Election Day Is Nov. 4. Are You Ready?

Election Day is quickly approaching—it’s Nov. 4 this year, and we face a pretty big choice between a Congress that continues to obstruct any national progress and has already signaled they want to shut the government down again and one that will actually try to help working people, create jobs and grow economic opportunity for all, not just the wealthy and corporations.

Make sure you have what you need on Election Day and visit MyVoteMyRight.org

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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5 Ways #OccupyWallStreet’s Influence Is Still Felt: Punching In

Another world is (still) possible

Five ways Occupy Wall Street’s influence is still being felt.

Indexing matters

Oregon’s minimum wage will automatically rise to $9.25 in 2015 to keep up with the cost of living.

Rebuilding the labor board

NLRB member Sharon Block is on her way to returning to the board after the Supreme Court invalidated her appointment.

Which CEOs rip off their workers the most?

Spoiler alert: it’s fast food. Not even close.

N.Y. Bike Share Workers Join Transport Workers

TWU photo

Next to food trucks, one of the fastest growing trends in cities across the country is bike sharing, with racks of bicycles for rent by the hour or longer positioned around town for easy pick up and drop off. But it takes dozens and sometimes hundreds of workers to make bike-sharing operations run smoothly. On Tuesday, the more than 200 workers in New York City’s Citi Bike program chose the Transport Workers (TWU) to help make their jobs run more smoothly, too.

The bicycle mechanics, dispatchers, call center operators and technicians began their organizing drive for better wages, regular schedules and a voice on the job with TWU Local 100. The support throughout the workforce was so strong, Citi Bike voluntarily recognized their choice of Local 100 as the workers’ representative.

The union represents bus and subway workers in the city, and Local 100 President John Samuelsen said:

We view bike sharing as another important mode of public transit. We fully intend to throw our energy and political support behind expanding these bike-sharing systems and ensuring they are designed in a way to support existing transportation networks.

He also said that contract bargaining will focus on “advancing the livelihoods of bike share workers” and added that bike share workers in several other cities are seeking union representation.

The New York victory, said Citi Bike worker Dolly Winter, “feels great, very empowering.”

In related news, last week the 550 call takers and reservation agents at Global Contact Services in Queens, N.Y., who schedule paratransit services for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, voted to join Local 100. Read more here.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Union Fight At JFK Airport Escalates: Punching In

What’s the matter  with home health care work?

Why it’s a big deal that California’s paid sick days law excludes low-wage health workers.

CFPB takes on Corinthian College

Consumer bureau accuses for-profit college of misleading students into taking unaffordable loans.

Airport union fight escalates

Dozens of JFK Airport workers go on strike, say management is retaliating against them for wanting to join SEIU 32BJ.

We always knew she was a genius

Incredible organizer and Working America board member Ai-Jen Poo awarded a MacArthur “genius” grant.

6 Reasons Union Member Mike Michaud is a Candidate Who Cares About Working Families

6 Reasons Union Member Mike Michaud is a Candidate Who Cares About Working Families

It’s an election year, and we are quickly approaching the time when working families will have the opportunity to go to the polls and vote for candidates who support policies that protect or expand our rights, raise wages and work for an economy that benefits everyone, not just the wealthy few. We’re going to focus our spotlight on some of the key candidates who care about working families, and one of those candidates is Mike Michaud, who is running for governor in Maine. Here are six reasons why Michaud would be good for working people:

1. Michaud has never forgotten what it means to be a worker having to put in long shifts and struggling to pay the bills. Born and raised in Maine, he started working in high school, pumping gas at night and washing dishes at a truck stop off Interstate 95. After high school, Michaud went right to work at the Great Northern Paper Co., the same mill where his father and grandfather worked, and joined the United Steelworkers (USW). He kept working at the mill even while serving in the Legislature and remains a card-carrying member of USW today. [Congressional website, accessed 5/16/14; Portland Press Herald, 7/6/14]

2. As a state legislator and a member of Congress, Michaud has a lifetime AFL‐CIO voting record of 96% and has a long history of supporting American workers. He opposed the radical Ryan budget that would end Medicare as we know it, and he led the fight against unfair trade agreements that would outsource good American jobs. [AFLCIO Scorecard]

3. In Congress, Michaud sponsored “Buy American” legislation promoting the use of American goods in federal projects. He also led the charge to require the U.S. military to purchase American-made shoes, including those made by Maine-based New Balance. [Bangor Daily News, 6/27/13; 4/25/14]

4. He wants to rebuild the state’s infrastructure and restore Maine’s manufacturing advantage. One way he plans to do this is by creating a comprehensive workforce training and retraining program.

