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AFL-CIO Urges Navient To Do Business Legally

Richard_Trumka

Institutional investor draws attention to company’s alleged abuse of student loan borrowers

(Washington, D.C.) AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka sent a letter to Navient yesterday questioning whether the mammoth student loan servicer has the necessary internal controls to prevent it from violating the law and losing lucrative government contracts.

“As a long-term institutional investor in Navient and its predecessor Sallie Mae, the AFL-CIO has a profound interest in the company’s performance. We are concerned by Navient’s alleged legal violations involving student loan borrowers. Since government investigations are still ongoing, we are asking those responsible for keeping Navient on the right side of the law to discuss our concerns as soon as possible,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

Over the past year, Navient has had legal troubles involving their treatment of military members. In May, it was part of a settlement that agreed to pay $97 million over allegations from the Department of Justice and the FDIC that it overcharged 60,000 active duty military members on their student loans and that it mishandled their payments to maximize late fees in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is also investigating the company’s servicing practices and the Department of Education is reviewing whether the company breached its contract.

“While the men and women of our armed forces were protecting our country, Navient mishandled their loan payments. These types of business practices are unacceptable,” added James Gilbert, Director of the AFL-CIO’s Union Veterans Council and a veteran of the US Navy.

“Navient’s alleged servicing violations are significantly harming its reputation and are jeopardizing its role as a government contractor,” said Heather Slavkin Corzo, Director of the AFL-CIO’s Office of Investment. “Taking financial advantage of soldiers is horrifyingly wrong. The allegations that Navient failed to comply with regulations, if true, pose a real risk to the larger business.”

A copy of the letter can be found at the link below:https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7WDMtzVyAYQSVpjNDBZNVhDYzQ/edit

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Immigration Accountability Executive Action

Immigration rally Nashua 4-6-13 (credit Arnie Alpert)

Today is an important step toward rational and humane enforcement of immigration law. On behalf of America’s workers, we applaud the Administration’s willingness to act.  We have been calling upon the White House to halt unnecessary deportations since Spring 2013 because our broken immigration system is an invitation for employer manipulation and abuse, and U.S.-born workers as well as immigrant workers are paying the price.

By extending relief and work authorization to an estimated 4 million people, the Obama Administration will help prevent unscrupulous employers from using unprotected workers to drive down wages and conditions for all workers in our country.  Although this fix will be temporary, it will allow millions of people to live and work without fear, and afford them the status to assert their rights on the job.

The Administration is operating within its authority to advance the moral and economic interests of our country, and while we stand ready to defend this program, we must also be clear that it is only a first step.  Unfortunately, more than half of those who currently lack legal protections will remain vulnerable to wage theft, retaliation, and other forms of exploitation.

In addition, we are concerned by the President’s concession to corporate demands for even greater access to temporary visas that will allow the continued suppression of wages in the tech sector.  We will actively engage in the rulemaking process to ensure that new workers will be hired based on real labor market need and afforded full rights and protections.

But this announcement does move us forward – progress that is attributable to the courage and determination of immigrants who rallied, petitioned, fasted and blocked streets to make it happen.  Implementation of the executive action should begin immediately, before further delays open the door for legislative obstruction. Starting tomorrow, the administration should focus enforcement attention on high level targets, stop the community raids and leave workers, grandmothers, and schoolchildren in peace.

Going forward, we renew our call for comprehensive reform that provides a path to citizenship and real protections for workers.  We will continue to stand with all workers, regardless of status, to ensure that their voices are heard and their rights are protected.  Working together, we know that we will ultimately achieve a more just immigration system that promotes shared prosperity and respects the dignity of all workers.

Worker Wins Update: Workers Organize to Create New Jobs, Secure Scheduling Reform

Stand Up Live Better WalMart

WASHINGTON, DC– Workers across the country have stood up in the past month to fight for better wages and working conditions.

The following are a sample of victories won by workers:

Organizing and Community Victories

Walmart Workers Stage Nationwide Black Friday Protests: Walmart workers were joined by unions and community allies in staging approximately 1,600 protests against the corporation’s low wages and hostile work environments on Black Friday. This is the third year in a row that workers have staged Black Friday protests, with this year’s being the biggest yet.

Workers Fight for $15: Workers in a diverse set of sectors, from airline workers to retail employees, joined fast food workers in a nationwide strike across 190 cities. Workers spoke out for a $15 minimum wage and the right to organize for better working conditions and workplace fairness.

