Working people scored major victories over the past several months, organizing new workplaces and winning fights to raise wages.
Here are some highlights of recent working families victories:
Texas Machinists Win Back-to-Back Organizing Drives: Union growth continues in Texas as members from the Machinists (IAM) successfully organized their second consecutive workplace in Texas this month, adding nearly 1,000 new members.
Point Park University Faculty Organize Hundreds to Gain Benefits: More than 300 part-time faculty members at Point Park University in Pittsburgh are on the road to a union voice after voting to certify with Adjunct Faculty Association-United Steelworkers (AFA-USW).
Missouri EMS Workers Win Organizing Fight: An overwhelming majority of Emergency Medical Service (EMS) professionals in Independence, Missouri, voted to join EMS Workers United-AFSCME, strengthening the local union and providing essential protections for Missouri workers.
RAISING WAGES VICTORIES
Massachusetts Workers Help Push Minimum Wage Hike: Working people in Massachusetts scored a big win as Gov. Deval Patrick signed legislation that will increase the state’s minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2017.
Newark, N.J., Paid Sick-Leave Ordinance Goes Into Effect: A new paid sick-leave law in Newark, N.J., will allow full and part-time employees to earn up to 40 hours of paid sick-leave per year. Similar paid sick-leave laws have passed in cities such as San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC.
Momentum Builds for Minimum Wage Hike in Nebraska: Workers in Nebraska put a measure on the 2014 ballot to raise the minimum wage to $9 and hour by 2016.
California Workers Benefit from Minimum Wage Increase: An increase in California’s minimum wage to $9 an hour has taken effect, with the wage set to increase again in 2016 to $10 an hour. Meanwhile, efforts continue in Los Angeles to increase the minimum wage in the city to $15 an hour.
Philadelphia Building Trades Go to Work with New Housing Deal: A deal between Philadelphia building-trades unions and the Philadelphia Housing Authority will put people to work in union jobs while creating new affordable housing for Pennsylvanians.
Letter Carriers Complete Successful Food Drive: Members of the Letter Carriers (NALC) completed their annual food drive, collecting more than 72 million pounds of food for families in need.
Union Volunteers Help Aspiring Americans Earn Citizenship: On June 28, at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C., volunteers helped nearly 100 people through the U.S. citizenship process, enabling them to file paperwork with the help of legal and immigration experts.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: AFA-USW, aflcio, California, IAM, immigration, Massachusetts, minimum wage, Missouri, NALC, nebraska, New Jersey, newark, organizing, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Rights At Work, Texas
Great news for Boston! Marty Walsh took first place out of twelve candidates in last night’s preliminary election for Boston mayor.
Walsh will face City Councilor John Connolly in the general election on November 5.
This isn’t just a victory for a candidate. It’s a victory for working people all across Boston, who are one step closer to having a mayor who will put their needs first. In every neighborhood in Boston, you’ll hear the same thing: voters want a mayor who will put job creation, affordable housing and great public schools first. Last night’s result shows that Marty Walsh has the record and the values we can trust on those issues.
We have all too many examples of what happens when mayor cities elect the wrong mayor. Michael Nutter in Philadelphia vetoed a paid sick days bill and made deep cuts to schools and city services, and Rahm Emanuel in Chicago has become the poster boy for school closings and corporate-backed education privatization. After 30 years of Mayor Thomas Menino, Boston is at an historic crossroads, and November will determine what path the city takes.
Marty Walsh is committed to tackling Boston’s number one problem: growing inequality. If you have friends or family in Boston, please share with them why Marty is the best choice for Boston’s working families.
Paid for by Working America, 815 16th Street NW, Washington DC. www.workingamerica.org.
Tags: boston, Chicago, Education, inequality, Jobs, marty walsh, Massachusetts, Michael Nutter, Philadelphia, rahm emanuel
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
Philadelphia teachers on Thursday protested the latest in a long list ofassaults on their jobs. Public school officials are demanding more than $130 million on concessions in terms of salary and benefit cuts because of an ongoing school funding crisis.
The current proposal has teachers taking salary cuts from 5 to 13% and paying more for health care, Reuters reports. In recent years, 30 schools have been closed and nearly 4,000 teachers and other staffers have been laid off. Many teachers are short on supplies for their students and have to pay out of their own pockets or dig through dumpsters to get what they need. Teachers are having to go without aides, even in kindergarten classes. Urban school systems across the United States have been hammered by reductions in state aid since the 2007–2009 recession. In many states, the level of aid still hasn’t returned to pre-recession levels.
