Minimum wage workers have lost over $6 billion: Punching In

Getting around those pesky legislators

Here’s why putting minimum wage on the ballot is a great idea.

How much money have minimum wage workers lost due to inflation?

Over $6 billion since 2009.

Hungry? In need of help? No food stamps for you

A civil rights group alleges that Gov. Kasich kicked thousands of Ohioans off of food stamps.

Here’s the National Right to Work Committee’s newest attack on labor

And it’s attacking exclusive representation.

What Happened In San Diego Serves As A Powerful Reminder That Local Elections Matter

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On July 14, the San Diego City Council voted 6-3 to raise San Diego’s minimum wage to $11.50 by 2017.

On August 8, Mayor Kevin Faulconer vetoed the bill.

That’s the part of the script you’ve seen before. But this time, the ending was different.

On Tuesday, six members of the City Council overturned Mayor Faulconer’s veto. The city’s business establishment, lead by the Chamber of Commerce, is seeking to gather 34,000 signatures in 30 days to put the issue to voters in November, which would delay its implementation. But otherwise, the measure is on its way to becoming law.

Faulconer, a Republican, was elected in a close special election in February following the resignation of Democrat Bob Filner. Because of his conservative leanings and close business ties, his victory was seen as a loss for working people.

But the minimum wage fight is another example of why you should never count out your local elections. Instead of an utter defeat at the hands of Mayor Faulconer, the Council’s one-vote-margin super-majority has given the bill another shot.

With no federal action on wages expected anytime soon (Thanks archaic Senate rules! Thanks Mitch McConnell! Thanks gerrymandered, unresponsive Congress!), the action is all in states and cities. Ten states have raise the minimum wage this year alone, and Seattle has a plan to raise their wage to $15 over the next few years. It’s no coincidence that ALEC has formed a new offshoot to focus on city and county issues.

In the country’s eighth-largest city, one city council member had the power to keep a bill raising wages for an estimated 172,000 people from dying.

That’s why you have to vote, and not just for President. For Senate, Congress, Governor, State Senator, and State Representative. Vote for County Commissioners. Vote for Mayor and City Council. Vote for municipal positions like Clerk and Auditor. Vote for hyper-local positions if you have them, because they might be City Councilors someday.

Our opposition isn’t taking any chances. ALEC and the Chamber of Commerce take a great interest in current (and future) city officials to make sure they will be on their side when things like minimum wage reach their desks.

One local election made the difference for 172,000 weekly paychecks. Replicate that in every city and town? That’s what change looks like–not just one victory or defeat at the top of the ticket.

Photo via Raise Up San Diego on Facebook

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What It’s Like Driving Google And Facebook Employees To Work: Punching In

A dispatch from the class divide in Silicon Valley

Big tech companies operate private buses and shuttles to move their workforce. Here’s what it’s like to drive them.

Another reminder that local elections matter

San Diego’s Republican mayor vetoed their minimum wage increase, but the City Council had the votes to overturn it.

A future for the Labor College

The Amalgamated Transit Union has purchased the National Labor College campus, will continue to train workers there.

Could this be the guy to turn back the “right to work” tide?

Florida’s Democratic nominee for governor (and former Republican governor) Charlie Crist is open to changing that state’s “right to work” law.

San Francisco Taxi Workers Vote to Unionize

Photo by Lynn Friedman/Flckr Creative Commons

San Francisco taxi drivers last week voted to form the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance (SFTWA) and affiliate with the National Taxi Workers Alliance (NTWA). They are the second group of taxi workers in recent weeks to join with NTWA following the Montgomery County (Md.) Professional Drivers Union’s affiliation.

Beth Powder, a driver for DeSoto Cab. Co., told the San Francisco Examiner:

Cabdrivers are very independent people, and that’s one of the beauties of this industry—that you have a diverse group of people who bring all these different elements to the table. Unfortunately, what it translates to for everybody else is that we can’t get together and find consensus. But we’ve done just that.

NTWA President Bhairavi Desai said:

San Francisco used to have progressive working conditions, in that every driver could earn a medallion and it was a very progressive model. But in the last 10 years, San Francisco has been faced with very bitter attacks, with [rideshares] being the latest of the attacks.

The 150 drivers who voted unanimously to form the SFTWA also pledged to mobilize to bring more drivers into the union.

