Category: From AFL-CIO

Trump Joins Attack on Worker Freedoms

From the AFL-CIO

President Donald Trump has once again broken his word by siding with powerful corporations over regular working people. The Trump administration is seeking to abandon decades of settled law in order to take away the basic freedom of millions of working people to have a voice on the job. The U.S. Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, could undermine the ability of nurses, teachers and other public workers to negotiate over pay, benefits and workplace safety.

America’s labor movement urges Trump to stop backing powerful corporations and start supporting working people.


The Janus case is a well-funded and blatantly political plot to use the highest court in the land to further rig the economic rules against everyday working people.

The billionaire CEOs and corporate interests behind this case, and the politicians who do their bidding, have teamed up to strike at our freedom to come together in strong unions.

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Holiday Pay for Holiday Workers

From the AFL-CIO

The holidays are a time that everyone holds dear. Working people do more than just enjoy the holidays. From the food on our holiday meal table to holiday shopping, working women and men help make the holidays happen.

That’s why it’s particularly shameful that Walmart eliminated holiday pay for its workers in 2016. As the nation’s largest employer, Walmart should set the bar for other employers.

No matter your beliefs, the holidays are a time when people come together and celebrate all the goodness that unites us. Walmart should honor the sacrifices made by its workers to make the holidays happen and commit to fair compensation for those employees.

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Working People Need a Strong CFPB with a Leader Who Supports Its Existence

Heather Slavkin Corzo

Heather Slavkin Corzo Director of the Office of Investment, AFL-CIO

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created after the Great Recession of 2008 wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy, causing millions of families to lose their homes to foreclosure and forcing millions of working people onto the unemployment rolls. Its mission is to protect working people from tricks and traps in consumer financial products like home mortgages and credit cards.

The CFPB has proven extremely effective. Since its creation in 2010, the bureau has returned $12 billion to consumers wronged by lenders. Twenty-nine million consumers have received relief.

The bureau owes much of its success to strong leadership. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) originally had the idea to create the CFPB when she was a law professor at Harvard and led the bureau in its infancy. In 2012, she was succeeded by Richard Cordray, who had a strong record of pursuing wrongdoing against consumers as Ohio attorney general before his time at the CFPB.

Cordray, however, resigned last week, and President Donald Trump named Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to replace him.

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AFL-CIO Files Shareholder Action Asking Nike to Pay Its Share of Taxes

In the wake of the release of the so-called Paradise Papers, the AFL-CIO sent a shareholder proposal to Nike asking the world's largest sports brand to stop using tax-avoidance schemes that have allowed the company to avoid paying $4 billion in U.S. taxes. That money could be used to fund infrastructure, schools and health care.

The Paradise Papers helped shine a spotlight on the practices used by companies like Nike to avoid paying taxes on earnings they make in the United States. Nike is a client of the offshore law firm Appleby, which helped Nike shift the billions in profits through such methods as transferring ownership of trademarks, including Nike’s iconic swoosh logo, to a Bermudian subsidiary and then to a Dutch limited partnership.

The AFL-CIO’s shareholder proposal will go to a vote at Nike’s 2018 annual meeting and has been co-filed by Domini Investments. The proposal asks Nike to adopt a set of "responsible tax principles" that include:

  • Considering the impact of Nike’s global tax strategies on local economies and government services that benefit Nike;
  • Annually reviewing Nike’s tax strategies and assessing the alignment between the use of such strategies and Nike’s stated values or goals regarding sustainability;
  • Periodically assessing the reputational consequences, including views of customers, shareholders and employees, of engaging in practices deemed to be "tax avoidance" by such stakeholders; and
  • Ensuring that Nike seeks to pay tax where value is created.
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Two Workers Assassinated in Mexico: NAFTA Renegotiation Is More Important Now Than Ever

Celeste Drake AFL-CIO

The need to fundamentally improve the labor provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement took on a new urgency over the weekend, as a group of armed civilians, calling themselves the “Tonalapa Community Police,” (Policía Comunitaria de Tonalapa) attacked striking workers, killing two, at the Media Luna mine in Guerrero, Mexico. The murders occurred just five hours south of Mexico City, where representatives from the United States, Canada and Mexico are in the midst of their fifth round of talks about rewriting NAFTA.

