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The US International Trade Commission Shows The TPP Is Bad News For Working Families

A New Report From The US International Trade Commission
Shows The TPP Is Not Worth Passing 

ITC-International-Trade-Commission-logoYesterday, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) released their findings on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). To nobody’s surprise the results are not good.

The TPP would not deliver the economic benefits promised by the U.S. Trade Representative. Instead, the report shows that the deal would be disastrous, increasing the U.S. trade deficit by over $21 billion per year and harming employment in key industries.

Basically they found that miniscule gains would be made in most of the sectors of the economy. By miniscule I mean that after 15 years the TPP would increase our GDP by a whopping 0.15%.

Most alarmingly, the ITC report projects that the TPP would increase the U.S. trade deficit in both manufacturing and the services sector. According to the report, once fully implemented, the TPP would decrease manufacturing output by over $11 billion per year and would decrease U.S. employment in manufacturing by 0.2%.  The report also highlights concerns that the TPP would put call center jobs at particular risk of being offshored.

The weak economic projections in the ITC report are especially notable given that ITC’s track record is one of being overly optimistic about the effects of free trade deals on American workers and our economy.

These results are not surprising to many of the labor groups who have been against this multi-national trade agreement since it was announced.

“This ITC report is so damaging that any reasonable observer would have to wonder why the Administration or Congress would spend even one more day trying to turn this disastrous proposal into a reality,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “Even though it’s based on unrealistic assumptions, the report could not even produce a positive result for U.S. manufacturing and U.S. workers.”

“One of many shockers is just how meager the purported benefits of the TPP are. A mere .15% of GDP growth over 15 years is laughably small—especially in comparison to what we’re being asked to give up in exchange for locking in a bonanza of rights and privileges for global corporations,” added Trumka.

“Even though the report fails to account for currency manipulation, wage suppression and the negative impacts of uninspected food imports and higher drug costs, the study still projects the TPP will cost manufacturing jobs and exacerbate our trade deficit,” Trumka concluded.

“This report validates that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not worth passing,” said United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard. “This report, as mandated by law, indicates the TPP will produce almost no benefits, but inflict real harm on so many workers.”

Trumka and the AFL-CIO are not alone in their condemnation of this report. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers highlights that includes many of the same provisions, currently in our international trade agreements, that fail to protect basic labor rights.

“The ITC, which historically has overestimated the benefits of trade agreements, predicts that the TPP will increase our nation’s trade deficit in manufacturing. This means that the corporate driven, secretly negotiated TPP will lead to the export of good paying manufacturing jobs to countries like Vietnam that lack basic human rights,” said International President Robert Martinez, Jr., of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). “For ordinary Americans struggling to get by this will result in more unemployment and continued downward pressure on wages and benefits.”

“The IAM has repeatedly called for the inclusion in the TPP of the International Labor Organization Conventions, which explicitly define basic labor rights. Unfortunately, the TPP labor chapter contains the same ineffectual provisions as in other U.S. trade agreements and fails to provide effective mechanisms to deal with countries lacking fundamental labor rights, such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Mexico. That Malaysia, a country cited for human trafficking while focused on rapidly developing its aerospace industry, would be include in the TPP repudiates any notion that the agreement sets a new standard for international labor rights.”

“While the ITC has found that the TPP might increase U.S. GDP by a meager 0.15 percent by 2032, this is of little solace to the working families that will be devastated by the agreement’s numerous flaws. The IAM strongly urges Congress to reject the TPP and focus on a trade policy that benefits America’s working families.”

“The ITC has a long history of being overly optimistic about our trade deals. Yet, even the ITC’s rosy projection paints a picture of the TPP that would be bad for American workers,” said Shane Larson, Legislative Director of the Communications Workers of America (CWA).  “Across the electorate and throughout the country, the public is coming out strongly against the TPP and for good reason. The TPP was based on a trade model that has led to lost manufacturing jobs, lower wages, and increased trade deficits. It’s no surprise that those outcomes are what the TPP will deliver.”

The TPP will be hot button issues during this coming election. We have already seen this in the Presidential primary process. People all across the country are challenging candidates to stand up in opposition to this disastrous trade deal now.

