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Labor Leaders Speak At The Democratic National Convention (VIDEO)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Day One Of The DNC, Labor Advocates Push For A Higher Minimum Wage #RaiseItDamnIt

On First Day Of Democratic National Convention, CWA, SEIU Presidents, PA Senate Candidate, L.A. Mayor Call On Congress To Raise the Minimum Wage

CWA President Chris Shelton speaks at #RaiseItDamnIt Event at DNC

CWA President Chris Shelton speaks at #RaiseItDamnIt Event at DNC

National and state advocates launch #RaiseItDamnIt campaign to declare $7.25 is not enough on the 7th anniversary of last increase in the federal minimum wage

As Republicans in Congress block minimum wage increase, 17 states and Washington, D.C., have raised the wage since 2014

PHILADELPHIA — Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton, Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry, Pennsylvania Senate Democratic candidate Katie McGinty, Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, Working Families Party National Director Dan Cantor, Bishop Dwayne Royster and airport worker Onetha McKnight today called for policymakers and businesses to ensure all working people earn a living wage.

Coming on the heels of the most divisive and anti-worker Republican National Convention ever, over 100 advocacy groups, including Center for American Progress, Center for Popular Democracy, Economic Policy Institute, the Fairness Project, National Employment Law Project, the Working Families Party, and others are holding a national day of action on the anniversary of the last increase in the federal minimum wage, currently at $7.25 an hour.  More than 50 canvassers arrived in Philadelphia as the Democratic National Convention began, and actions in states around the country are demonstrating support to #RaiseItDamnIt on social media with a trending hashtag and over 1 million social media impressions so far today. Popular Twitter accounts also tweeted about the day of action, including: @BarackObama, @SenatorReid, @LaborSec, @PattyMurray. and others. The website, RaiseItDamnIt.org, will continue to be the online organizing hub of activity.

“Working families are suffering because, for too long, our elected officials have refused to act. A living wage isn’t a luxury, it’s a right that must be enforced by raising the federal minimum wage,” said CWA President Chris Shelton. 

“All workers deserve $15 an hour and the ability to have a voice on the job by joining a union,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. “This November, working families face a clear choice between Hillary Clinton, who supports our movement, and Donald Trump, who thinks wages are already too high. This election is the most consequential of their lifetime and the stakes could not be higher.”

The last increase to the minimum wage was signed into law in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and supported by Republicans in both the House and Senate. Raising the wage is popular with the American public: 63 percent of Americans support a $15 an hour minimum wage by 2020, and a September 2015 poll found that, by a 3-1 margin, voters are more likely to support political candidates who favor raising the minimum wage.  

“It is time for us to enable our citizens to be able to make a living wage and have the opportunity to thrive,” said Democratic Senate candidate Katie McGinty. “Right now, people making the minimum wage are struggling to get by, and we need to do better for Pennsylvania workers and for workers around the country.” 

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who signed a $15 an hour minimum wage bill into law in Los Angeles in 2015 said, “No American who works hard should be forced to live in poverty. For the 600,000 Angelenos this will affect, the bill is a lifesaver. But we can’t stop until all Americans earn a living wage.”

“There are millions of Americans in states red, blue, and purple who struggle to put food on the table everyday. It’s a national disgrace,” said Dan Cantor, National Director of the Working Families Party. “Politicians should shut out the lobbyists for the 1 percent long enough to hear the truth, and those who can’t should pay the price.”

Four states will also bring minimum wage referendums to their voters this fall, as Colorado today submitted 200,000 signatures, more than twice the required amount, to join Arizona, Maine, and Washington. This comes on the heels of two of the most populous states in the country – California and New York – passing a $15 an hour minimum wage increase, earlier this year.

“As a father, husband, minister and social justice advocate in Philadelphia, I see first-hand how the minimum wage marginalizes people of color and contributes to the cycle of poverty we are stuck in,” said Bishop Dwayne Royster, Founding Pastor of Living Water UCC. “Economic justice must be sought alongside racial justice.”

“I stood with my brothers and sisters on strike to demand what we deserve: a higher wage and access to a union,” said Onetha McKnight, a wheelchair attendant at Philadelphia International Airport. McKnight and her co-workers have been organizing for more than three years and just last week were victorious in their demands for a fair process to form their union and negotiate a living wage

“Because of Republican obstruction, the federal minimum wage has been frozen at just $7.25 for seven years – locking more than 35 million American workers in low-paying jobs. Today, families and voters across the country are saying enough is enough – we need national leadership that will #RaiseItDamnIt,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project Action Fund.