San Francisco taxi workers were unionized before World War II, but by the late 1970s unions had faded. Mark Gruberg, 72, a taxi driver for 30 years who is still driving, told the Examiner:

There’s a new breath of life in unionism. And we in San Francisco are going to be part and parcel of that.

In a post on NTWA’s Facebook page about the San Francisco action, Javaid Tariq comments, “Taxi drivers are united all over the USA.”

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Oil, Unemployment and Indictments: Punching In

Rick Perry is ready for a fight

The Texas governor is priming to fight his recent felony indictments.

Big oil in Alaska today

Stakes are high as a statewide referendum that will determine how the oil industry is taxed will be voted on today.

“Right to work” is wrong and unemployment is still an issue
Which state has the highest unemployment rate? Low regulation, “right to work” Mississippi.

NBA Players Elect First Woman To Lead a North American Sports Union: Punching In

When the workers own the business

New York City is doubling down on worker-owned co-ops that help lift workers out of poverty.

A ‘Shameless’ request

One artist’s response when Showtime asks him for free labor.

Nothing but net

Michele Roberts takes on gender barriers as new head of the National Basketball Players Association.

Aloha means goodbye

How Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie lost last week’s primary 2-1 in one of the biggest upsets in state history. Other governors: take note.

No lockout for the Met

Early today union representatives reached a deal with the Metropolitan Opera,preventing a potentially disastrous lockout.

Does your lawmaker deserve to be reelected?

According to a Gallup poll, only 19 percent of Americans believe their elected officials deserve to be reelected, the lowest in 22 years.

Here’s Your Union-Made Labor Day Shopping List

Labor Day is the unofficial end of the summer holiday season. While the day honors the hardworking men and women who make this nation go and grow, the weekend also gives us a chance for one more big backyard barbecue blowout. Here’s some union-made food and drink to get your barbecue off to a great start.

Text MADE to 235246 for more union-made-in-America product lists. 

Our list comes courtesy of Union Plus, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s website Labor 411.

Hot Dogs, Sausages, Other Grill Meats

  • Ball Park
  • Boar’s Head
  • Calumet
  • Dearborn Sausage Co.
  • Fischer Meats
  • Hebrew National
  • Hofmann
  • Johnsonville
  • Oscar Mayer

Condiments

  • French’s Mustard
  • Gulden’s Mustard
  • Heinz Ketchup
  • Hidden Valley Ranch
  • Lucky Whip
  • Vlasic

Buns and Bread

  • Ottenberg’s
  • Sara Lee
  • Vie de France Bakery

Bottled Water

  • American Springs
  • Pocono Springs
  • Poland Spring

Beer

  • Budweiser
  • Bud Light
  • Leinenkugel’s
  • Mad River
  • Michelob
  • Miller
  • Rolling Rock

See more from Union Plus.

Ice Cream and Frozen Treats 

• Del Monte Fruit Chillers
• Breyers
• Carvel
• Good Humor
• Hiland Dairy
• Labelle Ice Cream
• Laura Secord
• MacArthur
• Orchard Harvest
• Prairie Farms
• President’s Choice

Snacks 

  • Flips Pretzels
  • Frito-Lay Chips
  • Oreos
  • Triscuits
  • Wheat Thins

Visit our Made in America board on Pinterest.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Happy 79th to Social Security. Let’s Strengthen It

Seventy-nine years ago today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act and, says Alliance for Retired Americans President Richard Fiesta:

Retirees are struggling to get by, but they know how much worse things would be without Social Security. Thanks to Social Security, seniors are able to pay bills, buy groceries and stay out of poverty.

Today, Social Security not only covers retirees, but surviving spouses and children and people with disabilities. The Alliance and the group Social Security Works also released reports on the economic impact of Social Security benefits, broken down for each demographic by state. Click here for a look at Social Security in your state.

Fiesta said, “We need to strengthen and expand Social Security, not cut it,” and pointed to the Strengthening Social Security Act (S. 567 and H.R. 3118), which is now before Congress.

Social Security is one of the most successful programs in America’s history. Fortunately, we can ensure the Social Security system keeps celebrating birthdays for decades to come, and we can do it without harmful benefit cuts.

