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Today in labor history for the week of September 26, 2016

September 26 The Old 97, a Southern Railway train officially known as the Fast Mail, derails near Danville, Va., killing engineer Joseph “Steve” Broady and ten other railroad and postal workers.  Many believe Broady had been ordered to speed to make up for lost time.  The Wreck of the Old 97 inspired balladeers; a 1924 recording is sometimes cited as the first million-selling country music record - 1903 The first production Ford Model T leaves the Piquette Plant in Detroit, Mich. It was the first car ever manufactured on an assembly line, with interchangeable parts. The auto industry was to become a major U.S. employer, accounting for as many as one of every eight to 10 jobs in the country - 1908 September 27 Striking textile workers in Fall River, Mass., demand bread for their starving children - 1875 The Int’l Typographical Union renews a strike against the Los Angeles Times; a boycott runs intermittently from 1896 to 1908. A local anti-Times committee in 1903 persuades William Randolph Hearst to start a rival paper, the Los Angeles Examiner. Although the ITU kept up the fight into the 1920s, the Times remained totally nonunion until 2009, when the GCIU—now the Graphic Communications Conference of the Teamsters—organized the pressroom – 1893 Today in labor history for the week of September 26, 2016 Int’l Ladies' Garment Workers Union begins strike against Triangle Shirtwaist Co. This would become the "Uprising of the 20,000," resulting in 339 of 352 struck firms—but not Triangle—signing agreements with the union. The Triangle fire that killed 246 would occur less than two years later - 1909 Twenty-nine west coast ports lock out 10,500 workers in response to what management says is a worker slowdown in the midst of negotiations on a new contract. The ports are closed for 10 days, reopen when President George W. Bush invokes the Taft-Hartley Act - 2002 Today in labor history for the week of September 26, 2016September 28 The International Workingmen’s Association is founded in London.  It was an international organization trying to unite a variety of different left-wing, socialist, communist and anarchist political groups and unions. It functioned for about 12 years, growing to a membership declared to be eight million, before being disbanded at its Philadelphia conference in 1876, victim of infighting brought on by the wide variety of members’ philosophies - 1864 September 29Today in labor history for the week of September 26, 2016 A report by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that the average weekly take-home pay of a factory worker with three dependents is now $94.87 - 1962 September 30 A total of 29 strike leaders are charged with treason—plotting "to incite insurrection, rebellion & war against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania"—for daring to strike the Carnegie Steel Co. in Homestead, Pa. Jurors refuse to convict them - 1892 Today in labor history for the week of September 26, 2016Seventy-year-old Mother Jones organizes the wives of striking miners in Arnot, Pa., to descend on the mine with brooms, mops and clanging pots and pans.  They frighten away the mules and their scab drivers.  The miners eventually won their strike - 1899 Railroad shopmen in 28 cities strike the Illinois Central Railroad and the Harriman lines for an 8-hour day, improved conditions and union recognition, but railroad officials obtain sweeping injunctions against them and rely on police and armed guards to protect strikebreakers - 1915 Black farmers meet in Elaine, Ark., to establish the Progressive Farmers and Householders Union to fight for better pay and higher cotton prices.  They are shot at by a group of Whites, and return the fire.  News of the confrontation spread and a riot ensued, leaving at least 100, perhaps several hundred, Blacks dead and 67 indicted for inciting violence - 1919 Cesar Chavez, with Dolores Huerta, co-founds the National Farm Workers Association, which later was to become the United Farm Workers of America - 1962Today in labor history for the week of September 26, 2016 (Farmworker’s Friend: The story of Cesar Chavez: A thoughtful and moving book about the inspiring life of American hero Cesar Chavez, co-founder, along with Dolores Huerta, and long-time leader of the United Farm Workers of America. This sympathetic portrayal of Chavez and his life’s work begins with his childhood, starting from the time his family’s store in Arizona failed during the Great Depression and his entire family was forced into the fields to harvest vegetables for a few cents an hour.) Today in labor history for the week of September 26, 2016October 01 An ink storage room in the L.A. Timesbuilding is dynamited during a citywide fight over labor rights and organizing.  The explosion was relatively minor, but it set off a fire in the unsafe, difficult-to-evacuate building, ultimately killing 21.  A union member eventually confessed to the bombing, which he said was supposed to have occurred early in the morning when the building would have been largely unoccupied – 1910 The George Washington Bridge officially opens, spanning the Hudson River from New Jersey to New York. Thirteen workers died during the four-year construction project for what at the time was the longest main span in the world - 1931 Thousands of dairy farmers in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Iowa strike in demand of higher prices for their milk - 1935 Today in labor history for the week of September 26, 2016 The Pennsylvania Turnpike opened as the first toll superhighway in the United States.  It was built in most part by workers hired through the state’s Re-Employment offices - 1940 United Transport Service Employees of America merges with Brotherhood of Railway, Airline & Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express & Station Employees – 1972 Some 200 Pressmen begin what is to become a two-year strike at the Washington Post. Nine of the paper’s ten other unions engaged in sympathy strikes for more than four months but ultimately returned to their jobs as the paper continued publishing. The press operators picketed for 19 months but eventually decertified the union - 1975 Insurance Workers Int’l Union merges with United Food & Commercial Workers Int’l Union - 1983 Railroad Yardmasters of America merge with United Transportation Union - 1985 Pattern Makers League of North America merges with Int’l Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers - 1991 Today in labor history for the week of September 26, 2016The National Hockey League team owners began a lockout of the players that lasted 103 days - 1994 Stove, Furnace & Allied Appliance Workers Int’l Union of North America merges with Int’l Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, & Helpers - 1994 Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union merges with United Food and Commercial Workers Int’l Union - 1998 Int’l Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine & Furniture Workers merges with Communications Workers of America - 2000 October 02 American Federation of Labor officially endorses campaign for a 6-hour day, 5-day workweek - 1934 Joining with 400,000 coal miners already on strike, 500,000 CIO steel workers close down the nation’s foundries, steel and iron mills, demanding pensions and better wages and working conditions - 1949 Starbucks Workers Union baristas at an outlet in East Grand Rapids, Mich., organized by the Wobblies, win their grievances after the National Labor Relations Board cites the company for labor law violations, Today in labor history for the week of September 26, 2016including threats against union activists - 2007 (Grievance Guide, 13th edition: This easy-to-use handbook documents patterns in a wide range of commonly grieved areas including discharge and discipline, leaves of absence, promotions, strikes and lockouts, and more. The editors give a complete picture of the precedents and guidelines that arbitrators are using to address grievance cases today.) Union members, progressives and others rally in Washington D.C., under the Banner of One Nation Working Together, demand “good jobs, equal justice, and quality education for all.” Crowd estimates range from tens of thousands to 200,000 - 2010