The aggressors, meanwhile, were released after being briefly detained by an army squadron.

The striking workers, who want to be represented by the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Related Workers of the Mexican Republic (Los Mineros) and are demanding the removal of the employer-dominated "labor" federation CTM (Confederación de Trabajadores de México), identified local CTM leaders as among those responsible for the attack. The practice of false unions siding with the employer over workers is a common feature of Mexico’s failed labor relations model. Employer-dominated "labor" federations are antithetical to the idea of democratic worker-led unions whose goal is to help workers build better lives.

The strike, which has been joined by residents of nearby communities of Cocula, Eduardo Neri and Tepecoacuilco, began in response to longstanding demands over pay, safety equipment and decent food. The workers and local residents maintain that the mine has broken a string of promises to its employees and the communities. The Mexican mining company, Media Luna, is owned by a Canadian global corporation, Torex Gold Resources.

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Working People are Tackling High Drug Costs Through State-Level Reforms

By Shaun O'Brien and Christine-Silvia De-Gennaro

Despite all of the talk in Washington, D.C., about health care, Congress and Donald Trump have done nothing to deal with the No. 1 health care problem facing working people. Surging health care prices—especially prescription drug prices—are putting ever-increasing pressure on family budgets, workers' health plans and public health programs.

Consider this: the average annual cost of a brand-name drug grew to $5,807 in 2015, more than three times what it was in 2006 ($1,788), according to AARP’s most recent analysis of widely used brand-name prescription drugs. There also have been instances of immense overnight increases in the price of some generic drugs. For example, drug manufacturer Rodelis raised the price of Seromycin, its off-patent tuberculosis drug, from $500 to $10,800 for a 30-day supply.

While federal policy makers ignore the problem with drug prices, working people are calling on their elected state representatives to take action. In two states—Nevada and California—working people have won important breakthroughs this year, establishing new rules requiring prescription drug corporations to be more transparent about their prices and the reasons for them, especially when drug prices go up by large amounts.

In Nevada, a coalition of unions spearheaded by the Culinary Workers Union and including the Nevada State AFL-CIO led the fight to win enactment of diabetes medication price transparency rules. Under this first-in-the-nation law, corporations that manufacture essential diabetes drugs must explain any price increases that are larger than the price increases for medical care overall. Between 2002–2013, the price of insulin jumped by nearly 200%. With 12.4% of adult Nevadans having diabetes, and 38.5% with pre-diabetes, such a large price increase hurt working people and their health plans and raised serious concerns about whether these increases were justified. The new law also requires prescription drug manufacturers to provide the state with a list of all of their sales representatives operating in Nevada, and those sales representatives must submit annual reports disclosing their activities. Further, a nonprofit group in Nevada that advocates for patients or funds medical research has to disclose any payments, donations or anything else of value it receives from a prescription drug manufacturer or certain other drug-related corporations or lobbying groups. The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Yvanna D. Cancela, who represents Nevada’s District 10 and is a member of Culinary Workers Union Local 226.

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A Not-So-Modest Proposal to Reform NAFTA

Celeste Drake AFL-CIO

The next NAFTA negotiation round officially begins Nov. 17, and the news isn't all bad. It may sound crazy, but the same administration that put a Goldman Sachs and OneWest operative in charge of the Treasury Department and an anti-public school advocate in charge of the Department of Education recently made a NAFTA proposal that would nearly eliminate the private corporate justice system known as ISDS (investor-to-state dispute settlement).

This proposal alone is not enough to fix NAFTA's many shortcomings, but it is a step in the right direction. As trade activists know, ISDS is nothing more than a crony capitalist giveaway that reduces our power as citizens to impact our government. It gives foreign companies the right to use private tribunals to attack local, state and national decisions they deem not "fair and equitable." This private justice system has been used to attack worker training programs, local building permit decisions and even criminal indictments of corporate CEOs.

For the United States, NAFTA’s ISDS means our democratic choices are threatened and foreign companies have as much sovereignty as the U.S. government. It acts like a free insurance policy that rewards outsourcing. It provides an edge for foreign companies over small, local businesses. For our trading partners, the corporate power of ISDS is even more insidious, because their governments are not as powerful as our own. In other words, it is a win-win for global companies (no matter what country they like to call "home") and a lose-lose for workers that makes it even harder to join together to negotiate for better wages—no matter where we live or work.