The rapid growth of charter schools is a key part of the problem. As more charter schools have opened, students have flocked to them, taking state funds from the public school system. During the upcoming school year, more than one-third of Philadelphia students will be enrolled in charter schools, more than double the rate from 2008.
The teachers’ labor contract expires Aug. 31 and school starts a week after that. Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Spokesperson George Jackson says the union and the school district are still far apart.
Photo via AFT on Facebook
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: Education, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Tom Corbett
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
When most people think about union members, they probably picture blue-collar workers in factories. Maybe teachers, police, firefighters and other government employees come to mind.
But workers in many more fields come together in unions to have a voice on the job to improve their lives and the lives of their families—from rocket scientists at NASA (members of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers [IFPTE]) to actors like Alec Baldwin (a member of SAG-AFTRA) and all across the spectrum of work that goes on in the United States.
Here are 10 jobs that you probably didn’t know were held by union members:
1. Fox News camera operator: At local Fox News stations in cities like Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Detroit, the camera operators and other technicians that keep the network running are members of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET-CWA).
2. Urban park ranger: Managing our city parks and playgrounds are AFSCME members like Danielle Clemons, who works at the Bedford-Stuyvesant Recreation Center in New York.
3. Golf Channel audio mixer: From audio mixers to video controllers, many of the people who work behind the scenes to put the Golf Channel on the air are members of the Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).
4. Vehicle service mechanic: Bob Pritchard of the Postal Workers (APWU) is about to retire after working for the U.S. Postal Service since 1980 as a mechanic fixing the massive fleet of postal vehicles.
5. Symphony conductor: Musical Artists (AGMA) member James Levine hasn’t let spinal problems and multiple surgeries dethrone him as the leader of the Metropolitan Opera and, as the New York Times called him, one of the greatest living American conductors.
6. Comedian: Groundbreaking comedian and actress Phyllis Diller, who passed away in August, was the honorary president of the Variety Artists (AGVA) since 1996.
7. Baker: Daniel Wood helped lead bakers at the West Main Street Panera Bread franchise in Kalamazoo, Mich., in becoming the first of the company’s locations to unionize, joining the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM).
8. Saxophone player: Many professional musicians, like Grammy-award-winning jazz saxophone player David Sanborn, are members of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM).
9. Social worker: AFT members like Grace Decker, who works at the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, investigate alleged abuses of vulnerable adults such as senior citizens or adults who have mental or physical disabilities.
10. Super Bowl champion: Outspoken marriage equality advocate and star player for the 2013 Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens Brendon Ayanbadejo is a proud member of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA).
Tags: aflcio, Detroit, Jobs, New York, nfl, Philadelphia, Rights At Work, union, washington
He is nothing if not consistent. Just as he did two years ago, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter vetoed a bill allowing workers to earn sick days.
The bill had been amended to be more amenable to Mayor Nutter’s corporate sensibilities. It would allow workers to earn one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked. It would also exempt small businesses with up to five employees.
But it was still not enough. In rejecting this pro-worker measure, Nutter repeated the same claptrap that politicians have used to oppose the minimum wage, worker safety measures, and child labor laws throughout history.
Mayor Nutter, in his veto message, said mandatory paid sick leave would result in job cuts that would hurt “the very workers this bill is intended to help.” And he said it would hurt the city’s ability to attract new businesses.
The business lobby, lead by Comcast and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars opposing this bill in 2012 alone. Those dollars, in Nutter’s eyes, overrode the health and economic needs of nearly 200,000 Philadelphians who have no access to sick days.
But there’s something different in 2013. We are only one vote away from overriding this veto in the Philadelphia City Council.
Councilman Dennis O’Brien is a swing vote on the sick days bill. He voted no the first time, but moving him to a “yes” could provide this crucial worker protection that so many Philly workers have lacked.
Take Action: Call Councilman O’Brien and urge him to vote to override the Mayor’s veto of the sick leave bill.
Tags: earned sick days, Health Care, Jobs, Michael Nutter, Paid Sick Days, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
All the April Fools jokes in the world can’t change the fact that April 4, 2013 is coming. That’s the deadline for Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to either sign or veto the earned paid sick days bill that the City Council passed by a nearly 2-to-1 margin last month. He can also do nothing (“return it unsigned”) and it will still become law.
Mayor Nutter had this same chance in 2011, but decided to side with the business lobbyists (lead by Comcast and the over $108,400 spent on lobbying against sick leave) instead of the nearly 200,000 Philly workers who can’t take a day off without risking their employment, health, or basic economic survival.
