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Workers Memorial Day Commemorated Across the Country as We Fight for Better Workplace Safety Standards

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Workers Memorial Day:

150 workers die every day AFLCIOToday, on Workers Memorial Day, we take time to commemorate all those who lost their lives while on the job. We reflect on how far we have come in making workplaces safer and healthier, and how much farther we still have to go to ensure all working people have the necessary workplace protections. As a third-generation coal miner, I know the fear of not knowing if your loved one is coming home at the end of the day. This is a fear no family should have to endure.

As we remember those we have lost, we continue to fight for those we work with today. For example, millions of workers across the country can breathe easier now that the new OSHA silica rules have been issued. The new rules are the most significant OSHA standards in decades and will save thousands of lives. But even these advances are not enough. We will continue to demand stronger job safety standards for all working people until every workplace is safer and healthier and every working person has the protections they deserve.


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Image from National COSH’s latest report Death on the Job

Over the last couple of days a number of reports have come out highlighting the need for stronger workplace safety regulations and ways to reduce the number of workplace deaths.   Below are links to a few of the most recent reports and a few posts inspired by Workers Memorial Day to remember those we have lost.

  1. 150 Workers Die Every Day From Preventable Workplace Injuries And Illnesses – AFL- CIO Report.  http://nhlabornews.com/2016/04/52384/ 
  2. National COSH: Over 100K Workplace Deaths Can Be Prevented – National COSH Report http://nhlabornews.com/2016/04/52389/ 
  3. (LEO W GERARD) GOP: It’s OK for Corporations to Kill Workers – USW President Blog Post http://nhlabornews.com/2016/04/leo-w-gerard-gop-its-ok-for-corporations-to-kill-workers/
  4. Terry O’Sullivan: The Cost of Going to Work Should Never Be Death or Injury  – LIUNA President http://nhlabornews.com/2016/04/terry-osullivan-the-cost-of-going-to-work-should-never-be-death-or-injury/

AFLCIO Announces Support Of BCTGM Boycott Of Mexican-Made Nabisco Products

Campaign encourages Americans to “Check the Label” in support of American jobs by purchasing only those Nabisco products made in America

 SocialMedia_BoycottSimpleKENSINGTON, Md., April 27, 2016 – Today, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) – which represents nearly 4,000 members at Mondelēz International, maker of Nabisco snack products – announced that the national AFL-CIO has officially endorsed its nationwide consumer boycott of Nabisco snack products made in Mexico.

The “Check the Label” campaign was launched to stop Nabisco/Mondelēz from continuing to outsource jobs, by urging American consumers to reject Mexican-made Nabisco products and, instead, buy those that are produced in America in support of middle-class American jobs.

The AFL-CIO’s endorsement is a watershed moment in BCTGM’s boycott movement, as it adds 12.5 million members in 56 affiliated national and international unions, as well as their families and their local and extended communities across the United States and the globe.

BCTGM International President David B. Durkee, stated, “BCTGM is proud to have the support of our 12.5 million Brothers and Sisters of the AFL-CIO who share our profound dismay that Nabisco/Mondelēz is asking American workers to give up 60 percent of their wages and benefits – amounting to $46 million per year in perpetuity – or have their jobs shipped to Mexico. The AFL-CIO’s backing sends the strongest signal yet that American workers and consumers will not stand idly by while Americans lose their jobs.  Most immediately, we believe that the endorsement lends substantial and sustainable support to our “Check the Label” campaign, aimed at supporting American jobs by ensuring consumers’ favorite Nabisco products are produced in America before purchasing.”

SocialMedia_3StepsBCTGM launched the “Check the Label” campaign after Nabisco/Mondelēz closed numerous U.S. production facilities, costing many hundreds of American jobs, while at the same time expanding production in its facilities in Monterrey and Salinas, Mexico, where pay is so low that the minimum wage is measured by the day, not the hour. BCTGM is sending teams of the laid-off workers around the country, focusing on large urban areas, to enhance support for the boycott and continue to expand its coalition.

The National contract between Mondelēz International and more than 2,000 of its 4,000 workers represented by the BCTGM, expired on February 29, 2016. BCTGM continues to be resolute in its commitment to securing a quality contract for its members – one that is in the very best interests of all members and their families today and into the future.

