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
Sure, working families have been under attack for years, but people across the country are rolling up their sleeves and fighting back to protect workers’ rights and raise living standards for everyone. Here are 10 ways they’re doing it:
1. Increasing the Minimum Wage
Four states (California, Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island) have increased their state minimum wage in 2013, and on Nov. 5, New Jersey voters will vote on a ballot measure to increase their minimum wage.
2. Passing “Buy America” Laws
Three states (Colorado, Maryland and Texas) passed laws in 2013 to ensure that the goods procured with public funding are made in the United States.
3. Ensuring Paid Sick Days
Portland, Ore., Jersey City, N.J., and New York City became the latest three cities to adopt standards for paid sick days in 2013.
4. Protecting Immigrant Workers
In 2013, six states (California, Colorado, Indiana, Maryland, Oregon and Vermont) have enacted protections for immigrant workers, including access to driver’s licenses and education.
5. Cracking Down on Businesses That Cheat Workers
Texas passed legislation in 2013 to crack down on businesses that cheat employees by treating them as “independent contractors” who lack worker protections (such as minimum wage and overtime protection, and eligibility for unemployment benefits and workers’ compensation).
6. Giving Workers the Right to a Voice on the Job
In 2013, some 15,000 home care workers in Minnesota won collective bargaining rights through state legislation, as did 10,000 in Illinois and 7,000 in Vermont. Thousands of other workers around the country have enjoyed organizing wins, too: 7,000 electrical workers, more than 5,000 Texas public school teachers, taxi drivers in New York and other cities, telecom workers, college and university faculty, EMS drivers, hotel and casino workers and domestic workers, to name a few.
7. Protecting Your Privacy on Social Media
Nine states (Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington) have passed legislation in 2013 to prohibit employers from requiring access to your social media passwords or information as a condition of employment.
8. Fighting for LGBTQ Equality
Five states (Colorado, Delaware, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Vermont) have passed legislation banning workplace discrimination or recognizing marriage equality.
9. Protecting the Rights of Domestic Workers
Two states (California and Hawaii) have passed legislation in 2013 to protect the rights of domestic workers. California’s Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights will benefit about 200,000 domestic workers, and Hawaii’s will benefit some 20,000 domestic workers.
10. Protecting Voting Rights
Twelve states (California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Virginia and West Virginia) have passed legislation protecting voting rights in 2013, while voting rights legislation was vetoed by the governors of Nevada and New Jersey.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, Arizona, California, Colorado, connecticut, Delaware, domestic workers, Education, Florida, Illinois, marriage equality, maryland, minimum wage, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York City, Oregon, organizing, Paid Sick Days, privacy, Rhode Island, Rights At Work, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, voting rights, washington, West Virginia
It’s time to raise the minimum wage. The majority of America’s working families (80%) agree. Earlier this year, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) introduced a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
Here are 10 facts about the minimum wage from the National Employment Law Project:
How much the federal minimum wage would be if it had kept up with inflation over the past 40 years. Instead, it’s $7.25. Learn more.
The annual income for a full-time employee working the entire year at the federal minimum wage.
The number of states where a minimum wage worker can afford a two-bedroom apartment working a 40-hour week. Learn more.
The number of times Congress passed legislation to increase the minimum wage in the past 30 years.
The number of states (including the District of Columbia) that have raised their minimum wage above the federal level of $7.25.
The number of states that annually increase their state minimum to keep up with the rising cost of living.
The percentage of Americans who support gradually raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to at least $10.00 an hour, according to an October 2010 poll.
64 in 100 vs. 4 in 100
What are the chances an adult minimum wage worker is a woman vs. the chances a Fortune 500 CEO is a woman? Learn more.
The percentage of Missouri voters that voted to increase and index the Missouri minimum wage in the 2006 ballot initiative.
The federal minimum wage for tipped employees, such as waiters and waitresses, nail salon workers or parking attendants.
Photo by Raise the Wage on Facebook
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: California, George Miller, Iowa, Jobs, minimum wage, Tom Harkin, women
The nearly two-week-old government shutdown, engineered by House tea party Republicans, is hurting everyday working people and their families. The 800,000 federal workers and tens of thousands of government-contracted employees shut out of their jobs and others forced to work without pay perform vital duties for the public and now are struggling to keep roofs over their heads and food on their tables.
Here are five stories you need to read from shut-out workers and about shut-down services. Click here to share your story with us. We need to make sure the GOP understands who is hurt every day this shutdown continues.
Ona is a furloughed worker from a nuclear waste cleanup site in Georgia.
We were sent home on Oct. 3 and told not to come back until called back. This could be weeks….These people are the hands-on workers that are well trained to perform the difficult tasks of shutting down these waste tanks and setting things right so their kids and their kids’ kids don’t have to deal with it years down the road….I will not be surprised if some of them do not make it back and we will have lost some very well-trained and dedicated workers to this furlough situation.
Read more from Ona.
Jessica’s husband is the sole source of income for the California couple.
He works for a military base about half an hour from our home. After dealing with six weeks of furloughs from sequestration and losing $1,100/month, we fell behind in bills. Because of the shutdowns, we are now looking at our phones being shut off, cable and Internet being shut off and being left with no choice but to voluntarily repo our car.
Cesar is a furloughed federal worker in Florida.
I am the sole income earner in my family. I have two boys, and contrary to what is being said by right-wing talk show hosts, I and many of my fellow federal colleagues do not earn six-figure salaries. We are in the process of buying a home, and I will now have to dip into money that we have saved up to buy our home to get by until Republicans decide to re-open our government.
Read more from Cesar.
Emily is a young furloughed federal worker in Washington, D.C.
The sequester and now the shutdown have been disheartening and have strained my finances to the point that I will need to borrow from my parents—out of their retirement fund—to make rent. I’ve also had to put off seeing specialists for a chronic health issue that won’t quite be covered by my high-option insurance plan. Financial strain aside, public service is my passion, not just how I earn a paycheck—I love my job and just want to get back to work, doing my utmost to serve my fellow Americans and protect the environment for us all.
David is an organizer in New York.
I have been working with a group of residential workers who have been fighting for a year to form a union. The company has committed numerous illegal acts, attempting to intimidate and threaten workers. One employee illegally had his hours cut. The National Labor Relations Board just filed a complaint and was close to a settlement that would have gotten this worker over $1,500 in back pay that the company had kept from him. But with the shutdown, this worker won’t get his money any time soon. Additionally, the board cannot process the new charges filed. Justice delayed is justice denied.
Click here to share your story with us.
Photo from AFGE on Facebook
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, California, DC, Florida, Georgia, Health Care, Jobs, NLRB, public workers, Rights At Work, shutdown
Johnny Zuagar just wants to go back to work. It’s been 72 hours since he’s been locked out of his job at the U.S. Census Bureau in Suitland, Md., and he’s scared.
“I don’t know what bills to pay,” says Zuagar, who has two young children. “I’m afraid I might lose my house. I don’t know how it got to this.”
Zuagar and 800,000 federal workers all over the United States are locked out of their jobs because of the House Republican government shutdown. While most people think that the shutdown is focused on Washington, D.C., the reality is that about 85% of federal workers don’t work in the Washington area. In fact, the D.C. metro area is only the fourth largest concentration of federal workers (see a map of where federal workers are). Here are 12 examples of workers, some of whom are still working, are going without paychecks because of the irresponsible House Republican shutdown.
1. Washington, D.C., Capitol Police: The officers who responded to the tragic incidentnear the U.S. Capitol on Thursday are currently working without pay. Whenever the shutdown ends, they’ll receive pay for time worked, but they don’t know when their next check will arrive.
2. Wyoming Nuclear Missile Support Staff: More than 1,000 support staff at a base that houses Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles were furloughed. While people who directly work in national security-related jobs stayed working, others, like map technician Thomas Sweeney, were sent home. The absence of Sweeney and others isn’t as benign as some members of Congress would have you believe: “As for civilians who work for the (Defense Department) and support our national security, furloughs and pay freezes are equally serious and threatening to our national security, especially at a time of war,” American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger said.
3. Florida Air Safety: Jennifer Martin is a member of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS) and computer specialist with the Federal Aviation Administration in Melbourne, Fla. Martin develops and maintains software applications to monitor equipment like air-to-ground and ground-to-ground communications and surveillance. She and her co-workers, who include aviation safety inspectors, are dedicated federal employees who want to return to their jobs where they can “serve the nation, and provide for our families.” Martin says while they are locked out of their jobs, the safety of flying public may be at risk.
4. Missouri Mortgage Assistance for Rural Homeowners: Nicole Starr, a single mother of three, was locked out from her job helping low-income rural homeowners pay their mortgages. She says she’s very proud of the job she has helping people. “Now I’m in the same position as the people I help,” she says. “I feel like I am watching our community fall apart.”
5. New York Toxic Waste Cleanup: The Environmental Protection Agency was scheduled to begin the process of helping residents near the Eighteen Mile Creek Superfund site move to homes that are uncontaminated with asbestos, PCBs, lead and chromium—hazards they currently live with—but the shutdown has stopped the process. The local community involvement coordinator Mike Basile says he doesn’t know when things will move forward. “I don’t know. I can’t find out because it’s so chaotic today.”
6. Montana Native American Programs: Leaders of the Crow Tribe laid off hundreds of workers who perform home health care for the elderly and people with disabilities, bus service for rural areas and other projects. “It’s going to get hard,” says Shar Simpson, who leads the Crow’s home health care program. “We’re already taking calls from people saying, ‘Who’s going to take care of my mom? Who’s going to take care of my dad?’”
7. Illinois Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Agencies: The state’s Department of Human Services has enough money to fund WIC for about two weeks, after that, it won’t be able to afford to buy baby formula that it provides to more than 600 single mothers.
8. Idaho Missing Woman Search: Jo Elliott-Blakeslee, 63, was missing at Craters of the Moon National Monument and the search was temporarily called off after furloughs set in. Law prohibits federal government employees from volunteering for the search, since it would be unfunded work, so the remaining monument staff are trying to recruit capable volunteers from outside their office.
9. National Labor Relations Board: Lynn Rhinehart, general counsel of the AFL-CIO, says the NLRB, the government agency that helps protect workers’ rights, cannot process unfair labor practice charges or hold elections. There are no hearings taking place when employers violate workers’ rights. And workers who were scheduled to vote in elections about getting a union on the job are having those elections pushed off. “Basically,” says Rhinehart, “there is no labor law right now.”
10. South Dakota National Guard: The majority of the National Guard employees in South Dakota have been laid off, which spokesman Maj. Anthony Deiss says will hurt their ability to maintain vehicles, aircraft, and other equipment, and could impact training for regular guard members.
11. California air disaster investigations: The National Transportation Safety Board suspended its investigation into the crash of a private jet in Santa Monica that killed four people.
12. Minnesota Social Security Offices: Offices are closed and residents like Jeff Williams can’t get new or replacement Social Security cards or proof of income letters. “I can’t shut down and not take care of this little one,” he says, referring to his daughter. “I mean, they’re the government. They’re supposed to be taking care of us.”
Listen to a rally today from outside the U.S. Capitol, where locked-out workers tell Congress they want to get back to work, and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka addresses House Republican irresponsibility:
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, California, DC, Florida, idaho, Illinois, Jobs, Missouri, montana, New York, NLRB, Richard Trumka, shutdown, South Dakota
New AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre
Delegates to the 2013 AFL-CIO Convention today elected a trio of top officers to lead the labor movement to become, said re-elected AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, “the movement America needs us to be and we must be.”
AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler was elected to a second term and, in a classic American success story, Tefere Gebre, a 45-year-old Ethiopian political refugee who immigrated to the United States as a teenager, was elected executive vice president.
In his acceptance speech, Trumka, a Pennsylvania coal miner who rose to the presidency of the Mine Workers (UMWA) and then served as AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer until his election to the top post in 2009, called himself “an example that a man or woman can be carried far by those who came before.”
He spoke of his grandfathers who were UMWA organizers, his coal mining father who also served as a union officer and “the union brothers and sisters who showed me the ropes, who taught me about life and unionism, who stood strong with me when I was too young to even know what it meant to stand.”
Noting that many of the union members in the convention hall and around the nation share similar legacies and owe much to those who came before them in the labor movement, he said:
It is a gift we can only repay by giving it all—and more—to those who come along with us and after us. That is why we are building a stronger, broader movement. We have a responsibility to lift others up, to give to those in need in this generation and in future generations what has already been given to us. And more.
Shuler’s union career began with the Electrical Workers (IBEW) in Portland, Ore., and she has served as AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer since 2009.
She said that strengthening the AFL-CIO’s finances—with transparency and accountability—was her major goal when she took office and, like the federation’s affiliated unions, the AFL-CIO would have to tighten its belt.
So we scrutinized our finances to the smallest detail. We made tough choices and set priorities. The result is, as of the latest fiscal year, we have a balanced budget. The result is a $22 million turnaround in our net assets….Of course, we are nowhere out of the woods yet. We know there will be challenges ahead.
