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Mixed Reactions To 5 Month Government Funding Bill

The Senate passed the Omnibus Spending bill that will keep the government open for another five months.  The bill moves to the White House where President Trump is expected to sign it.   Before and after the bill’s passage advocacy groups were split on whether to support or oppose the bill.

Prior to the vote, the Transportation Trades Department (TTD-AFLCIO) urged Congress to support the legislation highlighting some of the funding gains for our nation’s infrastructure.

“We applaud Congress for coming together to complete an omnibus appropriations bill that funds critical transportation investments, rejects anti-worker riders, and avoids a needless government shutdown. We urge lawmakers to swiftly pass this legislation.

“This bill lives up to the authorized funding commitments in the FAST Act for mass transit and highway programs funded out of the Highway Trust Fund. And we applaud appropriators for funding a series of key projects with Capital Investments Grants (CIGs), which play an important role in meeting transportation challenges around the country.

“Congress is also reaffirming its support for Amtrak by funding the company’s needs at near-authorized levels as directed by the FAST Act. This decision by appropriators sends a clear, bipartisan signal that Congress supports a national passenger rail network that serves both rural and urban communities.

“This legislation also endorses full funding for the Maritime Security Program (MSP), which is vital to maintaining our military’s sealift capability during times of war and humanitarian missions. Adequate funding for MSP ensures the Department of Defense does not have to rely on foreign-flag ships, keeps taxpayer costs down, and supports thousands of middle-class U.S. mariner jobs.

“We also applaud the robust funding levels in this bill for FAA operations, Next-Gen improvements to our air traffic control system, and airport improvement grants. These funds support the safest and most efficient air system in the world, and the workers who make it possible.

“With the passage of this bill, over 22,000 retired coal miners and their families will maintain critical health care that was promised to them by mining corporations that exploited bankruptcy laws in order to avoid their moral obligation.”

David J Cox, President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) also praised the legislation and urged its passage to avoid another government shutdown.

“I applaud Congress for coming together on a bipartisan bill that will keep the people’s government open for business through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. I urge lawmakers to quickly pass this budget and avoid a government shutdown at the end of the week.

“In reaching this agreement, lawmakers wisely rejected billions of dollars in harmful cuts to medical research, education programs, housing grants, and other domestic programs that were proposed by the Trump administration. Those who need our help the most would have been hit the hardest by these cuts, and Congress was right to reject them.

“This budget provides needed funding to strengthen our military, improve border security, and boost cancer research. It also permanently extends health care benefits to 22,000 retired coal miners who were in danger of losing their coverage.

“I also thank Congress for retaining the longstanding ban on contracting out federal jobs using the flawed A-76 outsourcing process. Taxpayers benefit when federal jobs are performed by civil service employees, who are less costly and more accountable than private-sector workers.”

After the bill passed the Senate, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) praised the bill’s additional funding to combat the growing opioid epidemic.

“More help is on the way for those on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic,” said Shaheen. “This funding can’t come soon enough to states like New Hampshire that are reeling from the opioid epidemic. Treatment providers and first responders are in desperate need of these additional resources and until we get control of this crisis, I’ll continue to fight for funding to support their life-saving efforts. I’m relieved that Congress continues to build on bipartisan progress made over the last year to address this epidemic. However, I continue to be very concerned that efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act will undo this progress. As our state battles one of the worst public health crises in its history, we cannot afford to lose the mental health and substance misuse treatment provided through this law, which is why I intend to work across the aisle to stop this repeal effort in its tracks in the Senate.”

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO was quick to condemn the bill as a giveaway to the Washington “special interests”.

“While the funding bill does provide assurance that we will have functioning government for the next five months, it undermines programs that help and empower working families. Our elected leaders have settled for a budget that underfunds our priorities and deepens austerity, setting the bar low. America’s working people deserve better.

Every time politicians take America to the edge of a government shutdown, working families pay the consequences. This irresponsible and dangerous political maneuvering should not be the norm.

Thankfully, House Democrats held the line against almost all of the poison-pill amendments and restored much of the funding that would have been cut under the administration’s original draconian budget proposal. As work begins on the 2018 budget, we call on politicians from both parties to put the needs of working families above the special interests.”

Paul Rinaldi, President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), has been outspoken about Congress’s inability to provide steady funding for the National Airspace System.

“NATCA is pleased Congress has passed an omnibus spending bill that will fund the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through the end of the current fiscal year. NATCA is especially appreciative that the FAA has received an increase in its operations budget. It should enable the FAA to move forward on key issues such as improving air traffic controller staffing and continuing to plan, develop, and implement the myriad of ongoing NextGen modernization projects.

“However, this bill only provides a short-term fix to a long-term problem – the unstable, unpredictable, stop-and-go nature of the current funding stream. The mere threat of a government shutdown causes agencies like the FAA to suspend and delay critical projects in preparation for a shutdown. That means progress is slowed, meetings are postponed, plans are put on hold, and the system suffers. It takes significant time and effort to bring a large agency to a halt, so that must begin before a shutdown even occurs, and it takes even more time to restart it again once a shutdown threat subsides.

“We believe the efficiency of the National Airspace System and the livelihoods of the men and women safeguarding it should not be negatively affected by disagreements over issues unrelated to aviation.

“We thank members of Congress for passing the omnibus funding bill and ask that they continue to address the need for long-term stability of the funding stream.”

Government Executive highlighted some of the other winners and losers in the omnibus spending plan including additional funding to the Defense Department and Transportation Department, and deep cuts to the Department of Education and the State Department.

The Hill highlighted a few other areas where Democrats preserved funding for key agencies and programs like Planned Parenthood, funding for Sanctuary Cities, and environmental protections.  While funding for Planned Parenthood was protected in the Onmibus spending bill, the US House passed their “repeal and replace” Obamacare bill that blocks funding for Parenthood.

Transportation Trades Department Says: Congress Should Endorse Amtrak Funding Request

(Image by Loco Steve FLIKR CC)

(Image by Loco Steve FLIKR CC)

Washington, DC—Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues the following statement in response to Amtrak’s 2017 General and Legislative Annual Report:

“Amtrak has submitted a funding request for FY2017 that gives our national passenger railroad and its employees a chance to deliver faster and more reliable train service. Amtrak faces a backlog of major investments that are needed to propel its service and equipment to a new level. This includes safety and capacity upgrades such as the Gateway project between New York and New Jersey, which features century-old tunnels and severely eroded bridges that need major refurbishment or replacement. And as Amtrak seeks to overcome its major infrastructure challenges, the company’s front-line employees must be treated and compensated fairly for their work to keep the national system running successfully.

“When Congress included a long-term reauthorization of Amtrak funding in the recently enacted surface transportation legislation, the FAST Act, lawmakers wisely chose to provide Amtrak with funding certainty and stability and rejected privatization and outsourcing mandates. Congress must now invest in our chronically underfunded national passenger rail network by appropriating federal resources consistent with Amtrak’s FY 2017 funding request.

“Amtrak is a vital transportation link for millions of people across the country who are clamoring for more service, as evidenced by more than two years of polling in both red and blue states showing pent-up demand regardless of political affiliation or ideology. We urge Congress to listen to the voters and boost Amtrak funding in the upcoming appropriations legislation.”

The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, provides a bold voice for workers in every mode of transportation devoted to protecting middle-class jobs, expanding collective bargaining, and ensuring modern, safe, and secure transportation operations and infrastructure. For more information, visit us at www.ttd.org.

Labor Day Must be Much More Than a One-Day Celebration

Transportation Trade Department LogoWashington, DC — The following statement was issued by Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), in advance of the Labor Day holiday:

“For far too long, our country has distanced itself from the true meaning of Labor Day. Labor Day can’t be just another federal holiday – it must be a celebration of the contributions of working people, and a commitment by elected officials to advance policies that help working families.

“For generations, the United States has been a place that honors hard work, respects the need for balance between the responsibilities of a job and family and empowers its people to pursue the American dream. That empowerment has come from the simple notion that working people can come together to form strong unions and bargain collectively for fair wages, good benefits and safe working conditions.

“Sadly, these values are being undermined by brutal attacks on the jobs and rights of working people by well-funded special interests. Even worse, these sinister forces have the backing of many public officials at the highest levels of government who are leading the charge down this dangerous and unsustainable path.

“We have come to a tipping point in this country. Our middle class is shrinking and the people we elect are failing to advance common sense policies — like funding transportation infrastructure — that for decades have fueled prosperity, boosted American competitiveness and expanded the middle class.

“We will use this Labor Day as a springboard to demand more from public officials, so that America is once again a place that honors working people every day, not just on the first Monday in September.”

The “Fast Track” Bill For The Trans-Pacific Partnership Hit The Floor Of Congress Today, Labor Responds

It was only a matter of time until the multi-national corporations who helped fund the campaigns of many of the politician’s in Washington pushed for another trade agreement that will make them billions of dollars, and leave millions of American workers without a job.

Today the “Senate’s Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015” hit the Congressional floor. The deal was brokered by Senator Orin Hatch (R-Utah), Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), and Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).

The New York Times spelled it out pretty well:

“It would give Congress the power to vote on the more encompassing 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership once it is completed, but would deny lawmakers the chance to amend what would be the largest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994, which President Bill Clinton pushed through Congress despite opposition from labor and other Democratic constituencies.”

President Obama has already said he will oppose the unions — who help him win two elections — and his fellow democrats to get this trade agreement passed.

Richard_Trumka“At a time when workers all over the country are standing up for higher wages, Congress is considering legislation that will speed through corporate-driven trade deals,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “For decades, we’ve seen how fast-tracked trade deals devastated our communities through lost jobs and eroded public services. We can’t afford another bad deal that lowers wages and outsources jobs. That’s why Congress must reject Fast Track (TPA-2015) and maintain its constitutional authority and leverage to improve the TPP and other trade deals.”

Trumka continued, “Trade deals have wide-ranging impacts and shouldn’t be negotiated behind closed doors and then rubber-stamped. The current Trans-Pacific Partnership deal under discussion would cover 40 percent of the world’s GDP. A deal this big should be debated in a full and open manner like every other piece of legislation. Working people are showing tremendous courage standing up to the low-wage, corporate agenda. It’s time for politicians to do the same.”

Labor unions and progressive advocates have been calling for more transparency in this ginormous trade agreement. The White House has been negotiating this deal in secret, while assuring everyone that this will not be another NAFTA. The problem is that every time new information about the trade agreement is leaked, it shows exactly the opposite. More gifts to Wall Street and Corporations while the American people suffer.

“The proposed Fast Track bill fails all the tests that Senator Ron Wyden said were critical: Trade Adjustment Assistance, transparency, action to combat currency manipulation, real enforcement of environmental and worker standards, and procedures to enable Congress ‘to right the ship if trade negotiators get off course,’ as Wyden put it. Since this legislation requires a supermajority, or 60 votes, for the Senate to remove the TPP or any subsequent deal from Fast Track consideration, this provision is virtually meaningless,” wrote the Communication Workers of America in a statement late this afternoon.

Larry Cohen CWA“We need to put the brakes on Fast Track or Trade Promotion Authority. Just like the TPP itself, there has been no transparency around Trade Promotion Authority. We’ve had the start of a Senate hearing even before a bill was finalized and introduced. Now, that legislation is headed to mark up and a floor vote in just days. Trade Promotion Authority pretends to be about trade, but in reality it is about protecting corporate profits above all else and defining our national security in terms of giving away our jobs, depressing our wages and then rewarding the responsible multinational corporations, often U.S. based, with guaranteed profits in the nations where they invest,” said CWA President Larry Cohen.

Leo W Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers union wrote in his weekly column about how “illegally subsidized steel” is coming into the United States and forcing more workers out on the streets. “American steel producers laid off thousands of workers in bedrock communities from Ohio and Illinois to Texas and Alabama. That’s in just the past three months.”

