• Advertisement

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, The Case To Push Right To Work Nationally

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

Another day, another attack on working families.

The Supreme Court is about to hear a case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association that could overturn a nearly forty-year decision that allows unions to negotiate “fair-share” fees for non-union members who benefit from the union’s contract.

“We are disappointed that at a time when big corporations and the wealthy few are rewriting the rules in their favor, knocking American families and our entire economy off-balance, the Supreme Court has chosen to take a case that threatens the fundamental promise of America—that if you work hard and play by the rules you should be able to provide for your family and live a decent life,” wrote NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, AFT President Randi Weingarten, CTA President Eric C. Heins, AFSCME President Lee Saunders, and SEIU President Mary Kay Henry in joint statement.

For decades corporations have been trying to bust our unions in an effort to suppress workers and pocket more of the fruits of our labor. Twenty-five states have already passed, so-called Right To Work laws, that make it illegal for unions and employers to negotiate a fair share clause’s in their contracts.

Nearly forty years ago the right for unions to charge a fair share fee was challenged in the Supreme Court. In the case, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the court upheld the union’s right to negotiate a fee from non-members who benefit from the contract.

For generations unions have protected workers and help to counterbalance the corporate race to the bottom. In free-bargaining states, workers on average, make $1553 dollars more annually.

“It’s abundantly clear that right to work laws are negatively correlated with workers’ wages,” said Elise Gould, Senior Economist with the Economic Policy Institute.

This case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, is just another example of the extreme right wing pushing their anti-worker agenda on all workers. The case has been pushed by the Center for Individual Rights with strong support from wealthy businessmen and ultra-libertarians Charles and David Koch.

“The list of foundations and donor-advised funds supporting the Center for Individual Rights reads like a who’s who of the right’s organized opposition to labor,” wrote Adele M. Stan in the American Prospect.

The Center for Individual Rights (CIR) is also known for taking cases to the Supreme Court to overturn rulings on Immigration, Affirmative Action, and the Voting Rights Act. CIR quickly gained support from anti-worker groups including “the Cato Institute, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund, and the Mackinac Center, a major force behind the 2012 anti-union legislation enacted in Michigan,” who filed amicus briefs to the Supreme Court on behalf of the plaintiff, Friedrichs.

The AFL-CIO and AFSCME also filed amicus briefs opposing this corporate funded attack on workers rights. Along with the AFL-CIO and AFSCME more than 70, civil and human rights groups, including the NAACP, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Women’s Law Center, and GLAD, filed their own amicus brief opposing this attack on workers.

“For nearly 40 years, unions have bargained to further opportunity for women, people of color, and LGBT workers,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “At a time of increasing inequality, and when the odds are increasingly in favor of the wealthy and against the American worker, we urge the Court to adhere to its own precedent and reaffirm Abood so that unions representing all public sector workers, both members and non-members, may continue to effectively bargain for vital workplace benefits and protections.”

When workers stand together, we win. These attacks on our rights and freedoms have not gone unnoticed and will not stop us from continuing to organize to make the lives of working people better.

Labor Continues Fight for Justice for all Immigrant Working Families

(Photo by Bill Burke, Page One Photography)

(Photo by Bill Burke, Page One Photography)

A year after the executive action on immigration,
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued the following statement:

Today should have been a day of celebration for working families across the nation. Instead, thanks to partisan legal obstructionism of the DAPA and expanded DACA policies, millions of people continue to live and work in fear in our country. Nonetheless, we continue to press forward.

This year working people have been standing together to fight for just wages and fair treatment in communities across the country. Millions of workers of all immigration statuses have been negotiating with a collective voice for a better life; and we have seen how labor unions have embraced the Adelante! We Rise! campaign by opening their halls to empower immigrant working families.  Our movement, including community allies and worker centers, is more energized than ever.

Right now, the Texas AFL-CIO and the Workers Defense Project are holding a three day pilgrimage to Austin to remind the nation that in Texas immigrant families are a vibrant part of the community and that they refuse to remain in the shadows. Our movement has been at the forefront of a wide range of issues related to bettering conditions for workers and their families. Last week the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the National Day Labor Organizing Network and community groups gathered outside Los Angeles’ downtown immigrant detention center to honor all the families that have suffered unnecessary separations as a result of our nation’s broken immigration system. 