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Worker Wins Update: Groundbreaking Contract Victories in Multiple Industries

(Washington, DC, September, 2016) When working people come together and win the contracts, it proves that our raising wages agenda drives economic stability. Working people across the country are creating better lives for themselves and turning those workplace victories into political power. These latest worker wins show what the power of collective voice can achieve.

Here are some highlights:

Staff and Students Win After Lockout Ends: Teachers and students are back in class after the Long Island University Faculty Federation won an agreement that ended a 12-day faculty lockout. The American Federation of Teachers and its state affiliate, New York State United Teachers, fully supported the faculty efforts helping to secure a contract that runs through May 31, 2017.

Detroit Teachers Win Wage Increases in New Contract: The Detroit Federation of Teachers ratified a new contract with the Detroit Public Schools Community District. The agreement includes wage increases and the formation of a committee to address health safety needs of teachers. The agreement now goes before the Detroit Financial Review Commission for final approval.

Two Florida Newspapers Vote to Join NewsGuild CWA: Newsroom staff of the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Ledger of Lakeland have voted to unionize. More than 70 employees will benefit from the new contracts that are being negotiated with GateHouse Media, which owns both papers.

Masters, Mates & Pilots Members Unanimously Approve First Contract With New York Water Taxi: In a unanimous vote, captains and deckhands won a hard-fought campaign in support of collective bargaining and the principles of discussion and agreement in solving conflict. This new contract is viewed as an important step in making New York Harbor a 100 percent unionized waterfront once again.

Magna Seating Workers in Tennessee Overwhelmingly Vote for Union: By a nearly unanimous vote workers at Magna Seating International, a new facility in Spring Hill, Tenn. voted to join the United Auto Workers (UAW) International Union. The 230 workers build seats for the new Cadillac XT5 and GMC Acadia in a state of the art 122,500 square foot facility near the Spring Hill General Motors Manufacturing plant.

Workers at Nation’s Only Lipton Tea Factory Vote to Join UFCW: Nearly 200 workers at the Lipton plant in southeast Virginia voted to unionize with United Food & Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 400.Workers expressed optimism that this will improve conditions at the plant that has operated for more than 60 years and produces most of the tea sold in North America. 

Workers at Boulder Station Vote to Unionize Through NLRB Secret-Ballot Election: Workers at Boulder Station Casino & Hotel voted by a landslide of 67% to be represented by the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and the Bartenders Union Local 165 through an NLRB secret-ballot election. More than 570 Boulder Station workers will be represented by the unions, which are affiliates of UNITE-HERE. It is the first of Station Casinos’ properties in Nevada to unionize.

More NBC Universal Workers Vote to Unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East: Writer-producers at Peacock Productions, the “reality”/nonfiction television production subsidiary of Comcast/NBCUniversal, voted decisively in favor of unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). The vote comes after a nearly four-year battle that began in October of 2012 when writer-producers at Peacock Productions filed for a union election with the NLRB.

Leo W Gerard: Dishonest Don

Donald Trump likes to brag on the campaign trail that he’s the best at bribing politicians. He said, for example, “When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.”  But then, when he got caught giving and getting exactly what the hell he wanted, he claimed that’s not what happened.

Not only that, Trump promises as president he would surround himself with the best advisers. The best! Just like he says he did as a businessman. And he claims he’s a great businessman. The greatest! Well, maybe he forgot about his four bankruptcies that left hundreds of small businessmen and craftsmen unpaid. And maybe he forgot about the fiasco surrounding his namesake foundation illegally giving a “donation” to an attorney general who then decided to drop a fraud investigation against him. The advisers in that case? Not exactly the best.

Much has been made lately about the Clinton Foundation. But Donny’s got one too. Unlike the Clinton Foundation, to which the Clintons gave $1 million last year, the Trump Foundation hasn’t seen a cent from Donny’s pocket since 2009.

2016-09-11-1473608006-4625377-Trumpmoney.jpg

Image by DonkeyHotey on Flickr

Both foundations get lots of money from wealthy donors; the big difference is in how it’s spent. Among the Clinton Foundation focuses are providing access to HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB drugs in developing nations. Among the Trump Foundation programs are those providing gifts to Florida attorneys general considering whether to investigate allegations of fraud against Trump University.

Though the Trump Foundation gave this illegal “grant” back in 2013, the IRS was alerted to it only recently.

Like attorneys general in many states at that time, Florida’s Pam Bondi, a Republican, received numerous complaints that Trump University was a scam. Angry students who felt they got short shrift for their tens of thousands in “tuition” wanted Bondi to charge Trump and other university officials with fraud or at least help them get their money back.

Bondi’s spokesperson admitted to the Associated Press that Bondi personally asked Trump for a donation at the same time her office was deciding whether to join a lawsuit against Trump University proposed by New York’s Democratic attorney general.

Bondi got a $25,000 check. And isn’t it funny how quickly after that she decided against joining the lawsuit against Trump?

That left the individual Floridians who felt cheated to pursue reimbursement on their own. By contrast, in New York, the attorney general went ahead with the suit, representing students in his state that he believes were fleeced by Trump University in a bait-and-switch scheme.

When reporters questioned Trump about the $25,000 gift, he denied Bondi talked to him about a contribution. “I never spoke to her about it at all,” he claimed at first. But later, his spokeswoman admitted Bondi asked Trump for the money.

Trump didn’t take the $25,000 out of his own wallet. He took it from the foundation.

And see, here’s the problem. Non-profit foundations are prohibited by the IRS from making political contributions. And lying to the IRS about it is worse.

Here is how Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer for the Trump Organization and treasurer for the Trump Foundation explained the bungling that led to the foundation paying a $2,500 fine to the IRS earlier this year.

First, Weisselberg claimed, a Trump clerk was asked to write a check for $25,000 to an organization called And Justice for All, which was Bondi’s political action committee.

Weisselberg swears that the clerk found a charity named And Justice for All in Utah, which helps people with disabilities, and wrote the check for And Justice for All intending it to go to a charity in Utah.

And then, he says, the check, somehow, he doesn’t know how, got sent to Bondi.

And that’s not all, folks!

Weisselberg blames the next blunder on Trump’s accounting firm. When the firm listed the foundation’s 2013 donations for the IRS, it didn’t list either And Justice for All from Utah or And Justice for All from Florida. Instead it listed an entirely different group, Justice for All from Kansas.

It was just a typo or something, Weisselberg claims.

So on the 2013 IRS form, first the Trump Foundation told the federal government that it had not spent money for political purposes, when, in fact, it had spent $25,000 for political purposes. Then it told the IRS it made a grant to a group it had not, in fact, given money to.

All this fumbling from what Donnie promises will be the very best advisers in the world. The greatest!

The IRS never would have discovered this on its own. Its staff has been decimated by Republican budget cutting. Republicans don’t want billionaires like Trump to get pinched for tax cheating. So they take care of that problem by eliminating the tax cops.

When they did, Donnie denied any of it was done on purpose. Now, don’t forget, Donnie’s the guy who keeps saying things like this on the campaign trail: “I’ve given to everybody because that is my job. I gotta give to them. Because when I want something, I get it. When I call, they kiss my ass.”

In Bondi’s case, though, Donnie denied she kissed his anything. He said they were just friends.

 “I’ve just known Pam Bondi for years,” he said. She was a great attorney general, so he sent her $25,000 when she asked for it while she was considering investigating his university and then he concealed the donation through his foundation and she dropped the investigation. Nothing to see here, folks!

Just like his tax returns. He keeps saying there’s nothing there. He claims he’s told Americans everything they need to know about his finances. But after this whole Bondi affair, it’s probably better to go with a new version of the old Reagan admonition when dealing with the Trump tax returns: distrust and verify by seeing the actual forms.

Today in labor history for the week of September 12, 2016

September 12
Eugene V. Debs, labor leader and socialist, sentenced to 10 years for opposing World War I. While in jail Debs received one million votes for president – 1918

(The Bending Cross: A Biography of Eugene V. Debs: Eugene V. Debs was a labor activist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries who captured the heart and soul of the nation’s working people. He was brilliant, sincere, compassionate and scrupulously honest. A founder of one of the nation’s first industrial unions, the American Railway Union, he went on to help launch the Industrial Workers of the World—the Wobblies. A man of firm beliefs and dedication, he ran for President of the United States five times under the banner of the Socialist Party, in 1912 earning 6 percent of the popular vote.)

