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#DefendDACA: Labor Celebrates DACA’s 5th Anniversary And Calls On Trump To Extend Program

“The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status programs provide work authorization to more than 1 million people, preventing workplace exploitation and protecting their freedom to join together in a union. We are all stronger when working people have the status to assert their rights on the job and stand together against a rigged system to change the rules of the economy,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

“DACA and TPS holders are members of our families, our unions and our communities who have made positive contributions to our society for many years. We will not allow them to lose their rights and status. We will stand with them in the fight to defend these programs as a necessary part of our long-term struggle to ensure that all working people have rights at work and the freedom to negotiate together for fair pay and conditions,” Trumka added.

Geraldine Vessagne

“TPS has allowed me to provide for my five children, including two back home, and three born here. But this isn’t just about me. Over 50,000 Haitian nationals working in the U.S. have this protected status. We are the engine of Florida’s hospitality industry, much of which greatly depends on our labor,” said Gerdine Vessagne, a housekeeper at Fontainebleau Resort in Miami Beach, FL and a UNITE HERE member.

“If TPS is removed, I will not be able to have a place to live, I will not be able to feed my children. I do not know what will happen to my children here in the United States. Nothing I have, none of my papers, would be valid. I will lose my job, lose my license. I will lose everything.” Vessagne added.

Maria Elena Durazo Unite HERE Vice President

“The American hospitality industry runs because of the women and men on DACA and TPS working in it,” said Maria Elena Durazo, UNITE HERE General Vice President. “These immigrants prove their value to this country every day, and many have been living in and contributing to America for more than a decade. These men and women have deep roots in this country, and are long time employees, spouses, parents, neighbors, and community members. Losing DACA and TPS would destroy both their families and the hotel industry that is built on their work. We must extend TPS and protect DACA – for our sisters and brothers working under them, for their family, and for the health of the American economy.”

Reyna Sorto

Having a protected immigration status provides workers the strength to speak out against employer oppression.

“Employers exploit immigrant workers because they think our fear will keep us silent from speaking out against abuses, even though TPS is not permanent, it does provide a level of protection that can give a worker strength to speak truth to power and denounce exploitative working conditions,” said IUPAT member Reyna Sorto

DACA members are everywhere, including our public school system. Areli Zarate, is a DACA recipient, a High School Spanish Teacher in Austin, Texas, and an AFT member.

Areli Zarate

“DACA allowed me the opportunity to come out of the shadows and lose the fear of deportation. I have a social security number and work permit which gives me the opportunity to follow my dream and teach. I am about to begin my fourth year of teaching with a big heart filled with love and passion for my profession. I am dedicated to my students and it’s hard to see myself doing something else. Yet, every time I have to renew my DACA I am reminded that my status is temporary. I am currently pending a decision on my renewal and I am praying to God that I will be allowed to teach for another 2 years until my next renewal.”

Karen Reyes

Karen Reyes is another DACA recipient and AFT teacher in Austin, TX.

“DACA made me visible. It made me realize that those opportunities that I thought were not for me – were now possible. DACA made it possible for me to be able to find a job in teaching. It made it possible to be able to earn money to be help out my mom while she went through numerous health issues. DACA made it possible for me to teach children who are deaf and hard of hearing. I am able to help these students and families on their journey to being able to communicate and achieve their dreams. It made it possible for me to be more vocal for those who still don’t think they have a voice.”

For five years DACA has proven to be a successful program that has help nearly a million immigrants who came to this country as children. We cannot let President Trump destroy the DACA.

Join the fight to #DefendDACA.

AFL-CIO Condemns Domestic Terrorism In Charlottesville

AFL-CIO President says, “Call it what it is: domestic terrorism rooted in bigotry.”

Image from Twitter

James Alex Fields Jr.

Yesterday, the world watched in horror as white supremacists and neo-Nazi hate groups clashed with a group of peaceful protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

 

The situation quickly escalated as James Alex Fields Jr a twenty year old man from Ohio, drove his car into a crowd of people.

Matt Korbon, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student, told the Associated Press, that “several hundred counter-protesters were marching when “suddenly there was just this tire screeching sound.” A silver Dodge Challenger smashed into another car, then backed up, barreling through ‘a sea of people.'”

As Fields Jr. plowed into the group of protesters, Ryan Kelly of the Associated Press captured the moment as the peaceful protestors were literally thrown into the air.

Last night, TMZ posted Feilds Jr’s mugshot and reported that “he’s facing the second-degree murder charge, along with three counts of malicious wounding and one count of failing to stop at an accident that resulted in death.”

