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Progressive Policy and Politics Drive AFL-CIO Executive Meeting

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council meeting taking place this week on July 29th and 30th in Silver Spring, MD:

The Executive Council of the AFL-CIO is meeting this week to strategize and coalesce around an agenda that helps working people achieve a better life. Building on our Raising Wages roadmap, the AFL-CIO is more committed than ever to broad progressive policies that bring our economy back into balance, encourage working men and women to speak up together, and enable families to sustain themselves.

In 2015, nearly 5 million working men and women will sit down with their employers to demand a fair contract, making this the biggest year for collective bargaining in American history. It is already paying dividends. In the first six months of this year alone, working people across a variety of industries have earned an average 4.3 percent pay increase the old-fashioned way—by asking for it.

As union members win wage increases through bargaining, we are spearheading political victories too. Just last week, fast food workers won a $15 minimum wage in New York and for the first time in history federal legislation was proposed at the same level. These are not isolated actions—they are part of a growing grassroots movement to change the rules to benefit working people, not the wealthy few.

The Raising Wages agenda is about more than income. We also need fundamental reforms like paid time off to care for a loved one, reliable and flexible schedules, equal pay for equal work, and the right to form a union free from employer interference. We must also put stricter rules on Wall Street and stop passing corporate-written, job-killing trade deals. Wall Street should serve Main Street, not the other way around.

The specifics of this agenda will drive our in-person discussions with five presidential candidates: Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders, and Jim Webb. We want to know what their plan is to raise wages, what economic advisors they will listen to, and what actions they will take to make our economy fairer for working families. Our Raising Wages agenda, not any candidate’s political party, is the measuring stick we will use in 2016.

The need for fairer economic policies will be amplified by Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, chief economist at the Roosevelt Institute. He will address the Executive Council to discuss his report “Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy.” Stiglitz makes clear that wage and income inequality—which has skyrocketed to record highs—is not a natural occurrence, but the result of conscious decisions by policymakers of both political parties.

Chief among his recommendations for creating a stronger America is guaranteeing the freedom to form unions and bargain collectively, as well as increasing union density. We have been arguing for decades that the best tool to fight inequality is a collective bargaining agreement. He also calls for raising wages; reining in Wall Street excess; investing in health care, education and infrastructure; reforming our broken immigration system; and increasing opportunities for women and people of color.

The 12.5 million men and women we represent work hard every day and deserve an economy that works for them. Working people are not asking for much: good pay, decent benefits, paid time off, a fair schedule, and a something left over to retire with dignity. It is their future that will drive this Executive Council meeting, our role in the 2016 election, and our work going forward.

TTD Stands with United Flight Attendants Fighting for Fair Contract

TDDThousands of flight attendants at United Airlines hubs across the globe are standing up to say enough is enough — and we stand with them.

Yesterday, the Joint Negotiating Committee of AFA-CWA flight attendants held an International Day of Action to draw attention to the absurd refusal by United to bargain in good faith with its employees. Ed Wytkind, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, joined flight attendants at Dulles International Airport, where he made a declaration of solidarity:

“United Airlines needs to invest in the workers who help make this company profitable and successful. Until management understands that and flight attendants at United secure a fair contract, I’ll be standing with you fighting for what’s right.”

United Airlines, which merged with Continental in 2010, is one of the largest airlines in the world. It’s also one of the most profitable. The company’s 2015 income will be five times higher than its income in 2013, and the company’s CEO, Jeff Smisek, recently enjoyed a 32-percent pay increase.

Despite these incredible figures, Smisek refuses to make good on a five-year-old promise to complete joint contracts with all workers by the end of 2011. Instead of fairly compensating employees — who have undoubtedly contributed to the company’s success — Smisek further insulted workers by recently announcing a $100 million investment in a Brazilian airline.

Meanwhile, United’s 24,000 flight attendants are still waiting for a fair contract that reflects the professionalism and pride they bring to their jobs daily.

“The bottom line problem is the company’s unwillingness to put the required economic resources into a Flight Attendant Contract,” AFA-CWA President Sara Nelson said. “That is unacceptable and we are going to stand up to make it clear to the company that we expect much more, especially now as United’s profits are soaring.”

