Hip-hop star Common, famous for songs like “I Used to Love H.E.R.” and acting roles such as “Terminator Salvation” and “Happy Feet Too,” is performing as part of a free show in support of workers who are organizing for a voice on the job at the Nissan plant in Canton, Miss. The workers are pushing for a vote to organize as part of the UAW. The show will take place Friday at 8 p.m. at the Jackson State University’s Rose E. McCoy Auditorium. Common will be joined on stage by actor Danny Glover and local musicians and leaders.
UAW is engaged in an ongoing campaign to get a union vote at the Nissan Canton location. Workers at the Mississippi plant say the company relies too heavily on temporary workers who get reduced pay and benefits. Nissan’s business practice of staffing plants with a high percentage of temporary workers, who earn lower wages, have limited benefits and have no job security, won’t strengthen families and grow communities. They also say that Nissan is engaging in a campaign to intimidate workers to stay away from the union and imply that the plant will close if the union vote is successful.
Read more about Nissan: This Is What a Job in the U.S.’s New Manufacturing Industry Looks Like and the Nissan organizing campaign: www.choosejustice.com.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, auto workers, common, mississippi, music, Nissan, Rights At Work, uaw
Politico Magazine released a comprehensive report comparing all 50 states using 14 different indicators of quality of life. In their ranking, the five bottom states (Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Alabama) are all so-called “right to work” states.
Four out of five of the states with the highest quality of living, according to the study, are free bargaining states: New Hampshire, Minnesota, Vermont, and Massachusetts.
The study confirmed something that more and more working Americans are learning every day: “right to work” laws are wrong for everyone.
Quick review: “Right to work” laws require unions to extend their services to all employees in a bargaining unit, whether or not they pay dues. By making dues optional, “right to work” laws force unions to spend more resources on collecting dues than on advocating for their members–both at the workplace and in the political arena. It’s a roundabout method of de-funding unions that has been instituted in 24 states.
The Politico Magazine study used rankings from the Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FBI, and data on math and reading scores, average income, life expectancy, crime, home ownership, infant mortality, and more.
As 2014 kicks off with legislators and big-money donors pushing “right to work” and other collective bargaining restrictions in–at the very least–Missouri, Oregon, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, it’s important to make it very clear what effects these laws actually have, versus what their proponents claim they have.
A few effects of “right to work” are not disputed by its proponents. The key sponsors of the collective bargaining restrictions Missouri, for instance, openly admit that wages would go down if the law is passed. Indeed, wages in “right to work” states are 3.2 percent lower that in free bargaining states. Essentially, it’s like the average worker is paying an annual $1,500 fee for living in a “right to work” state. (Other reports have found “right to work” states have higher poverty rates, fewer workers with employer-based health insurance, and higher rates of workplace injuries and fatalities.)
But when you combine income with a host of other factors, as the Politico Magazine ranking does, the picture doesn’t get better for “right to work” states. Overall, 15 “right to work” states rank in the bottom 20.
The Politico Magazine ranking is not the definitive scientific report on quality of life. But it does confirm yet again that in places where workers’ right to organize is deceptively circumvented and wages decrease, other important life-quality factors decrease as well.
As legislators push these laws across the country, we should consistently require proof to back up their claims. The actual numbers don’t look too good for them.
Tags: Alabama, ALEC, arkansas, louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Right to Work, Rights At Work, Tennessee, Vermont, wages
A new article from the Guardian reveals that the State Policy Network (SPN) is planning a significant assault on the rights of working families in 2014 state legislative sessions. Through the Searle Freedom Trust, a foundation it created in 2011, SPN plans to offer sizable grants to supposedly independent, non-partisan think tanks in the states. SPN collected 40 grant proposalsfrom these think tanks and will grant funding through Searle to 20 of them. The proposals are for numerous extreme right-wing policy options, very similar to those proposed by groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, and the think tanks already receive funding from the typical extremist anti-working family funders like the Koch brothers.
While SPN claims tax-exempt status that limits their lobbying efforts and the group says that it and the groups it funds don’t engage in lobbying, those claims don’t quite pass a commonsense examination. As the Guardian notes:
Most of the “think tanks” involved in the proposals gathered by the State Policy Network are constituted as 501(c)(3) charities that are exempt from tax by the Internal Revenue Service. Though the groups are not involved in election campaigns, they are subject to strict restrictions on the amount of lobbying they are allowed to perform. Several of the grant bids contained in the Guardian documents propose the launch of “media campaigns” aimed at changing state laws and policies, or refer to “advancing model legislation” and “candidate briefings,” in ways that arguably cross the line into lobbying.