The AFL-CIO was pleased to see the Administration file a formal request today for the Supreme Court to hear the case on DAPA and expanded DACA.  We remain deeply committed to ensuring that the promise of these programs to improve the lives of millions of working people is realized, and we intend to make our support clear in the streets, at the polls, and to the Court directly.

Meanwhile, we will press forward in the struggle for equal rights for all working people. Roadblocks test our determination, but we will not rest until families can remain united and all working people are treated with respect and dignity.

US House Passes Surface Transportation Bill

July 06, 2015 |Kuster hears from local transportation planners about the importance of fully funding infrastructure projects

July 06, 2015 |Kuster hears from local transportation planners about the importance of fully funding infrastructure projects

Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) voted in favor of H.R. 3763, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015, which will extend federal highway and transit programs for the next six years. Following this morning’s approval of the measure, the House and the Senate have until November 20 to finalize and approve federal infrastructure funding before the current reauthorization expires. 

“For New Hampshire to continue to succeed in the 21st century, we need to have long-term security when it comes to federal transportation funding,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I joined with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this bill, which will ensure that we protect public safety through the revitalization of our roads and bridges, as well as provide certainty that our valued construction workers are supported by these vital projects. However, I recognize that this bill is far from perfect. I believe that the legislation could do more to expand funding for highway and infrastructure projects.  In particular, the bill dramatically cuts overall funding for the TIFIA loan program, which is critically important to improving our transportation network in the Granite State.  

I am also frustrated that this bill only provides funding for three of the six years authorized by the legislation.  I am a strong supporter of legislation that would fund transportation through repatriation of overseas corporate earnings and regret that this proposal was not allowed to be considered as an amendment. I now call on my colleagues in the Senate and House to work together to draft a compromise bill that grows our investment in transportation and strengthens our economic competitiveness, so that our workers and the projects that our nation relies on can continue to strengthen the country’s transportation networks.”

The Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 would provide $325 billion for the revitalization of highways, transit, and safety programs across the country to be used over the next six years. The final measures to ensure funding throughout the bill’s final three years are expected to be settled in conference with the Senate between now and November 20, when current authorization will expire.  Over the last decade, Congress has passed numerous short-term extensions of highway and transit programs, leading to uncertainty for local transportation departments and impeding economic growth around the nation. 

Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issued this statement:

“For far too long, Americans and the communities in which they live have been forced to live with the consequences of years of inaction on the backlog of investments needed to repair and modernize our failing surface transportation system. We are especially pleased that Shuster and DeFazio rejected divisive amendments that would have done harm to our members and undermined our transportation system. Their leadership proves that it is still possible for Republicans and Democrats to cooperate on issues that matter to the American people.

“While passage of this bill is a landmark achievement, we must not lose sight of the fact that the funding levels do not meet our country’s mounting transportation challenges. We hope that as the House and Senate work together in Conference, more revenues will be found to significantly boost transit, highway and bridge investments.

Congresswoman Kuster has continuously advocated for increased federal investment in New Hampshire’s transportation infrastructure since taking office. Last year when short-term funding threatened to run out, Kuster introduced the DRIVE Now Act, legislation that would have replenished the Highway Trust fund through the summer construction season to allow Congress time to pass a full, six-year reauthorization of the Highway Trust Fund and other Surface Reauthorization programs. 

Kuster is also a strong supporter of the Infrastructure 2.0 Act (H.R. 625), which would fund federal highway programs through the repatriation of overseas corporate earnings. Additionally, the bill would use this same funding source to create a national infrastructure bank to finance state and local infrastructure projects and reform federal taxation of overseas corporate earnings to prevent companies from exploiting foreign tax havens.  This legislation was offered as an amendment to H.R. 3763 but was not allowed to receive a vote.

This past summer, Kuster sent a letter to House leadership and called on her colleagues in the Senate to support a long-term surface transportation bill that would provide certainty for infrastructure projects in New Hampshire and across the country.

