Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made himself a household name when in 2011 he worked with his legislative allies to strip collective bargaining rights from public workers. At the time he said this would help the state create jobs, but later told his donors it was part of a “divide and conquer” strategy to destroy his opposition.
Over the next two and a half years, Gov. Walker worked around the clock to make life harder for Wisconsin workers: killing the state earned income tax credit, using relief for foreclosure fraud victims to plug holes in his budget, cutting the state’s BadgerCare health insurance program, shifting funds from public to private education, banning cities and towns from making their own sick days ordinances, and attempting to end same-day voter registration and enact strict voter ID laws.
He is now making a name for himself by passing the back for his state’s job crisis, arresting people for singing, and for wanting really badly to be president.
So when Gov. Scott Walker, who has worked around the clock to destroy the labor movement in Wisconsin, tweeted “Happy Labor Day!” yesterday, the responses came fast and uniformly furious.
At Working America, we hypothesized that maybe Gov. Walker was confused about what Labor Day was. Labor Day celebrates all that has been accomplished by workers who have banded together for a better life; accomplishments like fair wages, sick days, health care, voting rights, and corporate accountability. Accomplishments that Gov. Walker has made a career of rolling back.
We decided to respond to Gov. Walker’s Labor Day tweet by borrowing a phrase from The Princess Bride’s Inigo Montoya. Retweet if you agree.
Tags: Corporate Accountability, Jobs, Labor Day, Scott Walker, Wisconsin
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
The radical policies of North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and his legislative allies is having the opposite effect they said it would.
North Carolina’s unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent in July, higher than the national average of 7.4 percent. That makes it the fifth highest in the nation.
Moreover, the sectors that grew are those that have the lowest wages:
Over the past 12 months, the leisure and hospitality sector has added 21,500 jobs, more than any other sector.
[N.C. Justice Center public policy analyst Allan] Freyer said that U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that those jobs pay an average of $8.30 an hour.
“That says the state’s growth opportunities are in ultra-low-wage jobs,” Freyer said. “That’s not the direction we want to be going.”
In recent months, Gov. McCrory and his allies enacted enormous cuts to unemployment insurance, which Bill Rowe of the N.C. Justice Center called “one of the most radical, is not the most radical proposals in the country.” They also passed a tax plan that lowers income tax and corporate while slicing the earned income tax credit for struggling families.
Gov. McCrory claimed both measures would help “job creation.” The same refrain was used by Gov. Scott Walker for his actions in Wisconsin to strip collective bargaining rights from public workers and his own tax plan that ended the state earned income tax credit. Wisconsin is also experiencing economic woes, also falling behind the rest of the country on employment.
What both governors are ignoring is that we know the path to prosperity: higher wages, public investment in infrastructure and education, and a tax plan that asks the rich to pay their fair share. Not the exact opposite.
But as McCrory’s recent voter suppression law shows, he’s not really interested in what the people think. He’s more interested in following the Walker model of ALEC-inspired, pro-corporate, anti-worker governance. In both North Carolina and Wisconsin, hundreds have gone to jail in recent weeks for protesting the state’s leadership.
If you’re in North Carolina, join our fight for working families by emailing Catherine at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: Jobs, moral monday, North Carolina, Pat McCrory, Scott Walker, taxes, unemployment, unemployment insurance, voting rights, Wisconsin
Nearly 3,000 protesters took to the Chicago streets yesterday outside the 40th anniversary meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.
A quick primer: ALEC is an organization that fosters relationships between state legislators, conservative think tanks, and large corporations. ALEC says they are just allowing lawmakers to exchange ideas, but they are also drafting legislation, called “model bills” – with a great deal of input from the corporations themselves – to distribute and pass in the various states.
ALEC has succeeded for decades in part by operating under the radar. The last 18 months, however, have been different.
Several high profile and widely-criticized pieces of legislation have been traced back to their original source. Arizona’s SB 1070, the controversial “papers please” immigration law, had its birth in an ALEC committee. The recent union-busting bills in Wisconsin pushed by Gov. Scott Walker are also ALEC-inspired, and Walker himself was an ALEC member.
