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Labor Leaders, Workers, and Community Leaders Stand in Support of Immigrant Workers’ Rights and Executive Actions

(Photo by Bill Burke, Page One Photography)

(Photo by Bill Burke, Page One Photography, May 2014)

On the eve of what should have been a historic expansion of deferred action to millions of workers, the labor movement continues pressing for immigrant workersprotections

(Washington, DC) – At an event today, labor leaders, workers and community activists sent a clear and loud message: the labor movement will continue pushing forward with its efforts to build worker power for immigrants and will not wait for Congress, the courts, or the elections to act.  The event took place a day before the expansion of deferred action was scheduled to start, granting millions of workers the opportunity to live and work without fear.

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre was joined by UFCW Executive Vice President Esther Lopez, BAC President Jim Boland, NDLON Director of Legislative Affairs Salvador Sarmiento, and immigrant workers who are members of UNITE HERE and the Ironworkers unions together vowed to defend the new deferred action programs and continue pushing for immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship, while raising grave concerns about enforcement programs that undermine workers’ rights and destroy communities.

“Far from paralyzing us, the current legal injunction of the deferred action programs further highlight something that we in the labor movement know very well: that organizing is the only real force that moves our country forward,” said Gebre.

The three labor leaders pledged to keep pushing forward with the AFL-CIO’s We Rise! (¡Adelante!) national immigration implementation initiative. Gebre, Lopez and Boland announced that despite judicial roadblocks, labor unions across the country have opened their halls and successfully empowered immigrant workers through immigration and citizenship services; education and training; and organizing around campaigns to advance immigrant and workers’ rights.

“Tomorrow should have started a process where undocumented workers could apply for legal rights and some peace of mind,” said Lopez. “It was about taking a step forward, however modest, in the fight to fix our broken immigration system. But instead DAPA remains in limbo. And for that we say to the politicians who have held it up—shame on you. We know the lawsuit is a political stunt—an effort to scare away immigrant workers from applying for DAPA. The best way to fight back is to continue getting ready for this program. So that is exactly what we are doing. When the legal ruling finally comes down, UFCW members will either be ready to file for DAPA or fight for it.”

Carlos Castillo, an immigrant worker, who works as a day laborer and who representsTrabajadores Unidos de DC (United Workers of DC), took the stage to speak on the necessity of implementing the deferred action program so immigrants can get long overdue protections in the workplace.

“Tomorrow was to be a day of hope for people like me and for many families, but politicians have chosen to continue playing games with our lives. It’s clear now, we can no longer wait for justice from the courts and instead we must turn to each other as we organize ourselves on the job and in our communities to continue this fight for our rights,” said Castillo.

Jim Boland, who also is chair of the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council Immigration Committee, stated that his union will continue pressing forward to support deferred action programs to empower hardworking immigrant workers.

“As a former immigrant worker myself, now a U.S. citizen, I am proud to stand with my union brothers and sisters and millions of hard-working immigrant workers in our ongoing struggle to secure legal status for all eligible workers now under the provisions of DACA and DAPA,” said Boland. “Labor, worker and community advocates will not be deterred from helping to expand opportunity for the nation’s most vulnerable workers. It’s unconscionable for a country that prides itself on being a ‘nation of immigrants’ – we can and will find a better way forward.”

Speakers called upon officials in all levels and branches of government to continue to do more to protect immigrant workers against retaliation.  They demanded transparency in implementation of the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) and asked the administration to use its enforcement discretion to protect workers brave enough to raise concerns about unsafe conditions, unpaid wages, and abusive treatment.

Worker Wins Update: Workers Score Victories In Pay and Organizing, Help Others in Community

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

LA City Council Approves Wage Win: The Los Angeles City Council approved a measure this week that would raise the citywide minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020, a raise from the current $9 minimum wage. Once implemented, LA will join cities such as Seattle and San Francisco in raising the minimum wage to $15.

DoubleTree Workers Outsmart Harvard Union Opposition: Thanks to a major organizing win last month, approximately 130 workers at the Hilton DoubleTree Suites Hotel in Cambridge, MA will become members of UNITE HERE! Local 26.  The hard-fought, two-year campaign was opposed by Hilton and Harvard University. The workers, many of them immigrant housekeepers, cited unfair hours and unsafe conditions as reasons for voting to form a union.