“NAFTA has led to the loss of 1 million American jobs,” said Senator Bernie Sanders on the floor of the US Senate in late February. “Since we signed NAFTA the United States has cumulative trade deficit of 8.8 trillion dollars. That is wealth that has left the U.S. and gone overseas.”

It is not just the manufacturing unions who are speaking out against the Fast Track and the TPP.

The UFCW supported the last major trade agreement with Korea because of its improved labor standards and potential to create 20,000 jobs in the meat sector. But in his op-ed, Perrone makes clear that this time is different.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is not the Korea free trade agreement,” he writes. “It is neither free nor fair. And the UFCW is determined to see it defeated.”

AFT President Weingarten  (Photo by Bruce Gilbert)

AFT President Weingarten (Photo by Bruce Gilbert)

Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers and an outspoken progressive also spoke out against the agreement.

“At a time when we need to be focused on creating and sustaining good jobs for American workers, fast track would undermine these efforts, leading to trade deals that hurt everyday working people and stack the deck in favor of corporations. And it would do this in a secretive way, with limited public and congressional oversight and no effective enforcement,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.

She continued, “Our nation’s trade policy should help put us on a path toward lifting all Americans’ quality of life—ensuring rights for workers, protections for consumers and safeguards for the environments. That’s why we need a democratic and transparent trade process that offers a fair shake for American workers. This bill is over-reaching and will fail to keep working families and our economy strong.”

“We send our elected leaders to Washington to be our voice,” said AFT Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson. “Under fast track, Congress will have no say in selecting our trade partners, negotiating trade terms, or debating and amending trade agreements. This bill panders to corporate profiteers, while ignoring the voices of everyday American workers, who are fighting to oppose it.”

Now we need everyone to stand up and put an end to this monumental race to the bottom.

10492525_10153211806206153_8036817465541163150_nUses your cell phone to text TPP to 877877 and you can be connected directly to your Congressman or Senators office to tell them to vote no on this legislation. Or call the Senate directly at 1-855-790-8815 and tell them that “Fast Track means bad trade deals that ship American jobs overseas.”

Then take part in a National Day of Action to Stop Fast Track this Saturday, April 18th. Click here to find an event near you.

The AFL-CIO has more information on the TPP and “Fast Track” legislation on their website.

Transportation Trade Department (AFL-CIO) President Wytkind Speaks On Jobs And Infrastructure

Remarks by Edward Wytkind
President, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO

Delivered at Rally for Jobs and Infrastructure during Infrastructure Week

EdwardWytkindThanks Jos [Williams] for that introduction and for the work you do to mobilize this area’s labor movement behind job creation policies like the ones we are pushing today.

Good afternoon! Thanks for being here to join us in this fight to end the decades-long neglect of our transportation system and infrastructure, a neglect so pervasive that it threatens our economic future.

I’m pleased to join my labor movement colleagues and of course the Transportation Secretary.

I want to commend the President, the Vice President and the Secretary for the job they are doing to advance a vision that says America can and must do better in modernizing our transportation system.  The Administration’s aggressive call for a big and bold plan is exactly what is needed today as we see a lack of leadership and courage in this town.

Let’s be clear.  Our nation’s lifeblood is our public transit and rail systems, our airports and air traffic control system, our highways and bridges, and our ports and maritime systems.

This diverse and powerful network of massive transportation infrastructure and, I might add, the world’s finest transportation workforce, was once the envy of the world.  It is what our grandparents and parents handed off to us so that America had the transportation network it needed to compete and win in the global economy.

But we all know it: we haven’t kept up our end of the bargain. Our current investment gap is threatening to crater our economy, idle millions of good jobs, and harm our competitiveness.

A few facts.

More than 14 million Americans – 1 in 10 workers – operate, build and maintain our transportation system.  These are the types of jobs Americans need if we want to reduce the jobless rate and reverse the crisis of stagnant wages that so many are facing.

The Highway Trust Fund goes broke this summer and WE MUST not let that happen.  But this is really part of a larger problem – this generation is failing to make the investments needed to secure a new era of economic expansion, innovation and job growth.

Bus and rail transit systems, the lifeline for millions of workers and businesses, are seeing healthy demand for their services but more than 3 out of 4 face service and jobs cuts and fare hikes that many workers can’t afford.

Amtrak is using decades-old equipment and being denied the resources it needs to modernize during a time when it has broken its ridership records 10 of the last 11 years.  And like so many issues in this town, high speed rail funding has become a political football for lawmakers who clearly don’t get it.

1950s era technology and a highly skilled FAA workforce may be holding our air traffic control system together, but a broken funding system is slowing modernization and starving airports as we face a projected boom in air travel.

Highways are falling apart and doomed to endless gridlock, and tens of thousands of bridges need to be fixed or replaced, with some literally falling down.

Seaports are being left behind as global commerce brings us mega-sized vessels that threaten to overwhelm our resource-starved ports.

Our freight sector is expected to provide the network needed to execute an ambitious export agenda yet it endures intolerable bottlenecks and unreliable infrastructure.

For decades transportation manufacturing became moribund because we stopped investing and when we did invest in new trains and buses or bridges, we failed to maximize manufacturing job creation right here in America.

And at a time when millions of Americans remain unemployed we’re threatening to become the lost generation that failed to put people to work in middle class jobs building, operating and maintaining a modernized transportation system worthy of this century.

These are the symbols of a nation that is failing its businesses, its communities and its people.

We need a bold commitment to investment, must leverage cutting edge technology and must champion not a one or two year stopgap plan, but a 50 year vision.

It won’t be easy but it means not taking “no” for an answer… not taking half steps… and getting beyond flat-line funding levels and short-term legislative fixes that Washington keeps delivering.

There’s an election this year. And I believe the issue of expanding and modernizing our transportation system must be on the ballot.  Those that stand in the way of progress must be forced to explain why they’re against shorter commutes and goods shipments, faster and safer air travel, modern transit and rail systems, and modern ports that can fuel our exports.

We must return to the days when America built things and made lasting investments that defined our future.

Our transportation unions have a powerful jobs agenda for America. And we’re going to fight for it with everything we’ve got.

Postal Workers to Protest Privatization at Concord Staples Store Today, April 24

Local Activists Join National Day of Action

Many Details of the Deal Between USPS and Staples Remain a Secret

APWU Logo (small)Concord, NH — Members of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), Manchester Area Local , will protest on Thursday, April 24, against a sweetheart deal between the U.S. Postal Service and Staples that is privatizing USPS retail services and replacing good, living-wage postal jobs with low-wage, high-turnover jobs at Staples. The deal will compromise service to customers and jeopardize the security of the mail. Details of the agreement are being kept secret and have not yet been made available to the public.

Who:         Members of the Manchester Area Local APWU, the National Association of Letter Carriers, The National Postal Mailhandlers Union, and the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association will be joined by the NH AFL-CIO, members of numerous local unions, other working men & women throughout the state, and friends and allies who believe in maintaining a public Postal Service.

What:       Protest at Concord Staples, against privatization of U.S. Postal Service retail services.

When:       Thursday, April 24,4-6 pm

Where:     Staples, Fort Eddy Plaza

The protest in Concord is part of a National Day of Action, where participants will protest the USPS-Staples deal, which in October/November 2013 established postal counters in more than 80 Staples stores in four geographic areas. The Postal Service plans to expand the program to Staples’ 1,500 stores nationwide. All of this is occurring despite problems that make the future of some Staples stores very uncertain.

“Staples employees receive minimal training, and the company’s low pay results in high employee turnover,” said Dana Coletti, president of Manchester Area Local APWU.  “With so many concerns about privacy and identity theft, the U.S. mail should be handled by highly-trained, experienced postal employees, who swear an oath to protect your letters and packages and who are accountable to the American people. This program is compromising service to our customers.