Jobless workers march on grocery stores and seize food in Toledo, Ohio – 1932

National Guardsmen fire on “sullen and rebellious” strikers at the Woonsocket (Rhode Island) Rayon plant, killing one and injuring three others.  A correspondent said the crowd of about 2,000 “went completely wild with rage.”  Word spread, 6,000 more workers arrived at the scene and the city was put under military rule.  The governor declared that “there is a Communist uprising and not a textile strike” in the state – 1934

Today in labor history for the week of September 12, 2016United Rubber Workers formed in Akron, Ohio – 1935

A total of 49 people are killed, 200 injured, in explosion at the Hercules Powder Company plant in Kenvil, N.J. – 1940

New York City’s Union Square, the site of the first Labor Day in 1882, is officially named a national historic landmark. The square has long been a focal point for working class protest and political expression – 1998

September 13Today in labor history for the week of September 12, 2016
The Post Office Department orders 25,000 railway mail clerks to shoot to kill any bandits attempting to rob the mail – 1926

Eleven AFSCME-represented prison employees, 33 inmates die in four days of rioting at New York State’s Attica Prison and the retaking of the prison. The riot caused the nation to take a closer look at prison conditions, for inmates and their guards alike – 1971

September 14
The Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers union calls off an unsuccessful 3-month strike against U. S. Steel Corporation subsidiaries – 1901

Today in labor history for the week of September 12, 2016Gastonia, N.C., textile mill striker and songwriter Ella May Wiggins, 29, a mother of five, is killed when local vigilantes and thugs force the pickup truck in which she is riding off the road and begin shooting – 1929

A striker is shot by a bog owner (and town-elected official) during a walkout by some 1,500 cranberry pickers, members of the newly-formed Cape Cod Cranberry Pickers Union Local 1. State police were called, more strikers were shot and 64 were arrested. The strike was lost – 1933

Congress passes the Landrum-Griffin Act. The law expands many of the anti-labor provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act, increasing union reporting requirements and restricting secondary boycotting and picketing – 1959

Today in labor history for the week of September 12, 2016
(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 with.)

September 15
Some 5,000 female cotton workers in and around Pittsburgh, Pa., strike for a 10-hour day. The next day, male trade unionists become the first male auxiliary when they gather to protect the women from police attacks. The strike ultimately failed – 1845

President Kennedy signs off on a $900 million public-works bill for projects in economically depressed areas – 1962

Today in labor history for the week of September 12, 2016More than 350,000 members of the United Auto Workers begin what is to become a 69-day strike against General Motors – 1970

Int’l Association of Siderographers merges with Int’l Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers – 1992

September 16
More than 43,000 oil workers strike in 20 states, part of the post-war strike wave – 1945

A player lockout by the National Hockey League begins, leading to cancellation of what would have been the league’s 88th season. The lockout, over owner demands that salaries be capped, lasted 310 days – 2004

The Farm Labor Organizing Committee wins a signed contract with the Mount Olive Pickle Co. and growers, ending a 5-year boycott.  The agreement marked the first time an American labor union represented guest workers – 2004
Today in labor history for the week of September 12, 2016
Richard Trumka is elected president of the AFL-CIO at the federation’s convention in Pittsburgh.  He had served as the secretary-treasurer under predecessor John Sweeney from 1995 to 2009, and prior to that was president of the United Mine Workers for 13 years – 2009

September 17
Seventy-five workers die in explosion at Allegheny Arsenal, Pittsburgh, Pa. – 1862

Today in labor history for the week of September 12, 2016At a New York convention of the National Labor Congress, Susan B. Anthony calls for the formation of a Working Women’s Association. As a delegate to the Congress, she persuaded the committee on female labor to call for votes for women and equal pay for equal work. But male delegates deleted the reference to the vote – 1868

One hundred thousand Pennsylvania anthracite coal miners go on strike. Their average annual wage is $250. They are paid by the ton, defined by Pennsylvania as 2,400 pounds, but which mine operators have increased to as much as 4,000 pounds – 1900

National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) formed at a convention in Washington, D.C. In 1999 it became part of the Int’l Association of Machinists (IAM) – 1917

Some Depression-era weekly paychecks around the New York area: physician, $55.32; engineer, $40.68; Today in labor history for the week of September 12, 2016clerk, $22.15; salesman, $25.02; laborer, $20; typist, $15.09 – 1933

Southern employers meeting in Greenville, N.C., ready their big counter-offensive to break the textile labor strikes that have hit the Eastern seaboard. Ultimately they deploy 10,000 national guardsmen and 15,000 deputies, but fail to drive hundreds of thousands of strikers back to work – 1934

A Southern Pacific train loaded with sugar beets strikes a makeshift bus filled with 60 migrant workers near Salinas, Calif., killing 32. The driver said the bus was so crowded he couldn’t see the train coming – 1963

A total of 98 United Mine Workers of America members and a minister occupy the Pittston Coal Company’s Moss 3 preparation plant in Carbon, Va., beginning a year-long strike. Among other issues: management demands for drastic limitations in health and pension benefits for retired and disabled miners and their dependents and beneficiaries – 1989

The Occupy Wall Street movement is launched with an anti-Wall Street march and demonstration that Today in labor history for the week of September 12, 2016ended up as a 2-month encampment in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park. The event led to protests and movements around the world, with their focus on economic inequality, corruption, greed and the influence on government of monied interests. Their slogan: “We are the 99%.” – 2011

