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Labor Leaders Speak At The Democratic National Convention (VIDEO)

The Democratic National Convention is in full swing and there is so much going on it is easy to miss something.

On Day 1 of the DNC labor leaders from a variety of national unions spoke in support of Hillary Clinton and in opposition to the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency.

Labor unions have stood in strong opposition to Donald Trump since he first announced his campaign when he attacked immigrants and threatened to tear apart families by deporting 11 million aspiring Americans.

Hillary has garnered strong support from labor unions throughout out the primary.  She gained more labor support when she came out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and announced her bold infrastructure investment plan.

Nearly all of the labor leaders who spoke highlighted that the choice this election could not be clearer. Do we want a champion for working families or a shameless billionaire who has always been there to make a quick buck off the suffering of working people?

Here are just a few quotes from the video below as transcribed by C-Span:

AFSME President Lee Saunders
“HILLARY CLINTON NEVER QUITS EITHER. SHE UNDERSTANDS THAT COLLECTIVE BARGAINING RIGHTS STRENGTHEN ALL OF US. WE NEED A PRESIDENT WHO GETS THAT AND UNDERSTAND THAT BUSTING UNIONS AND CUTTING SERVICES MEANS FAMILIES SUFFER.”

“I WAS IN LAS VEGAS AT THE TRUMP HOTEL LAST WEEK AND THEY VOTED TO FORM A UNION. BUT DONALD TRUMP WILL NOT MEET WITH THEM.”

“I KNOW WHAT SIDE I AM ON. I AM WITH HER. ELECT HILLARY CLINTON THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
“WORKING PEOPLE ARE STRONG AND DONALD TRUMP IS WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. LISTEN, HE THINKS HE IS A TOUGH GUY. DONALD, I WORKED IN THE MINES WITH TOUGH GUYS. I KNOW TOUGH GUYS. DONALD, YOU ARE NO TOUGH GUY. YOU ARE A PHONY. DONALD TRUMP HAS REPEATEDLY OUTSOURCED JOBS TO LINE HIS OWN POCKETS. HE ROOTED FOR THE HOUSING COLLAPSE. HE SAID WAGES ARE TOO HIGH — NOT JUST ONCE, BUT REPEATEDLY. “

“WE ARE BUILDING A MOVEMENT FOR A BETTER LIFE, NO MATTER THE COLOR OF OUR SKIN, WHERE WE WERE BORN, FOR WE LOVE, OR HOW WE WORSHIP. HILLARY CLINTON ANSWERED OUR CALL. SHE IS FIGHTING TO REWRITE THE ECONOMIC RULES FOR ALL OF US. SHE HAS A BOLD PLAN TO INVEST IN MANUFACTURING, INFRASTRUCTURE, AND JOBS. SHE OPPOSES THE JOB KILLING TRANSPACIFIC PARTNERSHIP.”

NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia
“HILLARY CLINTON BELIEVES IN KEEPING FAMILIES TOGETHER. SHE BELIEVES IN OUR DREAMERS. SHE BELIEVES THAT EDUCATORS SHOULD BE FOCUSED ON EDUCATION, NOT DEPORTATION.”

“DONALD TRUMP SEES IMMIGRANTS AS CRIMINALS, DRUG DEALERS ,RAPISTS? HE SAYS HE WOULD ROUND UP FAMILIES AND UP THEM AND BUILD A WALL — DEPART THEM AND BUILD THE WALL.”

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry
“WE NEED A PRESIDENT WHO WANTS TO RAISE WAGES IN THIS COUNTRY, NOT ONE THAT SAYS WAGES ARE TOO HIGH AND THERE SHOULD NOT BE A FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE. THAT IS WHY WE ARE WORKING TO ELECT HILLARY CLINTON AND CHAMPIONS UP AND DOWN THE BALLOT WHO WILL RAISE WAGES AND HEALTH WORKERS JOINED TOGETHER IN UNIONS.”

“WE MUST ELECT HILLARY CLINTON AND THE CHAMPIONS LIKE HER WERE GOING TO PUT FAMILIES FIRST AND STOP THE CANDIDATE OF HATRED AND GREED.”

