After 500 Days of Congress Refusing to Vote on Immigration Bill, Obama Acts: Punching In

Obama unveils executive orders on immigration to shield 4.1 million from deportation

“I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty. Well, it’s not. Amnesty is the immigration system we have today — millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules, while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time. That’s the real amnesty — leaving this broken system the way it is,” Obama said. “What I’m describing is accountability.”

AFL-CIO President Trumka wants a comprehensive solution that works for workers

AFL-CIO’s Trumka: “Unfortunately, more than half of those who currently lack legal protections will remain vulnerable to wage theft, retaliation and other forms of exploitation. In addition, we are concerned by the president’s concession to corporate demands for even greater access to temporary visas that will allow the continued suppression of wages in the tech sector.”

NLRB rejects Marist College vote against adjunct professor unionization

NLRB ruled that Marist College “committed objectionable conduct during the course of the union election for the nearly 500 part-time adjunct faculty employed by the college.”

Yet again, Walmart holds food drive for its own underpaid employees

ThinkProgress: “In addition to asking workers to help feed each other, Walmart gets an assist from every taxpayer in the country. The company’s low wages leave huge numbers of its employees on public assistance programs such as food stamps and Medicaid. By one estimate, a single Walmart superstore incurs up to $1.7 million in public assistance spending every year.”

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Trumka: President’s Immigration Executive Action ‘Moves Us Forward’

Photo courtesy Victoria Pickering on Flickr

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued the following statement in response to President Barack Obama’s announced executive action on immigration reform:

Today is an important step toward rational and humane enforcement of immigration law. On behalf of America’s workers, we applaud the Administration’s willingness to act.  We have been calling upon the White House to halt unnecessary deportations since Spring 2013 because our broken immigration system is an invitation for employer manipulation and abuse, and U.S.-born workers as well as immigrant workers are paying the price.

By extending relief and work authorization to an estimated 4 million people, the Obama Administration will help prevent unscrupulous employers from using unprotected workers to drive down wages and conditions for all workers in our country.  Although this fix will be temporary, it will allow millions of people to live and work without fear, and afford them the status to assert their rights on the job.

The Administration is operating within its authority to advance the moral and economic interests of our country, and while we stand ready to defend this program, we must also be clear that it is only a first step.  Unfortunately, more than half of those who currently lack legal protections will remain vulnerable to wage theft, retaliation, and other forms of exploitation.

In addition, we are concerned by the President’s concession to corporate demands for even greater access to temporary visas that will allow the continued suppression of wages in the tech sector.  We will actively engage in the rulemaking process to ensure that new workers will be hired based on real labor market need and afforded full rights and protections.

But this announcement does move us forward – progress that is attributable to the courage and determination of immigrants who rallied, petitioned, fasted and blocked streets to make it happen.  Implementation of the executive action should begin immediately, before further delays open the door for legislative obstruction. Starting tomorrow, the administration should focus enforcement attention on high level targets, stop the community raids and leave workers, grandmothers, and schoolchildren in peace.

Going forward, we renew our call for comprehensive reform that provides a path to citizenship and real protections for workers.  We will continue to stand with all workers, regardless of status, to ensure that their voices are heard and their rights are protected.  Working together, we know that we will ultimately achieve a more just immigration system that promotes shared prosperity and respects the dignity of all workers.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Facebook Drivers Vote to Unionize, and the “Google Buses” Could Be Next: Punching In

Drivers who bus Facebook employees to and from work vote to unionize

“A lot of my passengers are young enough to be my kids and are making a lot more than I do,” said driver Cliff Doi, one of the 43 who voted to join the Teamsters. Are the drivers of the notorious privatized “Google buses” next?

New York legislators hold session to increase their salaries, but it could be tied to minimum wage hike

“I think lawmakers, after more than a decade, deserve a pay raise, but 3 million New Yorkers who are working at poverty-level pay deserve an increase, too. Doing the two of them together makes good economic sense and good government sense.”