Kuster has also hosted a number of events to highlight the importance of transportation infrastructure.

Earlier this fall, Kuster hosted a passenger rail summit that attracted experts from across New England to share updates on ongoing projects as well as best practices. She has also toured the I-93 construction project in Windham and the Route 10 bridge replacement project in Winchester, two projects that could have been threatened by lack of transportation funding, to underscore the need to pass responsible, long-term funding legislation. 

AFL-CIO President “Deeply Disappointed” In Text Of Newly Released TPP

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka made the following statement after
the release of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) text:

Richard_TrumkaAfter six long years, the secrecy is over.  The public finally has a chance to scrutinize the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) for themselves instead of having to rely on characterizations made by the agreement’s supporters.  America’s voters can now make their own judgment  about whether it meets their high standards for a 21st Century agreement that will raise wages, protect our democracy, and promote sustainable growth and development.

From what we have reviewed so far, we are deeply disappointed that our policy recommendations and those of our trade reform allies in the environmental, consumer, public health, global development, and business sectors were largely ignored.  The investment rules still provide expansive new legal rights and powers to foreign businesses to challenge legitimate government actions, the labor enforcement provisions are still inadequate to address the enormous challenges posed by this deal, and the lack of enforceable currency rules subject to trade sanctions mean the promised new export markets may never materialize.

We will be examining the text line by line in the coming days to understand the deal’s full implications for working people in every sector from manufacturing and agriculture to public and private services.  But from what we have already seen, it is clear that the threats of this expansive new agreement outweigh its benefits —  for good jobs, for democracy, for affordable medicines, for consumer safety, and for the environment. The hardworking families of the AFL-CIO will join with our allies to defeat the TPP. 

Transportation Trades Department And Lawmakers Collaborate on Transportation Policy Concerns

Transportation Trade Department Logo

TTD Executive Committee Takes Aim at Pending Bills

WASHINGTON, DC — Transportation labor leaders — gathered today at the fall Executive Committee meeting of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) — met with key members of Congress to seek solutions to a woefully underfunded transportation system and to boost job creation in what remains a slow recovery that TTD’s leader said is “leaving too many working people behind.”

“The need for long-term investments in our transportation system and infrastructure will not ‘just go away,’” said Edward Wytkind, president of TTD, who added that the dialogue with congressional guests “focused like a laser” on ending the stalemate on crucial investment bills. “With the recent progress on a surface transportation bill and strong bipartisan display of support for the U.S. Merchant Marine, we may be witnessing a brief but important timeout from senseless partisanship.”

TTD hosted roundtable discussions with Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the ranking Democrat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee.

The high priorities during the discussion with lawmakers included keeping aviation and maritime issues out of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP); fighting legislative assaults on longshore employees’ bargaining rights; passing Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reauthorization; boosting the Maritime Security Program; and rejecting emerging hair specimen drug testing legislation.

“As Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, I value input from my friends in the transportation labor community who bring a critically needed front-line employee perspective to our work,” Diaz-Balart said. “By seeking the views of both labor and business, community leaders and other important partners, we can develop real, long-term solutions to our nation’s transportation infrastructure challenges.”

“We need to increase investments in our infrastructure and focus on the areas that will truly help create jobs and support our economy,” Nelson said. “We also need to protect the men and women who are out there every day making our transportation systems work.”

“Transportation infrastructure is at the heart of the U.S. economy. Our economic competitiveness, our businesses and millions of American jobs depend on robust investments in our crumbling network of roads, bridges, highways and transit systems,” DeFazio said. “We must continue to push for legislation that will modernize our nation’s transportation infrastructure, create good jobs and enhance the rights and working conditions of the men and women who keep America moving. I thank TTD for joining in that effort.”

The Executive Committee also held a discussion about plans for member education in the 2016 presidential election.

TTD, which represents some 2 million workers in every sector of transportation, has been working with its affiliates on a flurry of key issues. Just today TTD and its maritime and aviation affiliates sent a letter to President Obama urging his Administration to keep maritime and aviation out of any TTIP negotiations. TTD has aggressively countered the trucking lobby’s agenda to bring “unscientific” hair specimen drug testing to front line bus and truck drivers. And TTD coordinated efforts with its member unions to advance a surface transportation bill out of committee last week that awaits House floor consideration.

“When you’re talking about transportation jobs, you’re talking about middle-class jobs — the types of jobs that elude too many Americans,” Wytkind added. “The policies that affect our sector have a real impact on working families, and that’s something Congress can’t forget despite working in the Washington bubble.”

AFL-CIO National Survey to Examine the Lives of Working Women

(Washington, DC) Today, the AFL-CIO released the National Survey of Working Women to capture a multifaceted picture of the lives of working women across the country, both union and nonunion.

The survey, developed under the guidance of the AFL-CIO Executive Council Committee on Working Women will ask women about their economic interests, family and work life, along with their experiences balancing their responsibilities.

“Today, with the economy in slow recovery, a new wave of attacks on collective bargaining and a presidential election on the horizon, working women’s voices are more important than ever,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler and Chair of the AFL-CIO Women’s Committee.

“Working women need to stand together to let employers know what we need on the job. Our survey will reach out to working women from all different walks of life, both inside and outside the labor movement and will provide a much needed look into the daily lives of working women and how they struggle to achieve the ever-elusive work-life balance,” said Diann Woodard, President of the American Federation of School Administrators and Vice-Chair of the AFL-CIO Women’s Committee.

The survey will be open from October 27 – December 4, 2015, and results will be available in March 2016 during Women’s History Month.

The survey can be accessed online at go.aflcio.org/WomensSurvey.

AFL-CIO Worker Wins Update: Scheduling Victories Edition

WASHINGTON, DC – Workers in retail, union members, and unorganized workers have stood up in the past year to fight for scheduling reform that leads to a better life for working families.

“Our retail scheduling system is broken, and working families deserve better,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler. “Over the last year, big corporations and politicians have heard working people demanding a path to a better life through scheduling reform and some have even taken steps to create a more balanced approach.  However, there are still far too many who are subject to the whims of their employer in order to pay their bills. Americans need decisive action to create a scheduling system that works for working families.”

Some examples of scheduling victories over the last year include:

Abercrombie & Fitch Makes Scheduling Reform Fashionable: In early August, Abercrombie and Fitch, with 799 U.S. stores, announced the end of their on-call shift practice after New York State Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman started an investigation into the scheduling practices of 13 large retailers. Abercrombie & Fitch stores will now alert workers to their schedules a week in advance and provide email alerts about unexpected scheduling needs.

Gap Recognizes Worker Demands, Ends ‘On-Call Scheduling: Gap, Inc., which includes its five brands – Athleta, Gap, Old Navy, Intermix and Banana Republic – made an agreement to end on-call scheduling by the end of September, 2015. Gap cited the importance of ‘work-life integration’ to their employees and committed itself to ensuring ‘consistent and reliable scheduling.’

Walmart Workers Win Progress in Scheduling: Earlier this year, Walmart announced it would make significant changes to its scheduling system, including instituting fixed scheduling for some workers. The changes, advocated for by working people and worker advocates, would ensure some Walmart workers will know their schedules at least 2.5 weeks in advance, and workers will have more control over the hours and days they work.

Victoria’s Secret is Better Scheduling Practices: Victoria’s Secret ended its use of ‘on-call’ scheduling after workers spoke out to Buzzfeed earlier this summer, calling on the end to predatory and abusive practices. Workers told Buzzfeed that they were often required to be available for shifts that were cancelled at the last minute with no compensation. Victoria Secret’s parent company, L Brands, was also sued in California last year for the same anti-worker practices. 

San Francisco Takes Lead in Enacting Serious Schedule Reform: Late last year, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a law requiring major retail chains to provide two weeks’ notice for any change in a worker’s schedule, while providing penalties for companies that fail to provide such notice. The Board’s decision came after UFCW-organized workers at San Francisco-based Macy’s stores fought back against efforts by the retail giant to cut notice time for schedules by two-thirds.

The GOP’s Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric Is Racist And Un-American

Image by Gage Skidmore

Image by Gage Skidmore

Enough is enough! 

