interest rates.

In response to the September job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs tweeted:

Labor force participation stayed flat at 62.7% (same as August) as wage gains remained modest at only 2.8% over last September. Slow wage growth, despite recent boosts in output, means higher productivity growth and falling unit labor costs. So much for the tax cuts. @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/xavQ8QWRni

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 5, 2018

 

Continued slow wage growth, only 2.8% over the year, means the @federalreserve is being premature in increasing interest rates. The productivity gains of the last two quarters are once again going to the bosses not the workers. Falling labor share increases inequality. @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 5, 2018

 

Employment gains were in higher wage industries, manufacturing leading the way, while jobs losses were in lower wage in retail trade, leisure and hospitality and other services. This makes slow wage growth difficult to explain. @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/QnFdpZYlvV

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 5, 2018

 

While the official unemployment rate fell to 3.7% the broader measure of labor market slack (U-6) including part-timers seeking full-time work and discouraged workers ticked up a tiny bit from 7.4 to 7.5% because of part-timers seeking full-time work @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/dqdk1uXRsB

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 5, 2018

 

Little discussed, low-wage growth has not slowed labor force participation growth for Latinos, the employment-to-population rate for Latinos is higher than for whites. This alsoreflects differences in the age profile of the younger Latino population compared to whites. @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/E4RJuaVfDQ

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 5, 2018

 

In NOT a good sign, the share of unemployed workers that have been looking over 26 weeks has been rising. #JobsReport @AFLCIO combined with the increase in part-timers seeking full-time work, 3.7% unemployment is not so rosy. pic.twitter.com/GjBvrWkFHV

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 5, 2018

 

Another, it is NOT good, despite continued economic growth, public investment continues to lag. The loss of local government jobs, including in education, is a bad sign for long term economic growth. @AFLCIO @OECDeconomy @AFTunion @AFSCME #JobsReport pic.twitter.com/gtZzZAi97H

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 5, 2018

 

The drop in September of Local Government Employment, slows the recovery of public investment. This makes people less well off--fewer public services at the level where the delivery is felt. #JobsReport @AFTunion @AFSCME @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/Q5YQPKvQ1p

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 5, 2018

Last month's biggest job gains were in professional and business services (54,000), health care (26,000), transportation and warehousing (24,000), construction (23,000), manufacturing (18,000) and mining (6,000). Employment in leisure and hospitality declined over the month (-17,000). Employment showed little or no change over the month in other major industries, including wholesale trade, retail trade, information, financial activities and government. 

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult women (3.3%) and blacks (6.0%) declined, while the rate for Asians (3.5%) increased. The jobless rates for teenagers (12.8%), Hispanics (4.5%), adult men (3.4%) and whites (3.3%) showed little or no change in September.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged in September and accounted for 22.9% of the unemployed.

 

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 10/05/2018 - 10:51

National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Esther López

Fri, 2018-10-05 08:51
National Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: Esther López UFCW

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 Esther López.

López first connected with the labor movement in high school. Because she was bilingual, she volunteered to register Latino voters and get them to the polls. From there, she never turned back.

As her post-school career progressed, she began to play an active role in improving labor conditions in Illinois. She served as deputy chief of staff for the state's Department of Labor before going on to lead the department.

In November 2006, López joined the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) as director of the Civil Rights and Community Action Department. She served on the front lines of battles against voter suppression, ending exploitation of refugees, expanding opportunities for women and pursuing LGBTQ equality, including overseeing the launch of UFCW's LGBTQ constituency group, OUTreach. She created the UFCW's Union Citizenship Action Network (UCAN), which focused on helping union members get on the path to ctizenship. She is recognized as a national leader on immigration reform and civil, human and labor rights.

López has helped transform the UFCW into a more diverse union. She developed and administered two diversity surveys that helped UFCW leadership become more reflective of the union's membership.

In 2016, López was elected to the position of international secretary-treasurer for UFCW, and she was re-elected at the union's 2018 convention in Las Vegas. She also currently serves on the national boards of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Jobs With Justice, the Center for Community Change, the National Consumers League and Labor Council for Latin American Advancement.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 10/05/2018 - 08:51

In Minnesota and Across the Country, Organizing Power Begets Political Power

Fri, 2018-10-05 07:58
In Minnesota and Across the Country, Organizing Power Begets Political Power Minnesota AFL-CIO

As the midterms rapidly approach, politics is at the top of minds across the labor movement. And as a seemingly endless stream of news flows from the White House, Capitol Hill and the campaign trail, it can be easy to lose sight of anything else. But organizers have been quick to point out that our electoral strength in November depends on our organizing strength year-round.