The full text of the AFL-CIO endorsement includes the following:

The AFL-CIO has approved your request to include Mondelēz International on the list of AFL-CIO national boycotts. Specifically, the boycott will apply to all Mondelēz International snack food products that are labeled “Made in Mexico,” including Oreos, Newtons, Chips Ahoy, Honey Grahams, Animal Crackers, Ritz Crackers, Premium, Belvita, Lorna Doane, Teddy Grahams, Honey Maid, and Wheat Thins.

In accordance with the policy on boycott endorsements adopted by the AFL-CIO Executive Council, the federation will maintain the “Made in Mexico” snack products of Mondelēz International on its published boycott list for up to one year from the date of endorsement unless your union requests an earlier termination of the listing. At the end of the year, you may request to have the company included on the list for another 12 months.

The AFL-CIO and the AFL-CIO Union Label and Service Trades Department will post this product line to the list on their websites and Union Label Letter publication.

For more information about the “Check the Label” campaign, please watch this informational video.

 

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150 Workers Die Every Day From Preventable Workplace Injuries And Illnesses


150 workers die every day AFLCIO
(Washington, DC, April 27, 2016)More than 4,820 workers were killed on the job in 2014, according to a new report by the AFL-CIO. Additionally an estimated 50,000-60,000 died from occupational diseases, resulting in a daily loss of nearly 150 workers from preventable workplace injuries and illnesses.

“Working people should not have to risk their lives to make a living and support their families,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Yet every day, millions of Americans are forced to work with little to no safety protections while big businesses and corporations profit off our lives.”  

Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, marks the 25th year the AFL-CIO has publishednational findings on the safety and health conditions for working people.Among other findings:

  • The report calls attention to an increase in fatalities among older workers.
  • The states with the highest fatality rates were Wyoming, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota and Mississippi.
  • In 2014, 804 Latino workers lost their lives on the job and the fatality rate for Latino workers remains higher than the national rate.
  • Workplace violence injuries, particularly among women workers in health care, is a serious problem. The workplace violence injury rate has increased by 60% over the past five years, while the overall job injury rate has declined.

Oversight of job safety and health conditions remains weak and is getting worse in certain ways.  OSHA can now inspect a workplace on average only once every 145 years, compared with once every 84 years in 1992, when the AFL-CIO issued its first report. The average penalty for serious violations last year was only $2,148 and the median penalty for worker deaths was only $7,000.

DOTJ16_fb4b_UnionDensityStatesSafer“We have made important progress, including winning new OSHA silica standards to protect workers from deadly dust,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “But as this report shows, too many employers are cutting corners and workers are paying the highest price. We must keep working for stronger laws and enforcement to hold employers accountable, until all working people are safe on the job.” said Trumka.

Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect is being released in conjunction withWorkers Memorial Day when vigils, rallies, and actions are being held across the country to remember workers killed and injured on the job. The report can be found online here: aflcio.org/death-on-the-job.

 

New AFL-CIO Trade Video Warns That TPP Would Double Down on NAFTA’s Economic Devastation

“We can’t have another NAFTA. There’s too much at risk. It’s too important. What happens if TPP passes? There will be another generation of people that can’t find work.”

(Washington, DC) – Today, the AFL-CIO released a video showing first-hand the devastating economic impact the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could have on communities across the country.

Last week United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard testified at a USTR hearing examining overcapacity in the global steel market and its impact on U.S. steelmakers. There is evidence that foreign governments are subsidizing cheap steel and selling it in the U.S. at unfairly low prices. Countries are able to dump their cheap steel in U.S. markets because they are undervaluing their currency when setting prices.

“Currency manipulation is at the heart of this issue, and the passage of the TPP – which doesn’t address this global problem – could kill American manufacturing for good,” said Gerard. Like NAFTA, it offers no protection for American manufacturing or American workers. U.S. trade policy has not worked for working people or our communities which has led to broad opposition to the TPP. It must be defeated.”

“We know the TPP is a job killer.” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Our trade agreements should help to create good jobs in America, and enable regular working people to succeed by working hard to get ahead. The TPP fails this goal miserably.”

“I’ve seen too many people have their lives destroyed because the jobs went away,” said Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Council Member Dewitt Walton. “We can’t have another NAFTA. There’s too much at risk. It’s too important. What happens if TPP passes? There will be another generation of people that can’t find work.”

