Another great win emerges from autoworkers and industry collaboration. General Motors Co. (GM) will invest more than $1.3 billion to upgrade and expand five manufacturing plants in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana that also will create or retain more than 1,000 jobs, GM and the UAWannounced Monday.
UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, who represents GM workers, calls the investments a “win for American workers.” He says:
The UAW is proud to be a part of this successful collaboration with GM that has helped rebuild the nation’s economy, created good paying, union jobs in communities across the country and brought manufacturing that was moved overseas back to the United States. This is further proof that collective bargaining works.
In 2011, when the UAW negotiated new contracts with the Big Three automakers, the union won commitments from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler to invest more than $27.3 billion in their plants, creating 20,000 new jobs at the three automakers and thousands more in the industries that are part of the auto manufacturing supply chain.
At the ceremony at GM’s Flint, Mich., truck assembly plant announcing the investment, GM North America President Mark Reuss told the cheering workers:
These investments are a sign of our confidence in our workforce and our UAW partners that have given and tried so hard and in our vehicles and the continued demand for excellence in each one of these products. You earned this.
Since the auto industry was on the verge of collapse during the Bush recession, car makers and the UAW have worked closely in forging a partnership that was instrumental in securing the financing in 2008 and 2009 that kept the industry alive. Working together not only kept the auto industry afloat and saved tens of thousands of jobs, the negotiated investments like Monday’s GM announcement have opened the doors to good middle-class jobs.
Ashton notes that while income disparity grows in the country and the middle class declines, collective bargaining has created a ladder to the middle class for millions of America’s workers.
This announcement today is further proof that collaboration and collective bargaining works and will continue to be the way that we rebuild America’s middle class.
At the Flint ceremony, Barry Campbell, chairman of UAW Local 598, said he was “proud to pay my union dues, and this is just a great example why.”
GM’s nearly $1.3 billion investment includes:
- $600 million in Flint Assembly for facility upgrades.
- $493.4 million in Romulus (Mich.) Powertrain Operations.
- $121 million in Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly for a logistics optimization center.
- $30.6 million in Toledo Transmission Operations for increased capacity for an existing six-speed transmission.
- $29.2 million in Bedford (Ind.) Castings, which includes $22.6 million to produce components for transmissions.
For more on the success of the labor-management partnerships in the auto industry, read Labor Secretary Thomas Perez’s recent article on the UAW and Ford working together. Perez says that is just one example of how:
Across the country, creative labor-management partnerships are saving and creating jobs, keeping businesses competitive, growing the middle class and helping more Americans climb ladders of opportunity.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, auto workers, general motos, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, uaw
Unionized women workers continue to have “a substantial boost in pay and benefits” compared to their nonunion counterparts, according to a new issue brief.
The brief by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), Women Workers and Unions, finds that:
Unionized women workers, on average, make 12.9 percent more than their nonunion counterparts, are 36.8% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and 53.4% more likely to have participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.
The study also finds that:
- Being in or represented by a union compares with completing college in terms of wages, especially when tuition costs are factored in. All else equal, being in a union raises a woman’s pay as much as a full year of college does;
- For a women worker with a high school degree, being in or represented by a union raises her likelihood of having health insurance or a retirement plan by more than earning a four-year college degree would;
- Women will be a majority of the union workforce in 2023 if current trends continue.
Nicole Woo, co-author of the study, says:
Considering the great boost to pay and benefits that unions bring, it’s important that anyone who cares about the well-being of women workers also care about unions.
The CEPR report comes 50 years after the release of American Women: Report of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.” On Tuesday, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler will take part in a Labor Department symposium, 50 Years Later: Women, Work and the Work Ahead, commemorating the anniversary.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, Health Care, paycheck fairness, unions, women
A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that Latino workers are 50% more likely be killed on the job from falls and dangerous and unhealthy working conditions such as exposure to chemicals or being struck and killed by equipment than the overall workforce.
The CDC study also found that young Latino workers (18–24) are 50% more likely to be killed on the job for any reason that the overall workforce. Of the four groups studied—Latino, White, African American and Native American/Asian/Pacific Islander, Latinos were the only ethnic and age group to have a so much greater death on the job rate.
The report examined workplace deaths from 2005 to 2009 and found the overall death rate was 3.7 per 100,000 workers, but for Latino workers it jumped to 4.4 per 100,000 workers.
Looking at specific causes of death, the report found that falls accounted 0.5 deaths for every 100,000 workers, but for Latino workers the rate was 0.9. A recent study by the Center for Popular Democracy found that in New York State Latino and immigrant workers suffered 60% of fatal worksite falls. Read more here.
The CDC study found that deaths because of exposure to dangerous substances such as chemicals or dangerous conditions such as excessive heat were 0.3 overall and 0.5 for Latino workers. The rate for workers killed by being struck or caught by equipment was 0.9 for Latinos and 0.5 overall.