“The call for a higher minimum wage is getting louder all around the country – because it’s getting harder and harder to put food on the table, afford rent, or support a family,” said JoEllen Chernow, Director of Economic Justice at Center for Popular Democracy. “We’ve waited nearly a decade for a meaningful raise, and we simply cannot wait one more. It’s time to give Americans a raise and ensure we support all working families in this country.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

Low Wage Workers Walk Out In A Nationwide Strike For $15 An Hour

Emboldened by Victories in CA, NY, PA, Fast-Food Workers in New Hampshire Walk off Job, One of Record 320 Strikes Nationwide Demanding $15, Union Rights

Image by Rose Lincoln, 1199SEIU on 4-14-15

Image by Rose Lincoln, 1199SEIU on 4-14-15

More than Fast-Food: Home Care, Child Care, Airport, Workers Flood Manchester Protesting against Low Pay, Tax Avoidance by Corporations

Workers across Service Sector Zero In on McDonald’s
as Symbol of What’s Wrong with Economy

Manchester, NH – Emboldened by a historic string of victories for $15/hour from California to New York to Pennsylvania, fast-food, home care, child care, higher education, and other underpaid workers intensified their Fight for $15/hour and union rights in Manchester Thursday. Before sunrise, local fast-food cooks and cashiers walked off the job, part of a nationwide walkout in a record 320 cities.

Holding signs that read, “McJobs Cost Us All” and “McWages Hold Us All Back,” underpaid workers poured into Manchester streets Thursday, stressing – days ahead of Tax Day – that low wages and tax avoidance by companies like McDonald’s are holding back workers and communities across the country. 

Workers zeroed-in on McDonald’s because the world’s second-largest employer and the industry leader in the fast food and service economies is driving a race to the bottom that is undercutting wages across the economy and resulting in nearly 64 million workers being paid less than $15.   

“We need $15 too,” said Nashua worker Rob Mercier, who walked off the job and is paid just $9.25 after 4 years on the job. “Workers in New York and California and Pennsylvania showed that we can win $15 if we stick together, we will win in New Hampshire and every other part of the country too.” 

New Hampshire workers will join thousands of other underpaid workers in Boston for the moment of silence in remembrance of Jeffrey Pendleton, a Manchester, NH Burger King worker and Fight for $15 member who died in police custody in March after he was arrested for a minor offense and could not afford a $100 bail. Each protest will hold a moment of silence for Jeffrey. The Fight for $15 is dedicating the April 14 strike to Pendleton, a vocal proponent for higher pay and union rights, who participated in the first-ever fast-food strike in New Hampshire last month. 

Fast-food, home care, child care, university, airport, retail, building service, and other workers are demanding that McDonald’s change its business model and use its massive economic power to lift up working families across the globe instead of dragging them down.

Nationwide, the Fight for $15 strikes spread beyond the fast-food industry, as hospital workers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and nursing home workers across Florida walked off their jobs. A strike by 40,000 Verizon workers entered its second day Thursday, and walkouts also spilled overseas, as cooks and cashiers at Europe’s second largest McDonald’s, at Disneyland Paris, shut down the store early Thursday morning to demand higher pay and a union. Protests are taking place Thursday in 40 countries spanning six continents. 

Across New York, California and at UPMC, workers who have already won life-changing raises to $15/hour walked off the job Thursday to stress their demand that companies respect their right to join a union without retaliation, and to show support for other underpaid workers across the country who are still fighting for $15/hour. In New York, striking workers prepared for an evening march from the Times Square McDonald’s—where the Fight for $15 began in 2012—across town to a $1,000-a-plate GOP gala featuring Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, all of whom oppose raising wages. In Cleveland, fast-food, home care, and other underpaid workers announced a November ballot initiative to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15/hour.

A ‘Hot Political Issue’

The strike comes as workers have made $15 and union rights a “hot political issue” in the race for the White House, according to the Associated Press.

