UFCW Vows to Fight for LGBTQ Rights at Work and Advocate for Comprehensive Healthcare for Transgendered Workers
ORLANDO — Today, Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), the largest private sector union in the nation, addressed LGBTQ union members at the AFL-CIO Pride at Work conference in Orlando, Fla. The UFCW was the first labor union to endorse the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation that would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The UFCW also implemented a policy of including gender reassignment surgery as part of a comprehensive Health and Welfare plan for union employees:
“Even though we are celebrating marriage equality this summer, too many LGBTQ workers still endure discrimination in workplaces that are far from equal. Today, in 29 states, it is still legal to fire a worker on the basis of their sexual orientation. In 33 states, a worker can be fired for being transgendered.
“Right now, the only way for these workers to gain the protection at work that we all deserve is through a union contract.
“In this spirit, I am proud to say that as part of our long commitment to equality for all workers, the UFCW is changing our Health and Welfare plan to include gender reassignment surgery. While this is a change that should have been made long ago, it is a change that I am proud of.
“The UFCW is committed to putting an end to discrimination in the workplace. We will stand up, speak out and fight for what is right when companies disregard the value of hard-working men and women, based on whom they may love or who they are.”
Verizon Only Telecom Company to Do So, Exacerbating Digital Divide
Millions in Eight States and DC to Remain Without Access to High-Speed Broadband
WASHINGTON- Verizon today became the only major U.S. telecommunications company to turn down federal funding to build broadband in unserved, primarily rural, communities, leaving many residents in eight states and the District of Columbia without access to vital communications options. The company was offered $568 million over six years by the Federal government to bring broadband to 270,000 locations in Washington, DC, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia.
“Verizon’s track record is clear,” said Bob Master, Assistant to the Vice President of District One of the Communications Workers of America. “Even while raking in a billion dollars per month in profits, Verizon is turning its back on underserved communities by refusing federal subsidies to expand high-speed internet access. Instead, its top priority is slashing job and retirement security for its employees and eliminating benefits for workers injured on the job.”
In April, the Federal Communications Commission launched Phase II of the Connect America Fund. The FCC offered major telecommunications companies nearly $1.7 billion a year over six years to provide high-speed internet and voice to unserved, primarily rural, communities. The carriers had until August 27 to decide whether to participate. The program was based on the successful universal service program, which ensured telephone service was available in rural communities.
Verizon accepted funding for two states where it is selling its network to Frontier Communications and rejected funding in the other states it operates.
Verizon’s attitude toward the federal subsidies is sadly consistent with its approach in New York State, where the company refuses to avail itself of Governor Cuomo’s $500 million New New York Broadband Fund, which offers up to 50% subsidies to companies willing to build high-speed service in underserved areas. For years, Verizon has steadfastly refused to bring its high-speed internet service (or FiOS) to areas like Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, Rome, Utica and numerous other upstate New York cities, as well as much of Eastern Suffolk. At a series of hearings held by New York State, elected officials from Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, the North Country, the Southern Tier and the Hudson Valley decried the lack of FiOS in their communities.
Campaigns in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts have also called for FiOS to be built in their communities.
A damning audit of Verizon’s FiOS rollout in New York City found that Verizon has failed to meet its promise to deliver high-speed fiber optic internet and television to everyone in the city who wanted it. During its negotiations for a city franchise, Verizon promised that the entire city would be wired with fiber optic cables by June 2014 and that after that date, everyone who wanted FiOS would get it within six months to a year. The audit found that despite claiming that it had wired the whole city by November 2014, Verizon systematically continues to refuse orders for service. The audit also found that Verizon stonewalled the audit process.
At the same time, Verizon has been letting its traditional phone network deteriorate. In 2005, New York’s Public Service Commission (PSC) eliminated automatic fines for Verizon’s telephone service quality failures, reasoning that “competition” would improve services. Instead, service quality plunged. In the 3rd quarter of 2010, Verizon cleared only 1.2% of out of service complaints within 24 hours, almost 79 percentage points lower than the PSC’s 80% requirement. Rather than reverse course, the PSC changed its measurements, cutting out 92% of customers from service quality measurements and consolidating 28 repair service bureaus into 5 regions. On paper, terrible service quality was almost miraculously transformed. In reality, service quality continued to decline.
State Looks to Address Shortfall by Shifting Health Care Costs to Retirees
Richard Gulla, President of the State Employees Association release the following statement:
Yesterday, the Department of Administrative Services told the NH Fiscal Committee that the health plan for the state’s retirees will have a $10.6 million shortfall over the next biennium, largely due to an unanticipated dramatic increase in prescription drugs. They presented the Committee with a number of possible solutions to mitigate the deficit – all of which shift costs to our retirees.
The average state employee pension is around $12,000 and there has not been a cost of living increase in over six years with little hope for future increases. The NH legislature has once again failed to fully fund the promised benefits to our hard working dedicated state employees.
Let it not be forgotten that the retirees accepted and remained in state jobs with the promise of quality health benefits fully paid by the employer. Those promises have been broken by the legislature.
We acknowledge that the cost of prescription coverage has been increasing much faster than the average rate of inflation; however, it is unacceptable for the state to raise out-of-pocket expenses solely on the backs of our retirees. The majority of state retirees cannot afford these proposed changes. Changes previously made to the health plan, which shifted costs, have already put some of our citizens in the position of having to choose healthcare over groceries.
We stand ready to work with the state to explore solutions and look at all options; not just those that shift the burden to the retirees. We ask the legislature to take a broader look at the challenge of providing health security to our retirees.
Washington, DC—A new briefing paper released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) finds that women represented by a union in the United States earn an average of $212 more per week than women in nonunion jobs. In addition, union women earn more in every state, with the size of the union wage advantage varying across states: union women in Wyoming earn $349 per week more than their nonunion counterparts in the state, while union women in the District of Columbia earn $48 more per week than D.C.’s nonunion women. The analysis also finds that the size of the union wage advantage is large enough in 32 states to cover the costs of full-time child care for an infant in a center.
Women’s share of union members has increased markedly in the last three decades, from 33.6 percent in 1984 to 45.5 percent in 2014. While men are more likely than women to be in labor unions or covered by a union contract in the United States as a whole (13.1 percent of men, compared with 11.9 percent of women), there are eight jurisdictions—California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, and Vermont—where women are more likely to be unionized than men. More than one in four female workers (25.7 percent) in New York are in a labor union or covered by a union contract. Nationally, public sector workers are five times more likely to belong to a union than private sector workers (35.7 percent, compared with 6.6 percent).
There are 25 “Right to Work” states, in which labor unions may operate but they cannot require employees, even those who would benefit from a contract negotiated by a union, to become members of the union or pay membership dues. Generally, the share of women who are union members or covered by a union contract are higher in states that do not have “Right to Work” laws. “Right to Work” states are associated with lower wages for all workers (both union and nonunion), especially women.
“Union representation brings with it greater pay transparency and helps ensure that employers set pay based on objective criteria, such as skill, effort, and responsibility,” said IWPR Study Director Ariane Hegewisch, co-author of the briefing paper. “Unfortunately, many women around the country are not able to experience this union advantage.”
The Union Advantage
Women who are represented by labor unions earn 88.7 cents on the dollar compared with their male counterparts, a considerably higher earnings ratio than the earnings ratio between all women and men in the United States (78.3 percent). Women of all major racial and ethnic groups experience a union wage advantage, but black and Hispanic women are particularly likely to gain from union representation. Hispanic women represented by labor unions have median weekly earnings that are 42.1 percent higher than those without union representation and black women’s earnings are 33.6 percent higher.
The union advantage extends beyond pay to cover benefits, such as retirement plans and health insurance. Women represented by a union are more likely to participate in a pension plan and receive health insurance benefits through their job than those who are not unionized. Approximately three in four unionized women (74.1 percent) have a pension plan, compared with only slightly more than four in ten (42.3 percent) of nonunion women. As of 2013, more than three in four unionized women (76.6 percent) had employer- or union-provided health insurance coverage, compared with only half (51.4 percent) of nonunion women.
“This research shows that it pays to be in a union, especially if you are a woman” said IWPR President Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D. “Not only do union women experience a much narrower gender wage gap with men than women overall, they also earn hundreds of dollars more per week than nonunion women, with greater access to critical benefits that can ensure their longterm financial security and well-being.”
TheInstitute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies.
This morning, Alderman Joyce Craig announced that IBEW Local 490 and IBEW Local 2320 have endorsed her campaign for mayor of Manchester. Together, they have over 350 members in Manchester.
“Alderman Joyce Craig has long been a strong advocate for the priorities of working families in Manchester,” said Denis Beaudoin, Business Manager of IBEW Local 490. “She is a proven consensus builder who understands the true potential of Manchester and the importance of prioritizing education, combating the drug epidemic on multiple fronts, and fixing our roads and infrastructure, and has consistently displayed this during her years of public service. She has proven her leadership skills as a marketing executive, School Board member, and Alderman. It is time Manchester had a leader who understands the needs of working families, and that is why we are supporting Alderman Craig’s campaign for mayor of Manchester.”
“We are thrilled to endorse Joyce Craig’s campaign for mayor of Manchester,” said Steven Soule, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2320, “This is a critical election and it is important we have a candidate who cares about working people in our city. Joyce has a vision to grow our city and plans to improve our schools, curb the heroin epidemic, and improve Manchester’s local infrastructure. Her ability to work with others and find compromise is precisely what is needed in the mayor’s office. We know Joyce will continue to stand up for working families and that is why we are supporting her campaign to be the next mayor of Manchester.”
“It is an honor to have the support of IBEW Local 490 and IBEW Local 2320, whose members have spent decades working in Manchester,” said Craig. “As mayor, I will continue to stand up for and protect Manchester workers and residents. Over the past six years, we have seen the Mayor bully his way through School Board meetings, refuse to engage with other stakeholders to combat the drug epidemic, and ignore our failing infrastructure. It is time Manchester reached its potential and I will be the leader to unite our city to combat the drug epidemic, improve our schools, and protect Manchester workers and families.”
Joyce Craig currently serves as the Ward 1 Alderman and is a candidate for mayor of Manchester.
Yesterday, GOP legislative leaders presented a counter proposal related to the state budget that included full funding for the state employees’ 2015-2017 contract. We appreciate the recognition from the legislative leaders that funding this negotiated agreement for the people who deliver essential services for the public every day is a critical piece toward passing a good budget.
The commitment of our state workers was evidenced just yesterday with the rapid response to the sinkhole on I93. Within moments, crews were on the scene assessing and ultimately repairing the 20 foot deep hole in the highway. While this story received widespread attention, there are many other events that go unnoticed every day that are addressed by state employees to insure the safety, health, and prosperity of our state.
The new contract, which includes a 4% wage increase over two years, was negotiated/bargained in good faith by both parties the union and the state.. We are thankful that our elected officials on both sides of the aisle now agree that this contract should be funded.
While there are still outstanding issues that need to be addressed in order to ensure a balanced budget meets the needs of our state, it is an encouraging step that we have proposals from both sides being exchanged and we are beginning to see common ground. We hope that further progress can be made to reach a bi-partisan budget that we can all be proud of.
Top three officers all re-elected during union’s 40th National Convention
ORLANDO – Delegates attending the American Federation of Government Employees’ 40th National Convention here have re-elected the union’s top three national officers.
National President J. David Cox Sr., National Secretary-Treasurer Eugene Hudson Jr., and National Vice President for Women and Fair Practices Augusta Y. Thomas all were returned to office for another three-year term. Cox and Hudson were first elected in 2012, while Thomas was first elected in 2009.
“I am honored and humbled by the faith AFGE members have placed in me to continue the work I began three years ago, leading the nation’s largest union for federal and D.C. government employees,” Cox said. “Our membership has grown year over year for the past 24 years, and we are going to keep growing so we are big enough and strong enough to build the future that our dedicated members deserve.”
Cox won the top office with 63 percent of the votes. Dana Duggins, executive vice president of the National Council of SSA Field Operations Locals Council 220, received 21 percent of the vote. Alex Bastani, president of AFGE Local 12, received 11 percent. David Owens, retired chairman of AFGE’s Air Force Caucus, received 5 percent.
In the race for National Secretary-Treasurer, Eugene Hudson ran unopposed and was re-elected by acclamation.
Augusta Thomas was re-elected as National Vice President for Women and Fair Practices with 75 percent of the vote. Jacob Baker, main unit vice president of AFGE Local 1770, received 25 percent of the vote.
More than 1,500 delegates are attending the convention, which will conclude on Friday.
Senior leaders of the New Hampshire labor movement were on hand at Globe Manufacturing in Pittsfield, NH today as Eversource officials announced “Forward New Hampshire,” the new plan for the Northern Pass project. New Hampshire’s labor movement supports the new proposal because it will create thousands of good jobs for local workers and help working families by lowering electric rates in the Granite State, while addressing concerns about visual impacts and ensuring local benefits.
“This new plan for the Northern Pass is a great deal for New Hampshire’s working families,” said NH AFL-CIO President Glenn Brackett. “The economic benefits to our state are unparalleled, including 2,400 construction jobs, $80 million in annual energy savings, and new opportunities for economic growth through the $200 million Forward NH Fund. I’m pleased to see that this new proposal balances the needs of New Hampshire businesses, workers, and communities, including those along the proposed route. Eversource has clearly listened to the people of New Hampshire, and this new proposal represents a great path forward for our state and for working families.”
“Eversource’s Forward New Hampshire Plan will be a shot in the arm for New Hampshire’s construction sector,” said NH Building and Construction Trades Council President Steve Burk. “Construction workers have taken a beating since the great recession, and we need job-creating projects like this to keep New Hampshire working. The Northern Pass project alone will increase New Hampshire construction jobs by about 10%. The impact that will have on New Hampshire’s working families will be immeasurable.”
“New Hampshire’s electrical workers are excited to get to work building the Northern Pass, and the Forward New Hampshire Plan is a big step toward making that happen,” said IBEW Local 104 Business Manager Brian Murphy. “This is a balanced plan that addresses concerns about potential impacts while simultaneously investing in New Hampshire’s future workforce. The IBEW is proud to partner with Eversource on innovative training programs and new opportunities to create careers in the electrical industry for thousands of local workers. The Forward New Hampshire Plan is a huge opportunity for workers, and will give hundreds of young people the chance to kick-start a career in the vibrant, growing electrical industry.”
Labor leaders were not the only ones to praise Eversource’s decision to bury the lines. Many New Hampshire elected leaders praised the decision.
“From the very beginning, I, along with many other Granite Staters, have pushed Northern Pass officials to listen to our concerns,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “I have made clear that if Northern Pass is to move forward, it must propose a project that protects our scenic views and treasured natural resources while also reducing energy costs for our families and businesses. New Hampshire deserves the latest technologies in order to protect what we all love about our state, and any project must provide real benefits to the people of the Granite State. I am encouraged that Northern Pass officials have listened and are taking meaningful steps forward in attempting to address those concerns. That process of listening – and making further improvements – must continue.”
“This route is an improvement over the previous proposal. By proposing to bury more than 60 miles of transmission lines, this new proposal would protect the historic and scenic views of the White Mountain National Forest and other important areas, which are part of to our identity as a people and integral to our high quality of life and vibrant tourism industry. By committing to hire New Hampshire workers first, to dedicate significant resources to support economic development efforts in impacted communities, and to upgrade the North Country’s energy infrastructure, this proposal also provides tangible benefits to impacted communities as well as energy cost savings for New Hampshire businesses and residents,” concluded Hassan.
“This announcement by Eversource underscores the need for the robust process that’s underway to review the Northern Pass project,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “The determination of the public’s interest extends far beyond energy needs and any full review must examine the impact on the citizens of New Hampshire and to the region’s environment, property and tourism. I look forward to reviewing this latest proposal and I encourage Granite Staters to contribute during the Department of Energy’s comment period with their views and concerns.”
“The Northern Pass ‘Forward New Hampshire Plan’ represents a commitment to providing this sought-after stability and diversity by investing in clean, renewable hydroelectricity,” said State Senator Donna Soucy of Manchester. “Thanks to Eversource for listening and providing a balanced approach to this project – to meet our energy needs and provide long-term benefits to our state.”
“I’ve long said that Northern Pass needs to provide tangible, local benefits and this proposal goes a long way toward doing that – by significantly burying the line through the White Mountains and establishing a large mitigation fund to expand economic opportunity and compensate communities impacted by this project,” said State Senator Jeff Woodburn of Dalton.
“The company’s commitment to mitigation of the impacts to communities and the creation of a fund to help those hosting the project provides a great opportunity for the state,” said State Senator David Watters of Dover. “I am pleased to offer my support for the project, but it is important that the company work hard during the state’s siting process to continue its work and address additional issues that may arise.”
“In addition to the tremendous energy benefits this project provides to our state’s economy, this project will provide a transformational opportunity for the city of Franklin, create hundreds of jobs in our region, and provide a great boost to our local economy,” said State Senator Andrew Hosmer of Laconia.
Confronted with a dire situation, a world power last week took strong action to secure its domestic jobs and manufacturing.
That was China. Not the United States.
China diminished the value of its currency. This gave its exporting industries a boost while simultaneously blocking imports. The move protected the Asian giant’s manufacturers and its workers’ jobs.
Currency manipulation violates free market principles, but for China, doing it makes sense. The nation’s economy is cooling. Its stock market just crashed, and its economic powerhouse – exports – declined a substantial 8.3 percent in July – down to $195 billion from $213 billion the previous July. This potent action by a major economic competitor raises the question of when the United States government is going to stop pretending currency manipulation doesn’t exit. When will the United States take the necessary action to protect its industry, including manufacturing essential to national defense, as well as the good, family-supporting jobs of millions of manufacturing workers?
The report, “Manufacturing Job Loss: Trade, Not Productivity is the Culprit,” clearly links massive trade deficits to closed American factories and killed American jobs. U.S. manufacturers lost ground to foreign competitors whose nations facilitated violation of international trade rules. China is a particular culprit. My union, the United Steelworkers, has won trade case after trade case over the past decade, securing sanctions called duties that are charged on imported goods to counteract the economic effect of violations.
In the most recent case the USW won, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) finalized duties in July on illegally subsidized Chinese tires dumped into the U.S. market. The recent history of such sanctions on tires illustrates how relentless the Chinese government is in protecting its workers.
Shortly after President Obama took office, the USW filed a complaint about illegally-subsidized, Chinese-made tires dumped into the U.S. market. The Obama administration imposed duties on Chinese tire imports from September 2009 to September 2012.
Immediately after the tariffs ended, Chinese companies flooded the U.S. market with improperly subsidized tires again, threatening U.S. tire plants and jobs. So the USW filed the second complaint.
Though the USW workers won the second case as well, the process is too costly and too time consuming. Sometimes factories and thousands of jobs are permanently lost before a case is decided in workers’ favor. This has happened to U.S. tire, paper, auto parts and steel workers.
In addition, the process is flawed because it forbids consideration of currency manipulation – the device China used last week to support its export industries.
By reducing the value of its currency, China, in effect, gave its export industries discount coupons, enabling them to sell goods more cheaply overseas without doing anything differently or better. Simultaneously, China marked up the price of all imports into the country. American and European exporters did nothing bad or wrong, but now their products will cost more in China.
Chinese officials have contended that the devaluation, which came on the heels of the bad news about its July exports, wasn’t deliberate. They say it reflected bad market conditions and note that groups like the International Monetary Fund have been pushing China to make its currency more market based.
Right. Sure. And it was nothing more than a coincidence that it occurred just as China wanted to increase exports. And it was simply serendipity that in just three days, “market conditions” wiped out four years of tiny, painfully incremental increases in the currency’s value.
If the value of the currency truly is market based and not controlled by the government, then as Chinese exports rise, the value should increase. That would eliminate the artificial discount China just awarded its exported goods. Based on past history, that is not likely to happen. So what China really is saying is that its currency is market based when the value is declining but not when it rises.
China did what it felt was right for its people, its industry and its economy. The country hit a rough spot this year. Though its economy is expected to grow by 7 percent, that would be the slowest rate in six years. Its housing prices fell 9.8 percent in June. Car sales dropped 7 percent in July, the largest decline since the Great Recession. Over the past several months, the Chinese government has intervened repeatedly to try to stop a massive stock market crash that began in June.
In the meantime, the nation’s factories that make products like tires, auto parts, steel and paper continue to operate full speed ahead and ship the excess overseas. As a result, for example, the international market is flooded with underpriced Chinese steel, threatening American steel mills and tens of thousands of American steelworkers’ jobs.
As EPI points out, that means more U.S. factories closed and U.S. jobs lost. If China had bombed thousands of U.S. factories over the past decade, America would respond. But the nation has done virtually nothing about thousands of factories closed by trade violations.
The United States could take two steps immediately to counter the ill-effects of currency manipulation. Congress could pass and President Obama could sign a proposed customs enforcement bill. It would classify deliberate currency undervaluation as an illegal export subsidy. Then the manipulation could be countered with duties on the imported products.
Hotel Workers in Las Vegas: “Mr. Trump, Start Here.”
Trump Casino Las Vegas (FLICKR Jim G)
Las Vegas, NV – “Donald Trump says he wants to make America great again,’” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union. “Mr. Trump should start right here in Las Vegas with workers at his hotel. Many of them are immigrants who work hard to provide for their families. They deserve equal treatment and should be respected for their contributions to this great city.”
On Friday, August 21, 2015 at 5 p.m., employees from Trump International Hotel Las Vegas will march from Las Vegas Boulevard to their hotel to demand equality. They will be joined by clergy leaders, community organizations, elected officials, and union workers throughout the city. Over 500 Trump Las Vegas employees are seeking to unionize so that they can have the American Dream and have a better life for themselves and their families.
“I came from Mexico many years ago and became an American citizen to have a better opportunity for me and my family,” said Maria Jaramillo, a housekeeper at the Trump Las Vegas. “This country is a nation of immigrants, and we all work hard and deserve to be treated fairly.”
“I was born in America, and, with my union job, I have the opportunity to provide for my family. That’s why I support Trump workers who want to unionize,” said Pamela Parre, a banquet server at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino, an MGM Resorts International property in Las Vegas. “Mr. Trump can make America better by treating his employees with dignity and respect, and make their jobs great jobs just like mine.”
In June 2014, five Trump Las Vegas employees were unfairly suspended for exercising their legal right to wear a union button and organize their coworkers. After the Culinary Union filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Trump Las Vegas, these workers were returned to work with back pay. In June 2015, the Culinary Union filed additional charges with the NLRB asserting that the Trump Las Vegas violated the federally protected rights of workers to participate in union activities. Some of the new charges include incidents of alleged physical assault, verbal abuse, intimidation, and threats by management.
The Culinary Union is the largest labor union as well as the largest immigrant organization in Nevada, representing hospitality workers who come from 167 countries and speak over 40 languages. The Culinary Union and the national organization UNITE HERE have long campaigned for immigration reform and the rights of immigrant workers, including the Immigrant Workers’ Freedom Ride in 2003, and continues the fight to achieve comprehensive, worker-centered immigration reform.
Stand In Solidarity With Verizon Workers
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