Most significantly, the Stand Your Ground/Shoot First laws, which gave legal protection to George Zimmerman when he shot and killed Trayvon Martin, were concocted by National Rifle Association lobbyists and ratified by an ALEC committee.
In the wake of the controversy around these and other laws, the public became increasingly aware of ALEC and the dramatic influence corporations have in the writing of our state laws.
Has ALEC now been exposed? This week definitely showed they are on the ropes. Jay Riestenberg of the AFL-CIO compiled a collection of press clips from the last few days on ALEC and the Chicago protest.
ALEC might not yet be a household name, but their nefarious corporate-driven travesty of lawmaking is finally seeing some sunlight.
Associated Press, Conservative conference draws lawmakers, picketers
Free Speech Radio News, Records show ALEC used secretive fund to finance junkets for legislators
The Huffington Post, How the ALEC Agenda Forced Chicago’s School Closings
The Nation, ALEC Convention Met With Protests in Chicago
The Nation, ALEC’s Illegal Past?
The Nation (blog), An Exposed ALEC Faces Mass Protests and Calls for Scrutiny
Salon, ALEC convention protests: Labor vs. lobbyists
In These Times, Labor and Civil Rights Groups Descend on ALEC Conference
Examiner.com, ALEC holds its 40th Conference in Chicago under clouds of secrecy
Truth Out, Protesters Condemn ALEC’s Push to Privatize Public Education
Progress Illinois, Hundreds Protest ALEC’s Conservative Agenda In Chicago: ‘Get Out Of Our City’ (VIDEO)
Public News Service, ALEC’s 40th Birthday Draws Protests
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Legislators head to Chicago for ALEC retreat
Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ohio AFL-CIO head said he will protest at Chicago meeting of group that sought to limit unions
News & Observer, Few ALEC bills passed NC legislature, watch dog group finds
Capital Times, Morning briefing: ALEC takes beating
Mint Press News, Do Lavish Trips Funded By ALEC Count As ‘Lobbying’ — Or Bribery?
Media Matters, WSJ’s Defense Of ALEC Lacks Disclosure That News Corp. Is A Member
Chicagoist, Protesters Stage Die-In At Palmer House During ALEC Conference
Riverfront Times (blog), Stand Your Ground: Dick Durbin Pressures Anheuser-Busch, Corporate Backers of ALEC
Wisconsin Gazette, ‘Die-in’ staged at ALEC conference to protest Stand Your Ground laws
Lawyers.com, ALEC Helps Big Business Invade Local Lawmaking State By State
Wall Street Journal, Durbin Wants a List
Tags: ALEC, Chicago, Corporate Accountability, Illinois, immigration, Jobs, Rights At Work, Scott Walker, Wisconsin
In a settlement reached with the Palermo Workers Union and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Palermo’s Pizza has agreed to return eight fired workers to their former jobs with back pay.
The company also has agreed to post a notice in its Milwaukee plant informing workers of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act and to hold a union election.
The workers have been on strike since June 1, 2012, to protest unfair labor violations, workplace safety and to call for a voice on the job. After the workers requested that Palermo’s recognize their union and bargain with them over serious workplace problems, Palermo’s fired more than 75 workers.
Raul de la Torre, an organizing committee member of the Palermo Workers Union, says:
Palermo’s Pizza repeatedly violated our rights to join a union. This agreement confirms that Palermo’s used threats, intimidation, surveillance, discrimination and retaliation to deny the freedom to choose a union voice.
The United Steelworkers (USW) union has been working closely with both the fired Palermo’s workers and those currently on the job who are seeking a union voice. USW District 2 Director Mike Bolton called the settlement positive but also a disappointment.
It took much too long to get even this small bit of justice for these workers. And unfortunately, they will be going back to jobs where union-busters have created such an atmosphere of fear and intimidation that a democratic election is not possible. So for Palermo’s to claim they want a union election is a travesty of justice—they know that 75% of employees already expressed support for a union when they signed a petition calling for union representation over a year ago, and that most of those workers—more than 100 former employees—will never get to vote because they were fired for speaking out.
