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Labor Reacts to Selection of Tim Kaine

https://www.flickr.com/photos/bnwklr/16038546189

Richard Trumka photo by Ben Wikler via Flickr Creative Commons

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

“The AFL-CIO supports Hillary Clinton’s selection of Tim Kaine as her running mate. Tim Kaine is the son of an ironworker and a teacher, and is grounded in the values of working people.

“He has a strong record on workers’ issues, ranging from raising the minimum wage to securing equal pay for equal work.  He has always been a strong leader and will be an asset to the ticket. He is moral and honest and true to the values he espouses. Clinton – Kaine is a winner for America.”


Mary Kay Henry by The Leadership Conference via Flickr Creative Commons

Mary Kay Henry photo by The Leadership Conference via Flickr Creative Commons

SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry:

“For working families, the 2016 election is the most consequential of our lifetimes. The stakes couldn’t be higher – nor the contrast starker – on all of the issues our families need to get ahead. In choosing Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton has tapped as her running mate the right partner to move our country forward and build a better future for all families by rebalancing our economy and democracy to work for everyone, not just greedy corporations and wealthy special interests.

“Tim Kaine is an experienced leader with a proven track record on issues from raising wages to immigration reform and racial justice. He has voted and fought for higher wages, and ensured home care workers had the ability to stand together in a union. His Senate record shows that working families have been his priority as he has worked to expand child care, protect voting rights, address mass incarceration, preserve the Affordable Care Act, and promote opportunities for women and immigrants. He was the first person ever to deliver a speech on the Senate floor entirely in Spanish, and it was to demand action on commonsense immigration reform with a path to citizenship.

“Above all, we know what is in Tim Kaine’s heart. He is someone who is the son of an ironworker and a teacher, who served as a Catholic missionary, whose first case out of law school was representing at no cost a Black woman who had been the victim of housing discrimination. Tim Kaine’s convictions are rooted in justice for all.

“Together, Clinton and Kaine will stand with working families who have come together in the broadest modern grassroots movement to raise wages and protect opportunities for people to join together in 21st-century unions; increase access to affordable care for our children and aging parents; and advance racial, immigrant and environmental justice for all communities across our country.  SEIU members will continue to come out in record numbers across the country to elect Clinton and Kaine as the next president and vice president of the United States.”


Randi Weingarten

Randi Weingarten

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten:

“The choice of Tim Kaine, the son of a welder who has lived middle-class values and has a long track record of progressive accomplishments, reiterates Hillary Clinton’s commitment to building a government that will level the playing field for working families. While the GOP ticket masks irrational ideas behind a morally bankrupt message of fear, bigotry and hatred, a Clinton-Kaine ticket will be focused on helping people see higher wages, lower student debt, good jobs, successful public schools, and safety and security here and abroad.

“The contrasts between a Clinton-Kaine ticket and a Trump-Pence ticket couldn’t be more stark. Donald Trump, the narcissist, believes that he alone can fix our nation’s problems and peddles fear in a campaign devoid of facts, plans or humanity. Clinton and Kaine choose to confront fear and solve problems, and they will use their vast experience to help ensure the American dream is within reach for everyone.

“Strong public education runs deep in the Kaine household. In the U.S. Senate, he took the lead on supporting career and technical education programs in the new federal education law, and he has fought for funding to modernize public school buildings. And as Virginia’s governor, he expanded pre-K programs by 40 percent. His wife, Anne Holton, has been dedicated to fighting for great public schools for decades—she helped integrate Richmond, Va., public schools as a child and today is Virginia’s secretary of education.

“Our nation and the world can feel confident that the Clinton-Kaine ticket will be a great leadership team that will work to break down walls, disarm hate, and make educational and economic opportunity a reality.”

SEIU’s Henry: Anti-Worker Bill Proves Scott Walker Thinks Wisconsin Families Are The Enemy

SEIU LogoWASHINGTON- In response to today’s signing of anti-worker legislation by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry issued the following statement:

“It’s never been clearer that Scott Walker perceives Wisconsin’s working families to be the enemy. Working people want the freedom to join together to fight for better wages and working conditions–but Scott Walker has acted to curtail that freedom.

“Scott Walker encouraged his out-of-touch legislative allies to rush this bill through despite thousands of working women and men protesting and pleading to be heard.

“This legislation not only demonizes working people–union and nonunion alike–it will hit everyone in the pocketbook with lower wages and an economy that’s thrown out of balance.