Shuler also said that developing and launching the long-term campaign to redefine how the public sees unions has made progress and “we must move it forward.” The most rewarding—and challenging—part of her job for the past four years, she said, has been engaging young workers in the labor movement and giving them “a sense of belonging and ownership.”
I don’t have the words to fully describe the feeling when you see the light in a young person’s eyes when they realize that their desire to be part of something bigger than themselves is within reach, when they see that they have power. Let’s harness that power and bring the old school and new school together in solidarity.
Prior to his election, Gebre—a former director of government relations of Laborers (LIUNA) Local 270 and a member of the Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and IBEW—served as the executive director of theOrange County (Calif.) Labor Federation. He was also executive director of Frontlash, the first youth and college arm of the labor movement.
At 14, after walking across the African desert from his native Ethiopia to a refugee camp in Sudan to “escape the horrors of war and a brutal military government,” Gebre said he won a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come to America as a political refugee.” He told the convention delegates:
At the tender age of 15, I started a brand-new life in this ‘City of Angels’….This is not just my story. It’s a story of millions who proudly call America home. Documented or undocumented, the immigrant story is what makes this country of ours so special.
Gebre made a commitment to work with the state federations and central labor councils:
To my brothers and sisters in local labor movements, state federations and CLCs, I am one of you. I know how hard your job is, and how important your role is. Each of us has the responsibility to convene the labor movement in our own communities—across unions and sectors and to work in real partnership with allies in the community….I pledge to you that I will always be there to listen, advise and help our CLCs and state federations be the best we can be.
Click here to read more about Gebre.
Photo by @RickEiden on Twitter
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, aflcio13, California, immigration, Liz Shuler, Los Angeles, Richard Trumka, Tefere Gebre
Emergency medical workers, massage therapists, bus mechanics and home health care workers are among the latest workers to choose a voice on the job with AFL-CIO unions.
In California and Arizona, some 240 emergency medical services professionals voted recently to join United EMS Workers-AFSCME.
Employees of First Responder EMS in Sacramento, Calif., won their election with 76% of the vote. EMTs at River Medical Ambulance-AMR in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., voted 90% in favor of AFSCME.
Crystal Forschen, a paramedic at First Responder EMS, says:
We’re standing together because we want EMS to be seen as a real profession, not just a stepping stone. The way we get it done is by having a strong, democratic and accountable union.
More than 3,000 workers in Northern California and New England joined United EMS Workers last year.
In Seattle, licensed massage practitioners at Massage Bar Inc. voted to join Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU) Local 8. The 40 employees work at Sea-Tac Airport and the Washington Convention Center. Tom Tanouye, a 17-year employee, says:
We lack the basic benefits many health professionals enjoy, like access to affordable health care or paid sick leave. We hope to work in partnership with management to make improvements that will benefit employees and the company.
Earlier this year, Massage Bar employees at Sacramento International Airport voted to join OPEIU.
Workers at Reliable Home Health Care Services in Greensboro, N.C., joined Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 3607. The 37 certified nursing assistants and home health care workers won their union after they and Local 3607 President Chris Myrick negotiated a majority sign-up agreement with the employer.
More than two dozen diesel bus mechanics at the Delaware Transit Corp. voted to join Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 2270. The workers reached out to the union after one of their longtime workers was unfairly fired.
Steve Rockafellow, IBEW regional organizing coordinator, says, “All of a sudden, the guys said, ‘Maybe we aren’t as secure as we thought we were.’”
Read a detailed account of the victory here.
Resposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, California, Delaware, North Carolina, organizing, Public Safety, washington
At 5 a.m. local time, workers at a Mira Loma, Calif., warehouse that ships goods for Walmart launched a two-day strike to protest alleged unsafe working conditions and retaliation against workers who are exposed to those conditions. The warehouse is owned by Olivet International, an apparel and luggage company. Some 70% of the products that move through the warehouse are shipped on behalf of Walmart.
Employee Miriam Garcia told The Nation:
I’m scared because I need to work for my family’s sake. But I don’t want me or my co-workers to keep working in these conditions. It’s important that I make it home to my family safe, in good health. I don’t want to get injured [at work] like my other co-workers.
