Steven Fulop (D), mayor of Jersey City, N.J., will propose a bill next week that would require most businesses in the city to offer paid sick days to workers. Any company with 10 or more employees would have to provide up to five paid sick days annually. The bill is expected to pass, as much of the City Council is aligned with Fulop.
“It’s an opportunity to make sure that employers who move here are conscious of this basic dignity for working families,” Fulop says.
If it passes, Jersey City would join New York City; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; Seattle; Washington, D.C.; and the state of Connecticut in offering paid sick days. New Jersey and Massachusetts also are considering similar laws. About 40% of private-sector workers and 80% of low-income workers don’t have paid sick days.
“This is a matter of basic fairness,” says New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech. “We all get sick and it’s the right thing to do to make sure that workers don’t lose their jobs because of illness. I commend Mayor Fulop for his advocacy and urge quick passage by the City Council. Implementing this type of policy is a win-win for workers and for Jersey City.”
Photo by willemvanbergen on Flickr
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: Health Care, New Jersey, Paid Sick Days
Sure, to some people #LaborDayIs about barbecues and fashion rules. But #LaborDayIs also about, you know, labor. Today, workers across the country are struggling for decent wages, safe workplaces, affordable healthcare, and even basic civil rights.
North Carolina’s Moral Monday
Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) and the North Carolina legislature have passed huge cuts to state unemployment insurance, an overhaul of the state tax code, big education cuts and the nation’s strictest voting restrictions. Lead by the NC NAACP’s Rev. William Barber, North Carolinans of all stripes have gathered by the thousands to for huge weekly “Moral Monday” protests to stand up to Gov. McCrory’s agenda.
Learn more about Moral Monday and check out some sweet protest photos.
Oh and thanks to @sherierb for the thumbnail photo.
The Wisconsin Solidarity Singers
After the huge protests in 2011 against Wisconsin’s new collective bargaining restrictions, Gov. Scott Walker and his allies changed the rules at the state Capitol Building in Madison, requiring protesters to have permits. His reasoning? Um, none.
The Wisconsin Solidarity Singers had been gathering in the Capitol every day to protest the Walker agenda through song, and suddenly their gatherings were illegal. Singers started getting arrested. In response, hundreds of Wisconsinites joined their singing brethren to stand up to the ridiculousness of the arrests and the broader anti-worker Walker agenda.
Learn more about the Solidarity Singalong and read more intrepid reporting on the protests from John Nichols.
The fast food strikers
On August 29, fast food workers in 58 (!!!) cities went on strike for better wages and a voice at the workplace. Learn more from Josh Eidelson and check out some awesome strike photos on our Tumblr.
Walmart associates seeking respect
Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, pays low wages, inconsistent schedules, and little to-no health benefits. But across the country, Walmart workers are organizing primarily for respect at the workplace.
Learn more at ForRespect.org.
Philadelphia teachers, students, and parents
First, Gov. Tom Corbett cut over a billion dollars from public education in Pennsylvania. Then Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and school officials demanded $133 million in concessions from school employees. Philadelphia teachers, students, and parents are marching, striking, and even fasting to call attention to their city’s school crisis.
Houston wage-earners fighting against theft
Houston workers are fed up with employers committing wage theft – not giving a last paycheck, making employees work after punching out, etc. – and are pushing the Houston City Council to pass a wage theft ordinance.
Learn more from the Down With Wage Theft campaign.
Washington, D.C. retail workers
The D.C. City Council passed the Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA) in July, which raised the minimum wage for big box retail workers to $12.50/hour. Walmart responded by freaking out and threatening to cancel construction of their D.C. stores. Mayor Vincent Gray has still not made up his mind about whether to cave to Walmart’s wishes or stand up for D.C. retail workers at stores like Walmart, Best Buy, Macy’s, and Target.
Learn more about the LRAA and D.C. retail workers.
Albuquerque minimum wage workers
In the 2012 election, Albuquerque voters passed a minimum wage increase with 66 percent of the vote. But in 2013, Albuquerque’s Republican Mayor Richard Berry and members of his city council refused to enforce the new law.
No joke, they are actually telling workers who make as little as $4 or $5 an hour to hire private lawyers to sue their employers. That’s their solution.
Needless to say, Albuquerque workers aren’t taking this lying down. Working America and allies have launched a “Got Your Raise?” campaign to pressure city officials and educate workers about their rights. Learn more about the situation in Albuquerque or click here if you prefer your news in “Breaking Bad” form.