5. Michaud favors a fairer tax system that helps middle-class families get ahead and requires corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share.

6. He wants to invest in pre-kindergarten and vocational education, and make college affordable for any Maine child who wants to attend.

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Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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After 11 Years, CNN Techs Finally Get Justice

Photo courtesy Gregor Smith on Flickr

After 11 years, technicians working for a CNN subcontractor have received justice after the company initiated what Communications Workers of America called a “phony reorganization scheme to get rid of unionized workers.” The National Labor Relations Board found overwhelming evidence that the news channel engaged in anti-union activity and that CNN was a joint employer of the technicians and subcontractor. CNN was ordered to rehire about 100 workers and compensate 200 others, with the total CNN has to pay expected to be tens of millions of dollars. Additionally, the channel is required to restore any bargaining unit work outsourced since previous contracts ended, recognize the employees’ union, and begin bargaining with the two National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians locals that represent the workers.

In December 2003, CNN terminated its relationship with subcontractor Team Video Services, whose workers were represented by NABET-CWA in Washington, D.C., and New York City. The union filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB. In 2008, a judge ruled against CNN, but the channel appealed the ruling and challenged the NLRB’s legal authority in the case. The delays lasted until this year. During that time, many of the workers lost their homes, went bankrupt and struggled to pay medical bills. A number of them have passed away.

NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce said the union’s members were grateful for the decision:

These workers have waited far too long for this measure of justice to finally be delivered and have suffered far too much as the result of these unlawful activities. CNN should finally do the right thing now and immediately comply with the orders of the National Labor Relations Board issued today.

Tyrone Riggs, one of the workers who lost his job in 2003, echoed those sentiments:

Today is a good day to stand up straight. I never gave up hope. I never wavered. I knew justice would prevail.

CWA President Larry Cohen added:

All of us in CWA should be proud of our work and the coalition that helped support Senate confirmation of the NLRB members in July 2013. Without a functioning NLRB, this decision would never have been possible. But today belongs to the 300 technicians and their families, and our hearts and minds are with them.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Study Takes Down T-Mobile’s ‘Facade of Good Behavior’ Toward Workers

If you looked at the list of awards T-Mobile has received over the past few years as a “Top Workplace,” “Best Place to Work,” “Best Employer,” etc., you might be knocking on the door to apply for a job—despite the history of National Labor Relations Board complaints against T-Mobile for its alleged mistreatment of workers.

University of Massachusetts sociology professor Tom Juravich and graduate student Essie Ablavsky decided to take a closer look at the accolades T-Mobile touts as proof it is a top-flight employer and found that the awards are as phony as T-Mobile’s claims.

The study, “The Corporate Rating Sham: The Case of T-Mobile,” found that the majority of corporate recognition contests are based on self-nomination and self-reported data with little independent verification. The programs often lack transparency in terms of the criteria used for evaluation, resulting in the inclusion of questionable employers, and many of the firms conducting national evaluations also provide consulting services to the same companies they are supposed to be rating. According to the report:

Rather than evaluating actual company performance, the ratings are a better indicator of a company’s allocations of resources to win awards and its work to create a facade of good behavior.

Juravich and Ablavsky say that at the same time T-Mobile was named one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” by one corporate ratings organization, a highly respected independent analyst gave T-Mobile a CCC rating, the lowest score possible.

As the National Consumers League (NCL) points out, T-Mobile has drawn the attention of concerned observers—members of Congress, investors, progressive organizations—for its treatment of workers, “ranging from overbearing and disrespectful management styles, to suppression of workers’ rights.” Says NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

T-Mobile is a good demonstration of what is wrong with corporate recognition awards. The company’s well-known problematic labor practices put these ‘best of’ awards in doubt. A company’s treatment of workers must be a key factor in any ratings process, and awards for quality must not be allowed to mask abusive workplace policies.

T-Mobile workers at call centers and retail stores across the country have been fighting for a voice on the job and respect at work for several years. They say they have faced an extensive anti-union campaign by the company that in 2012 closed seven call centers in the United States and shipped more than 3,300 jobs overseas.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) and ver.di, which represents workers at T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom, are working to help T-Mobile workers get the union representation they want. Find out more at TMobileWorkersUnited.

Click here to hear from workers about what it’s really like to work at T-Mobile.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Meet the Women Workers Who Make All Other Work Possible

Domestic workers are essential to the global economy. They care for children, the elderly and people who need extra help around the house so that family members can leave the house and go to work. Unfortunately, as Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, points out, many domestic workers, while caring for our families, do not earn enough to provide for their own.

Domestic workers in the United States and across the world are organizing for living wages, better working conditions and a bill of workers’ rights, which has passed in four states.