This morning, Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, released the following statement:

Yesterday in Charlottesville, VA the nation and the world witnessed the hateful views and violent actions of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. This racism and bigotry is the worst kind of evil in our world and does not represent the true values of America. The true values of our country, values like equality and solidarity, are what have always overcome the most abominable prejudices.

Any response must begin with our leaders, starting with President Trump, acknowledging this for what it is: domestic terrorism rooted in bigotry.

My heart goes out to the victims especially the family of those who lost their lives including a young woman named Heather Heyer and state Troopers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates.  I pray for everyone’s safety. The labor movement condemns this domestic terrorism and remains committed to eradicating the despicable causes of hatred and intolerance.

We must put an end to this rise if racism and bigotry that continues to grow throughout the country.  This is also a good time to start demanding that we remove this monuments that honor the failed insurrection of the Civil War.  This symbols of the hatred and slavery.

The Color of Change is has started a petition to “Confederate symbols from all places of honor in America.

“It is past time that we nationally stop the veneration of people who committed treason in the name of slavery!” Color of Change wrote.

Together we can show that bigotry and hatred have no place in our country and our communities.

Praise And Concern Over Democrats “Better Deal”

Communication Workers of America: Working People Need Protections for U.S. Call Center Jobs and a “Better Deal”

Today the Democrats released the details of their “Better Deal” that will focus on three goals:

Raise the wages and incomes of American workers and create millions of good-paying jobs: Our plan for A Better Deal starts by creating millions of good-paying, full-time jobs by directly investing in our crumbling infrastructure and prioritizing small business and entrepreneurs, instead of giving tax breaks to special interests. We will aggressively crack down on unfair foreign trade and fight back against corporations that outsource American jobs.  We will fight to ensure a living wage for all Americans and keep our promise to millions of workers who earned a pension, Social Security and Medicare, so seniors can retire with dignity.

Lower the costs of living for families: We will offer A Better Deal that will lower the crippling cost of prescription drugs and the cost of a college or technical education that leads to a good job. We will fight for families struggling with high monthly bills like childcare, credit card fees, and cable bills. We will crack down on monopolies and the concentration of economic power that has led to higher prices for consumers, workers, and small business – and make sure Wall Street never endangers Main Street again.

Build an economy that gives working Americans the tools to succeed in the 21st Century: Americans deserve the chance to get the skills, tools, and knowledge to find a good-paying job or to move up in their career to earn a better living. We will commit to A Better Deal that provides new tax incentives to employers that invest in workforce training and education and make sure the rules of the economy support companies that focus on long-term growth, rather than short-term profits. We will make it a national priority to bring high-speed Internet to every corner of America and offer an apprenticeship to millions of new workers. We will encourage innovation, invest in advanced research and ensure start-ups and small business can compete and prosper.

(Video of Better Jobs announcement at bottom of post)

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO praised today’s announcement.

“We applaud Sen. Chuck Schumer’s leadership and the Senate Democrats for committing to better trade deals and creating the good jobs that working people deserve. Particularly notable in this agenda are the demands for increased public input and transparency in trade negotiations—including the call for town hall meetings across the country—as well as the continued commitment to long-needed action on currency and trade enforcement. This blueprint provides a good start but also must ensure that working people across North America are free to join together to negotiate a fair return on our work. We look forward to working with the Senate to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement’s corporate-driven rules and enact other innovative trade reforms beneficial to working families.”

After the details of the Democratic Party’s “better deal” were released the Communications Workers of America issued a statement highlighting the need to protect call center jobs from offshoring.  

The Democratic Party’s plan for a better deal on trade and jobs outlines real policies to help working families fight back against corporations that want to shift more jobs overseas and cut wages and benefits for working Americans.

For the first time, lawmakers are recognizing the impact of the tens of thousands of U.S. customer service jobs that have disappeared over past years, as corporations ship good call center jobs to Mexico, India, the Philippines and other countries.

CWA has been pressing Congress to stop this flood of jobs overseas. Corporations are boosting their profits and enriching their investors at the expense of working Americans, and communities are devastated when these good service jobs disappear. And as more jobs are sent offshore, more pressure is brought to bear on U.S. workers to accept lower wages and benefits as the price for keeping any job at all.

The Democratic “Better Deal” plan includes crucial legislation introduced by Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) that would help restrict call center offshoring and reverse the loss of thousands of good customer service jobs in the U.S.  It also would provide important consumer safeguards.

