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Unions Matter: “Solidarity Means Something”

From http://www.ilwu.org

From http://www.ilwu.org

By Steven Weiner for Unions Matters

As a union member who cares for the rights of working people, both here in the USA and abroad, I deplore the fact that the so-called “fast-track” bill was signed into law paving the way for approval of a new trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  I was proud to join the many thousands of union members all across the nation who fought hard to defeat this anti-worker, anti-democratic legislation. Despite an initial victory, corporations that will profit massively from TPP spent millions to insure that the votes were there for the “fast-track” bill’s final passage.

This is an agreement that was negotiated in secrecy; few of its details were released to unions and to others who made repeated requests to review the documents. A statement by the AFL-CIO explains succinctly why there was such concealment:

“TPP…is about increasing opportunities for U.S. companies to invest offshore and then export back to the United States with favorable tariff rates. This model enriches global companies, but does little for the workers in the U.S. who were laid off or foreign workers who toil in sweatshop conditions, denied fundamental rights.”

Teamster General President James Hoffa said that TPP, like an earlier trade agreement NAFTA, “will only ship jobs overseas and lower wages in the U.S. Yet again, workers have been tossed aside by some lawmakers who are more interested in pleasing their corporate cronies than doing what’s best for their constituents.”

Meanwhile, in the struggle to defeat TPP something happened in the labor movement that I believe is new and has big meaning for the future of organized labor in America. There was a huge coming together of many unions and thousands of workers to defeat this terrible bill. Said Mark MacKenzie, NH AFL-CIO President: “This fight demonstrated that when we unite in a common purpose anything is possible.” I’ve learned from Aesthetic Realism, founded by educator and critic Eli Siegel, that the one purpose that strengthens us is impelled by ethics, by the conviction that: “Justice to all people is the same as justice to oneself. ”

An example of this “common purpose” is in the fact that private sector unions whose members are likely to be badly impacted—including by huge job losses—were joined by public sector unions, whose members’ jobs would not be at stake.   In a New York Times article (6/13/15) entitled “Labor’s Might Seen in Failure of Trade Deal as Unions Allied to Thwart It,” Noam Scheiber writes:

“While a broad coalition of unions and liberal activists can claim credit for beating back the…legislation, the key to labor’s display of force in Congress, according to supporters and opponents of the trade deal, was the movement’s unusual cohesion across various sectors of the economy—including public employees and service workers not directly affected by foreign competition.”

As the article points out, unions not seemingly directly affected by TPP, saw its defeat as their fight. John Murphy, senior VP for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was quoted as saying “None of these workers are in any way negatively affected by competition with imports. Yet [they] will be there, showing solidarity.”

I am very encouraged that individual unions are seeing clearly that when one union is under attack and weakened, it’s easier to attack and weaken the next. I believe there’s a reinvigorated belief in the motto of the IWW: “An injury to one is an injury to all,” and it’s a cause for celebration!

Why There Are Increasing Attacks on Unions

In an important issue of the periodical The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, Ellen Reiss, Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education, describes what has gone on as to unions in these last years, resulting in incalculable harm to millions of Americans. She writes:

In 1970 Eli Siegel explained that the profit system had reached the point at which it was no longer able to succeed. Though it might struggle on for a while, it would do so with increasing pain to humanity. And that is what has occurred. As production has been taking place in more and more nations, it has become harder and harder for US companies to haul in big profits for stockholders. They can do so now only by making the people who actually do the work become poorer and poorer—be paid less and less. That means crushing unions, because it is unions that have enabled working people to earn a dignified wage and be treated with respect.

… As big a fight as any going on in the world—indeed, as big a fight as any in the history of humanity—is the fight now taking place between the profit system and unions….The fight is really a sheer one: For the profit system to continue, unions must be defeated.”

At this pivotal time in America’s history, unions need to see clearly what they stand for and are fightingagainst so that the justice they represent as a united force will prevail! The means to this will be powerfully and delightfully shown on Sunday, July 12th in an upcoming production by the esteemed Aesthetic Realism Theatre Company Ethics Is a Force–2015! Songs about Labor.”

 

Steven Weiner is a Ret. Executive Board member and Shop Steward of Local 2627, DC-37, AFSCME.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Anthony DeAngelo (202) 637-5018

 

Thank You To Those Who Voted Against The TPP, However The Fight Is Not Over

Working Families Have Spoken And Washington Was Listening.

Yesterday, the US House of Representatives held a vote on the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which failed by a 126 to 302 vote, due to strong opposition from House Democrats.