Minnesota AFL-CIO Organizing/Growth Director Todd Dahlstrom says it’s never been more important to focus on bolstering membership.

"If we do the internal organizing first, the politics will follow. And for a long time, I think that we've been trying to do the politics and then the organizing," Dahlstrom said. "We need to build a strong union affinity on the front end before we really can start talking about politics."

He says the key lies in having conversations on the shop floor about kitchen table economics—the critical issues facing workers every day, like wages, health care and retirement security. To that end, the Minnesota AFL-CIO has worked with locals across the state to revamp their worksite organizing programs and try experimental new strategies.

"One thing that's unique to unions that most other organizations don't have—we have worksites," Dahlstrom said. "We have access to worksites. We have access to workers. We just need to go talk to those workers."

When Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) Local 22 faced a contract fight with a bakery in St. Cloud, local organizers tapped into a prime opportunity to build solidarity. Bonded by a common struggle, members started showing up to unit meetings in droves and began feeling invested in their union. They ultimately won the fight, coming out of that victory stronger than ever.

Meanwhile, the Twin Cities public workers of Laborers (LIUNA) Local 363 were grappling with the new challenges posed by the Supreme Court’s union-busting decision in Janus v. AFSCME. Tasked with collecting hundreds of recommitment cards, the local's leadership turned to its members to mobilize.

Forming a 10-person organizing committee, shop stewards from across the local took the lead. They set goals, engaged their union brothers and sisters and learned from each other as they debriefed each week.

"I was really intimidated at first," said Caitlin Brunette, a Local 363 member and steward in the Saint Paul Parks & Recreation Department. "But going to these meetings every week really helped me, because I got to ask other people what they were saying—what was effective, what was working."

Over the course of 10 weeks, they steadily built a mountain of signed cards, including 85 from former fee-payers.

Asked how other locals might find similar success, Brunette encouraged stewards to form a member-led organizing committee—and to stay committed.

"That was essential," said Brunette, herself a single mom who has never missed a meeting. "Meet every week. Stay consistent. Make it a top priority of yours."

For his part, Dahlstrom urged union leaders to focus on the fundamentals.

"We just gotta get back to what we're good at," he said. "We are good at talking to workers at the worksites and finding issues that workers will rally around. And we just need to get back to doing that—having those shop floor discussions and finding out what workers really want to fight for and then picking those fights."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 10/05/2018 - 07:58

Oklahoma Union Organizers and Activists 'Training Up' to Win

Thu, 2018-10-04 11:26
Oklahoma Union Organizers and Activists 'Training Up' to Win AFL-CIO

Twenty-five energetic and dedicated union member activists and staff, mostly from Oklahoma, came together this past week to "train up" on fundamental organizing principles critical to winning internal and external union organizing campaigns. The three-day training was held at the Oklahoma AFL-CIO in Oklahoma City. It was great to have so many energetic and committed organizers share their experiences about the work they are doing to organize working people. And this was a fun training!

This three-day training focused primarily on having the right organizing conversation with members and potential members, identifying and developing workplace leaders who can win, and why we map out our workplaces. Organizers who attended the training came from the Ironworkers, Communications Workers of America (CWA), United Steelworkers (USW), AFT, Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU), Transport Workers (TWU), Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Machinists (IAM); and although most were from Oklahoma, organizers also traveled from Arkansas, Texas and Maryland to attend the training.  

I would like to thank Oklahoma AFL-CIO President Jimmy Curry for partnering with the Organizing Institute to host this training. I also want to send a very special shout out to Oklahoma AFL-CIO Communications Director Debra Wojtek for putting in the work and getting the word out to affiliates in the state about this training. This was the second training the Oklahoma AFL-CIO and the Organizing Institute put on (the first was in August 2012), and we look forward to working with the Oklahoma AFL-CIO on scheduling more trainings in the not-too-distant future.  

We also would like to thank organizers Trentice Hamm (IBEW), Jesse Hensley (SMART), Troy Johnson (IBEW), Chubbs McCrory (IAM), Jerry Sims (IBT) and Joe Smith (IBEW) for taking time away from their campaigns and their families to serve as teaching fellows with us.  

Lastly, big shoutouts to Organizing Institute Senior Trainer Patricia Recinos, who led this training, and OI Administrator Camille West-Eversley for making it a success!

Be sure to check our website at aflcio.org/oi for information about upcoming three-day trainings, advanced organizer workshops and clinics.