Labor Praises The Supreme Court’s Marriage Equality Decision And Recognizes That There Is More To Be Done

Gay-Couple-from-back-Holding-Hands Square

For over thirty years organized labor and the LGBT have been walking hand-in-hand to push for equality.

Last year I wrote a labor history story called “Labor of Love: How The American Labor Movement Is Securing LBGT Equality” which focused on the role that labor unions played in pushing for equality.

“The UAW was the first union to get same sex couple benefits into labor contract,” said Roland Leggett, the Michigan State Director for Working America.  After the UAW successfully got domestic partner benefits into their contracts in 1982, more and more Fortune 500 companies started to adopt similar policies.  By 2006, 49% of all Fortune 500 companies offered domestic partner benefits.

As you are already well aware, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states. This ruling will force states like Texas, to accept and recognize all marriages.

Labor unions from across the country applauded this decision and reminded us of their role in helping to make the dream of equality, a reality.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision marks a truly historic day in America. While there is still work to do to secure economic and social justice for LGBT Americans, the court’s ruling is a major victory for everyone who believes in equality,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler. “Same-sex couples will now have equal access to marriage licenses like any other couple. This ruling is a win for children, families, workers and our entire country.”

“The United Steelworkers applaud the court for upholding the 14th Amendment of the U.S Constitution, which guarantees equal protection under the law,” said The United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard and International Vice President Fred Redmond. “This is a historic day, and we are proud especially for our LGBT members. This victory confirms the principles of our union that regardless of the color of a person’s skin, regardless of religion or nationality, and no matter who a person loves, discrimination has no place in our union or in our society.”

“Today is a momentous day. Together as a nation we took a dramatic step toward the ideals of equality and freedom. Today, brave Americans who were unafraid to stand up and organize for their basic rights proved once again the arc of history is long but it bends toward justice,” stated Lee Saunders, President of the American Federation of County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

“AFGE applauds today’s Supreme Court ruling declaring that same-sex couples across the country have a Constitutional right to marry,” said American Federation of Government Employees National Vice President for Women and Fair Practices Augusta Y. Thomas. “This was the right decision for the country and the right decision for everyone who believes in the principles of fairness, equality, and basic human dignity.

“As the largest union representing federal and D.C. government employees, AFGE represents people across the social and political spectrum, including many LGBT members. Just two weeks ago, AFGE was proud to march for the first time in the 2015 Capital Pride Parade – the only labor union to participate. For years, our AFGE Pride Program has been working toward fair treatment and equality for LGBT employees in the government workplace,” concluded Thomas.

The National Education Association and its 22 state-level affiliates, were a part of a broad-based labor coalition with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and Change to Win, filed an amicus brief, arguing that state discrimination against same sex couples deprives such couples of an array of economic benefits and legal rights, and deprives them and their children of fundamental dignity, benefits and rights that other couples and their families enjoy.

“Today the Supreme Court has taken a monumental step forward in our national journey toward a more perfect union by making marriage equality the law in every state of our great nation,” said National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García. “On behalf of our members—and the students they serve—we applaud the court’s historic decision, which will end discrimination against same sex couples, place them on equal footing with other families and safeguard all of our children.”

“We know that today’s ruling will make a tremendous difference both to the dignity and personal and economic well-being of same sex families and to the dignity and personal well-being of their children as well as others who have been bullied and fearful due to their sexual identity. We applaud the Supreme Court and the many advocates whose work resulted in today’s historic decision,” concluded Eskelsen García.

For some this decision hit very close to home. Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers is also one of the few openly gay, national union leaders.

“From Loving to Windsor to today, love has won. As people start seeing one another’s real aspirations and dreams for all our families and our communities, as well as for ourselves, we see that the arc of history does bend toward justice,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.

“And while this is a day of celebration, there is more work to do in our fight for full equality. As a gay woman and union leader, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for my union—an ally in the struggle for rights and a shield from unfair discrimination in the workplace,” said Weingarten.

The freedom to marry does not mean that the LGBT community has reached full equality. The persecution and discrimination of LGBT members still runs rampant in many parts of our great nation.

