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Labor Leaders Speak At The Democratic National Convention (VIDEO)

The Democratic National Convention is in full swing and there is so much going on it is easy to miss something.

On Day 1 of the DNC labor leaders from a variety of national unions spoke in support of Hillary Clinton and in opposition to the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency.

Labor unions have stood in strong opposition to Donald Trump since he first announced his campaign when he attacked immigrants and threatened to tear apart families by deporting 11 million aspiring Americans.

Hillary has garnered strong support from labor unions throughout out the primary.  She gained more labor support when she came out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and announced her bold infrastructure investment plan.

Nearly all of the labor leaders who spoke highlighted that the choice this election could not be clearer. Do we want a champion for working families or a shameless billionaire who has always been there to make a quick buck off the suffering of working people?

Here are just a few quotes from the video below as transcribed by C-Span:

AFSME President Lee Saunders
“HILLARY CLINTON NEVER QUITS EITHER. SHE UNDERSTANDS THAT COLLECTIVE BARGAINING RIGHTS STRENGTHEN ALL OF US. WE NEED A PRESIDENT WHO GETS THAT AND UNDERSTAND THAT BUSTING UNIONS AND CUTTING SERVICES MEANS FAMILIES SUFFER.”

“I WAS IN LAS VEGAS AT THE TRUMP HOTEL LAST WEEK AND THEY VOTED TO FORM A UNION. BUT DONALD TRUMP WILL NOT MEET WITH THEM.”

“I KNOW WHAT SIDE I AM ON. I AM WITH HER. ELECT HILLARY CLINTON THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
“WORKING PEOPLE ARE STRONG AND DONALD TRUMP IS WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. LISTEN, HE THINKS HE IS A TOUGH GUY. DONALD, I WORKED IN THE MINES WITH TOUGH GUYS. I KNOW TOUGH GUYS. DONALD, YOU ARE NO TOUGH GUY. YOU ARE A PHONY. DONALD TRUMP HAS REPEATEDLY OUTSOURCED JOBS TO LINE HIS OWN POCKETS. HE ROOTED FOR THE HOUSING COLLAPSE. HE SAID WAGES ARE TOO HIGH — NOT JUST ONCE, BUT REPEATEDLY. “

“WE ARE BUILDING A MOVEMENT FOR A BETTER LIFE, NO MATTER THE COLOR OF OUR SKIN, WHERE WE WERE BORN, FOR WE LOVE, OR HOW WE WORSHIP. HILLARY CLINTON ANSWERED OUR CALL. SHE IS FIGHTING TO REWRITE THE ECONOMIC RULES FOR ALL OF US. SHE HAS A BOLD PLAN TO INVEST IN MANUFACTURING, INFRASTRUCTURE, AND JOBS. SHE OPPOSES THE JOB KILLING TRANSPACIFIC PARTNERSHIP.”

NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia
“HILLARY CLINTON BELIEVES IN KEEPING FAMILIES TOGETHER. SHE BELIEVES IN OUR DREAMERS. SHE BELIEVES THAT EDUCATORS SHOULD BE FOCUSED ON EDUCATION, NOT DEPORTATION.”

“DONALD TRUMP SEES IMMIGRANTS AS CRIMINALS, DRUG DEALERS ,RAPISTS? HE SAYS HE WOULD ROUND UP FAMILIES AND UP THEM AND BUILD A WALL — DEPART THEM AND BUILD THE WALL.”

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry
“WE NEED A PRESIDENT WHO WANTS TO RAISE WAGES IN THIS COUNTRY, NOT ONE THAT SAYS WAGES ARE TOO HIGH AND THERE SHOULD NOT BE A FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE. THAT IS WHY WE ARE WORKING TO ELECT HILLARY CLINTON AND CHAMPIONS UP AND DOWN THE BALLOT WHO WILL RAISE WAGES AND HEALTH WORKERS JOINED TOGETHER IN UNIONS.”

“WE MUST ELECT HILLARY CLINTON AND THE CHAMPIONS LIKE HER WERE GOING TO PUT FAMILIES FIRST AND STOP THE CANDIDATE OF HATRED AND GREED.”

North American Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey
“TRADE UNION MEMBERS HAVE HELPED OF THIS GREAT NATION. THE SUPER DOME, THE GOLDING GATE BRIDGE, THE FREEDOM TOWERS, THE ARENA WE ARE IN TONIGHT. YOU NAME IT, WE BUILD IT. WE ARE PROUD OF OUR WORK. BUT WITH COLLAPSED BRIDGES, COMING ROADS AND STRESS ENERGY SYSTEMS, WE NOTICED HAVE TIME TO REBUILD OUR NATION’S INFRASTRUCTURE. BUILDING TRADE NUMBERS ARE READY TO DO THEIR PART.”

“HILLARY CLINTON HAS THE BOLDEST INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN WE HAVE SEEN IN GENERATIONS. SHE WILL HELP US REPAIR ROADS AND BRIDGES AND MAKE BROADBAND UNIVERSAL. BUILD NEW AIRPORTS AND MODERNIZE THE ENERGY GRID. SHE WILL DO IT ALL WHILE CREATING GOOD, FAIR PAINT JOBS WITH STANDARDS THAT SUPPORT REAL PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMS WHICH THE BUILDING TRADES PIONEER.”

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten
“DONALD MADE MILLIONS WHILE HE RIPPED OFF WORKERS AND SMALL BUSINESSES WITH HIS UNFAIR BUSINESS PRACTICES. REMEMBER, HE ENDED UP BANKRUPTING NOT ONE, NOT TWO, NOT THREE, BUT FOR OF HIS COMPANIES — BUT FOUR OF HIS COMPANIES. AND HIS ECONOMIC IDEAS WILL MAKE MILLIONAIRES LIKE HIM RICHER AT THE EXPENSE OF THE MIDDLE CLASS.”

“[Donald Trump] IS COMPLETELY UNQUALIFIED TO BE IN THE OVAL OFFICE.  
THANKFULLY, WE HAVE A DIFFERENT CHOICE AND IT IS A GREAT ONE. HILLARY CLINTON. SHE HAS WORKED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD FOR WORKING FAMILIES. THAT’S US OF PUBLIC EDUCATION FROM PRE-K TO COLLEGE. A PLAN FOR UNIVERSAL EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION.”

Labor Reacts to Selection of Tim Kaine

https://www.flickr.com/photos/bnwklr/16038546189

Richard Trumka photo by Ben Wikler via Flickr Creative Commons

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

“The AFL-CIO supports Hillary Clinton’s selection of Tim Kaine as her running mate. Tim Kaine is the son of an ironworker and a teacher, and is grounded in the values of working people.

“He has a strong record on workers’ issues, ranging from raising the minimum wage to securing equal pay for equal work.  He has always been a strong leader and will be an asset to the ticket. He is moral and honest and true to the values he espouses. Clinton – Kaine is a winner for America.”


Mary Kay Henry by The Leadership Conference via Flickr Creative Commons

Mary Kay Henry photo by The Leadership Conference via Flickr Creative Commons

SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry:

“For working families, the 2016 election is the most consequential of our lifetimes. The stakes couldn’t be higher – nor the contrast starker – on all of the issues our families need to get ahead. In choosing Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton has tapped as her running mate the right partner to move our country forward and build a better future for all families by rebalancing our economy and democracy to work for everyone, not just greedy corporations and wealthy special interests.

“Tim Kaine is an experienced leader with a proven track record on issues from raising wages to immigration reform and racial justice. He has voted and fought for higher wages, and ensured home care workers had the ability to stand together in a union. His Senate record shows that working families have been his priority as he has worked to expand child care, protect voting rights, address mass incarceration, preserve the Affordable Care Act, and promote opportunities for women and immigrants. He was the first person ever to deliver a speech on the Senate floor entirely in Spanish, and it was to demand action on commonsense immigration reform with a path to citizenship.

“Above all, we know what is in Tim Kaine’s heart. He is someone who is the son of an ironworker and a teacher, who served as a Catholic missionary, whose first case out of law school was representing at no cost a Black woman who had been the victim of housing discrimination. Tim Kaine’s convictions are rooted in justice for all.

“Together, Clinton and Kaine will stand with working families who have come together in the broadest modern grassroots movement to raise wages and protect opportunities for people to join together in 21st-century unions; increase access to affordable care for our children and aging parents; and advance racial, immigrant and environmental justice for all communities across our country.  SEIU members will continue to come out in record numbers across the country to elect Clinton and Kaine as the next president and vice president of the United States.”


Randi Weingarten

Randi Weingarten

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten:

“The choice of Tim Kaine, the son of a welder who has lived middle-class values and has a long track record of progressive accomplishments, reiterates Hillary Clinton’s commitment to building a government that will level the playing field for working families. While the GOP ticket masks irrational ideas behind a morally bankrupt message of fear, bigotry and hatred, a Clinton-Kaine ticket will be focused on helping people see higher wages, lower student debt, good jobs, successful public schools, and safety and security here and abroad.

“The contrasts between a Clinton-Kaine ticket and a Trump-Pence ticket couldn’t be more stark. Donald Trump, the narcissist, believes that he alone can fix our nation’s problems and peddles fear in a campaign devoid of facts, plans or humanity. Clinton and Kaine choose to confront fear and solve problems, and they will use their vast experience to help ensure the American dream is within reach for everyone.

“Strong public education runs deep in the Kaine household. In the U.S. Senate, he took the lead on supporting career and technical education programs in the new federal education law, and he has fought for funding to modernize public school buildings. And as Virginia’s governor, he expanded pre-K programs by 40 percent. His wife, Anne Holton, has been dedicated to fighting for great public schools for decades—she helped integrate Richmond, Va., public schools as a child and today is Virginia’s secretary of education.

“Our nation and the world can feel confident that the Clinton-Kaine ticket will be a great leadership team that will work to break down walls, disarm hate, and make educational and economic opportunity a reality.”

Preventing Workplace Violence: National COSH and Local Groups Join Call for OSHA Standard for Health Care and Social Service Workers

NCOSH 300X250San Diego – In solidarity with labor unions representing millions of American workers, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH), the New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NHCOSH) and other local COSH organizations have endorsed petitions calling for a comprehensive federal standard to prevent workplace violence in the health care and social assistance sectors.

“With an issue like workplace violence, it’s easy to say, ‘Hey, how can you stop a person who wants to hurt somebody?’” said Jessica Martinez, acting executive director of National COSH. “But that’s just wrong and ignores documented best practices. If you address issues like adequate staffing and lines of communication, worksite security, proper training and safety protocols, there’s no question you can reduce the risks faced by health care and social service workers.”

Workplace violence is a problem across all sectors of the economy. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than two million workers each year report that they are victims of violent incidents on the job. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported more than 400 workplace homicides in 2014, making homicide the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States.

Health care and social service workers are among those most at risk. Fifty-two percent of victims of workplace violence, according to the BLS, are health care and social service workers.

On July 12, a coalition of unions filed petitions with the U.S. Department of Labor, calling on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue a “comprehensive workplace violence prevention standard to protect all workers in healthcare and social service settings.” The coalition of labor unions includes the AFL-CIO; American Federation of Teachers; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; American Federation of Government Employees; Communications Workers of America; International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Service Employees International Union; the United Steelworkers and National Nurses United.

“Like other on-the-job hazards, workplace violence can be prevented – in health care, social services and in other sectors” said National COSH Senior Organizer Peter Dooley. “To be effective, a workplace violence prevention standard must be part of a comprehensive, systems approach to workplace safety, with workers involved in every step of the process.  That includes evaluating risks, assessing remedies, reporting incidents without fear of retaliation, and design of rigorous training.”

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels, National COSH and local COSH groups point to the proven effectiveness of prevention programs. “A comprehensive workplace violence prevention program,” the letter states, “reduced rates of assault at Veterans Health Administration hospitals between 2004 and 2009.”  The letter also notes that the states of California and Minnesota have recently passed legislation requiring health care employers to implement workplace violence prevention programs.

In addition to National COSH, local groups signing on to yesterday’s letter include:

  • Connecticut Council on Occupational Safety and Health (ConnectiCOSH)
  • Fe y Justicia Worker Center (Houston COSH)
  • Maine Labor Group on Health
  • Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH)
  • Mid-State Education and Service Foundation
  • New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NHCOSH)
  • New Jersey Work Environment Council (NJWEC)
  • New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH)
  • NorthEast New York Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NENYCOSH)
  • Rhode Island Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (RICOSH)
  • South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice
  • Southern California Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (SoCalCOSH)
  • Western Massachusetts Coalition for Workplace Safety and Health (WesternMassCOSH)
  • Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health (WNYCOSH)
  • Worksafe

Yesterday’s letter to Secretary Perez and Assistant Secretary Michaels is available here.

* * *

National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. For more information, please visit coshnetwork.org.  Follow us at National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, and @NationalCOSH on Twitter.

Unions Representing Healthcare Workers Petition for Workplace Safety

US_Dept_of_LaborWASHINGTON— Today, a coalition of unions—including the AFL-CIO; American Federation of Teachers; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; American Federation of Government Employees; Communications Workers of America; International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Service Employees International Union; and the United Steelworkers—petitioned the U.S. Department of Labor to take a significant step toward safety by promulgating a comprehensive workplace violence prevention standard to protect all workers in healthcare and social service settings. Because we represent workers in the healthcare and social assistance sectors, we all know there is an immediate need to address the preventable and often tragic workplace-related assaults and associated injuries that occur too often in these settings.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that between 2005 and 2014, the rates of injuries that resulted in lost time for private sector healthcare and social assistance facilities increased by 64 percent and rates for private sector hospitals increased by 110 percent. And 52 percent of all the incidents of workplace violence reported to the BLS in 2014 came from the healthcare and social assistance workforce. These numbers highlight the urgent nature of having comprehensive standards for workplace violence prevention.

“Workers should never face violence in the workplace, but for healthcare workers it’s a too-common reality. We are calling on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to create national employment standards so that workers have meaningful protections on the job. Our union and our rank-and-file activists have worked tirelessly for months raising these issues and now—in collaboration with unions that represent healthcare workers, including National Nurses United—to craft this proposal. We hope to see it enacted without delay,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.

“Workplace violence is not part of the job. Our healthcare workers on the frontline of patient care in numerous hospitals and other settings need a strong federal OSHA standard to protect them from workplace violence and assaults,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

“This rule is urgently needed to stop the appalling spiral of injuries and fatalities in healthcare and social services, and to protect our members, and all workers,” said Teamsters General President James. P. Hoffa.

“The American Federation of Government Employees represents more than 100,000 nurses, doctors and frontline healthcare providers across government. Their safety, and the safety of all healthcare workers, is critically important. We strongly urge the Department of Labor to adopt a national standard for reducing workplace violence across the healthcare system and ensuring safe working conditions for all healthcare providers.” said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr.

“The intensification of violence against healthcare workers is alarming because it is preventable,” said United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard. “Our union is proud to stand in solidarity calling for an enforceable OSHA standard to prevent workplace violence and protect all healthcare workers as they care for their patients.”

“Our members deserve to go to work every day and be safe. Our union strongly advocates OSHA develop a comprehensive workplace violence standard for healthcare and social assistance workers. Such a standard would provide needed protections from workplace violence and lead to improved working conditions for millions of U.S. workers,” said Chris Shelton, president, Communications Workers of America.

Powerful New Coalition Aims To Advance Bold Wall Street Reform Agenda

Labor organizations and community groups representing 25 million Americans unite behind tough agenda: closing Wall Street tax loopholes, making banks smaller and simpler, curbing predatory lending, and more 

Senator Elizabeth Warren (image by Ninian Reid FLIKR)

Senator Elizabeth Warren (image by Ninian Reid FLIKR)

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today headlined an event in Washington, DC, where membership organizations, policy experts and elected leaders launched a new campaign for bold reforms to overhaul the country’s broken financial system. The Take on Wall Street coalition represents approximately 25 million Americans, including members of labor organizations like the AFL-CIO, AFT and CWA; grassroots community organizing networks like People’s Action and the Center for Popular Democracy; and others, including faith based organizations, MoveOn.org and the Working Families Party.  

As the 2016 campaign season has demonstrated, Americans across the political spectrum remain angry and frustrated with Wall Street and the Big Banks, which they see as both drivers and beneficiaries of a rigged system.  Wall Street billionaires continue to rake in outrageous profits through business practices that hurt working families—families that are still struggling to recover from the crisis Wall Street greed and recklessness precipitated eight years ago. Poll after poll demonstrates that most Americans strongly favor financial reform to support a fair economy.  

The Take on Wall Street campaign will advance a set of ambitious policy goals for a more equitable and inclusive economy.  The coalition members aim to convert the anger about Wall Street’s growing political and economic dominance into concrete, bold and lasting legislative gains at the state, local, and federal levels. 

“Hardworking men and women across the country want a fighting chance to build a real future for themselves and for their children,” Senator Elizabeth Warren said. “I’m glad to stand alongside the Take on Wall Street coalition to push for changes to make our financial markets safer and to create an economy that works for all our families. These are tough fights, but I know that if we get out there and stand together, we can win.” 

At the launch event, Take on Wall Street unveiled a five-point agenda to rebalance the economy so it is no longer rigged against working Americans: 

1.    Close the carried interest loophole which permits private equity and hedge fund managers pay a lower tax rate than most working Americans.

2.    Introduce a Wall Street speculation tax on sales of derivatives, stocks, bonds, and other financial products that would raise billions of dollars, bring banks closer to paying their fair of taxes, and stop some forms of destructive high-frequency trading outright.

3.    Make banks simpler, smaller and safer. End ‘too big to fail,’ and reinstitute the Glass Stegall separation between commercial and investment banks.

4.    Close the CEO bonus loophole, which permits corporations to pay less in taxes the more they pay their executives.

5.    End Predatory Lending and expand access to fair safe financial services by supporting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and expanding access to fair and equitable banking through Postal Banking. 

This is a rare moment in history to achieve fundamental change. This campaign is about rewriting the economic rules. The proposals at the heart of this campaign will drastically improve the way financial services function and mean more money in the pockets of working families, and hundreds of billions of dollars to boost our economy,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. 

“Finance has become the master of the economy, rather than a tool to serve it. And the outsized influence of the financial industry defends and extends rules that reward the already extremely wealthy but leave everyone else behind,” said Lisa Donner, Executive Director of Americans for Financial Reform, a broad-based coalition that was formed to work for financial reform and create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “This campaign is about moving people into action to demand change that will unrig the game and build a financial system that works for working people.” 

“Predatory lenders and tax-avoiding corporations work in concert to extract wealth from my community, leaving my customers, the lifeblood of my business, trapped in a perpetual cycle of debt and absorbing a larger share of our mutual tax responsibility. We must usher in a set of rules that reins in predatory lending, holds corporations accountable to pay their fair share in taxes, and returns the wealth of communities to the hands of local consumers,” said David Borris, owner of Hel’s Kitchen Catering in Chicago and member of the Main Street Alliance Executive Committee.   

In coming weeks, the campaign will host a tele-town hall with leading champions of reform, and launch a wave of direct actions and media events to call attention to some of the worst Wall Street practices that call out for reform, with particular emphasis on closing the carried interest loophole, which campaign leaders describe as a particularly glaring example of the corrupting influence of Wall Street campaign and lobbying dollars.  

Campaign partner organizations say that they will continue to press elected officials, regulators, and candidates at all levels of government throughout the summer and into the fall. The coalition will focus on naming the executives, legislators, and big banks and financial companies who continue to put our economy in jeopardy – while also shining a light on those champions who are taking action to make Wall Street accountable to working families.  

Current partners in the campaign include:  

  • AFL-CIO
  • Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action
  • American Family Voices
  • American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • American Postal Workers Union
  • Americans Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO
  • Americans for Financial Reform
  • Campaign for America’s Future
  • Catholic Alliance for the Common Good
  • Center for Popular Democracy
  • Citizen Action NY
  • Communications Workers of America
  • Consumer Action
  • Courage Campaign
  • Daily Kos
  • Democracy for America
  • Economic Policy Institute
  • Friends of the Earth
  • HedgeClippers
  • Institute for Policy Studies, Global Economy Project
  • International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW)
  • The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Media Voices for Children
  • MoveOn
  • National Education Association
  • NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
  • NYC Communities for Change
  • The Other 98%
  • People for the American Way
  • People’s Action Institute
  • Presente
  • Public Citizen
  • Rootsaction
  • Service Employees International Union
  • Strong Economy for All Coalition
  • The Nation
  • The Rootstrikers at Demand Progress
  • UNITE-HERE
  • Working America
  • Working Families Party

More Nader Narcissism: The Debate Over How Unions Endorse Candidates

Bernie Sanders Hillary Clinton: By BERRY CRAIG

Ralph Nader’s recent Huffington Post column reminded me of the old saying, “With friends like you, who needs enemies.”

Nader’s narcissistic presidential bid in 2000 helped put George W. Bush in the White House.

Now Nader is providing grist for the union-haters’ propaganda mill by writing that “long-entrenched, affluent big union leaders” who support Hillary Clinton for president are trying to lord it over small unions who Feel the Bern.

Sixteen years ago, Nader, now a Bernie Sanders fan, ran for president because he said there was little or no difference between Vice President Al Gore, the AFL-CIO-endorsed Democratic hopeful, and Republican candidate George W. Bush, the union-busting governor of “right to work” Texas.

In his HP column, Nader trotted a claim often heard from union-busters: that union leaders don’t represent the rank-and file.

“These large unions came out for Clinton in late 2015 and early 2016 before they sensed the growing rank and file workers’ preference for the lifetime advocate for workers and union backer, Bernie Sanders,” Nader charged.

He based a big part of his column on an AFL-CIO executive council meeting at AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington in late February.

“According to insiders, tempers flared when smaller unions challenged the Hillary-endorsing big unions such as AFSCME (public employees), the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the Service Employees (SEIU) and the Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW),” he wrote.

Nader added, “Listening to the nurses union head speak out for Sanders’ strong pro-labor history, Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME, interrupted her, exclaiming: ‘I will not allow you to do a commercial for Sanders.’ She retorted, ‘You mean for the only candidate who has a 100% labor record?’

“A union leader of postal workers charged the unions backing Hillary as being ‘completely out of touch with their workers.’ AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka then cut off their microphones.”

Admittedly, the rules of straight news reporting—notably giving both sides of a story—don’t apply to an opinion column. But this old reporter wonders why the supposedly pro-union Nader, at least out of a basic sense of fairness, didn’t let the parties involved in the alleged dustup give their side of the story.

If he did contact any of them, he didn’t say so in his column. As it is, Nader’s presentation of hearsay as fact amounts to the kind of union-bashing common to Fox News and right-wing talk radio.

“Few union leaders allow [italics mine] a worker referendum to make the endorsement decisions,” Nader also scolded.

It’s the other way around. Members allow union officials to do what they do. Every official in a union from a shop steward to an international president is elected. So if members of a union want a referendum, they can vote one in through their elected representatives.

Since Nader cited my union, here’s how the AFT arrived at endorsing Clinton:

“The AFT sent all candidates (both Democratic and Republican) a candidate questionnaire and invited those who completed the questionnaire to speak before the AFT’s executive council. No Republican candidate completed a candidate questionnaire.

“The AFT executive council, comprised of elected [italics mine] vice presidents and the AFT officers, met with and interviewed Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders and analyzed their position on the key issues.

“Most important, the AFT asked its members directly about the issues that matter to them and their opinions of the candidates through two polls, including a survey that reached out to more than 1 million AFT households; the ‘You Decide 2016’ online forum; emailing e-activists to get member responses on the issues of importance to them; conducting multiple telephone town hall meetings; and having rank-and-file members ask questions directly of the presidential candidates during the June [2015] executive council meeting.

“Additionally, the AFT commissioned a scientific survey of members by Hart Research Associates. The results of the survey provide a clear picture of where AFT members stand.

“First, by an approximately 3-to-1 margin, AFT members prefer that a Democratic candidate win the presidential election over a Republican.

“79 percent of Democratic voters support the AFT making a recommendation in the primary.

“Among those voters, Hillary Clinton is preferred by members by a margin of more than 3-to-1 over her nearest Democratic competitor.

“Furthermore, Hillary Clinton holds a better than 11-to-1 advantage as the ‘Democrat with the best chance to defeat the Republican candidate.’”

I prefer Sanders to Clinton, as do more than a few of my AFT brothers and sisters. But majority rules.

Sanders has made it clear he’ll back Clinton if wins the nomination. (So will I.)

“We cannot afford an America to have Donald Trump or Cruz or any of them be our next president,” Tad Devine, a senior Sanders campaign advisor, recently told MSBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

He explained of his candidate, “The reason he ran as a Democrat was he understood being outside this process could be like what Ralph Nader did in 2000, elect a Republican president, and he’s not going to be a part of that.”

Labor Praises Supreme Court Ruling On ‘Friedrichs’ And Offer A Warning For The Future

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

Today, the assault on working families came to an abrupt halt as we received news that the Supreme Court could not come to a decision in the Friedrichs v California Teachers Association. The court ended in a 4-4 tie. This means that the California Supreme Court decision to uphold agency fees will stand.

After the decision labor groups across the country rejoiced and applauded the decision that could have made it illegal to charge non union member an agency fee, essential pushing Right To Work nationwide without legislative approval.

“Today, working people have persevered in the face of another attack on our rights,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “All over the country working people are showing that we won’t allow wealthy special interests or their politicians to stand in our way to join collectively and make workplaces better all across America. In the face of these attacks we are more committed than ever to ensuring that everyone has the right to speak up together for a better life.”

“At the Supreme Court today, working people won a huge victory,” wrote Rudy Lopez, Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice. “Fighting back against powerful anti-worker interests that spent millions of dollars and many years to manufacture a Supreme Court challenge of collective bargaining, workers stuck together and prevailed, defending the right of unions to collect dues to all who benefit from its membership.”

“But while today’s victory is a milestone for working people and their right to collectively bargain, the fight for worker justice is far from over,” added Lopez. “The Freidrichs case was a carefully planned campaign to break unions and decentralize worker power and the wealthy interests behind it are not going to simply give up because they lost today.”

“Today’s Friedrichs decision by the Supreme Court was a big win for anyone who believes in the promise of America,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “Unions are about giving workers and their families a voice on the job and a fair shot to get ahead, and today’s decision enables those aspirations. And as the Center for Individual Rights’ legal maneuver this afternoon suggests, this decision, affirming four decades of precedent, was a blow to the right-wing special interests who are trying to rig the economy and our democracy in their own favor.”

“It’s no surprise that the Center for Individual Rights is continuing its assault on working people and the unions that represent them. By refusing to accept the court’s ruling and petitioning for a rehearing, they expose their agenda for what it is—a brazen political assault on working people. This Koch-backed think tank plotted to fast-track this case to the Supreme Court, and we know the wealthy few behind these efforts will continue doing everything they can to undermine the voice of working people in America,” added Weingarten.

Public sector workers will continue to benefit from the collective voice of union representation under a decision by the Supreme Court today that affirms nearly 40 years of constitutional law, the head of the largest federal employee union said today.

“The Supreme Court has kept in place a 1977 ruling that ensures public sector employee unions will be able to continue fighting for better pay, benefits, and working conditions for all represented workers, whether or not they choose to join the union,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

“When the union negotiates a contract for workers, everyone who’s covered by that contract takes home higher pay and benefits, has greater job security, enjoys improved health and safety standards, and gets help in settling workplace disputes. It is only fair that all employees share in the cost of securing those benefits,” added Cox.

“A decision by the Supreme Court to overturn its 1977 ruling would have made it grossly unfair to place the burden of paying for the level of representation that all employees need and deserve on only some public employees as opposed to asking each to pay a fair share,” concluded Cox.

“Today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association case safeguards, at least for now, the right of public workers to engage in meaningful collective bargaining,” wrote the Communication Workers of America.

CWA highlighted the connection between Friedrichs and the union busting, anti-worker firms that have been pushing Right to Work in states all across the country.

“The case had been financed by anti-worker and corporate education supporters who have been working for years to stifle the voices of teachers and other public workers and weaken their collective bargaining rights. It clearly shows how extreme the right-wing assault on workers and their right to bargain, whether public or private sector, has become,” stated CWA.

For many years now CWA has been on the front lines fighting to end the obstructionism in Washington, specifically the US Senate. They used the considerable influence and membership to help secure five members to the National Labor Relations Board as well as worked to change the “filibuster rule” that Senate Republicans used to block every major Presidential nominee in the past few years.

Now they are calling out the Senate and the same right-wing, anti-worker organizations that are holding up hearings to replace Justice Scalia in the Supreme Court.

“These same right-wing interests want to block any consideration of President Obama’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s time for senators to do their job and take up the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, not continue the “politics as usual” that ignores the voice of the American people,” CWA said.

There is no doubt this decision will have an impact on the upcoming elections as Republicans in the Senate are continuing to refuse to even meet with Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court’s 4-4 decision on the Friedrichs case is no doubt an important win for organized labor,” said International Union of Painters and Allied Trades General President Kenneth Rigmaiden.  “However, it should also serve as a significant wake up call for working families who are not convinced that their vote in the political process matters in this upcoming election.”

“Anti-union special interests succeeded in bringing their tactics to the Supreme Court in an effort to stop workers from deciding their collective fate on the job by a vote.  We won this one, but the fight is far from over.  It is time to get to work on putting pro-union candidates in local, state and federal offices.  The leaders we successfully fight for on the campaign trail will be our line of defense in Washington to keep our unions strong,” added Rigmaiden.

As Republicans continue to obstruct filling the vacant seat in the Supreme Court, this election is proving to be the most important in history. This election could be the difference between a progressive Justice like Merrick Garland or another right-wing ideolog like Justice Scalia. As more and more attacks to our collective bargaining rights make it to the Supreme Court confirming a nominee that will uphold our rights is of the utmost importance.

Labor Leaders Applaud Supreme Court Nomination, Demand Senators #DoYourJob

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

Today, President Obama announced Merrick Garland as his nominee to replace Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court.

“Merrick Garland, the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, has more federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court nominee in history. No one is better suited to immediately serve on the Supreme Court,” said Obama.

Chief Judge Garland was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit 76-23, with majority support from both Republicans and Democrats. He has served for 19 years on that court – often considered the most important appellate court in the nation.

Labor leaders were quick to applaud Obama’s nomination and condemn the Republican senators who have vowed to block this nomination for eleven months until a new President is inaugurated.

“Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit brings impeccable credentials and deep experience to this nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “Judge Garland’s career shows a deep commitment to public service and to the rule of law. These qualities are why he was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit 19 years ago by a bipartisan majority and with the strong support of then Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch. Judge Garland is a superbly qualified nominee who deserves prompt consideration and confirmation by the United States Senate. Working people deserve and expect no less.”

American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. is also calling on the Senate to hold a nomination hearing and vote on President Obama’s selection for the U.S. Supreme Court.

“President Obama has done his job by nominating his choice to fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Now the U.S. Senate needs to do its job and fulfill its Constitutional responsibility by swiftly holding a hearing and vote on the nomination,” Cox said.

“There are too many pressing issues facing the court to allow a vacancy to linger until after the November presidential election. President Obama is the commander in chief until Jan. 20, 2017, and he is responsible for carrying out the duties of the office until his successor has been elected and sworn in.”

“Likewise, the 100 members of the U.S. Senate have a responsibility to do the job that the American people elected them to do. And that includes considering all of the president’s nominations to vacant positions in the executive and judicial branches.”

“The American people expect our elected leaders to do their job. Anything less is obstructionist and a miscarriage of justice.”

Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, also had some harsh words for these Senators who plan to obstruct Garland’s nomination.

“As we teach high school government students, the Constitution is crystal clear about what to do when there’s a Supreme Court vacancy: The president of the United States nominates a candidate for the bench, and the Senate provides advice and consent.

“The Constitution does not say the president shall nominate a justice—unless it is the fourth year of his term. Six times since 1900, the president has put forth a nominee during the final year of his term. All six—as well as Anthony Kennedy, who was nominated in November 1987 and confirmed in 1988—were given hearings and nearly all received an up-or-down vote.

“For the last seven years, Senate Republicans have attempted to block President Obama at every turn, with no regard for the damage they inflicted on American families. Their stubborn refusal to consider a nominee puts politics over responsibility and, in so doing, dishonors our Constitution. The people of their states elected them to do a job. They swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. They are doing neither of those things.

“So I have a simple message to Mitch McConnell, Chuck Grassley, and other senators who say they will not even schedule a hearing. Working people across America get up every day and do our jobs. We expect the same from our United States senators. Do. Your. Job.”

Every case that is heard by the Supreme Court could have long lasting effects on our judicial system. It is imperative that we have nine justice’s sitting in the Supreme Court.

Demand that all of our elected representatives in the Senate do their job.

#DoYourJob

Building Racial Equality In Our Schools

Some people say “racism is dead,” however that is a lie.

The outright discrimination of African-Americans is now illegal but that does not mean that racial discrimination does not still exist.  Just look at our public school system.  Do you think it is an accident that rich, white, sub-urban schools are better funded than the inner-city, mostly poor, where they majority of students are people of color?  No, it is not an accident.

Nationally we have seen states tightening their belts and squeezing their school budgets, forcing deep cuts and even school closures.  Class sizes in the inner-city schools are larger, the teachers – fresh out of college – are paid less, a large percentage students live in poverty, and people wonder why they are under-performing.

This week, the American Federation of Teachers released a report focusing on ways to bring racial equality to our public school system.

“Separate but equal is no longer the law of the land, but systemic inequity in education has relegated millions of children of color to under-resourced, struggling schools,” said AFT’s Executive Board.

Inequality in our schools leads to severe economic problems for the individual as well as the community.  Without a good education, individuals are forced to work in low-wage unskilled jobs that continue to keep them in, or on the edge of, poverty for their entire lives.  African-Americans earn on average “$224 a month less” than their white counterparts.

Robert Putnam, a Harvard University professor, talked about this in his book “Our Kids,” where he refers to it as the “opportunity gap.”  This means lower incomes for workers, lower tax revenues for cities and towns, and less spending in the economy.  Research shows that this leads to a societal loss of $529,030 per person (lifetime).  If nothing is done, this will lead to over $4 trillion dollars in lost revenue and lost economic opportunity.

AFT’s new report, Reclaiming the Promise of Racial Equity in Education, Economics and Our Criminal Justice System, highlights some possible ways to directly address racial inequality in our schools.

We envision an equitable education system that guarantees world-class, properly resourced public schools that provide wraparound services in every neighborhood, where young black male students have the opportunity to achieve by:

  • Ensuring the fair enforcement of discipline policies and practices to create supportive learning environments for black males.
  • Guaranteeing that all schools provide safe, welcoming and caring spaces for students and educators.
  • Working for policies and practices that favor education over incarceration and that decrease the disproportionately high number of black males dropping out of schools into jails.
  • Radically increasing the percentage of young black male high school graduates who are ready for college, career and citizenship.
  • Ensuring a diverse teaching force that includes black male educators as role models for African-American male students.

African-American’s face a 10% unemployment rate and a growing opportunity gap.  Before we can talk about closing the opportunity gap and getting more African-Americans into college, we first must help them graduate from high school.

Getting a good paying job and being a productive member of our economy begins with a strong public education.

Republicans Are The Reason Our Public Schools Are Hurting

Jeb Bush on Education

The Republican Primary is always fun to watch as the candidates try to outdo each other the issues. Recently it was what to do about the problems facing our public school systems.

Our public education system is in rough shape and the majority of the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Republican politicians who are starving our schools for money, forcing more and more standardized testing, and funneling our tax dollars to for-profit private and religious schools.

When you add all of these programs together it creates a disastrous ticking time bomb of epic failure.

The problems continue to feed themselves. It begins with cuts to the budget that lead to cuts teacher pay. This results in good teachers leaving the district and then bringing in new inexperienced teachers to replace them.

Then they test every student over and over, and reward high performing schools and make more cuts to low performing schools. (Can you see the problem yet?)

Then they give our tax dollars to traveling medicine men, selling snake oil to fix all of our problems by opening charter schools, stealing more money from struggling schools. Some of these schools take millions in federal, state, and local budgets to build new schools and then file for bankruptcy before they even open their doors.

Then they have to make more cuts to teachers and para-professionals starting the austerity cycle all over again.

The American Federation of Teachers thought it would be good to inform all of you of what a few of the Presidential candidates are saying our teachers and our schools.

Video

Our children deserve better than a schools system that is all test and drill. We need more arts, more music, more science, and more teachers. We need pay our teachers better so that we can retain the best teachers with the pay they deserve. We need to fund our schools properly and stop forcing cuts to staff and services. We need to stop this cycle of austerity that is strangling our public schools.  Our children deserve better!

 

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