North American Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey
“TRADE UNION MEMBERS HAVE HELPED OF THIS GREAT NATION. THE SUPER DOME, THE GOLDING GATE BRIDGE, THE FREEDOM TOWERS, THE ARENA WE ARE IN TONIGHT. YOU NAME IT, WE BUILD IT. WE ARE PROUD OF OUR WORK. BUT WITH COLLAPSED BRIDGES, COMING ROADS AND STRESS ENERGY SYSTEMS, WE NOTICED HAVE TIME TO REBUILD OUR NATION’S INFRASTRUCTURE. BUILDING TRADE NUMBERS ARE READY TO DO THEIR PART.”

“HILLARY CLINTON HAS THE BOLDEST INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN WE HAVE SEEN IN GENERATIONS. SHE WILL HELP US REPAIR ROADS AND BRIDGES AND MAKE BROADBAND UNIVERSAL. BUILD NEW AIRPORTS AND MODERNIZE THE ENERGY GRID. SHE WILL DO IT ALL WHILE CREATING GOOD, FAIR PAINT JOBS WITH STANDARDS THAT SUPPORT REAL PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMS WHICH THE BUILDING TRADES PIONEER.”

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten
“DONALD MADE MILLIONS WHILE HE RIPPED OFF WORKERS AND SMALL BUSINESSES WITH HIS UNFAIR BUSINESS PRACTICES. REMEMBER, HE ENDED UP BANKRUPTING NOT ONE, NOT TWO, NOT THREE, BUT FOR OF HIS COMPANIES — BUT FOUR OF HIS COMPANIES. AND HIS ECONOMIC IDEAS WILL MAKE MILLIONAIRES LIKE HIM RICHER AT THE EXPENSE OF THE MIDDLE CLASS.”

“[Donald Trump] IS COMPLETELY UNQUALIFIED TO BE IN THE OVAL OFFICE.  
THANKFULLY, WE HAVE A DIFFERENT CHOICE AND IT IS A GREAT ONE. HILLARY CLINTON. SHE HAS WORKED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD FOR WORKING FAMILIES. THAT’S US OF PUBLIC EDUCATION FROM PRE-K TO COLLEGE. A PLAN FOR UNIVERSAL EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION.”

At AFSCME Conference, Clinton Pledges to Fight for Working Americans as President

‘We have to send a loud, clear message: “right to work” is wrong for workers and wrong for America’

AFSCME_Hillary_ClintonIn remarks at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Hillary Clinton reiterated her commitment to fighting for working families as president and defending labor unions from Republican attacks.

“I can’t imagine how we could run our country if we didn’t have people like you, and the members you represent, working on our behalf every day,” Clinton said.  “That’s why it’s so outrageous when Republican governors steamroll public employees and stomp on workers’ rights.  In Wisconsin, the cradle of the labor movement, Scott Walker has ripped the heart, he’s ripped the heart, out of public-sectors workers’ right to bargain collectively for better wages and benefits.  In Illinois, Bruce Rauner has been holding the budget hostage for months, endangering public colleges and universities, hurting families, and demanding outrageous concessions from public-sector unions.”

“And even though workers’ rights won the day in the Supreme Court in the Friedrichs case, make no mistake—we haven’t seen the last of efforts to use the courts to undermine your rights,” she said.  “So I promise you this: I will be by your side in this fight every step of the way. When I am President, working people will always have a seat at the table and a champion in the White House.  Because I believe that when unions are strong, America is strong.”

Clinton highlighted Trump’s plan to repeal Wall Street reform laws passed in the wake of the Great Recession. “I predict that Donald will try to con you with tough talk about Wall Street.  Don’t believe him,” she said.  “Donald Trump wants to tear up Dodd-Frank and let Wall Street run wild again.”

Clinton also highlighted Trump’s hiring of a union-busting firm, his consistent practice of shortchanging contractors – driving some out of business – and a consensus among economists that his policies would plunge us back into a recession.

“Unions helped build the strongest middle class in the history of the world. You pioneered the basic bargain that made our country great. You know what it is: if you work hard and do your part, you should be able to get ahead and stay ahead,” she said. “And you’ve been on the frontlines of the fight for affordable health care, safe working conditions, fair schedules and fair wages. And I know you’re not just fighting for your members, as important as that is – you’re fighting for all working families.”

“I’m proud to be in the trenches fighting alongside you to raise wages, protect pensions, and keep the ‘public’ in ‘public sector.’  That includes ending private prisons and detention centers that profit off our criminal justice and immigration system,” Clinton said.  “And we have to send a loud, clear message: ‘right to work’ is wrong for workers and wrong for America.”