Allegheny County which is featured in the video is one of hundreds of local and state governments that have passed or introduced resolutions opposing TPP.

This video is the second in a series examining the real human impact of trade agreements like the TPP. Watch the first video on how the TPP could put the lives of cancer patients in danger.

Dozens Of Civil Rights And Labor Leaders Arrested In Democracy Awakening Protest

Hundreds Arrested – Including Dozens of Organization Leaders – As Part of Democracy Awakening’s ‘Congress of Conscience’

Mass Mobilization Is Backed by 300 Organizations; Record-Setting Convergence Is Beginning of a New Phase in the Democracy Movement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the final day of a record-setting week of civil disobedience at the Capitol, more than 300 people were arrested today – including approximately 60 organization and movement leaders – as they demanded democracy reforms. 

Today’s arrests came on the third and final day of Democracy Awakening. Combined with arrests made during the recent Democracy Spring, the protests constituted what organizers believe is a record for civil disobedience over democracy issues during this century.

The message: On voting rights, money in politics and the recent vacancy on U.S. Supreme Court, Congress is failing to do its job and ignoring the will of the people. Democracy Awakening isn’t the end of something, but the beginning of a new phase in the movement for democracy, organizers said.

Those who planned to risk arrest included top leaders of the AFL-CIO, All Souls Unitarian Church, the American Federation of Government Employees, the American Postal Workers Union, Campaign for America’s Future, Democracy Initiative, Center for Popular Democracy, Communications Workers of America, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Every Voice, Food & Water Watch,  Franciscan Action Network, Free Speech for People, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, Jobs With Justice, the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church; the NAACP, Oil Change International, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, the United Church of Christ, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, We Are Casa, the Yes Men and 350.org. 

Also risking arrest were NAACP president and CEO Cornell William Brooks; the Rev. William Barber II, pastor and Moral Monday architect; radio commentator Jim Hightower; and Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, co-founders of Ben and Jerry’s. Comments from some of those arrested are at the end of this release. 

Thousands of activists from around the country streamed into the nation’s capital April 16-18 for Democracy Awakening, which featured teach-ins, a rally, a march and lobbying as well as the civil disobedience. The aim: to fight back against business as usual in Washington, D.C.

More than 300 organizations endorsed Democracy Awakening. Lead organizations included the American Postal Workers Union, Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, Democracy Initiative, Every Voice Center, Food & Water Watch, Franciscan Action Network, Greenpeace, NAACP, National Nurses United, People For the American Way, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Student Debt Crisis and U.S. PIRG.

Democracy Awakening is part of a broad movement aimed at advancing democracy reforms. The mobilization began April 2, with Democracy Spring, an event that featured a march from Philadelphia to Washington D.C., followed by six days of sit-ins at the Capitol.

On Being Arrested Today for Democracy: 

“The right to vote is the closest thing we have to a civic sacrament. It is enshrined in our temple of democracy. Yet we are going into the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act. When more than 33 states pass new laws requiring a photo ID to vote, but cut back and shut down the government offices where voters can obtain the required cards, the need to act is clear. This is a profound challenge and assault on our democracy. That is why we are here today. An NAACP member by the name of the Rev. James Edmund Prioleau, my grandfather, stood for the right to vote 70 years ago. I stand in his name–and his legacy stands with us.”
Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO, NAACP
 

“Democracy is supposed to be for all of us, but right now we have an out-of-balance system favoring the interests of big money. This can’t go on. I’m prepared to risk arrest to send a message that democracy should truly be of, by, and for the people.”
-Ben Cohen, Ben & Jerry’s co-founder 

“Congress’ refusal to take action on voting rights, money in politics, and the pending Supreme Court nomination is systematically undermining our democracy and denying the American people an equal voice in our political process. This is the time to stand up and fight back. We need solutions for the real problems people face – massive student debt, jobs without real benefits, and equal pay for women. Democracy Awakening is the voice of thousands of Americans in Washington, DC and millions more across the country demanding action.”
-Larry Cohen, chair, Democracy Initiative