“While many of the details of this pilot program are being hidden from the public, many things remain quite clear. The Postal Service, which is the largest civilian employer of veterans, requires postal employees to pass a test and a background check, to complete intensive training and to take an oath to protect the security and safety of the mail. It should be a matter of concern to the public that packages and letters at Staples stores are not even considered mail until they are picked up by the Postal Service. This program threatens both mail security and good, stable jobs” said Janice Kelble, Legislative & Political Director for Manchester Area Local APWU.  “It’s bad for postal workers, bad for our communities, and bad for our country.”

“But this isn’t just about postal jobs,” said national APWU President Mark Dimondstein said. “Many people are outraged that a tremendous public asset is being turned over to a struggling private company.”  Staples recently announced that it would close 225 stores by 2015.

Note: In NH a Hooksett Staples store suddenly disappeared only months ago. Will the same thing happen with postal services vanishing, based on Staples bottom line, with no regard to the needs of a community? 

“Staples makes business decisions based on the bottom line, not service to the people of the country,” Dimondstein said. “As a nation, we need to decide what kind of Postal Service we want. Are we going to have a vibrant, modern, public mail system that serves all of the people, or are we going to let privatizers kill this great institution?”

Thursday’s National Day of Action follows dozens of protests by postal workers and community allies in Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco and other cities.

For more information about the campaign to stand up for quality service and good-paying jobs, visit Stop Staples.com.  See also “Postal Union Fights Staples Partnership,” in the Huffington Post, and “The Postal Service Outsources Itself to a Company Doing Almost as Badly as the Postal Service,” in The New Republic.

A copy of the agreement between Staples and the USPS – heavily redacted – is available on the APWU website.


*  *  *


The American Postal Workers Union represents 200,000 employees of the United States Postal Service, and is affiliated with the AFL-CIO.


ATU Says: U.S. Companies Sheltering Profits Overseas Are Unpatriotic

Transit Union calls on Obama to issue executive order to cease federal contracts with these companies

ATU Amalgamated transit unionWashington, DC – US companies sheltering profits overseas are betraying their country and the American people says the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) in calling on President Obama to issue an executive order for the government to cease federal contracts with these companies.

The call comes in response to a Bloomberg report finding multinational companies, including huge federal and defense contractors, have stockpiled $1.95 trillion outside the U.S. to effectively shelter these earnings tax free, according to securities filings from 307 corporations. Microsoft, Apple Inc. and IBM brought in $37.5 billion in overseas profits.

Under current tax code U.S. companies don’t have to pay taxes on foreign income from business abroad until they bring the money home, creating the incentive to leave profits offshore.

“The  hypocritical CEO’s of corporate America are storing cash in overseas vaults for their shareholders, but not for the American public who are seeing their infrastructure fall apart, their children lose SNAP benefits and unemployed family and friends lose unemployment benefits,” said ATU International President Larry Hanley. “US troops are making sacrifices every day to protect our freedoms while these Benedict Arnold like corporate leaders are engaging in acts which betray our country.”

These US companies are using sheltered profits to invest in these foreign countries to create even more profit abroad, shifting potential American jobs and much-needed investment in the U.S. economy.

“These companies receive all the benefits and protections – embassies and military presence – of being an American company, but don’t want to contribute to funding these protections,” Hanley continued. “As our government deals with the never-ending debt crisis, our economy continues to struggle, and many Americans remain jobless, these companies rack in billions abroad, but refuse to invest in the U.S.”

ATU is calling on President Obama to issue an executive order for the U.S. government and federal agencies to cease federal contracts with these companies.

“Our government uses or threatens sanctions against foreign governments – Russia and Iran – to protect the interests of these corporations around the globe. It’s time we held the corporations we protect accountable to the American people,” Hanley continued.

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On the Gap Increasing Wages and the Question of Walmart

Gap’s announcement that it will raise its own minimum wage to $9.00 an hour in 2014 and $10 an hour next year represents a major victory by working people in their growing campaign to raise wages and working standards. While Gap has more work to do both in the United States and with its supply chain in countries like Bangladesh, this wage increase is a turning point.