September 18
The Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) is formally founded at an Ohio convention, during a period of serious corruption in the union. Two years earlier at an IBT convention in Las Vegas, a union reform leader who (unsuccessfully) called for direct election of officers and a limit on officers’ salaries had been beaten by thugs – 1978

Nine strikebreakers are killed in an explosion at Giant (gold) Mine near Yellowknife, in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Miner Roger Warren confessed that he planted the explosives that caused the deaths. He recanted the confession but later confessed once again – 1992

A 20-month illegal lockout of 2,900 Steelworkers members at Kaiser Aluminum plants in three states ends when an arbitrator orders a new contract. Kaiser was forced to fire scabs and fork over tens of millions of dollars in back pay to union members – 1999
Today in labor history for the week of September 12, 2016
One week after the September 11, 2001, attacks, anthrax spores are mailed by an unknown party to several news media offices and two U.S. senators. Five people exposed to the spores died, including two workers at Washington, D.C.’s USPS Brentwood facility: Thomas Morris, Jr. and Joseph Curseen, who were to die of their exposure within the month – 2001

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Labor Day Message: Stand Strong Against Anti-Labor Politicians And Greedy Executives

Once again Labor Day is upon us.

Let me start by thanking all of the strong dedicated union members of the past who fought and died for our rights and many of the protections and benefits workers enjoy today. Without their strength and solidarity we would not have weekends, healthcare, OSHA, or vacation time, just to name a few (better list in image below).

Over the past thirty years corporate executives used union members as scapegoats to hide the fact that they are siphoning more of the profits for themselves. CEO’s blame workers as they ship our jobs overseas to boost their own salaries. CEO’s in the United States make on average 300 times that average worker in his or her own company. This is obscene and is more than double the next highest country on the list. Profits and productivity continue to go up, yet wages go down as the executives and their Wall Street buddies reel in the cash.

CEO to Worker Country

Politicians began to attack working people to avoid being forced to increase taxes on their corporate campaign donors. They rig the system so that working people are forced to pay more into a retirement system that pays them less in the end. They “borrow” from our retirement systems to balance their budgets and then refuse to pay back the loan. They pass laws making it harder for workers to organize and form union because they know that unorganized people are easier to steamroll.

Combined, the greed of Corporate America and their political puppets have created the greatest level of income inequality in U.S. history.

The thing that many people do not seem to understand it that stronger unions benefit all workers.

A recent report by the Economic Policy Institute showed that if union density had remained at level as they were in the 1979, nonunion men lacking a college degree would be making $3,000 more annually.

What appears to be an attack on unions is really thinly veiled attack on all working people.

These politicians and corporate overlords are no friends to working people. They only care about one thing, money. CEO’s say, “How much money will moving this factory to China boost my stock options?” Politicians say, “How many campaign donations will I get if I can pass this law to stop workers from organizing?”

As the 2016 elections bear down on us, we need to remember to only support those who put working people first. Those who will fight to protect our rights to collectively bargain, will work to maBottom Upke it easier for workers to organize, will advocate for Project Labor Agreements, fight to protect our retirement systems, and work to ensure that all working people have access to affordable healthcare.

We need to fill our State House and Senate will representatives who pledge to support working people not out of state special interests.

It is the “down ticket” candidates who have the biggest impact on our daily lives. That is why this year I am voting from the bottom up and I encourage you to do the same.

Over the next few weeks take the time to do a little research on the candidates running for State Rep and State Senate. See where they stand on issues like the Minimum Wage (1, 2, 3), Medicaid Expansion (1) and Prevailing Wage (1) legislation. If they oppose these and support so-called Right to Work legislation, they are no friend to working people and should not be elected.

36 Things

As Union Density Declines Nonunion Workers Suffer Low Wages

Decline in union density costs nonunion workers
$133 billion annually in lost wages

In the new report, Union decline lowers wages of nonunion workers: The overlooked reason why wages are stuck and inequality is growing, Washington University sociologist Jake Rosenfeld and co-authors find that the dramatic decline in union density since 1979 has resulted in far lower wages for nonunion workers, an impact larger than the 5 percent effect of globalization on their wages found in recent research. Specifically, nonunion men lacking a college degree would have earned 8 percent, or $3,016 annually, more in 2013 if unions had remained as strong as they were in 1979.

Between 1979 and 2013, the share of private sector workers in a union has fallen from about 34 percent to 11 percent among men, and from 16 percent to 6 percent among women. The authors note that unions keep wages high for nonunion workers for several reasons: union agreements set wage standards and a strong union presence prompts managers to keep wages high in order to prevent workers from organizing or their employees from leaving. Moreover, unions set industry-wide norms, influencing what is seen as a “moral economy,”

“Working class men have felt the decline in unionization the hardest,” said Rosenfeld. “Their paychecks are noticeably smaller than if unions had remained as strong as they were almost 40 years ago. Rebuilding collective bargaining is one of the tools we have to reinvigorate wage growth, for low and middle-wage workers.”

