AFL-CIO Statement On Obama’s Executive Order To Protect Employees From Gender Discrimination

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Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on President Obama’s Executive Order Protecting Federal Employees from Gender Identity Discrimination

Working people believe in equality and fairness. That’s why we are happy to stand with President Obama in supporting protections for workers who are discriminated against on the basis of gender identity.

It is wrong for any employer to discriminate against or fire a worker based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Discrimination in the workplace has no place in the United States. That’s why it’s difficult to believe that in many parts of the country, it’s legal to fire workers for their sexual orientation or gender identity.

America’s unions and working families are dedicated to bringing fairness and dignity to the workplace—and will continue this work until every worker is treated with dignity and respect on the job.

We are proud to come together for a more just America.

AFL-CIO President Trumka On The Humanitarian Crisis At The Border

Richard Trumka (The Nation / AP-Photo)

The humanitarian crisis of families and children fleeing violence in Central America and turning themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol agents has brought out both the best and the worst in our nation.

Alarmingly, in places like Murrieta, California and Vassar, Michigan, we have seen ugly reminders of racism and hatred directed toward children. The spewing of nativist venom, the taking up of arms and the fear-mongering about crime and disease harken back to dark periods in our history and have no business taking place under the banner of our flag.

On the other hand, around the country we have also seen a tremendous outpouring of compassion and concern for the plight of these women and children.  We are proud to say that local unions have joined with faith and community groups to collect needed supplies, provide shelter and support, and call for humane treatment.

The situation along the border is a refugee crisis that requires a humane, lawful response and must not be politicized.  The labor movement calls upon national and community leaders to respond to the crisis in a manner that meets our obligations under U.S. and international law, and comports with basic human rights and American values.  This means ensuring full due process and providing the additional resources necessary to ensure the well-being and fair treatment of children and refugees.  It also requires taking an honest assessment of the root causes of the crisis, including the long-term impact of U.S. policies on immigration, trade, and foreign affairs.

We cannot lend credibility to Republican assertions that a refugee crisis is proof that we should continue to deport hard working people who have been contributing members of our society for years.  These are simply new excuses to justify failed policies. Lifting the pressure on immigrant workers was needed before the child refugee story developed, and it is no less urgent today.  The Administration must act now to keep all families together, uphold our standards as a humanitarian nation, and advance the decent work agenda necessary to improve conditions both at home and abroad.

Working People Score Major Victories Throughout The Country

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Working people scored major victories over the last several months, organizing new workplaces and winning fights to raise wages.

The following are a sample of some these victories:

Organizing Victories

Texas Machinists Win Back-to-Back Organizing Drives: Union growth continues in Texas as members from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers successfully organized their second consecutive workplace in Texas this month adding nearly 1,000 new members.

Point Park University Faculty Organize Hundreds to Gain Benefits: Over 300 part-time faculty members at Point Park University in Pittsburgh now have access to essential benefits and protections thanks to a successful vote to join the Adjunct Faculty Association of the United Steelworkers (AFA-USW).

Missouri EMS Workers Win Organizing Fight: An overwhelming majority of Emergency Medical Service (EMS) professionals in Independence, Missouri voted to join EMS Workers United-AFSCME, strengthening the local union and providing essential protections for Missouri workers.

Raising Wages Victories

Massachusetts Workers Help Push Minimum Wage Hike: Working people in Massachusetts scored a big win as Governor Deval Patrick signed legislation that will increase the state’s minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2017.

Newark, NJ Paid Sick-Leave Ordinance Goes Into Effect: A new paid sick-leave law in Newark, NJ will allow full and part-time employees to earn up to 40 hours of paid sick-leave per year. Similar paid sick-leave laws have passed in cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

Momentum Builds for Minimum Wage Hike in Nebraska: Workers in Nebraska put a measure on the 2014 ballot to raise the minimum wage to $9 and hour by 2016.

California Workers Benefit from Minimum Wage Increase: An increase in California’s minimum wage to $9 an hour has taken effect, with the wage set to increase again in 2016 to $10 an hour. Meanwhile, efforts continue in Los Angeles to increase the minimum wage in the city to $15 an hour.

Community Victories

Philadelphia Building-Trades Go to Work with New Housing Deal: A deal between Philadelphia building-trades unions and the Philadelphia Housing Authority will put people to work in union jobs while creating new affordable housing for Pennsylvanians.

Letter Carriers Complete Successful Food Drive: Members of the National Association of Letter Carriers completed their annual food drive, collecting more than 72 million pounds of food for families in need.