“The working people of Wisconsin are going to keep fighting, and you’re either with them or you’re not. We’ll continue to stand with Wisconsin families. Scott Walker is on the other side, with the greedy CEOs, the special interests and the wealthy few.

“For 40 years, right-wing politicians like Scott Walker have led an attack on working people in this country. What do regular people have to show for all of these anti-union, trickle-down schemes? Low wages and layoffs. In fact, the company where Scott Walker signed this legislation shifted jobs from Wisconsin to Mexico.

“Just a few days ago, Scott Walker compared working people in Wisconsin to ISIS terrorists and Vladimir Putin, comments for which he should apologize. But at least we got an honest take from him: he thinks Wisconsin families are the enemy. It’s no wonder that he has signed this horrible bill.”

The AFL-CIO and SEIU Respond To Congressmen Ellison And Lewis’ Legislation To Make Unions A Civil Right

Yesterday Representatives Keith Ellison (D-MN) and John Lewis (D-GA) introduced legislation to make it easier for workers to organize and form unions.  They are making changes to the National Labor Relations Act the would make the formation of unions a civil right.

Here is a great introduction to the bill from the Washington Examiner:

“Ellison and Lewis’ legislation would dramatically expand the powers individual workers have under the act by allowing them to sue their employer in federal court under the Civil Rights Act.

The bill would also entitle workers filing lawsuits “to remedies like punitive and compensatory damages,” according to a Tuesday press release.

Currently most unfair labor practice complaints go through the National Labor Relations Board, which was created expressly for that purpose. Some labor disputes are handled by a second entity, the National Mediation Board. Big Labor has long complained the process is too slow.”

Read the full article.

After Representatives Keith Ellison and John Lewis introduced the “Employee Empowerment Act,” Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement:

“This important piece of legislation introduced today by Representatives Ellison and Lewis is emblematic of their deep commitment to workers’ rights and steadfast opposition to discrimination and intimidation anywhere, particularly at the workplace. The bill gives employees whose labor rights are violated the same legal remedies as those whose civil rights are violated at the workplace.

“Too often, employees seeking to unite with their co-workers to demand better wages, benefits and workplace safety provisions face aggressive and often illegal anti-union campaigns coordinated by their employer. Intimidation, illegal firings, wrongful discipline and other tactics aimed at breaking workers’ will are commonplace when they seek to join together on the job.

“Along with Representatives Ellison and Lewis, we believe that workers have the right to stick together and that there are powerful interests dead set on stripping them of that right. In order for workers to be heard, it’s often necessary to band together so companies take them seriously. Too many employers try to prevent this so they can limit workers’ power. Collective bargaining enables employees unite as a group so they can speak with a more powerful voice.

“We thank Representatives Ellison and Lewis for their leadership and hope that House leadership will take up this bill without delay.”

After the announcement  AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released the following statement on Employee Empowerment Act:

Once again, Representatives Keith Ellison and John L. Lewis are leading in the fight to improve the lives of millions of hardworking Americans. The Employee Empowerment Act represents a crucial step towards ensuring that all workers are able to organize without the threat of retaliation and that workers will have full recourse available to them when employers interfere with their rights.

Eighty years ago, Congress made it the policy of the U.S. government to encourage the practice of collective bargaining – not just to tolerate it, but to expand it. Our economy was built on workers forming unions and engaging in collective bargaining. Further strengthening these rights is important to economic fairness. We need comprehensive changes to the law to strengthen workers’ collective bargaining rights, and the Employee Empowerment Act is an important piece of those reforms. By beefing up the remedies for workers who face discrimination or retaliation by their employers for trying to form or join a union, the bill strengthens worker protections and puts remedies under our labor laws on par with our civil rights laws. This helps better protect workers’ rights to organize and, when passed, will benefit workers and our entire economy.

Home Care Workers Vow to Stand Up for Good Jobs and Quality Home Care in Wake of Harris v. Quinn Ruling

Caregivers to Work with States and Consumers to Ensure a Strong Voice for Care

WASHINGTON, DC – Home care workers and consumers are ready to stand up for quality home care in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Harris v. Quinn today.

“No court case is going to stand in the way of home care workers coming together to have a strong voice for good jobs and quality home care,” said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry. “At a time when wages remain stagnant and income inequality is out of control, joining together in a union is the only proven way home care workers have of improving their lives and the lives of the people they care for.”

The ruling places at risk a system of consumer-directed home care in Illinois that has proven successful in raising wages, providing affordable health care benefits, and increasing training. The number of elderly Americans will increase dramatically in the coming years. States need to build a stable, qualified workforce to meet the growing need for home care—and having a strong union for home care workers is the only approach that has proven effective.