Rosenfeld, along with co-authors Jennifer Laird and Patrick Denice, find that the effects of union decline on the wages of nonunion women are not as substantial because women were not as heavily represented in unionized private sector jobs. The authors note, however, that any substantial growth in collective bargaining would be expected to have as much or more impact on women as men. Specifically, the authors find that women’s wages would be 2 to 3 percent higher if unions had stayed at their 1979 levels. Their study also reveals that private sector nonunion men of all education levels would earn 5 percent ($52) higher weekly wages in 2013 if private-sector union density (the share of workers in similar industries and regions who are union members) remained at its 1979 level, an increase of $2,704 in annual paychecks for full-time employees.

This is the first study providing a broad estimate of the wage decline for nonunion workers as the result of the erosion of unions.

This decline in unions has eroded wages for nonunion workers at every level of education and experience, costing billions in lost wages. For the 32.9 million full-time nonunion private sector women and 40.2 million full-time private sector men, there is a $133 billion loss in annual wages because of weakened unions.

Given dramatically weakened unions, their effect on nonunion wages has declined over time: these effects have fallen to between one-half and two-thirds of their late-1970s levels.

Union decline has exacerbated wage inequality in the United States by dampening the pay of nonunion workers as well as by eroding the share of workers directly benefiting from unionization: union erosion can explain a third of the growth of wage inequality among men and one-fifth of the rise of wage inequality among women. At least for middle-wage men, the impact of the erosion of unions on the wages of both union and nonunion workers is likely the largest single factor underlying wage stagnation and wage inequality.

“Unions have functioned to raise the wages of all workers, union and nonunion,” said Lawrence Mishel, EPI President. “The erosion of collective bargaining has clearly taken a huge toll on nonunion wages in the United States, and is a major factor in the wage stagnation of the last four decades.”

Nevada Hispanic Working People Ramp up Voter Mobilization Ahead of Labor Day

Image of Latino American (Image by LBJ Foundation FLIKR)

Image of Latino American (Image by LBJ Foundation FLIKR)

Hispanic workers in this key state ready to go out in record numbers to defeat Donald Trump and to support candidates who stand for Nevada’s working families 

[Las Vegas, Nev.] –   Daniel Aranda, a Mexican-American IBEW Local 357 electrician and union organizer, is determined to do whatever is needed to help Hispanics in Nevada live a better life. He is ready to rally against Donald Trump and his vitriolic rhetoric attacking Hispanic working families. 

Today, Aranda joined other Hispanic union members at the Culinary Union Hall in Las Vegas, Nev., for a roundtable to discuss their plan to stop Donald Trump and to support candidates in key Nevada races like Catherine Cortez Masto for Senate and Ruben Kihuen in CD-4 who have a clear record of standing for policies that will empower this state’s Hispanic working families.

“The Hispanic vote is extremely important, especially here in Nevada”, said Aranda, a Las Vegas resident who immigrated from Chihuahua, Mexico when he was a teenager. “We are ready to inform Hispanic working people across the state of the candidates who will support them. We will urge them to become citizens, to register to vote and to go out and vote.” 

The AFL-CIO’s Labor 2016 election effort aims to reach over 100,000 Hispanic voters who are part of union households in Nevada. At the roundtable today, the Labor 2016 program debuted new Spanish-language materials focused on voter registration and the presidential, Senate, and congressional races as part of the labor movement’s strategy to turnout Hispanic voters in Nevada.

Two weeks ago, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka spoke at the Nevada AFL-CIO convention where he called all working people to be part of this electoral effort:

“Nevada is one of our priority states. If we work together, if we stand united, if we all have skin in the game, we will elect candidates from the state house to the White House who are ready to change the rules of our economy,” Trumka said. “Donald Trump is profoundly unfit to be president.  If you want to know where Donald Trump really stands, ask the brave men and women at Trump Hotel in Las Vegas.  First, Trump hired a union-busting firm to discourage workers from organizing.  The workers won anyway.”

Labor unions in Nevada have been running door-to-door programs across the state since May and will ramp up efforts to reach voters in Hispanic communities after the Labor Day weekend. Speakers on the panel represented unions with some of the highest rates of Hispanic workers in Nevada. For example, the Culinary Union is Nevada’s largest union and largest Hispanic and immigrant organization with 56% of its over 57,000 members identifying as Hispanic/Latino. 

During this roundtable Hispanic members of Nevada’s unions firmly expressed their rejection of Donald Trump’s recent immigration speech. They agreed that they will stand together against the candidate’s attacks by reaching out to their friends, families and neighbors. 

 “We will phone bank. We will knock on as many doors as we can,” said Aranda. “Only through our vote can we tell Donald Trump that he is wrong and that Hispanic working people matter.”

Berry Craig: ‘An injury to one is the concern of all’

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Knights_of_labor_seal_standardI often think about the old Knights of Labor on Labor Day.

Okay, I’m a retired history teacher who still packs a union card.

The Knights “tried to teach the American wage-earner that he was a wage-earner first and a bricklayer, carpenter, miner, shoemaker, after; that he was a wage-earner first and a Catholic, Protestant, Jew, white, black, Democrat, Republican, after,” historian Norman Ware wrote.

The Knights stressed that whatever else divided working people, work itself was what they all had in common. Work was, by far, the most important factor in their lives. Thus, workers should unite as members of the working class, the Knights urged.

Active in the late 19th-century, the Knights were among the pioneers in our union movement. There were even Knights in western Kentucky, where I was born, reared and still live. The Fulton group published a newspaper called The Toiler.

The paper and the Knights are long gone.

But the union’s basic principle is still relevant: Working people, no matter what jobs we have, are wage earners first. “An injury to one is the concern of all,” was the Knights’ famous motto. It still rings true.

Anyway, I spent twenty-four years as a teacher. I was a newspaper reporter for almost 13 years before that.

But I was always a wage-earner and a worker first. I belong to the working class just like a factory worker, construction worker, dock worker, miner, truck driver, carpenter, painter, plumber, electrician, firefighter, garbage collector, grocery clerk, secretary and every other worker. We all belong to the working class.

History is plain about what has most benefitted the working class: unions and New Deal-style government action on our behalf. A big part of the New Deal guaranteed our right to organize unions and bargain collectively for better wages, hours, working conditions and benefits.

My maternal grandparents, Susie and Diehl Vest of Mayfield, my hometown, remembered how the union and the New Deal made their lives better.

“Bobo” belonged to the Almagamated Clothing Workers at the old Merit Clothing Co. “Grandadden” worked out of Paducah Painters Local 500, which is still around.

The Vests voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt all four times he ran. (FDR and Abraham Lincoln tie as their grandson’s favorite presidents.)

Senator and Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey was one of my favorite politicians. Molly Ivins was one of my favorite newspaper columnists. Both of them also knew what helped the working class the most.

“America is a living testimonial to what free men and women, organized in free democratic trade unions, can do to make a better life,” said HHH, whom I voted for in 1968, the first year I was eligible to cast a ballot.

Said Ivins: “Although it is true that only about 20 percent of American workers (sadly, that percentage has shrunk as so many of our good union jobs have been shipped out of the country) are in unions, that 20 percent sets the standards across the board in salaries, benefits and working conditions. If you are making a decent salary in a non-union company, you owe that to the unions. One thing that corporations do not do is give out money out of the goodness of their hearts.”

Happy Labor Day!

Mark Connolly Takes A Bold Stand For Union Workers At WMUR

Last week we posted a story about how WMUR/ Hearst Television is refusing to negotiate with the members of IBEW local 1228 and are refusing add them to the pension system that other station workers already participate in. This contract negotiation dispute resulted in WMUR’s sponsorship of the NH Democratic Presidential debate. The NH Democratic Party reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the WMUR workers, by continuing to boycott WMUR sponsored debates.

“We told WMUR Station Management earlier this year that New Hampshire Democratic candidates would not participate in WMUR sponsored debates as long as the negotiations between the Union Production workers and Hearst were not resolved.” said Ray Buckley, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. “We have not changed our position and the station knows it.”

This week, WMUR scheduled a Democratic Gubernatorial debate for next Tuesday night.  IBEW Local 1228 members are planning to hold an informational picket at WMUR’s Manchester studio the night of the debate.

Today, Mark Connolly, Democratic candidate for Governor, released the following statement regarding the scheduled gubernatorial debate hosted by WMUR Manchester and its parent company, Hearst Television, Inc. 

“Though I appreciate the opportunity provided by WMUR/Hearst, I strongly believe that each and every worker in the Granite State deserves a fair wage and benefits, and I stand with the dedicated workers of IBEW Local 1228.

“These workers are committed to delivering important information to the people of New Hampshire on a daily basis, and I strongly support their right to a collectively bargained contract. 

“Without an agreement in place between WMUR/Hearst and Local 1228, I will not cross the picket line to participate in next week’s debate. I encourage the other candidates to take the same stand.”

After receiving the news, Fletcher Fischer, Business Agent for the IBEW 1228 who represents the Union Production Department at WMUR who are struggling for their first contract said that they “greatly appreciated” the statement of support from Connolly.

“We are hopeful that all New Hampshire candidates running for Governor and any other office feel the same and show support to the working men and women who don’t deserve this type of Corporate attack. All they did was exercise their American right to form a Union and did not expect this type of retribution from the Company they have served so loyally for years,” Fischer added.

Pat Devney, campaign manager for Colin Van Ostern also released a statement in support of the IBEW workers but did not state whether Van Ostern would also skip the debate.

“With a full seven days between now and the debate, we encourage WMUR/Hearst management to sit down with employees and make meaningful and long-overdue progress toward a fair employment agreement.”

“We will continue to monitor negotiations and sincerely hope that progress can be made toward an agreement so that voters will have the opportunity to hear from all candidates about how we can keep New Hampshire moving forward.”

At the time of publication Steve Marchand had not responded to my request for a statement.

Today in labor history for the week of August 22, 2015

 
August 22 Five flight attendants form the Air Line Stewardesses Association, the first labor union representing flight attendants. They were reacting to an industry in which women were forced to retire at the age of 32, remain single, and adhere to strict weight, height and appearance requirements. The association later became the Association of Flight Attendants, now a division of the Communications Workers of America - 1945 Int’l Broom & Whisk Makers Union disbands - 1963 Joyce Miller, a vice president of the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers, becomes first female member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council - 1980 The Kerr-McGee Corp. agrees to pay the estate of the late Karen Silkwood $1.38 million, settling a 10-year-old nuclear contamination lawsuit.  She was a union activist who died in 1974 under suspicious circumstances on her way to talk to a reporter about safety concerns at her plutonium fuel plant in Oklahoma - 1986 Today in labor history for the week of August 22, 2015(The Killing of Karen Silkwood: This is an updated edition of the groundbreaking book about the death of union activist Karen Silkwood, an employee of a plutonium processing plant, who was killed in a mysterious car crash on her way to deliver important documents to a newspaper reporter in 1974. Silkwood’s death at age 28 was highly suspicious: she had been working on health and safety issues at the plant, and a lot of people stood to benefit by her death.) Int’l Longshore & Warehouse Union granted a charter by the AFL-CIO - 1988 August 23 The U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations is formed by Congress, during a period of great labor and social unrest. After three years, and hearing witnesses ranging from Wobblies to capitalists, it issued an 11-volume report frequently critical of capitalism. The New York Herald characterized the Commission's president, Frank P. Walsh, as "a Mother Jones in trousers" - 1912 Today in labor history for the week of August 22, 2015Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, accused of murder and tried unfairly, were executed on this day. The case became an international cause and sparked demonstrations and strikes throughout the world - 1927 Seven merchant seamen crewing the SS Baton Rouge Victory lost their lives when the ship was sunk by Viet Cong action en route to Saigon - 1966 Farm Workers Organizing Committee (to later become United Farm Workers of America) granted a charter by the AFL-CIO - 1966 Today in labor history for the week of August 22, 2015(Farmworker’s Friend: The story of Cesar Chavez is a thoughtful and moving book about the inspiring life of American hero Cesar Chavez, founder and long-time leader of the United Farm Workers of America. This sympathetic portrayal of Chavez and his life’s work begins with his childhood, starting from the time his family’s store in Arizona failed during the Great Depression and his entire family was forced into the fields to harvest vegetables for a few cents an hour. It traces his growth as a man and as a leader, talking of his pacifism, his courage in the face of great threats and greater odds, his leadership and his view that the union was more than just a union, it was a community—una causa.)
Today in labor history for the week of August 22, 2015August 24 The Gatling Gun Co.—manufacturers of an early machine gun—writes to B&O Railroad Co. President John W. Garrett during a strike, urging their product be purchased to deal with the "recent riotous disturbances around the country." Says the company: "Four or five men only are required to operate (a gun), and one Gatling ... can clear a street or block and keep it clear" - 1877 United Farm Workers Union begins lettuce strike - 1970 August 25Today in labor history for the week of August 22, 2015 Birth of Allan Pinkerton, whose strike-breaking detectives ("Pinks") gave us the word "fink" - 1819 Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters founded at a meeting in New York City.  A. Philip Randolph became the union's first organizer - 1925 August 26 Fannie Sellins and Joseph Starzeleski are murdered by coal company guards on a picket line in Brackenridge, Pa. Sellins was a United Mine Workers of America organizer and Starzeleski was a miner - 1919 Today in labor history for the week of August 22, 2015(Sixteen Tons carries the reader down into the dark and dangerous coal mines of the early 1900s, as Italian immigrant Antonio Vacca and his sons encounter cave-ins and fires deep below the earth’s surface.) After three-quarters of the states had ratified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, women win their long struggle for the vote - 1920 With America in the depths of the Great Depression, the Comptroller of the Currency announces a temporary halt on foreclosures of first mortgages - 1932 In what some may consider one of the many management decisions that was to help cripple the American auto industry over the following decades, Ford Motor Co. produces its first Edsel. Ford dropped the project two years later after losing approximately $350 million - 1957 Today in labor history for the week of August 22, 2015 The Women’s Strike for Equality is staged in cities across the U.S., marking the 50th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, under which women won the right to vote.  A key focus of the strike—in fact, more accurately a series of marches and demonstrations—was equality in the workplace.  An estimated 20,000 women participated, some carrying signs with the iconic slogan, “Don’t Iron While the Strike is Hot.”  Another sign: “Hardhats for Soft Broads” - 1970 More than 1,300 bus drivers on Oahu, Hawaii, begin what is to become a 5-week strike - 2003 Today in labor history for the week of August 22, 2015August 27 Some 14,000 Chicago teachers who have gone without pay for several months finally collect about $1,400 each - 1934 President Truman orders the U.S. Army to seize all the nation's railroads to prevent a general strike.  The railroads were not returned to their owners until two years later - 1950 August 28 The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom—the Martin Luther King Jr. "I Have A Dream" speech march—is held in Washington, D.C., with 250,000 participating.  The AFL-CIO did not endorse the march, but several affiliated unions did – 1963Today in labor history for the week of August 22, 2015 (Martin Luther King, Jr., and the March on Washington: Written for 5 to 8 year-olds, this is a very nice introduction to Martin Luther King, Jr., and the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, that watershed event in the fight for civil rights. It uses the March as a point of reference as it talks about segregation in America and the battle for equal rights.)   —Compiled and edited by David Prosten
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