Union Brothers and Sisters Win in ‘City of Brotherly Love’: Workers for the Philadelphia-based manufacturing company Chemson voted to join ICWUC/UFCW after uniting over issues with poor pay and unfair hours. Workers also pointed to lack of respect on the job and unsafe working conditions as reasons to form a union.

Facebook ‘Shares’ Wealth, Workers Give Move a ‘Like’: Facebook announced earlier this month that it will require U.S. contractors and vendors to pay their employees at least $15 an hour and offer paid-time-off for sick days and vacation. The tech giant will also mandate that contractors take steps to ensure paid parental leave.

Workers Reach Out to Help Aspiring Americans Apply for Citizenship: Earlier this month, members of the Pennsylvania-based UFCW Local 1776 held an immigration workshop where trained members assisted aspiring Americans in filling out their applications to apply for citizenship. The workshop, part of UFCW’s Union Citizenship Action Network program, helped workers at local JBS and Cargill plants, and is part of a nationwide effort to help those seeking citizenship.

Big Easy Teachers Work Hard to Form Union: Last month, teachers belonging to the United Teachers of New Orleans, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, secured its first collective-bargaining contract in the past decade at Benjamin Franklin High School. The teachers began to organize in 2014, citing issues with pay inequality.

NYC Mayor de Blasio to Launch ‘Day-of-Action’ for Workers Following Report: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week that his office will launch a ‘day-of-action’ to address reports that workers in the nail salon industry are facing ‘deplorable conditions’ including unsafe workspaces and pay less than minimum wage.

New AFL-CIO Report Highlights Reasons Why TPP Is Not the Answer to Trade Issues with China

Read the report here

(Washington, DC) – On a conference call today, AFL-CIO Policy Director and Special Counsel Damon Silvers and Roosevelt Institute Senior Economist Adam Hersh described the reasons why the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is not the solution to improving China’s trade policies.

The U.S.-China Economic Relationship: The TPP is Not the Answer,” report explains why the TPP will have no effect on the way China sets its trade policy. It debunks claims that failure to pass TPP will allow China to set the rules of international trade.

“From what we know about the TPP, it’s a low-standards agreement from the perspective of working people.  It would solidify a model of globalization that drives wages and public interest policies down, it wouldn’t address job killing currency manipulation, and it could allow China to reap the benefits of the agreement without joining,” said Silvers. “It would undermine efforts to raise wages in China and to revive U.S. manufacturing. Congress must reject the notion that ‘TPP at any cost’ is worth it.  A corporate-driven TPP cedes important American values and hurts working families in the process.”

“The argument that TPP can counterbalance China’s rising economic power in the region holds no water,” said Hersh.  “In fact, Chinese policymakers are eager to see TPP completed for the opportunity to expand their economic footprint across Asia.”

A digitized replay of the call is available from today at 12:30 pm to 5/21/15 at 12:30 pm EST.

Telephone:   (USA) (800) 475-6701     (International) (320) 365-3844        Access Code: 360686

Read the report here.

PayWatch.Org Highlights Growing Inequality Between CEO’s And Workers

2015 Executive PayWatch highlights Walmart at center of growing inequality crisis

www.PayWatch.org

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(Washington, DC)As Americans rally behind a robust raising wages agenda for working families, CEO pay for major U.S. companies has skyrocketed. According to the new AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch, CEO pay increased nearly 16 percent in 2014.

The Executive Paywatch website, the most comprehensive searchable online database which tracks CEO pay, showed that in 2014, the average production and nonsupervisory worker earned approximately $36,000 per year, while S&P 500 company CEO pay averaged $13.5 million per year – a ratio which has grown to 373-to-1.

“America faces an income inequality crisis because corporate CEOs have taken the raising wages agenda and applied it only to themselves,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Big corporations spend freely on executive perks and powerful lobbyists to strip rights from workers, but when it comes to lifting up the wages of workers that make their companies run, they’re nowhere to be found. Too often workers are seen as costs to be cut, rather than assets to be invested in. Americans deserve better from those who have earned so much off the backs of working men and women, and we must start by adding transparency to the CEO pay process and requiring companies disclose their CEO-to-median employee pay ratios.”

Mega-retailer Walmart, highlighted in this year’s PayWatch, represents one of the most egregious examples of CEO-to-worker pay inequality. CEO Douglas McMillon, the nation’s largest employer, earns $9,323 an hour compared to $9 for a beginning employee salary. A new employee would have to work for 1036 hours just to equal the pay McMillon earns in one hour. PayWatch also highlights the wealth of the six Walton family members who have more wealth than 43 percent of America’s families combined.

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“In 2013, I earned about $12,000 as a full-time employee, which at Walmart isn’t always 40 hours each week,” said Tiffany, a former Walmart worker who has worked in both Maryland and Louisiana for the company. “These poverty wages force my family to receive public assistance. Walmart doesn’t value me. I believe in working hard and that my work should be valued. This is why I will not stop fighting until Walmart commits to raising wages and begins valuing all of its workers.”

More information about Walmart’s massive CEO-to-worker pay disparity and inequality among S&P 500 companies can be found at www.paywatch.org.

Worker Wins Update: Workers Fly High, Win Big Through Major Organizing Efforts

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

Philadelphia Charter School Teachers Organize with AFT: Teachers and other staff members at Olney Charter High School voted to organize a union earlier this week, becoming the largest charter school in Philadelphia to organize. The teachers and staff will be represented by the Alliance of Charter School Employees, which is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.

Sheet Metal Workers Hammer Out Major Victories Across the Country: Earlier this spring, transportation workers in South Florida voted overwhelmingly to join the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation (SMART) union. SMART workers have also organized in Buffalo, NY, and secured a major Project Labor Agreement in Long Beach, CA.

Aircraft Mechanics Flying High After Organizing Win: Over 100 aircraft mechanics and other technicians at the Beechcraft Service Center in Wichita, KS joined International Association of Machinists District 70 last month. IAM’s organizing efforts took off recently with several thousand workers organizing at Textron Aviation, which includes Cessna and Beechcraft aircraft.

Ohio Nurse Wins Justice, $2 Million After She’s Targeted by Hospital: After suffering through a campaign of intimidation and abuse, Ann Wayt, a Cleveland-area nurse won a $2 million award against Affinity Medical Center after their attempts to fire her and ruin her reputation in retaliation for Wayt’s efforts to organize workers.

UConn Graduate Teaching Assistants Win Big with First Contract: Approximately 2,300 graduate teaching assistants at the University of Connecticut represented by the Graduate Employee Union, a branch of the United Auto Workers, reached a tentative agreement on a first contract with the university, ensuring an increase in stipends, a break in university fees, and greater health benefits.

Major Health Insurer Ensures Healthy Relations with Workers by Raising Wages: In the wake of national calls by workers to raise wages, Fortune 100 health insurance company Aetna increased pay for their lowest paid workers to $16 an hour last month, raising wages for 5,700 employees. Aetna executives cited evidence that a higher-paid workforce provides better customer service and decreases turnover as reasons for the pay hike.

New York Workers Press Lawmakers to Pass Landmark Equal Pay Law: Workers in New York secured a major win last month as the New York State legislature passed a slate of equal pay protection laws, including legislation that prohibits employers from telling workers they cannot discuss pay at work, and strengthening prohibitions on paying women and men separately.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Senate Actions On TPP

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
on Senate Trade Negotiations

Richard_Trumka“America’s workers have lost millions of jobs and billions in wages over the last two decades as a result of currency manipulation—all with little to no response other than talk from various administrations, regardless of party.  If Congress is serious about ‘trade done right,’ enforceable currency provisions—both in U.S. law and in our trade deals—are needed.

Currency legislation, and indeed the entire enforcement bill (S. 1015) reported from the Senate Finance Committee, cannot be left behind as Senate Republicans attempt to advance Fast Track authority.  Yesterday, Senate Democrats insisted that all four bills passed by the Senate Finance Committee—Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority, Trade Adjustment Assistance, Preferences, and Customs—must be bundled and considered as a single package.  What they demanded yesterday, they should continue to demand today.  Those who want to get trade right must demand that Fast Track doesn’t move unless currency and other enforcement tools are included in the package.  Anything less leaves America’s workers, domestic producers, and communities behind.”

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
on Failed Senate Vote on TPA

“The Hatch-Wyden-Ryan Fast Track bill is halted – for now.  That’s good news for America’s working families, domestic producers, and communities.  We appreciate those senators who stood with working people today against a bill that would have led to undemocratic trade deals that lower wages and eliminate jobs.  This vote sends a message loud and clear.

If Congress is serious about creating jobs, reviving U.S. manufacturing, and raising wages, it needs to use its leverage to reshape the terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  It must remove special legal privileges for foreign investors, add enforceable rules to prevent currency manipulation, strengthen rules of origin, and redouble efforts to ensure workers everywhere — from Hannibal, Missouri, to Hanoi, Vietnam — can organize and bargain collectively.”

New AFL-CIO Report, ‘Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect,’ Shows 150 Workers Killed on the Job Every Day

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According to a report released today by the AFL-CIO, 4,585 workers were killed in the United States during 2013 due to workplace injuries. An additional estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases, resulting in a loss of nearly 150 workers each day from preventable workplace conditions.

“America’s workers shouldn’t have to choose between earning a livelihood and risking their life, yet every day too many end up on the wrong end of that choice,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Corporations are prospering while working people suffer because of corporate negligence and insufficient government oversight. We must go beyond mourning those we’ve lost, and take bold, decisive action to ensure that a day’s work brings opportunity, not the risk of death or injury.”

The report, entitled Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, marks the 24th year the AFL-CIO has produced its findings on safety and health protections for workers in the United States. The report shows the highest workplace fatality rates were found in North Dakota, Alaska, Wyoming, West Virginia, and New Mexico.

While workplace deaths and injuries were high in many private sector industries, such as oil and gas extraction, the injury rate for public sector workers was 58 percent higher than for private sector workers. In fact, 8 million state and local public employees lack any OSHA protections. OSHA oversight and enforcement remains weak. Federal OSHA has the resources and staff to inspect workplaces on average only once every 140 years. The average penalty for serious violations was only $1,895, and the median penalty for worker deaths was only $5,050.

Other report highlights include the startling rise of Latino worker deaths, as the Latino fatality rate was 18 percent greater than the overall rate, and the urgent need to update OSHA silica safety standards based on near-century old research.

Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect was released after numerous Workers Memorial Day vigils, rallies, and actions were held across the country, and can be found online here: aflcio.org/death-on-the-job.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Workers’ Memorial Day

Safe-Jobs-Save-Lives-Poster_largeOn Workers Memorial Day we commemorate all those who have perished on the job. No worker should be exposed to fatal injuries and illnesses at work, yet every day 150 men and women die from a work injury or occupational disease. Their deaths remind us that Americans still – in 2015 — face too many dangers at the workplace.

As a third-generation coal miner, I am all too familiar with the fear and uncertainty of not knowing whether a loved one will come home safe and healthy from a day’s work.

As we mourn the dead we should remember to fight for the living. This year, our brothers and sisters from the United Steel Workers went on strike in February to highlight the need for tighter safety regulations at refineries across the country. During the strike, an explosion at an ExxonMobil refinery in California injured four workers and shook neighborhoods for miles around, reinforcing the need for corporations to do more to address refinery safety.

Mourn-For-The-Dead-Sticker_mediumWe also are deeply appreciative of the work done by health workers in the wake of the Ebola crisis, both abroad and at home. Hundreds of healthcare workers cared for the sick. Due to subpar protections offered by employers, many aid providers themselves fell ill with the disease. No one providing a service to the community should risk his or her life due to lack of effective protective gear.

While we have made great strides in making workplaces safer, too many hardworking people both in this country and around the world continue to be hurt or killed on the job.

Today and every day, we must strive to achieve safe workplaces for every worker and demand that lawmakers create good jobs that ensure the dignity and safety every worker deserves.

 

Coalition Builds Around Infrastructure Week May 11-15

Infrastructure Week 2015 to be Held May 11-15, 2015 With a Growing Coalition of More than 60 Organizations

Nearly 30 Events Planned in Washington, D.C. and Around the Country to Promote Investment in America’s Economy and Future

Washington, D.C.— April 22, 2015 – Today, the nation’s largest infrastructure and transportation groups announced that more than 60 national and regional infrastructure and transportation advocacy groups are set to participate inInfrastructure Week 2015, to be held the week of May 11-15th, 2015.Infrastructure Week 2015 is a series of events in Washington, D.C. and around the country that will raise awareness of the lack of investment in America’s infrastructure – from surface and air transportation to broadband networks— which has left the United States less globally competitive and riddled with potholes, aging water pipes bursting once every two minutes, outdated transit and lengthening travel delays.

During Infrastructure Week, business executives, labor leaders, and elected officials from around America will make the case that America’s neglected infrastructure negatively impacts our lives and livelihoods, and that we must invest in our economic future through comprehensive investments in agile, efficient and secure infrastructure systems. See the most-updated list of events here:http://infrastructureweek.org/

Infrastructure Week is coordinated by America’s business, labor and policymaking leadership, and will convene an unprecedented non-partisan coalition united around the importance of investing in America’s infrastructure future. Infrastructure Week challenges policymakers and the public to directly address the needs facing America’s deteriorating infrastructure, and to move beyond short-term fixes and deferred maintenance, in order to envision innovative solutions, technologies, policies and investments that will bring America’s infrastructure and transportation systems into the 21stcentury and lay the groundwork for future generations. The organizations affiliated with Infrastructure Week envision a future in which America will have a more robust, opportunity-rich and competitive economy.

Infrastructure Week 2015 is led by a steering committee consisting of the AFL-CIO, the American Society of Civil Engineers, Building America’s Future, Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, the Council on Competitiveness, the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In addition to these organizations, the steering committee is joined by nearly 60 national and local affiliate organizations from all sectors of the economy and communities, and from all corners of the United States. See the full list of affiliates here:http://infrastructureweek.org/affiliates/

“Rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, it’s an American issue, and it’s one that we should all come together to support,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “With so many Americans ready to get back to work, the time is now to create good paying jobs and better roads, bridges, communications, and transit systems we can all be proud of.”

Find out more about Infrastructure Week – including our calendar of dozens of events in Washington, D.C and around America – atwww.infrastructureweek.org, and follow on Twitter at @RebuildRenewand#RebuildRenew.

Find us at http://infrastructureweek.org      /      Follow us on Twitter at @RebuildRenew

Worker Wins Update: April Showers Bring Big Wins For Workers

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

Harvard Hotel Workers Make Smart Choice to Organize: Following a two year campaign, workers at the Soldiers Field Road DoubleTree Hotel, located in a building owned by Harvard, voted to organize with UNITE HERE! Local 26. The workers will join Harvard dining hall workers as well as Boston-area hotel staff in the local union.

Next Stop for Double Decker Bus Tour Guides: A Union: Workers at a double decker bus tour company in New York City have voted to join Transport Workers Union Local 100, fighting back against poor working conditions and pay cuts. TWU Local 100 currently represents approximately 40,000 transit workers throughout New York City.

Casino Workers Go ‘All-In’ on Union: The cards at the Horseshoe Baltimore Casino will be dealt by union members after workers voted to join the National Gaming Workers Coalition, which includes UNITE HERE!, United Auto Workers, and Operating Engineers.

Toady’s Lesson at Detroit Charter Schools: Forming a Union: Teachers from three Detroit charter schools have come together to file petitions to be represented by the Michigan Alliance of Charter Teachers & Staff, a local union affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers.

Gawker Writers Submit Stories and Union Cards: Workers at Gawker Media announced that they will be forming a union with the Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO in New York City. Gawker writers cited need for a fair salary and stated clearly that ‘every workplace could use a union’.

Alaska Nurses Find the Right Prescription, Affiliate with AFT: In a move to strengthen the voices of nurses in Alaska, the Alaska Nurses Association Labor Program agreed to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Nurses and Health Professionals. With this affiliation, AFT now represents 113,000 healthcare professionals across the country.

Rutgers Faculty Win Big in Classroom and at Bargaining Table: Nearly 4,700 full-time faculty and graduate teaching assistants signed a new contract protecting members from salary freezes, health care rate hikes, and promising a raise in wages throughout the life of the contract. The contract, fought for by members of the American Association of University Professors – American Federation of Teachers, will also provide protections for approximately 7,000 graduate teaching assistants.

Howard University Physicians On-Call for Better Pay, Benefits: Resident physicians at Howard University Hospital in Washington DC have asked hospital officials to negotiate a new contract with their newly formed union after the NLRB upheld the results of its January election last week.

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