“I count on my home care provider for so much—I wouldn’t be able to work or get through the day without her,” said Rahnee Patrick, a home care consumer and advocate from ACCESS Living in Chicago.” “I’m worried that I could lose her if her wages and benefits don’t keep up with the cost of living.”

The case was brought by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an extreme anti-worker group whose funders include billionaires like Charles Koch and the Walton family. It is the latest in a decades-long attack on the rights of working people to join together to improve their jobs and the quality of services they provide.

“They are trying to divide us and limit our power, but we won’t stop standing together for our families and our consumers” said Flora Johnson, a home care provider from Chicago. “Before we formed our union, I made less than $6 an hour, but by uniting we are set to make $13 an hour by the end of the year. I know from experience that we are stronger together.”

“For our parents and grandparents to get the care they need to live at home, workers need a strong voice in a union,” Henry said. “I know that Flora Johnson other SEIU members are determined to keep up the fight to end poverty wages and ensure quality care.”

After SCOTUS Destroyed The Voting Rights Act, Labor Leaders Call On Congress To Protect Voters

“The right to vote is precious and almost sacred, and one of the most important blessings of our democracy,” wrote Rep. John Lewis. “Today we must be vigilant in protecting that blessing.”

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

 

The 1960’s were a tumultuous time in America, especially for Americans of color. The battle for civil rights was being played out in city streets across the country. The evening news was full of demonstrations and rallies where people were gathering to fight for equality, and to be allowed their Constitutionally protected right to participate in our democracy.

Demonstrations, walkouts and sit-ins led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Both laws pushed America in new bold new direction, working to ensure everyone has a voice in our democracy. For decades Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act, to ensure that everyone, regardless of color, had the right to vote.

Yesterday was the first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Shelby County v. Holder, which severely undermined the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court ruling threatened the voting rights of millions of Americans.

Rep John Lewis

Congressman John Lewis

“Today, the Supreme Court stuck a dagger into the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most effective pieces of legislation Congress has passed in the last 50 years,” said Congressman John Lewis after the Supreme Court ruling in 2013.

“Our country has changed,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. “While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”

Representative Lewis continued, “I disagree with the court that the history of discrimination is somehow irrelevant today. The record clearly demonstrates numerous attempts to impede voting rights still exist, and it does not matter that those attempts are not as “pervasive, widespread or rampant” as they were in 1965. One instance of discrimination is too much in a democracy.”

“Despite the Court’s opinion, voter discrimination based on race is not a thing of the past—it is a current reality that persists to this day,” said Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). “We saw efforts to disenfranchise African American and Latino voters in the 2012 election cycle in Texas, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and elsewhere – but voters there were protected by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. In the wake of the Shelby decision, many of these jurisdictions rushed to implement new laws in time for the 2014 election cycle – the same unfair and discriminatory voting practices that had been rejected by the Department of Justice and the Federal Courts under the Voting Rights Act.

After the Supreme Court ruling, a handful of states moved quickly to push new “Voter ID” laws that have notoriously disenfranchised voters of color. Texas also rammed through their new gerrymandered districts that, prior to this decision, would have required a pre-clearance from the Department of Justice.

“Since 2010, 22 states have passed new voting restrictions that make it more difficult to vote,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy said, citing a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice. “Of the 11 states with the highest African-American turnout in 2008, seven of those have new restrictions in place.”

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on Senator Leahy’s bill to restore the Voting Rights Act.

“In the audience for Wednesday’s hearing was Ernest Montgomery, a member of the Calera City Council in Alabama and one of several black residents who intervened in the Shelby County lawsuit to try to protect pre-clearance. He said any update to the Voting Rights Act should restore pre-clearance for Alabama.” (Burlington Free Press)

“It would make our state leaders much more cautious about having any more violations and make sure we do the right thing,” Montgomery said.

After a year of waiting, and the unparalleled attacks on voting rights, we have seen a renewed effort for Congress to pass a new Voting Rights Act.

“That is why Members of Congress must come together and develop a fix to the Voting Rights Act – as the Court’s majority opinion recommended – that protects all Americans’ right to vote, regardless of who they are and where they live,” Henry stated. “We are hopeful that Congress can work together to restore the protections against racial discrimination that the Voting Rights Act is meant to provide for all Americans.”

“Fully restoring the Voting Rights Act is one of the only ways to give every American the fundamental right to participate in our democracy. Today’s bipartisan hearing on the Voting Rights Amendment Act is the first step in the fight to restore voting rights, the lifeblood of our democracy,” stated Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers.

