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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

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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.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the report here

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the report here.

House Bill Provides Chance for Expanded, Long-term Highway/Transit Funding Legislation

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Washington, DC—Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues this statement in advance of a House vote on a short-term extension of expiring highway and transit investment programs:

“Today we are urging a YES vote on H.R. 2353, a short-term extension of expiring highway/transit programs that will keep pressure on lawmakers and the President to complete a long-term bill this summer.

“It is a sad state when a two month legislative extension is a victory. But we called for this action. A short-term bill through July gives a chance to build momentum around a longer-term funding bill that gives states and businesses the certainty they need, boosts middle class job creation, and ends the mindless, short-sighted game of patchwork extensions.

“If lawmakers squander the chance this summer to craft a bipartisan, long-term bill that expands funding, the nation will be doomed to years of transportation decay and gridlock with no end in sight. And the voters will be left with no one to blame but the people they send to Washington.”

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

2015 Executive PayWatch highlights Walmart at center of growing inequality crisis

www.PayWatch.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Senate Actions On TPP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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