However, times have changed quickly since that last veto, and Nutter is running out of excuses. This past week in nearby New York City, after three years of delay, Council Speaker (and Mayoral hopeful) Christine Quinn finally compromised to allow a vote on a sick day measure – which 80 percent of New Yorkers and a majority of her fellow City Councilmembers support.
Mayor Nutter is also running out of excuses on the business front. Like many sick leave ordinances, the Philadelphia bill is a compromise, with over 23 amendments “thanks to feedback from small-business owners,” writes bill sponsor Councilmember Bill Greenlee. The measure exempts businesses with 5 employees or less, and requires employees to earn every hour of sick leave – 1 hour of leave for every 40 hours worked. That’s “personal responsibility” if we ever saw it.
Furthermore, every single report or study on this issue has shown that sick leave ordinances are good for businesses. It’s common sense: the sooner workers can get better, the sooner they can return to work at full strength. Productivity goes up, and turnover goes down.
Oh, and we almost forgot – it’ll allow the people who cook our food, serve our drinks, teach our kids, and care for our grandparents to stay home instead of infecting us and the people we love with whatever germ cocktail they are carrying around.
Take action now: and tell Mayor Nutter to sign the common sense, job-creating, life-improving, right-thing-to-do earned sick days bill. The clock is ticking.
Tags: earned sick days, Health Care, Michael Nutter, New York City, Paid Sick Days, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
At the time of this writing, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has 6 days 23 hours, 5 minutes, and 17 seconds to sign the earned paid sick days bill passed two weeks ago by the City Council.
The Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces has set up a “NutterWatch” clock on their website, counting down the days until Mayor Nutter signs or vetoes the measure that would allow over 182,000 Philadelphians to earn sick days.
Every day Mayor Nutter takes no action, workers across the city are faced with the impossible choice of working through a sickness, losing a day’s pay, or potentially losing their job.
Some of them are parents who want to stay home and take care of a sick child, but can’t lose the day’s paycheck that allows them to buy groceries.
Some of them are retail workers who are afraid of getting fired if they switch shifts, so they skip doctor’s appointments that could speed up their recovery.
One of them is Michael Cockrell, as cook and dishwasher who has worked at a Philadelphia restaurant for 13 years. Because Philadelphia doesn’t have a sick leave policy, he has worked in the kitchen preparing food while sick with the flu. He has worked when his son had an asthma attack and had to be hospitalized. He once cut himself so badly that he had to get stitches – but he had to wait until his shift was over.
Every day, the lack of a sick leave policy for Philadelphia causes needless, preventable harm and strife to workers, consumers, patients, and businesses. While some big corporations like Comcast have spent big on lobbying against the sick leave bill, many business owners realize that allowing workers to earn sick days increases productivity, reduces turnover, minimizes absenteeism, and is ultimately good for the bottom line.
Nutter has 6 days, 22 hours, 52 minutes, and 53 seconds to come to the same conclusion. If you haven’t yet, tell him to sign the earned sick days bill.
Tags: earned sick days, Health Care, Michael Nutter, Paid Sick Days, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
If there was an Olympic event for out-of-touch, ridiculous, paternalistic economics writing, this piece would have won Philadelphia’s Gene Marks a gold medal.
Quick review: Earlier this month, the Philadelphia City Council voted 11-6 to pass an ordinance allowing Philadelphia workers to earn an hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Mayor Michael Nutter can either sign or veto the bill – he vetoed a similar bill in 2011.
Currently, over 180,000 Philadelphians have no sick leave opportunities, which means every single day there are sick cooks, servers, nurses, retail workers, and others showing up to work and infecting customers and patients simply because they can’t afford to miss a day’s pay. No wonder the flu season hit so hard.
Gene Marks, a self-identified “small business owner” and “consultant,” doesn’t think we need a sick leave policy. Why? Because he has one friend who gives sick days to his employees:
James is a client of mine who runs a 30-person roofing company in Northeast Philadelphia. Last week, one of the people in his office wasn’t feeling well and called in sick. It was no big deal. She got paid for the day. The next day she was back at work….This is typical of most of the clients I work with.
It seems so far that Marks agrees with a sick leave ordinance. But then he says:
Mayor Nutter vetoed a similar bill in 2011. And I’m hoping he does the same to this one…a sick leave bill is embarrassing and an insult to both employers like James and his employees.
An insult? Marks takes offense at the government taking action to address the needs of over 180,000 Philadelphia workers:
I can’t be trusted to come up with my own policy for my employees? I care so little for my people that I would try to take advantage of them when they’re feeling ill? I need the city to tell me when I should pay them for staying at home? As if I don’t see that a sick employee is unproductive and could potentially affect others in my office?
