When a group equal to one-fifth the population of the state capital shows up to protest your policies, you’re in trouble. Between 80,000 and 100,000 people showed up Saturday at the Moral March on Raleigh, the state capital with some 420,000 residents. The marchers included working families and their allies from around the state and more than 30 other states. A related rally a year ago attracted 15,000 participants. It’s clear that more North Carolinians are becoming upset with the extreme agenda of Gov. Pat McCrory (R) and his allies in the legislature.
The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and a driving force behind the state’s Moral Monday movement, which spawned the march, said: “The governor and the legislature are trying to say we’re in the middle of a Carolina comeback. We got a team of experts, economists, professors, etc., together, and they said we’re in the middle of a Carolina setback. No way you can spin what’s happening to us.”
MaryBe McMillan, the elected secretary-treasurer of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO, wrote a poem on the march. Below is an excerpt:
Why are union members and workers here, today?
We’re here because:
There’s too much corporate greed
And we have families to feed.
There are so few jobs, no decent wages.
Inequality tops the news pages.
CEOs earn more and more
While the rest of us grow poor.
The bosses want their workers cheap,
Meek and docile like sheep.
They move their companies South,
Hoping we won’t give them any mouth.
Well, imagine their surprise
As they watch the South arise.
The reaction to the right-wing policies pursued by McCrory are opposed by much of the state’s public as well. A poll last week gave him a 37% approval rating. The General Assembly fared even worse, at 32%. Only 23% of the state’s residents think North Carolina is headed in the right direction.
Barber and the other organizers behind the march and the Moral Monday protests have focused on five goals:
- Secure pro-labor, anti-poverty policies that ensure economic sustainability.
- Provide well-funded, quality public education for all.
- Stand up for the health of every North Carolinian by promoting health care access and environmental justice across all the state’s communities.
- Address the continuing inequalities in the criminal justice system and ensure equality under the law for every person, regardless of race, class, creed, documentation or sexual preference.
- Protect and expand voting rights for people of color, women, immigrants, the elderly and students to safeguard fair democratic representation.
Learn more about the march and the Moral Monday activities.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, Education, Health Care, moral monday, North Carolina, Pat McCrory, public education, Raleigh, voting rights, William Barber
The following is a guest post from Pittsburgh Working America member Kayleigh Metviner
I participated in a press conference on Tuesday with the local chapter of Working America, a national economic justice organization, to call for a Pennsylvania state budget that favors education and social services over corporate tax cuts.
A few hours later, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett presented his vision for the state budget, which was not expected to be anything to cheer about. Now, I am a newcomer to Pennsylvania, and I am not going to write in-depth about Pennsylvania-specific politicians and issues. What I am more interested in here is the disconnect between legislation that is both feasible and favored by a majority of citizens, and the legislation that is proposed by Corbett.
Why politicians who face abysmal approval ratings (23 percent for Corbett last week) still try to get reelected is beyond me, but Corbett’s budget proposal is clearly aimed at garnering support this year. And even though most self-identified progressives would rather drink West Virginia’s water than see Corbett reelected, his attempts to pass legislation that appeals to the majority could still be a good thing. Unfortunately, his actual budget proposal makes that very unlikely.
In his speech, Corbett said that his budget sets the agenda in the “spirit” of expanding public education, which…nice. But the state budget doesn’t have a column for spirit, and very few of us have managed to exchange spirit for goods and services. So where is the money for education coming from?
Mainly from a highly unlikely projected increase in state revenues. Despite having predicted a budget deficit by the end of the 2014-2015 fiscal year just a couple months ago, and despite revenue having come in short even of that projection in January, Corbett’s spending plan is dependent on a 4 percent increase in revenue this year.
In contrast, the budget that Working America and community members across the state support would see education and social services funded mainly by closing corporate tax loopholes, like the well-known Delaware tax loophole that deprives many states (except Delaware) of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
We presented this proposal before the release of Corbett’s plan because we wanted to make it clear that there is a viable alternative to empty, feel-good promises and more of the same political floundering that leaves the majority of us, in Pennsylvania and around the country, in a perpetual state of disadvantage. Crafting a state budget is undoubtedly a complex matter, but in the face of complexity, let’s turn to logical and equitable solutions, not “spirit.”
Text JOBS to 30644 to join Working America’s movement for economic justice in Pennsylvania.
Photo by onepittsburgh on Instagram
Tags: budget, Corporate Accountability, deficit, Delaware tax loophole, Education, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, public education, Tom Corbett, Working America
The following is a guest post from Working America member Kayleigh Metviner
Volunteers, supporters, and media gathered at Working America’s Pittsburgh office on Tuesday morning to call for an economically just and fiscally responsible state budget, in contrast to the budget proposal anticipated from Governor Tom Corbett (R-PA) later in the day.
With over 500,000 members in Pennsylvania, Working America is a formidable force in the state, and we are overwhelmingly in support of a state budget that focuses more resources on public education, higher education, and social services.
Our members know that money doesn’t materialize out of thin air, so their calls for well-funded education and social services are accompanied by practical and equitable solutions: closing the Delaware tax loophole that deprives Pennsylvanians of hundreds of millions of dollars a year and expanding Medicaid.
Expanding Medicaid will not only allow more Pennsylvanians to access health care, it also has the potential to lower overall health care costs. On top of this, it will be 100 percent funded by the federal government for the first three years, and that rate would modestly and gradually decrease to 90 percent during years after that. Lowered costs from expanded Medicaid, combined with increased revenues from corporations paying their fair share of taxes will enable our state to fulfill its commitment to our public schools.
Several Working America volunteers read community member comments aloud at the press conference. One member urged Governor Corbett to “budget with greater consideration for education support instead of corporate tax breaks/” Another wrote: “Please, stop the practice of subsidizing large corporations with taxpayer money when programs and research to help the vulnerable are so needed.”
We want to thank those who shared their stories and urge all Pennsylvanians to continue spreading the word about the real possibilities for economic justice right here, right now.
Text JOBS to 30644 to join Working America’s movement for economic justice in Pennsylvania.
Tags: Corporate Accountability, Delaware tax loophole, Education, good jobs, Health Care, Jobs, Medicaid, Pennsylvania, public education, Tom Corbett
In a new weekly feature, we’ll be taking a look at the winners and losers of the week in the struggle for the rights of working families. The winner will be the person or organization that goes above and beyond to expand or protect the rights of working families, while the loser will be whoever went above and beyond to limit or deny those rights.
Winner of the Week: Kain Colter and the Northwestern University Football Players
College athletes, who balance a full-time school load with intense athletic workouts are some of the hardest-working people in the United States. Yet the NCAA says it has no responsibility to protect them from potentially deadly injuries, such as concussions, and allows players to lose educational opportunities if they get injured. Colter and a number of his teammates are standing up and saying they deserve better and are attempting to organize a union that would address these and other concerns.
Loser of the Week: Uintah, Utah, Elementary School District Official
A Utah elementary school district official apparently thought the best way to deal with parents who hadn’t given their kids enough lunch money was to order cafeteria workers to give those kids lunches and then take them away and throw them in the trash in front of everyone. Taking food away from children is bad enough, but doing it in a publicly humiliating way is truly despicable. Poverty and hunger matter in the classroom.
Photo by Northwestern Wildcats on Facebook
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: Education, football, hunger, Illinois, Northwestern, organizing, Rights At Work, sports, steelworkers, USW, Utah
Today’s jobless workers face new discriminatory barriers to finding work in a broken economy. Some employers won’t consider out-of-work applicants for job openings. And more and more employers run credit checks, leaving long-term jobless workers, who have likely fallen far behind in their bills and seen their credit scores tank, on the streets.
Today Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced a bill to stop employers from requiring prospective employees to disclose their credit history or disqualifying applicants based on a poor credit rating. Says Warren:
Families have not fully recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, and too many Americans are still searching for jobs. This is about basic fairness—let people compete on the merits, not on whether they already have enough money to pay all their bills.
Even as the economy is slowly turning around, the recession and financial crisis continue to take a toll on working families. Many of whom are hardworking, bill-paying people who have seen the credit ratings damaged when they or a family member lost a job or a small business and saw the value of their homes plummet. Savings evaporate and payments get missed. Says Warren:
Most people recognize that bad credit means they will have trouble borrowing money or they will pay more to borrow. But many don’t realize that a damaged credit rating also can block access to a job.
While at one time it was common belief that a credit history could provide insight into a perspective employee’s character, Warren says that recent research has shown that an individual’s credit rating has little or no correlation with his ability to succeed at work. A bad credit rating is far more often the result of unexpected personal crisis or economic downturn than a reflection of someone’s abilities.
She also says, “This is one more way the game is rigged against the middle class.”
A rich person who loses a job or gets divorced or faces a family illness is unlikely to suffer from a drop in his or her credit rating. But for millions of hardworking families, hard personal blow translates into a hard financial blow that will show up for years in a credit report.
People shouldn’t be denied the chance to compete for jobs because of credit reports that bear no relationship to job performance and that, according to recent reports, are often riddled with inaccuracies. Click here to become a citizen co-sponsor of The Equal Employment for All Act.
The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) introduced the bill in the House late last year.
Photo via U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren on Facebook
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: banks, Corporate Accountability, credit checks, ed markey, Education, Elizabeth Warren, Jeanne Shaheen, Massachusetts, Patrick Leahy, Richard Blumenthal, Sheldon Whitehouse, Sherrod Brown, unemployment
Liz Shuler is secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO.
Today, we earn more college degrees and have infinitely more choices, but what has it meant? Take a look:
- Progress toward gender equality has stalled. Women’s annual earnings are just 77% of men’s.
- Most (60%) of women’s job gains during the economic recovery have been in low-wage jobs.
- The unemployment rate for young (ages 16 to 24) women workers is 14.5%.
- 43% of women working in the private sector are not able to take a single paid sick day when they are ill, and more than half of working mothers (54%) do not have even a few paid sick days they can use to care for their sick children.
- Women in unions, on average, make 12.9% more than their nonunion counterparts, are 36.8% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and are 53.4% more likely to have participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.
How can we get progress on gender equality moving again? We could start by raising the minimum wage, enacting family-friendly policies like the FAMILY Act, investing in good jobs and restoring collective bargaining rights so all workers can stand together.
Photo by National Nurses United on Facebook
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: Education, equal pay, Liz Shuler, minimum wage, paycheck fairness, Rights At Work, women
In more than 60 cities across the country today, teachers, parents, allies and education supporters are rallying to save public education from a series of radical “reforms” pushed by corporations and politically motivated organizations that would do significant damage to our schools and limit the future of our students. The Reclaim the Promise of Public Education coalition was formed to fight for public education as our nation’s gateway to democracy and racial and economic justice. As part of the day of action, the AFT is running radio, print and online ads to spread the coalition’s message.
AFT President Randi Weingarten discussed the purpose of the day of action:
Teachers, parents, students and community members are banding together to demand a new direction for public education. In some ways, this Day of Action is years in the making. Parents, students, teachers and community members have been coming together in places like Chicago, Philadelphia and New York to call out what’s not working and create solutions that do. Text-fixation, austerity, privatization, division, competition are not working for our students—as we saw in the PISA results this week. Our schools need evidence-based, community-based solutions like early childhood education, wraparound services, professional autonomy and development, parent voices and project-based learning. That’s what this Day of Action is about. That’s what reclaiming the promise is about. These are our schools and they need our solutions.
AFT started a petition for those who support the goals of the day of action:
We want great neighborhood public schools that are safe and welcoming, are fully funded and have teachers who are well-prepared, are well-supported and have manageable class sizes and time to collaborate. We want our schools to be centers of our communities and ensure that children and families have access to wraparound services to meet their social, emotional and health needs. We want curriculum that focuses on teaching and learning, not testing, and that includes art, music and the sciences. We want to put the public back in public education.
In addition to the petition, supporters can join a Thunderclap for the day of action.
Some events are happening later in the day—find out if there is an event near you.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, Education, public schools, Randi Weingarten, Teachers
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
Today, working families across Boston celebrate the historic election of Marty Walsh to be the next mayor of Boston, succeeding outgoing Mayor Thomas Menino.
Voters cast their ballots for Walsh, who has dedicated his career to improving our public schools, creating good jobs, expanding options for affordable housing and fighting unfair foreclosures, and creating a Boston that embraces all its communities.
Across the city, people mobilized in vast numbers, reaching out to their neighbors and friends about the importance of electing a candidate to represent working-families.
“In all my conversations with people, one thing was clear: They want to see better jobs, better schools and a better Boston,” said Working America organizer Michael Conway. “I’m excited about what this means for my hometown.”
Conway and other Working America Boston organizers had more than 45,000 face-to-face conversations with people across the city, from Roslindale to Roxbury, from Jamaica Plain to Mattapan. In the preliminary election, four out of five voters Working America spoke with voted on Election Day.
We congratulate mayor-elect Marty Walsh and the people of Boston on this historic victory—a victory for all working people.
Working America is the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO for people without the benefit of a union on the job. It has 11,000 members in Massachusetts.
Tags: aflcio, boston, Education, Jobs, marty walsh, Massachusetts
Since current Mayor Thomas Menino was elected in 1993, the city of Boston has seen incredible change. From West Roxbury to East Boston, entire industries have sprung up, fueled by innovation from the city’s world-renowned universities. Immigrants from across the globe have made their home in Boston, creating one of the nation’s most diverse communities.
Unfortunately, there has been another change: Boston has become much more unequal. The last 30 years have seen wealth in the city increasingly concentrated, and now the Boston area has greater inequality than 85 percent of U.S. metropolitan areas.
The central challenge for the next mayor is to ensure that Boston is a city where families in all communities can thrive; a place where the American Dream is reality, not just a part of proud history. That’s why Working America is proud to endorse State Representative Martin J. Walsh to be the next mayor of Boston.
Few elected officials are more attuned to the needs of Bostonians than Marty Walsh. As the son of Irish immigrants, Walsh understands the challenges of making a life in a new country. As a survivor of Burkett’s lymphoma, a form of childhood cancer that struck him at age seven, he knows personally the struggle to access affordable health care, and the value of Boston’s world-class medical treatment and research facilities.
As a union construction worker since the age of 18, Marty Walsh recognizes better than most elected officials the inherent dignity of a full day’s work at a good job with fair wages. At a time when the majority of jobs created are in notoriously low-wage sectors like service and retail – jobs that only recognize the dignity of corporate shareholders – a mayor with Walsh’s experience is needed now more than ever.
Walsh’s vision for the city is bold. He will expand access to affordable housing in the city, redouble the fight against unfair foreclosures, and even provide incentives for childcare facilities that are open during second and third shifts. From his time in legislature working on transportation issues, he is well-positioned to improve the MBTA public transit system, including pushing back the T’s infamous early closing hours. Not only does that give a boost to the city’s nightlife, it also helps Bostonians who work those later shifts make it home without breaking the bank.
Walsh has been an aggressive advocate for public education throughout his career. He plans to invest in early childhood education by doubling the number of K-1 seats and increase overall funding for public education. “My ultimate goal is to make Boston Public Schools so good there there is no need for alternatives,” he told the Boston Globe, “In the city where public education was invented, we should be as renowned for our public schools as we are for our institutions of higher learning.”
Making bold investments with a view toward the future is a Marty Walsh staple. It was key to the successful creation of Building Pathways, a pre-apprenticeship program focused on training women and people of color for careers in the building trades. At first, the program faced skepticism, even from within the union. “They kept talking about the past,” Walsh told Building Pathways’ April 2013 graduating class, “and I said this program’s going to be different.” By its fourth year, the program had such a strong reputation that 85 percent of participants had been placed at jobs prior to graduation.
Walsh’s ambitious pro-worker agenda has been met with resistance. The formerly Rupert Murdoch-owned Boston Herald, (which endorsed anti-worker candidates George W. Bush and Mitt Romney for president), offered a “rare non-endorsement” to Walsh, using divisive language straight out of the Scott Walker playbook. Similarly, various opponents in the crowded field have sought to use Walsh’s labor experience against him.
They should remember that from the laborers who built the skyline to the city’s heroic first responders, the men and women of the labor movement are an indelible part Boston; and that Boston workers, whether or not they have a union, benefit from higher wages and better benefits caused by labor’s influence. “I’m proud of my record with labor,” Walsh said at a debate, “I wear it as a badge of honor. I love supporting working class people and I’m proud of it.”
Sitting back and taking shots is easy. The politicians who take that route during the campaign are more likely to be passive in office as well, even as inequality in Boston becomes a chasm and affordable housing and good jobs are increasingly scarce.
With his working class background and firsthand experience as laborer, Marty Walsh knows that passivity is not acceptable. For a Boston where inequality is tackled head on, and for a city where all families can thrive, vote for Marty Walsh on Tuesday, November 5th.
Paid for by Working America. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. Photo by martywalshformayor on Flickr, via Creative Commons.
Tags: boston, Education, Jobs, marty walsh, Massachusetts, public transit, Rights At Work, transportation