“Our elected leaders should do everything in their power to make our democracy more accessible,” continued Weingarten. “Sadly, the Shelby decision and other state measures have made it easier for monied interests to have a voice and harder for those who have been historically disenfranchised.”

“The right to vote is precious and almost sacred, and one of the most important blessings of our democracy,” wrote Rep. John Lewis. “Today we must be vigilant in protecting that blessing.”

“As we approach another election, we must join together and reclaim the promise of our democracy, reverse the Shelby decision and enact meaningful protections at the ballot box,” concluded Weingarten.

AFT created a petition calling for action from the US House on a new Voting Rights Act.

Will Congress do the right thing to protect the voting rights of millions of Americans, or will they continue to sit there, with their hands over their eyes, pretending that people of color are not being refused their Constitutional right to vote?

SEIU’s President Henry And 100 Workers Arrested at McDonald’s Shareholders’ Meeting

SEIU Protest TWITTER

Image from @SEIU on Twitter

WASHINGTON, DC – Following her arrest at the McDonald’s shareholders’ meeting outside of Chicago, Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement:

“Earlier today, I was arrested outside of McDonald’s world headquarters alongside more than 100 McDonald’s workers from across the country because we engaged in a peaceful, nonviolent act of civil disobedience.

“I was arrested because I want McDonald’s workers to know that 2.1 million members of SEIU — home care workers, child care workers, adjunct professors, security officers, hospital workers and many others — proudly stand with them.

“We came to McDonald’s world headquarters because this is where the real decisions are made. It’s time for the McDonald’s corporation to stop hiding behind its franchisees and to stop pretending that it can’t boost pay for the people who make and serve their food. It’s time for this company to stop systematically stealing its employees’ wages. McDonald’s is the world’s second largest private sector employer. It is extraordinarily profitable. It has an obligation to pay the people who run its stores enough to afford their basic needs.

“Members from across our union tell me over and over that they fully support fast food workers’ call for a $15 wage floor and their right to form a union without retaliation. When these workers win, they will boost their families’ purchasing power and that will strengthen the economy for all of us. They will show that workers can stick together and fight to make sure they are paid a fair share of the profits they create.”

The “Fight For Fifteen” Spurs Protests Around The World

photoYesterday hundreds of workers across the country walked off the jobs in protest, demanding higher wages from their multi-billion dollar restaurant employers.

Workers from McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC and other restaurants participated in a national day of action calling for a $15 wage and the ability to form and join unions.

The USA Today posted a great article highlighting some of the events across the country.

“At the end of the day, there is more than enough money to pay these workers $15 an hour,” says Kendall Fells, 34, the leader of Fast Food Forward, who marched with the protesters in New York.”

McDonalds workers in Orlando were treated to a refreshing shower when the McDonalds management turned on their laws sprinklers.

In an ironic twist, McDonalds violated local water ordnances when they turned the sprinklers on the protesters.

(See an additional image on Instagram of what appears to be the manager turning on the sprinkler)

“Working families everywhere are inspired by the spirit and the courage of fast food workers who are striking today in over 150 cities,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.  “Every worker deserves fair wages and the right to form a union without retaliation because no one who works full time should struggle to support their family. That’s why the ‘Fight for Fifteen’ movement is growing bigger and protests are happening across America and six different continents. The message is clear: corporations should pay their employees fair wages and Congress should act so no one gets left behind. Only then will we have an economy that works for all working people.”

In a show of solidarity, workers around the world went of strike with US workers.

The USA Today reports:

“In Europe, Lorenz Keller, who works for the Swiss trade union Unia, said that union members were protesting at several McDonald’s stores in Zurich and planned actions in Geneva.

Banner-waving activists in New Zealand were the first to hit the streets on Thursday, at a McDonald’s in Auckland.

In the Philippines, young protesters held a singing and dancing flash mob inside a McDonald’s on Manila’s Quezon Avenue during the morning rush-hour.

In South Korea, activists gathered outside a McDonald’s in Seoul, including one protester dressed as Ronald McDonald.

In Japan, co-organizer Manabu Natori, who tried but failed to find a Ronald costume in time, was encouraged by the public response to the minimum-wage protest outside a downtown Tokyo McDonald’s.”

Fast Food Forward organized the worldwide walkout in conjunction with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).  After the protests SEIU President Mary Kay Henry released the following statement:

Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times

Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times

“The fast food worker movement is a story about hope. It gets bigger as each month goes by because a growing number of Americans are worried about finding jobs that pay enough to live on.