Poo recently has been named a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant recipient. Read her NBC News interview hereand check out the video in the post.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Trumka in Missouri: Racism Is Not Somebody Else’s Problem, It’s ‘Our Problem’

In a powerful speech given at the Missouri AFL-CIO Convention, national AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka took time to address the shooting of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown and the issues of race and class the shooting reignited in the national conversation. Trumka emphasized that racism is still a significant issue that we face not only as a country, but as a labor movement. He noted that both Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Brown, and Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s mother, are union members.

Highlights of Trumka’s speech:

You see, the question of unity brings up a hard subject, a subject all of us know about but few want to acknowledge—race. I’m talking about race in America and what that means for our communities, our movement and our nation.

Because the reality is that while a young man named Michael Brown died just a short distance from us in Ferguson, from gunshot wounds from a police officer, other young men of color have died and will die in similar circumstances, in communities all across this country.

It happened here but it could have happened—and does happen—anywhere in America. Because the reality is we still have racism in America.

Now, some people might ask me why our labor movement should be involved in all that has happened since the tragic death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. And I want to answer that question directly. How can we not be involved?

Union members’ lives have been profoundly damaged in ways that cannot be fixed. Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown’s mother who works in a grocery store, is our sister, an AFL-CIO union member, and Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Michael Brown, is a union member, too, and he is our brother. Our brother killed our sister’s son and we do not have to wait for the judgment of prosecutors or courts to tell us how terrible this is.

So I say again, how can we not be involved? This tragedy and all the complexities of race and racism are a big part of our very big family as they always have been. A union is like a home. And in any home, good and bad things happen. We have to deal with all of them, honestly.

But that’s a philosophy. We can’t leave it at that. We have to look at real life today. We cannot wash our hands of the issues raised by Michael Brown’s death. That does not mean we prejudge the specifics of Michael Brown’s death or deny Officer Darren Wilson—or any other officer—his or her rights on the job or in the courts.

But it does demand that we clearly and openly discuss the reality of racism in American life. We must take responsibility for the past. Racism is part of our inheritance as Americans. Every city, every state and every region of this country has its own deep history with racism. And so does the labor movement….

I have a son. He’s not so young anymore but he’s not so old. I don’t worry about him. I don’t know, but I have a suspicion that like many of you, and certainly like me at that age, he may not always obey the nation’s traffic laws. So I worry he might wrap himself around a tree. But I never worry when he goes for a cross-country road trip or a night on the town that he may be stopped, shot to death by a police officer.

But for millions of mothers and fathers of young African American men and boys, men just like my son and boys who were as young as me and my friend Tommy—kids with promising futures in America, it is a constant fear, a constant fear.

And if you don’t feel that fear yourself, I’d just ask you, for a moment, to think about that. Think about what it would be like to watch your kid walk out the door and wonder, with good reason, if it’s the last time you’ll see him alive. Because you know it happens. If you haven’t had a close call yourself, you know people who have: friends, family, neighbors and people you worship with….

This is not somebody else’s problem. This is the reality of life for millions of our brothers and sisters. And so it is our problem. That is what solidarity means….

And think about what it means to be a police officer in this country where violence is so often the norm—about walking up to cars anticipating the worst, over and over again. None of us can really know the toll this takes unless we have worn the uniform. This reality, this experience, must be part of any conversation about how we move forward from what has happened here in Ferguson….

So we’ve got to talk to each other, not past each other. We’ve got to talk about how to help our police officers serve our communities. We’ve got to talk about registering and educating voters about jobs and housing and raising wages for all, and we’ve got to talk about accountability—about making sure the public has confidence that the laws of our nation will be enforced and enforced equally. And we have to do more than talk; we have to listen and then we have to act.

I’m not saying this is easy. If I knew how to fix the hurt in our communities, I would tell you. But I know how to start and that’s by listening….

Read the full speech.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Even In Red States, Minimum Wage Increase Is Too Popular to Oppose: Punching In

Even in red states, some candidates don’t dare oppose minimum wage increases

It’s too unpopular not to! GOP Senate candidates in Alaska and Arkansas support minimum wage increases.

Ohio early voting schedule set

Court order keeps Secretary of State John Husted from running amok–famous “Golden Week” restored, where you can register and cast a ballot early.

Fast food owners: Help us, Congress!

The International Franchise Association (IFA) is lobbying Congressional leaders to fight back against fast food strikers and NLRB decisions that make franchises liable for how they treat workers.

Four more companies leave ALEC

Raytheon, Sempra Energy, Illinois Tool Works, and Southern California Edison all cut ALEC ties. Even under pressure, Google remains.