The Palermo Workers Union says there still are numerous issues related to the labor dispute at Palermo’s Pizza that remain outstanding.
- There is a pending NRLB settlement with BG Staffing, a temp agency that was the employer for numerous fired union supporters.
- The NLRB is currently investigating recent charges that Palermo’s illegally fired an African American employee who was engaged in pro-union activity at work.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is expected to open an investigation into Palermo’s refusal to release federally mandated records of injuries, which have been requested by a lawfully designated representative of numerous employees.
- Palermo’s so far has refused requests from elected officials to provide evidence that they fulfilled promises to create family-supporting jobs with some of the $48 million in taxpayer money they have received in recent years, including loans they received, via the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.
Read more about the settlement from the Palermo Workers Union.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, NLRB, palermos, pizza, Rights At Work, Wisconsin, wiunionw
The nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has declared Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker the “Worst Governor in America.”
Even though he had fierce competition from fellow Republicans Tom Corbett and Susana Martinez, this is a choice CREW had no trouble making:
In the past he’s employed illegal tactics and abused his power to round up votes, but Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) didn’t have to break a sweat to win this contest. For racking up a record that has veered from unethical conduct to staggering incompetence, CREW’s voters awarded Gov. Walker the title of Worst Governor in America.
Gov. Walker had made his name in 2011 by ramming through unprecedented restrictions on the collective bargaining of public workers, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg:
Gov. Walker also presided over illegal activity and wasteful spending at a public-private partnership that he and the state legislature created to promote economic development. Additionally, a long-running investigation into Gov. Walker’s tenure as Milwaukee County executive and his 2010 gubernatorial campaign resulted in criminal charges against several of his aides. CREW cited these scandals and others in naming Gov. Walker to the second edition of its Worst Governors in America report.
“Scandal and embarrassment seem to follow Gov. Walker wherever he goes,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Given his inability to competently handle the most basic responsibilities of his office and willingness to overstep his authority to help his donors, it’s no wonder CREW’s voters recognized him as a singularly terrible American governor.”
Currently, Scott Walker is under fire on multiple fronts. In June, Wisconsin was ranked 49th out of 50 in job creation by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Over the past few weeks, dozens have been arrested in the Wisconsin state capitol for the simple act of singing, under new protest restrictions Walker’s administration put in place. Just yesterday, Walker shocked many of his former political allies by suggesting expanding his union-busting Act 10 to include police officers and firefighters as well.
All this, and Scott Walker is not-so-secretly laying the groundwork for a presidential run.
Read the full report.
Photo by GageSkidmore on Flickr
Tags: Jobs, Public Safety, Rights At Work, Scott Walker, Wisconsin
Photo by @RWwatchMA on Twitter
For three days straight, police have made multiple arrests in Wisconsin’s state Capitol.
Their crime? Singing.
Well, more specifically, their alleged crime is violating a new rule in the Capitol requiring permits for groups of 20 or more. The rule was passed in the wake of the enormous worker uprising in Wisconsin in 2011 that included massive gatherings in the state Capitol.
A Wisconsin judge ruled on July 8 that the demonstrators must acquire a permit before bringing a group of more than 20 people into the capitol for a protest.
Police have delivered daily warnings to the Solidarity Sing-Along members since the 11th, but Wednesday was the first day they actually made good on their threats. However, Wednesday’s arrests appear to have only angered the group, and they returned Thursday over 100 strong.
As of Thursday, the arrest count was 29. Today, Friday, arrests are continuing this afternoon.
“First arrest in #ourhouse today: a kindergarten teacher,” tweets @SaraBlackthorne.
Other musical groups gathering outside of the Capitol in solidarity.
via @ScottWalkerWatch on Twitter
“In @GovWalker’s Wisconsin,” tweeted @OneWisconsinNow, “out-of-state donors IN, free speech OUT.”
“Walker is afraid of singers,” reads one sign.
Photo by @leslieamsterdam on Twitter
“She looks like a hardened criminal,” @polymath22 notes sarcastically.
Finally, let’s note that not all police officers are on board with the arrests.
