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AFL-CIO and Broad Coalition File Amicus Briefs in Janus v. AFSCME

(Washington, DC) — Today, the AFL-CIO joined unions, public and private employers, elected officials from both parties, religious organizations, academics and civil rights organizations filing amicus briefs in Janus v. AFSCME, defending working people’s right to effectively organize and negotiate.

“Working people have always had to fight for the freedom to work and retire in dignity. Corporate CEOs and special interests have spent millions in their attempts to strip that away,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Today, working people are taking this fight to the Supreme Court. We’re standing up for the freedom to sustain a family while still being able to take time off to care for a loved one, receive quality health care and enjoy a secure retirement.”

Working people’s freedom to join together in strong public-sector unions has been protected since a unanimous Supreme Court ruling more than 40 years ago. That ruling secured these unions’ ability to effectively advocate and negotiate on behalf of their members.

Now, a Koch-backed network of corporate interests is challenging those longstanding legal precedents. Their goal is to undermine working people’s right to organize—and they’ve said so themselves. These same right-wing special interests have previously attacked LGBTQ rights, voting rights and women’s health care.

The AFL-CIO was joined today by the State of California, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, several U.S. senators, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 20 state attorneys general, Republican elected officials, former presidents of the District of Columbia Bar Association, distinguished law professors and others. This action comes as organizers prepare to stand against the corporate interests behind this case during a Working People’s Day of Action on Feb. 24. This will mark the 50th anniversary of striking African American sanitation workers’ first march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee.

Today in labor history for the week of January 22, 2018

This Week in Labor History
January 22
Indian field hands at San Juan Capistrano mission refused to work, engaging in what was probably the first farm worker strike in California – 1826

Birth of Terence V. Powderly, leader of the Knights of Labor – 1849

The United Mine Workers of America is founded in Columbus, Ohio, with the merger of the Knights of Labor Trade Assembly No. 135 and the National Progressive Miners Union – 1890

Five hundred New York City tenants battle police to prevent evictions – 1932

January 23
Some 10,000 clothing workers strike in Rochester, N.Y., for the 8-hour day, a 10-percent wage increase, union recognition, and extra pay for overtime and holidays. Daily parades were held throughout the clothing district and there was at least one instance of mounted police charging the crowd of strikers and arresting 25 picketers. Six people were wounded over the course of the strike and one worker, 18-year-old Ida Breiman, was shot to death by a sweatshop contractor. The strike was called off in April after manufacturers agreed not to discriminate against workers for joining a union – 1913

In Allegany County, MD, workers with the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal era public works program employing unmarried men aged 18-25, are snowbound at Fifteen Mile Creek Camp S-53 when they receive a distress call about a woman in labor who needs to get to a hospital.  20 courageous CCC volunteers dig through miles of snow drifts until the woman is successfully able to be transported – 1936

Today in labor history for the week of January 22, 2018January 24
Krueger’s Cream Ale, the first canned beer, goes on sale in Richmond, Va.  Pabst was the second brewer in the same year to sell beer in cans, which came with opening instructions and the suggestion: “cool before serving” – 1935

Today in labor history for the week of January 22, 2018January 25
Sojourner Truth addresses first Black Women’s Rights convention – 1851

The Sheet Metal Workers Int’l Association (SMWIA) is founded in Toledo, Ohio, as the Tin, Sheet Iron and Cornice Workers’ Int’l Association – 1888

Two hundred miners are killed in a horrific explosion at the Harwick mine in Cheswick, Pa., Allegheny County. Many of the dead lie entombed in the sealed mine to this day – 1904

(The novel Sixteen Tons carries the reader down into the dark and dangerous coal mines of the early Today in labor history for the week of January 22, 20181900s, as Italian immigrant Antonio Vacca and his sons encounter cave-ins and fires deep below the earth’s surface. Above ground, miners battle gun thugs and corrupt sheriffs at Virden, Matewan and Ludlow in an epic struggle to form a union and make the mines a safer place to work. Historian Kevin Corley’s depiction of miners’ lives is based on his own interviews with mining families.)

The Supreme Court upholds “Yellow Dog” employment contracts, which forbid membership in labor unions. Yellow Dog contracts remained legal until 1932 – 1915

Some 16,000 textile workers strike in Passaic, N.J. – 1926

The federal minimum wage rate rises to 75 cents an hour – 1950

January 26
In what could be considered the first workers’ compensation agreement in America, pirate Henry Morgan pledges his underlings 600 pieces of eight or six slaves to compensate for a lost arm or leg. Also part of the pirate’s code, reports Roger Newell: shares of the booty were equal regardless of race or sex, and shipboard decisions were made collectively – 1695

Today in labor history for the week of January 22, 2018Samuel Gompers, first AFL president, born in London, England. He emigrated to the U.S. as a youth – 1850

The Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America is chartered by the American Federation of Labor to organize “every wage earner from the man who takes the bullock at the house until it goes into the hands of the consumer.” – 1897

Workers win a two-day sit-down strike at the Brooklyn electric plant that powers the city’s entire subway system – 1937

A handful of American companies announce nearly 60,000 layoffs today, as the recession that began during the George W. Bush presidency charges full-tilt toward what became known as the Great Recession – 2009

January 27
New York City maids organize to improve working conditions – 1734

Mine explosion in Mount Pleasant, Pa., leaves more than 100 dead – 1891

First meeting of the Int’l Labor Organization (ILO) – 1920

Kansas miners strike against compulsory arbitration – 1920

Today in labor history for the week of January 22, 2018A 3¢ postage stamp is issued, honoring AFL founder Samuel Gompers – 1950
(There is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America is the sympathetic, thoughtful and highly readable history of the American labor movement traces unionism from the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts in the 1820s to organized labor’s decline in the 1980s and struggle for survival and growth today.)