While I celebrated this decision, in solidarity with the dozens of my personal friends and family who are gay, I know that we still have a long way to go. The suicide rate of LBGT teens is almost 30% higher than non-LGBT teens. This is in large part to the persecution and bullying that LGBT teens must endure as they grow and find themselves. Most states have protections from bullying based on race or ethnicity, but very few have protections for the LGBT members.

We also have work to do to ensure that LGBT workers cannot be discriminated against in applying for a job, and cannot be arbitrarily fired just for being gay. Unfortunately too few states have protections for LGBT members from workplace discrimination.

“From talking with LGBT members throughout the country, I know the importance of ensuring that there are comprehensive federal nondiscrimination protections in place. Without these protections, same-sex couples who have the right to marry in their home state will still be at risk of being fired from their jobs or evicted from their apartments based simply on who they are. We will continue the fight forward,” concluded Weingarten.

 

Worker Wins Update: From Night Shifts to Nightclubs, Workers See Big Wins in June

WASHINGTON, DC– Workers across the country have stood up in the past month to fight for better wages and working conditions.

NYC Musicians Win Major Bargaining Agreement with Historic Venue: This month, members of the Associated Musicians of Greater New York Local 802 (American Federation of Musicians) signed a collective bargaining agreement with 54 Below, attached to the legendary Studio 54 nightclub.

Virgin America Pilots Flying High with New Union: Earlier this month, pilots for Virgin America overwhelmingly voted to join the Air Line Pilots Association, International. The vote was a result of a year-long campaign initiated by the pilots looking to achieve a stronger voice in the workplace.

California LabCorp Workers Continue Big Organizing Wins: Following the success of a May organizing campaign, 40 new workers at LabCorp in Southern California joined UFCW Local 1428. The new members will join contract negotiations in July.

Telecom Workers Win Big With T-Mobile Scheduling Changes: T-Mobile employees won significant scheduling changes last month that gave workers more power over their own schedules and time-off without the threat of a negative review.

Domestic Workers Secure New Benefits, Rights in Two States: Earlier this month, Connecticut and Oregon agreed to establish new protections and benefits to domestic workers. Oregon’s legislation includes time off and overtime pay, while Connecticut’s would include domestic workers in the state’s anti-discrimination and harassment statutes.

Interns Break New Ground, Form New Union: Interns at the American Federation of Teachers formed the nation’s first non-medical intern union earlier this month, earning a pay raise and a greater voice in their workplace.

Grocery Workers Bag Up New Rights with Union: Workers at Food Front Co-op stores in Portland, Oregon overwhelmingly voted to join UFCW Local 555 earlier this month. The workers will begin negotiations with store management in the coming weeks.

Government Workers Earn Significant Raising Wages Victories: Last month, federal government employees in 13 cities won pay increases thanks to work by AFGE to bring federal salaries in line with local market conditions.

Contact: Anthony DeAngelo (202) 637-5018

 

House Votes to Stand with Working Families on Trade

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued the following statement after the House of Representatives failed to advance the package of trade deals:

“The House of Representatives has done the right thing, but the fight isn’t over.

This is a significant day. American workers came together and spoke with one voice about the path their country and economy should follow. We are very grateful for all the activists, families, community leaders, and elected officials who worked so tirelessly for transparency and worker rights in international trade deals.

The debate over Fast Track so far has been a marvelous contrast to the corporate money and disillusionment that normally mark American politics today. This was truly democracy in action – millions of people exercising their free rights to inform their elected representatives. We should all draw from this experience to help replenish our democracy at every level on every issue.

The conversation now should turn to putting a raising wages agenda in motion. Let’s discard the old ways of arranging corporate trade entitlements, and open a path to revitalizing our economy on the basis of real growth, worker rights, higher wages, and shared prosperity. We look forward to working with any Democrat or Republican committed to a raising wages agenda, including pro-worker trade deals that will transform the American economy and lift up all workers.”

AFL-CIO Launches Ad Denouncing NY Rep. Kathleen Rice’s Fast Track Betrayal

Rep. Rice Caves to Corporate Interests, Disregards Working Men and Women

(Washington, DC) – Today, the AFL-CIO launched a six-figure ad buy that includes this TV ad in the New York City media market calling out Rep. Kathleen Rice for changing her stance on Fast Track. Rice, whose congressional district is the most union dense in the nation, had publicly stated at least twice her opposition to Fast Track.