Union Volunteers Help Aspiring Americans Earn Citizenship: On June 28th at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, DC, volunteers helped nearly 100 people through the U.S. citizenship process, enabling them to file paperwork with the help of legal and immigration experts.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: Harris v. Quinn an assault on wages, middle class

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June 30, 2014

Richard_TrumkaThe extreme views of today’s Supreme Court aimed at home care workers aren’t just bad for unions – they’re bad for all workers and the middle class. But the attacks on the freedom of workers to come together are nothing new. They are part of an onslaught from anti-worker organizations hostile to raising wages or improving benefits for millions of people.  These attacks are a direct cause of an economy in which middle class families can’t get a break because their wages have stagnated and their incomes have declined.

Home care is one of the fastest growing industries. Its workers do backbreaking, thankless work, often for low wages. By forming a union these workers are helping to combat income inequality and the rise of low wage jobs, ensuring that these are good jobs with good benefits.

Make no mistake: the fate of workers cannot and will not be decided by one Supreme Court decision. The Court upheld the right of public employees to have strong unions and workers will vigorously build on that foundation.

Non-Union Working Women Face Greater Challenges on the Job

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In advance of the White House Summit on Working Families, the labor movement and worker groups are spending this week highlighting the stories of real working families and the challenges they face.

Today we’ll take a look at working women and moms in the workplace with the story from Bene’t Holmes.  Bene’t is a 25-year-old single mother who works at Walmart in Chicago and struggles to survive on low wages.  In February she suffered a miscarriage while at work, after a manager denied her request for job duties that were less physically demanding.  Following her miscarriage, she asked for a leave of absence to recover and was denied that request as well.  Read how Bene’t realized she needed a voice on the job and took action with the OUR Walmart campaign.

A quote from Bene’t’s story

“….Besides feeling betrayed by Walmart I questioned how a company that champions family could be so cold and heartless when one of its own employees is dealing with a tragedy.

I had to act—no woman should ever be put in that position again. I used my story to speak out and empower other women….”

On the policy front, the Center for Economic Policy and Research is out with a new study on women, working families and unions.  The study concludes that “firms with a union presence were 22 percent more likely to allow workers to take parental leave for a new child, 16 percent more likely to allow workers to take medical leave for their own illness, 12 percent more likely to allow workers to take medical leave for pregnancy, and 19 percent more likely to allow workers to take medical leave to care for a family member.”  View the full study here

Follow the conversation on social media at #WFSpeakUp and #WorkingFamilies.  Or visit the AFL-CIO blog for more stories from working families. http://www.aflcio.org/Blog

#MoralMonday Goes National in North Carolina

Crowd Shot from Moral Monday on June 3rd 2013
(image by NC AFL-CIO)

Labor Movement Amplifies Last Protest of Legislative Session, Uses “Imminent Disturbance

Moral Mondays are getting a jolt of national energy today in North Carolina. The labor movement is spearheading one of the last Moral Mondays of the 2014 legislative session to focus on workers’ rights. Along with the Forward Together Moral Movement, demands for lawmakers to protect the rights of working men and women are being amplified nationwide.

“North Carolina has quickly become a shining example of a people-driven movement and a microcosm of what’s to come,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “When the labor movement and the entire community band together to stand up for what is right, everyone wins. The working people in Raleigh are inspiring action at state capitals around America.”

At its convention last year, the AFL-CIO made a groundbreaking commitment to build enduring labor-community partnerships. The goal of these partnerships has been to assemble a broad progressive coalition for social and economic justice.

“Moral Mondays are exactly the kind of new movement working people and their communities have been eager for,” said Trumka. “Only together can we build momentum and make real, positive change in lives of all workers in the community.”

Today’s protest comes on the heels of efforts by extremist conservatives to silence protestors for creating any “imminent disturbance.” This could include singing, clapping or speaking loudly. The AFL-CIO has been quick to point out that “the greatest moments in America’s history were born out of ‘imminent disturbance’” and are carrying that message today.

AFL-CIO Slams North Carolina ‘Imminent Disturbance’ Rule with New Video

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WASHINGTON, DC – Today, in a show of solidarity with progressive activists and faith leaders in North Carolina, the AFL-CIO released a video slamming the North Carolina state legislature for establishing undemocratic ‘imminent disturbance’ rules, aimed at limiting the First Amendment rights of North Carolinians.

“The very best of America has come from imminent disturbance, and to limit people’s right to assemble and protest is both unacceptable and un-American,” said AFL-CIO Strategic Advisor and Communications Director, Eric Hauser. “We stand together with the thousands who have spoken out against these reprehensible rules, and call on North Carolina’s leaders to reverse course and restore the basic rights we fight for every day.”