A group of Detroit African-American auto workers known as the Eldon Avenue Axle Plant Revolutionary Union Movement leads a wildcat strike against racism and bad working conditions.  They are critical of both automakers and the UAW, condemning the seniority system and grievance procedures as racist – 1969

Today in labor history for the week of January 22, 2018Pete Seeger dies in New York at age 94. A musician and activist, he was a revered figure on the American left, persecuted during the McCarthy era for his support of  progressive, labor and civil rights causes. A prolific songwriter, he is generally credited with popularizing the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.” He actively participated in demonstrations until shortly before his death – 2014

Members of the Northwestern University football team announce they are seeking union recognition. A majority signed cards, later delivered to the National Labor Relations Board office in Chicago, asking for representation by the College Athletes Players Association – 2014

January 28
American Miners’ Association formed – 1861

First U.S. unemployment compensation law enacted, in Wisconsin – 1932

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Today in labor history for the week of December 11, 2017

December 11
A small group of Black farmers organize the Colored Farmers’ National Alliance and Cooperative Union in Houston County, Texas. They had been barred from membership in the all-White Southern Farmers’ Alliance. Through intensive organizing, along with merging with another Black farmers group, the renamed Colored Alliance by 1891 claimed a membership of 1.2 million – 1886

Ten days after an Illinois State mine inspector approved coal dust removal techniques at New Orient mine in West Frankfort, the mine exploded, largely because of coal dust accumulations, killing 119 workers – 1951

The U.S. Department of Labor announces that the nation’s unemployment rate had dropped to 3.3 percent, the lowest mark in 15 years – 1968

Today in labor history for the week of December 11, 2017Forty thousand workers go on general strike in London, Ontario—a city with a population of 300,000—protesting cuts in social services – 1995

Michigan becomes the 24th state to adopt right-to-work legislation.  The Republican-dominated state Senate introduced two measures—one covering private workers, the other covering public workers—by surprise five days earlier and immediately voted their passage; the Republican House approved them five days later (the fastest it legally could) and the Republican governor immediately signed both bills – 2012

Today in labor history for the week of December 11, 2017December 12
A U.S. immigration sweep of six Swift meat plants results in arrests of nearly 1,300 undocumented workers – 2006

December 13
Death in San Antonio, Texas, of Samuel Gompers, president and founder of the American Federation of Labor – 1924

December 14
Some 33,000 striking members of the Machinists end a 69-day walkout at Boeing after winning pay and benefit increases and protections against subcontracting some of their work overseas – 1995

December 15
AFL convention passes a 1¢ per capita assessment to aid the organization of women workers (Exact date uncertain) – 1913

Today in labor history for the week of December 11, 2017The Kansas National Guard is called out to subdue from 2,000 to 6,000 protesting women who were going from mine to mine attacking non-striking miners in the Pittsburg coal fields. The women made headlines across the state and the nation: they were christened the “Amazon Army” by the New York Times – 1921

Eight days after the attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor, the AFL pledges that there will be no strikes in defense-related plants for the duration of World War II – 1941

Meeting in its biennial convention, the AFL-CIO declares “unstinting support” for “measures the Administration might deem necessary to halt Communist aggression and secure a just and lasting peace” in Vietnam – 1967

Today in labor history for the week of December 11, 2017The U.S. Age Discrimination in Employment Act becomes law. It bars employment discrimination against anyone aged 40 or older – 1967
(The Essential Guide To Federal Employment Laws, 4th edition: This is a well-indexed book, updated in 2013, offering the full text of 20 federal laws affecting workers’ lives, along with plain-English explanations of each. An entire chapter is devoted to each law, explaining what is allowed and prohibited and what businesses must comply.)

Today in labor history for the week of December 11, 2017California’s longest nurses’ strike ended after workers at Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo and Pinole approved a new contract with Tenet Healthcare Corp., ending a 13-month walkout – 2003

Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers union organizer Clinton Jencks, who led New Mexico zinc miners in the strike depicted in the classic 1954 movie Salt of the Earth, dies of natural causes in San Diego at age 87 – 2005

December 16
The National Civic Federation is formed by business and labor leaders, most prominently AFL president Sam Gompers, as a vehicle to resolve conflicts between management and labor. Not all unionists agreed with the alliance. The group turned increasingly conservative and labor withdrew after Gompers’ 1924 death – 1900

Today in labor history for the week of December 11, 2017New York City’s Majestic Theater becomes first in the U.S. to employ women ushers – 1902

The Bagel Bakers of America union is continuing a work slowdown at 32 of New York’s 34 bagel bakeries in a dispute over health and welfare fund payments and workplace sanitation, the New York Times reports.  Coincidentally—or not—lox sales were down 30 percent to 50 percent as well.  The effect on the cream cheese market was not reported – 1951

Four railway unions merge to become the United Transportation Union: Trainmen, Firemen & Enginemen, Switchmen, and Conductors and Brakemen – 1968

Eight female bank tellers in Willmar, Minn., begin the first strike against a bank in U.S. history. At issue: they were paid little more than half what male tellers were paid. The strike ended in moral victory but economic defeat two years later – 1977
Today in labor history for the week of December 11, 2017

(United Apart: Gender and the Rise of Craft Unionism: At the turn of the twentieth century, American factory workers were often segregated by sex—males did heavier, dirtier, and better paid, work while women might be employed in a separate area performing related, lighter work. Men might cut bolts of fabric, for example, while women stitched cuffs onto sleeves. How this division of labor played out when an occupational group comprised of one sex went on strike is the subject of this book.)

December 17
Int’l Union of Aluminum, Brick & Glass Workers merges with United Steelworkers of America – 1996

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Today in labor history for the week of December 4, 2017

December 04 President Roosevelt announces the end of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), concluding the four-year run of one of the American government's most ambitious public works programs. It helped create jobs for roughly 8.5 million people during the Great Depression and left a legacy of highways and public buildings, among other public gains - 1943UAW President Walter Reuther elected president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations - 1952 Cesar Chavez jailed for 20 days for refusing to end United Farm Workers' grape boycott - 1970 Today in labor history for the week of December 4, 2017December 05 Unionists John T. and James B. McNamara are sentenced to 15 years and life, respectively, after confessing to dynamiting the Los Angeles Times building during a drive to unionize the metal trades in the city.  They placed the bomb in an alley next to the building, set to detonate when they thought the building would be empty; it went off early, and an unanticipated gas explosion and fire did the real damage, killing twenty people. The newspaper was strongly conservative and anti-union - 1911 Ending a 20-year split, the two largest labor federations in the U.S. merge to form the AFL-CIO, with a membership estimated at 15 million - 1955 Today in labor history for the week of December 4, 2017 AFL-CIO President John Sweeney welcomes the collapse of World Trade Organization talks in Seattle, declaring, "No deal is better than a bad deal." - 1999 The U.S. Department of Labor reports employers slashed 533,000 jobs the month before—the most in 34 years—as the Great Recession surged. The unemployment rolls had risen for seven months before that and were to continue to soar for another 10 months before topping 10 percent and beginning to level off late the following year - 2008 Today in labor history for the week of December 4, 2017December 06 African-American delegates meet in Washington, D.C., to form the Colored National Labor Union as a branch of the all-White National Labor Union created three years earlier. Unlike the NLU, the CNLU welcomed members of all races. Isaac Myers was the CNLU's founding president; Frederick Douglass became president in 1872 - 1869 The Washington Monument is completed in Washington, D.C. On the interior of the monument are 193 commemorative stones, donated by numerous governments and organizations from all over the world; one of them is from the Int’l Typographical Union, founded in 1852.  In 1986 the ITU merged into the Communications Workers of America - 1884 A total of 361 coal miners die at Monongah, W.Va., in nation's worst mining disaster - 1907 Int’l Glove Workers Union of America merges into Amalgamated Clothing Workers - 1961 United Mine Workers begin what is to become a 110-day national coal strike - 1997 Today in labor history for the week of December 4, 2017 December 07 Heywood Broun born in New York City. Journalist, columnist and co-founder, in 1933, of The Newspaper Guild - 1888 Steam boiler operators from 11 cities across the country meet in Chicago to form the National Union of Steam Engineers of America, the forerunner to the Int’l Union of Operating Engineers. Each of the men represented a local union of 40 members or fewer - 1896 More than 1,600 protesters staged a national hunger march on Washington, D.C., to present demands for unemployment insurance - 1931 United Hatters, Cap & Millinery Workers Int’l Union merges into Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union - 1982 Today in labor history for the week of December 4, 2017 Delegates to the founding convention of the National Nurses United (NNU) in Phoenix, Ariz., unanimously endorse the creation of the largest union and professional organization of registered nurses in U.S. history. The 150,000-member union is the product of a merger of three groups - 2009 December 08 Twenty-five unions found the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in Columbus, Ohio; Cigarmaker’s union leader Samuel Gompers is elected president. The AFL’s founding document’s preamble reads: “A struggle is going on in all of the civilized world between oppressors and oppressed of all countries, between capitalist and laborer...” - 1886 Today in labor history for the week of December 4, 2017(There is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America: This thoughtful and highly readable history of the American labor movement traces unionism from the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts in the 1820s to organized labor’s decline in the 1980s and struggle for survival and growth today. Illustrated with dozens of photos, posters and more.) 114-day newspaper strike begins, New York City - 1962 President Bill Clinton signs The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) - 1993 Today in labor history for the week of December 4, 2017Nearly 230 jailed teachers—about one-fourth of the 1,000-member Middletown Township, N.J., staff—are ordered freed after they and their colleagues agree to end a 9-day strike and go into mediation with the local school board - 2001 Faced with a national unemployment rate of 10 percent, President Barack Obama outlines new multibillion-dollar stimulus and jobs proposals, saying the country must continue to "spend our way out of this recession" until more Americans are back at work. Joblessness had soared 6 percent in the final two years of George W. Bush’s presidency - 2009 Today in labor history for the week of December 4, 2017December 09 Ratification of a new labor agreement at Titan Tire of Natchez, Miss., ends the longest strike in the history of the U.S. tire industry, which began May 1, 1998, at the company's Des Moines, Iowa, plant - 2001 December 10 First sit-down strike in U.S. called by IWW at General Electric in Schenectady, N.Y. - 1906 Today in labor history for the week of December 4, 2017 (No Contract, No Peace: A Legal Guide to Contract Campaigns, Strikes, and Lockouts is a must-have for any union or activist considering aggressive action to combat management’s growing economic war against workers. No Contract, No Peace! updates information contained in the first edition, entitled Strikes, Picketing and Inside Campaigns, to include reference to recent union activities and NLRB decisions that have affected the labor relations environment. Schwartz’s familiarity with labor and employment law combines with his activist spirit to provide innovative yet practical tips for mounting and maintaining meaningful campaigns designed to build union and workers’ power.) Int’l Human Rights Day, commemorating the signing at the United Nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, in part: “Everyone has the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests.” - 1948 American Federation of Teachers Local 89 in Atlanta, Georgia, disaffiliates from the national union because of an AFT directive that all its locals integrate. A year later, the AFT expelled all locals that refused to do so - 1956 —Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Republicans In The House Take Aim At NH Labor Laws

Republican legislators in the New Hampshire House of Representatives want to change the current labor laws to allow kids to work “any time” of the day or night, remove requirements to display wage and discrimination laws, and handicap the State Department of Labor.

State Rep. Laurie Sanborn (Bedford), introduced the self titled “Red Tape Reduction Act” (HB1762-FN) aimed at what she says is to “reduce the excessive and unnecessary documentation and regulatory (red tape) burdens.” She claims that these “burdens” are inhibiting employers from hiring and growing their businesses.

What it really does it make it easier for employers to screw over workers and reduces the penalties if they get caught.