Boston Bike Share Workers Vote to Unionize: Employees of Hubway, a Boston-based bike share company, voted overwhelmingly to join Transport Workers Union Local 100. The workers, including mechanics, technicians, and dispatchers, are part of a national campaign to organize bike share workers.

Workers Defy Anti-Union Efforts, Vote to Organize: Approximately 150 workers at an Alabama copper parts plant voted to organize as members of the United Steelworkers after extensive efforts by Governor Robert Bentley to dissuade workers from unionizing.

Nurses and Hospital Workers Establish Union at Two Connecticut Hospitals: Nearly 1,000 radiology technologists, respiratory clinicians, and nurses have voted to form unions at two hospitals in Connecticut. The workers will be represented by AFT Connecticut and had filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board after hospital administrators attempted to halt efforts by intimidating workers.

Boston Parking Attendants Look to Expand Organizing Efforts: Parking attendants in Boston are working to organize approximately 1,600 workers in the Boston area in an attempt to improve working conditions and substandard pay. Parking workers have won contracts with five parking companies in the Boston area over the last two years, and aim to organize at least three additional companies in the area.

Pittsburgh Workers Making Gains: Efforts by workers in the Pittsburgh area have resulted in successful organizing drives at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Rivers Casino, local universities and downtown offices. Currently, local unions are in the process of organizing roughly 1,000 security guards throughout the greater Pittsburgh area.

Los Angeles Workers Come to Agreement, Create Jobs: Approximately 250 new manufacturing jobs will be created in Los Angeles thanks to the efforts of workers negotiating with business and government interests. The workers at a facility, which will be producing light rail trains, will now be free to decide on whether to join a union thanks to a neutrality agreement negotiated by IBEW Local 11.

San Francisco Workers Win Critical Scheduling Reforms: The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved legislation that would require retailers with 20 or more locations that employ more than 20 people to give two weeks’ notice for any change in a worker’s schedule. This legislation will assist those working low-wage jobs with unpredictable schedules, such as single mothers and fathers, obtain certainty with their expected hours worked.

Facebook Bus Drivers Organize in San Francisco: Over eighty bus drivers employed by Facebook voted to organize as part of a growing effort in Silicon Valley’s tech sector to win better wages and benefits for low wage workers.

 

Senator Liz Warren To Keynote AFL-CIO Summit On Wages

Senator Elizabeth liz Warren

Major Event to Launch Bold Year of Action

(Washington, D.C.) – The AFL-CIO announced today that Senator Elizabeth Warren will deliver the keynote address during the first-ever National Summit on Wages next month. On January 7, 2015, at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., Senator Warren will headline a vibrant mix of contributors to the summit that will lay claim to a bold progressive strategy immediately as the New Year opens.

“Elizabeth Warren is a true champion of working people with the right vision and leadership to keynote this critical summit,” AFL-CIO President Trumka said. “Senator Warren knows how to protect Main Street from Wall Street, fight for jobs and rebuild the American Dream. She has a defined set of values and unlike many politicians, she actually sticks by those and fights to implement them. That’s exactly what this summit is all about.”

Announced last month, the summit will be an extended, eclectic discussion about policies and strategies to raise wages in America, including significant interaction with a planned audience of more than 300. The focus will be solving the dilemma of income inequality by raising wages throughout America.

“Hardworking people across the country deserve to earn fair and decent wages so they can build a better future for themselves and for their kids,” said Senator Warren. “The AFL-CIO’s National Summit on Wages will give us a chance to ramp up our efforts to grow opportunities for America’s working families and strengthen our middle class.”

The urgent need for the Summit was reinforced on November 4.  On Election Day, voters made clear their support for raising wages, even as they rejected candidates who wouldn’t boldly stand up for that agenda.

Further details about the Summit will be announced later this month.

Statement By AFL-CIO Pres. Trumka On OUR Walmart Black Friday Protests

Image via WikiCommon

www.BlackFridayProtests.org

As the Walton family indulges in their own Thanksgiving meal, many Walmart workers who help keep them rich can’t afford food for their families. On Black Friday, the entire labor movement will proudly stand with the brave workers at Walmart as they lead the largest mobilization to date for better wages and schedules. Their courage is inspiring and powerful in the fight for all workers.

The low-down, low-cost, low-wage, low-road Walmart model is wrecking America, causing real pain for workers, and it’s wrong. In an economy where too many people who work still can’t make ends meet, it’s the economic and moral responsibility of businesses to step up. Walmart can continue its dangerous business model or it can lead the way to family-sustaining jobs.