“Americans know that it’s wrong that so many families have no financial security, no matter how hard they work. 

“Americans know that inequality is destabilizing the economy. Communities are out of balance because of the falling wage floor.

“These workers are fighting for $15 per hour because that’s a wage that will allow them to cover their basic needs and help lift our entire economy. By putting more money into the pockets of workers in fast-growing service sector jobs, we can get our economy moving again and rebuild the middle class.

“The movement continues to gain support and these workers are determined to fight for a better life and to stick together in a union. We are all better off when people whose work makes their companies profitable share in the success their work creates.”

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry On SOTU


“It should not fall only on the president and Congress to make sure workers earn a decent wage. Our business leaders have a responsibility to help close the growing income gap, especially in an era of record profits.” – Mary Kay Henry, President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Image by Chet Susslin  From National Journal

Image by Chet Susslin
From National Journal

WASHINGTON, DC – After President Obama delivered his 2014 State of the Union address, Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) issued the following statement:

“In his address tonight, President Obama made clear that he believes economic inequality to be the defining issue of our time. It threatens the state of our union and I applaud the president for beginning a broader discussion about how we achieve shared prosperity.

“One step forward is the president’s proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Bills exist in Congress that would raise the wage and we hope they are taken up and passed as soon as possible. We need to end the new ‘normal’ of workers stringing together low-wage jobs with no benefits that can’t support a family. As President Obama said tonight, ‘the best measure of opportunity is access to a good job.’

“In addition, requiring federal contractors to pay their workers $10.10 is another step forward and we are encouraged that the president will use his executive authority to make it happen. When American jobs and livelihoods depend on getting something done, the president shouldn’t have to wait for Congress.

“While raising these wages is a good start, it won’t solve the problem by itself. The best way for workers to thrive is by bargaining with their employers for better wages and a shot at a better future. However, it should not fall only on the president and Congress to make sure workers earn a decent wage. Our business leaders have a responsibility to help close the growing income gap, especially in an era of record profits.

“Simone Sonnier-Jang, a fast food worker from Los Angeles who sat in the House gallery tonight, is one of thousands of workers around the country calling attention to the crisis of low wages. Workers like her are making their voices heard and demanding $15 an hour and the right to form a union.

“Also of critical importance to achieving shared prosperity is action on commonsense immigration reform. The time is now – actually, it’s past due. Both sides need to come together to pass immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship and we urge the president to keep the pressure on lawmakers to pass real reform so that 11 million people can come out of the shadows and participate fully in our democracy.

“It’s important to note how important affordable health care is for Americans’ economic security. That’s why protecting the Affordable Care Act should remain a priority for this Congress.”

SIEU President Mary Kay Henry Goes On The Colbert Report

The Internet is a wonderful place.  If you miss something your friends will definitely let you know.  To prove my point, I must have seen this clip from the Colbert Report go by on Facebook, Twitter, and every other social media I monitor at least a dozen times before I finally clicked on it.

The clip is of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Mary Kay Henry discussing why the SEIU is helping the fast-food workers strike for better wages and benefits.

Even though we all know Steven Colbert is a political ‘lefty’ his show presents it from the hardcore right perspective.  The interview begins with the most common myth about fast food workers. He asked why are “low wage workers striking, they are just teenagers.”
This is the same statement that every opponent to a living wage uses.  That may have been the case 30 years ago when America was full of good middle class jobs.  That is not the case anymore.  Mary Kay Henry said  “28 years old.”  That’s right the average age of a low-wage restaurant worker in 28 years old.

Here are some of the other notable moments from the interview:
We are proud to stand with the fast food workers who are asking corporation making record profits to pay them a living wage.” – Mary Kay Henry

$5.5 Billion dollars in profits at McDonalds just this past year, workers are working hard and cannot make ends meet.” – Mary Kay Henry

We cannot have a strong economic recovery if workers do not have money in their pockets so they can buy goods and services so that those companies can hire more people and we can have an economy that works for everyone in this company not just the corporations.” – Mary Kay Henry

However my favorite line of the interview comes from Steven Colbert.  Every word is just dripping with snark and sarcasm.

“You have heard Fast Food called a guilty pleasure.  Part of the guilt I feel is because I know they are being treated so poorly.”

Mary Kay Henry summed it all up perfectly when she closed with:

“People should be able to work hard, get by, and get ahead. That is the promise we made to every worker in this country”

The Colbert Report

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