Stay strong, and we hope to see you at an upcoming Organizing Institute training!

This guest post is from Patrick Scott, who works for AFL-CIO's Organizing Institute.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 10/04/2018 - 11:26

Best Candidates for Working People, 2018: David Garcia

Thu, 2018-10-04 09:06
Best Candidates for Working People, 2018: David Garcia AFL-CIO

This November's elections are shaping up to be among the most consequential in recent U.S. history. Throughout the summer and fall, we are taking a look at the best candidates for working people. Today, we feature Arizona gubernatorial candidate David Garcia.

Here are some of the key reasons why Garcia is one of the best candidates for working people in 2018:

  • He favors an economic strategy that encourages the use of local businesses for public contracts and focuses on the entire state, not just urban areas.

  • Garcia wants to focus on creating jobs in growth industries, including aerospace, biosciences, cybersecurity, energy, defense, optics and photonics.

  • He supports universal community college to develop the state's high-skilled workforce and to attract new companies to the state.

  • Garcia wants to invest in sustainable agriculture and value-added practices, such as craft breweries, vineyards and farmers' markets.

  • He will remove barriers to expansion of high-speed digital infrastructure, the lack of which disproportionately harms rural and tribal communities.

  • Garcia wants to invest in a clean energy economy, particularly solar, that will create thousands of jobs.

  • As an educator, administrator and education policy analyst, he supports expanding access to early education, affordable child care and after-school programs.

  • Garcia supports the right of Dreamers to live, work and study here without fear and opposes family separation policies.
  • He will push for equal pay legislation to level the playing field for working women.

  • Garcia will issue an executive order prohibiting state employers and contractors from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression.

  • He supports legislation that protects LGBTQ Arizonans from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

  • Garcia supports Medicare for all.

  • He supports automatic voter registration, which would modernize the state's electoral system, save taxpayers' money, increase electoral accuracy and improve voter participation.

  • While serving in the Army, he received the Army Achievement Medal and the Humanitarian Award for fighting wildfires in Yellowstone National Park.

To learn more about Garcia, visit his website.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 10/04/2018 - 09:06

Tags: Elections 2018

Improving Patient Safety: Worker Wins

Wed, 2018-10-03 13:20
Improving Patient Safety: Worker Wins

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with nurses across the country winning new contracts and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.

New Contract for More Than 14,000 California Nurses Includes Improved Protections from Violence and Harassment: Registered nurses at the University of California, members of the California Nurses Association (an affiliate of National Nurses United/NNU) voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new five-year contract. The contract covers more than 14,000 registered nurses at more than a dozen locations. "We are so proud to ratify this historic contract for all registered nurses at UC. Nurses stood together in solidarity and fought back over 60 takeaways that would have directly affected our ability to care for our patients," said Megan Norman, RN, UC Davis. "We won new language addressing infectious disease and hazardous substances as well as stronger protections around workplace violence and sexual harassment."

11,000 VA Nurses Ratify New Contract: More than 11,000 registered nurses at 23 hospitals run by the Department of Veterans Affairs, who are represented by the National Nurses Organizing Committee/NNU, voted to ratify a new three-year contract that features workplace violence protections, infectious disease training and emergency preparedness information. "I am very excited about the workplace safety provisions that will improve the safety of our nurses and protect them from violence and injury," said Irma Westmoreland, registered nurse and National Nurses United board member.

Maine Nurses Win Increased Workplace Safety in New Contract: Neatly 900 members of the Maine State Nurses Association (part of the NNOC/NNU) who work at the Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) ratified a new contract. "This new agreement sets a new bar for quality care and patient safety at our hospital," said Dawn Caron, bargaining team member and chief union steward for the nurses at EMMC. "When we began this process back in February, we set out to protect the role of our charge nurses and all of the other safe patient care provisions of our contract. The nurses at EMMC are proud to announce that today, we have done exactly that."

Disneyland Resort Workers Approve Contract with Wage Raise and Bonus: After more than a year and a half of negotiations, Disneyland Resort hotel workers approved a new contract that includes nearly $2 an hour in higher wages and the payment of $1,000 employee bonuses originally announced in January. UNITE HERE Local 11 represents the more than 2,700 hotel workers at Disney covered by the new contract.

UFCW Members at Four Roses Distillery Reach Agreement to End Strike: In September, members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 10D who work at the Four Roses distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, won a new agreement after a strike that lasted nearly two weeks. "We're one big, happy, dysfunctional family around here," Local 10D President Jeff Royalty said. "You know, just like brothers and sisters, you'll have some hard feelings from time to time, but they're short-lived."