Depending on which 20 proposals it chooses to fund, here are 12 ways that SPN could assault the rights of working families in 2014:
1. Alabama Policy Institute: Requested $25,725 to fund the “spark plug” for eliminating the state income tax. Such a plan would lead to the cutting of services for working families. (Also requested for tax cuts or elimination: Advance Arkansas Institute, $35,000; Georgia Public Policy Foundation, $40,000; Nebraska’s Platte Institute for Economic Research, $25,000; New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation, $30,000; Ohio’s Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, $40,000; and Opportunity Ohio, $35,000).
2. Delaware’s Caesar Rodney Institute: Requested $36,000 to fund strategies to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law, which would lower wages for working families.
3. Florida’s James Madison Institute: Requested $40,000 to fund efforts to promote vouchers (which they call Education Savings Accounts), which would reduce funding for public schools. Lower public education funding would lead to worsening student performance and teacher layoffs. (Also requested on this topic: Oregon’s Cascade Policy Institute, $40,000.)
4. Georgia Center for Opportunity: Requested $65,000 to fund opposition to Medicaid expansion, which would mean fewer residents have health care. (Also requested on this same topic: North Carolina’s J.W. Pope Civitas Institute, $46,500; Texas Public Policy Foundation, $40,000; Utah’s Sutherland Institute, $50,000.)
5. Illinois Policy Institute: Requested $40,000 to fight to change Chicago’s public employee pension system to a defined-contribution plan, which would mean less retirement security for working families. (Also requested on cutting public employee pensions: Arizona’s Goldwater Institute for Public Policy, $40,000; Minnesota’s Center of the American Experiment, $40,000; Missouri’s Show-Me Institute, $25,000; Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Foundation, $35,500.)
6. Maryland Public Policy Institute: Requested $40,000 to push for cuts in corporate tax rates, which would lead to the cutting of services for working families.
7. Maine Heritage Policy Center: Requested $35,000 to fund a campaign to eliminate state and local income taxes and institute “right to work” for less in one county as a model for future endeavors. If the campaign succeeds, working families will face service cuts and lower wages.
8. Mississippi Center for Public Policy: Requested $30,000 to oppose gas tax increases and privatize the state Department of Transportation, which would lead to weakened services for state residents and lower accountability on transportation issues. (Also requested on privatization: Massachusetts’ Pioneer Institute, $40,000).
9. Common Sense Institute of New Jersey: Requested $50,000 for a campaign to eliminate the compensation of public employees for unused sick leave, which would lower the overall compensation package for employees and encourage public employee absenteeism.
10. Nevada Policy Research Institute: Requested $35,000 to fund a campaign to get union members to leave their unions, which would weaken the collective bargaining rights of working families.
11. Empire Center for New York State Policy: Requested $36,500 to fund efforts to eliminate the estate tax, which would lead to service cuts for working families and shift the tax burden in the state from the wealthy toward working families.
12. Washington Policy Center: Requested $35,000 to launch a campaign to require local governments to have a super-majority to raise taxes, which would cripple local governments and lead to cuts in services for working families.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: Alabama, ALEC, Corporate Accountability, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, maryland, mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, State Policy Network, washington
In the last three years, nine states have added new laws that prohibit local governments from passing paid sick leave ordinances. Seven of these laws were passed in 2013 alone and 14 states introduced such legislation in the last year, Think Progress reports. In every state where local preemption bills have passed on paid sick leave, members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) were among the co-sponsors of the legislation. In most cases, corporate lobby groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business and the National Restaurant Association also have been involved heavily in passing the laws. It’s bad enough these groups oppose paid sick days for working families, but they don’t even want democratically elected officials deciding on policies—they want to prevent these policies from even coming up for a vote.
Corporate groups routinely argue that paid sick leave ordinances will harm businesses, but the evidence so far rejects those claims. Bryce Covert of Think Progress writes:
Business growth and job growth have been strong under Seattle’s law. Job growth also has been strong in San Francisco and its law enjoys strong business support. The policies in Washington, D.C., andConnecticut have come at little cost for businesses. In fact, expanding D.C.’s current law would net employers $2 million in savings even with potential costs factored in. On the other hand, the average employerloses $225 per worker each year, thanks to lost productivity when they get sick and can’t take paid leave.
Before 2010, Georgia was the only state to have such a pre-emption law, since then Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin have added them. This push comes as a direct response to local governments showing real momentum in passing paid sick leave ordinances. Six cities and the state of Connecticut have passed paid sick days laws and other cities are considering joining them in protecting workers, customers and employers from the negative effects of sick employees.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: ALEC, Arizona, connecticut, Corporate Accountability, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, kansas, louisiana, mississippi, North Carolina, Paid Sick Days, Tennessee, Wisconsin
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a report detailing the top states for “food security,” a term for the availability of food and one’s access to it.
The five states at the bottom of the list are North Carolina, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi, all of which have so-called “right to work” laws on the books.
The correlation is not direct, but the effects of these laws on all workers, union and non-union alike, are well-documented. States with “right to work” laws, which make it more difficult for unions to operate and advocate on behalf of their members, have lower average wages, higher rates of poverty, spend less on education, and have more workplace injuries and fatalities than state without “right to work” laws.
In states where unions can operate without the law’s interference, workers are more able to advocate for their needs in the workplace without fear of retaliation: from their hourly pay to their safety on the job.
It’s not surprising that with the interference of “right to work” laws, workers in North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas are less likely to make enough money to adequately feed themselves and their families, and less likely to be able to change their situation through organizing.
Even with all the data, reckless politicians and their well-monied allies continue to push “right to work” laws. Missouri’s Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder told supporters he will continue to fight for a “right to work” law in his state, even though a Republican supermajority could not bring the measure to the floor this past year. Corporate-backed think tanks are pushing similar initiatives in Oregon and Washington.
As We Party Patriots notes:
While not every food related problem can be fixed by higher wages, policies that intentionally lower wages must be taken to task. They are a troubling, culpable piece of America’s deteriorated health puzzle.
We support the right of workers to have a voice on their job, and to make at least enough money so they don’t have to wonder where their next meal — or their child’s next meal — is coming from. We don’t think that’s a lot to ask.
Note: Because of the government shutdown, the USDA site hosting the report is offline.
Photo by USDAgov on Flickr
Tags: arkansas, mississippi, North Carolina, Right to Work, Rights At Work, Texas
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
Lawmakers in Michigan are still pushing a bill that would keep cities and towns from making their own decisions about paid sick days laws. We call them “preemption bills” – restaurant lobbyists and their allies call it the “kill shot” to paid sick days.
The bills in the House and Senate are ALEC model bills, inspired by none other than Wisconsin union-buster Gov. Scott Walker. Quick story: In early 2011, Walker pushed and passed a preemption law in Wisconsin, completely invalidating the will of Milwaukee voters who had just passed a sick days ordinance.
The restaurant lobby was so excited that they handed out copies of the bill to attendees of ALEC’s August 2011 meeting.
And, as if by magic, preemption bills have been introduced in Michigan, Mississippi, Washington, Arizona, Indiana, and Oklahoma. Such laws are already on the books in Wisconsin and Louisiana. Just this week, a preemption bill passed both houses of the Florida legislature. Textbook ALEC.
In Michigan, along with statewide mothers’ organization Mothering Justice, Working America delivered petitions signed by over 2,500 Michiganders to the Michigan Restaurant Association and the state legislature.
All workers deserve the opportunity to earn paid sick days, so that not another person has to make their choice between going to work sick and not making rent, or not being able to eat, or not being able to care for their child.
But even the threat of workers in a few cities and towns having this basic right has the restaurant lobby and ALEC running scared, using their politician pawns to introduce ridiculously undemocratic preemption bills that won’t create a single job. Since when did these “small-government” obsessives get into the business of telling cities and towns how to conduct their business?
Join us. Tell the Michigan legislature to stand with workers, mothers, and democracy – not ALEC and the restaurant lobby.
Tags: ALEC, Arizona, earned sick days, louisiana, Michigan, mississippi, Oklahoma, Paid Sick Days, restaurant, Rights At Work, Scott Walker, washington, Wisconsin