Concert tour dancers and choreographers
Last year, music video performers won a groundbreaking union contract after, establishing workplace standards for the industry after decades of advocacy.
Now, the Dancers’ Alliance and SAG-AFTRA are launching #theUNIONIZEtour to ensure that performers on concert tours have workplace protections, access to affordable health care, and a fair shot at gigs.
Watch the video above and learn more here.
LGBT workers in 29 states
Thanks to the activists who came before us, we have federal laws saying that you can’t be fired for being old, female, pregnant, or disabled (yay!). Unfortunately, in 29 states, there are no such protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender workers. That’s why workers’ rights and LGBT groups are organizing to pass a strong Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
Learn more from Pride at Work.
Transgender workers in 33 states
Add Maryland, Delaware, New Hampshire, New York to the map above. Pride at Work has great information on this too.
Millions of domestic workers, mostly women, are employed by households and businesses across the country. Most of them have little to no worker protections – no minimum wage, overtime pay no nothing.
State by state, domestic workers and allies have worked to pass “Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights” to establish basic protections. Ai-Jen Poo, founder and director of theNational Domestic Workers Alliance (and Working America board member #plug) toldThe Nation that President Obama might soon bring domestic workers under the protections of the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which would be “one of the most significant victories for low-wage workers of this administration.”
Learn more about the Ai-Jen and the NDWA.
Mississippi auto workers
Auto workers at Nissan in Mississippi have been trying to exercise their basic right to form a union, but are getting blocked by the company. Lethal Weapon/workers’ rights star Danny Glover has been active in calling attention to the situation. Not only that, but Nissan workers in Brazil, France, and South Africa have expressed solidarity. Learn more at DoBetterNissan.org.
Danny Glover: He’s not too old for this. #LethalWeaponJoke
Solidarity in Brazil.
No big deal, it’s just Common. (!!!)
Finally: 11 million undocumented workers and their families
Establishing a path to citizenship isn’t just about immigration. It’s about bringing millions of undocumented workers out of the shadows, where they are currently vulnerable to every employer abuse imaginable.
Learn more about the connection between workers’ rights and immigrant rights here.
What did we leave out?
There’s a lot more going on that we didn’t cover. Feel free to keep the list going in the comments below, and visit WorkingAmerica.org for more information on how you can get involved.
Respoted from BuzzFeed
Tags: Albuquerque, auto workers, dancers' alliance, Education, fast food, Health Care, houston, Jobs, Labor Day, lgbt, Michael Nutter, minimum wage, mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pat McCrory, Philadelphia, Rights At Work, Scott Walker, Texas, Tom Corbett, wage theft, Walmart, Wisconsin
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will be one of the keynote speakers at the AFL-CIO 2013 National Convention in Los Angeles from Sept. 8–11. Here are 12 key quotes from her that show why she is a champion of the 99%.
1. “There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody. You built a factory out there—good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory….Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea—God bless! Keep a hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”—September 2011.
2. “People feel like the system is rigged against them, and here is the painful part, they’re right. The system is rigged.”—September 2012.
3. “Hardworking men and women who are busting their tails in full-time jobs shouldn’t be left in poverty.”—August 2013.
4. “Look around. Oil companies guzzle down the billions in profits. Billionaires pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries, and Wall Street CEOs, the same ones that direct our economy and destroyed millions of jobs still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them. Does anyone here have a problem with that?”—September, 2012.
5. “It is critical that the American people, and not just their financial institutions, be represented at the negotiating table.”—Summer 2009.
6. “Americans are fighters. We’re tough, resourceful and creative, and if we have the chance to fight on a level playing field, where everyone pays a fair share and everyone has a real shot, then no one—no one can stop us.”—September 2012.
7. “And that’s how we build the economy of the future. An economy with more jobs and less debt, we root it in fairness. We grow it with opportunity. And we build it together.”—September 2012.
8. “I understand the frustration, I share their frustration with what’s going on, that right now Washington is wired to work well for those on Wall Street who can hire lobbyists and lawyers and it doesn’t work very well for the rest of us.”—October 2011.
9. “If you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you’re going to jail….Evidently, if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night.”—March 2013.
10. “Corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love and they die. And that matters. That matters because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people.”—September 2012.
11. “If there had been a Financial Product Safety Commission in place 10 years ago, the current financial crisis would have been averted.”—Summer 2009.
12. “Nobody’s safe. Health insurance? That didn’t protect 1 million Americans who were financially ruined by illness or medical bills last year.”—February 2005.
