When Workers Come Together, We Win: Working Families Victory Roundup

Letter Carrier Michael Shea from Georgia. Photos via Letter Carriers, NALC.

Working people scored major victories over the past several months, organizing new workplaces and winning fights to raise wages.

Here are some highlights of recent working families victories:

ORGANIZING VICTORIES

Texas Machinists Win Back-to-Back Organizing Drives: Union growth continues in Texas as members from the Machinists (IAM) successfully organized their second consecutive workplace in Texas this month, adding nearly 1,000 new members.

Point Park University Faculty Organize Hundreds to Gain Benefits: More than 300 part-time faculty members at Point Park University in Pittsburgh are on the road to a union voice after voting to certify with Adjunct Faculty Association-United Steelworkers (AFA-USW).

Missouri EMS Workers Win Organizing Fight: An overwhelming majority of Emergency Medical Service (EMS) professionals in Independence, Missouri, voted to join EMS Workers United-AFSCME, strengthening the local union and providing essential protections for Missouri workers.

RAISING WAGES VICTORIES

Massachusetts Workers Help Push Minimum Wage Hike: Working people in Massachusetts scored a big win as Gov. Deval Patrick signed legislation that will increase the state’s minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2017.

Newark, N.J., Paid Sick-Leave Ordinance Goes Into Effect: A new paid sick-leave law in Newark, N.J., will allow full and part-time employees to earn up to 40 hours of paid sick-leave per year. Similar paid sick-leave laws have passed in cities such as San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC.

Momentum Builds for Minimum Wage Hike in Nebraska: Workers in Nebraska put a measure on the 2014 ballot to raise the minimum wage to $9 and hour by 2016.

California Workers Benefit from Minimum Wage Increase: An increase in California’s minimum wage to $9 an hour has taken effect, with the wage set to increase again in 2016 to $10 an hour. Meanwhile, efforts continue in Los Angeles to increase the minimum wage in the city to $15 an hour.

COMMUNITY VICTORIES

Philadelphia Building Trades Go to Work with New Housing Deal: A deal between Philadelphia building-trades unions and the Philadelphia Housing Authority will put people to work in union jobs while creating new affordable housing for Pennsylvanians.

Letter Carriers Complete Successful Food Drive: Members of the Letter Carriers (NALC) completed their annual food drive, collecting more than 72 million pounds of food for families in need.

Union Volunteers Help Aspiring Americans Earn Citizenship: On June 28, at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C., volunteers helped nearly 100 people through the U.S. citizenship process, enabling them to file paperwork with the help of legal and immigration experts.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Union, Yes: Machinists Win Back-to-Back Organizing Drives in Texas

Exciting things are happening in Texas. The Machinists (IAM) today announced a second important organizing victory, this time for 475 office and clerical personnel employed by L3 at the Corpus Christi Army Depot (CCAD) in Corpus Christi. This follows an April organizing win for 450 helicopter mechanics and technicians at the same facility.

The workers will join IAM Local 2916, which already has more than 500 members under six contracts at the adjoining Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, as well as the new members from April’s election.

“Our organizers were able to overcome the anti-union bias that is promoted in some southern states by providing concrete examples of what IAM contracts have already been secured for similar workers throughout the South,” said IAM Southern Territory Vice President Mark Blondin. “The IAM also has a history in the South that goes back 126 years, with well-established bargaining relationships in shipbuilding, defense and aerospace.”

Blondin credited the union’s months-long education campaign that preceded the vote for ensuring workers at L3 knew their legal rights and understood the benefits of working under a collective bargaining agreement.

“The office workers mirrored the mechanics in needing better wages and benefits,” said IAM Southern Territory Grand Lodge Representative Ramon Garcia, who helped coordinate the organizing effort with assistance from District Lodge 776 and district organizers Chub McCrory and Sylvia Zavala.

“This was a big team effort, with staff and volunteers involved from across our territory. It’s exciting to see workers’ views change about the need for a union,” said Blondin. “Across the South, we’re hearing from workers about the need for the voice on the job and better wages. We expect these latest wins to lead to increased organizing opportunities for the IAM.”

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Union-Made Father’s Day Shopping Ideas

Photo by Geoff Livingston/Flickr

Celebrate your dad in solidarity style this Father’s Day by getting him a gift that sports the union label. Check out some union-made Father’s Day gift ideas from our friends over at Labor 411, the union business directory from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

Don’t forget to text MADE to 235246 for more union-made-in-America product lists. 

  • Hugo Boss (UNITE HERE)
  • Jim Beam (United Food and Commercial Workers [UFCW])
  • Joseph Abboud clothing (UNITE HERE)
  • Klein Tools (Boilermakers [IBB])
  • Knob Creek whiskey (UFCW)
  • Louisville Slugger (UAW)
  • Naturalizer shoes (UFCW)
  • Old Spice (UFCW)
  • Pierre Cardin cologne (UFCW)
  • Red Wing Shoes (UFCW)
  • Spalding basketball (Machinists [IAM])
  • Stella Artois beer (IAM)
  • Timex watches (IAM)
  • The Union Boot Pro (UFCW)

If you’re thinking of splurging, spring for some game-day tickets so you can watch your favorite baseball players, who are members of the Major League Baseball Players Association, and make sure dear old dad gets a heaping cup of Budweiser beer, made by the Teamsters and IAM.

See more union-made-in-America guides and text MADE to 235246 for more product lists:

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Make It a Union-Made Memorial Day Barbecue

Make It a Union-Made Memorial Day Barbecue

Memorial Day is the unofficial kickoff to the summer holiday season. While the day honors those who have given their lives defending the nation—and Jimmy  Gilbert, director of the AFL-CIO’s Union Veterans Council, will write more on that next Monday—the weekend also marks the start of grilling season. 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
  • Guldens 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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What These Workers Need to Decide at the End of Every Week

Should they buy gas? Should they pay their bills? Buy groceries? Listen to minimum wage workers explain why they can’t survive on $7.25.

Hat tip to the U.S. Department of Labor for this video.

Do you agree that America’s working people need a raise? Sign the petition.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW.

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AFL-CIO Calls on the Obama Administration to Provide Deportation Relief

Update: Monday afternoon AP reported Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is weighing limiting deportations of immigrants living in the U.S. who don’t have serious criminal records. Read more.

The AFL-CIO today called upon President Barack Obama to halt deportations that tear families apart from each other, and today the AFL-CIO sent the president a memo urging him to take swift action on the urgent needs of workers and immigrant communities.

While Republicans in Congress are abdicating their responsibility to create a commonsense immigration process, the AFL-CIO recommends the Obama administration and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) take the following three steps:

  1. DHS should grant affirmative relief with work authorization to individuals who are low priorities for removal or eligible for prosecutorial discretion under existing DHS policies. This would stop employers from “playing the deportation card” that pits workers against each other.
  2. DHS should reassert the primary role of the federal government in determining and implementing enforcement priorities by ending programs that effectively delegate those responsibilities to state and local law enforcement.
  3. DHS should reform the enforcement and removal system to stop criminalizing immigrant communities and ensure that individuals who are low priorities for removal or eligible for prosecutorial discretion are not removed.

Read more details about these steps in the memo and from the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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11 Things Everyone Should Know About Working Women and the Minimum Wage

11 Things Everyone Should Know About Working Women and the Minimum Wage

Women workers are breadwinners. Women workers support their families. Check out 11 facts that show why women would benefit from raising the minimum wage.

1. Nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. Nearly four in 10 female minimum wage workers are women of color.

2. If the minimum wage were raised to $10.10, 25 million to 28 million workers would get a raise. About 55% of the workers who would benefit, more than 15 million people, are women.

3. Some 24.3% of women workers would benefit from raising the wage.

4. More than three-quarters of women earning the minimum wage are age 20 or older. The image of teenagers making minimum wage while flipping burgers at the neighborhood restaurant is outdated.

5. More than 2.2 million single moms would benefit from raising the minimum wage. One out of four of the workers who would benefit—and 31% of the women workers who would benefit—are parents with children.

6. Some 14 million children, or 18.7% of all kids in America, would benefit from raising the wage.

7. The minimum wage for tipped workers ($2.13 an hour) has not been raised since 1991. About 72% of tipped workers, such as restaurant servers, bartenders and hairstylists, are women.

8. Workers in tipped industries are paid 40% less than other workers on average. They are twice as likely to be poor than other workers, and servers are nearly three times as likely to be poor.

9. About half of all tipped workers would get a raise if the minimum wage bill, introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), was enacted. This includes increasing the tipped minimum wage to 70% of the minimum wage.

10. For every dollar that men earn, women earn just 77 cents. Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and indexing it to inflation could close about 5% of the gender wage gap.

11. The wage gap is even larger for women of color: African American women make only 64% and Latina women make only 54% of their white male counterparts.

Sources: National Women’s Law CenterWhite HouseEconomic Policy Institute

If you think America’s working families need a raise, sign the petition

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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‘Too Damn High’: Why We Spend So Much on Health Care

Photo via Robin Hood Tax USA/National Nurses United

We spend a lot of money on health care in the United States. In fact, Americans pay far more for health care per person than any of the other 33 OECD countries—$2,800 higher than the next closest country and two-and-a-half times the OECD average.

Is this investment paying off? Not really.

Despite the billions we funnel into our health care system, the United States lags many other major countries on key health outcomes. For example, the United States ranks 31 out of 34 OECD countries in infant mortality rates.

Another sobering fact, the United States is the only major industrialized country on earth that doesn’t guarantee health care as a right.

Yesterday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) raised this point during a Senate committee hearing comparing U.S. health care spending to other countries.

The key takeaway? Total national health spending as a percent of GDP in countries with single-payer systems that bargain directly with health care providers is lower than it tends to be in non-single-payer health systems like the United States.

For example, the cost of coronary bypass surgery in 2011 was $67,583 in the United States compared to $40,954 in Canada and $16,578 in Germany.

Check out the AFL-CIO Now blog that explains why the ability to negotiate for health services can make a huge difference in prices.

These findings on health care costs are especially important at a time when politicians and policymakers in Washington continue to push cuts in health benefits and more cost shifting to workers and retirees. The right way to rein in health care cost growth is to stop overpaying for care and to get providers to deliver care in more cost-effective ways (like Medicare does).

The labor movement is committed to building upon the Affordable Care Act and pursuing health care for all, ultimately through a single-payer system.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

‘It’s So Hard to Care About Anything Anymore’: Confessions of Unemployed Workers

It-s-So-Hard-To-Care-About-Anything-Anymore-Confessions-Of-Unemployed-Workers_blog_post_fullWidth

Just in case folks need a reminder, being unemployed really sucks. On top of the stress of not knowing how you’re going to pay rent or afford to eat, you feel isolated from your friends and family. Most people get that being out of work is no picnic, but Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) needs a refresher. Kirk voted twice against extending emergency jobless benefits, which is crazy when you consider more than 99,000 Illinoisans have lost this lifeline.

Click here to read 21 anonymous confessions from jobless workers from the secret-sharing app Whisper on the AFL-CIO’s BuzzFeed page.

Call your senators today and ask them to renew unemployment insurance: 845-809-4509.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

UAW Files Appeal with NLRB on Outside Interference During Chattanooga Volkswagen UAW Election

UAW Files Appeal with NLRB on Outside Interference During Chattanooga Volkswagen UAW Election

It’s hard enough to form a union without politicians and special interest groups interfering and using scare tactics. Which is exactly what happened in Chattanooga, Tenn., when Volkswagen workers narrowly voted against representation with UAW by 44 votes.

The UAW filed an appeal with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Friday related to the interference by politicians and outside special interest groups in that election.

A firestorm of interference from politicians and special interest groups threatened the economic future of the plant just before and during three days of voting in an election supervised by the NLRB. The objections detail a coordinated and widely publicized coercive campaign conducted by politicians and outside organizations to deprive Volkswagen workers of their federally protected right to join a union.

“It’s essentially saying, ‘If you unionize, it’s going to hurt your economy. Why? Because I’m going to make sure it does,’” said Volkswagen worker Lauren Feinauer. “I hope people see it for the underhanded threat that it is.”

The campaign also included threats by U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.) related to promises of a new product line awarded to the plant if workers voted against UAW representation.

The objections state, “Sen. Corker’s conduct was shameful and undertaken with utter disregard for the rights of the citizens of Tennessee and surrounding states that work at Volkswagen.…The clear message of the campaign was that voting for the union would result in stagnation for the Chattanooga plant, with no new product, no job security and withholding of state support for its expansion.”

For more information, visit www.uaw.org/uawvw.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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