Columbia Postdoctoral Researchers Win Right to Form Union: The National Labor Relations Board ruled that postdoctoral researchers at Columbia can form a union. Official elections are being held this week to determine whether or not the Columbia Postdoctoral Workers become members of the UAW. "We are very excited that the NLRB finally issued the decision that Columbia’s postdoctoral workers can unionize despite the university’s efforts to undermine us," said Alvaro Cuesta-Dominguez, a member of the postdoctoral worker organizing committee and a second-year postdoc researcher. "We look forward to the opportunity to really have our voices heard."

Federal Judge Sides with FLOC, Rejects Anti-Union North Carolina Law: U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs ruled that a North Carolina law limiting union organizing for farmworkers was unconstitutional. "North Carolina’s law is clearly designed to make it harder, if not impossible, for the state’s only farmworkers union to advocate for sorely needed protections against exploitation and bad working conditions," said Brian Hauss, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

New York Port Authority Workers Win Wage Increase: After a long fight, working people at the New York Port Authority represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union/UFCW (RWDSU/UFCW) and UNITE HERE won an increase to a minimum wage of $19 per hour by 2023. The new agreement includes nearly 5,000 catering workers that were excluded from the previous policy. The proposal could impact tens of thousands of workers at other area airports, as well.

ExpressJet Pilots Overwhelmingly Approve New Contract: United Express pilots at ExpressJet Airlines, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), have won a new contract that increases pilot pay. More than 90% of those who voted supported the new three-year deal.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 10/03/2018 - 13:20

Support Locked-Out Boilermakers in Montana

Wed, 2018-10-03 11:13
Support Locked-Out Boilermakers in Montana IBB

The labor movement supports members of the Boilermakers (IBB) working at Imerys Talc in Three Forks, Montana, who have been unfairly locked out while fighting against an anti-worker contract proposal. These hardworking Americans and their families have been without a paycheck or employer-provided health insurance for 62 days.

The Three Forks plant is French-owned Imerys’ most profitable site, generating more than $1 million in profit per month. But Imerys locked out its workers—who make up 13% of the town’s workforce—after proposing a contract that gutted health care for new retirees, seniority and the current defined contribution 401(k) plan; reduced overtime pay; and froze the pension plan.

“I grew up in Three Forks. Worked for the talc mill for 38 years....I’ve given this job the best years of my life,” Randy Tocci said. “This plant has always made a profit and yet that’s not good enough for Imerys, and I don’t understand why.”

Add your name to support the locked-out Montana Boilermakers.

Watch this video to learn more:

 

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 10/03/2018 - 11:13

NAFTA Renegotiation: We’re Not Done Yet

Wed, 2018-10-03 09:32
NAFTA Renegotiation: We’re Not Done Yet

So, you may have heard that the North American Free Trade Agreement has been renegotiated. It’s definitely good that the three NAFTA countries (the United States, Canada and Mexico) are finally looking to change the NAFTA rules that have cost good jobs, made it harder to negotiate better wages, polluted our environment and generally left working people behind all across North America.

But we’re the ones who have worked for 25 years to take the trade policy rule book out of the hands of greedy CEOs. We’re the ones who forced the architects of these pro-corporate trade rules to admit they’ve been ignoring working people. We’re the ones who forced this renegotiation to happen. And we’re the ones who get to say when it is over.

Well, it ain’t over. We don’t know if there will be effective enforcement tools to penalize labor violations. We don’t know if the auto content rules will really create good new jobs and prevent more outsourcing. Just saying negotiations are over doesn’t make it so.  

Just like this chicken isn’t fully cooked, NAFTA renegotiation isn’t over. Just like the Atlanta Falcons didn’t win the 2017 Super Bowl despite leading for 59 minutes, NAFTA renegotiation isn’t over. Just like we don’t know what happened to John Connor after he traveled to the future in the last episode of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," NAFTA renegotiation isn’t over.

Working families need more than promises. We need new trade rules that will bring higher wages and better jobs. We want NAFTA results, not NAFTA slogans. This is far from over.

So if NAFTA renegotiation isn’t over, what do we do now? We do what we always do when we are not willing to put up with the way things are: We fight. Click here to send your member of Congress an email telling him or her to keep fighting for better trade rules for hardworking families.

To find out how else you can help, text TRADE to 235246.  

Click here to share this video on your Facebook page. Tell your Facebook friends to get involved, too.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 10/03/2018 - 09:32

Tags: NAFTA