Category: Union Matters

Equal Opportunity Shouldn’t End at “You’re Hired”

By Courtney Shaffer
USW Intern

Walmart, one of the world’s largest employers, is again facing the prospect of a class action lawsuit alleging the company discriminates in its promotion and pay practices, favoring men over women workers.

The complaint, filed on Nov. 6, mirrors one filed in 2001. In the earlier case,  1.6 million women gained class certification in 2004. But in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed that class action designation, claiming the case was too big. Since then, more than 2,000 women have filed new claims regarding workplace discrimination.

Walmart is supposed to be an equal opportunity employer. That means it would be illegal for Walmart to violate the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)’s anti-discrimination guidelines, not just in the hiring process, but in all aspects of paying and promoting workers.

The women who are plaintiffs in the current case claim Walmart continues to fail in this basic measure of employment equality.  They say that the criteria managers use to promote workers does not always include industry experience or job performance, often leaving qualified, experienced women out of the running for better jobs.

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Fighting Tax Cuts for the Rich

From the AFL-CIO

The AFL-CIO and our allies are fighting for tax and budget policies that meet the needs of working people.

Real tax reform will close the loopholes that give massive tax breaks to companies that outsource jobs and profits, and require millionaires and Wall Street to pay their fair share.

Responsible lawmakers will use tax revenue to create good jobs for working people now and in the future, while still funding critically important programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The $1.5 trillion tax cut hailed by House Republican leaders isn’t reform. It’s just another giveaway to the rich and powerful, while working people pay the tab.

Tell Congress to reject the GOP tax "reform" bill!

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October Jobless Rate Falls to 4.1 Percent; 252,000 Jobs Created

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

The U.S. unemployment rate declined to 4.1 percent in October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. Businesses claimed to create a net of 252,000 new jobs last month, a separate survey said, but much of that came from restoring jobs lost to hurricanes. Governments added 9,000, all in local schools and the federal government.

The figures do not reflect the full impact of the hurricanes, as jobless numbers for the states don’t come out until later in November and BLS doesn’t survey Puerto Rico. But private surveys there, in data before two of the hurricanes smashed the commonwealth to smithereens, showed a jobless rate triple that of the mainland U.S.

On the mainland, the number of jobless declined by 281,000, to 6.52 million, BLS said. But other statistics were not as positive.

One of every four jobless workers has been out more than 26 weeks, meaning they’ve exhausted their unemployment benefits. The biggest job gains were in the lowest-paying sectors of the economy, all as usual in services: +88,500 in bars and restaurants, which is the lowest of all, followed by +22,000 jobs in health care and the hiring of 18,000 more temps.

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So-Called “Job Creator” CEO Worth Billions Slashes Jobs for “Financial Reasons”

Last week, workers at two popular New York City news sites, DNAInfo and Gothamist, voted to unionize. This week, CEO Joe Ricketts announced he was shutting down both platforms due to financial reasons.

As much as Joe likes to make it seem as if this was merely a decision about poor profits, a far more sinister picture can be seen as the workers faced pushback from upper management while they were attempting to organize. They were told unionizing might be “the final straw that caused the business to close.” Joe himself even wrote, “As long as it’s my money that’s paying for everything, I intend to be the one making the decisions about the direction of the business.”

Joe, a Trump supporter whose net worth is $2.1 billion, is supposed to be one of those “job creators” Republicans like to put on a pedestal. Yet he is doing the exact opposite by getting rid of 115 hard-working employees whose work is beloved by New York neighborhoods. Worse, he very likely did it as punishment.

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AFL-CIO Top Three Officers Re-Elected

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

AFL-CIO convention delegates re-elected the union federation’s top three officers to new terms without opposition. They also elected a slate of 55 members to the group’s Executive Council.

President Richard Trumka of the Mine Workers, Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler of the Electrical Workers and Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre are each scheduled to serve another four years in office.          

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How Lowercase is Helping to Bring American-Made Eyewear Back to Life

Scott Paul

Scott Paul Director, AAM

In 2015, former investment analyst Gerard Masci and architect Brian Vallario launched Lowercase to make high-quality American-made eyewear. But after decades of offshoring, many of the secrets behind American eyewear manufacturing had been lost, and the pair had to start from scratch. In this episode, Masci and Vallario tell The Manufacturing Report how they did it -- earning accolades from The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere -- and where they hope to take the company next.