We must stop praising these politicians who trying to win the nomination of the Republican Party by threatening to evict 11 million aspiring Americans and potentially millions more American citizens whose parents are not yet citizens.

It is disgusting, racist and un-American.  

By now you have already seen this video of the pompous asshat Donald Trump forcibly removing one of the nations most respected journalists from his press conference in an attempt to avoid answering questions regarding his immigration policies.

As if the actions of the Trump campaign were not enough, the story does not end there.

After being evicted from the press conference, an unidentified man tells Jorge Ramos (who is an American citizen) to “get out of my country.

Donald Trump is leading the charge against immigrants, specifically latino families by accusing them of being drug dealers & rapists, “and some I presume are good people.” Other GOP wannabe’s are also following Trump’s lead by promoting this idea that we should rescind “birthright citizenship.”  Some of these Presidential candidates are first generation Americans themselves.

I am appalled at what these people are saying about the millions of hard working people who have come to the United States in hope of finding a better life.

We need to fix our broken immigration system and never forget that we are a nation of immigrants.

We need more people like AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to speak out against this divisive, racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric that flows from the political right.   Just listen to how President Trumka calls the GOP out for their racist anti-immigrant messaging.

For millions of immigrants the Statue of Liberty was the first thing they saw as they immigrated to the United States.  She was, and still is, the beacon of hope for the millions of aspiring Americans with her immortal words:

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

To be anti-immigrant is to be anti-American.

Nurses Endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders for President

First National Union Endorsement for Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders with NNU members at Oakland rally August 10

Sen. Bernie Sanders with NNU members at Oakland rally August 10

Noting his issues “align with nurses from top to bottom,” National Nurses United, the nation’s largest organization of nurses, today endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for President.

“Bernie Sanders has a proven track record of uncompromised activism and advocacy for working people, and a message that resonates with nurses, and, as we have all seen, tens of thousands of people across the country. He can talk about our issues as well as we can talk about our issues. We are proud to stand with him in his candidacy for President today,” said NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro.

NNU, which represents some 185,000 nurses from California to Florida, including nurses who live in the early caucus and primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, becomes the first national union to endorse Sanders.

NNU Bernie Sanders 2The announcement was made at a National Nurses Conversation with Bernie Sanders attended by hundreds of RNs in the Oakland, Ca office of NNU, and watched on live stream, with questions asked, by nurses at 34 watch parties in 14 states. The festive  “Brunch with Bernie” even included ice cream donated by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, founders of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream.

“Bernie’s issues align with nurses from top to bottom,” DeMoro continued. Among them – “insisting that healthcare for everyone is a right not a privilege, protecting Social Security and Medicare from those who want to destroy or privatize it and working to expand both, holding Wall Street accountable for the damage it has done to our communities, understanding the threat to public health from the climate crisis, environmental degradation, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, support for minimum nurse-to-patient ratios for hospital patients, and on and on,” DeMoro said

The NNU Executive Council voted to endorse Sanders. Factors for NNU backing, said DeMoro, included:

  • Sanders’ long history of support for NNU, nurses and patients,
  • A 100 percent scorecard on a questionnaire NNU sent to all the Democratic and Republican Presidential candidates,
  • Overwhelming support for Sanders among NNU members in an internal poll, and
  • Sanders’ response to issues before the AFL-CIO Executive Council.

NNU, said DeMoro, has adopted a call to “Vote Nurses Values – caring, compassion, community. Nurses take the pulse of America, and have to care for the fallout of every social and economic problem — malnutrition, homelessness, un-payable medical bills, the stress and mental disorders from joblessness, higher asthma rates, cancer, heart ailments and birth defects from environmental pollution and the climate crisis. Bernie Sanders’s prescriptions best represents the humanity and the values nurses embrace.”

DeMoro noted that in a presentation July 29 to the AFL-CIO Executive Council, on which DeMoro sits as a national vice president, “he made it clear that you will never have to wonder which side he is on. As he told the union leaders, ‘I see myself as part of you. This is not a conventional moment, we are fighting for the future of this country’.”

