Posts from Kenneth Quinnell

The Union Difference Is Even More Pronounced for Families of Color

A new report from the Center for American Progress shows that union membership helps increase wealth and prosperity for families of color. The research comes on top of recent polls showing that more and more people are embracing the powerful benefits of collective bargaining.

 

Here are some of the key findings of the report:

  • When working people collectively bargain for wages, benefits and employment procedures, as union members they have higher wages, more benefits and more stable employment as a result of the bargaining agreement.

  • Household wealth is dependent on several factors, including income, savings, people having benefits like health insurance and life insurance.

  • Higher wages lead to higher savings, particularly when combined with job-related benefits, such as health and life insurance, since those benefits require union members to spend less out-of-pocket to protect their families.

  • Union members have higher job stability and protections, which lead to longer tenures at a workplace. This can lead to more savings as longer-tenured employees are more likely to be eligible for key benefits that accrue over time.

  • Nonwhite families with a union member in the household have a median wealth that is 485% as large as the median wealth of nonunion families of color.

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If You Live in Missouri, Vote 'No' on Proposition A

On Aug. 7, Missouri voters will have the chance to vote against Proposition A, a divisive attack on working people funded by big corporations and their wealthy allies. The misleading measure is a direct attack on the rights of the working people of Missouri.

Here are the key reasons why Proposition A is wrong for Missouri:

  • Proposition A will drive down wages for Missouri families: If it passes, Proposition A will drive down wages for all Missourians. New research from the Economic Policy Institute shows that “right to work” laws like Proposition A are associated with lower wages and a weaker middle class. EPI found that wages were 3.1% lower in states with right to work laws like Proposition A. EPI’s Heidi Shierholz said, “If Missouri goes in the direction of right to work, we will see that the wages of workers, including those that are not in unions, will decline. Most middle-class workers spend their wages on things like food and clothes at local retailers.” The wage decline will harm businesses where middle-class workers shop.

  • Proposition A is not what it seems. Don’t trust it: While supporters of Proposition A claim it will benefit working people, the reality is that it will take away choices from Missourians. The Supreme Court already has ruled that workers don’t have to join a union if they choose not to. The court also has ruled that working people have the freedom to organize and join together to bargain for a better return on our work. These things are at stake with Proposition A.

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Working People Stand Resolute in the Face of Janus Ruling

While a narrow and ideologically driven majority on the Supreme Court ruled against working people in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, working people will not allow this attack to silence our collective voices. We will continue to organize and bring our collective voices together in opposition to the ongoing assault on our rights.

Advocates for working people soundly rejected the ruling in Janus. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, abandons decades of commonsense precedent. In this case, a bare majority of the court, over the vigorous dissent of four justices, has conceded to the dark web of corporations and wealthy donors who wish to take away the freedoms of working people. Until it is overturned, this decision will be a political stain on what is intended to be the most honorable, independent body in the world. But more importantly, it will further empower the corporate elites in their efforts to thwart the aspirations of millions of working people standing together for a better life.

But here’s the thing: America is heading in a different direction. All over the country, workers are organizing and taking collective action as we haven’t seen in years. More than 14,000 workers recently formed or joined unions in just a single week. This followed a year where 262,000 workers organized and the approval rating of unions reached a nearly 14-year high. Working families know the best way to get a raise, better benefits and a voice on the job is through a union contract. The corporate narrative of the labor movement’s downfall is being dismantled by working people every single day.

We have never depended on any politician or judge to decide our fate and we aren’t about to start now.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders:

Unions will always be the most effective force and vehicle to propel working people into the middle class. Despite this unprecedented and nefarious political attack—designed to further rig the rules against working people—nothing changes the fact that America needs unions now more than ever. We are more resolved than ever to fight like hell to win for our members and the communities they care so much about. AFSCME members don’t do this work to get rich. They do it because it’s a calling—and for that service, they deserve respect. They deserve the same freedoms as the CEOs and billionaires who continue to rig the rules against everyone else. The American labor movement lives on, and we’re going to be there every day, fighting hard for all working people, our freedoms and for our country.

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Grand Theft Paycheck: How Big Corporations Shortchange Their Workers

A new report, Grand Theft Paycheck: The Large Corporations Shortchanging Their Workers’ Wages, reveals that large corporations have paid out billions to resolve wage theft lawsuits brought by workers. The lawsuits show that corporations frequently force employees to work off the clock, cheat them out of legally required overtime pay and use other methods to steal wages from workers.

"Our findings make it clear that wage theft goes far beyond sweatshops, fast-food outlets and retailers. It is built into the business model of a substantial portion of Corporate America," said Philip Mattera, the lead author of the report and director of research for Good Jobs First, which produced the report in conjunction with the Jobs With Justice Education Fund.

Here are nine things you need to know from the Grand Theft Paycheck report:

1. The top dozen companies from the report, in terms of wage theft settlement payouts, are Walmart, FedEx, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase & Co., State Farm Insurance, AT&T, United Parcel Service, ABM Industries, Tenet Healthcare, Zurich Insurance Group and Allstate. With the exception of Tenet Healthcare, each of these companies had profits in 2017 of $3 billion or more.

2. More than 450 big companies have paid out $1 million or more in wage theft settlements.

3. Since 2000, there have been more than 1,200 successful collective actions that have been resolved for a total in penalties of more than $8.8 billion.

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Harley-Davidson Move Shows Failure of Trump Tax Cuts

In February of last year, President Donald Trump met with executives and working people at Harley-Davidson, promising that his proposed changes to tax law, trade, tariffs and other policies would help the company grow and working people would be the beneficiaries. This promise was widely made by Trump and other Republican advocates of the tax bill that Trump signed in December. But, as time goes on, we see, more and more, that the law not only isn't helping working people, it's making things worse.

Here are some of the key things you need to know about the tax law and the effects it has on working people (using Harley-Davidson as an example):

  • Harley-Davidson is laying off 800 workers at a Kansas City, Missouri, factory by the fall of 2019.

  • The company says it expects to add 450 full-time, casual and contractor positions to its plant in York, Pennsylvania. This is a net loss of 350 jobs, but considering that some of the new jobs aren't full-time, the loss is bigger.

  • The company just announced a dividend increase for shareholders and a stock buyback plan where it will purchase 15 million of its shares with a current value of just under $700 million.

  • In the first three months after Trump signed the tax bill, corporations have spent a record $178 billion in stock buybacks.

  • Harley-Davidson is a profitable company, making between $800 million and $1 billion in pre-tax profits.

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Executive Paywatch 2018: The Gap Between CEO and Worker Compensation Continues to Grow

CEO pay for major companies in the United States rose nearly 6% in the past year, as income inequality and the outsourcing of good-paying American jobs have increased. According to the new AFL-CIO Executive Paywatch, the average CEO of an S&P 500 Index company made $13.94 million in 2017—361 times more money than the average U.S. rank-and-file worker. The Executive Paywatch website, the most comprehensive searchable online database tracking CEO pay, showed that in 2017, the average production and nonsupervisory worker earned about $38,613 per year. When adjusted for inflation, the average wage has remained stagnant for more than 50 years.

"This year’s report provides further proof that the greed of corporate CEOs is driving America’s income inequality crisis," said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler. "Too many working people are struggling to get by, to afford the basics, to save for college, to retire with dignity while CEOs are paying themselves more and more. Our economy works best when consumers have money to spend. That means raising wages for workers and reining in out of control executive pay."

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Fighting for National Security: Worker Wins

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with airport workers fighting for national security and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.

Orlando TSA Workers Defeat Privatization Push: AFGE members who work in airport security at Orlando International Airport defeated attempts to privatize security at one of the busiest airports in the country. Despite Orlando being named the top airport in customer service satisfaction, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority previously voted to replace federally trained TSA officers with private screeners. Under pressure from AFGE members and an outraged public, GOAA reversed its earlier vote.

With Tuesday Victories, New Jersey Labor Candidates Program Notches 971st Victory: The New Jersey State AFL-CIO's labor candidates program continues to rack up victories. On Tuesday, Jerell Blakeley, a United Steelworkers (USW) Local 397 member, was elected to the Trenton City Council; Ed Osborne with Laborers (LIUNA) Local 1153 was elected to the Newark City Council; and Anthony Vauss with Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 68 was elected mayor of Irvington. Another candidate, Marge Caldwell Wilson, a member of Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1087, qualified for a runoff election for Trenton City Council.

Chicago Tribune Guild Reaches Historic Agreement with Tronc: Tronc, the company that operates the Chicago Tribune and numerous area publications, voluntarily recognized the Chicago Tribune Guild, which is an affiliate of The NewsGuild-CWA (TNG-CWA), after more than 85% of eligible employees signed cards supporting unionization. Leaders from the TNG-CWA said that voluntary recognition from a company as large as Tronc was unprecedented in their experience.

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Infrastructure Week Highlights the Need to Invest in the US

This week is Infrastructure Week, an annual event where an increasingly powerful coalition led by local, state and federal leaders, as well as both businesses and labor unions, demand massive and necessary investments to build America. This year’s Infrastructure Week comes at a time when 80% of voters say investing in America’s infrastructure is a top priority. America’s labor movement says the time to build is now.

 

In an op-ed, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said:

As unions, businesses, engineers and policy makers celebrate Infrastructure Week from May 14–21, we’re reflecting on the investments that add value to America. For every dollar a country spends on public infrastructure, it gets back nearly $3, according to a 2014 study from the International Monetary Fund.

Keep this in mind when you hear that the American Society of Civil Engineers, or ASCE, has called for $2 trillion to repair, renovate or replace water lines, public schools, bridges and mass transit systems. On top of that, another $2 trillion could make America the global leader in the infrastructure technologies of the future, such as high-speed rail and smart utilities.

That kind of serious infrastructure spending would create countless jobs in manufacturing. Enacting ironclad Buy America provisions would kick-start production in steel and other battered industries, putting millions of people to work and lifting wages. These broad economic benefits explain why year after year, the AFL-CIO joins with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to ask Congress to invest in America’s national infrastructure.

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7 Labor Activists You Should Know About for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Each May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, when we celebrate the accomplishments, culture and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Today, we are going to take a deeper look at members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community who have advanced the cause of worker justice. Here are seven labor activists who you should know about for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month:

 

Ai-jen Poo: Ai-jen Poo started organizing domestic workers in 1996 and helped found Domestic Workers United. In 2010, DWU was key in the passage of New York's Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, the first law in the country to guarantee domestic workers labor protections. The next year, DWU helped organize the first national meeting of domestic worker organizations, leading to the formation of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. She has been NDWA's director since 2010. Her other efforts on behalf of working people include Caring Across Generations, which campaigns for affordable health care for our aging population and for access to quality jobs for the caregiver workforce.

Larry Itliong: Born in the Philippines, Larry Itliong was a farm worker in California. In 1956, he founded the Filipino Farm Labor Union and later organized a group of Filipinos to strike against grape growers in Delano. For eight days they were harassed and faced violence and saw no progress. Itliong approached César Chávez and the two groups joined together to launch the Delano Grape Strike of 1965 that eventually led to the creation of the United Farm Workers (UFW). Chávez became director and Itliong assistant director. He continued to organize with the UFW and the Filipino American Political Alliance until his passing in 1977.

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15 Things You Need to Know from the 2018 Death on the Job Report

For the 27th year in a row, the AFL-CIO has produced Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect. The report gathers evidence on the state of safety and health protections for America’s workers. 

Passed in 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Act has saved the lives of more than 559,000 working people. President Barack Obama had a strong record of improving working conditions by strengthening enforcement, issuing key safety and health standards, and improving anti-retaliation and other protections for workers. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has moved aggressively on his deregulatory agenda, repealing and delaying job safety and other rules, and proposing deep cuts to the budget and the elimination of worker safety and health training programs. 

These are challenging times for working people and their unions, and the prospects for worker safety and health protections are uncertain. What is clear, however, is that the toll of workplace injury, illness and death remains too high, and too many workers remain at serious risk. There is much more work to be done. Here are 15 key things you need to know from this year’s report, which primarily covers data from 2016.

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Union Matters

In New York, the Art of a Deal Gone Bitterly Bad

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

“If you gain fame, power, or wealth,” the philosopher Philip Slater once noted, “you won’t have any trouble finding lovers, but they will be people who love fame, power, or wealth.” Tell me about it, David Mugrabi might be thinking right about now. The billionaire art dealer and his wife Libbie Mugrabi are currently contesting a bitter divorce that has the New York couple in and out of the courts and the headlines. In July, the two tussled in a tug-of-war over a $500,000 20-inch-tall Andy Warhol sculpture. Libbie claims the incident had her fearing for her life, and a friend has testified that David angrily called her and Libbie “low-lifes” and “gold-diggers.” The latest installment: Last Tuesday, lawyers argued over how much Libbie should get for a vacation she and their two kids will be taking this Thanksgiving. Libbie’s lawyer asked for an amount commensurate with the couple’s “$3.5-million-a-year lifestyle.” The judge okayed $4,000, then added: “No one’s going to starve in this family.”

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A Pattern of Poverty

A Pattern of Poverty