Marks thinks he’s writing all these questions sarcastically – but the answer to all of those rhetorical questions is a resounding “Yes.”
Mr. Marks: Walk into any Walmart, or Darden-owned restaurant, or fast food joint in Philly. Talk to an employee about their experiences, and if they aren’t too afraid of retaliation to be honest, you’ll find that, yes, many employers do care very little for their workers. You’ll find that many employers do try to take advantage of employees when they are ill – or at any other point in time, for that matter. And yes, absolutely, you’ll discover that these employers have not come up with a sick leave policy, and they do need the city to take action.
Good employers treat their employees with respect and give them the time they need to get better… a good employee is the most valuable asset in the world to most business people. And a good employee works hard and doesn’t worry about it if he or she needs to take time off for a sick or vacation day because his or her relationship with their employer is built on the understanding that sometimes people need time off and that’s OK.
The sick leave bill is intended for that .01 percent. And you know who you are.
You are the person who treats his employees, particularly those in the lowest-paying positions, like cattle. You think that every employee is out to take advantage of you. You keep a wary eye on everyone’s hours and are ready to cut someone’s benefits when they don’t meet your petty standards of fairness.
If all employers were the benevolent angels of Marks’ imagination, instead this bad apple “0.1 percent,” he’s right – we wouldn’t need a sick leave law. We also wouldn’t need a minimum wage, or workplace safety standards, or child labor laws; and we definitely wouldn’t need union contracts, because in Marks’ utopian workplace, all worker-management interactions would be built on magical “understanding.”
Talk to a laid-off Hostess worker about this so-called “understanding.” Or a foreign guest worker who arrived in Central Pennsylvania on a J-1 visa ended up working 25-hour shifts at McDonald’s, living in humiliating housing and paying exorbitant rent. Next time you get in a cab, consider that your driver is misclassified as an independent contractor so her management doesn’t have to pay for her health care. Where’s the understanding there?
Is Mayor Michael Nutter acting under the same head-in-the-sand assumptions that Marks presents in this column – that all worker protections are “insults” to employers? Does he think it’s better to turn a blind eye to how Philadelphia workers are actually being treated than take any action that would offend anybody with fat pockets? Would have vetoed a child labor law for the same reason?
We hope that instead of taking this column as gospel, Mayor Nutter will consider the millions of Americans who have had to work through a stomach bug, had to or carry platters of food on a sprained wrist, or had to prove to their bosses they had a broken leg so they could take a day off, or had to suffer the indignity of losing their job because they couldn’t stand to leave their child alone with a high fever.
People like Marks’ client James, who treat workers with respect, are certainly out there. But protecting workers doesn’t insult employers like James, it creates a tide that will lift other businesses to his level. And that’s why Mayor Nutter needs to sign this bill.
Tags: earned sick days, Health Care, Paid Sick Days, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
The Philadelphia City Council passed an earned paid sick leave bill last week, 11-6. It now goes to Mayor Michael Nutter for his signature or veto; Nutter vetoed a similar measure in 2011.
But we’ll have to wait until at least next week to see what he does. That’s because Mayor Michael Nutter is in Florence, Italy.
Leaving his cabinet behind to deal with issues like municipal labor contracts, property tax assessments and his new city budget proposal, Mayor Nutter plans to spend the next five days in Florence, Italy, comparing notes on “the creative economy” with a delegation from the U. S. Conference of Mayors and an organization of Italian counterparts.
The full tab for airfare, lodging and meals will be picked up by the Conference of Mayors, at no cost to city taxpayers, said Mark McDonald, the mayor’s press secretary. (Unless you factor in the city’s annual dues to the Conference of Mayors, which ran to $45,569 in 2012, according to the city’s expenditure data.)
At least 182,600 workers in Philadelphia can’t earn a single paid sick day. That means if they get sick, or if their child or elderly relative gets sick, they have to choose between coming in and potentially infecting customers or patients or staying home and losing out on pay – or even losing their job.
So while Mayor Nutter flies off to Florence for a five-day conference, (indirectly) paid for with taxpayer dollars, thousands of those taxpayers are left in the lurch.
But Nutter has the power to change all that with a stroke of his pen. He can do what he didn’t do in 2011 – sign the sick leave bill and restore health and decency to Philly workplaces.
Add your name – tell Mayor Nutter to come home and sign the sick leave bill.
Tags: Health Care, Michael Nutter, Paid Sick Days, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia