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Coalition Builds Around Infrastructure Week May 11-15

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

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

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United States less globally competitive and riddled with potholes, aging water pipes bursting once every two minutes, outdated transit and lengthening travel delays.

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

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

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

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

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

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

AFL-CIO Warns Congress of the Dangers of Fast Track in a Wave of Actions Across the Country

Over 10,000 Calls and Nearly 7,000 People at Events Against Bad Trade

(Washington, DC) – Last week, the AFL-CIO and its allies placed 10,000 calls to 49 House Members and 2 Senators, with an additional 1,000 calls occurring on Saturday’s National Day of Action from Virginia alone.

Since Fast Track legislation was introduced last Thursday, nearly 7,000 union members, environmentalists, faith leaders and other community partners went to Capitol Hill and canvassed the streets in over 50 Congressional districts and states to warn about the dangers of the Fast Track trade deals. Current proposals would roll back state and local laws safeguarding food and the environment as well as laws that protect working people from wage theft, predatory lending, and consumer fraud. Click here for a list of the events in the DC metro area and across the country. Highlights include:

  • In St. Louis, MO, 400 hand written letters were drafted to Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill, and to Missouri Members of Congress. In addition, 26 Missouri State Representatives wrote to Sen. McCaskill in opposition to Fast Track.
  • In Nebraska, nearly 100 people endured thunderstorms and pouring rain to rally in front of Brad Ashford’s district office. They then waited an additional half hour to personally go into the Congressman’s office one by one to express their opposition to Fast Track.
  • In Portland, Bend, Salem, Eugene, Medford and Coos Bay, OR, over 1,000 people protested the Pacific Rim Trade Deals.
  • In Washington, DC last Thursday, Members of Congress, labor and environmental leaders spoke to a crowd of 1,200 people. On Monday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Sen. Bernie Sanders, CWA President Larry Cohen, and commentator Jim Hightower, spoke to a 1,000 person crowd of community allies from National People’s Action, USAction, Campaign for America’s Future, and Alliance for a Just Society.
  • At a Springfield, MA panel discussion, 50 students, union members, environmentalists and other community activists concerned about our food supply pulled out their phones to call Congressman Neil and express their views.
  • Also last Thursday, the AFL-CIO launched a six figure digital ad buy in 34 targeted House Districts and 16 Senate states.

Last week’s wave of action across the country builds on the grassroots activity in the month of March when union members, environmentalists, small business owners, progressives and community allies made more than 86,000 phone calls to Members of Congress, gathered more than 40,000 petition signatures, and organized more than 400 events across the country.

AFL-CIO Worker Wins Update: Wages and Numbers Rise for Working Families

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

Worker Voices Raise Worker Wages: Under pressure from workers, major corporations such as Walmart, Target, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and McDonald’s have raised their minimum wage over the past months, addressing America’s national wage stagnation crisis. From coast to coast workers have held actions calling on employers to raise wages, and national leaders have echoed calls in favor of a raising wages agenda.

37,000 Workers Get a Raise as Seattle Minimum Wage Hike Begins: Seattle’s minimum wage rose to $11 on April 1stas part of a multi-step process that will eventually result in a $15 minimum wage throughout the city by 2021.  This raise comes as over two dozen stateshave minimum wages above the federal minimum wages.

The Union Difference in Mining: Safety and Efficiency: According to a March report by SNL Energy, underground coalmines with union workers are safer and more productive than their non-union counterparts. Of the 16 miners who died on the job in 2014, only one was at a union mine, while union miners were found to be nearly 20 percent more productive per hour.

Workers Rev Up Organizing Efforts as UAW Membership Climbs: The United Auto Workers added more than 12,000 members in 2014 according to its Labor Organizing Annual Report released in March. UAW membership has grown for five consecutive years with nearly 50,000 new members since 2009.

NYU and UAW’s graduate teaching assistants reach “A+” agreement:  Last month, New York University (NYU) and GSOC-UAW Local 2110, which represents graduate teaching and research assistants, reached a tentative agreement that provides improved wages and benefits among other improvements. This week, GSOC members overwhelmingly ratified the agreement making it the only contract covering graduate teaching and research assistants at a private university.

Workers Fight For Schedule Stability in California: Workers in California ramped up a fight last month to ensure that service industry employers give their workers at least two weeks’ notice before scheduling shifts. This law seeks to provide predictable work schedules to millions of workers in industries such as fast food and retail, where workers often have no notice of hours they’re expected to work.

President Obama Says ‘No’ To GOP Efforts to Weaken Union Rules: President Obama blocked Congressional GOP efforts last month to overturn NLRB rulings to streamline the union election process, making it easier for workers to have a voice. The NLRB regulations were issued last December and take effect on April 14th.