The Walton family is worth $150 billion, but that isn’t enough to silence working people or keep us from fighting for what’s right. Local labor movements across the country join with community groups and allies to amplify Walmart workers’ call for the company to publicly commit to $15 an hour and full-time, consistent hours. There comes a time when we’ve got to stand for justice, for good pay, for good jobs, for our future, for our families and for each other. And that time is now, so all Americans can have a Happy Thanksgiving.

AFL-CIO Seeks End to “Revolving Door” Payments

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Large financial institutions give bonuses to their employees for taking jobs in government.

(Washington DC) AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka today sent letters to seven large Wall Street banks calling for the banks to explain questionable compensation practices. Each bank (Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Lazard) provides the opportunity for additional compensation to employees who leave the bank to work for the government.

As an institutional investor, the AFL-CIO has called on each bank’s compensation committee to offer a detailed explanation of how bankers leaving their company to enter government service benefits their old employer.

“When senior executives leave Wall Street companies to work in the government, that means the loss of valuable human capital,” said Heather Slavkin Corzo, Director of the AFL-CIO’s Office of Investment. “So how is it in the interest of shareholders to allow for accelerated vesting or other incentives in exchange for leaving the company?  Unless the position of these companies is that this is just a backdoor way to pay off a newly minted government official to act in Wall Street’s private interests rather than the public interest, it is very difficult to see how these policies promote long-term shareholder value.”

Copies of the letter can be found at the links below:

Morgan Stanley:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7WDMtzVyAYQZkZFTTlWWE1JN0U/view?usp=sharing

Citigroup:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7WDMtzVyAYQQXJDVkZLM0pTckk/view?usp=sharing

Goldman Sachs:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7WDMtzVyAYQbEJETHNObkRDSWs/view?usp=sharing

JP Morgan Chase:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7WDMtzVyAYQZF9BOXFSV2NLSkE/view?usp=sharing

Bank of America:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7WDMtzVyAYQdm5lanFzWkRNWlE/view?usp=sharing

Wells Fargo:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7WDMtzVyAYQNHVSTVEyajY1REE/view?usp=sharing

Lazard:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7WDMtzVyAYQMlFkRXc3SmRaYVE/view

 

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Pending State Legislative Battles

Richard_Trumka

In the wake of last Tuesday’s elections, many state and local politicians have already begun to signal their intent to wage assaults on working people in their states. While national political pundits debate outcomes, the AFL-CIO and its allies also have a keen eye on the developments at state and local levels.

We have no illusions there are radical politicians who are far more concerned with appeasing their corporate donors and being a tool for groups like ALEC than standing for working family issues. This is despite the fact that the Raising Wages agenda remain of upmost important to most Americans. A majority of the electorate are struggling economically and sixty-eight percent of voters agree that raising wages is good for workers and the economy. The majority of people want rights at work. We want the ability to stay home if we’re sick. We want fair and equal pay. And we believe if you work for and earn a pension, you should get it.

Make no mistake that the labor movement is more prepared and ready to combat these attacks than ever before.

We also know that this fight will not be the labor movement’s alone. We are fully engaged with our allies in the community and more importantly know that the values we stand for are in complete sync with the majority of Americans. It will take a collective effort to preserve and expand our values, and we are up to the task.

AFL-CIO Summit Focused On Real-World Job Skills And Economic Prosperity

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Career and Technical Education/Workforce Development Summit Focuses on Effective Pathways to Graduation, Real-World Job Skills, Economic Prosperity

Vice-President-Joe-Biden-to-Deliver-Remarks-for-AFL-CIO-AFT-Career-and-Technical-Education-Summit_blog_post_fullWidthWASHINGTON—Career and technical education and workforce development create multiple pathways to high school and higher education graduation, real-world job skills and economic prosperity, speakers including Vice President Joe Biden said today at the first Career and Technical Education/Workforce Development Summit. It was co-hosted by the American Federation of Teachers and the AFL-CIO.

Vice President Biden said school-employer partnerships provide a path to a middle- class life. “These partnerships provide a seamless transition so folks can go from a classroom to a job, and from job to job within the industry they’re in,” he said, adding, “We have to maintain and enhance our workforce so we have the most sophisticated, best-trained workforce in the world.”

Summit speakers emphasized that today’s CTE programs are very different from yesterday’s vocational education programs. CTE has been reimagined to bring together all the players needed to make it succeed—students, teachers, businesses and other employers, and higher education institutions.

“CTE has the promise and potential to help equip a new generation of workers with the skills and knowledge needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow, and to forge a new path to college and life,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “It’s a way for our high schools, community colleges and other higher education institutions, and businesses to coordinate and align so they can create and sustain good, middle-class jobs.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said short-term challenges are flat wages and lack of jobs, while the long-term goal must be to regain America’s competitive edge.