Overall, the “Better Deal” plan will give working people a long overdue voice in what happens to their jobs and their communities. It ends the tax incentives and other rewards that corporations now get for sending  jobs overseas; encourages companies to bring jobs back to the U.S. with financial incentives; fully restores “Buy America” requirements for all taxpayer-funded projects, and makes improving U.S. wages and good jobs a key objective of our trade policy.

The Better Deal plan would require companies that handle sensitive U.S. consumer data abroad, including call centers, to disclose to customers what country they are physically located in and the level of data protection in that country.

U.S. trade deals should benefit working families, consumers and communities, not just investors and big corporations. The Better Deal plan provides real solutions to do just that.

AFL-CIO Exec Council Blasts GOP For Attacks On Healthcare

AFL-CIO Executive Council Statement: Stopping the Attack on Our Health Care and Moving Toward Health Care for All

(Silver Spring, Md.) — Quality health care should be a basic right in the United States. It should not be a commodity that can be denied because you have too little income, do not have the right job or any job, or have a pre-existing medical condition. Republican leaders in Congress, however, are pursuing an agenda that attacks this principle and undermines everyone’s health care, whether you are covered through a job, an individual plan, Medicaid or Medicare. Each of their attempts, so far, to pass legislation that repeals major parts of the Affordable Care Act has failed, however, largely because tens of millions of Americans have spoken out against their proposals, and because some Republican lawmakers have stood up for working people against these health care cuts despite enormous pressure from within their party.

America’s union workers understand the threat posed by these attacks as much as anyone because we experience the critical importance of health care every day in the work we do. We care for the sick, make nursing homes and hospitals run, and come to patients’ homes to deliver care. We are nurses, doctors and other health care professionals whose expertise and compassion save and improve lives. We advocate for patients day and night and see firsthand the difference that decent health benefits make. We make the medications, equipment and supplies needed to treat the sick. We negotiate with employers for affordable, comprehensive health benefits that cover ourselves and our families. We are directly involved in creating and running patient-centered health plans that cover tens of millions of lives.

There are real problems with the ACA and the health care system more broadly that Congress must address. The misnamed 40% “Cadillac Tax” on high-cost health plans must be repealed before it does more harm to the hard-working men and women who negotiated them. Health care prices continue to go up faster than workers’ pay, and the cost of some prescription drugs is so high that lifesaving treatments are out of reach for individuals and enormous pressure is put on workers’ health plans. Although the ACA has made it possible for many more people to buy comprehensive health plans from insurance companies, it has not guaranteed everyone could afford the health care they need. Instead, many people face steep deductibles, copayments and coinsurance that create overwhelming barriers to care.

Instead of tackling these problems and strengthening health care, the main Republican proposals would take health insurance away from between 22 million and 32 million people and hit many others with higher premiums, worse coverage, and even bigger deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs. People who are sick or who have pre-existing medical conditions could find themselves discriminated against once again, unable to afford the care they need. Millions of working adults struggling to make ends meet would be cut off from Medicaid, and the children, people with disabilities, seniors and pregnant women who count on it could be next as the additional cuts to the rest of the program snowball. Cuts to Medicare’s funding would jeopardize its future. Employers would be let off the hook, no longer required to offer affordable health benefits. Under every one of the Republican proposals, middle-class workers would continue to face the “Cadillac Tax” on their high-quality health plans. At the same time, each of their proposals would repeal some or all of the ACA’s taxes on the wealthy few and corporations, with some versions giving millionaires a $50,000-per-year tax cut on average, and all versions eliminating taxes on health insurance companies and prescription drug makers.

If Congress and President Trump are truly interested in improving health care for working people, there are many things they could do. They could start by addressing problems that matter most to people, like hollowed-out coverage with deductibles that are far too high for the typical person, unjustified spikes in prescription drug prices and the “Cadillac Tax” on high-cost health plans. They also should explore alternatives for providing benefits through public and private plans that are patient centered, like expanding Medicare eligibility, creating a public option or strengthening worker plans. Our core goal, however, is to move expeditiously toward a single-payer system, like Medicare for All, that retains a role for workers’ health plans and in which access to quality, affordable health care is indeed a right for everyone in this country. Regardless of the specific path, it is time for Republican leaders to abandon their partisan health care repeal agenda, and instead work with Democrats to advance bipartisan reforms that improve health care for everyone and move us closer to health care for all.

AFL-CIO Executive Council: Working People Need Real Trade Reform, Not Just Rhetoric

 (Silver Spring, Md., Wednesday, July 26, 2017) – For decades, America’s trade agenda has failed working people. Last year, voters in both parties called for change. In the early days of the Trump administration, actions have been initiated on existing trade policies, from assessing the national security impact of steel and aluminum imports to considering reform of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. Updating our nation’s trade deals is vital, but only if the focus is on how to increase and improve the quality of jobs. Much work lies ahead, and the direction and effectiveness of President Trump’s efforts still is unknown.