In May, workers from the warehouse filed a complaint with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, supported by photo evidence, alleging a number of safety violations: unclean drinking water; emergency exits blocked by boxes and merchandise; forklift brakes, seatbelts and horns that don’t work; workers loading shipping containers in the dark; triple-stacked and unsecured boxes; lack of ventilation or adequate water amid intense heat; and a risk of workers being hit by forklifts and workers trapped inside trailers as they drive off. The workers also have been requesting higher compensation. The workers say that attempts to remedy the concerns with Olivet were ignored initially, but following the complaint, the company began intimidating the workers, including the installation of surveillance cameras, following workers, cutting hours and implied threats that the workers would be fired.
The strike is the latest in a series of work stoppages at various parts of the Walmart supply chain, including a previous one at the same facility, another in Elwood, Ill., and a rally at a shareholder convention in Arkansas.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, California, Rights At Work, safety, Walmart
With the rapid rise of worker centers and alternate ways to gain a voice on the job, a traditional union is no longer the only way to organize and bargain for paid sick leave, a raise and other workplace rights. Just look at the Walmart strikers and restaurant workers speaking out about the need for paid sick leave. Worker centers representing domestic and food service workers and groups like the Dancers’ Alliance and Working America, the AFL-CIO’s community affiliate, are expanding the definition of what it means to be a part of the labor movement.
At the Netroots Nation 2013 conference, a group of people representing traditional labor and worker centers will be discussing “Alt-Labor” in a panel on Friday at 4:30 p.m. PDT.
For those of you who have never heard of Netroots Nation, here’s what it’s all about:
Each year, thousands of bloggers, newsmakers, social justice advocates, labor and organizational leaders, grassroots organizers and online activists come together to make new connections, hone their organizing skills, share best practices and build stronger relationships with others working on the issues they care most about. And each year, some of the brightest minds in progressive politics come to Netroots Nation to speak with—and hear from—our community.
Moderating the Alt-Labor discussion is digital organizer and co-founder of Coworker.org Jess Kutch. Joining her are Galen Hooks, a choreographer and chair of the Dancers’ Alliance, organizer David Wehde of Working America, Jennifer Angarita, who runs the AFL-CIO National Worker Center Partnership program, and Gregory Cendana, executive director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) and Institute for Asian Pacific American Leadership & Advancement.
Stay tuned for the wrap of this exciting discussion on the AFL-CIO Now blog and more updates from Netroots by following the hashtag #NN13 on Twitter.
Elsewhere at Netroots, union members and allies will be out in full force, participating in the ever popular “Hug a Union Thug” booth (stay tuned for new pictures here), a pre-conference lowdown on firefighting 101 from Fire Fighters (IAFF), as well as a chance to get up close and personal with a fire truck and gear; and checking out the Laborers (LIUNA) mobile training unit on solar panels, as well as Made In America booths (think Ghirardelli chocolates) and union-made beer tastings.
Working America will host a game show, “Can My Boss Do That?” and spread the word about the new organizing site, FixMyJob.com.
AFT President Randi Weingarten will speak on a panel about gun violence and school safety. Communications Workers of America (CWA) President Larry Cohen will speak on a panel about reclaiming democracy, and UNITE HERE member Cathy Youngblood, who’s running for a spot on the Hyatt Hotels Board of Directors, also will be speaking on a “Making Wall Street Tremble” panel.
See the full list of Netroots panels and events here.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Photo by Make the Road New York on Facebook
Tags: aflcio, alt-labor, California, Dear David, Netroots Nation, organizing, Rights At Work, san jose
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Journalists are fixated on union members’ donations to the Los Angeles mayoral race to elect Wendy Greuel, Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, writes in a Los Angeles Times column. But one issue is being largely ignored: the working poor.
“But if the discussion about the role of unions in the campaign is going to focus almost exclusively on money, shouldn’t we talk about money in its entirety?” writes Durazo. “What motivates me and so many others in L.A. labor when it comes to money are the hundreds of thousands of our fellow workers in Los Angeles who don’t earn enough of it.”
Los Angeles is the low-wage capital of the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau‘s American Community Survey. L.A. has more workers who struggle to survive on poverty pay than any other metropolitan area in the country.
During 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, 822,244 people working at full-time, year-round jobs earned less than $25,000 a year. That represented 28% of the labor force. These figures are for Los Angeles County.
Read the rest of Mayor’s Race: The Real Money Problem in L.A. in the Los Angeles Times.
Tags: aflcio, California, Jobs, Los Angeles, minimum wage, wages