“We will pursue a bold, progressive agenda that lifts our country up. So that no one is left out or left behind,” she said.  “AFSCME helped to make our 2016 Democratic platform a strong vision.  It’s wonderful to be with people who want to build America up, not tear Americans down.”

A transcript of Clinton’s full remarks to the AFSCME Annual Conference is available here.

Preventing Workplace Violence: National COSH and Local Groups Join Call for OSHA Standard for Health Care and Social Service Workers

NCOSH 300X250San Diego – In solidarity with labor unions representing millions of American workers, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH), the New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NHCOSH) and other local COSH organizations have endorsed petitions calling for a comprehensive federal standard to prevent workplace violence in the health care and social assistance sectors.

“With an issue like workplace violence, it’s easy to say, ‘Hey, how can you stop a person who wants to hurt somebody?’” said Jessica Martinez, acting executive director of National COSH. “But that’s just wrong and ignores documented best practices. If you address issues like adequate staffing and lines of communication, worksite security, proper training and safety protocols, there’s no question you can reduce the risks faced by health care and social service workers.”

Workplace violence is a problem across all sectors of the economy. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than two million workers each year report that they are victims of violent incidents on the job. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported more than 400 workplace homicides in 2014, making homicide the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States.

Health care and social service workers are among those most at risk. Fifty-two percent of victims of workplace violence, according to the BLS, are health care and social service workers.

On July 12, a coalition of unions filed petitions with the U.S. Department of Labor, calling on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue a “comprehensive workplace violence prevention standard to protect all workers in healthcare and social service settings.” The coalition of labor unions includes the AFL-CIO; American Federation of Teachers; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; American Federation of Government Employees; Communications Workers of America; International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Service Employees International Union; the United Steelworkers and National Nurses United.

“Like other on-the-job hazards, workplace violence can be prevented – in health care, social services and in other sectors” said National COSH Senior Organizer Peter Dooley. “To be effective, a workplace violence prevention standard must be part of a comprehensive, systems approach to workplace safety, with workers involved in every step of the process.  That includes evaluating risks, assessing remedies, reporting incidents without fear of retaliation, and design of rigorous training.”

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels, National COSH and local COSH groups point to the proven effectiveness of prevention programs. “A comprehensive workplace violence prevention program,” the letter states, “reduced rates of assault at Veterans Health Administration hospitals between 2004 and 2009.”  The letter also notes that the states of California and Minnesota have recently passed legislation requiring health care employers to implement workplace violence prevention programs.

In addition to National COSH, local groups signing on to yesterday’s letter include:

  • Connecticut Council on Occupational Safety and Health (ConnectiCOSH)
  • Fe y Justicia Worker Center (Houston COSH)
  • Maine Labor Group on Health
  • Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH)
  • Mid-State Education and Service Foundation
  • New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NHCOSH)
  • New Jersey Work Environment Council (NJWEC)
  • New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH)
  • NorthEast New York Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NENYCOSH)
  • Rhode Island Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (RICOSH)
  • South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice
  • Southern California Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (SoCalCOSH)
  • Western Massachusetts Coalition for Workplace Safety and Health (WesternMassCOSH)
  • Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health (WNYCOSH)
  • Worksafe

Yesterday’s letter to Secretary Perez and Assistant Secretary Michaels is available here.

* * *

National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. For more information, please visit coshnetwork.org.  Follow us at National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, and @NationalCOSH on Twitter.

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.

AFSCME Endorses Hillary Clinton For President 

AFSCME_Logo-2Color

WASHINGTON, D.C. –The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) announced today that Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton has earned the 1.6 million member union’s endorsement in the 2016 presidential contest.

AFSCME’s 35-person International Executive Board voted overwhelmingly today to follow the guidance of members based on feedback collected over the past six months, including polling data showing nearly two thirds of AFSCME members would vote for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. “The next president will make decisions that could make or break the ability of working people across America to sustain their families. That’s why we spent the last six months engaged in the most member-focused, in-depth, and transparent endorsement process AFSCME has ever undertaken,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders.

“What we heard throughout our endorsement process is that AFSCME members want a candidate who is committed to fixing our out-of-balance economy and raising incomes for hardworking people who are still struggling to make ends meet. Members want a candidate who will make it easier instead of harder to join together in strong unions and stand together for wages and benefits that can sustain our families,” President Saunders added. “What we also heard was AFSCME members want the candidate who will be the most effective champion for working families, and who will be able to deliver a victory in this critically important election. AFSCME members believe that candidate is Hillary Clinton.”

AFSCME members know grassroots organizing is the only answer to the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be poured into this election by the same CEOs and corporations that rig economic rules in their favor. Members felt strongly that it was time to begin turning out friends and neighbors to cast a ballot Hillary Clinton and get involved in the 2016 elections.

Hillary Clinton will tackle the issues that affect ordinary Americans’ quality of life, like paid family and sick leave, the crushing burden of student loan debt, and retirement security. While there are several excellent candidates who share AFSCME’s values, Hillary Clinton is a proven champion for working families, and with the grassroots support of AFSCME members, she is the candidate who can deliver on our hopes and hard work next November.

AFSCME’s 1.6 million members provide the vital services that make America happen. With members in hundreds of different occupations — from nurses to corrections officers, child care providers to sanitation workers — AFSCME advocates for fairness in the workplace, excellence in public services, and prosperity and opportunity for all working families.

The Nashua Labor Coalition Denounces The Nashua Board Of Education’s Decision To Outsource Jobs

Nashua Labor Coalition Logos

Nashua – Last week the Board of Education met and in a surprising move, voted to cancel the contract with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the union that represents over 100 custodians throughout the Nashua School District, once the current contract runs out in June. 

The Board made this spur of the moment decision without any input from the public.  Not all of  members of the Board were present at the meeting where the decision was taken. 

Deb Howes, Chairwoman of the Nashua Labor Coalition, a group of comprised of local union members and community activists, who all live or work in Nashua, released the following statement:

“I was shocked to hear the news that the Board of Education voted end the contract without any notice to the union, and without any notice to the people of Nashua who send their children to these schools.”

“This ill-conceived plan by the Board of Education is wrong and needs to be immediately reversed.”

“Outsourcing to private contractors sounds like a great deal at first, but as the Board saw with our private busing service, the cost dramatically increases and the taxpayers end up paying more in the end.”

“We are calling on the Board to negotiate with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees to find a solution that keeps our trusted custodians in the schools, preserves these good paying jobs and meets the needs of the taxpayers.”

“Members of the Nashua Labor Coalition, intends to be at the next Board of Education meeting on September 28th to show our support for these fellow Nashua workers.” 

The Nashua Labor Coalition is a chapter of NH AFL-CIO. It includes Nashua Area Affiliated and Non-Affiliated Unions, as well as community organizations.


Sign the petition in support of AFSCME workers.

Related story: Unions react to school board decision

The New ALEC Promo Video You Need To See

Do you remember VH1’s Pop-Up videos? It was pop culture phenomenon. AFSCME took this idea to the next level with this hilarious propaganda video from ALEC for their upcoming convention in California.

The video moves quickly at times so keep your finger on the pause button to be sure to read all of the comment bubbles as they pop-up, and ENJOY!

 

AFSCME Workers Rally To Avoid State Government Shutdown

AFSCME_Logo-2Color

Great news from AFSCME about their huge win in Washington State.

It took thousands of public employees rallying across Washington state at more than 100 locations over two days this May and June to urge state legislators to agree to a sensible budget and avert a shutdown of state services on July 1.

And they won.

Just before the stroke of midnight on June 30, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed the new, biennial operating budget that funded AFSCME Council 28 members’ first pay raises in seven years, and holds the line on health care costs.

The budget deal averted a shutdown of state services, including the closure of all state parks, the end of most community supervision of dangerous criminals released from prison and the temporary layoff of 26,000 state employees – about half of the general government workforce.

Council 28 members worked all session with a wide array of activities to pressure the Republicans controlling the state Senate to finally do the right thing. That included the “Unity Breaks” and “Unity Rallies” staged simultaneously on two different days in every corner of the state to stop the possible furlough of half of state agency workers if there was no budget by June 30.

In the end, the Republicans’ proposals to roll back many key collective bargaining rights – proposals written by a conservative think tank – all failed, thanks to the public heat Council 28 members generated.

