October 5: National Day of Dignity and Respect Rally and Canvass for Working People

At 10 a.m. on October 5, faith, labor and civil rights groups in Greensboro will join in marches and rallies in over 40 cities calling for Congress to pass immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship that promotes family unity and protects workers’ rights. Participants will hold a rally speaking out on the importance of commonsense reform, followed by a canvass where they will encourage others in their communities to continue putting pressure on lawmakers.

“We ask everyone to come out and join us as we take to the streets by knocking on doors and encouraging people to reach out to Rep. Coble,” said Working America State Director Carolyn Smith. “We cannot let the work of obstructionist lawmakers result in more families being torn apart by deportation and more worker exploitation by abusive employers. It’s time to raise our voices and makes sure Congress hears our call for dignity and respect.”

Working America has 30,000 members in Guilford County, with 7,500 in Rep. Coble’s district.

What: Rally and canvass for immigration reform

Who: Working America, North Carolina State AFL-CIO, Teamster Local 391, State Employees Association of NC, SEIU, Guilford County NAACP

When: Saturday, Oct. 5, 10–10:30 a.m. rally followed by 11 a.m.–2 p.m. door canvass, 11 a.m.–2 p.m. site canvass

Where: New Light Baptist Church, 1105 Willow Road, Greensboro, NC

For more details on how to get involved please contact Carolyn Smith at (336) 392-2129 or by email [email protected]

Tags: , , , ,

More Than Just Fried Snickers at the Minnesota State Fair

Yesterday at the Minnesota State Fair, Working America was highlighted at the AFL-CIO Labor Pavilion. Working America members worked the booth and informed fairgoers about the importance of raising the minimum wage in Minnesota and launched our new Fair Scheduling Campaign that focuses on retail workers and service employees.

“Fair and predictable scheduling is important for so many reasons,” said Avita Samuels, a Working America member who is a retail worker at the Mall of America. “It really ties into this whole ‘Raise the Wage’ Campaign, as it really applies to somebody’s ability to make decent living for themselves.”

Working America members collected petition signatures from those who believe that all workers deserve a job with a schedule that guarantees they are able to work enough hours to provide for their families. All signatures will be taken to the Minnesota Department of Labor to commission a study, which could then lead to legislation that supports predictable scheduling, particularly in the retail and service industries.

“If workers don’t have fair scheduling, they are not able to  really plan ahead for the future, they are not able to get a second job if necessary,” Avita continued. “They are unable to do things like care for their kids because they can’t find babysitters as things are constantly changing. And it’s also just really important to know how to budget these days.”

A workplace troubleshooter was also at the Working America booth talking to visitors who expressed concerns with particular aspects on the job and highlighted the new FixMyJob.com web tool.

“This is why FixMyJob.com and the Dear David column are so necessary,” said member Leann Bosques. “People have real concerns out there and don’t know how deal with them. These tools give suggestions and solutions in areas and even some laws that pertain to workers, so it’s all very helpful.”

Ultimately with Working America Day, members sought to pass on a bigger message about using collective action to make changes. “Working America is so important and I think the labor movement is something that everyone should be involved in,” Leann said, “There’s strength in numbers and we have to make sure that the economy is improved but we can only do that if we do it together.”

To join our campaign for fair scheduling in Minnesota, email Chase at [email protected]

Tags: , , , ,

Minnesota State Fair Labor Pavilion Hosts Tools, Strategies to Help Minnesotans Not “Lose Their Marbles” at Work

Organizers and members of Working America will highlight tools and strategies to help workers fix their jobs and share information about efforts to raise Minnesota’s minimum wage from August 22–Sept. 1 at the Labor Pavilion at the Minnesota State Fair.

“Our fight to raise the minimum wage continues this year,” said Minnesota State Director Brianna Halverson. “We also plan on highlighting Fixmyjob.com, designed to find solutions to common workplace problems, including low pay, bad bosses, insufficient hours, exploitive conditions—things so many Minnesotans face.”

The organization, which has 250,000 members in Minnesota and 3.2 million nationwide, will raise awareness about minimum-wage-raising efforts, and share information about Fixmyjob.com, a first-of-its-kind web tool to help make positive changes on the job.