 

AFL-CIO Launches Historic Campaign to Assist Workers with Immigration Executive Action and Citizenship Assistance

We Rise! national immigration initiative will build worker and community power and assist eligible immigrants with the DACA, DAPA and with U.S. Citizenship

(Washington, DC) – Today, the AFL-CIO officially launched “We Rise!,” a national immigration initiative to reach, mobilize, and organize immigrant workers to build power on the job and in the community. We Rise! will train union members and equip union halls around the country to empower immigrant workers and their families to gain rights on the job by applying for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) programs. The program will also encourage qualified Legal Permanent Residents to become U.S. Citizens.

“President Obama’s executive actions were the right thing to do, but we’re not done yet. This progress can be stalled but it cannot be stopped. With the launching of the We Rise! initiative we are moving forward,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

The “We Rise!” national immigration initiative was launched with a three day training where more than 200 union members, leaders and staff from 23 different unions and activists from 27 states gathered in Washington, DC to receive practical, hands-on training that will enable them to return to their communities with plans to assist qualified applicants with the DAPA, DACA programs and U.S. Citizenship.

“We learned a lot in the workshops and trainings, from how DACA and DAPA will protect and advance workers’ rights, to how to identify eligible recipients and assist them with the application process,” said Ildefonso Magaña, an International Union of Painters and Allied Trades organizer from Phoenix, AZ. “You could feel the energy in all the sessions. There is a lot of excitement and we are all looking forward to returning to our communities to hit the ground running.”

In February, a Texas judge issued a preliminary injunction on both immigration executive actions. The 5th Court Circuit has set a hearing for April 17. AFL-CIO President Trumka has stated that “this temporary setback will not deter the AFL-CIO’s work on the ground to ensure that as many workers as possible are eventually able to gain protections and work authorization under the new deferred action programs.”

As part of this commitment, unions in key states will open their halls to eligible workers, where they will learn more about their rights on the job and meet trained volunteers and legal experts who will assist them with filling out their applications and answer any questions in regards to both programs and the citizenship process.

In addition, Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, will launch “Working America We Rise!”, a project offering immigrant workers the opportunity to join the labor movement and receive benefits including legal services, credit counseling, prepaid cards with a feature for remittances, and access to dental and vision discounts. Dues-paying Working America We Rise! members are also eligible to apply for a $250 “We Rise! Grant” to help fund deferred action application fees.

“It is great to know there is assistance out there for workers who will benefit from citizenship, and the DACA and DAPA programs,” said Maria Dominguez, an American Federation of Teachers member who benefited from DACA, and now works as teacher in Austin, TX. “With these programs workers will finally be able to claim our rights at work and parents of our students will stop being deported. This is just the beginning.”

During the past year, the AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions have organized citizenship workshops in several cities in the country.  The UFCW has been at the forefront of building a robust program that has helped to guide the federation’s work. The We Rise! initiative is a continuation of the labor movement’s efforts to empower all workers by pushing for comprehensive immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship.

Congress Votes To Block New Rules Mandated By The NLRB

Yesterday, Congressional Republicans continued their all out assault on working families by passing a law that would limit workers rights to organize and block new rules from the National Labor Relations Board that would allow for faster union elections, slated to take effect in April.

The NLRB said in a December statement that the new rules would allow unions to use electronic means to file for an election and would allow unions to hold elections just 14 days after filing.

“I am heartened that the Board has chosen to enact amendments that will modernize the representation case process and fulfill the promise of the National Labor Relations Act. Simplifying and streamlining the process will result in improvements for all parties. With these changes, the Board strives to ensure that its representation process remains a model of fairness and efficiency for all,” said NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Peirce.

Congressman Frank Guinta receiving an award from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC)

Congressman Frank Guinta receiving an award from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC)

The bill passed 232-186, almost straight down party lines. The bill was opposed by all of the House Democrats (thank you Congresswoman Annie Kuster [NH-02]) and three lone Republicans. Congressman Frank Guinta, the Republican representing the first district in New Hampshire, was among the Republican majority who voted to pass the bill.

“Today’s vote by House Republicans against the NLRB’s common-sense modernization of its election rules is a direct attack on workers and their right to be heard in the workplace,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Working men and women want an agenda from their Congressional leaders that raises wages and grows our middle class. Instead, they have gotten Republican policies that roll back progress and silence workers while protecting their biggest donors.”

Listening to the debate on the House floor shows exactly how much the Republicans really care about workers and their rights.   These Republicans are putting corporations above working men and women.

“Today, Congress voted to stop an unelected board of bureaucrats from trampling on the rights of America’s workers and job creators,” said Congressman John Kline (R-MN) in a written statement after the vote. “The board’s ambush election rule will stifle employer free speech, cripple worker free choice, and jeopardize the privacy of workers and their families.

Rep. Kline’s statement is nearly identical to the statement released by the US Chamber of Commerce who has worked tirelessly to oppose unionizing efforts and push anti-worker legislation in dozens of states.

“The Chamber applauds Congress for passing legislation to stop the ‘ambush election’ rule issued by the NLRB,” stated U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits Randel K. Johnson. “This rule infringes upon an employer’s free speech right by virtually eliminating an employer’s opportunity to communicate his or her views regarding unionization with employees.

What they should have said was that this vote stifles a workers right to organize and gives more time for employers to hire union busting firms and lie to their employees about how unions operate.

President Obama has already said he will veto this totally partisan bill. This would be Obama’s fourth veto, and second in the last two months.

“President Obama is right in his commitment to vetoing this harmful legislation, and Congressional Republicans should focus their efforts on lifting workers up instead of shutting them out,” said Trumka.

Whether you support unions or not should not matter, that is why we hold elections. If workers freely choose to support a union, the union will win the election. If workers freely choose to reject the union, the union will lose. That is freedom and the choice that workers are guaranteed under the National Labor Relation Act.

Organizing and holding a union election is hard enough, and Republicans in Washington want to block workers from organizing. Working families need to understand that these Republicans are not looking out for them and are only looking out for the wealthy businesses and groups like the US Chamber of Commerce that fund their campaigns.

 

 

Click here for more information about the NLRB’s rule changes

 

AFL-CIO National Organizing Workshop Brings Together Over 600 Organizers to Talk Future of Labor

Organizers from labor unions, student and community groups, and worker centers will gather this weekend to discuss strategies and tactics for growing worker power. The convening will demonstrate that workers continue to find new and creative ways to exercise their collective voice even in the face of right-wing opposition in states like Wisconsin, unfair treatment of workers in major sectors such as the oil and gas industry, and rampant income inequality.

The National Organizers Workshop will be hosted by the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute, with over 600 participants coming from across the country and the world. Organizers developed the workshops, will lead the workshops and will address the challenges and opportunities facing them.  Workshop sessions range from supporting organizing efforts of communities of color to adapting to an ‘Uber-model’ economy.

“This weekend was inspired by workers and organizers on the front line of our movement,” said Elizabeth Bunn, Director of the AFL-CIO’s Organizing Department. “Together we’re writing our future and planning together how to win justice for workers and communities.”

This year’s conference, comprised of unions from both the AFL-CIO and the Change-to-Win coalition, is held in the wake of a year of significant successes for organizing within the labor movement. Organizing campaigns have raised wages for Walmart workers, cable television workers, hotel and hospitality workers, legal services workers, nurses, port truck drivers and more. Over the last several months, workers in diverse industries and occupations are forming unions at their workplaces including, bike share workers, reality television writers, graduate teaching assistants, adjunct faculty, and Silicon Valley bus drivers.

To learn more about the AFL-CIO’s Organizing Institute, visit their website by clicking here.

Labor Movement United in Opposition to ‘Fast Tracking’ Trade Deals

In a show of solidarity, workers from across economic sectors representing 60 unions within and outside of the AFL-CIO came together today to sign a letter to Congress expressing opposition to Fast Track authority, which is used to advance unfair trade deals.

The letter, which can be viewed by clicking here (or see below), demonstrates the unity between workers who have jobs that are directly impacted by bad trade deals, and those whose jobs are indirectly affected.

Today’s letter is part of a comprehensive campaign by the AFL-CIO, its affiliates, and its allies against Fast Track authority. The campaign includes a lobby day on March 4thwhere union members from more than 20 states will be in Washington, DC to lobby members to stop Fast Track. To find out more about the impact Fast Track will have on the US economy, you can watch President Richard Trumka’s explainer by clicking here.

TTD Applauds House Passage of Amtrak Reauthorization

Transportation Trade Department LogoWashington, DC—Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues this statement about the House passage of the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015 (PRRIA):

“Today the House of Representatives took an important step to sustain Amtrak, America’s national passenger railroad. The overwhelming vote today on the floor of the House also demonstrates that the nation’s largest transportation challenges can be met with bipartisan cooperation and problem solving.

“As transportation unions recently declared in our Executive Committee policy statement, we now have an opportunity to set in motion a long-term vision for federal passenger rail policy. We are pleased that the House has endorsed a multi-year investment for Amtrak at a time when the railroad and its workforce are dealing with rising demand and aging equipment and infrastructure. While we will continue to advocate for higher federal funding levels for Amtrak, PRRIA gives Amtrak a measure of certainty as it advances long-term modernization plans.