No task is more pressing than ensuring the administration’s renegotiation of NAFTA results in new rules that reflect the needs and interests of working families, not global corporations. NAFTA has failed working people in Canada, Mexico and the United States. Since NAFTA’s inception in 1994, corporate profits are up, but wages in all three countries are stagnant. Despite increased productivity, workers are not receiving a fair return on their work. There is more trade between the three NAFTA countries, but that trade is unbalanced, with the United States running consistent deficits with Mexico and Canada. The freedom to negotiate together is under attack in all three countries, diminishing the voices of working people and increasing inequality. As with other policy failures, broken trade deals disproportionately have harmed communities of color.

We can do better. NAFTA is not a failure of trade itself, but the result of trade rules rigged to favor global corporations and the wealthy elites in all three countries. Trade should be a cooperative endeavor that benefits us all. For that to happen, NAFTA must change dramatically.

NAFTA and its inequities can’t be fixed with mere tweaks or by substituting language from the failed Trans-Pacific Partnership. Nor should the United States adopt a strategy that pits the working people of North America against each other. We must end the race to the bottom that hurts working families, as it impoverishes our democracy and starves investment in our public infrastructure. We must replace NAFTA’s vicious cycle with a virtuous one—with a set of rules that promote shared prosperity for workers in all three nations.

We must incorporate the lessons learned from NAFTA’s failures into its new rules. This means NAFTA’s labor provisions must be substantially strengthened to improve protections for all working people, regardless of immigration status. NAFTA’s labor rules must meet international standards. Swift and certain monitoring and enforcement tools must replace the current convoluted, ineffective process. This will require effective labor inspections and explicit protections for workers who migrate, including a ban on recruitment fees, accountability for abusive practices by employers and labor recruiters, transparency regarding wages and terms of employment, and real access to justice and legal assistance. Only when all workers share these protections will we be able to effectively join together to negotiate for a better life.

A new NAFTA, with rules that working people help write, is an opportunity to begin constructing a Global New Deal for working families. The critical elements of a new NAFTA are:

  • A democratized renegotiation process
  • Strong labor rules with swift and certain enforcement that prevent the commodification of workers
  • Elimination of corporate courts
  • Enforceable currency rules
  • Stronger rules of origin
  • Protection for responsible government purchasing and Buy American policies
  • Improved screening for foreign domestic investment
  • Improved trade enforcement as part of a robust manufacturing policy
  • Elimination of obstacles to effective trade enforcement
  • New rules to prevent tax dodging
  • Removal of rules that undermine protections for workers, consumers and the environment
  • Commitments to invest in infrastructure
  • Consumer protections that ensure financial stability
  • Prohibition of unsafe and unfair cross-border transportation services
  • Protection for intellectual property while ensuring the right to affordable medicines
  • Prohibition on global corporations from using NAFTA to capture public services for profit
  • Strong environmental rules with swift and certain enforcement

Working people and our unions are united and will mobilize with the same level of intensity as our campaign to defeat the TPP. We will work to advance a set of positive and forward-looking trade rules through a comprehensive public campaign on the ground, online and over the air. The elements of the campaign will include the follow action points:

  • Educate elected officials, policy makers, opinion leaders and all workers about the causes and effects of NAFTA and other U.S. trade policies, showing there is another way, and that we need to act collectively to achieve a higher standard of living;
  • Report and publicize the impact of NAFTA on the quality of life for North America’s working people, including the effect on jobs, wages and negotiating power;
  • Demand greater democracy, transparency and participation in the NAFTA renegotiation process—and publicize any failure to open up the process;
  • Mobilize our members, community allies and all workers to demand a better NAFTA, with rules centered on working people’s policy choices—not those of the corporate class;
  • Develop and execute joint strategies with labor movements and allies in Mexico and Canada to ensure that meaningful and effective protections for working people and higher standards are at the core of any changes to NAFTA; and
  • Utilize all available strategies, including public and social media, to broaden the base of popular engagement and advance our vision of a worker-centered NAFTA.

With New NAFTA Recommendations, Labor Leaders Outline ‘Bold, Necessary’ Changes to Trade

During a teleconference on Monday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, joined by USW President Leo Girard and CWA President Christopher Shelton, announced the AFL-CIO’s comprehensive recommendations for reworking NAFTA to benefit working people. Pointing to staggering job losses and flat wage growth, Trumka minced no words in calling current U.S. trade policy “a bipartisan disaster,” with NAFTA being a particularly egregious failure.