“As a teenager, I risked my life to come to this country as an immigrant and political refugee because the USA was a beacon of democracy. It pains me to see how unlimited corporate money and unfair restrictions on voting rights are now stealing our democracy from millions of poor and working class people and people of color. So on behalf of the unions of the AFL-CIO I am willing to stand up and be counted – and to sit down and be arrested – to call on Congress to take action to restore and expand our Democracy.”
-Tefere Gebre, executive vice president, AFL-CIO 

“At a certain point, you have to say enough is enough. I have decided to risk arrest because we can’t continue to have a political system where ordinary people are shut out of the process. It’s not what our founders envisioned, and it’s not what democracy is supposed to be about.”
-Jerry Greenfield, Ben & Jerry’s co-founder

“Now more than ever, it’s crucial that we join forces and demand action to fix our democracy. The powerful few who have used their wealth to block progress in Washington are pushing our economy even further out of balance and making it even more impossible for people who work for a living to earn a living. That’s why I’ll be risking arrest – working people’s voices ought to be heard, and today we’ll make sure Congress knows that our democracy – and our economy – should be for the people and by the people.”
-Sarita Gupta, executive director, Jobs With Justice

“Today, I am risking arrest for the first time in my life. Not for doing anything wrong, but for standing up for what’s right. I’m doing this to help reclaim our people’s democratic rights from the moneyed elites who have bought our elections and deeply corrupted our government in order to impose a corporate plutocracy over the electorate.”
-Jim Hightower, radio commentator

“I am a theological evangelical conservative biblicist, which is why as a matter of faith, justice, and equality, uplift for the poor and standing against racism is at the center of my work in the public square. It is why I’m willing to risk arrest as a matter of conscience. In North Carolina, we have seen the worst attack on voting rights since the 19th century, including Racial Apartheid redistricting, ending same day registration, rolling back early voting, and strict photo ID – all being targeted at the growing black and brown progressive white fusion demographic in America, especially in the South. Since the Shelby decision on June 25, 2013, the U.S. Congress leadership for over two years and 10 months has refused to fix Section 4 of the VRA and to reinstate Section 5 by passing the VRAA. This is more than 1,000 days longer than Strom Thurmond filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964.These attacks are contrary to our deepest moral and constitutional values. If you control and suppress the vote, then you control and suppress progressive and constitutional policies. This is undemocratic and wrong.”
-The Rev. William Barber II, pastor and Moral Monday architect 

“I am risking arrest for reasons theological and political. Our bodies are divine instruments of justice, peace, and beauty. When we offer our bodies against injustice we bear witness that God’s reign will defeat the designs of empire in this land and abroad. As my ancestors sang, ‘Walk together children, don’t get weary!’”
-The Rev. William Lamar, Metropolitan AME

“I’m willing to risk arrest, arm in arm with partners from the civil rights and the labor movements, in order to help fix our democracy. We will never get the kind of political progress needed to challenge climate change and systemic racism if corporate cash continues to mean more to politicians than the voices of the people.”
Annie Leonard, executive director, Greenpeace USA

“We cannot sit by and watch obstructionists push an agenda of inequity, injustice, and inaction — and I’m willing to risk being arrested in order to make my voice heard in in the fight to ensure that every voice can be heard in our democracy. All too often, the costs of these assaults on our democracy fall on low-income communities and communities of color that already face disproportionate effects from pollution and the climate crisis. A zip code should never dictate the destiny of any American citizen. The Sierra Club stands with all our allies in Democracy Awakening and anyone calling for a just society because fighting injustice – knowing the difference between what is right and what is wrong – must be at the heart of our work.”
-Aaron Mair, president, Sierra Club 

“I’m here today to stand up to the confluence of bigotry and big money has rolled back many of the promises of American democracy. I put myself on the line for my daughter’s generation, for her chance to live in a just society, an America where her voice and every voice isn’t  drowned out by the megaphones of millionaires, and where she and her peers can influence the fate of the world in which they live.”
-Phil Radford, founder, Democracy Initiative 

“We know that on our own, CWA cannot restore workers’ rights or win the financial reforms we need to put working families back on track. The same is true for the critical issues facing environmental groups, consumer advocates and social justice activists. We can’t go it alone. But when we join together, as we’re doing today and will do going forward, we know we can move our democracy forward.”
-Chris Shelton, president of Communications Workers of America 