These rules, established earlier this month, would prohibit individuals from engaging in activity deemed to be an ‘imminent disturbance’ to the North Carolina statehouse. The new rules directly impact participants of the ‘Moral Mondays’, which have shed light on extreme right-wing policies introduced in the North Carolina statehouse.

The video, entitled ‘Imminent Disturbance’, can be seen below.

Statement by AFL-CIO President Trumka on Turkish Mining Disaster

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Today’s news that more than 200 coal miners in Turkey have lost their lives on the job and an untold number are still trapped in the mine is a tragedy.  The thoughts and prayers of millions of workers go out to their families and communities.

This disaster also is a stark reminder of the danger workers face every day around the world due to corporate negligence and the failure of governments to protect their citizens.

As a third-generation coal miner, I understand the risks involved in earning a living and providing for your family through such dangerous work. While there will always be risks involved in mining, and many other professions, there are steps we can and should take to ensure that no worker has to choose between a day’s pay and their life.

We await more details about the nature and cause of this tragedy.  Our concerns are grounded in reams of evidence which show that the reach of corporate irresponsibility and government incapacity knows no borders. Our own annual Death on the Jobreport, released just last week, shows too many dying on the job in the United States, including two coal miners in West Virginia only days ago. We must dedicate our efforts to ensuring every workplace is safe.  Those who lost their lives today, and the thousands more we have lost in the last year serve as a reminder of the challenge ahead to ensure that every worker can live without fear of workplace injury or death.

In 2012, the most recent year with available data, 4,628 workers were killed on the job in the United States, and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases, resulting in a loss of 150 workers each day from hazardous working conditions. America still has much work to do to protect its own workers.

Arena Football Players Affiliate with AFL-CIO

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Arena_football_Kansas_City_wide_shot

Partnership builds a stronger labor movement

(Washington, DC, May 13, 2014) – The Arena Football League Players Union (AFLPU) has affiliated with the AFL-CIO following a unanimous vote by its Board of Player Representatives. The hardworking athletes of the AFLPU join the 57 international unions representing more than 12 million working men and women in America.

“The labor movement is stronger when all workers– from nurses in California to teachers in New York or arena football players across the country – speak with a collective voice,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “We are excited to welcome the AFLPU into America’s labor movement and look forward to working together to improve the lives of all working people.”

“This partnership will help grow the AFLPU and level the playing field for players as our league continues to grow,” said AFLPU Executive Director Ivan Soto. “The AFL-CIO’s resources will provide our athletes with training, education and many other benefits that will help us achieve our goal: a workplace that treats athletes fairly and puts player safety first.”

This partnership is the culmination of nearly a year of discussions between the AFL-CIO and the AFLPU.

AFL-CIO Calls For An End To Deportations, Projects Stories Of Deported Workers On AFL-CIO Building Wall

(Photo by Bill Burke, Page One Photography)
(Photo by Bill Burke, Page One Photography)

(Photo by Bill Burke, Page One Photography)

Display highlighted deportation crisis’ impact on immigrant workers

(Washington, DC) Last nightthe AFL-CIO and its pro-immigrant allies highlighted the cost of the deportation crisis by way of a 90 by 60 foot projection of a video onto its downtown headquarters.  The event highlighted many speakers from inside the labor movement.   Workers from every trade coming together to call for an end to deportations, calling for Speaker Boehner to bring the Senate passed immigration reform bill up for a vote.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka summed it up perfectly when he tweeted, “Why is the labor movement all in to stop deportations? Because deportations hurt workers, families and America

Tefere Gebre an Executive Vice President with the AFL-CIO stated,”No father or mother should leave their house in the morning and worry they won’t see their children again.” He continued in his speech (which is in the video just below) that “This is a moral issue.”

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler stated, “We can’t stand by and let one more child be torn away from their parents!”  Shuler called on everyone to come together to make his happen.

Others called on the President to use his power to stop the deportations now.  People on stage were joined by people in the crowd “SÍ SE PUEDE” which loosely translates to Yes We Can.

The video, featuring the stories and names of deported immigrant workers, will be projected onto the AFL-CIO again tonight, May 1st, as well as tomorrow, May 2nd, from 8:30pm to 11:30.

However, if you are not in the Washington D.C. area, you can see the video here.

Everyday over one-thousand hard working aspiring Americans are being deported while Congress sits in gridlock.  These people are being torn away from their families, their friends, their neighbors, and their homes.  Many of these immigrants have been waiting for over a decade to be given the chance to become Americans.

President Obama has the power to stop this, and he should use it.  If Congress will not get off their butts and do something about these deportations, the President should.