Some of the “burdens” that Rep. Sanborn wants to eliminate:

  • Eliminate the requirement to pay a worker “two hours of pay” when they show up to work and their shift is canceled
  • Eliminated the employees right to refuse to take part in “tip sharing”
  • Allow 16-17 year olds to “work any hours” and eliminates the Department of Labor’s requirement to randomly inspect worksites with young workers
  • Make unpaid interns responsible for their own Workers Compensation Insurance
  • Create a new “volunteer” worker category where an employee can “volunteer to learn” while working, without pay for up to 6 months
  • Remove the requirement to display safety, wage, hour, and discrimination laws in highly visible or “conspicuous” space
  • Removes the requirement that all wages and payment schedule changes must be made in writing
  • Changes the rules about employers providing uniforms and apparel with the “company logo” to be used in the work environment. (First uniform is free but employee may be required to pay for additional uniforms.)
  • Eliminate the Department of Labor’s rulemaking authority regarding wages and child labor laws; all relevant rulemaking changes must go through the legislature
  • Eliminate need for employers to file a “written safety plan, joint loss management committee, and safety summary form”
  • Expands the Department of Labor’s ability to waive fines, offers a 30 grace period on violations to avoid fines, and eliminates a number of mandatory fines for things like: “failure to pay a worker on time”, “failure to pay a worker in full”, and “requiring an employee to perform any illegal activities under threat of job loss.”

Of all of these the most egregious is the changes to child labor law allowing 16-17 year olds to work “any hours” of the day and night.   These are high school kids. Should they be working overnight shifts at the local mini-mart or working till midnight at the local fast food joint? No. These hour restrictions were put in place to ensure that children do not work too much or too late because it would have a detrimental affect on their education.

Under this new bill it would be the employee’s responsibility to know all of the laws concerning wages, overtime, discrimination, and safety regulations yet the employer is no longer required to display them. Does anyone actually think a 16 year old in their first job knows anything about child labor laws?

There have also been a couple of bills to increase the minimum wage with a caveat for 16-17 year old workers. These young workers would be allowed to work a sub-minimum wage or “training wage”. Rep. Sanborn’s proposed legislation coupled with the proposed “training wage” would allow employers to hire 16-17 year olds to work any time at a rate below the state’s minimum wage. How many low-wage workers would lose their jobs only to be replaced by 16-17 year olds earning “training” wages?

The bill has a number of co-sponsors, including Laurie’s husband, and first Congressional District Candidate, Sen. Andy Sanborn. The Sanborn’s have used their small business, The Draft bar and grill, to justify their votes against raising the minimum wage and eliminating the tipped minimum wage.  In 2014, in a speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Andy Sanborn called a minimum wage increase to $9.00 an hour a “job killer” but failed to mention how much a minimum wage increase would impact his personal business.

These proposed changes would also force reductions in the Department of Labor’s annual budget. The Department of Labor estimates that the proposed changes would have cost the state over $500,000 dollars in fines paid over the last three years. They also noted that the new regulations would require a “follow up inspection” which would “decrease in worker efficiency” and decrease the number of worksites inspected each year.

New Hampshire already has one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the country. There are lots of jobs available but many of our young adult workers are leaving New Hampshire in search of better wages in other states. Repealing these regulations will do nothing to help spur growth in our economy but it will allow employers to cheat worker without any fear of penalty.

Honestly does anyone really believe that removing the requirement to display wage and discrimination laws will somehow create jobs? Are they really expanding jobs and boosting the economy by hiring unpaid interns and “volunteer” workers?

This race to the bottom must end. We need in strengthen our labor laws not destroy them. We need to empower the Department of Labor to inflict harsher penalties on employers who violate the law not lessen worksite inspections and eliminate fines. This would be a step back for the hard working people of the Granite State if this somehow makes it through.


Full copy of the proposed legislation below

HB1762

Today in labor history for the week of November 20, 2017

This Week in Labor History
November 20
First use of term “scab,” by Albany Typographical Society – 1816

Norman Thomas born, American socialist leader – 1884

The time clock is invented by Willard Bundy, a jeweler in Auburn, N.Y. Bundy’s brother Harlow starts mass producing them a year later – 1888

Mine fire in Telluride, Colo., kills 28 miners, prompts union call for safer work conditions – 1901

A total of 78 miners are killed in an explosion at the Consolidated Coal Company’s No. 9 mine in Farmington, W. Va. – 1968

The Great Recession hits high gear when the stock market falls to its lowest level since 1997. Adding to the mess: a burst housing bubble and total incompetence and greed—some of it criminal—on the part of the nation’s largest banks and Wall Street investment firms. Officially, the recession lasted from December 2007 to June 2009 – 2008

November 21
Six miners striking for better working conditions under the IWW banner are killed and many wounded in the Columbine Massacre at Lafayette, Colo. Out of this struggle Colorado coal miners gained lasting union contracts – 1927

Today in labor history for the week of November 20, 2017The 1,700-mile Alaska Highway (Alcan Highway) is completed, built during World War II on the order of President Roosevelt.  Some 11,000 troops, about one-third of them African-Americans, worked on the project, which claimed the lives of an estimated 30 men. Memorials for the veterans are scattered in spots throughout the highway, including the Black Veterans Memorial Bridge, dedicated in 1993.  It wasn’t until 1948 that the military was desegregated – 1942

The United Auto Workers Union strikes 92 General Motors plants in 50 cities to back up worker demands for a 30-percent raise. An estimated 200,000 workers are out – 1945

Staten Island and Brooklyn are linked by the new Verrazano Narrows Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time and still the longest in the U.S.  Joseph Farrell, an apprentice Ironworker on the project, told radio station WNYC: “The way the wind blows over this water it would blow you right off the iron. That was to me and still is the most treacherous part of this business. When the wind grabToday in labor history for the week of November 20, 2017s you on the open iron, it can be very dangerous.” Three workers died over the course of the 5-year project – 1964

(Survival of the Fittest is a must-read for anyone in the building trades, especially younger workers. In clear, easy-to-read language it explains how to be successful in the trades and, directly linked to that success, how to make union construction thrive and prosper.)

The promise of telecommuting arrives when the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network—ARPANET, the beginnings of the global internet—is established when a permanent link is created between the University of California at Los Angeles and the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, Calif. – 1969

Today in labor history for the week of November 20, 2017A fire at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas kills 85 hotel employees and guests and sends 650 injured persons, including 14 firefighters, to the hospital. Most of the deaths and injuries were caused by smoke inhalation – 1980

Flight attendants celebrate the signing into law a smoking ban on all U.S. domestic flights – 1989

Congress approves the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), to take effect Jan. 1 of the following year – 1993

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act takes effect in the nation’s workplaces. It prohibits employers from requesting genetic testing or considering someone’s genetic background in hiring, firing or promotions – 2009

Today in labor history for the week of November 20, 2017November 22
“The Uprising of the 20,000.” Some 20,000 female garment workers are on strike in New York; Judge tells arrested pickets: “You are on strike against God.” The walkout, believed to be the first major successful strike by female workers in American history, ended the following February with union contracts bringing better pay and working conditions – 1909

The district president of the American Federation of Labor and two other Caucasians are shot and killed in Bogalusa, La., as they attempt to assist an African-American organizer working to unionize African-American workers at the Great Southern Lumber Co. – 1919

President John F. Kennedy is assassinated. Generally considered a friend of labor, Kennedy a year earlier had issued Executive Order 10988, which authorized unionization and a limited form of collective bargaining rights for most federal workers (excluding the Department of Defense). Many states followed the example set by Kennedy – 1963

Today in labor history for the week of November 20, 2017November 23
History’s first recorded (on papyrus) strike, by Egyptians working on public works projects for King Ramses III in the Valley of the Kings. They were protesting having gone 20 days without pay—portions of grain—and put down their tools. Exact date estimated, described as within “the sixth month of the 29th year” of Ramses’ reign—1170BC—in The Spirit of Ancient Egypt, by Ana Ruiz. Scholar John Romer adds inAncient Lives: The Story of the Pharaoh’s Tombmakers that the strike so terrified the authorities they gave in and raised wages. Romer believes it happened a few years later, on Nov. 14, 1152 B.C.

Troops are dispatched to Cripple Creek, Colo., to control protests by striking coal miners – 1903

Mine Workers President John L. Lewis walks away from the American Federation of Labor to lead the newly-formed Committee for Industrial Organization. The CIO and the unions created under its banner organized six million industrial workers over the following decade – 1935

The first meeting between members of the newly-formed National Football League Players Association and team owners takes place in New York. Union founders included Frank Gifford, Norm Van Brocklin, Don Shula and Kyle Rote. They were asking for a minimum $5,000 salary, a requirement that their teams pay for their equipment, and a provision for the continued payment of salary to injured players. The players’ initial demands were ignored – 1956

Today in labor history for the week of November 20, 2017November 24
Led by Samuel Gompers, who would later found the American Federation of Labor, Cigarmakers’ Int’l Union Local 144 is chartered in New York City – 1875

November 25
Some 10,000 New Orleans workers, Black and White, participate in a solidarity parade of unions comprising the Central Trades and Labor Assembly. The parade was so successful it was repeated the following two years – 1883

Teachers strike in St. Paul, Minn., the first organized walkout by teachers in the country. The month-long “strike for better schools” involving some 1,100 teachers—and principals—led to a number of reforms in the way schools were administered and operated – 1946
Today in labor history for the week of November 20, 2017

(No Contract, No Peace: A Legal Guide to Contract Campaigns, Strikes, and Lockouts is a must-have for any union or activist considering aggressive action to combat management’s growing economic war against workers. The book references recent union activities and NLRB decisions that have affected the labor relations environment and the author’s familiarity with labor and employment law combines with his activist spirit to provide innovative yet practical tips for mounting and maintaining meaningful campaigns designed to build union and workers’ power.)

Nearly 1,550 typesetters begin what is to become a victorious 22-month strike against Chicago newspapers – 1947

Today in labor history for the week of November 20, 2017George Meany becomes president of the American Federation of Labor following the death four days earlier of William Green – 1952

Canadian postal workers, protesting a Post Office decision to offer discounts to businesses but not individuals, announce that for one week they will unilaterally reduce postage costs by about two-thirds.  Declared the Canadian Union of Postal Workers: “(M)embers of the general public, not businesses, can mail letters with 10 cents postage and postal workers will process them without taxing them for insufficient postage” – 1983

Today in labor history for the week of November 20, 2017November 26
Six young women burn to death and 19 more die when they leap from the fourth-story windows of a blazing factory in Newark, N.J. The floors and stairs were wooden; the only door through which the women could flee was locked – 1910

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Today in labor history for the week of November 13, 2017

November 13 A total of 259 miners died in the underground Cherry Mine fire. As a result of the disaster, Illinois established stricter safety regulations and in 1911, the basis for the state’s Workers Compensation Act was passed - 1909 A Western Federation of Miners strike is crushed by the militia in Butte, Mont. - 1914 The Holland Tunnel opens, running under the Hudson River for 1.6 miles and connecting the island of Manhattan in New York City with Jersey City, N.J. Thirteen workers died over its 7-year-long construction - 1927 GM workers’ post-war strike for higher wages closes 96 plants - 1945 Striking typesetters at the Green Bay, Wisc., Press Gazette start a competing newspaper, The Green Bay Daily News. With financial support from a local businessman wToday in labor history for the week of November 13, 2017ho hated the Press Gazette, the union ran the paper for four years before their angel died and it was sold to another publisher. The Gannett chain ultimately bought the paper, only to fold it in 2005 - 1972 Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union activist Karen Silkwood is killed in a suspicious car crash on her way to deliver documents to a newspaper reporter during a safety investigation of her Kerr-McGee plutonium processing plant in Oklahoma - 1974 November 14 Today in labor history for the week of November 13, 2017 Women’s Trade Union League founded, Boston - 1903 The American Railway Supervisors Association is formed at Harmony Hall in Chicago by 29 supervisors working for the Chicago & North Western Railway. They organized after realizing that those railroaders working under their supervision already had the benefits of unionization and were paid more for working fewer hours - 1934 The Depression-era Public Works Administration agrees with New York City today to begin a huge slum clearance project covering 20 acres in Brooklyn, where low cost housing for 2,500 families will be completed. It was the first of many such jobs-and-housing projects across the country - 1934 The National Federation of Telephone Workers—later to become the Communications Workers of America—is founded in New Orleans - 1938 Today in labor history for the week of November 13, 2017Jimmy Carter-era OSHA publishes standard reducing permissible exposure of lead, protecting 835,000 workers from damage to nervous, urinary and reproductive systems - 1978 (Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class: While OSHA was working to preserve people’s health in the ‘70s, other forces were working against labor’s interests.  Stayin’ Alive is a remarkable account of how working-class America hit the rocks in the political and economic upheavals of the 1970s.) Federation of Professional Athletes granted a charter by the AFL-CIO - 1979 November 15 Founding convention of the Federation of Trades and Labor Unions is held in Pittsburgh. It urges enactment of employer liability, compulsory education, uniform apprenticeship and child and convict labor laws. Five years later it changes its name to the American Federation of Labor - 1881 November 16 A county judge in Punxsutawney, Pa., grants an injunction requested by the Clearfield Bituminous Coal Co. forbidding strikers from speaking to strikebreakers, posting signs declaring a strike is in progress, or even singing hymns. Union leaders termed the injunction “drastic” - 1927 Today in labor history for the week of November 13, 2017 The National Football League Players Association ends a 57-day strike that shortened the season to nine games. The players wanted, but failed to win until many years later, a higher share of gross team revenues - 1982 November 17 The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New York is founded "to provide cultural, educational and social services to families of skilled craftsmen." The Society remains in existence to this day – 1785 Martin Irons dies near Waco, Texas.  Born in Dundee, Scotland, he emigrated to the U.S. at age 14.  He joined the Knights of Labor and in 1886 led a strike of 200,000 workers against the Jay Gould-owned Union Pacific and Missouri railroads.  The strike was crushed, Irons was blacklisted and he died broken-down and penniless.  Said Mother Jones: "The capitalist class hounded him as if he had been a wild beast." - 1900 TToday in labor history for the week of November 13, 2017o the huge relief of Post Office Department employees, the service sets a limit of 200 pounds a day to be shipped by any one customer.  Builders were finding it cheaper to send supplies via post than via wagon freight. In one instance, 80,000 bricks for a new bank were shipped parcel post from Salt Lake City to Vernal, Utah, 170 miles away.  The new directive also barred the shipment of humans: a child involved in a couple’s custody fight was shipped—for 17¢—from Stillwell to South Bend, Ind., in a crate labeled “live baby” - 1916 With many U.S. political leaders gripped by the fear of communism and questioning citizen loyalties in the years following World War II, the Screen Actors Guild votes to force its officers to take a “non-communist” pledge.  A few days earlier the Hollywood Ten had been called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities - 1947 Today in labor history for the week of November 13, 2017November 18 Seattle printers refuse to print anti-labor ad in newspaper - 1919 Thirty-one men died on Lake Michigan with the sinking of the Carl D. Bradley during one of the worst storms in the lake’s history. The 623-foot ship, carrying limestone, broke in two. Four crewmen survived - 1958 November 19 Joe Hill, labor leader and songwriter, executed in Utah on what many believe was a framed charge of Today in labor history for the week of November 13, 2017murder. Before he died he declared: “Don’t waste any time mourning. Organize.” - 1915 The nation’s first automatic toll collection machine is used at the Union Toll Plaza on New Jersey's Garden State Parkway - 1954 The National Writers Union is founded, representing freelance and contract writers and others in the trade. In 1992 it was to merge into and become a local of the United Auto Workers - 1981 —Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Leo W Gerard: Workers Wary of GOP Flimflam Tax Scam

Congressional Republicans are selling a trickle-down tax scam times two. It’s the same old snake oil, with double hype and no cure.

A single statistic explains it all: 1 percent of Americans – that is the tiny, exclusive club of billionaires and millionaires – get 80 percent of the gain from this tax con. Eighty percent!

But that’s not all! To pay for that unneeded and unwarranted red-ribbon wrapped gift to the uber wealthy, Republicans are slashing and burning $5 trillion in programs cherished by workers, including Medicare and Medicaid.

Look at the statistic in reverse, and it seems worse: 99 percent of Americans will get only 20 percent of the benefit from this GOP tax scam. That’s not tax reform. That’s tax defraud.

Republican tax hucksters claim the uber rich will share. It’s the trickle down effect, they say, the 99 percent will get some trickle down.

It’s a trick. Zilch ever comes down. It’s nothing more than fake tax reform first deployed by voodoo-economics Reagan. There’s a basic question about this flim-flammery: Why do workers always get stuck depending on second-hand benefits? Real tax reform would put the rich in that position for once. Workers would get the big tax breaks and the fat cats could wait to see if any coins trickled up to jingle in their pockets.

House Speaker Paul Ryan claimed Republicans’ primary objective in messing with the tax code is to help the middle class, not the wealthy. Well, there’s a simple way to do that:  Give 99 percent of the tax breaks directly to the 99 percent.

The Republican charlatans hawking this new tax scam are asserting the pure malarkey that it provides two, count them TWO, trickle-down benefits. In addition to the tried-and-false fairytale that the rich will share with the rest after collecting their tax bounty, there’s the additional myth that corporations will redistribute downward some of their big fat tax scam bonuses.

A corporate tax break isn’t some sort of Wall Street baptism that will convert CEOs into believers in the concept of paying workers a fair share of the profit their labor creates.

Corporations have gotten tax breaks before and haven’t done that. And they’ve got plenty of cash to share with workers right now and don’t do it. Instead, they spend corporate money to push up CEO pay. Over the past nine years, corporations have shelled out nearly $4 trillion to buy back their own stock, a ploy that raises stock prices and, right along with them, CEO compensation. Worker pay, meanwhile, flat-lined.

In addition to all of that cash, U.S. corporations are currently sitting on another nearly $2 trillion. But CEOs and corporate boards aren’t sharing any of that with their beleaguered workers, who have struggled with stagnant wages for nearly three decades.

Still, last week, Kevin Hassett, chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, insisted that the massive corporate tax cut, from 35 percent down to 20 percent, will not trickle, but instead will shower down on workers in the form of pay raises ranging from $4,000 to $9,000 a year.

Booyah! Happy days are here again! With the median wage at $849 per week or $44,148 a year, that would be pay hikes ranging from 9 percent to 20 percent! Unprecedented!

Or, more likely, unrealistic.

Dishonest, incompetent, and absurd” is what Larry Summers called it. Summers was Treasury Secretary for President Bill Clinton and director of the National Economic Council for President Barack Obama.

Jason Furman, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School who once held Hassett’s title at the  Council of Economic Advisers, called Hassett’s findings “implausible,”  “outside the mainstream” and “far-fetched.”

Frank Lysy, retired from a career at the World Bank, including as its chief economist, agreed that Hassett’s projection was absurd.

Hassett based his findings on unpublished studies by authors who neglected to suffer peer review and projected results with all the clueless positivity of Pollyanna. Meanwhile, Lysy noted, Hassett failed to account for actual experience. That would be the huge corporate tax cuts provided in Reagan’s Tax Reform Act of 1986.

Between 1986 and 1988, the top corporate tax rate dropped from 46 percent to 34 percent, but real wages fell by close to 6 percent between 1986 and 1990.

Thus many economists’ dim assessment of Hassett’s promises.

The other gob-smacking bunkum claim about the Republican tax scam is that it will gin up the economy, and, as a result, the federal government will receive even more tax money. So, in their alternative facts world, cutting taxes on the rich and corporations will not cause deficits. It will result in the government rolling in coin, like a pirate in a treasure trove. That’s the claim, and they’re sticking to it. Like their hero Karl Rove said, “We create our own reality.”

Here’s Republican Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, for example: “This tax plan will be deficit reducing.”

If the Pennsylvania politician truly believes that’s the case, it’s not clear why he voted for a budget that would cut $473 billion from Medicare and $1 trillion from Medicaid. If reducing the tax rate for the rich and corporations really would shrink the deficit, Republicans should be adding money to fund Medicare and Medicaid.

While cutting taxes on the rich won’t really boost the economy, it will increase income inequality. Makes sense, right? Give the richest 1 percenters 80 percent of the gains and the remaining 99 percent only 20 percent and the rich are going to get richer faster.

Economist Thomas Piketty, whose work focuses on wealth and income inequality and who wrote the best seller “Capital in the Twenty First Century,” found in his research no correlation between tax cuts for the rich and economic growth in industrialized countries since the 1970s. He did find, however, that the rich got much richer in countries like the United States that slashed tax rates for the 1 percent than in countries like France and Germany that did not.

This Republican tax scam is a case of the adage that former President George W. Bush once famously bungled: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Republicans, like P. T. Barnum, think workers are fools who can be continually conned. But they aren’t. They’ve been duped too many times to believe this new GOP scam will serve anyone but the rich.

Today in labor history for the week of November 6, 2017

November 06 French transport worker and socialist Eugene Pottier dies in Paris at age 71. In 1871 he authored “L’Internationale,” the anthem to international labor solidarity, the first verse of which begins: "Stand up, damned of the Earth; Stand up, prisoners of starvation" - 1887 A coal mine explosion in Spangler, Pa., kills 79. The mine had been rated gaseous in 1918, but at the insistence of new operators it was rated as non-gaseous even though miners had been burned by gas on at least four occasions - 1922 November 07 Some 1,300 building trades workers in eastern Massachusetts participated in a general strike on all military work in the area to protest the use of open-shop (a worksite in which union membership is not required as a condition of employment) builders. The strike held on for a week in the face of threats  Today in labor history for the week of November 6, 2017from the U.S. War Department - 1917 (In this expanded edition of Strike! you can read about labor-management conflicts that have occurred over the past 140 years. Here you’ll learn much about workers’ struggle to win a degree of justice, from the workers’ point of view. Brecher also examines the ever-shifting roles and configurations of unions, from the Knights of Labor of the 1800s to the AFL-CIO of the 1990s.) President Eisenhower’s use of the Taft-Hartley Act is upheld by the Supreme Court, breaking a 116-day steel strike - 1959 Lemuel Ricketts Boulware dies in Delray Beach, Fla., at age 95. As a GE vice president in the 1950s he created the policy known as Boulwarism, in which management decides what is "fair" and refuses to budge on anything during contract negotiations. IUE President Paul Jennings described the policy as "telling the workers what they are entitled to and then trying to shove it down their throats." - 1990 November 08Today in labor history for the week of November 6, 2017 20,000 workers, Black and White, stage general strike in New Orleans, demanding union recognition and hour and wage gains - 1892 President Franklin D. Roosevelt announces plans for the Civil Works Administration to create four million additional jobs for the Depression-era unemployed. The workers ultimately laid 12 million feet of sewer pipe and built or made substantial improvements to 255,000 miles of roads, 40,000 schools, 3,700 playgrounds, and nearly 1,000 airports (not to mention 250,000 outhouses still badly needed in rural America) - 1933 In one of the U.S. auto industry’s more embarrassing missteps over the last half-century, the Ford Motor Co. decides to name its new model the Edsel, after Henry Ford’s only son. Ford executives rejected 18,000 other potential names - 1956 Today in labor history for the week of November 6, 2017November 09 Twenty people, including at least nine firefighters, are killed in Boston’s worst fire. It consumed 65 downtown acres and 776 buildings over 12 hours – 1872 Creation of Committee for Industrial Organization announced by eight unions affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (in 1938 they formally break with the AFL and become the Congress of Industrial Organizations). The eight want more focus on organizing mass production industry workers - 1935 Philip Murray, first president of the United Steelworkers Organizing Committee, first president of the United Steelworkers of America, and president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations for 12 years following the retirement of John L. Lewis, dies at age 66 - 1952 November 10Today in labor history for the week of November 6, 2017 Sit-down strike begins at Austin, Minn., Hormel plant with the help of a Wobbly organizer, leading to the creation of the Independent Union of All Workers. Labor historians believe this may have been the first sit-down strike of the 1930s. Workers held the plant for three days, demanding a wage increase. Some 400 men crashed through the plant entrance and chased out nonunion workers. One group rushed through the doors of a conference room where Jay Hormel and five company executives were meeting and declared: “We’re taking possession. So move out.” Within four days the company agreed to binding arbitration - 1933 Today in labor history for the week of November 6, 2017The ship Edmund Fitzgerald—the biggest carrier on the Great Lakes—and crew of 29 are lost in a storm on Lake Superior while carrying ore from Superior, Wisc., to Detroit. The cause of the sinking was never established - 1975 Tile, Marble, Terrazzo Finishers, Shop Workers & Granite Cutters Int’l Union merges into United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners - 1988 November 11Today in labor history for the week of November 6, 2017 Haymarket martyrs hanged, convicted in the bombing deaths of eight police during a Chicago labor rally - 1887 A confrontation between American Legionnaires and Wobblies during an Armistice Day Parade in Centralia, Wash., results in six deaths. One Wobbly reportedly was beaten, his teeth bashed in with a rifle butt, castrated and hanged: local officials listed his death as a suicide - 1919 A total of 57 crewmen on three freighters die over a 3-day period when their ships sink during a huge storm over Lake Michigan - 1940 November 12 Ellis Island in New York closes after serving as the gateway for 12 million immigrants from 1892 to 1924. From 1924 to 1954 it was mostly used as a detention and deportation center for undocumented immigrants - 1954 Today in labor history for the week of November 6, 2017(Mobilizing Against Inequality: Are immigrant workers themselves responsible for low wages and shoddy working conditions? Should unions expend valuable time and energy organizing undocumented workers? Unions in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States have taken various approaches to confront the challenges of this significant segment of the workforce. As U.S. immigration policy is debated, readers will gain insight into how all workers benefit when wages and working conditions for immigrant workers are improved.) “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap announces he is restructuring the Sunbeam Corp. and lays off 6,000 workers—half the workforce. Sunbeam later nearly collapsed after a series of scandals under Dunlap’s leadership that cost investors billions of dollars - 1996 —Compiled and edited by David Prosten

It’s Official: Mark MacKenzie Announces Candidacy for Congress

MANCHESTER, NH – Today, Manchester State Representative and former NH AFL-CIO President Mark Mackenzie announced his candidacy to represent New Hampshire’s 1st District in the U.S. Congress with the following statement:

“I am entering this race today and will join with thousands of working men and women throughout our state and country who find themselves struggling in an economy which has failed them. The American dream has dissolved into the American struggle, as more and more people try and stay above water.

Wealthy Americans are the beneficiaries of a rigged system which has allowed a small minority of people to amass enormous amounts of money while most Americans continue to work harder to make ends meet. Working families deserve an economy that works for them.

My service to working families and the community span more than 40 years. As a firefighter in the State’s largest community, Manchester, I had the honor to work with my sisters and brothers in the fire service community making our City a safer place to live and work.

As a community activist and a leader, I joined with people all over our state working shoulder to shoulder to fight for fair wages, good pension benefits, health care for all and fair treatment of all people regardless of one’s sexual or gender preference.

I enter this race tempered by this lifetime of work and ready to help lead a movement which will restore “Liberty and Justice for all”.

I believe in:

A quality health care system for all Americans, beginning with the expansion of our current Medicare system to more people by incrementally reducing the eligibility age.

A public college education which is affordable and moves us towards free education at public universities. This would open up opportunities for thousands of people and relieve the crushing burden college debt has cause for to many of our citizens.

Equality and justice for all. This phrase is not just a slogan but a declaration of our values. It should apply to all Americans regardless of the color of their skin, nationality or sexual and gender orientation.

An energy strategy which first acknowledges climate change is real, and moves this country away from fossil fuels and towards renewable sources of energy. This strategy would create millions of good paying jobs.

Investing in rebuilding the crumbling infrastructure of our county. Thousands of roads and bridges are in disrepair. Aging systems in communities and all over the country threaten our way of life and put at risk our water and air.  This too will create thousands of good paying jobs in communities all over the country.

We can do better as a nation to address these problems and many others which undermine the lives of working people in this country.

We have an opportunity in this election to send a clear message about what we want and expect from our elected officials .

Let’s come together and help redefine what “making America great again” means for us .

I want to thank Carol Shea-Porter for her legacy of service to all of us in the first district, and I hope to continue and renew her efforts to find and fund community based solutions to the opioid crisis, work for affordable childcare as well as paid family leave policies and immigration reform. My attempts with Carol over the years to raise the minimum wage to a living wage has been extremely rewarding and meaningful to me. I will continue to seek her counsel as we move forward.”

MacKenzie has been a resident of Manchester since he joined the Fire Department at the age of 21 in 1974, eventually earning the rank of Captain and being chosen to represent his fellow firefighters, achieving improved working conditions and livelihoods for public servants across the state of New Hampshire. He retired from the Fire Department after 25 years of service.

His 25-year tenure as President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO was recognized nationally for his numerous achievements on behalf of working people including defeating Koch Brother funded anti-worker “right to work” legislation in many legislative battles.

Mark has been at the forefront of virtually all successful Democratic campaigns over many years in New Hampshire, including Representatives Shea-Porter and Kuster, Senators Shaheen and Hassan, Governors Shaheen, Lynch and Hassan including countless State Senators and Representatives. He has also worked closely with New Hampshire elected officials from both parties.

Representative MacKenzie helped to form the NH Bernie Sanders Steering Committee in 2015 and remains an active member of that group.

Mark has been an active member of the community serving with many organizations including:  Worker’s Compensation Appeals Board – Department of Labor, Post Secondary Voc-Tech Education System, New Hampshire State Job Training Council, Manchester United Way, New Hampshire Charitable Trust, National Council of Public Employees Retirement Systems, New Hampshire State School-to-Work Team, NH Citizens Commission on State Courts and NH Citizens Health Initiative.

He has an Associate of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degrees from  Franklin Pierce College and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from The University of New Hampshire. He has also completed the Trade Union program at Harvard University. He is a member of The National Political Science Honor Society and the Harvard Alumni Association.

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