“I did not make the decision to get arrested lightly. I chose to engage in civil disobedience because I care so much for our country – and because I am so desperately concerned about our broken democracy. I am proud to join hundreds of fellow Americans in a mass civil disobedience action. We are standing up for democracy, by sitting down. The week-long democracy protests in Washington mark a new phase of the democracy movement, one in which we take to the streets in increasing numbers to deliver on the promise that our government is constituted by and belongs to We the People.”
-Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen

U.S. DOT Order on Norwegian Air Case, Unless Reversed, Threatens Thousands of U.S. Airline Jobs

Transportation Trade Department LogoWASHINGTON, DC — Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues this statement in response to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s ill-advised order regarding Norwegian Air International’s application for a foreign air carrier permit:

“We are strongly opposed to today’s show cause order issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation that could pave the way for Norwegian Air International (NAI) to launch a job-killing flag-of-convenience airline that perverts the transatlantic airline market and violates our nation’s aviation trade agreement with the European Union (EU).

“The facts surrounding the NAI case could not be clearer. NAI, a subsidiary of Norway-based Norwegian Air Shuttle, was incorporated in Ireland with a single goal in mind: avoid Norway’s regulatory and employment laws to gain an unfair disadvantage over air carriers on both sides of the Atlantic that play by the rules as designed. NAI’s plan has been to use Bangkok-based flight crews employed under Singaporean individual employment contracts, evade collective bargaining obligations in Norway and unfairly undercut wages and labor standards while still reaping the benefits of the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement.

“It is for these reasons that a bipartisan Congress has spoken loudly against the NAI application and why a coalition of European and U.S. airlines has opposed this application for more than two years.

“Worst of all, approval of the NAI application would be a betrayal by this Administration of the explicit labor protections – embodied in Article 17 bis of the U.S.-EU deal – that bar new air services under the agreement that ‘undermine labor standards or the labor-related rights and principles contained in the Parties’ respective laws.’ If NAI is allowed to fly, our government will be saying to U.S. airline employees that the labor protections negotiated into aviation trade agreements are worthless and will be disregarded and cast aside when jobs and labor rights are actually threatened.

“It doesn’t take much creativity to conclude that when an airline company like NAI scours the globe for the cheapest labor it can find, evades the social and employment laws of its own country, and uses a rogue business model in violation of our trade agreements and laws, our government should not reward that airline with new rights to seize our markets, compete unfairly with our air carriers and kill our members’ jobs.

“This is a legacy issue. We will be urging President Obama and Secretary Foxx to reverse course and reject the NAI application. A new era of low-wage, flag-of-convenience airlines should not be launched on this Administration’s watch.”

Verizon: Lining Their Pockets With Taxpayer Money While Workers Walk Out In Strike

NALC Members Stand With IBEW and CWA Members Against VerizonVerizon is not just a case study of what’s wrong with our economy – it’s also a classic example of what’s wrong with our politics.

A couple of years ago, the Sunlight Foundation investigated 200 of America’s most “politically active” corporations, and how much each one received in federal contracts and financial support.  Verizon was #14 on their list.  Look at the report and do the math yourselfLess than $100 million in political spending, and they received $3.5 billion back from the federal government… which would mean Verizon got about $35 back for every dollar of political spending.  And that’s just in federal contracts and federal financial support.

But their lobbying has had other benefits, too.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Verizon spent about $12 million on federal lobbying last year.  They had 98 federal lobbyists promoting the corporation’s interests on issues including immigration, international trade, healthcare and the environment.  But the leading issue was taxes.  LOTS of lobbying on taxes.  (See it all here.)  Which might explain the corporation’s federal tax rate.  According to Citizens for Tax Justice, Verizon’s effective federal tax rate is… negative.

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And that’s just at the federal level.  Verizon has a business segment of “State and Local Government Solutions.”

The National Institute on Money in State Politics shows more than $22 million in political contributions from Verizon-affiliated organizations to candidates for state and local office. (Who knew?  Verizon has “Good Government Clubs” in California, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, Texas, Pennsylvania and Virginia. “Clubs” ??!?)

Can’t help but notice Verizon’s recent press release: “Verizon selected as provider on $150 million Commonwealth of Virginia network and communications contract.”  The National Institute on Money in State Politics tracks $3 million in political contributions to Virginia politicians.  Can’t help but wonder if there’s a connection.