The study concludes:
These findings highlight the importance of preventing work-related deaths. All workers, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or immigrant status, are afforded equal protection under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Furthering a culture in which occupational safety and health is recognized and valued as a fundamental component of economic growth and prosperity can play an important role in promoting health equity….This information can be used to improve intervention efforts by developing programs that better meet the needs of the increasing diversity of the U.S. workforce.
Click here for the full report.
For more information on Latino worker deaths and injuries, see the 2013 edition of the AFL-CIO report Death on the Job.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, Latino, Rights At Work, safety, workplace safety
On Dec. 9, a coalition of education advocates, including the AFT, parents and community, faith and other groups will hold a National Day of Action to Reclaim the Promise of Public Education. The mobilization is part of a long-term push for reforms designed to reclaim the promise of public education as the nation’s gateway to democracy and racial and economic justice.
AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a conference call today the action is part of a “movement to rebuild educational and economic opportunity.” She said:
We want our kids to have great public schools. Public schools where kids are safe. Public schools where the joy of learning is embedded….We’re doing everything we can to let our kids have the future they deserve.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, aft, budget cuts, Education, public education
Contrary to what The Washington Post and the billionaires who are trying to cut Social Security by pitting young people against seniors say, the nation does face a retirement crisis and Social Security doesn’t need to be cut. It must be—and can be—strengthened, said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in a powerful speech on the Senate floor Monday.
Just 18% of private-sector workers have traditional defined pension plans, and even with some employers providing 401(k) plans, she said that nearly half of workers lack access to those limited plans. More than 44 million workers have no retirement assistance from their employers.
With tens of millions of people more financially stressed as they approach retirement, with more and more people left out of the private retirement security system and with the economic security of our families unraveling, Social Security is rapidly becoming the only lifeline that millions of seniors have to keep their heads above water.
But instead of taking on the retirement crisis, instead of strengthening Social Security, Warren said, “some in Washington are actually fighting to cut benefits.”
So long as these problems continue to exist and so long as we are in the midst of a real and growing retirement crisis—a crisis that is shaking the foundations of what was once a vibrant and secure middle class—the absolute last thing we should be doing is talking about cutting back on Social Security. The absolute last thing we should do in 2013— at the very moment that Social Security has become the principal lifeline for millions of our seniors—is allow the program to begin to be dismantled inch by inch.
Cutting Social Security would mean cutting benefits for the two-thirds of seniors who rely on it for the majority of their income, said Warren. It would also affect the 14 million whose Social Security benefits keep them out of poverty.
While those calling to cut Social Security hid their intentions behind the claim that their “chained” CPI proposal is just a more accurate way to calculate the cost-of-living increases for seniors, Warren said:
“Chained” CPI? It’s just a fancy way of saying cut benefits…[instead] with some modest adjustments, we can keep the system solvent for many more years—and could even increase benefits.
Warren also slammed a recent Washington Post editorial that mocked the idea of a looming retirement crisis.
No retirement crisis? Tell that to the millions of Americans who are facing retirement without a pension. Tell that to the millions of Americans who have nothing to fall back on except Social Security. There is a $6.6 trillion gap between what Americans under 65 are currently saving and what they will need to maintain their current standard of living when they hit retirement. $6.6 trillion, and that assumes Social Security benefits aren’t cut. Make no mistake: There is a crisis.
She also said the call to cut Social Security “has an uglier side.” The Post editorial and groups pushing Social Security cuts, like billionaire Peter Peterson’s “Fix the Debt” organization, are trying to drive a wedge between younger people and seniors by framing the debate as a choice between “more children in poverty versus more seniors in poverty.”
The suggestion that we have become a country where those living in poverty fight each other for a handful of crumbs tossed off the tables of the very wealthy is fundamentally wrong. This is about our values, and our values tell us that we don’t build a future by first deciding who among our most vulnerable will be left to starve.
Warren told the senators, “We don’t build a future for our children by cutting basic retirement benefits for their grandparents,” but instead:
We build a future for our kids by strengthening our economy, by investing in education and infrastructure and research, by rebuilding a strong and robust middle class in which every kid gets a chance and the most vulnerable have a strong safety net.
See her full speech in the video above and read the full text here.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: chained cpi, Elizabeth Warren, Fix the Debt, Medicare, pensions, Retirement Security, social security
A disproportionate number of Latinos and immigrants are disproportionately killed in fall accidents in New York, according to a new study by the Center for Popular Democracy, because they work in construction in relatively high numbers; are concentrated in smaller, nonunion firms; and are over-represented in the contingent labor pool.
According to Fatal Inequality: Workplace Safety Eludes Construction Workers of Color in New York State:
- In the state of New York, Latinos and immigrants suffered 60% of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-investigated fatal falls from elevation fatalities.