Photo via @leslieamsterdam on Twitter
Tags: Corporate Accountability, democracy, free speech, Scott Walker, Wisconsin
Down with big government, cry Michigan Republicans!
Except when it comes to workers’ rights.
Yesterday the Michigan Senate voted 25-13 to pass a sick leave “preemption bill,” SB 173, which bans cities and towns from passing their own laws regarding earned sick leave. 25 Republicans voted in favor, while all 12 Democrats and one Republican (Sen. Tory Rocca of Sterling Heights) voted against.
Now, this might seem like a strange law for Michigan to pass, since no city or town in Michigan has a sick leave ordinance on the books, and no city or town in Michigan is currently considering such an ordinance.
But this isn’t about Michigan. This is about ALEC and its nationwide efforts to quash the momentum behind paid sick days, using politicians like bill sponsor Sen. Mark Jansen (R-Grand Rapids) merely as delivery systems.
This is a law modeled after one Gov. Scott Walker passed in Wisconsin in May 2011, which overrode the will of Milwaukee voters who had overwhelmingly passed a paid sick days ordinance three years earlier.
At the ALEC national conference in 2011, attendees were given copies of Walker’s paid sick days preemption law. As PRWatch blogger Brendan Fischer describes, legislators were also handed a “target list” and “a map of state and local paid sick leave policies prepared by ALEC member the National Restaurant Association.”
This law keeping cities and towns from making their own decisions on this issue makes no sense for Michigan. Michigan just happens to be on a list of boxes for ALEC to check, so they can continue a status quo where workers show up to work sick, or get fired for taking care of a sick child, simply because they have no other financial option.
Having passed the Senate, SB 173 is now on a fast track through the House. Seems like legislators can be super efficient when they want to restrict workers’ rights, and when ALEC has already written out a bill for them.
Tags: ALEC, Corporate Accountability, earned sick days, Health Care, Jobs, Michigan, Paid Sick Days, republicans, Scott Walker, 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
When someone tries to raise the minimum wage, improve our health care system, or generally try to fix anything, a chorus of conservative anti-worker bigwigs cries foul about big government intruding in their lives.
But when a state passes a law to preempt cities and towns from making their own decisions about allowing workers to earn sick days, those same voices are silent.
Case in point: Michigan.
Legislation recently approved by committees in the Republican-controlled House and Senate would prohibit counties, townships and cities from adopting policies that requires employers to provide paid or unpaid leave not required under federal or state law.
The bill is HB 4249 in the House, sponsored by Rep. Earl Poleski (R-Jackson), and SB 173 in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Mark Jansen (R-Grand Rapids). Both bills have been passed by their respective committees.
If you look closely at the bills, you’ll notice they are startlingly similar to bills introduced in Florida, Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Washington.
Why? You guessed it: it’s an ALEC model bill!
Not only is it an ALEC bill, it’s an ALEC bill inspired by Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who pushed and passed his own sick leave preemption bill in May 2011. It was one of his first acts as governor, and it overrode a sick leave ordinance that Milwaukee had passed overwhelmingly in 2008.
70 percent of Milwaukee voters want the policy? “Who cares?” says the preemption bill. It’s the very definition of big government intruding on local control that so many conservatives claim to hate.
PRWatch blogger Brendan Fischer describes what happened next:
Meeting attendees were given complete copies of Wisconsin’s 2011 Senate Bill 23 (now Wisconsin Act 16) as a model for state override. ALEC’s Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee at the time was co-chaired by YUM! Brands, Inc., which owns Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.
Legislators attending the Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee meeting were also handed a target list and map of state and local paid sick leave policies prepared by ALEC member the National Restaurant Association.
As one Republican operative put it, these bills “deliver the kills shot” to efforts to allow workers to earn sick days. In addition to Wisconsin, such laws are already on the books in Louisiana and Mississippi.
We’re fighting back in Michigan, where we’ve sent almost 18,000 messages to state lawmakers. Join us: Tell the Michigan legislature to stand with the people, not ALEC.
Tags: ALEC, Corporate Accountability, earned sick days, Michigan, Milwaukee, Paid Sick Days, Scott Walker, Wisconsin