For months, progressives and labor advocates have been speaking out against the TPP. Senators Warren and Sanders have made their opposition to the TPP a main talking point in all of their recent speeches. They spoke out because the White House was negotiating the TPP in secret. What little information has been leaked on the proposed deal shows that the deal would be harmful to American workers, continuing the failed policies of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The Fast Track legislation narrowly passed the Senate however House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi rallied House Democrats against it.

“Nancy Pelosi has always fought for working families and today her leadership on the trade package vote was instrumental in the House voting against another bad trade deal,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “She stood up against corporate interests and as always put first the people who are too often left out of trade agreement discussions. I applaud Rep. Pelosi’s bravery and leadership on this and look forward to working with her on good trade bills.”

“The House leadership tried to use a gimmick to push Fast Track through Congress. In rejecting an extremely weakened Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) package, representatives today stood with working families who want good jobs and thriving communities,” wrote the Communication Workers of America (CWA).

House Democrats like Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02) truly understand why it is important to stop this Fast Track legislation.

“Every day, I’m fighting to support New Hampshire workers, small businesses, and family farms, which all deserve a strong say in our nation’s trade policies. I believe the trade promotion authority legislation currently before Congress fails to give these groups a real seat at the table, and fails to include necessary protections for American jobs and workers, which is why I plan to vote against it,” said Kuster in a written statement just days before the vote.

“The New Hampshire AFLCIO is especially proud of Congresswomen Kuster who stood strong in the face of tremendous political pressure to do what was best for New Hampshire workers and workers everywhere,” said Mark MacKenzie, President of the NH AFL-CIO.

It was not just Leader Pelosi who made this vote against the TPP a reality. It was the combined actions of millions of hard working Americans who lobbied their Congressional Representatives to oppose this secret trade deal.

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

“This is a victory for hard-working men and women all across America. In the face of long odds, the American people sent a powerful message that their interests trump narrow political agendas and special interests,” said Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

“Today, we saw elected leaders stand up and make clear that the failed promises of global trade agreements, which only seem to serve irresponsible corporations, must come to an end. More importantly, we have seen what hard-working families can accomplish when we stand together and fight for what is right for both workers and this nation,” Perrone said.

“We keep score. We see the Democrats and the Republicans that stood with us. TAA was the only way to get Fast Track through, and despite the efforts of the President, TAA failed. The subsequent vote on Fast Track itself proved this as we failed to stop Fast Track by a margin of eight votes – just a difference of four votes either way. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi got it right when she said that Democrats have always supported TAA but not as a path to Fast Track,” said CWA past President Larry Cohen, leader of the coalition work on Fast Track.

CWA President Chris Shelton said, “I’ve never been prouder of our union and the work CWA members do. We’ll continue to fight back and build the movement we need.”

Organized labor relied heavily on their progressive allies, like CREDO Action to help spread the word of the dangers of passing this “NAFTA on steroids,” Fast Track legislation.

“The failure of the White House to win a key vote to advance Fast Track Authority for the TPP shows that the millions of Americans who spoke out against job killing trade deals are making a big difference despite an all out effort by Wall Street lobbyists, the Chamber of Commerce, and the White House to ram this through,” said Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director at CREDO Action.

However the fight over the TPP is far from over. House leadership has already stated that they will hold another vote on the Trade Authorization Assistance package early next week.

“This fight is not over,” Zaheed continued. “CREDO will continue to fight against Fast Track and any treaty that puts the rights of multinational corporations over the rights of the American people.”

We need our elected leaders to stay strong against the fierce lobbying arm of Wall Street and Big Business.

“We must fully defeat Fast Track, so that Congress can work for trade deals that give working families at least as much standing as corporations. We need 21st century trade that works for all of us, not just investors and multinational corporations,” wrote the CWA.

“Our broad coalition of Americans — representing millions of union members, environmental activists, immigrant rights advocates, people of faith, students, public health and consumer advocates, community leaders and so many more — will keep up the fight until Fast Track is defeated,” CWA concluded.

The New Hampshire Labor News would like to thank all of the Representatives who chose to stand with working families in opposition to this disastrous trade agreement. We the people have spoken and we thank you for listening! We hope that you will continue to stay strong in your opposition and defeat this disastrous trade agreement once and for all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fight for Working Families Hits Television, Radio, Digital

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

AFL-CIO Escalates Actions Against The TPP

More than 100 events last week during Congressional Recess build pressure against TPA

As the House prepares to consider Trade Promotion Authority, AFL-CIO affiliated labor unions and our progressive allies are continuing to demonstrate the widespread popular opposition to fast track. Yesterday, organizations held a “National Call in Day.” Last week, union members, environmentalists, small business owners, consumer advocates and progressive allies held more than 100 events during the Congressional Recess in dozens of Districts across the country, urging Members of Congress to oppose fast track.

Highlights of recess events include:

  • A protest outside of Rep. Steny Hoyer’s Greenbelt office where participants presented Rep. Hoyer’s staff with a symbolic Memorial Day picnic basket that included pink slips and prescription drugs, which could become more expensive because of the TPP
  • A funeral for middle class jobs in Rep. Lee Zeldin’s Long Island district
  • A protest with giant Q Tips in Sacramento urging Rep. Ami Bera to clean out his ears because his constituents don’t want to fast track TPP
  • A neighborhood watch in Rep. Jim Costa’s district to prevent trade deals that send jobs overseas
  • A protest in San Diego to pressure Rep. Susan Davis and Rep. Scott Peters
  • An action outside of Rep. Ashford’s office in Omaha
  • A protest in Savannah urging Rep. Buddy Carter to oppose TPA
  • A protest outside of Rep. David Young’s office in Des Moines
  • A demonstration outside of Rep. David Price’s office in North Carolina
  • Phone banks in Washington state and a protest with senior groups in Seattle against Rep. Dave Reichert’s amendment to fund TAA with cuts in Medicare

This week, the AFL-CIO challengedthe USTR to declassify the TPP and prove whether it is progressive and will create good-paying jobs. The AFL-CIO also launched a new round of digital ads in The New York Times, Washington Post,Politico and The Hill that deliver the message: “Fast Track Kills Jobs, Drives Down Wages, & Weakens Competition.” The AFL-CIO is also running a TV ad in Sacramento criticizing Rep. Ami Bera for his support of fast track and, over the weekend, posted a classified ad in the Sacramento Bee, on Career Builder and onSacramento Craigslist, looking for a Congressman in CA-7 with a backbone.

Since March, union members have organized more than 650 events against fast track and thousands of workers have traveled to D.C. to rally and lobby Congress. Unions have made 2.05 million phone calls to union members warning against fast track, generated more than 161,000 phone calls and nearly 18,000 handwritten letters to Members of Congress and gathered more than 40,000 petition signatures. Digital advertisements targeting dozens of Members of Congress have made more than 25 million impressions.

AFL-CIO Press Conference Ends with TPP Critics Being Locked Out of US Trade Representative Office

Show Us The Jobs TPP AFLCIO Banner

(Washington, DC, Tuesday, June 2) – Today, under the backdrop of a huge “Show Us the Text, Show Us the Jobs” banner, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler and Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre gathered with critics of Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to reinforce the message that working people won’t stand for another bad trade deal.

At the end of the press conference, a delegation of critics that included a faith leader, a nurse, an environmental activist, a veteran, a postal worker and a student walked to the United States Trade Representative’s office to ask to read the text. A large crowd followed and all were disappointed when they tried to enter the public visitor entrance and found the doors locked.

Earlier in the morning, Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Lloyd Doggett, Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen and critics of the TPP made it clear that they are not going to let another bad trade deal sail through Congress.

“Even though this trade deal will affect 40 percent of the world’s GDP, and even though no prior trade deal USTR has negotiated has ever lived up to its promises, and even though the administration has promised that this would be the most progressive, transparent trade deal in history, we still can’t see the text.” said Shuler.

Fast track supporters argue that the public will have 60 days to read the text on the internet before the President signs it.

“That is no change if we can’t make amendments to it. We need to see exactly what’s different in this Fast Track authority that’s any different from NAFTA or CAFTA, Gebre said. “We’re for trade that uplifts everybody. We’re against trade that drops everybody down and unfortunately our government over and over and over again has decided to drag us down instead of lift us up.”

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, who has been asking to see the text for months wants answers.

“If this agreement were so good you’d be able to read it. But they’ve got a lot to hide in this agreement,” said Doggett. “On issue after issue we need to see the contract and we need to be able to read the text.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who has been championing the fight against Fast Track in Congress, fired up the crowd.

“Thank you for letting the country know about the dangers of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Fast Track,” DeLauro said. “Thank you for pressing Congress and the administration and saying do the right thing for the American people.”

Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen looked out at the crowd and reiterated that American workers are unified in opposition to Fast Track.

“Are you on the side of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or are you on the side of the American worker?” Cohen said. “Are you a corporate democrat or a people’s democrat? We had 30 years of work for less.

Workers Locked Out of USTR – YouTube Video and Twitter pictures and video

Read:  AFL-CIO Analysis of TPP and USTR Interaction

 

AFL-CIO Launches Ad Campaign Against Congressman Ami Bera For Supporting Fast Track

Ad builds on widespread grassroots opposition in Bera’s district to Trade Promotion Authority

(Washington D.C. – May 29, 2015) Today, the AFL-CIO launched a TV ad in the Sacramento media market calling on Congressman Ami Bera to oppose Trade Promotion Authority, also known as fast track, which would pave the way for another corporate-driven trade deal that leads to lower wages and fewer jobs.

Entitled, “No on Fast Track,” the spot charges Congressman Bera with being willing “to do anything to keep his job, including shipping your job overseas” through his support of fast track. The ad urges voters to “call Congressman Ami Bera to tell him to vote no on fast track.”

“This ad is a message to Ami Bera and every other politician that the trade debate is enormously important to working families. Working people have seen how bad trade deals have devastated our communities. We expect our representatives in Congress to vote against rubber stamping a corporate-driven trade policy that delivers extra profits for global corporations at the expense of good-paying jobs for working people,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

The ad follows a series of grassroots events in Bera’s district that have been organized by a coalition of labor, environmental, consumer advocate and progressive organizations. This week, constituents held a rally outside of Bera’s office with giant Q-tips, asking him to “clean out his ears and listen to the voters in his district.”

“For over 20 years, we’ve seen fast-tracked trade deals displace jobs from our communities and create real hardships for working families,” said Robert Longer, Legislative-Political Director for CWA Local 9421. “We want Congressman Bera to fully understand the human consequences of this enormous trade policy and truly act in the best interest of the people he was elected to represent.”

Polling conducted by Lake Research Partners for the Coalition to Stop Fast Track found that voters in CA-7 oppose fast track authority by a 19% margin and they believe free trade agreements lead to job loss rather than job creation. Bera had indicated to supporters last year that he was against fast track legislation prior to changing his stance this year.

Advocates Gather June 2nd thru 4th to Focus on Worker Safety, Empowerment and Prevention Strategies

OSHA’s Jordan Barab and AFL-CIO’s Tefere Gebre are Keynote Speakers at Nat’l Conference on Worker Safety and Health Meeting in Maryland will Include Screening of “A Day’s Work,” New Doc on Temp Workers

NCOSH 300X250

Linthicum Heights, MarylandThe National Conference on Worker Safety and Health, bringing together workers, safety advocates and health professionals from across the country, will take place this coming Tuesday June 2nd through Thursday June 4th at the Conference Center at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum Heights, Maryland.

“Our mission is to empower workers and make our workplaces safer,” said Barbara Rahke, board chair of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH).  “This is a great opportunity to share ideas, learn best practices and work together to reduce the terrible toll caused by preventable illnesses, injuries and deaths in American workplaces.”

Who:               300+ Health and Safety Advocates

What:              Nat’l Conference on Worker Safety and Health

When:             Tuesday June 2 at 11:00 am thru Thursday, June 4 at 5 pm

Where:            Conference Center at the Maritime Institute,

692 Maritime Blvd, Linthicum Heights, MD 21090

Plus:                Lobby Day in DC and Action at U.S. Chamber of Commerce

on Friday, June 5 (More details to follow).

A complete conference agenda is available here. The program includes dozens of workshops by leading organizers and health and safety practitioners on Basic Health and Safety Rights; Building Capacity for Disasters; Bilingual Worker Education; Lessons from Fatality Cases; Making OSHA Work; Whistleblower Protections, and many other critical topics.

Highlights include:

Tuesday, June 2, 7:00 p.m.: Screening of “A Day’s Work,” a new documentary about the lives of temporary workers, with a follow-up talk by producer Dave DeSario and Tim Bell of the Chicago Workers Collaborative, a non-profit organization which advocates for temps and other low-wage workers.

Wednesday. June 3rd at 1:00 p.m.:  Keynote address by Jordan Barab, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Wednesday. June 3rd at 7:00 pm:  National COSH Awards Banquet, recognizing local activists for innovation, organizing, activism and training. Also: The Annual Tony Mazzocchi Award, honoring a legendary health and safety pioneer.

Thursday June 4 at 8:45 a.m.: Media panel with Lydia DePillis, workplace reporter at the Washington Post; Howard Berkes, correspondent for National Public Radio’s investigative unit; and Michael Grabell, investigative reporter at ProPublica.org

Thursday, June 4 at 12:30 p.m. Keynote address by Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO.

“This is more than a conference. It’s a movement,” said Mary Vogel, Executive Director of National COSH.  “This will be a tremendously exciting event, bringing together people from different organizations, speaking different languages, with wide and varied experience on safety issues. We share a passion for doing all we can to make sure workers’ voices are heard, so that every worker can come home safely, every day, to his or her family.”

National COSH is the convenor and lead sponsor of this event.  Additional sponsors include LaborSafe Consulting, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the United Auto Workers, the Communication Workers of America, the Service Employees International Union, and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees (IBT).

Note to reporters and editors: Media are invited to attend the National Conference on Worker Safety and Health, but not all sessions will be open. Please contact Roger Kerson, roger@rkcommunications.net to register in advance and for further information.

 

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