Donald Trump has been highly critical of NAFTA in the past, constantly decrying it on the campaign trail and appealing to the millions of working people whose livelihoods have been affected by the deal. “It’s no secret working people voted for Trump,” said Shelton, “largely because of the promises he made [on NAFTA].” Now that he is in office, labor leaders expect him to make good on those promises to rework the deal, or face the consequences.

If [the new deal] further rigs the rules for the wealthiest few, we will fight him,” Trumka warned. “And if he breaks his promise, workers will never forget it.”

In addition to the recommendations outlined by the AFL-CIO, Edward Wytkind, President of Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, released a statement calling for stronger protections for the transportation workforce, including prohibiting bus and truck traffic from Mexico that violates U.S. safety rules and requiring participating nations to make minimum investments in infrastructure.

Our trade agreements should be designed to put money in the pockets of America’s working families, not large, multi-national corporations or foreign governments,” said Wytkind.

However, leaders have made clear that the goal of this new framework is not to pit workers in different countries against each other. When asked whether there was a middle ground for protecting both U.S. and Mexican workers, Trumka answered, “Mexican and Canadian workers are not our enemy. It’s the trade agreements that are our enemy.”

Both Girard and Shelton agreed that trade agreements should not put workers against each other. Girard said in a closing statement,“It’s not one country’s workers against another’s, it’s all workers rising together.”  Shelton advocated for policies that raise wages and encourage collective bargaining specifically in Mexico.

One thing is certain: a few small tweaks will not fix NAFTA. The recommendations put forth by labor leaders are far-reaching, comprehensive and necessary in order to protect working people from further devastation. And labor leaders have made clear that they will not sit quietly if the administration’s changes are insufficient.

This is bigger than trade itself; it’s about the system of democracy,” said Trumka. “We’re gonna fight and fight hard so that workers can have a fair shot.”

Mine Workers and Graduate Workers Win Big Victories

(Washington, D.C., June 2, 2017) Graduate workers who earn low pay but do the same work as tenured professors are leading the charge to achieve equal pay and benefits on college campuses. These workers are not deterred by aggressive university administrators or archaic labor law—they are forging ahead. And they are just one of many groups of working people who understand that there’s power in numbers when working people come together. Here are some highlights of victories won:

Yale Graduate Students on Hunger Strike for Union Recognition

Yale University graduate teachers have been fasting since April 27 to bring the administration to the bargaining table with Local 33 UNITE HERE. The teaching assistants voted in February to join UNITE HERE, becoming the latest group of graduate students at private universities to unionize. The administration has failed to acknowledge the union and begin contract negotiations

UPenn Graduate Workers Vote to Join AFT

Graduate student workers at the University of Pennsylvania filed a petition May 30 to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers. The unit could include as many as 2,300 teaching and research assistants. The organizing drive began in March, and students hope to negotiate together to address funding insecurity, health care benefits, family leave and inadequate mental health resources.

Northwestern University Nontenure-Faculty Union Vote Certified

Nontenure-track faculty members at Northwestern University are finally free to negotiate together after the National Labor Relations Board certified a July 2016 union election. The unit, organized under SEIU as Local 73, will include both full-time and part-time faculty.

Mine Workers Win Health Care Battle in Congress

Mine workers won the fight to secure health care for 22,600 retired coal miners, their dependents and widows in the 2017 congressional budget. This hard-fought victory was made possible by the thousands of United Mine Workers of America members and supporters who marched, rallied, made phone calls and wrote letters to their representatives.

Disney/ABC, AT&T, Cooling and Heating Workers Win Contract Fights
Communications Workers of America recently ratified several contracts that improved working conditions for its members. A deal was reached at Momentive Performance Materials in Waterford, N.Y., ending a 15-week strike. The 700 IUE-CWA members successfully fought back against management demands for drastic wage cuts and cuts to retiree benefits. At AT&T Southwest, 20,000 CWA telecom workers won an agreement that calls for AT&T to bring 3,000 new jobs, the majority of which now are offshore, to the five-state region. Also, 3,000 broadcast employees and technicians at Disney/ABC ratified a new contract, along with 3,000 technicians, customer service representatives and warehouse/administrative workers at DIRECTV, and 570 workers at New Flyer in St. Cloud, Minn., the country’s biggest bus manufacturer.