- In New York City, 74% of victims of fatal falls were Latinos and immigrants.
- 86% of Latinos and immigrants killed in falls from an elevation in the state were working for nonunion employers.
Latino construction workers said they feared retaliation from their employers if they raised concerns about safety conditions. The report also points to an underfunded and understaffed OSHA and penalties for safety violations that are “so small that employers can see them as just an incidental cost of doing business.”
The report warns that matters could get worse because the construction and insurance industries are proposing an amendment to weaken the state’s Scaffold Law, which requires owners and contractors to provide appropriate and necessary equipment, such as safe hoists, ladders and scaffolds. The law holds owners and contractors fully liable if their failure to follow the law causes a worker to be injured or killed. It would shift responsibility for workplace safety from owners and contractors, who control site safety, to workers, who do not.
You can read an executive summary of the report here or download the entire report here.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, construction, Latino, New York, Rights At Work, safety
With the end of the legislative session looming, here’s a look at some of the key working family issues still on the congressional agenda.
The Republican shutdown of the government in October cost the economy 120,000 jobs and just under $24 billion. The agreement to end the shutdown funded the government through Jan. 15, but at the sequestration levels that have strangled job growth and slowed the economy, and included a debt ceiling increase through Feb. 7.
The deal also called for a House–Senate budget conference committee to try to reach a longer term budget agreement by Dec. 13. House Republicans are continuing their demands to cut Social security, Medicare and Medicaid, along with tax breaks for corporations.
The AFL-CIO is calling for the repeal of the sequester, which could create nearly 800,000 jobs, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Also lawmakers must oppose any cuts in Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits, including means-testing or reducing annual cost-of-living increases by moving to the so-called “chained CPI.” Social Security benefits should be improved, not cut; working people and retirees need more economic security, not less.
Instead of further austerity measures, Congress should invest in jobs and education by raising revenue from Wall Street and the wealthiest 1%. Repealing tax subsidies for sending jobs overseas, for example, would generate $583 billion over 10 years.
In June, the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill that included a path to citizenship. In October, a House bill (H.R. 15) modeled on the Senate measure was introduced with Republican co-sponsors. Congressional observers believe there are at least two dozen other Republican legislators who would support the bill if it came to a vote.
But this week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) broke his promise to hold a House vote on immigration reform legislation. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called Boehner’s action “unconscionable” and said:
The AFL-CIO will not give up this fight until comprehensive immigration reform is passed in the Congress. If Boehner’s House Republicans continue to block the way, we intend to make it clear that the Republican Party will pay a price at the ballot box for ignoring America’s growing immigrant community.
Earlier this month, the Senate overwhelmingly passed (64–32) the historic Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 (ENDA). The bill would make it illegal for employers to discriminate against workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently, 29 states allow workers to be fired for being gay and 33 allow workers to be fired for being transgender.
But even though the Senate version passed with bipartisan support and the House ENDA bill includes Republican co-sponsors, Boehner again caved to the extremist tea party wing and said he would not allow a vote on the bill.
The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2009. Shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday, the Senate is expected to take up a bill (S. 460) to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 over three years and index it to inflation. It also would raise the minimum wage for tipped workers, which is currently $2.13 per hour, to 70% of the regular minimum wage.
Among workers who would benefit from a minimum wage increase, 88% are adults older than 20; 55% percent are women; and their earnings account for half of their family’s entire income.
Even though 80% percent of the public, including 62% of Republican voters, support increasing the minimum wage, according to a recent poll conducted by Hart Research, Boehner likely will block any House vote.
If Congress doesn’t extend the current extended federal unemployment insurance (UI) program by the end of the year, 1.3 million jobless workers will be cut off from UI the week of Dec. 28. Nearly 1.9 million more would lose the extended UI during the first half of 2014 as their state benefits run out. The current program, last extended in January 2013, provides up to 47 weeks of federal benefits in states with the highest unemployment rates on top of the normal 26 weeks that most states provide.
With the economy still 2 million jobs in the hole after the Great Recession and with 37% of the unemployed out of work for more than six months, inaction would be disastrous.
Last month the House passed a bill (H.R. 2374) that would delay and could ultimately thwart the U.S. Department of Labor’s effort to protect workers’ retirement security. The Labor Department wants to close loopholes and update the rule that protects workers from deceptive or abusive practices when they seek investment advice about their retirement savings.
In a letter to House members, AFL-CIO Government Affairs Director William Samuel says, “The intent behind this bill is to delay the commission rule and thereby also block [the Labor Department] from carrying out its statutorily required responsibilities.” He adds:
This bill affects all workers who are trying to save for their retirement. The primary way most working people invest in the capital markets is with their retirement savings—frequently their biggest financial asset. They are counting on making the most of their money when they seek investment advice; they are counting on that advice being free from conflicts of interest. That is what is at stake here.