“Workforce development won’t be a cure-all, but it is a necessary ingredient. What we need is a full, comprehensive system for lifelong learning. I’m talking about everything from high school programs to community colleges to apprenticeship programs to on-the-job learning. We all benefit when workers develop transferrable skills, so we can move among employers if we want and grow as professionals throughout our working lives,” Trumka said.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler said CTE and workforce development are a fundamental part of America’s infrastructure. “It’s as basic to our economy and our communities as building roads and bridges. In fact, workforce development is a bridge—a bridge to our future, to the workers, jobs and technology of tomorrow, to our success as individuals and industries, and to our competitiveness as a nation.”

Alexis Smith is a graduate of the Toledo Technology Academy and now studying biomedical engineering at the University of Toledo.

“My experience at Toledo Tech opened up the doors of opportunity for me to delve into my passion,” Smith said. Of other former and current CTE students speaking at the summit, she said, “We are Exhibit ‘A’ for the power of CTE to engage us in our studies, to help us secure a bright future and to have fun at the same time.”

Among the corporate leaders at the summit validating the importance of CTE programs was Snap-on Inc. Chairman and CEO Nicholas Pinchuk.

“We are in a global competition for jobs,” Pinchuk said. “The single best weapon is CTE. We need to outskill the competition.”

Weingarten noted that for CTE to fulfill its potential, more businesses need to partner with educators and schools to offer a path forward for students with internships, apprenticeships and employment opportunities. This was reinforced in a survey of 570 CTE teachers that the AFT released today.

The teachers uniformly believe in CTE as a way to create opportunity for kids, but said they need the equipment and resources to make the work real and need more partners in business and the community to step up.

“Understanding the realities of the workplace and learning how to apply skills can only improve a student’s chance of success after high school,” a New York teacher said in the survey. A Michigan teacher wrote: “I have seen CTE classes, and the skills learned in them change students’ lives. They give many unmotivated students a reason to perform better in school, and they give many motivated students access to forms of expression and outlets they wouldn’t otherwise have.”

Weingarten noted the summit took place just a few days after the polarizing midterm elections. “CTE is a strategy that both Republicans and Democrats believe in and can agree on, so I have great hope that we can move this agenda in Washington, D.C.”

Worker Wins Update: Workers Make Gains in Workplace and Ballot Box

I Voted

WASHINGTON, DC– Workers across the country have stood up in recent months for fair wages and better working conditions through organizing and ballot initiative campaigns.

The following are a sample of victories won by workers:

Organizing and Community Victories

Boilermakers Make Progress at Virginia Manufacturer: Workers at the Steel Fab manufacturing company in Lebanon, Virginia voted to become members of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers on September 19th.

Texas Machinists Vote for a Union:  One thousand mechanics, technicians, and maintenance personnel at the Red River Army Depot near Texarkana, TX successfully organized into the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).  This victory follows successful campaigns by workers earlier this year where 925 employees joined the union at the Corpus Christi Army Depot in Corpus Christi, Texas.

New Jersey AFL-CIO Nonprofit Joins Forces with Hudson County to Form Immigrant Naturalization and Empowerment Center: The New Jersey State AFL-CIO Community Services Inc. has partnered with Hudson County to create an immigrant advocacy center, to help thousands of legal immigrants achieve full citizenship and the right to vote. Hudson County, NJ is home to 93,000 legal permanent residents who are currently eligible to become citizens, but may lack the finances or know-how to complete the process.

Airline Customer Service Agents Vote for Union Representation: Approximately 14,500 customer service agents for the recently merged American Airlines and US Airways voted for union representation in September. This victory was especially significant for 9,000 former American Airlines agents who have been part of a 19 year long organizing effort.

Bike Share Workers Organize in New York City, Begin Work in Washington, DC: Approximately 200 NYC Bike Share workers became members of Transport Workers Union Local 100 in New York City as part of efforts to organize employees at bike share programs across the country. Workers in Washington, DC have also made strides in this effort; ensuring workers have a living wage and benefits.

Electoral Victories

Workers Win on Minimum Wage Increases: Workers in five states and two cities helped push successful efforts to raise the minimum wage. Those states and cities include:

Alaska– Won 69-31 – Raise to $9.75 by 2016 with raises accounted for inflation
Arkansas – Won 65-35 – Raise to $8.50 by 2017
Illinois – Won 67-33 –Raise to $10.00 by 2015 (If approved by legislature)
Nebraska – Won 59-41 – Raise to $9.00 by 2016 with raises accounted for inflation
South Dakota – Won 55-45 – Raise to $8.50 by 2015 with raises accounted for inflation

Oakland, CA - Won 81-19 – Raise to $12.25 by March, 2015 with raises accounted for inflation
San Francisco, CA - Won 77-23 – Raise to $15 by July 2018 with raises accounted for Consumer Price Index

Workers Earn Access to Paid Sick Leave in Three States: Paid sick leave efforts for working families were successful throughout the country. Workers in Massachusetts were joined by voters in Oakland, CA and Trenton and Montclair, NJ in ensuring more than one million combined workers will have access to paid sick leave.

 

The American Immigration Council And The AFL-CIO Push For An Executive Order On Immigration

Immigration reform for america
(Image by Sasha Kimel)

(Image by Sasha Kimel)

From the perspective of immigration reformers, Tuesday’s election is unlikely to change the gridlock that has stymied immigration reform for more than 15 years. Since at least 1998, there has been bipartisan agreement that our current immigration system is broken and that Congress must act to fix it. Since then, regardless of who has controlled Congress or the White House, the country has been waiting for the political stars to align in such a way as to make immigration reform a reality. In the meantime, families have been torn apart and our economy has been denied a powerful tool for innovation and entrepreneurship. The reason is clear. Too few of America’s lawmakers have the courage to lead on immigration and too many are content to play politics with this critical issue.

Despite the threat (and likelihood) of political tantrums from those who have consistently blocked reform, the most likely catalyst for change on immigration at this point is bold, decisive leadership by the President of the United States, who re-affirmed yesterday that he would “take whatever lawful actions I can take” by the end of the year.

President Obama can and must show the way forward by using the tools at his disposal to fix as much of our broken immigration system as he can, and to protect millions of unauthorized immigrants who have built their lives here and contribute to our society and economy, but have no means of attaining legal status under our outdated immigration system.

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, also made a call for the President to take executive action on immigration reforms:

The President needs to take executive action to support immigrant rights.  But he also needs to take action on immigration to ensure the rights of all of us.

You see, in our country today, nearly 12 million people, and 8 million workers, are struggling to support their families without the protection of law.  That is unacceptable.  And it doesn’t just put immigrants at risk, it puts all people who work for a living at risk by driving down the standards that protect every one of us.

The AFL-CIO has been calling on the White House to halt unnecessary deportations since the spring of 2013 because we know that we are stronger when all workers stand together.  And we know that executive action on immigration is connected to our larger struggle to ensure that all work has dignity.

So today I am here to renew our call for the executive branch to provide work authorization to, at minimum, all those who would be on a pathway to citizenship now if House Republicans had allowed a vote on the bipartisan Senate bill.  In structuring his announcement, we believe that the President must include much-needed worker protections.  And we know that now is not the time to expand guest worker programs that stifle wages and create a captive workforce.

It is well established that the President has the legal authority to end this crisis by granting temporary relief to a broad class of workers. It is also equally established that current enforcement of immigration law is at odds with our American vision of a just society and our values of family, hard work and fairness.

The America that the labor movement believes in does not criminalize people or deny them basic due process rights based upon their country of birth.  We stand united here today because we know that we are all better off when we have fewer people behind bars, and because we find it disgraceful for private detention centers to profit from locking up our neighbors.

How the President implements immigration laws will be a major part of his legacy.  The President’s job is to implement laws effectively, and the deportation crisis demonstrates that our immigration enforcement system is broken.  When given a chance to fix it, Republican extremists refused.  Now the President must act.

Executive action will be good for families and communities, good for workers and the economy, and good for the country.  There has been enough consideration.  The time for discussion, debate, and delay is over.  Now, it is time to act.

In taking executive action on immigration, President Obama would be following in the footsteps of every U.S. president since 1956. Since Dwight D. Eisenhower, every president has granted temporary immigration relief to one or more groups in need of assistance. There are at least 39 such examples, including the family fairness policy of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, which protected the spouses and children of unauthorized immigrants who qualified for legal status under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). Soon after the implementation of family fairness, Congress updated the law to keep families together.

If the elected House and Senate leaders who have been handed the gavel in 2015 are serious about breaking the 15-year log jam on immigration, then they won’t let the excuse of executive action stand in their way. There is no action that the President can take that will trump the need and opportunity for lasting, permanent reforms to our broken immigration system. After more than 15 years, the nation has waited long enough. It is time for courage and leadership. It is time to act.

For additional resources, visit the Immigration Policy Council’s resource page on Executive Action and Prosecutorial Discretion.

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