(Can’t help but wonder how many other states would show the same pattern, if anyone took the time to look.)

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Meanwhile – can’t help but notice – the corporation is racking up OSHA violations and FCC penalties and financial redress via the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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Nearly 40,000 Verizon workers are now on strike, after working without a contract since last August.  Read more NHLN coverage here.

AFL-CIO Supports Verizon Workers in Strike over Bad Faith Negotiations

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on the Verizon Workers Strike:

The AFL-CIO stands in solidarity with the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers fighting for a fair contract. The 39,000 working people who went on strike this morning at Verizon deserve a fair contract that provides stability and acceptable working conditions.

Verizon made $39 billion in profits over the last three years, but is unwilling to provide job security, better benefits and safe working conditions to the people who made it possible for their top five executives to make over $233 million in the last five years.

No one wants a strike. But Verizon’s unwillingness to negotiate fair terms shows its disrespect for working people. Verizon wants to uproot workers, hurt communities and force retirees to pay extremely high health care costs. This strike is about doing what is right for everyday working people – not corporate interests. We call on Verizon to bargain in good faith and work with unions to create a fair and equal contract that stands up for working people rather than corporate greed.

Labor Praises Supreme Court Ruling On ‘Friedrichs’ And Offer A Warning For The Future

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

Today, the assault on working families came to an abrupt halt as we received news that the Supreme Court could not come to a decision in the Friedrichs v California Teachers Association. The court ended in a 4-4 tie. This means that the California Supreme Court decision to uphold agency fees will stand.

After the decision labor groups across the country rejoiced and applauded the decision that could have made it illegal to charge non union member an agency fee, essential pushing Right To Work nationwide without legislative approval.

“Today, working people have persevered in the face of another attack on our rights,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “All over the country working people are showing that we won’t allow wealthy special interests or their politicians to stand in our way to join collectively and make workplaces better all across America. In the face of these attacks we are more committed than ever to ensuring that everyone has the right to speak up together for a better life.”

“At the Supreme Court today, working people won a huge victory,” wrote Rudy Lopez, Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice. “Fighting back against powerful anti-worker interests that spent millions of dollars and many years to manufacture a Supreme Court challenge of collective bargaining, workers stuck together and prevailed, defending the right of unions to collect dues to all who benefit from its membership.”

“But while today’s victory is a milestone for working people and their right to collectively bargain, the fight for worker justice is far from over,” added Lopez. “The Freidrichs case was a carefully planned campaign to break unions and decentralize worker power and the wealthy interests behind it are not going to simply give up because they lost today.”

“Today’s Friedrichs decision by the Supreme Court was a big win for anyone who believes in the promise of America,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “Unions are about giving workers and their families a voice on the job and a fair shot to get ahead, and today’s decision enables those aspirations. And as the Center for Individual Rights’ legal maneuver this afternoon suggests, this decision, affirming four decades of precedent, was a blow to the right-wing special interests who are trying to rig the economy and our democracy in their own favor.”

“It’s no surprise that the Center for Individual Rights is continuing its assault on working people and the unions that represent them. By refusing to accept the court’s ruling and petitioning for a rehearing, they expose their agenda for what it is—a brazen political assault on working people. This Koch-backed think tank plotted to fast-track this case to the Supreme Court, and we know the wealthy few behind these efforts will continue doing everything they can to undermine the voice of working people in America,” added Weingarten.

Public sector workers will continue to benefit from the collective voice of union representation under a decision by the Supreme Court today that affirms nearly 40 years of constitutional law, the head of the largest federal employee union said today.

“The Supreme Court has kept in place a 1977 ruling that ensures public sector employee unions will be able to continue fighting for better pay, benefits, and working conditions for all represented workers, whether or not they choose to join the union,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

“When the union negotiates a contract for workers, everyone who’s covered by that contract takes home higher pay and benefits, has greater job security, enjoys improved health and safety standards, and gets help in settling workplace disputes. It is only fair that all employees share in the cost of securing those benefits,” added Cox.

“A decision by the Supreme Court to overturn its 1977 ruling would have made it grossly unfair to place the burden of paying for the level of representation that all employees need and deserve on only some public employees as opposed to asking each to pay a fair share,” concluded Cox.