Amazon reaches settlement with NLRB that would allow warehouse workers greater rights at work

Bloomberg: “The deal could open the door for Amazon’s workers to unionize, because the settlement requires the online retailer to post notices at its fulfillment centers notifying employees that they have the right to form unions and work with each other for collective benefits.”

Don’t worry, Texas, Rick Perry isn’t done wasting your tax dollars yet

Gov. Perry doesn’t know what the executive order on immigration will contain, but he is already considering suing the federal government over it.

Black Beans, Guac and Respect

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In Los Angeles, more than 100 supporters rallied yesterday at a local Chipotle restaurant to ask it to intervene with its supplier, Huhtamaki.

Workers who make the packaging for Chipotle’s burrito bowls work at Huhtamaki, a giant Finland-based company, earn less than $15 per hour.

Huhtamaki is one of the leading producers of single-use packaging in Commerce, Calif. Under previous management, these jobs were permanent manufacturing jobs, but now Huhtamaki hires temporary workers to pay lower wages with no benefits.

Huhtamaki workers in Los Angeles have been organizing for a year for fairness and respect at the workplace. Workers report that the company prioritizes production over health and safety.

Levi Ross, from the Huhtamaki Workers Committee, said, “I’ve been working at Huhtamaki in Commerce, California for three years. I work hard to provide for my wife and two kids, but it’s been a struggle. Despite positive reviews from my managers, I still make barely enough to support my family and I can’t afford health care for my kids. Recently, we tried to talk to management at our plant about these issues, but they ignored us and, instead, retaliated against us for speaking out. Since Huhtamaki is ignoring us, we’re bringing our fight for justice to one of its customers—Chipotle. Huhtamaki supplies Chipotle with burrito bowl containers, a company which proclaims that it follows ethical standards for all the products it uses. We think those same standards should apply to the workers of the suppliers, like Huhtamaki, that Chipotle contracts with, too. Sign our petition here.”

Huhtamaki has more than a dozen plants across the United States and an aggressive expansion strategy in this market based on creating low-wage, precarious employment.

Maria Elena Durazo, from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, spoke at the rally. Los Angeles port truck drivers also showed impromptu support for Huhtamaki workers.

Stand with Huhtamaki workers and sign their petition today.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Some Illinois Democrats Pushing ALEC Bill to Keep Cities from Raising the Minimum Wage: Punching In

Illinois is site of competing minimum wage efforts as some Democrats push ALEC preemption bill 

Voters were pretty clear on this issue in November, yet House Speaker Madigan is floating a bill to keep cities from raising the minimum wage on their own. Must be all those donations from the Illinois Restaurant Association.

L.A.-area port truckers strike expands to three new companies

Drivers from QTS Inc., LACA Express, and WinWin Logistics Inc. joined the strike Monday morning. Dockworkers have been without a contract since July.

Multiple sources: ALEC is super psyched about 2015! 

Local right to work, minimum wage preemption, keeping poor people off Medicaid, and more from our favorite secretive right-wing bill mill.

Guards at the Sands Bethlehem casino one step closer to unionizing

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson has stopped all of the 50,000 workers at his casinos from unionizing, but that winning streak might soon end.

‘I Miscarried on Walmart’s Property’

Courageous current and former Walmart workers are calling on the mega retailer to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers including lighter duties where medically necessary and being able to drink water or sit down while at work. They formed a group called “Respect the Bump,” which made huge strides earlier this year when Walmart announced it would make accommodations for workers with complicated pregnancies, including lighter duties when medically necessary.

Unfortunately this policy does not extend to all pregnant workers and is not being implemented consistently, so many women are still not receiving the accommodations they need.

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, stand with Walmart workers who are fighting for their right to speak out without fear of retaliation.

Find a Black Friday protest near you and find out more ways to get involved: www.BlackFridayProtests.org.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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New Report Details Huge Impact of Health Care Law on LGBT Americans: Punching In

Across the labor movement, leaders and members facing Ferguson

“Unions want more members in order to be more powerful — but in order to do what? We can be more powerful to get good contracts, and we should. But we need to be more powerful to address police brutality and mass incarceration too.”