A central focus for nurses, DeMoro noted, is “our dysfunctional healthcare system. Too many Americans, even with the Affordable Care Act, remain priced out of access to the health care they need even if they have insurance due to lack of effective price controls, and a still broken system based on private profit not patient need. Sanders has long championed the full, humane reform we need, an updated, expanded Medicare for all.”

She noted Sanders’ statement July 30th in Washington at a rally, hosted by NNU to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid, at which Sanders said, “Let’s end the international embarrassment of the U.S. being the only major country on earth that does not guarantee healthcare to all people as a right. The time has come to say that we need to expand Medicare to every man, woman, and child as a single-payer national healthcare program.”

Nurses also welcome Sanders call, evidenced in a bill he authored, S 1731, calling for a Robin Hood tax on Wall Street speculation, on trades of stocks and other financial instruments, that could raise hundreds of billions of dollars annually to pay for healthcare for all, free college tuition to expand access to education, more jobs at living wages, ending AIDS, real action against the climate crisis, and other basic needs.

“Economic inequality remains the fundamental issue of our time. It is a major reason why the U.S. lags so far behind many other industrial nations not only in poverty and social injustice, but in a broad array of health outcomes, from maternal and infant mortality to life expectancy. Sanders’ leadership in calling for Wall Street to pay its share for rebuilding our national and global communities is a reminder of why we need his vision leading America,” DeMoro said.

Sanders also stands out, said DeMoro, in his outspoken opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, “which includes a terrible handout to pharmaceutical giants that will further drive up drug prices, a life and death issue for millions of people.”

NNU Bernie Sanders 3

Progressive Policy and Politics Drive AFL-CIO Executive Meeting

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council meeting taking place this week on July 29th and 30th in Silver Spring, MD:

The Executive Council of the AFL-CIO is meeting this week to strategize and coalesce around an agenda that helps working people achieve a better life. Building on our Raising Wages roadmap, the AFL-CIO is more committed than ever to broad progressive policies that bring our economy back into balance, encourage working men and women to speak up together, and enable families to sustain themselves.

In 2015, nearly 5 million working men and women will sit down with their employers to demand a fair contract, making this the biggest year for collective bargaining in American history. It is already paying dividends. In the first six months of this year alone, working people across a variety of industries have earned an average 4.3 percent pay increase the old-fashioned way—by asking for it.

As union members win wage increases through bargaining, we are spearheading political victories too. Just last week, fast food workers won a $15 minimum wage in New York and for the first time in history federal legislation was proposed at the same level. These are not isolated actions—they are part of a growing grassroots movement to change the rules to benefit working people, not the wealthy few.

The Raising Wages agenda is about more than income. We also need fundamental reforms like paid time off to care for a loved one, reliable and flexible schedules, equal pay for equal work, and the right to form a union free from employer interference. We must also put stricter rules on Wall Street and stop passing corporate-written, job-killing trade deals. Wall Street should serve Main Street, not the other way around.

The specifics of this agenda will drive our in-person discussions with five presidential candidates: Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders, and Jim Webb. We want to know what their plan is to raise wages, what economic advisors they will listen to, and what actions they will take to make our economy fairer for working families. Our Raising Wages agenda, not any candidate’s political party, is the measuring stick we will use in 2016.

The need for fairer economic policies will be amplified by Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, chief economist at the Roosevelt Institute. He will address the Executive Council to discuss his report “Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy.” Stiglitz makes clear that wage and income inequality—which has skyrocketed to record highs—is not a natural occurrence, but the result of conscious decisions by policymakers of both political parties.

Chief among his recommendations for creating a stronger America is guaranteeing the freedom to form unions and bargain collectively, as well as increasing union density. We have been arguing for decades that the best tool to fight inequality is a collective bargaining agreement. He also calls for raising wages; reining in Wall Street excess; investing in health care, education and infrastructure; reforming our broken immigration system; and increasing opportunities for women and people of color.

The 12.5 million men and women we represent work hard every day and deserve an economy that works for them. Working people are not asking for much: good pay, decent benefits, paid time off, a fair schedule, and a something left over to retire with dignity. It is their future that will drive this Executive Council meeting, our role in the 2016 election, and our work going forward.

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement