Category: From AFL-CIO

One Job Should Be Enough

From the AFL-CIO Staff

Weeks after more than 8,300 UNITE HERE members at Marriott hotels across the country voted to authorize strikes, management has still failed to resolve key contract issues, including workplace safety, job protections and a living wage. Ready to fight for their fundamental economic rights, workers are prepared to walk out without notice in San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland and San Jose, California; Oahu and Maui, Hawaii; Boston; Seattle and Detroit.

"8,300 UNITE HERE members have the courage and the power to take on the biggest hotel company in the world and are willing to fight to transform jobs they can’t survive on into careers where they can support their families with dignity," said UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor last week as strike headquarters opened across the country.

Workers have been in negotiations with Marriott for months, yet management has refused to ensure that one job is enough to sustain a family.

Marriott is the largest and richest hotel employer in the world, earning $22.8 billion in revenue last year and touting a total worth of $45 billion.

Find out more about this fight, and show your solidarity here!

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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Workers Working for A Safe and Prosperous Future

Joining union and environmental leaders from around the world, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) made clear that the labor movement is committed to combating climate change—but not at the expense of working people’s livelihoods and dignity. Speaking at the Labor Center at the University of California, Berkeley, yesterday, he argued that “as a labor movement, it is our job to ignite the flames of justice, not contain them. And that’s exactly how we’ll be successful in the fight against climate change: by demanding justice for working people and ensuring no one is left behind.

  • A global effort to combat climate change is fundamental to a safe and prosperous future but, as President Trumka reiterated today to thousands of attendees at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, that effort will succeed only if working people have a seat at the decision making table.
  • Check out a few highlights from the event below, and read President Trumka’s full remarks here.
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Whispers of the Wealthy Few

While the National Archives has made clear that it won’t be able to produce all documents relating to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until the end of October, Senate Republican leaders announced Friday that they will begin confirmation hearings on Sept. 4. As a result, the confirmation process will proceed without full access to some 900,000 pages of documents detailing Kavanaugh’s career and judicial record.

As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) recently told reporters: “Working people deserve a nominee who will extend the guarantees of the Constitution and the promises of our country to everyone who lives and works here. We don’t need another justice who only listens to the whispers of the wealthy few.”

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Stay Cool with These Ethical Summer Essentials

From Labor 411

Summer’s officially here and it’s time to tame those rays. Whether you’re embracing the blaze on a summer hike, beating the heat by the pool or enjoying that good old fun in the sun somewhere else, Labor 411 has a list of essentials for all your summer adventures. And when you choose one or more items from the list below, you will be supporting ethical companies that treat their employees well and give them good pay and benefits.

 

Drinks

  • Blumers Root Beer
  • Crystal Springs Water 
  • Dr. Pepper 
  • Gatorade 
  • Hawaiian Punch
  • Minute Maid Lemonade

Beer

  • Bud Light 
  • Budweiser 
  • Dundee Summer Wheat Beer 
  • Henry Weinhards Summer Wheat Ale 
  • Sam Adams Whitewater IPA

Hats 

  • Hatco 
  • Korber Hats 
  • Unionwear

Ice Cream 

  • Breyers 
  • Creamland 
  • Good Humor 
  • Hiland 
  • Perry’s 
  • Tillamook
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U.S. Trade Deals Mean Justice for Some, Not Justice for All

Celeste Drake

Celeste Drake Trade and Globalization Policy Specialist, AFL-CIO

2017 was another banner year of justice for sale, reveals the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s annual review of investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) cases. What’s the report say? It reveals lots of new ways global investors are undermining democracy in private tribunals.

What’s ISDS? It’s a private justice system. ISDS means any investor—usually a corporation, but sometimes an individual, who buys property in a foreign country, from a hectare of land to stocks and bonds—can use this private justice system to sue host countries over laws, regulations and court decisions that may affect the investor’s current or future profits.

ISDS means justice for some, rather than justice for all. Those with the means to become international wheeler-dealers can access ISDS. The rest of us have to rely on public courts—the same ones that investors say are “inadequate” to handle their needs. That’s not fair, and that’s not right.

In 2017, 65 new known cases were filed, for a total of 855 known ISDS cases. Some cases are secret, so we’ll never really know how many cases have been filed.

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Are We in a Trade War?

Celeste Drake

Celeste Drake Trade and Globalization Policy Specialist, AFL-CIO

TV pundits keep repeating that we’re in a “trade war.” What does that even mean?

Now, let’s tone down the rhetoric just a bit. Real wars, such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan, are deadly, dangerous, scary affairs. No one should confuse tariffs with real wars.

In terms of economics, the closest thing we have to a “war” is the relentless attack on workers that has been taking place for several decades as economic elites (including corporate CEOsbad actor employers and the 1% who don’t want to pay their fair share of taxes) have worked to rig global economic rules to benefit themselves at the expense of ordinary working people.  

The attack on workers has been waged on many fronts, from so-called “right to work” laws that deny our freedom, to regressive tax laws such as the recent Republican tax bill giving big tax breaks to companies that outsource jobs, to attacks on overtime pay and workplace safety, to defunding schools and meals for our children. The attack on workers also comes in the area of trade policy, and includes unfair, predatory actions by China. Trade attacks on workers are aided and abetted by greedy corporations that outsource jobs and abuse workers, and by U.S. officials of both political parties who have failed to stand up for us.

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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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A Dark Veil

From the AFL-CIO

The Trump administration yesterday rescinded the Department of Labor’s “persuader rule” requiring companies to disclose any consultants or lawyers contracted for anti-union persuasion efforts. The most recent in a series of anti-worker regulatory rollbacks, the decision has drawn harsh condemnation from union leaders and working people.

When the Labor Department issued its persuader rule in 2016, it was hailed as a win for workplace transparency. Workers would have the right to know when their bosses hired outside union-busters to influence organizing decisions.

Then-Secretary of Labor Tom Perez explained it would “ensure that workers have the information they need to make informed decisions about exercising critical workplace rights….Informed decisions are the best decisions.”

In the wake of yesterday’s announcement, AFL-CIO National Media Director Josh Goldstein slammed the administration’s decision to shield the “sinister practices of employers and their hired guns.” “By repealing the persuader rule, the Department of Labor is siding with corporate CEOs against good government and transparency,” Goldstein said. “They have thrown a dark veil over the shady groups employers hire to take away the freedoms of working people.”

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After Janus, Electrical Workers Show the Power is in Our Hands

By John Weber

The Supreme Court’s recent Janus decision was despicable, spitting in the face of decades of common-sense precedent. There’s no question about that.

But Janus is not the end of our fight.

Through every punch thrown at working people in our history—every wage-slashing boss, every union-busting law, every strike-breaking massacre—we have rallied together, stronger for our shared struggle.

Our future is and always has been in our own hands. We have never looked to Washington to strengthen or validate our movement.

So while pundits rush to blather in front of a camera, we’re doing the painstaking business of organizing—building the labor movement, person by person.

A few locals in particular are offering up powerful models for success.

Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1245, faced with a likely union-busting decision from the Supreme Court, knew that inaction wasn’t an option. Management and other anti-worker interests would be eager to launch an aggressive, well-funded anti-union campaign, undermining the local’s collective voice wherever they could.

The local’s members haven’t surrendered to a future decided by those forces. Instead, they’ve been rallying together and strengthening their union one conversation at a time.

At the direction of Business Manager Tom Dalzell, the local established and trained volunteer organizing committees (VOCs) at each of their 34 public sector worksites.

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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