Over governor’s objection, Alabama copper workers vote to unionize

Gov. Bentley used Golden Dragon as an example of his ability to bring jobs to the state, but he’s not pleased with them asserting their rights.

Senate Democrats stand with Obama on immigration

But let’s be clear: there’s been no executive order yet, we don’t know what will be in it, and the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration a year and a half ago that Speaker Boehner refuses to bring to a vote.

The Affordable Care Act has vastly improved the health care system for LGBT Americans

ACA prohibits health plans sold through the exchange from discriminating against someone based on sexual orientation. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

State Rep Wears Armani Hat While Smashing Homeless’ Possessions: Punching In

Hawaii Rep. Tom Brower takes a sledgehammer to homeless peoples’ stuff

But after coverage of his actions went national he agreed to stop, saying “the point that I was trying to make has been made.”

Big victory in Pittsburgh as unfairly fired UPMC workers in reinstated

NLRB judge: UPMC “has engaged in egregious and widespread misconduct.”

Major labor union in Israel threatens general strike

Half a world away, the Israeli labor union Histadrut taking action against low wages, outside contracting, and discrimination against disabled workers.

2,000 exotic dancers in New York City awarded $10 million in class-action lawsuit

“The court’s decision reflects that exotic dancers are entitled to the same legal protections as other employees, and is a resounding victory for a group whose voices are all too often ignored.”

Former Massey Energy CEO Indicted

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For those of you who have been following the Massey Energy story, the Mine Workers (UMWA) passed along this news yesterday:

United States Attorney Booth Goodwin announced that a federal grand jury today returned an indictment charging Donald L. Blankenship, former Chief Executive Officer of Massey Energy Company, with four criminal offenses. The indictment charges Blankenship with conspiracy to violate mandatory federal mine safety and health standards, conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials, making false statements to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and securities fraud. The indictment alleges that from about Jan. 1, 2008, through about April 9, 2010, Blankenship conspired to commit and cause routine, willful violations of mandatory federal mine safety and health standards at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine, located in Raleigh County, West Virginia. The indictment alleges that during this same period of time, Blankenship was part of a conspiracy to impede and hinder federal mine safety officials from carrying out their duties at Upper Big Branch by providing advance warning of federal mine safety inspection activities, so their underground operations could conceal and cover up safety violations that they routinely committed.

The indictment further alleges that after a major, fatal explosion occurred at Upper Big Branch on April 5, 2010, Blankenship made and caused to be made false statements and representations to the SEC concerning Massey Energy’s safety practices prior to the explosion. Additionally, the indictment alleges that, after this explosion, Blankenship made and caused to be made materially false statements and representations, as well as materially misleading omissions, in connection with the purchase and sale of Massey Energy stock.

The FBI and the United States Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General are in charge of the investigation. United States Attorney Booth Goodwin, Counsel to the United States Attorney Steven Ruby and Assistant United States Attorney Gabriele Wohl are handling the prosecution.The four counts charged carry a maximum combined penalty of 31 years’ imprisonment.

Click here to view a copy of the indictment. An indictment is only an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The Massey Energy Upper Big Branch (W. Va.) deadly blast killed 29 in 2010. Families of the victims reacted to the indictment yesterday.

Photo by D.D. Meighen on Flickr. Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Obama Should Act On Immigration, No Matter What Cable Pundits Say: Punching In

Volkswagen will allow labor groups to represent workers at Chattanooga plant

“We recognize and accept that many of our employees are interested in external representation, and we are putting this policy in place so that a constructive dialogue is possible and available for everyone.”

Your next bike share could be powered by union labor

280 bike share workers across four cities could soon become members of the Transportation Workers Union.

NYT editorializes on gerrymandering and the Voting Rights Act

“As long as politicians are entrusted with drawing legislative maps, they will use their pen to gain partisan advantage.” OH SNAP.

Obama ignores right-wing cable, will go ahead with fixing our broken immigration system

“The post-grand-bargain-collapse version of Obama is far less willing to extend his hand to Republican–having, in his estimation, had it bitten so many times before.”