Find out more about Social Security and retirement security and learn more about the Boost Social Security Now campaign from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

In related news, the Social Security Administration has closed some 80 regional offices and more than 500 smaller offices and has plans to shutter hundreds more over the next several years. That’s on top of recent workforce reductions and cutbacks in office hours. If that’s allowed to happen, future birthdays for Social Security won’t be so happy. Click here to sign a petition from AFGE and Social Security Works to reopen the offices and restore services. Says AFGE President J, David Cox. Sr.

We will champion efforts to strengthen Social Security and undo the damage already suffered by opening shuttered field offices, restoring all services, ending long wait times, and hiring all the staff needed to meet the mission.

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Five Reasons Walmart’s New ‘Commitment’ to American Manufacturing is Nonsense

Walmart is hosting a manufacturing summit in Denver this week as part of its new program to supposedly invest in products made in America for its stores across the country. The retailer is claiming its new plan will invest $250 billion over the next decade and create 1 million jobs. We’re not buying it.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka addressed Walmart’s summit and announcement:

But workers will not benefit from a Walmart-ification of our manufacturing sector. Jobs in the Walmart model won’t restore America’s middle class or build shared prosperity given the company’s obsession with low labor costs and undermining American labor standards. And the company’s ‘commitment’ to American manufacturing is meaningless unless it actually increases the proportion of its products that are American-made.

Here are five reasons why Walmart’s plan is nonsense:

1. The whole thing is misleading. When you dig deeper, you find that all Walmart is doing is counting the company’s natural growth as “new” investment. If the company maintains its current percentages of U.S.-sourced goods and continues to grow at the same rate as it has the last three years, $262 billion will be spent on U.S.-made goods anyway without Walmart making any changes or doing anything new. Doing a little less than what you’ve been doing and calling it “progress” isn’t exactly admirable.

2. As Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing notes, Walmart’s altruism doesn’t quite stand up to scrutiny:

…in some cases—the economics now favor “reshoring” of work back to the U.S., due to an emerging domestic energy cost advantage, rising wages in Asia, and wage stagnation in the U.S. (which Walmart might know something about). And don’t forget to consider the challenges that come from outsourcing: supply chain disruption, quality and inventory control issues, intellectual property theft, and high shipping costs.

3. Walmart is the biggest importer in the United States and it has been increasing how much it imports every year. The company now imports 2.5 times as much as it did in 2002. Walmart should make a solid commitment to cut back on its growth in  imports, after decades of massive increases, to create a real net gain for American workers.

4. Walmart is off to a rocky start helping create U.S. manufacturing jobs. In the first year of the new plan, Walmart created only 2,000 new jobs, putting it way behind schedule toward reaching that goal of 1 million new jobs.

5. As the largest private employer in the nation, Walmart should start with itself to create real change for America. At the rate Walmart workers are paid, they won’t be buying many U.S.-made products or imports. Walmart must invest more in its own workforce if it wants a “buy American” strategy to succeed.

Walmart cashiers make, on average, less than $25,000 a year. An April 2014 study by Americans for Tax Fairness estimated that subsidies and tax breaks for Walmart and the Walton family cost taxpayers approximately $7.8 billion per year, including about $6.2 billion in assistance to Walmart workers due to low wages and inadequate benefits.

Trumka concluded:

This initiative seems like an attempt to change the conversation from the need for Walmart to improve jobs for its 1.4 million retail workers in the United States. If Walmart is truly committed to rebuilding the American middle class, it can start with its own workers, most of whom make less than $25,000/year and struggle to make ends meet.

Walmart should use its two-day summit to prove the company is committed to real and substantive change and an end to corporate whitewashing.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Trumka: Ferguson Tragedy Highlights Race and Class Divisions We Have Long Neglected

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released the following statement in response to events in Ferguson, Missouri:

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Michael Brown, the teenager who was recently killed in Ferguson, Missouri.  His death and the anguish of the Ferguson community have rightfully become a national story.  Despite the tragedy, there is also an opportunity to have an important discussion about issues that we have long neglected in this country.  This conversation can only be had if cooler heads prevail.  We are a nation that still remains segregated by race and class and tragedies like this highlight those divisions.  It is encouraging that the Justice Department and FBI are closely investigating this incident so that the community of Ferguson is served.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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