“We are especially pleased that the House rejected an amendment that would have zeroed out Amtrak, hollowed out our only national passenger railroad, and destroyed thousands of middle-class jobs. Amtrak is an important driver of jobs and economic development and, like all areas of our transportation system, requires federal support in order to thrive. By voting against the McClintock amendment, members of Congress rejected the idea that the federal government should abdicate its responsibility to fund a key component of our national transportation system.

“Today’s bipartisan action in the House shows that members of Congress have heardAmericans across the country who have called for increased passenger rail service. I especially want to thank Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster and Ranking Democrat Peter DeFazio, as well as Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Denham and Ranking Member Michael Capuano, for crafting this bill and moving it through the House.

“As PRRIA advances in the Senate, we will continue to oppose privatization mandates, outsourcing schemes, and other so-called reforms that would undermine Amtrak and its workforce and that were rejected in the House bill. At the same time, we will push for funding levels necessary to meet the long-term needs of our neglected passenger rail system and ensure that Amtrak is in a position to provide the type and level of service Americans are calling for.”

Texas Ruling On Immigration Is Setback But Will Not Stop The AFL-CIO’s Work On Immigration

Late last night, a Texas judge issued a preliminary injunction that temporarily blocks the implementation of President Obama’s new deferred action initiatives. These initiatives, announced last November, came in response to more than 10 years of political stalemates and failure by Congress to address America’s broken immigration system and alleviate the pain endured by millions of families around the country. The President’s announced initiatives will provide temporary relief from deportation to approximately 5 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.

The new deferred action initiatives, which include Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and an expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), are based on the well-established authority of Presidents and other executive branch officers to allocate and prioritize finite enforcement resources. This practice is used by prosecutors and other law enforcement personnel on daily basis. The judge’s order, issued just two days before the government was set to begin the DACA expansion, bars federal immigration officials from implementing “any and all aspects” of the new deferred action initiatives.

The following is a statement by Melissa Crow, Legal Director at the American Immigration Council:

“Today’s decision is only the first round in what will clearly be a much longer legal battle. Already, the White House has promised that the Justice Department will appeal the judge’s decision, and we urge them to do so in an expedited manner. We expect higher courts to overturn the judge’s decision based on well-established precedent.

“Today’s decision is more rooted in political rhetoric than legal rationales. It relies on a distorted view of overwhelming evidence of the economic benefits of immigration and ignores Supreme Court precedent. It also discounts a long history of recourse to prosecutorial discretion, which has been exercised by every President since Eisenhower. The decision relies on a technical violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to find that the Administration did not follow proper procedures, while ignoring the fact that the President’s deferred action initiatives are not subject to the APA. While the decision will unfortunately delay critical efforts to address our broken immigration system, the need and the demand for reform has never been greater. We remain confident that it is a question of when, not if, these programs will take effect.”

After the court ruling was announced Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO released the following statement:

This temporary setback will not deter the AFL-CIO’s work on the ground to ensure that as many workers as possible are eventually able to gain protections and work authorization under the new deferred action programs. Around the country, we will continue educating workers, training union activists and helping eligible applicants gather the documents they will need to qualify.

This lawsuit represents a misguided effort to use a false economic basis to block the immigration relief that millions of hardworking, longtime members of our community deserve. The executive actions on immigration will in fact increase earnings, grow the tax base, strengthen the economy and further the public interest, as states like Washington, California, Illinois and New York have explained to the court. The AFL-CIO supports the Department of Justice’s decision to file an appeal, and we trust that higher courts will undo this wrong.

The path to justice often includes obstacles. We will not give up the fight until Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform with a clear pathway to citizenship so that all workers in this country will have the ability to assert their rights on the job and in their communities. In the meantime, this ruling will further strengthen the resolve of a resilient community that is a vital part of our labor movement. We know that an organized community is a stronger community, and that together we will rise.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Applauding Currency Manipulation Bill

“The Currency Undervaluation Investigation Act (Senate Bill) and the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act of 2015 (House Bill) are critical to creating and retaining good manufacturing jobs in America.  Enacting these bills will ensure that we have the tools to address and end destructive currency manipulation by other governments. This unfair practice distorts the global economy and disadvantages countries like the United States that comply with international trade rules. These illegal actions have cost far too many jobs over the past several years.

Working people applaud the leadership from Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and from Representatives Sander Levin (D-MI), Tim Murphy (R-PA), Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Mo Brooks (R-AL) to introduce this important the bipartisan legislation.

Currency manipulation has cost America as many as 5 million jobs, devastating many manufacturing communities.  As a result, there continues to be strong bipartisan support for currency legislation in both the House and Senate.  However, legislation by itself is not enough.  We need to ensure that there are also strong, enforceable currency mechanisms in trade agreements that the U.S. negotiates—especially the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which includes countries that have engaged in such manipulation to boost exports.”

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