Press are encouraged to attend on the following featured days:

Minimum Wage Press Conference – August 27

Working America will be joining with the Minnesota AFL-CIO and the Minimum Wage Coalition to discuss our latest efforts to raise the wage. Workers and members will share their experiences living on the minimum wage and how an increase will benefit thousands of working Minnesotans.

Lose Your Marbles Game/Fix My Job – August 27–29 and September 1–2

At the Working America kiosk, don’t miss a chance to “Lose Your Marbles” – an interactive game where visitors can share their biggest challenges at work and learn how to fix them with our new interactive tool Fixmyjob.com.

The game is available throughout the fair, but will be highlighted August 27–29 andSept. 1–2.

Working America Day – August 29

On Working America Day at the State Fair, a workplace troubleshooter will be available from 12–4pm to listen to Minnesotans’ issues on the job and offer solutions, as we highlight the work of people without a union who support and build the labor movement. Working America will also announce the launch of a Fair Scheduling Campaign for retail workers to start the conversation about workers being able to find employment with enough hours to make a living. We’ll have a petition at the State Fair that we’ll be using throughout the fall to talk with Minnesotans about their work life.

Contact: Brianna Halverson, 612-803-3458 [email protected]

Ianthe Metzger, 202-538-2026 [email protected]

Photo by @cdfmn on Twitter

Tags: , , , ,

Coalition of Labor, Civil Rights, Immigration Groups, Urge Rep. Howard Coble to Support Immigration Reform

A coalition of labor and immigration groups will gather Wednesday with petitions, visual displays and more to call on Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) to support immigration reform.

Specifically, the coalition urges Rep. Coble to bring an immigration bill to the floor vote that:

  • Provides a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States

  • Protects workers’ rights and ensures that any worker authorization system treats workers fairly

  • Protect immigrants against employers that take advantage of their status

  • Allows for rational, fair and just enforcement

“The people of Guilford County care deeply about this issue,” said Carolyn Smith, state director for Working America. “We are asking Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) to make the right decision to support comprehensive immigration reform.”

WHO: Working America, North Carolina State AFL-CIO, State Employees Association of North Carolina, Teamster Local 391, NCAE, Immigrant Rights Working Group of Guilford County,  Greensboro NAACP

WHAT: Rally/Press Conference at Rep. Coble’s Office

WHEN: Wednesday, August 21, 10 a.m.

WHERE: 2102 N Elm Street

Interested media contact Carolyn Smith with Working America at 919-906-0152 or email [email protected]

Working America, a national organization for working people, has 3 million members who fight for good jobs and a just economy. For more information, go to www.workingamerica.org.

Tags: , , ,

Rep. Mike Coffman: Who Do You Work For?

Working America members to deliver thousands of furlough notices, petitions calling for end to privatization and radical corporate agenda.

(Aurora, Colo.) – On Thursday, Aug. 22, at noon, members of Working America and AFGE will deliver petitions and furlough notices from government employees and Colorado constituents to Rep. Mike Coffman’s office, calling for him to end his privatization efforts and end the shifting of public assets to fund a corporate agenda that paid for his re-election.

The event is part of the “Rep. Mike Coffman: Who Do You Work For?” campaign to educate Coloradans about the representative’s radical legislative agenda to privatize programs like Social Security and Medicaid and, most recently, his efforts to privatize the work of the Department of Defense.

WHO: Members of AFGE and Working America, constituents, organizers

WHAT: Lobby event at Rep. Mike Coffman’s office to ask “Who Do You Work For?”

WHEN: Thursday, Aug. 22, noon

WHERE: Rep. Mike Coffman’s District Office: 3300 S. Parker Road, Cherry Creek Place IV, Suite 305, Aurora, Colo. 80014

CONTACT: Ianthe Metzger: 202-538-2026, [email protected]
Kevin Pape: 440-724-6980, [email protected]

Working America, a national organization for working people without a union on the job, has 3 million working-class members who fight for good jobs and a just economy. Check out our brand new Web tool, fixmyjob.com.

Tags: , ,

Lobbying Group Trying to Roll Back Albuquerque’s Minimum Wage Laws

A Las Cruces-based lobbying group has filed a petition in Albuquerque that could drastically affect the thousands of tipped employees who fought for and won a raise in their minimum wage. Effective since January 1, 2013, tipped workers have been making $3.83 an hour, up from the original $2.13. Under this deceptive new proposal, workers will be penalized when their tips raise their take-home pay higher than $9.50 an hour.  When that happens they will see their non-tip wage lowered to $2.13 an hour.