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Republicans Defeat the ‘Stop Outsourcing of American Jobs’ Amendment

When the House Ways and Means Committee debated the GOP tax bill yesterday, Republicans voted down the “Stop Outsourcing of American Jobs” amendment offered by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas).

The “Stop Outsourcing of American Jobs” amendment would require that multinational corporations looking to invest offshore pay the same tax rate as small businesses or domestic companies investing here in America. The amendment was defeated on a party-line vote, with 16 Democrats voting in favor and 23 Republicans voting against.

This is what Rep. Doggett had to say in support of his amendment:

“President Trump has made stopping the outsourcing of American jobs a central element of his promise to the American people. Unfortunately, like his promise to have Mexico pay for his unnecessary wall, it’s very much a broken promise. 

“It is flat wrong that the corner pharmacy should have to pay a rate that is substantially higher on its operations than Pfizer on its operations. My amendment ensures that both are treated the same way—that we tax profits earned abroad the same way that they are taxed here at home.

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International Convention Guests Visit Granite City and Learn How Bad Trade Policies Affect Illinois Steelworkers

Brian Finnegan AFL-CIO

More than 60 international labor guests attending the AFL-CIO convention in St. Louis, Mo.,crossed the river to Granite City, Ill., to visit the United Steelworkers Locals at the U.S. Steel plant that has operated there for decades.

Granite City and its Labor Temple that serves as the union hall for United Steelworkers (USW) Locals 1899, 50 and 68, have an illustrious place in U.S. labor history and progressive politics. These days, however, the community is feeling the impact of short-sighted trade policies that lead to fewer good jobs and local resources.

The week before Christmas in 2015, the plant was idled and laid off more than 2,000 people because of years of these bad trade laws and weak enforcement. This has allowed unfair competition that distorts markets and prices of steel. As the economy recovers from the 2008 financial crisis, demand for U.S.-made steel lags behind. Even with heavy investment in state-of-the-art production, U.S. plants can't compete with companies that have financial backing from governments like that of China.

There are now about 600 workers at the plant, but as one worker said to the visitors, "We're not making any steel here. We're finishing the steel made somewhere else."

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The Top Reasons Why the Republican Tax Bill is Bad for Working People

By AFL-CIO Staff

Working people have forced the House GOP to stall the release of a bad and unpopular plan to slash taxes for the rich by cutting services and tax breaks for working families. America’s labor movement will fight every attempt by Donald Trump to give preference to millionaires and billionaires and hand working people the tab. Here are the top ways the Republican tax bill will hurt working people:

1. This bill is a job killer. The GOP tax bill would give companies a huge tax break for outsourcing. U.S. taxes on offshore profits would be eliminated, giving big corporations even more incentive to move jobs offshore.

2. Republicans are proposing to (partially) pay for tax cuts with drastic cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and education. The GOP budget includes $5 trillion in budget cuts, including $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid and Medicare, an increase in the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, and an end to Medicare’s guarantee of health coverage.

3. But the GOP tax bill still won't be paid for, so we can expect Republicans to demand more budget cuts that hurt working people in the future. The Republican budget allows for $1.5 trillion in tax cuts that are not paid for in the first decade, and these tax cuts are structured to cost even more in future decades. First the Wall Street millionaires throw themselves a party, then they stick the rest of us with the tab.

4. The GOP tax bill would increase taxes on many middle-class families, and most of its tax breaks would go to the top 1%. According to independent analysis of the previous version of the GOP tax plan, 30% of households making between $50,000 and $150,000 would pay more in taxes, while the richest 1% would walk away with 80% of the tax breaks. Republicans have made some adjustments to their tax bill, but it still is heavily weighted toward the top.

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Union Matters

Newly-Organized Workers Face CEO Backlash

Earlier this month, workers at two popular New York City news sites, DNA Info and Gothamist, voted to unionize. Then CEO Joe Ricketts announced he was shutting down both platforms due to financial reasons.

As much as Joe likes to make it seem like 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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The Truth about Social Security

The Truth about Social Security