So far the bill has no Senate sponsor.
Earlier this year with Senate Democrats on the verge of changing Senate rules to block filibusters on executive branch nominees, Senate Republicans relented on their obstruction tactics that have blocked votes on several of President Barack Obama’s nominees.
But after eight Republicans crossed party lines to end a filibuster against Richard Griffin, the former National Labor Relations Board member nominated by Obama to serve as the NLRB’s general counsel, the nomination process once again ground to a halt.
On Oct. 31, Republicans blocked an up or down vote on Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), the first African American to be nominated to chair the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Watt is also the first sitting member of Congress to be rejected by the Senate since 1843.
Republicans also have vowed to block all three of President Obama’s nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. On Oct. 31, Republicans prevented an up or down vote on the nomination of Patricia Millett, and on Nov. 12, they voted to continue the filibuster against the nomination of Nina Pillard. Republican leadership is also expected to block the nomination of the third Obama nominee, Robert Wilkins, who is currently sitting on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The District of Columbia Circuit is considered the most important court beneath the U.S. Supreme Court because most cases dealing with federal regulations and federal enforcement agencies can be appealed there, including decisions and regulations issued by the National Labor Relations Board, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Tags: enda, FHFA, Housing, immigration, immigration reform, Jobs, Mel Watt, minimum wage, NLRB, Retirement Security, Rights At Work, shutdown, unemployment insurance
MSNBC’s new Friday late night show “Up Late with Alec Baldwin” recently featured an in-depth interview with Cristina Tzintzún, executive director of the Workers Defense Project (WDP). She explained the hardships and abuses immigrant workers face, especially undocumented construction workers in Texas, and some of the successes—such as the recent wage and job safety protections approved last month by the Austin City Council—WDP has seen.
Baldwin told viewers that while the battle over comprehensive immigration reform with a road map to citizenship “plays out in Washington, out in the rest of the country, out of the spotlight,” immigrant workers are “fighting real battles to feed their families.”
Why? Because without the protection of citizenship, they’re vulnerable to exploitation like wage theft—people hiring them to do work and then not paying them—unsafe and deadly work conditions like denying water breaks to people working outside in the summer heat. The Workers Defense Project in Texas is leading the fight to change this.
Watch part one of the interview above and part two below.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: Alec Baldwin, austin, construction, Rights At Work, safety, Texas, Workers Defense Project
Walmart workers in Seattle-area stores will strike this morning, just days afterSouthern California Walmart workers walked off the job calling for a living wage and an end to retaliation against workers who are seeking change at the retail behemoth.
Washington State Walmart employee Mary Watkines told Salon’s Josh Eidelson in a pre-strike interview that workers have to endure management “intimidation and humiliation,” and added:
I want people to be able to live better, you know, like the commercial says….Nobody lives better except for the Waltons now.
In the Los Angeles strike, more than 50 Walmart workers and community, faith and union supporters were arrested after sitting down in an intersection outside a Chinatown Walmart to protest Walmart’s low wages and alleged retaliation against workers speaking out for change.
The recent actions by Walmart workers are a preview for a nationwide “Black Friday” day of action when Walmart and other low-wage retail workers plan demonstrations on what is traditionally the busiest holiday season shopping day.
Learn more about the Black Friday actions and search for a day-after-Thanksgiving event in your area. Also be sure to visit Our Walmart and Making Change at Walmart for more information.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: Rights At Work, seattle, Walmart, washington
The fate of comprehensive immigration reform with a road map to citizenship that fully protects the rights of all workers is in the hands of House Republicans. Today, the AFL-CIO launched a multi-city ad campaign telling Republicans to take action now. The ads also hold anti-immigrant Republican lawmakers accountable for their hostile statements about Latino immigrants.
The Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill in June, and last month a House bill patterned on the bipartisan Senate measure was introduced. But House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other Republican leaders have indicated they will not allow a vote on a comprehensive immigration reform bill with a road map to citizenship.
You can help “Fight the Hate,” by texting SHAME to 235246 and telling House Republicans it’s time to vote on citizenship. (Message and data rates may apply.)
The ads (see the videos above and below) will air in Spanish in Atlanta, Bakersfield, Calif., Denver and Orlando, Fla., and in English in metropolitan Washington, D.C.
In addition to the ads, labor will launch in-district mobilizations to increase pressure on House Republicans to support immigration reform with a road map to citizenship that protects workers’ rights. Says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:
The time for acting on immigration reform is now, and the labor movement has decided to throw down in a big way to make it happen, Every day, over 1,000 people are deported, while House Republicans refuse to act on immigration reform with a road map to citizenship and workers’ rights. We won’t stop until the deportation crisis ends and aspiring Americans have the road map to citizenship they deserve.
Tags: aflcio, Atlanta, bakersfield, California, Colorado, Denver, Florida, georgie, immigration, Orlando