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
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
Tags: aflcio, auto, Bob Corker, chattanooga, NLRB, organizing, Tennessee, uaw
The following is a guest post from Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers. It originally appeared on The Huffington Post
The GOP is all about freedom—for corporations, that is. Republicans believe, for example, that business should be free from the kind of government regulation that would prevent chemical companies from spewing poison into West Virginia drinking water.
When it comes to freedom for workers, though, the GOP is all about squelching that. Republicans believe workers should not be free to form labor unions, that they should not enjoy freedom of association, that they should be denied their right to collective action.
Usually, the GOP explains this as picking sides. In one corner, the corporation sits whining that it doesn’t want unions pressuring executives to more equitably share the fruits of workers’ labor. In the other corner, workers assert they have the right to organize and demand better pay and treatment. In this match up, Republicans always bet on the deep-pocketed corporation. When there’s no fight, when both executives and workers want a union, Republicans still oppose workers’ rights. That’s because organized labor has always stood for everything the GOP hates: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance and the 40-hour workweek. Republicans denounce workers exercising their right to concerted action, at the workplace and in Washington.
Volkswagen is the perfect example. Republicans are blasting VW (actually criticizing a corporation!) because VW is [not opposing] an attempt by the UAW to organize the German automaker’s Chattanooga, Tenn., assembly plant.
VW wants to establish works councils at its Chattanooga plant, similar to those it has in Germany. In Europe, these groups of white- and blue-collar workers collaborate on issues such as plant rules, work hours and vacations. In VW’s experience, cooperating with employees through these councils increases productivity and profitability.
Because the councils discuss labor issues such as work hours, VW and the UAW have determined that to legally establish them in Chattanooga, the plant must be unionized.
This is intolerable to the GOP. Two of Tennessee’s most powerful Republicans, Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, insist they know how to run an auto company better than VW. Despite this successful international auto company’s actual business experience with works councils, these GOP politicians say that they know what’s best, that they just know unionization won’t be good for VW.
A union-hating group, the National Right to Work (For Less) Committee, traveled to Chattanooga from its headquarters near Washington, D.C., with a carpetbag full of cash for legal challenges to the unionization effort. And GOP crank Grover Norquist sent his Washington, D.C.-based organized labor-hating group, Center for Worker Freedom (To Work For Less), to Tennessee to thwart the Chattanooga workers’ right to unionize.
VW objected to the interference. CEO of VW Chattanooga Frank Fischer asked the outside agitators to stop, saying, “Volkswagen is committed to neutrality and calls upon all third parties to honor the principle of neutrality.”
They ignored him—disregarding a CEO, a figure before whom Republicans typically grovel! That is how much Republicans hate unions.
They refuse to believe what VW is saying, that works councils are valuable management tools, despite evidence that the model already succeeds in the United States.
Just last month, the Jobs with Justice Education Fund released a study titled, “Improving Government Through Labor-Management Collaboration and Employee Ingenuity.” The research shows that government saved millions and improved service when it established collaborative working relationships with unionized public workers.
For example, the report says, such collaboration helped the Federal Aviation Administration save millions when it installed new technology at air traffic control centers. A division of the Navy that designs and builds ships used labor-management councils to improve productivity and quality.
Similarly, Adam Davidson, co-founder of NPR’s “Planet Money” podcast and blog, wrote in The New York Times last week about a cooperative relationship between Harley-Davidson and the two unions that represent workers at its York, Pa., assembly plant. They are the International Association of Machinists (IAM) and my union, the United Steelworkers (USW).
Before Wall Street crashed the economy, inefficiency was part of the all-American motorcycle company’s charm, Davidson wrote. But during the great recession, high costs and slow turnaround threatened to bankrupt the icon. Harley rejected the paths of too many predecessor manufacturers—robots, union-busting and off-shoring. Instead, it chose to actively cooperate with its highly paid, exceedingly skilled and deeply devoted workers and redesign its plant to increase productivity. Workers accepted layoffs and pay freezes to save the company.
On the day Davidson visited the plant, one worker solved several production problems, saving Harley millions of dollars. Millions. The turnaround earned Harley an Industry Week Best Plants award last year. Davidson noted that while fewer than 10 percent of American manufacturing workers are unionized, more than 30 percent of the finalists for the Industry Week award are.
The Jobs with Justice report says the cooperative examples it uncovered demonstrated “the power of partnerships that, if adopted by comparable agencies and unions, will help transform antagonistic, outmoded and inefficient labor relations models.”
But Republicans Norquist, Haslam and Corker are doing their darndest to make sure that can’t happen at VW in Chattanooga.
There, Matt Patterson, who heads a Norquist puppet group opposing the UAW, explained to The New York Times the real reason the Republicans are fighting the UAW: “Unions are very political, the UAW is one of the most political. If they help elect politicians who pass huge government programs, that requires taxes.”
There it is. The truth about the GOP’s opposition to unions. Republicans hate that unions are organizations of workers who traditionally have fought to ensure that their government serves workers with programs like Social Security and Medicare, programs that Americans love and that they’re willing to pay taxes to support.
This week, 1,600 VW assembly workers will vote on whether to be represented by the UAW. They have the right to self-determination without GOP carpetbagger interference.
Tags: Bill Haslam, Bob Corker, chattanooga, collective bargaining, Grover Norquist, Rights At Work, Tennes, uaw, USW, Volkswagen
What’s the state of the U.S. economy? Why do we need a higher minimum wage? Watch AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka tonight at 6:30 p.m. EST tackle these questions on CNN’s “Crossfire” with co-hosts Van Jones and S.E. Cupp and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.
You can join the conversation online on Facebook and Twitter by using the hashtag #Crossfire.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: Carly Fiorina, Jobs, minimum wage, Richard Trumka, S.E. Cupp, Van Jones
In addition to some union-made sweets and treats, if you’re looking for flowers this week, Union Plus is offering a 25% discount through Teleflora for union members, Working America members and their families.
Text MADE to 235246 for more union-made products (standard data and message rates may apply).
Don’t forget to also support your local unionized grocery stores and, when shopping for flowers, look for the Florverde, Veriflora, Fair Trade and other labels (certifying sustainable and worker-friendly growers).
Adapted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: discounts, flowers, union made, Union Plus, valentine's day
Peacock Productions workers are heading to NBC’s headquarters, “30 Rock,” on Thursday to deliver petitions to MSNBC hosts, including Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Lawrence O’Donnell, asking them to meet with the workers and stand with the workers who are seeking union representation on the job.
As we’ve reported before, NBC production workers have been trying to form a union for a more than a year with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). But Peacock Productions, a subsidiary of NBC, has not acted in good faith in negotiations. Chris Hayes met with the workers in December but no other MSNBC host has done the same.
Salon’s Josh Eidelson writes:
“Frankly,” said Writers Guild of America–East Organizing Director Justin Molito, “if we don’t have people overcoming their personal fears and speaking out that are in such high-profile positions as MSNBC hosts, what does that say about the climate of fear at NBC?”
Peacock Productions workers and fellow WGA-E activists plan to show up at 30 Rock on Thursday with petitions addressed to five MSNBC anchors: Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz and Chris Hayes. Molito told Salon the activists will ask for the hosts to be paged to come downstairs and personally receive the letter, which was backed by the AFL-CIO and hosted by MoveOn, and now boasts 10,000-some supporters.
Maddow, O’Donnell, Sharpton, Schultz, Hayes and NBC did not respond to Friday inquiries, or to past requests for comment on the Peacock Productions dispute.
Support the NBC production workers by helping them get to 15,000 signatures on their petition here.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, Al Sharpton, Chris Hayes, Ed Schultz, Lawrence O'Donnell, NBC, New York, Rachel Maddow, WGAE
Sunday is the first outdoor, cold weather site Super Bowl in the game’s 48-year history. The frigid weather in the weeks leading up to the game and expected temps in the 20s and 30s won’t stop the thousands of union members who are bringing you the game. On the scene at MetLife Stadium in the New Jersey Meadowlands or behind the scenes at many facilities in the Metro New York-New Jersey area, union members are making the nation’s national party day possible.
So, as a preview before you sit back, open a beverage and eat far too many snacks that are far from healthy, we introduce Sunday’s starting union lineup.
Of course, on the field, the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos players are members of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), and the men in the striped shirts are members of the NFL Referees Association.
The announcers, camera operators, technicians, field workers and other hardworking folks bringing the game to your flat-screened football cave or favorite Broncos or Seahawks bar include members of SAG-AFTRA, Broadcast Employees and Technicians-CWA (NABET-CWA), Electrical Workers (IBEW) and Laborers (LIUNA).
The annual over-the-top halftime show is a down-to-the-second, choreographed, on-the-field, off-the-field 12-minute extravaganza made possible by the skills of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM) and other performing artists. Anyone who takes in a show in the city likely will enjoy the talents of Actors’ Equity (AEA).
For the fans who head for the concessions, their hot dogs will be served and their beer will be drawn by men and women from UNITE HERE Local 100.
Away from the stadium, union members are making an impact, too. Folks taking the area’s huge mass transit system are being safely delivered to their destinations by members of the Transport Workers (TWU), Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and United Transportation Union (UTU).
A large number of the area’s hotels are staffed by members of unions of the New York Hotel Trades Council. Many of the firefighters, emergency medical personnel and other public service workers who are ensuring a safe and efficient Super Bowl week are members of the Fire Fighters (IAFF) and AFSCME.
Of course, the fans who flew in for the big game got there safely, thanks to aviation workers from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), Air Line Pilots (ALPA), Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), Transport Workers (TWU) and Machinists (IAM).
Also, a big thanks to AFT and NFLPA for raising awareness about human trafficking during large sports events such as the Super Bowl.
Image via @northjerseybrk on Twitter
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: AFA-CWA, AFM, afscme, ALPA, Colorado, Denver, iaff, IAM, IATSE, ibew, liuna, NABET-CWA, New Jersey, New York, NFLPA, SAG-AFTRA, seattle, teamsters, TWU, unite here, washington
Show your solidarity Super Bowl Sunday by not only cheering on your favorite NFL Players Association (NFLPA) members, but also buying union-made-in-America food and drinks for your party. Check out these union-made Super Bowl party products, compiled by our friends at Labor 411, the union business directory from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Food and drinks are brought to you by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), the UAW, Machinists (IAM), the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the Teamsters (IBT).
Want more union-made products? Text MADE to 235246 (standard data and message rates may apply).
Ball Park hot dogs
Farmer John meats
Hebrew National hot dogs
Sara Lee buns
Heinz baked beans
Rosarita refried beans
Frito-Lay chips and snacks
Keebler crackers and products
Lay’s potato chips
Nabisco crackers and products
Rold Gold Pretzels
Old El Paso
Hidden Valley Ranch
Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
Open Pit Barbecue Sauce
Sodas and Drinks
Barq’s Root Beer
Miller High Life
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, Super Bowl, union, unionmade
The National Labor Relations Board filed an formal complaint yesterday against the retail behemoth Walmart, alleging that the company violated the rights of nearly 70 workers rallying over workplace conditions in 14 states.
The Los Angeles Times reports the complaint, the largest ever against Walmart, refers to charges made in November 2012 during the Black Friday actions by associates speaking out for respect on the job and for Walmart to publicly commit to provide regular hours and a living wage of $25,000 a year. The complaint alleges Walmart illegally fired and disciplined nearly 70 workers in 34 stores.
“Walmart thinks it can scare us with attacks to keep us from having a real conversation about the poverty wages we’re paid,” says Barbara Collins, a fired Walmart worker from Placerville, Calif., who is one of the workers named in the complaint. “But too much is at stake—the strength of our economy and the security of our families—to stay silent about why Walmart needs to improve jobs. Now the federal government is confirming what we already know: We have the right to speak out, and Walmart fired me and my co-workers illegally. With a new CEO taking over in a few weeks, we hope that Walmart will take a new direction in listening to associates and the country in the growing calls to improve jobs.”
Making Change at Walmart reported in a press release:
If Walmart is found liable, workers could be awarded back pay, reinstatement and the reversal of disciplinary actions through the decision; and Walmart could be required to inform and educate all employees of their legally protected rights. While historic, the complaint alone is not enough to stop Walmart from violating the law. Since the start of the year, Walmart has continued to retaliate against workers who speak out for better jobs.
In other news, the Internet group Anonymous leaked a set of Walmart PowerPoints for managers that included ways to discourage workers from joining a union and how to identify “early warning signs.”
The PowerPoints also detailed legal ways an employer could discourage workers from organizing:
“Walmart’s aggressive anti-worker campaign is real, it is ugly and unnecessary,” says Dominic Ware of Leandro, Calif. (OUR Walmart member and former associate). “Instead of spending money on these misleading and false campaigns to intimidate workers and their rights, Walmart should be focused on publicly committing to improving jobs, raising wages and making sure that workers are able to raise their concerns without fear of illegal retaliation.”
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: California, Corporate Accountability, Los Angeles, NLRB, Rights At Work, Walmart
In restaurants and other industries where workers earn the tipped minimum wage ($2.13 an hour), employers expect the customer to pay their employees.
The average worker living off the tipped minimum wage is three times more likely to live in poverty and only make $8 an hour after tips, sometimes less. It’s time we raise the tipped minimum wage, which hasn’t budged since 1991.
Have you ever lived off tips? Are you currently a tipped worker? Share your living off tips story here or see other stories on Twitter using the hashtag #livingofftips.
Check out the video from Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United and learn how you can get involved.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, Jobs, minimum wage, restaurant, tipped workers