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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

Vice-President-Joe-Biden-to-Deliver-Remarks-for-AFL-CIO-AFT-Career-and-Technical-Education-Summit_blog_post_fullWidth

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.

Working-Class Voters Put the Economy First

Richard Trumka (The Nation / AP-Photo)

Union members support populist economic agendas despite anti-worker attacks

WASHINGTON, DC – Despite some disappointing political results for millions of union members and all working families, the vast majority of Americans made clear that they want an economy that works for everyone. Months of unprecedented spending by corporate billionaires on television ads failed to turn voters against the idea of an economy that is built on a foundation of raising wages. This fact transcended simple Democratic and Republican political labels.

“The defining narrative of this election was confirmation, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Americans are desperate for a new economic life,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “But the fact of the matter is that people are disillusioned by endless political bickering and eyed these elections with great dispirit. In way too many elections, they got a false choice.  In these very difficult times, they did not a get a genuine economic alternative to their unhappiness and very real fear of the future. But when voters did have a chance to choose their future directly – through ballot measures – their decisions are unmistakable”

An election-night survey conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates found that while Republicans won many races on political grounds, voters heavily support working family issues. Voters favor increasing Social Security benefits by 61%-30%; raising the federal minimum wage by 62%-34%; taxing American corporations on profits they make overseas by 73%-21%; and increasing funding for public schools by 75%-21%. Additionally, voters opposed many traditional Republican issues such as raising the Social Security retirement age (27%-66%) and raising the Medicare eligibility age (18%-76).

Voters sounded the loudest economic message in Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota, where minimum wage increases were overwhelmingly approved. San Francisco and Oakland also will likely raise minimum wage, and all four ballot initiatives supporting paid sick days passed. Successes such as these pave the way forward for a host of new ideas, ranging from how worker schedules are formulated to living wage legislation, paid sick leave and equal pay.

Trumka said, “It’s clear that American workers and their families are way ahead of the political elite when it comes to envisioning the next American chapter. I was out there all fall.  I was in almost every contested state.  I spoke to hundreds and hundreds of workers.  Their desire for bold, comprehensive and lasting economic change is the most real thing I’ve ever heard.”

Where it counted, workers and their unions led intense, grassroots organizing on the ground. These efforts resulted in union members supporting working family governor candidates by 64%-32% and U.S. Senate candidates by 61%-35%.

Since its last convention, the AFL-CIO has been working to build a long-term, year-round mobilization structure that won’t stop with elections. Already the AFL-CIO and allies are gearing up to press the interests of working people in the coming lame duck session of Congress, from immigration reform to trade deals that work for working families, while leading a national conversation on raising wages.

Labor Movement Mobilizes Latino Working Families Ahead of Midterm Elections

(Photo by Bill Burke, Page One Photography)

Latinos in key battleground states rally around worker-friendly candidates

(Washington, DC) – With the 2014 midterm elections around the corner, the AFL-CIO is increasing its mobilization efforts to reach out to Latinos voters in key states across the country. The AFL-CIO is urging voters to support candidates who stand up for the issues that matter the most to working families, not just wealthy CEOs.

Through phone banks, canvassing and community organizations, volunteers are reaching out to Latino voters in Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Last week the AFL-CIO circulated fact sheets detailing the significance of the Latino vote in deciding important races in each of these states.

“Latino voters are vital to ensuring that worker-friendly candidates are elected to represent their communities,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “So much is at stake this year – from keeping higher education affordable to implementing a roadmap to citizenship. It is clear that Latinos cannot afford to sit on the sidelines. The labor movement is committed to making sure that the voice of this important community is heard loud and clear on November 4th.”

America’s Latinos are an ever-increasing voting population. According to the Pew Research Center, a record 25.2 million Latinos are eligible to vote in the 2014 midterm elections, making up 11% of eligible voters nationwide. However, the turnout rate of eligible Latino voters has historically lagged that of whites and blacks by substantial margins. The efforts of the AFL-CIO seek to close this turnout gap and support the election of politicians that stand up for middle class families.

AFL-CIO Worker’s Voice PAC To Air Ads In Seven Key States

AFL-CIO_Headquarters_by_Matthew_Bisanz2

With high stakes elections coming down to the wire across the country, the labor movement is going up on radio and TV in support of working family candidates.  The ads will build on the effective grassroots campaign that labor has been running for several months including door knocking, worksite leaflets and phone banking.

Workers’ Voice has just launched full 60 second radio ads designed to educate working families about the stakes on November 4th and promote the candidates who will work for their economic interests:

  • Senator Mark Begich (Alaska)
  • Senator Mark Udall (Colorado)
  • Congressman Bruce Braley (running for Senate in Iowa)
  • Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (running for Senate in Kentucky)
  • Congressman Mike Michaud (running for Governor in Maine)
  • Mary Burke (running for Governor in Wisconsin)

Each ad will run through Election Day in multiple markets across each state.

In addition, a 30 second television ad in Michigan launches today and will air through Election Day.

Each of these ads focus on economic issues and aim to clarify for voters which candidate will fight for a secure and growing middle class.

The Iowa radio ad is an example: By including Senate candidate Jodi Ernst’s own words in support of Social Security privatization, the ad steps above the din on an issue (retirement security) of deep-seated concern to working people in Iowa.

To listen to any of the radio ads, click below:

Alaska US Senate, Radio

Colorado US Senate, Radio

Iowa, US Senate Radio

Kentucky US Senate, Radio

Maine Governor Radio

Wisconsin Governor, Radio

And the Michigan Governor TV ad can be found here

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on October 10th $10.10 Minimum Wage Push

Minimum Wage 101

Raising wages will be a driving force at the polls in the approaching midterm elections. Working people will turn out for candidates who support solutions that will make a difference in the real world – from raising the minimum wage to ensuring that all workers can bargain collectively and make a livable wage. The labor movement stands in strong support of the broad campaign to bring attention to raising wages leading up to and following October 10, and it’s our responsibility to keep it going.

Labor is perfectly positioned to unite a massive movement, to raise wages and to lift up our communities. We have an opportunity to show every elected leader, from the White House on down, that those who stand proudly with working families will win in November. It’s that simple.

  • As of October 2, 2014, 22 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage.
  • Ten states have passed legislation to increase wages since January 2014.
  • Four more states — Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland and West Virginia — will increase their minimum wage on January 1, 2015.
  • Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota, Illinois and Nebraska have ballot measures to raise or set wage minimums that will go to voters in November 2014.
  • Fifteen municipalities have increased the minimum wage over the last five years.
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