113,000 Jobs Added in January

The economy added 113,000 jobs in January—far below what is needed for recovery—and the nation’s unemployment rate was nearly unchanged at 6.6%, compared with December’s 6.7%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of long-term unemployed people (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) declined by 232,000 in January, but there were still 3.6 million long-term jobless workers. The AFL-CIO is urging Congress to extend Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits, which House Republicans allowed to expire at the end of last year and the Senate failed to advance on Thursday. So far, 1.7 million jobless workers have lost benefits.

“Another month, another disappointing jobs report,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “It is absolutely shameful—and unprecedented–that Republicans in Congress continue to shut off the emergency unemployment aid lifeline under these conditions.”

AFL-CIO Government Affairs Director Bill Samuel added, “January’s jobs numbers reflect what 1.7 million unemployed workers already know.  Our economy isn’t creating jobs fast enough to warrant cutting off emergency unemployment insurance.  Meanwhile long-term unemployment has dropped but still remains staggeringly high.  Congress should do its job so Americans can get back to work.  That means renewing emergency unemployment insurance and passing job creating legislation now.”

Last month, employment grew in construction (48,000 jobs), manufacturing (21,000) and professional and business services (36,000). Employment continued to fall (12,000 jobs) in the federal workforce, mostly (9,000) from the Postal Service.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (6.2%), adult women (5.9%), whites (5.7%), blacks (12.1%) and Latinos (8.4%) changed little in January.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

Senate Fails to Renew Emergency Unemployment Aid

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released this statement after a procedural vote on extending emergency unemployment insurance benefits failed in the Senate:

Today the Senate once again failed to approve an extension of emergency unemployment insurance, 40 days after the benefit was allowed to lapse. The bill fell short by one Republican vote. Just one vote prevented 1.7 million Americans from receiving a desperately needed lifeline. On Monday I joined Sheri Minkoff, an unemployed worker and single mother from Pittsburgh, in urging the Senate to help the millions of workers who are struggling. Sheri, like so many others, worked for years before losing her job in an economy that isn’t adding jobs nearly fast enough. Despite her experience, she has been unable to find work and has even been forced to dip into her son’s savings to pay for essentials. No family should have to experience what Sheri has, especially when there are not enough jobs for those who want to work. We urge the House and the Senate to make this right for Sheri and so many others. And we will not stop fighting until it happens.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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The Thing the Pope, Beyonce and Everyone Is Talking About

In her debut blog post at MomsRising.org, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler discusses “something everyone seems to be talking about, from the pope to Beyoncé: economic inequality.”

“It’s a rare day when you have the pope and Beyoncé preaching the same message,” she says. “Clearly, this widespread focus on the need for equal opportunity provides us a powerful moment for action.”

Read the rest of Plenty Superpower here.

MomsRising is an online and on-the-ground multicultural organization of more than 1 million members and more than 100 organizations working to increase family economic security, to end discrimination against women and mothers and to build a nation where both businesses and families can thrive.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW 

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22 Things We’re Thankful for This Thanksgiving

We have a lot to be thankful for this year, including (in no particular order):

  • Union members who have volunteered their services to strengthen their communities (read more here).
  • All the activists—including those in Congress—working for a road map to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans.
  • Connecticut and the four localities (Portland, Ore.; New York City; Jersey City, N.J.; and SeaTac, Wash.) that now require paid sick days.
  • The five states and two localities that have raised the minimum wage this year (California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Montgomery County, Md., [measure passed yesterday, county executive confirms he will sign into law], Prince George’s County, Md., [pending county executive signature] and SeaTac, Wash. [where there may be a recount]).
  • The 10 states that have expanded access to the ballot (California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Virginia and West Virginia).
  • The domestic workershome care providerscarwasheros and taxi workers who have defied the odds to come together to win rights and a voice on the job.
  • Walmartfast food and retail workers who are standing together for living wages.
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for “going nuclear” on the filibuster.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren…for being Sen. Elizabeth Warren (and, of course, for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau she pushed to create).
  • The U.S. senators who passed ENDA and the Supreme Court justices who overturned the Defense of Marriage Act.
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats for their Economic Agenda for Women and Families (now let’s pass it!).
  • Social Security, for keeping more than 22 million people a year out of poverty.
  • The organizations and media outlets that have exposed dark money and state legislative attacks on workers flowing from ALEC and the Koch brothers.
  • Companies that have signed the Bangladesh Fire Safety Accord (missing from the list are the big U.S. retailers like Walmart).
  • Companies like Costco that buck the trends, pay a living wage and support workers’ rights.
  • Building trades unions’ apprenticeship programs for preparing workers for solid, middle-class careers (read more here).
  • Nurses and teachers, who fight every day for patient safety and great schools for all our kids.
  • Manufacturing workers, who are creating reasons to bring jobs back to America.
  • Writers and dancers, who are bringing justice on the job to their professions.
  • Young workers and students, who are demanding a break from crushing student debt and an economy that will work for their generation.
  • Collective bargaining agreements and all the benefits of being a union member.
  • All the working people, unemployed workers and their families who are the reason for and center of our movement for social and economic justice.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Obama to Push Immigration Reform Once Republican Hostage-Taking Is Resolved

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President Barack Obama Tuesday told the Spanish-language Los Angeles affiliate of Univision that “the day after” the budget and debt ceiling debacle is resolved, he will push for passage of comprehensive immigration reform.

Well, keep in mind this is not just a Latino issue. This is an American issue. We know our economy will grow faster if immigration reform passes. We know businesses will do better if immigration reform passes. We know that the deficits will be reduced if immigration reform passes; because people coming out of the shadows, paying more taxes, growing, the growth accelerating, all that brings down the deficit, so this is important to everybody.

Once the Republican budget and deficit ceiling hostage-taking is over, he said, “…you know, the day after I’m going to be pushing to say, call a vote on immigration reform. And if I have to join with other advocates and continue to speak out on that, and keep pushing, I’m going to do so because I think it’s really important for the country. And now is the time to do it.”

His comments came a week after thousands of immigrants and union, community and faith activists marched and rallied on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., delivering the message: “The time is now” for a vote on comprehensive immigration reform with a road map to citizenship.

The conservative Wall Street Journal delivered a message of its own Oct. 15, in an editorial urging Republicans to end the budget and debt ceiling mess: “It’s time to wrap up this comedy of political errors.”

Resposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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AFL-CIO, Chamber and United Way Urge Congress, President to End the Shutdown Now

Signaling how wide a swath of America the federal government shutdown is affecting, the AFL-CIO, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the United Way sent a joint letter today to Congress and President Barack Obama urging them to end the shutdown now. They said:

As leaders of business, labor, and the nonprofit sector, we are writing to urge you to end the federal government shutdown immediately.

Our country is navigating the most challenging economic times in a generation.  While we may disagree on priorities for federal policies and we even have conflicting views about many issues, we are in complete agreement that the current shutdown is harmful and the risk of default is potentially catastrophic for our fragile economy.

Large and small businesses, the workforce (especially federal workers), people who rely on public and privately-funded social services, and communities at-large, are being harmed by the shutdown.  The federal government is our nation’s largest consumer of goods and services, our largest employer, and the single largest source of financial support for state and local governments and for private social services.  Several hundred thousand public servants are at home without pay.   The longer the shutdown continues, the more people and communities’ economic security will be damaged.  Ultimately, our economy could be driven back into a recession.

As we often have in our history, our country benefits from strong differences of opinion on many important issues affecting both federal legislation and the federal government.  We believe it is important that we turn to the normal processes our government has for resolving these issues.  We cannot afford to have either our government closed or our nation’s creditworthiness called into question as part of the way we resolve these important issues.

Our three disparate sectors share a common view– no one benefits from the current shut-down and everyone will be harmed if the government defaults.  It is in the interest of our nation that Congress  restore the normal functioning of our political process, fund the government immediately and quickly move to resolve the impasse over the debt ceiling limit.  We urge all of our leaders in Washington to set aside the many issues we disagree about, reach across the aisle and end the shutdown and the threat of a national default.

The letter was signed by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Chamber President and CEO Thomas Donohue and United Way Worldwide U.S. President Stacey Stewart.

Click here to read how the shutdown is affecting people and to share your story.

Photo from United Way on Facebook

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Making Mondays Moral

If you’re in or anywhere near Raleigh, N.C., the North Carolina State AFL-CIO urges you to join Moral Monday on June 24 to let Republican state legislators know what you think of their assault on working families.

Moral Mondays began in late April and have been growing, standing up to the legislature’s unemployment benefit cuts, higher taxes for the poor and working families, rejecting federal funds for Medicaid expansion and attacks on public schools and voting rights.

Monday’s rally will take place at 5 p.m. on Halifax Mall in Raleigh and the state AFL-CIO is making a special push to see that union activists are well represented in the crowd.

At a Friday press conference, state AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan said:

It is critical that workers voices are heard. The list of injustices against workers is long, gutting protections in the state personnel act, endangering teacher tenure, denying dues deductions to municipal employees.

At the June 17 Moral Monday rally, 1,400 people protested and 84 were arrested during peaceful civil disobedience, bringing the Moral Monday arrest total to more than 480.

An op-ed in the Fayetteville Observer described the Moral Monday ralliers this way:

They are…a group you might look to if you wished to find a moral position, to sort out right from wrong. They are the religious leaders of our state representing most denominations, historians, medical doctors, teachers, political activists, professors, businessmen and women, mothers, grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers. They are all races and ages. Some are poor, some millionaires.

And they are there because they are outraged by the radical agenda of Republican leadership.

The man behind the Moral Monday movement is the Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP. Read more about him here and more about Moral Mondays here.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

Image via @StudentPowerNC on Twitter

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The Rise of ‘Never-Never’ Employment

Reposted from the AFL-CIO NOW Blog

How did we end up with all these low-wage, no-benefit temporary jobs in our economy?

Erin Hatton, of State University of New York at Buffalo, had a fascinating read in the New York Times this weekend, The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy, tracing the rise in America of the temp industry, and how it forged “new cultural consensus about work and workers.” Hatton says:

American employers have generally taken the low road: lowering wages and cutting benefits, converting permanent employees into part-time and contingent workers, busting unions and subcontracting and outsourcing jobs. They have done so, in part, because of the extraordinary evangelizing of the temp industry, which rose from humble origins to become a global behemoth.

U.S. companies fueled the rise of the temp industry by buying the promise of “never-never” employees—who never ask for a raise, take a sick day or stick around when the employer is finished with them.

Hatton concludes:

If we want good jobs rather than just any jobs, we need to figure out how to preserve what is useful and innovative about temporary employment while jettisoning the anti-worker ideology that has come to accompany it.

Read the op-ed piece here.

Walker Repeals WI Equal Pay Protection

by Donna Jablonski – Reposted from the AFL-CIO NOW Blog

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is facing a recall election, quietly repealed a state law making it easier for pay discrimination victims to seek justice. Amanda Terkel reports in The Huffington Post that Walker signed into law a bill passed in party-line votes by Republicans in the state legislature that rolls back the 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act. The act had allowed workers to challenge pay discrimination in state rather than just federal courts.

As Greg Sargent reports in The Plum Line at The Washington Post, Walker’s action may add to Republican trouble attracting women’s votes in the presidential election. Republican primary frontrunner Mitt Romney has tied himself to Walker, vowing to support the Wisconsin governor in his recall election.

Sargent reports that President Obama’s campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith released a statement calling on Romney to tell America what he thinks of the repeal:

As he campaigned across Wisconsin, Mitt Romney repeatedly praised Governor Scott Walker’s leadership, calling him a “hero” and “a man of courage.” But with his signing yesterday of a bill making it harder for women to enforce in court their right to equal pay, Walker showed how far Republicans are willing to go to undermine not only women’s health care, but also their economic security. Does Romney think women should have ability to take their bosses to court to get the same pay as their male coworkers? Or does he stand with Governor Walker against this?

Walker’s recall resulted from public outrage after he led the charge to take away public employees’ collective bargaining rights.

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Basics Out of Reach on Minimum Wage Paycheck

by Donna Jablonski – Reposted from the AFL-CIO NOW Blog

Let’s say you’re earning the $7.25-an-hour minimum wage. How many hours would you have to work to equal what a year of college costs? How about a year of family health insurance premiums?

The Center for Economic and Policy Research has crunched the numbers and they’re not pretty.

In 2010, a minimum wage worker would have had to put in 923 hours to cover the $6,695 annual tuition at a public four-year college, the report’s authors John Schmitt and Marie-Eve Augier found. Compare that with a minimum wage worker earning $2.90 an hour in 1979—he or she would have had to work 254 hours to make the $738 annual tuition back then.

Even if a minimum wage worker had an employer-provided family insurance policy (increasingly unlikely, since the share of low-wage workers with employer health coverage has fallen from 42.9 percent in 1979 to 25.9 percent in 2010), the premiums would be unmanageable. Family health insurance premiums that would have taken a minimum wage worker 329 hours to earn in 1979 would have taken 2,079 hours in 2011. After paying for family health coverage, a minimum wage worker would have just one hour’s worth of wages last year left over to spend on anything else after working 40 hours a week for 52 weeks in a year.

As the authors said:

Some economists emphasize the rapid decline over the last century in the relative price of agricultural products and manufactured goods (such as televisions and air conditioners). These analyses, however, inevitably ignore or downplay the large relative increases in the price of crucial services such as education and health care. Minimum wage workers today may be able to buy DVD players that did not exist in 1979, but at the current level of the minimum wage, they are also far less able to cover college tuition or health insurance premiums.

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