“Through our member education, our member lobby program, our coordinated statewide in-district actions, our calls, our emails, our constant pressure on the Legislature, we narrowly avoided a state government shutdown,” said April Sims, Council 28’s legislative and political action field coordinator…

READ THE REST HERE

Unions Speak Out Against Supreme Court’s Decision To Hear Friedrichs v. CTA

Joint Statement on Public Service Workers
on Supreme Court Grant of Cert in Friedrichs v. CTA

Lawsuit Seeks to Curtail Freedom of Firefighters, Teachers, Nurses, First-Responders to Stick Together and Advocate for Better Public Services, Better Communities

WASHINGTON—NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, AFT President Randi Weingarten, CTA President Eric C. Heins, AFSCME President Lee Saunders, and SEIU President Mary Kay Henry issued the following joint statement today in response to U.S. Supreme Court granting cert to Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association:

“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.

“The Supreme Court is revisiting decisions that have made it possible for people to stick together for a voice at work and in their communities—decisions that have stood for more than 35 years—and that have allowed people to work together for better public services and vibrant communities.

“When people come together in a union, they can help make sure that our communities have jobs that support our families. It means teachers can stand up for their students. First responders can push for critical equipment to protect us. And social workers can advocate effectively for children’s safety.

“America can’t build a strong future if people can’t come together to improve their work and their families’ futures. Moms and dads across the country have been standing up in the thousands to call for higher wages and unions. We hope the Supreme Court heeds their voices.”

And public servants are speaking out, too, about how Friedrichs v. CTA would undermine their ability to provide vital services the public depends on. In their own words:

“As a school campus monitor, my job is to be on the front lines to make sure our students are safe. Both parents and students count on me—it’s a responsibility that I take very seriously. It’s important for me to have the right to voice concerns over anything that might impede the safety of my students, and jeopardizing my ability to speak up for them is a risk for everyone.”
Carol Peek, a school campus security guard from Ventura, Calif.

“I love my students, and I want them to have everything they need to get a high-quality public education. When educators come together, we can speak with the district about class size, about adequate staffing, about the need for counselors, nurses, media specialists and librarians in schools. And we can advocate for better practices that serve our kids. With that collective voice, we can have conversations with the district that we probably wouldn’t be able to have otherwise―and do it while engaging our communities, our parents and our students.”
Kimberly Colbert, a classroom teacher from St. Paul, Minn.

“As a mental health worker, my colleagues and I see clients who are getting younger and more physical. Every day we do our best work to serve them and keep them safe, but the risk of injury and attack is a sad, scary reality of the job. But if my coworkers and I come together and have a collective voice on the job, we can advocate for better patient care, better training and equipment, and safe staffing levels. This is about all of us. We all deserve safety and dignity on the job, because we work incredibly hard every day and it’s certainly not glamorous.”
Kelly Druskis-Abreu, a mental health worker from Worcester, Mass.

“Our number one job is to protect at-risk children. Working together, front-line social workers and investigators have raised standards and improved policies that keep kids safe from abuse and neglect. I can’t understand why the Supreme Court would consider a case that could make it harder for us to advocate for the children and families we serve—this work is just too important.”
Ethel Everett, a child protection worker from Springfield, Mass.

 


About the National Education Association
The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing nearly 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at www.nea.org and follow on Twitter at @NEAmedia.

About the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
The American Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, was founded in 1916 and today represents 1.6 million members in more than 3,000 local affiliates nationwide. AFT represents pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; and nurses and other healthcare professionals. Go online to www.aft.orgor @AFTunion to find out more.

About the California Teachers Association (CTA)
The 325,000-member California Teachers Association is affiliated with the 3 million-member National Education Association. Find out more at www.cta.org and follow CTA on Twitter at @CATeachersAssoc.

About the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
AFSCME is the nation’s largest and fastest growing public service employees union with more than 1.6 million working and retired members. AFSCME’s members provide the vital services that make America happen. We are nurses, corrections officers, child care providers, EMTs, sanitation workers and more. Read more online at www.afscme.org and @AFSCME.

About the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) unites 2 million diverse members in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. The nation’s largest health care union, SEIU represents nurses, LPNs, doctors, lab technicians, nursing home workers, and home care workers in addition to building cleaning and security industries, including janitors, security officers, superintendents, maintenance workers, window cleaners, and doormen and women. SEIU also represents public workers including local and state government workers, public school employees, bus drivers, and child care providers. Learn more at www.seiu.org and @SEIU.


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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