This new bill punishes employees who, by providing excellent service to their customers, earn more in tips. Under this lobbyist-driven proposal, customers could inadvertently trigger a pay cut if they tip their waitress well for good service.  This idea penalizes great service, forces customers to worry if their tips are helping or hurting, and undermines the voters who passed the original wage increase in overwhelming numbers.  It’s legalizing wage theft and it’s wrong for Albuquerque.

Israel Chavez, who works as a server in Albuquerque, responded by saying, “It’s terrible to see people actively working to subvert a minimum wage increase that Albuquerque citizens overwhelmingly support.  These tactics would effectively steal the wages of many citizens who are already below the poverty line.  The citizens of Albuquerque voted for a minimum wage increase and it’s the municipal government’s duty to enforce that.”

Last November 66 percent of Albuquerqueans voted to have the minimum wage increased. Working America will continue talking to people at their homes and in their communities about why this is a setback for tipped employees and for the Albuquerqueans who spoke with their votes on what the city needs.

Photo by Raise the Wage on Facebook

Tags: , , , , , ,

Working Coloradans Mobilize to Hold Rep. Mike Coffman Accountable for Privatization Efforts

Working America members will be launching the “Rep. MikeCoffman: Who Do You Work For?” campaign to educate their fellow Coloradans about the representative’s radical legislative agenda to privatize programs like Social Security and Medicaid, and most recently, his efforts to privatize the work of the Department of Defense.

“Rep. Coffman seems to feel that it’s more important to give tax breaks to corporations and focus on unnecessary privatization than try to bring jobs to his district,” said Working America State Director Kevin Pape. “He’s not looking out for Coloradans, and it’s time we let constituents know who he really works for.”

During the campaign, members will be collecting petition signatures fromCoffman’s constituents telling him that they do not support his privatization efforts and will hold a public event for petition delivery. They will also be hosting media events and submitting letters to the editor educating Coloradans about Coffman’s attempts to sell off public assets and shift tax dollars to the huge corporations that funded his campaign.

Working America has more than 125,000 members in the state of Colorado.

For updates, follow @WorkingAmerica on Twitter.

Tags: , , , ,

The Attack on North Carolina Voting Rights Will Not Go Unanswered

As the bill expected to disenfranchise 318,000 North Carolina voters, heads to the Senate Floor, protests are growing as people at the capitol and all over the state take action against this massive assault on one of the basic functions of a democracy.

“HB 589  which will eliminate same day registration, shorten early voting, eliminate state-supported voter registration drives, purge voter rolls and empower vigilantism at the polling place,  is another example of the avalanche of anti-worker bills proposed since Gov. Pat McCrory took office,” said Working America State Director Carolyn Smith. “North Carolina is at the heart of the battle against an extremist takeover of the state by politicians who do the bidding of corporate executives, and seek to dismantle the most basic components of a democracy.”

The law comes on the heels of the recent destruction of the state’s unemployment insurance system, massive cuts to public schools and a tax plan that promises to shift more of the burden from the rich to the poor.

Working America, which has nearly 30,000 members in North Carolina, has launched a petition and is talking to people at their homes and in their communities about the effect this and other bills will have on North Carolina’s democracy. It is organizing lobby days and have delivered several thousand petitions calling for an end to the attack on voting.

“We are watching, we are mobilizing and this will not go unanswered,” Smith said.

More details on the law can be found here and here.

Photo via @kristinrawls on Twitter

Tags: , ,

In A Little Seen Move, County Commissioners Make Life Better for Thousands of New Mexicans

This week in Bernalillo County this first phase-in of the new minimum wage increase begins. Now 10,000 low wage workers and their families will be making $8.00 an hour instead of $7.50. Next year, it will increase again to $8.50.

Working America held a thank you event for Commissions Art De La Cruz, Debbie O’Malley and Maggie Hart Stebbins who took measures to ensure that the law was enforceable.

Our New Mexico State Director Chelsey Evans spoke:

“This is really just an incredible day for us to celebrate the fact that 10,000 workers an increase in their paychecks, an increase in what they can spend on food, an increase on what they can spend on just their family in general so overall it’s just a really great day. We also want to take the time to than elected officials who stood up for those 10,000 workers and for our entire community.”

These commissioners included stronger enforcement mechanisms in the law such as a criminal penalty and revocation of business licenses for employers who do not comply.

At this event Working America, OLE and ProgressNow New Mexico members delivered flowers with thank you cards to the commissioners and spoke on the importance of this increase. Brenda Rodriguez, our Member Coordinator in Albuquerque, spoke next about the human impact of the increase:

“This is making a huge impact in the lives of our members, who couldn’t be here today because they are at work.

Lorenzo Pino, who lives in Bernalillo County, is grateful to have county commissioners who stand with workers and make sure that enforcement language is added to the law.

Alma Alvares, who works at McDonalds just outside the city, can now say she will receive a raise just like the rest of Albuquerque. A raise that translates to a little extra cash in her pocket, but more importantly a peace of mind that if her employer decided not to pay her, there is enforcement language that will hold consequences for her employer.

This is not something all of our members can say for Albuquerque, where some folks are getting paid as little as $5 per hour.

We are very honored to have such amazing county commissioners taking a stand for all workers in Bernalillo County and this new minimum wage law is a definitely a step in the right direction for the rest of New Mexico.”

Commissioner Debbie O’Malley spoke on behalf of her colleagues and thanked progressive groups in New Mexico for their hard work.

“This is a very good day for the county and on behalf of commissioners Art de la Cruz and Commissioner Maggie Hart-Stebbins I am here to say thank you all for the work that you put into this initiative, the work from folks like yourself, volunteers and labor who are all here today on behalf of the working people in this region in this county. I wouldn’t have happened.

You know we’re getting the credit but really the credit goes to the community, first the city of course, the initiative and approving that with an overwhelming majority, then of course it came to the county commission.

It was our honor to do this again on behalf of working families, people who work every day preparing our food, sometimes not doing the most pleasant of jobs but this says more than anything that we value families in Bernalillo county. So we very much appreciate this. Thank you very much.”

Though Bernalillo County workers got their raise, Working America is still committed to ensuring that city council members in Albuquerque and Mayor Richard J. Berry carry out the will of their constituents and enforce the minimum wage increase using similar measures to these county commissioners.

The next phase of the minimum wage increase in Bernalillo County will take place on January 1, 2014 and workers will make $8.50 an hour.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Albuquerque Workers on Mayor Berry: “He’s Basically Ignoring a Law and That’s Wrong”

On Thursday night, Working America held its first of many Workers Clinics in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Lawyers from the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty came in to answers questions on workers’ rights in the workplace.

During the discussion members had questions on wage theft, unjust firing, and filing harassment and discrimination complaints against their bosses. Attendees also asked about what to do when your boss wants you to sign papers without telling you what they say, and how to deal with an employers who pressure workers into quitting to avoid paying unemployment benefits.

Member Ricardo Gonzales talked about why events like the Workers Clinic are important:

“I came to this event because there are many state laws we aren’t aware of. Here they give you options on how the laws work and we become familiar with these laws and can better apply them and ourselves to our workplaces.

I recommend that all citizens, residents, and all the people that live here know this because it is with the knowledge that you can gain from people who do know the law you can better defend yourself.

This would be good to have in the state, Santa Fe, the capital, and all of Albuquerque so that people aren’t being discriminated or abused as they currently are.”

Member Gilbert Armijo agreed:

“Tonight I hope to learn more about what the requirements are for businesses to make sure they paying right. Here in Albuquerque we’ve got a problem because we’ve got a Mayor Richard Berry who in my mind has been derelict in his duty as a public official to carry out laws that have been enacted, and especially ones that have been enacted by the people’s vote.

This was not passed by the City Council or anyone else, this was the people’s vote and Mayor Berry has said, “Screw them,I’ll do what I want to.” And he’s basically ignoring a law and that’s wrong.

And we don’t just need words of compassion, we need action and the minimum wage is one of the most important, fundamental unpinning of helping people become economically self-sustaining.”

Our members will continue to speak out during Working America’s “Got Your Raise Yet?” summer education campaign. Organizers will educate low wage workers on their rights, and continue to pressure the city council and Mayor Berry for the law’s enforcement.

Join us Monday, July 1 at 11:00am in Civic Plaza for the Bernalillo County Commissioners Thank You Event. To get involved text RAISE505 to 30644.

Tags: , , , , ,