The Gap’s decision exposes the greatest economic fraud of our time: that large employers cannot pay their employees fair wages.  With one decision, the Gap has stripped the oligarch of his clothes and changed the economic debate in America.

So now Wal-Mart is exposed.  The landscape is clear.  What will the largest employer in our country, owned by the world’s richest family, do?

Walmart workers have been protesting and striking, demanding justice.  What is Walmart’s answer?

As a first small step, Walmart workers, like all workers need a federal minimum wage of at least $10.10 an hour.  But Walmart can do better than that.  It must agree to its workers demands to stop using low wages and abusive scheduling practices to condemn its workers to poverty – and agree to the $25,000 a year minimum.

Then we can start to get to work.  Everything that should constitute a normal working life – from a national living wage to paid sick days, among  many other improvements – should move forward swiftly and with genuine purpose under the  combined leadership of Wal-Mart, all of corporate America, and the labor movement.

The AFL-CIO, and all American workers, are ready to meet the challenge of falling wages and rising inequality that has been growing painfully for decades.  The Gap has issued an invitation to Wal-Mart, and offered America a new path forward.  Will Wal-Mart respond and join the tens of millions who deserve a better future?

AFL-CIO Statement on The Proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership

StopTPPOn the eve of the Dec. 7 meeting of trade ministers of the twelve countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade and investment negotiations, Cathy Feingold, International Department Director of the AFL-CIO, released the following statement:

(Washington, DC) After nearly four years of negotiations, the trade ministers are on the brink of finalizing the TPP.  Government trade negotiators often speak of the importance of “momentum” in such agreements, in order to provide “urgency” to make “needed compromises.”  What they rarely speak of is the urgent need to make trade policy choices that will have immediate, positive impacts on the lives of people they are supposed to be representing.

Critical issues remain outstanding in the TPP, including provisions affecting the free exercise of labor rights, the conservation of natural resources, the affordability of life-saving medicines, and the extraordinary legal privileges that allow global corporations to use private courts to challenge laws and regulations they don’t like.

What American working people—and their counterparts in TPP countries—want to know is whether the TPP will create good, family-supporting jobs.  They want to know if it will help reverse the race to the bottom that has led to wage stagnation and made it easier to suppress worker efforts to achieve fair contracts and a voice in the workplace.  They want to know if the TPP will include strong, enforceable labor and environmental protections. They want to know if the TPP will lock-in austerity policies or if it will actually promote shared prosperity and help address economic injustice.

Unfortunately, America’s workers have seen no evidence that their trade negotiators have focused on these urgent quality of life issues.  Unless the trade ministers can re-focus this agreement on the things that really matter to American families, they are likely to create more failed trade policy in their rush to completion, costing both jobs for workers and business opportunities for U.S. manufacturers.

US House Got the Message: Job-Creating Infrastructure Investments Are Bipartisan

WASHINGTON, DC—Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) President Edward Wytkind issues this statement on passage of H.R.3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), by a vote of 417-3:

“The House of Representatives took a big step forward last night when it passed WRRDA by more than 400 votes, bringing us closer to enacting the first water resources jobs bill since 2007.

“The margin by which this bill passed shows that with strong leadership and a willingness to stare down those incapable of ever admitting there is a role for strategic public investments, it is possible to pass bipartisan jobs-creating transportation legislation. The benefits to America’s competitiveness and economy from improvements to our ports, harbors and waterways overcame intense opposition from extremist organizations that through their opposition to WRRDA were essentially making the case for America’s retreat from the global economy. Fortunately they lost and our economy won.

“We hope this bipartisan approach to port and maritime funding reforms will carry forward to other important transportation measures including the broken and unreliable way we invest in aviation, public transit and highways, and Amtrak.

“We thank House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-WV) and subcommittee leaders for driving this jobs bill home. We look forward to working with them to reconcile House-Senate differences in WRRDA so that a final bill can get to the President’s desk without delay and we can get to work expanding and modernizing our nation’s aging port and maritime infrastructure.”

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