Visit the convention website to learn more details to follow the action at convention online.
Photo by mdfriendofhillary on Flickr
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, Elizabeth Warren, Health Care, Jobs, Massachusetts, Retirement, Rights At Work
In a victory for some 3,100 retired Mine Workers (UMWA) members and a setback for Peabody Energy and its attempt to duck its health care obligations, a U.S. Court of Appeals’ bankruptcy appellate panel todayreversed a lower court’s ruling that would have allowed Peabody to shed its responsibilities.
The retirees worked for Heritage Coal before Peabody spun it off to Patriot Coal. The UMWA says Peabody created Patriot solely for the purpose of ducking health care and other obligations for miners and retirees.
UMWA President Cecil Roberts says the court’s ruling was:
A bright ray of good news in what has been a long, dreary period for the retirees, their dependents and widows who have been desperately worried about what’s going to happen to their health care.
The union has been engaged in a Fairness at Patriot campaign to win justice and protect the pensions and health care for the workers and retirees at Patriot and to hold Peabody accountable to its obligations. Says Roberts:
Peabody has spent years trying to get rid of its obligations to the thousands of retirees who made it the richest coal company in the world. This decision foils part of that plan. And it makes us even more determined to keep fighting to make sure the company lives up to its entire obligation to these miners.
UMWA members at Patriot Coal operations in West Virginia and Kentucky last week ratified a settlement the union reached with the company that makes significant improvements in terms and conditions of employment over a federal bankruptcy judge’s order from last May. But says Roberts:
We are now able to turn our full attention to securing the lifetime health care benefits Peabody and Arch Minerals [which also was involved in the creation of Patriot] promised these retirees. If those companies thought our public effort to highlight their poor corporate citizenship was over, they will quickly find out otherwise. We’re moving into a new phase of that effort, and soon. We fully intend to hold Peabody and Arch accountable.
Visit Fairness at Patriot for more detailed information on the struggle.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: Corporate Accountability, Health Care, Kentucky, Missouri, Retirement, West Virginia
Leaders of the labor movement are looking at how to create a re-energized movement that’s even more relevant to working people’s lives—and we need your advice. When it comes to making a difference for women today, what’s working and what do we need to change? What are the most important issues for working women? How can we make the biggest impact on those issues? How can we swell the ranks of women leaders—and why does it matter? As we put together recommendations for action at the AFL-CIO Convention in September, we need your voice, your ideas and your perspective on all this and more.
If you’re a woman who has a passion for changing things—union or nonunion, activist, leader or part of the grassroots labor movement, join AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker and Rep. Linda Sánchez on Wednesday, July 31, at 1 p.m. EDT for a special online listening session about making the movement for working people all it can be for women.
Sign up now to join the online chat.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, Health Care, Jobs, Paid Sick Days, women
Since the end of April, Moral Monday protests have occurred every Monday in front of the state legislature in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The Moral Monday rallies have gathered thousands of supporters, and over 900 have been arrested through civil disobedience actions. These massive protests have been centered on issues of economic justice and basic fairness—cuts unemployment benefits, the failure to extending Medicaid for 500,000 uninsured people, cuts to public school funding, voter suppression, and other issues.
This Moral Monday protests have begun to spread across our state. This past Monday, in conjunction with the Raleigh protest, a Moral Monday march was organized in Greensboro. Since many people couldn’t travel to Raleigh to voice their support, activists organized a Greensboro Moral Monday rally to focus on voter ID laws and looming cuts to early voting.
Over 200 people marched and chanted, toted signs saying “Save Early Voting,” “Voter ID = Voter Suppression,” and “Keep Sunday Voting”.
“I thought it was wonderful,” said Working America member Carol Tweede, who attended. “Turnout was more than I ever expected. I feel very happy at these demonstrations, because everyone pulls together. It’s one great big body of people trying to help each other. It is so inclusive and nice to be around people who believe the same way you do, the right way.”
Across North Carolina, folks are standing up against the right-wing state legislature, not just in Raleigh.
Tags: Education, Health Care, Jobs, moral monday, North Carolina, unemployment, voter suppression, voting
Emma Godsey writes from our Columbus office.
A lot of people here in Ohio are fed up with the way they’re being treated by Gov. Kasich and the state legislature—but there’s a way to step up and work for justice. Through Working America, people here in Ohio are forming community action teams to focus on the economic issues that are most important to them. As a member Coordinator for Working America, I’ve had the privilege of getting involved with community action team meetings in Franklin County.
Ohio’s community action teams are focused on a few critical issues, including Medicaid and the state budget. Brynette, a community leader in Franklin County, sees accepting expanded federal Medicaid funds as a key issue for Ohio families. “One thing expanded Medicaid funds will do is give full coverage to older adults, specifically senior citizens who are uninsured. Some seniors who need around-the-clock attention will be finally able to afford 24 hour care,” Brynette said. Expanding Medicaid to 600,000 Ohioans will also cover single adults without children, people with disabilities, and low income households. It will also bring billions of dollars into state revenue. Gov. Kasich supports the expansion of Medicaid, so we’re hopeful that we can get to a victory soon.
Where Kasich hasn’t been helpful, though, is on the recently passed state budget, which has a number of flaws that hurt working-class families. When the budget was first introduced, members were horrified to see Gov. Kasich’s proposed tax changes, which would hand the richest 1% $10,000 a year, leaving the working class to pay the difference. Members immediately took action, writing well over 3,000 letters to State legislators to let them know that they’re paying attention to what they did on the budget. They were able to get the word out about the problems with Kasich’s budget by writing letters to their local newspapers, too. With this pushback from members and our allies, we were able to rein in Kasich’s big tax giveaways to the rich by almost half. Another great accomplishment was getting $250 million dollars put back in the education budget.
We’re glad about what we were able to accomplish on the state budget, but we know we have a long way to go—we want to make sure the biggest corporations and the very rich pay their fair share, so that our schools and the services we depend on get the funding they need. If Kasich thinks we’re just going to accept the policies he’s pushing, he’s got another thing coming.
Tags: budget, Health Care, John Kasich, Medicaid, Ohio, tax fairness, taxes
The Large Retailer and Accountability Act of 2013 (LRAA), passed by the DC City Council last week, will arrive on Mayor Vincent Gray’s desk Wednesday.
The bill establishes a minimum wage of $12.50 an hour for workers at retail stores with more than 75,000 square feet and whose parent company makes over $1 billion in gross revenues annually.
This bill was not controversial until Walmart, with plans to bring six stores into the District of Columbia, threatened to cancel three of those projects if the bill passed.
Despite that threat, here are five reasons Mayor Gray should sign the LRAA when it gets to his desk. Are you listening, Mr. Mayor? Here we go:
1.) Minimum wage is not enough. DC’s minimum wage is $8.25 an hour, or $1 higher than the federal minimum. But if the minimum wage had kept pace with worker productivity since 1968, it would be $18.67 an hour.
That sounds high, right? That’s because even as us workers have been more productive than ever, wages haven’t followed. Instead, the top 1 percent of earners have captured most of the economic growth of the last 40 years for themselves.
Mayor Gray, you know this is the case. You discussed raising the minimum wage for DC earlier this year, and DC requires a minimum wage of $11.75 for federal contractors. Establishing a living wage for notoriously underpaid retail employees is a great step toward ensuring us workers have a wage that even approaches our incredible and ever-increasing productivity.
2.) Living in DC is expensive. $7.25 or $8.25 an hour is not enough to make it in most places in America, and it’s certainly not enough to make it in DC. The District is the second most expensive place to live in the country, just behind New York City.
According to an EPI analysis, a family of four needs a combined income of $88,615 a year to live in DC, or $70.235 for a single parent with one child. Even if a retail employee worked 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year at $8.25, that’s $17,160 a year. At the living wage established in the LRAA, that’s $26,000 a year – not nearly enough, but a much-needed boost that would lift two-thirds of DC’s working poor families out of poverty.
3.) Save taxpayer money. Imagine, Mayor Gray, if you could return to voters in the next election and tell them you saved thousands of their taxpayer dollars. Hey, you can!
It’s no secret that big box retailers pay low wages, particularly Walmart. But because of those low wages, the bill for providing health care and basic living expenses for those retail employees falls to the taxpayer.
A report from the Democratic staff of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce that because of Walmart’s low wages, a 300-person Walmart Supercenter store costs taxpayers – not shoppers, taxpayers – between $904,000 and $1.7 million a year, or about $5,815 per employee, in Medicaid, SNAP, EBT, state health insurance, reduced-price school breakfast and lunch, heating assistance, housing assistance, and other public programs.
By paying a living wage at big box retailers, Mayor Gray, you are easing the burden on us taxpayer and placing it back on the big, enormously profitable retailers themselves.