“The American public has made clear its overwhelming opposition to the TPP and the approach to trade it embodies, and now this report makes it even more clear why lawmakers of both parties should stand with the American people and loudly oppose the TPP,” Larson stated.

“This year voters across the country are clearly making trade an issue. Most Washington policymakers and politicians are out of touch with the lives of average Americans. The American public is sick and tired of economists projecting fantasies of prosperity for them when it’s primarily multinational corporations that benefit. On Main Street and in workplaces all across America, working Americans know firsthand the consequences of what economists experience in theory,” added Gerard of the USW.

“But in the end, this may be the most damning government report ever submitted for a trade agreement. It is clear that the TPP will be DOA if Congress ever decides to bring it up,” Gerard stated.

This report clearly shows that the drawbacks to the TPP far out weight the meager benefits promised the US Trade Representative and the White House.

Under New OSHA Rule, OSHA Will Post Injury And Illness Data From Employers, On Agency’s Website

OSHA-logo

New Rule Takes Effect On Aug. 10th 2016

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued a final rule to modernize injury data collection to better inform workers, employers, the public and OSHA about workplace hazards. With this new rule, OSHA is applying the insights of behavioral economics to improve workplace safety and prevent injuries and illnesses.

OSHA requires many employers to keep a record* of injuries and illnesses to help these employers and their employees identify hazards, fix problems and prevent additional injuries and illnesses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports more than three million workers suffer a workplace injury or illness every year. Currently, little or no information about worker injuries and illnesses at individual employers is made public or available to OSHA. Under the new rule, employers in high-hazard industries will send OSHA injury and illness data that the employers are already required to collect, for posting on the agency’s website.

Just as public disclosure of their kitchens’ sanitary conditions encourages restaurant owners to improve food safety, OSHA expects that public disclosure of work injury data will encourage employers to increase their efforts to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses.

“Since high injury rates are a sign of poor management, no employer wants to be seen publicly as operating a dangerous workplace,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Our new reporting requirements will ‘nudge’ employers to prevent worker injuries and illnesses to demonstrate to investors, job seekers, customers and the public that they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target our compliance assistance and enforcement resources at establishments where workers are at greatest risk, and enable ‘big data’ researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer.”

After OSHA announced the rule, Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, released the following statement:

Until now, most workplace injury records have only been available at the workplace, making it impossible to know which employers have bad or good injury records.  Employers in high hazard industries will now have to electronically submit a summary of their firms’ injuries and illnesses to OSHA each year, and large employers will have to submit more detailed injury and illness information.  OSHA, workers and the public will have access to this information.

This new transparency will assist OSHA and workers in identifying hazardous workplaces. In addition, employers will be able to compare their records with other employers in their industry and public health officials and researchers will be able to identify emerging trends. Most importantly, this data will help prevent future injuries, illnesses and deaths.

We are pleased that the new rules also include important protections to ensure that workers can report injuries without fear of retaliation. For far too long, in an effort to keep reported injury rates low, employers have retaliated against workers for reporting injuries, disciplining them for every injury or creating barriers to reporting. Now these violations will be subject to citations and penalties.  With these stronger protections, workers will be more willing to report injuries, which will help with overall prevention.

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health’s Acting Executive Director, Jessica Martinez, was also pleased to hear of the rule change stating, “Accurate and timely reporting of on-the-job injuries and illnesses is one of the best tools we have to learn how to make workplaces safer.” 

Martinez continued, “The new OSHA recordkeeping rule, announced today in the Federal Register, is an important step towards transparency. By requiring electronic submissions every quarter and making the data public, this common-sense regulation will help us learn more about how workers are hurt and become sick on the job. 

“The more we know, the more we can do to prevent injuries and illnesses from happening in the first place, with effective safety programs centered on worker participation,” Martinez concluded. 

The availability of this data will enable prospective employees to identify workplaces where their risk of injury is lowest; as a result, employers competing to hire the best workers will make injury prevention a higher priority. Access to this data will also enable employers to benchmark their safety and health performance against industry leaders, to improve their own safety programs.

Using data collected under the new rule, OSHA will create the largest publicly available data set on work injuries and illnesses, enabling researchers to better study injury causation, identify new workplace safety hazards before they become widespread and evaluate the effectiveness of injury and illness prevention activities. OSHA will remove all personally identifiable information associated with the data before it is publicly accessible.