“Which Kathleen can we trust,” the ad asks at the beginning. The ad then shows two examples of Rice saying she opposes Fast Track trade agreements because they cost American jobs. The ad ends with the question, “Should we ever trust Kathleen again.”

“Congresswoman Rice’s about-face on Fast Track is a complete betrayal not only to the constituents in the 4th Congressional District on Long Island but all working men and women across this country,” said Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO. “The Labor Movement believed in the Congresswoman, as did her constituents, when she promised to make the needs and concerns of working men and women a priority. She has unfortunately buckled to the pressure from corporate interests and has made a conscious decision to vote for Fast Track legislation that will harm working people, our families and the economy.”

Organizations that have been battling Fast Track from the beginning are concerned not only with shipping U.S. jobs overseas, but the threat to food safety, increased pollution and rising prescription drug prices are also disappointed in Rice.

“In flip-flopping with her recent support for a lousy secret trade deal, Representative Rice hasn’t just betrayed her own public statements and the constituents she promised to protect. She’s also increased the threat of unsafe food and pollution for all Long Islanders. It’s critical that the people Rice has sworn to serve know the truth about her sudden, callous sell-out of their health, safety and economic security,” said Alex Beauchamp, Northeast region director at Food & Water Watch, an advocacy group.

“We are outraged that Representative Rice would break a promise she made to Long Island working families and support Fast Track of the Trans Pacific Partnership,” said Working Families Party State Director Bill Lipton. “At a time when our middle class is being hollowed out and corporations are an increasingly dominant force, it is disturbing to see Rep. Rice betray her constituents and vote for a policy to further empower corporations to set the rules for both our economy and our democracy.”

“Congress can stop this Fast Track bill and prevent more massive, secretive corporate giveaways. But Democrats who side with corporate interests over the interests of regular Americans need to know their vote will​ not​ be forgotten or forgiven. Rep. Rice has changed her mind – but it’s not too late to change it back and do the right thing for her constituents.” Said Justin Krebs, campaign manager, MoveOn.org Civic Action.
This is just the beginning of the advertising onslaught. The ad buy also includes digital ads in Politico, Roll Call and The Hill.

Hundreds of vocal members rallied at Rice’s district office Monday evening.

Baltimore Steelworker Invites Pres. Obama to Witness Results of Past Failed Trade Policies

AFL-CIO, USW Launches New Trade Ad

(Washington, DC) – A new ad from the AFL-CIO and USW highlights how the loss of manufacturing jobs due to bad trade policy over the past 30 years has hit African-American populations especially hard in cities like Baltimore. The video makes clear that the battle over Fast Track authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is not about politics: it’s about people like former steelworker Mike Lewis.

“One can’t help but be saddened. This was once called the ‘Beast of the East.’ We made the steel that went into the Golden Gate Bridge…” Lewis says in a video message to President Obama, while standing on the decimated site where he proudly worked for 32 years as a full-time crane operator. The dream of economic opportunities disappeared in August of 2012 when Mike and 2,100 of his steelworker brothers and sisters who permanently lost their jobs at the steel plant in Sparrows Point in Baltimore.

The union hall where workers came together for so many years in good times  has been a food bank that many rely on to feed their families. The closing of the steel plant and other manufacturing plants started the economic downfall that many in the African-American community have not recovered from.

“We want the American people to know that bad trade policies have terrible consequences for workers. This battle isn’t about a political party, it’s about the thousands of people just like Mike Lewis who simply want a fair chance to earn a good living and put food on their table,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

Mike has a simple message for the President: “President Obama, we welcome you to come to the site of what failed trade policies have brought, the devastation of this facility. Please come, please take a look at the devastation of three decades of failed trade policies.”

The ad will begin as an initial web buy with key targeted audiences and escalate based on the timing of the Fast Track trade fight.

The AFL-CIO Ramps Up Pressure Ahead Of Fast Track Vote

Fight for Working Families Hits Television, Radio, Digital

(Washington, DC)  – The AFL-CIO is ramping up efforts to stop Fast Track with a targeted advertising blitz against undecided members of Congress. The ads reflect the sentiment of working families who are vehemently opposed to giving Fast Track authority to another bad trade deal that costs American jobs.