4.) A city’s leaders set policy, not corporations. Opponents of LRAA claim that the bill unfairly targets Walmart. But the only reason we’re talking about Walmart is because they are the only retailer threatening to leave the city over the bill. Target, Home Depot, Macy’s, and other stores would also be affected, yet we are not hearing the same kind of protest from them.
Walmart is different a.) because as the country’s largest private employer they wield incredible power and b.) they are used to getting their way. It used to be that companies set up shop in cities and towns after agreeing to that community’s standards. Walmart wants it to be the other way around.
Mayor Gray, if you veto the LRAA, it will be out of fear of Walmart’s threats. What if you veto the bill and Walmart or another retailer makes a different threat? How much will we give away?
5.) The precedent is important. If all a corporation has to do is threaten to leave every time a community tries to improve conditions for workers, it will never stop. Think about it: The next threat could be about benefits. Or scheduling. Or sick days. Or, why not, child labor law. If we give in on LRAA, it will signal to Walmart and their friends that bullying works. Just threaten to leave a city and the city will offer whatever concession you want.
This started as a local issue regarding a living wage for retail workers. But now, Mayor Gray, the eyes of the country are upon our nation’s capital. Please do the right thing and sign the LRAA.
Take action: Tell Mayor Gray to sign the Large Retailer Accountability Act and help lift DC families out of poverty.
Tags: Corporate Accountability, DC, Health Care, Jobs, living wage, Medicaid, minimum wage, Rights At Work, Walmart, washington dc
The average food stamp recipient receives about $31 a week ($4.42 a day) for groceries and that’s apparently too much for House Republicans—who by the way earn about $3,350 a week plus perks and seem to work about three days a week for maybe 40 weeks of the year. But I digress.
This week the House passed a farm bill that, for the first time 40 years, does not include funds for food stamps. Their reasoning, as flawed as it is, is that the program known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is far too generous and far too big and needs to be cut by at least 20%. Maybe they should try to do what their colleague Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) recently did—just see how far that $30 stretches and then live on it for a week.
In this latest Workonomics installment for Upworthy, DeFazio, hits the checkout line with a meager basket of low-cost bulk basics, but few fruits and veggies and healthful protein choices.
20% of them [food stamp recipients] are seniors, half of them are kids and the majority of the rest are working for low wages. I sure don’t begrudge them the little bit of help they’re getting.…There are lots of things I think members of Congress should have to do to be more in touch with reality. This would be one of them.
These Workonomic stories in the Upworthy series are brought to you by the AFL-CIO. The series is designed to lift up shareable content about labor unions, America’s workers and the need for collective action to make real change around wages, paid sick days, economic inequality and workers’ rights.
Upworthy is the fastest-growing media company in the world, according to Business Insider, and its site sees 11 million visitors per month. In fact, 60% of U.S. Facebook users have a friend who likes Upworthy. People of all ages spend a lot of time on social networks, so Workonomics is geared to meet people where they live online.
Check out Workonomics and spread the word by sharing the content you enjoy on Facebook and Twitter.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, food stamps, Health Care, minimum wage, Oregon, Retirement Security, seniors, snap
Edgar became involved with Working America during our work on an Anti-Wage Theft campaign on Auraria Campus. He is a father, a husband, a part time student, an intern, and a valet attendant. He has since developed into a spokesperson on behalf of low wage workers everywhere.
In April, the Department of Labor facilitated a series of minimum wage round tables across the country. In Denver, Edgar’s participation and story struck the hearts of those who attended. He explained the difficult choices he is forced to make as a low wage worker, providing the only source of income for his family while his wife is on unpaid maternity leave caring for their newborn baby. He would love to be able to invest in his daughter’s future, but said it’s tough with his current income.
After this event in Denver, Edgar was invited to participate in the celebration for the 75th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act and a Senate committee hearing addressing the effects of raising the federal minimum wage in Washington D.C..
At this event, Edgar and three other participants were chosen out of close to 20 low wage workers to tell their stories to Acting Secretary of Labor Seth Harris and other top economic advisors. Vice President Biden spoke on behalf of raising the minimum wage with Edgar and other workers filling in the stage behind him: “The people behind me have an incredible amount of self-respect. They deserve to be paid in a way that reflects the dignity that they exude.”
President Obama has suggested that the federal minimum wage be increased to $9.00 an hour. A bill by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) would increase the federal minimum wage to $10.55 an hour.
Tags: Colorado, Health Care, Jobs, Joe Biden, minimum wage