Thrillist Staff Joins Writers Guild of America, East
Ninety-five percent of Thrillist’s staff can negotiate together for more transparent communication from management, greater workplace diversity and better entry-level pay after voting to join the Writers Guild of America, East union. The 65 staff members include editorial, video and distribution workers.

IBEW Helps Rail-Car Construction Return to Chicago’s South Side
Electrical Workers members will account for the majority of full-time manufacturing employees when a new rail-car manufacturing facility opens on Chicago’s South Side in 2020. IBEW will represent about 110 of the plant’s 170 full-time manufacturing employees. Construction could provide work for another 150 members. The plant will construct up to 846 of the new 7000 series subway cars for the Chicago light-rail system.

NFLPA Welcomes New Players and Partnership
More than 250 new players guaranteed their right to negotiate together after joining the National Football League Players Association during the weekend of the NFL draft, April 27-29. At the NFLPA Debut event, the union hosted 50 of the top prospects to educate them about its mission and resources. NFLPA also announced a partnership with wearable device company WHOOP on April 24. Each player will receive a device so they can track and own their biometric data, including sleep, recovery and training, as a way to advance their safety and athletic performance.

BRS Welcomes Denver Transit Operators
Fifty-three workers from the Denver Transit Operators exercised their freedom to join together with the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen. The maintenance of way and dispatching department employees voted, by an overwhelming majority, to join the union. BRS will start working right away on an agreement that addresses many of the issues it learned of through the organizing meetings. A new local will be chartered for the DTO members. DTO is a private company with a 29-year contract to operate and maintain the new commuter rail system in and around Denver for Colorado’s Regional Transportation District.

Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO Says “Congress Should Reject The President’s Budget”

Washington, DC – Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues this statement on the President’s budget released yesterday:

“President Trump contradicted his own calls for a $1 trillion investment in our infrastructure by releasing a budget yesterday that proposes significant cuts to critical transportation programs.

“Plain and simple, this budget would idle major infrastructure upgrades, saddle businesses with an aging and ineffective freight and passenger network, and ignore the needs of weary commuters and travelers. At the same time, this budget would impose severe and unwarranted cuts to vital programs that protect and support working people and their families.

“While the President’s budget vaguely commits $200 billion in new federal support for infrastructure, it simultaneously cuts $95 billion from the already financially stressed Highway Trust Fund. The budget slashes in half the Capital Investment Grant program, which supports critical transit and rail capital projects, service expansions and middle-class job creation. Most ominously, the budget also seems to end this entire program moving forward, effectively canceling 50 projects currently in the pipeline.

“The budget cuts Amtrak funding by 50 percent, despite the company’s continued popularity and ridership growth across all major business lines. It also drastically cuts the Maritime Security Program (MSP), which boosts the U.S.-flag sealift capacity of our Armed Forces during military and humanitarian missions, and supports thousands of skilled mariner jobs. The budget hollows out TIGER grants, which direct investments to multi-jurisdictional, multi-modal projects in both rural and urban communities. Furthermore, drastic cuts to the Essential Air Service Program proposed in this budget would harm rural and underserved communities that rely on subsidized air transportation services or face further isolation from the broader economy.

“It is also disturbing that the budget scapegoats active and retired federal employees. Slashing take-home pay, retirement and other benefits, and job security is a terrible way to treat the civil servants who care for our veterans, guard our borders, safeguard our security, support our military, and ensure our health.

“Congressional leaders and appropriators should reject this damaging spending proposal and should instead stay on the bipartisan path they chose in the FY 17 omnibus appropriations bill. We urge the President to work with Congress to fully fund a major expansion in infrastructure spending that puts millions to work.”


The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), provides a bold voice for workers in every mode of transportation and is devoted to protecting middle-class jobs, expanding collective bargaining and ensuring modern, safe and secure transportation operations and infrastructure. For more information visit us at www.ttd.org.

Income Inequality Grows As CEO Pay Jumps 6 Percent To 347 The Average Worker

Image courtesy of the AFL-CIO

A new report and searchable database from the AFL-CIO’s Executive Pay Watch highlights the lavish compensation executives receive while workers wage remain stagnant.

Income inequality has become one of the largest economic issues facing America.  As workers wages remain stagnant, corporations continue to rake in massive profits and pay their executives lavish salaries.

According to the new AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch, the average CEO of an S&P 500 company made $13.1 million per year in 2016 – 347 times more money than the average rank-and-file worker. CEO pay for major U.S. companies has risen nearly 6 percent, as income inequality and outsourcing of good-paying American jobs have increased.

“This year’s report provides further proof that the greed of corporate CEOs is driving America’s income inequality crisis,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Big corporations continually find ways to rig the economy in their favor and line their CEOs’ pockets at the expense of the workers who make their businesses run. Too often, corporations see workers as costs to be cut, rather than assets to be invested in. It’s shameful that CEOs can make tens of millions of dollars and still destroy the livelihoods of the hard-working people who make their companies profitable.”

The Executive PayWatch website showed that in 2016, the average production and nonsupervisory worker earned approximately $37,600 per year. When adjusted for inflation, the average wage has remained stagnant for 50 years.

Take for example, Raymond Barrette, CEO of White Mountain Insurance Group LTD of Hanover, NH.  Barrette raked in $8.1 million in salary and stock options.  That is 270 times the average rank and file worker.

Another example comes from Patrick T. Ryan, CEP of Press Ganey Holdings in Wakefield, Massachusetts. He collected a whopping $28.9 million in compensation, 769 times the average worker.

The report allows viewers to search their comprehensive database of CEO pay by industry or state.

Screenshot from Executive Pay Watch

The PayWatch site also highlights U.S. corporations that don’t pay taxes on their offshore profits. By “permanently reinvesting” these profits overseas, they can forever defer paying federal income taxes and reinvesting back into the community.

According to the report, Massachusetts based General Electric is holding $82 billion in “Unrepatriated Profits” overseas in tax havens.  That is only one-third of the amount of money Apple is shielding overseas ($230 billion).

The report also highlights the growing trend of corporations offshoring good American jobs at the expense of hard working people.

“Avoiding corporate income taxes is one way CEOs boost their companies’ profits and thereby increase their own pay. This corporate tax avoidance reduces the amount of money that is available for public goods like roads and schools. As a result, our economy increasingly has become out of balance,” wrote the AFL-CIO in their report.

Image courtesy of the AFL-CIO

Mondelēz International, highlighted in this year’s PayWatch, represents one of the most egregious examples of CEO-to-worker pay inequality. The company, which makes Nabisco products, including Oreos, Chips Ahoy and Ritz Crackers, is leading the race to the bottom. Last year, it closed the Oreo cookie line at the iconic Nabisco factory in Chicago, sending 600 family-sustaining jobs to Mexico, where workers face poor labor and safety standards. Mondelēz CEO Irene Rosenfeld made more than $16.7 million in 2016 – about $8,000 per hour.

“Greedy CEOs are continuing to get rich off the backs of working people,” said Michael Smith, who was among hundreds of Nabisco workers from the South Side of Chicago laid off in March of 2016. “I loved working at Nabisco, and I took pride in the work I did to make a quality product. It’s not as if the company isn’t profitable. The Oreo alone brings in $2 billion in annual revenue, and the CEO makes more in a day than most of us made in a year. I just don’t understand the disrespectful attitude toward working people.”

While companies are continuing to put profits over people, working people are fighting back. The AFL-CIO has endorsed the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union (BCTGM) boycott of Nabisco products made in Mexico.

These corporations are just examples of the insatiable greed that has taken over Corporate America.  The never ending race to the bottom continues to punish worker, shipping their jobs overseas.  To begin to address the growing income inequality in America, we must first address the outrageous pay ratios between CEO’s and rank and file workers.

Mixed Reactions To 5 Month Government Funding Bill

The Senate passed the Omnibus Spending bill that will keep the government open for another five months.  The bill moves to the White House where President Trump is expected to sign it.   Before and after the bill’s passage advocacy groups were split on whether to support or oppose the bill.

Prior to the vote, the Transportation Trades Department (TTD-AFLCIO) urged Congress to support the legislation highlighting some of the funding gains for our nation’s infrastructure.

“We applaud Congress for coming together to complete an omnibus appropriations bill that funds critical transportation investments, rejects anti-worker riders, and avoids a needless government shutdown. We urge lawmakers to swiftly pass this legislation.

“This bill lives up to the authorized funding commitments in the FAST Act for mass transit and highway programs funded out of the Highway Trust Fund. And we applaud appropriators for funding a series of key projects with Capital Investments Grants (CIGs), which play an important role in meeting transportation challenges around the country.

“Congress is also reaffirming its support for Amtrak by funding the company’s needs at near-authorized levels as directed by the FAST Act. This decision by appropriators sends a clear, bipartisan signal that Congress supports a national passenger rail network that serves both rural and urban communities.

“This legislation also endorses full funding for the Maritime Security Program (MSP), which is vital to maintaining our military’s sealift capability during times of war and humanitarian missions. Adequate funding for MSP ensures the Department of Defense does not have to rely on foreign-flag ships, keeps taxpayer costs down, and supports thousands of middle-class U.S. mariner jobs.

“We also applaud the robust funding levels in this bill for FAA operations, Next-Gen improvements to our air traffic control system, and airport improvement grants. These funds support the safest and most efficient air system in the world, and the workers who make it possible.

“With the passage of this bill, over 22,000 retired coal miners and their families will maintain critical health care that was promised to them by mining corporations that exploited bankruptcy laws in order to avoid their moral obligation.”

David J Cox, President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) also praised the legislation and urged its passage to avoid another government shutdown.

“I applaud Congress for coming together on a bipartisan bill that will keep the people’s government open for business through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. I urge lawmakers to quickly pass this budget and avoid a government shutdown at the end of the week.

“In reaching this agreement, lawmakers wisely rejected billions of dollars in harmful cuts to medical research, education programs, housing grants, and other domestic programs that were proposed by the Trump administration. Those who need our help the most would have been hit the hardest by these cuts, and Congress was right to reject them.

“This budget provides needed funding to strengthen our military, improve border security, and boost cancer research. It also permanently extends health care benefits to 22,000 retired coal miners who were in danger of losing their coverage.

“I also thank Congress for retaining the longstanding ban on contracting out federal jobs using the flawed A-76 outsourcing process. Taxpayers benefit when federal jobs are performed by civil service employees, who are less costly and more accountable than private-sector workers.”

After the bill passed the Senate, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) praised the bill’s additional funding to combat the growing opioid epidemic.

“More help is on the way for those on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic,” said Shaheen. “This funding can’t come soon enough to states like New Hampshire that are reeling from the opioid epidemic. Treatment providers and first responders are in desperate need of these additional resources and until we get control of this crisis, I’ll continue to fight for funding to support their life-saving efforts. I’m relieved that Congress continues to build on bipartisan progress made over the last year to address this epidemic. However, I continue to be very concerned that efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act will undo this progress. As our state battles one of the worst public health crises in its history, we cannot afford to lose the mental health and substance misuse treatment provided through this law, which is why I intend to work across the aisle to stop this repeal effort in its tracks in the Senate.”

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO was quick to condemn the bill as a giveaway to the Washington “special interests”.

“While the funding bill does provide assurance that we will have functioning government for the next five months, it undermines programs that help and empower working families. Our elected leaders have settled for a budget that underfunds our priorities and deepens austerity, setting the bar low. America’s working people deserve better.

Every time politicians take America to the edge of a government shutdown, working families pay the consequences. This irresponsible and dangerous political maneuvering should not be the norm.

Thankfully, House Democrats held the line against almost all of the poison-pill amendments and restored much of the funding that would have been cut under the administration’s original draconian budget proposal. As work begins on the 2018 budget, we call on politicians from both parties to put the needs of working families above the special interests.”

Paul Rinaldi, President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), has been outspoken about Congress’s inability to provide steady funding for the National Airspace System.

“NATCA is pleased Congress has passed an omnibus spending bill that will fund the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through the end of the current fiscal year. NATCA is especially appreciative that the FAA has received an increase in its operations budget. It should enable the FAA to move forward on key issues such as improving air traffic controller staffing and continuing to plan, develop, and implement the myriad of ongoing NextGen modernization projects.

“However, this bill only provides a short-term fix to a long-term problem – the unstable, unpredictable, stop-and-go nature of the current funding stream. The mere threat of a government shutdown causes agencies like the FAA to suspend and delay critical projects in preparation for a shutdown. That means progress is slowed, meetings are postponed, plans are put on hold, and the system suffers. It takes significant time and effort to bring a large agency to a halt, so that must begin before a shutdown even occurs, and it takes even more time to restart it again once a shutdown threat subsides.

“We believe the efficiency of the National Airspace System and the livelihoods of the men and women safeguarding it should not be negatively affected by disagreements over issues unrelated to aviation.

“We thank members of Congress for passing the omnibus funding bill and ask that they continue to address the need for long-term stability of the funding stream.”

Government Executive highlighted some of the other winners and losers in the omnibus spending plan including additional funding to the Defense Department and Transportation Department, and deep cuts to the Department of Education and the State Department.

The Hill highlighted a few other areas where Democrats preserved funding for key agencies and programs like Planned Parenthood, funding for Sanctuary Cities, and environmental protections.  While funding for Planned Parenthood was protected in the Onmibus spending bill, the US House passed their “repeal and replace” Obamacare bill that blocks funding for Parenthood.

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