The Coalition to Stop Fast Track, which the AFL-CIO is a part of, is up with a TV ad in DC and across California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, North Carolina, Texas and Washington. The ad focuses on how fast track will stifle America’s ingenuity and cost jobs by stacking the deck in favor of multinational corporations, driving down wages and undercutting our nation’s competitive edge.

 

The AFL-CIO is also running a TV ad in Sacramento criticizing Rep. Ami Bera for his support of fast track and posted a classified ad in the Sacramento Bee, on Career Builder and on Sacramento Craigslist, looking for a Congressman in CA-7 with a backbone.

This evening the New York State AFL-CIO will rally to hold Congresswoman Rice accountable for her fast track flip flop.

On the digital front, the AFL-CIO purchased a digital ad buy in The New York TimesWashington PostPolitico and The Hill. The message: Fast Track Kills Jobs, Drives Down Wages, & Weakens Competition.  The ads run through June 14th.

“The urgency of these actions highlights the commitment working families have to defeating Fast Track. Their actions clearly show that they will not stand for another trade deal riddled with unfulfilled promises,” said AFL-CIO Strategic Advisor and Director of Communications Eric Hauser.

Since March, union members and our allies have organized more than 650 events against fast track and thousands of workers have traveled to D.C. to rally and lobby Congress. Unions have made 2 million phone calls to union members warning against fast track, generated more than 161,000 phone calls and nearly 18,000 handwritten letters to Members of Congress and gathered more than 40,000 petition signatures.Digital advertisements targeting dozens of Members of Congress have made more than 25 million impressions.

Protecting Orderly and Responsible Transit of Shipments (PORTS) Act Bill is an Overreach, Would Undermine Collective Bargaining Rights

Transportation Trade Department LogoWashington, DC—Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues this statement on the introduction of the Protecting Orderly and Responsible Transit of Shipments (PORTS) Act:

“Senator Cory Gardner’s PORTS bill is a blatant overreach by corporate interests whose sole objective is to eviscerate the collective bargaining rights of port employees. The Gardner bill would also have a severe chilling effect on labor-management relations in our nation’s ports by tilting the playing field in management’s favor.

“The PORTS bill usurps the power of the President of the United States. With the expert assistance of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services (FMCS), the President is in the best position to evaluate and understand complex, multi-state bargaining, and to provide leadership in helping both parties reach agreements consensually.

“During the recent port bargaining dispute on the West Coast, the President dispatched his Secretary of Labor who revived talks and helped the parties reach a new agreement. This is the way the bargaining process should work.

“By vesting governors with unique powers previously reserved for the President, Senator Gardner’s proposal would pervert the collective bargaining process by subjecting it to potentially sinister political motives that have no place in labor-management negotiations. Also, the bill’s language is so broad and € that it could easily allow corporate interests to use the pretense of port disputes as an excuse to exact political retribution on opponents.

“We stand committed to defeating this irresponsible assault on port workers’ bargaining rights.”

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The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, represents 32 member unions in the aviation, rail, transit, motor carrier, highway, longshore, maritime and related industries. For more information, visit us at www.ttd.org or on Facebook and Twitter.

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in response to Hillary Clinton’s Voting Rights Platform:

President Trumka Lauds Clinton’s Voter Rights Overhaul Plan

The labor movement strongly supports Hillary Clinton’s plan to implement sweeping changes to U.S. election and voting laws. This takes our country in the right direction towards ensuring that the vote of every eligible voter – regardless of his or her background – is protected. We applaud her for addressing these issues, which are crucial to a democratic system.

Every American should have the right to register to vote with ease and to cast a ballot in a convenient and accessible way without partisan politics getting in the way. But for far too long, extreme voices in the Republican Party have attempted to block large portions of the electorate from having a voice in the voting booth. Republicans’ refusal to restore the rights of the formerly incarcerated has also ensured that those who have paid their debt to society leave prison disenfranchised and marginalized.   Republican candidates cannot vie to lead this country while preventing Americans from exercising their right to elect government officials who reflect their values and beliefs. We call on all candidates to make clear their positions on this issue that is so crucial and basic to a democratic system.

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