The Shutdown’s Devastating Ripple Effects

From the AFL-CIO

More than a month after it ended, the government lockout continues to hurt working people: More than 1,000 Transportation Security Administration agents still haven’t received back pay, and it’s unclear when they will be made whole.

More than 1 million federal employees and contractors were devastated by the record-breaking 35-day shutdown, including TSA agents, who are among the lowest paid federal employees, earning an average of $37,000 a year—not enough to afford a two-bedroom apartment in the top 20 major U.S. cities.

Now, reports have surfaced that more than 1,000 TSA agents are still waiting for back pay.

During the shutdown, food banks in cities across the country were busier than usual, with some serving as many as five times the average number of visitors. Federal workers missed $2 billion in pay each pay period of the shutdown.

To make matters worse, more than 1 million federal contractors lost a month of paychecks during the lockout and, unless Congress acts, they will never receive that pay.

 “The law says we are entitled to our paychecks in a timely basis and that did not happen this time around. We just can't be held hostage to solve political disputes as the work we do is so important,” Victor Payes, a TSA agent in Los Angeles told NBC Washington.

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Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

Steel for Wind Power

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

Siemens Gamesa last month laid off 130 workers at its turbine blade manufacturing plant in Iowa, just months after GE Renewable Energy decided to close an Arkansas factory and eliminate 470 jobs.

The companies reported shrinking demand for their products, even though U.S. consumption of wind energy increases every year.

America’s prosperity depends not only on harnessing this crucial energy source but also ensuring that highly skilled U.S. workers build the components with the cleanest technology available.

Right now, the nation relies on imported steel and turbine components from foreign manufacturers like China while America’s own steel industry—well equipped for this production—struggles because of dumping and other unfair trade practices.

Steel makes up the bulk of turbine hubs and the wind towers themselves. It’s also used to make the cranes and platforms necessary for installing the towers.

Yet the potential boon to America’s steel industry is just one reason to ramp up domestic production of wind energy infrastructure.

American steel production ranks among the cleanest in the world, while China has the highest carbon emissions of any steelmaking nation and flouts environmental regulations.

The nation’s highly-skilled steelmaking workforce must play an essential role in the deeply-needed revitalization and modernization of the nation’s failing infrastructure. Producing the components for harnessing wind energy domestically and cleanly is an important step that will put Americans to work and position the United States to be world leaders in this growing industry.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work