“Today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association case safeguards, at least for now, the right of public workers to engage in meaningful collective bargaining,” wrote the Communication Workers of America.

CWA highlighted the connection between Friedrichs and the union busting, anti-worker firms that have been pushing Right to Work in states all across the country.

“The case had been financed by anti-worker and corporate education supporters who have been working for years to stifle the voices of teachers and other public workers and weaken their collective bargaining rights. It clearly shows how extreme the right-wing assault on workers and their right to bargain, whether public or private sector, has become,” stated CWA.

For many years now CWA has been on the front lines fighting to end the obstructionism in Washington, specifically the US Senate. They used the considerable influence and membership to help secure five members to the National Labor Relations Board as well as worked to change the “filibuster rule” that Senate Republicans used to block every major Presidential nominee in the past few years.

Now they are calling out the Senate and the same right-wing, anti-worker organizations that are holding up hearings to replace Justice Scalia in the Supreme Court.

“These same right-wing interests want to block any consideration of President Obama’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s time for senators to do their job and take up the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, not continue the “politics as usual” that ignores the voice of the American people,” CWA said.

There is no doubt this decision will have an impact on the upcoming elections as Republicans in the Senate are continuing to refuse to even meet with Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court’s 4-4 decision on the Friedrichs case is no doubt an important win for organized labor,” said International Union of Painters and Allied Trades General President Kenneth Rigmaiden.  “However, it should also serve as a significant wake up call for working families who are not convinced that their vote in the political process matters in this upcoming election.”

“Anti-union special interests succeeded in bringing their tactics to the Supreme Court in an effort to stop workers from deciding their collective fate on the job by a vote.  We won this one, but the fight is far from over.  It is time to get to work on putting pro-union candidates in local, state and federal offices.  The leaders we successfully fight for on the campaign trail will be our line of defense in Washington to keep our unions strong,” added Rigmaiden.

As Republicans continue to obstruct filling the vacant seat in the Supreme Court, this election is proving to be the most important in history. This election could be the difference between a progressive Justice like Merrick Garland or another right-wing ideolog like Justice Scalia. As more and more attacks to our collective bargaining rights make it to the Supreme Court confirming a nominee that will uphold our rights is of the utmost importance.

New Department Of Labor Rule Will Expose Union Busting Industry

The Persuader Rule Will Close Loopholes and Increase Transparency

 (Washington, DC) – Today, the Department of Labor released the final persuader rule, which closes a current loophole that allows corporations and management consultants to avoid reporting certain anti-union activities.

 “This long-awaited rule will increase transparency about employers’ activities when they hire outside third parties to do their union busting,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “It takes great courage for working people to come together to form a union. Working men and women deserve to know who their employer is hiring and exactly how much they are spending to discourage workers from forming a union.”

 The new persuader rule will give working people more information on whether their employer is hiring third party consultants and lawyers to write anti-union speeches, prepare anti-union videos, and write anti-union fliers meant to dissuade employees from forming a union.  These tactics are all too common in the multi-million-dollar union-busting industry.

 Mike Lo Vuolo, a former American Airlines passenger agent, and his co-workers tried three times to form a union at American Airlines with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), under the company’s previous management.  In 2012, despite having filed for bankruptcy, American Airlines spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the law firm Sheppard Mullins. Mike recalls glossy fliers, video cassettes and DVDs used to discourage and scare employees during organizing drives.

 “This rule is long overdue,” said Mike Lo Vuolo. “Corporations and consultants should be required to report how much money they spend fighting workers.”

 While unions are required to file lengthy annual LM-2 financial disclosure reports that detail all receipts and expenditures, the LM-20 form that management consultants will be required to file is two pages, much of which simply requires checking boxes.

 Joe Earleywine, an Organizing Director with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), oversaw an organizing campaign of registered nurses, technical employees and other nonprofessional employees at Harrison Health Partners in Washington State. The parent company, Catholic Health Initiatives, hired Sebris, Busto and James to do its union busting. The day after collecting a majority of union authorization cards and asking the company for voluntary recognition, employees were forced to watch union-busting videos, as the employer tried to scare workers about strikes, dues and initiation fees.

 “Using union-busting law firms to intimidate workers is one more tool in the toolbox that the global elite uses to keep workers from exercising their rights to improve their working conditions by joining a union,” added Joe Earleywine.

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