To ensure that the injury data on OSHA logs are accurate and complete, the final rule also promotes an employee’s right to report injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation, and clarifies that an employer must have a reasonable procedure for reporting work-related injuries that does not discourage employees from reporting. This aspect of the rule targets employer programs and policies that, while nominally promoting safety, have the effect of discouraging workers from reporting injuries and, in turn leading to incomplete or inaccurate records of workplace hazards.

The new requirements take effect Aug. 10, 2016, with phased in data submissions beginning in 2017.

Global Labor Organizations Strategize to Counter Rise of Right-Wing Populism

AFL-CIO, Working America, and Freidrich Ebert Stiftung convene representatives from ten countries for trans-Atlantic discussion on the global rise of right-wing populism

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the first convening of its kind, global labor leaders from Europe, the U.S. and Canada met today in Washington, D.C. to discuss the international rise of right-wing populist movements and share best practices for engaging working people against the threat of an anti-worker Right agenda.

Hosted by the AFL-CIO, Working America and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the day-long forum – “Labor, Politics and the Threat from the Right: A Trans-Atlantic Discussion” – brought together union leaders, academics and activists to discuss the role of organized labor in countering the global rise of the radical Right and ensuring that workers’ voices are heard through a progressive counter-narrative. Representatives from Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the U.K., and the U.S. convened to discuss innovative strategies for countering the appeal of right-wing rhetoric amongst the global working class.

“Too many politicians in the U.S. and Europe are exploiting our differences and inciting hate and division. Income inequality is a global problem that should unite all leaders; it should not give rise to right wing extremism and building walls. We must come together to focus on common issues like raising wages and creating good jobs.  Political tactics that scapegoat hardworking immigrants and refugees only serve to pit workers against one another, while ignoring the corporate excess that created these problems,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

“Working people everywhere are standing up against this hateful discourse to demand policy proposals that will empower and unite working families,” added Trumka.

Even before Donald Trump became the presumptive GOP nominee, his candidacy was legitimizing a hard-right agenda among working-class voters, similar to the reemergence of right-wing political parties throughout Europe like France’s National Front or the UK Independence Party. International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharan Burrow, European Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Luca Visentini and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler were among the delegation of leaders gathered to better understand the growing threat of hard-right populist movements and how their rhetoric exploits communities struggling with austerity, economic stagnation, lack of jobs and mass migration.

“Trust in government is broken in too many countries around the world where one in two working families have lost their jobs or have reduced working hours,” said Burrow. “The fear and desperation of working people has been created by a global economic model that is based on corporate greed is simply inequality by design.

“Conversations in communities and workplaces on issues of critical concern for workers and their families are central to building workplace democracies which underpin our economy and society and counter the anxiety for a secure future,” Burrow added.

“In the current political climate, global labor leaders recognize the need to share our unique experiences and effective ways to talk with our members and neighbors about working family issues,” said Working America Executive Director Karen Nussbaum. “Authentic engagement — a trusted messenger offering real solutions and a viable path to change — is a critical, scalable tactic to use against the divisive right-wing politics of scapegoating.”

AFL-CIO Releases New Video About One Mother’s Food Safety Fears About The TPP

Ahead of Mother’s Day, Pregnant Mom Discusses TPP Food Safety Fears in New AFL-CIO Trade Video

(Washington, DC, ) – As Mother’s Day approaches, the AFL-CIO released a video featuring a pregnant mom who’s concerned that the secrecy around food labeling and regulations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could negatively impact her unborn child.

“American families deserve to know that the food on their dinner tables is safe.” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “The TPP will undermine U.S. food safety regulations and once again put the greed of corporations ahead of the safety of working families. This is unacceptable.”

“As an expectant mother I already have a lot of anxiety when it comes to doing grocery shopping and trying to figure out what I can trust,” said Katrina Dizon Mariategue. “We don’t know what type of additives or antibiotics are being put into our food. Some of the stuff might not even be specified in labels. I think it’s a very terrifying thought.”

This video is the third 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 and the second warns that TPP would double down on NAFTA’s economic devastation.

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.


exposure-fatalities-2016

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.”

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