New Study Finds Startling Rate of Poverty among Working-Class Families

A new study prepared by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has found that the federal minimum wage is too low to keep working families out of poverty.

Twenty percent of working families earning the $7.25 minimum wage or below live in poverty, according to the report, which has prompted 30 Senate Democrats to sign onto a bill introduced by Sens. Sanders and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), which would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024.

"As this new report shows, $7.25 minimum wage is a starvation wage that is not enough to keep working families out of poverty." Sanders said. "The United States Congress must raise the minimum wage to a living wage.”

The GAO also found, not surprisingly, that higher wages were associated with lower poverty rates. Unfortunately, low-wage workers – those earning $16 per hour or less – comprise about 40 percent of the U.S. workforce aged 25 to 64. Millions of them are living in poverty and relying on government programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

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Turkish Sentencing of Wall Street Journal Reporter Horrifies News Guild

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Turkey’s sentencing of Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak horrifies The News Guild-CWA, which sees it as part of the government’s campaign to shut down criticism, Guild President Bernie Lunzer says.

On October 10, A Turkish court sentenced Albayrak to 25 months in prison on charges that she engaged in “terrorist propaganda in support of a banned Kurdish separatist organization,” the Journal reported.

The “propaganda” was an article two years ago about the Kurdish insurgency in eastern Turkey and its local impact.

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Living Wage Preemption Act

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower Author, Commentator, America’s Number One Populist

The governors of many states are boldly stepping forward these days to stop grassroots democracy.

Yes, noting that local citizens and officials have been passing local laws to govern themselves, a flock of right-wing governors are asserting an autocratic power called “state preemption” to overrule democratic decisions made by locals. Why do these governors hate democracy? Because their corporate funders don’t like some of the laws local people support – so democracy must go! This is not a matter of a rogue governor here or there, but a coordinated effort by corporate interests to get governors to usurp local authority.

Check out the full commentary here.

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Supreme Court Case Threatens Workers’ Rights to Stand Up for Themselves

By Courtney Shaffer
Intern, USW Communications

The Supreme Court began its fall term with a case that could have a big impact on the ways workers can hold their employers legally accountable, potentially limiting their rights to file collective suits against employers who have committed crimes like discrimination or wage theft.

Currently some 10 million Americans, more than half of private-sector non-union workers, have been required to sign class action waivers as a condition of employment, agreements that force workers into individual arbitration rather than collective suits, should one choose to sue their company for any reason. The Supreme Court, which began hearing testimony this month, will determine if these mandates are legal.

Employers love arbitration because it heavily favors them. They can divide workers, even when their experiences are similar, and they can bury systematic exploitation, forcing each worker to hire his or her own lawyer and make his or her individual case behind closed doors.  

For example, the current Supreme Court case, National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil, began when Murphy Oil routinely failed to compensate employees who worked before and after their scheduled shifts. After realizing they could not collectively sue Murphy Oil for stealing their overtime pay, the workers’ only option was to file claims individually in arbitration hearings.

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Union Matters

Equal Opportunity Shouldn’t End at “You’re Hired”

By Courtney Shaffer
USW Intern

Walmart, one of the world’s largest employers, is again facing the prospect of a class action lawsuit alleging the company discriminates in its promotion and pay practices, favoring men over women workers.

The complaint, filed on Nov. 6, mirrors one filed in 2001. In the earlier case,  1.6 million women gained class certification in 2004. But in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed that class action designation, claiming the case was too big. Since then, more than 2,000 women have filed new claims regarding workplace discrimination.

Walmart is supposed to be an equal opportunity employer. That means it would be illegal for Walmart to violate the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)’s anti-discrimination guidelines, not just in the hiring process, but in all aspects of paying and promoting workers.

The women who are plaintiffs in the current case claim Walmart continues to fail in this basic measure of employment equality.  They say that the criteria managers use to promote workers does not always include industry experience or job performance, often leaving qualified, experienced women out of the running for better jobs.

More ...

A CEO's Tax Dream

A CEO's Tax Dream