Everywhere candidates go this primary season, workers in the Fight for $15 have followed closely behind, forcing White House hopefuls to address the demands of the nearly 64 million Americans paid less than $15/hour. Ahead of debates in cities like Milwaukee, Detroit, Flint, Miami, Houston, and Charleston, fast-food workers went on strike for $15 and union rights and marched on the debates, calling on candidates to “come get our vote.” On four occasions in the debates, candidates were pressed by moderators to respond to workers in the Fight for $15, including in November, when the first question directed at GOP candidates asked them to respond to the demands of fast-food workers outside the Milwaukee Theatre demanding $15/hour and union rights. 

The Democratic Party adopted a $15/hour platform, the Democratic candidates for president have lined up in support of the workers in the Fight for $15, and elected leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Kristen Gillibrand back a $15/hour federal minimum wage. It’s a far cry from the situation when the campaign started—when discourse on the economy was limited to talk of debt and deficits and two lone Democrats in Congress (former Sen. Tom Harkin and former U.S. Rep. George Miller) were the only ones brave enough to even call for $10.10/hour. 

$15/Hour: A New Benchmark

The Fight for $15 has built a growing awareness that $15/hour is the minimum wage level American workers in every part of the country need to survive and pay for the necessities to support their families. In addition to statewide increases to $15/hour in New York and California, cities including Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have raised their minimum wage to $15/hour. And home care workers in Massachusetts and Oregon won $15/hour statewide minimum wages. Companies including Facebook, Aetna, Amalgamated Bank, and Nationwide Insurance have raised pay to $15/hour or higher; workers in nursing homes, public schools and hospitals have won $15/hour via collective bargaining; and fast-food workers have ratcheted up pressure on companies like McDonald’s to raise pay to $15/hour. 

Slate, among others, has credited the Fight for $15 with completely rewiring “how the public and politicians think about wages.” MSNBC said the Fight for $15, “entirely changed the politics of the country, and Fortune said the Fight for $15 “transformed labor organizing from a process often centered on nickel-and-dime negotiations with a single employer into a social justice movement that transcends industry and geographic boundaries.”

McDonald’s Under Fire on Both Sides of the Atlantic

The movement is also gaining momentum overseas, as workers across the globe are increasingly joining together to hold McDonald’s accountable. On Thursday, workers in 40 countries on six continents protested at McDonald’s restaurants, with marches in cities ranging from Sao Paolo to Seoul and London to Lagos. 

The global protests come as McDonald’s is facing scrutiny by federal regulators from South America to Europe. Late last year, the European Commission opened an investigation into McDonald’s following allegations by trade unions and NGOs that the company has dodged more than one billion euros in taxes since 2009. In January, Italian consumer groups filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission, alleging exorbitant rents and onerous contracts thrust upon franchisees give the company an unfair advantage.

In March, Brazilian prosecutors said they were investigating alleged “fiscal and economic crimes” committed by McDonald’s, including suspected tax avoidance and violations of Brazil’s franchise and competition laws. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the federal government continues to prosecute its case against the company for violating federal labor laws, charging both McDonald’s and its franchisees with illegally threatening, intimidating, firing and otherwise retaliating against workers who had joined together in the Fight for $15.

Fast-food workers went on strike Thursday in over 300 cities across the country.

SEIU Announces Endorsement Of Hillary Clinton For President

VIDEO: Watch SEIU members speak about why they support Hillary Clinton

WASHINGTON — After a rigorous, months-long member engagement process, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) today endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, calling her a leader who will stand up for the working people building a movement to secure a better future for their families.

“Hillary Clinton has proven she will fight, deliver and win for working families,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. “SEIU members and working families across America are part of a growing movement to build a better future for their families, and Hillary Clinton will support and stand with them. This movement for economic, racial, immigrant and social justice is poised to turn out to vote in November with their families and communities and keep pushing elected officials to deliver once in office.”

“We are endorsing Hillary Clinton because she will stand up for working people like me when she’s in the White House, not the rich and powerful,” said Regina Sutton, a home care worker and member of SEIU Local 2015 in California.

SEIU’s member engagement included a 1,200-member conference in March, three national tele-town hall meetings in which more than 178,000 members participated, three national member polls from the fall of 2014 through the fall of 2015, more than 200 local executive board debates and discussions with thousands of local union officers and elected member leaders and local union member discussions representing 1.2 million SEIU members, which included leadership assemblies, live phone calls, worksite meetings, emails and text messages.

Hillary Clinton will fight to raise wages and has stood up for the rights of workers to join together in a union. She has spoken out in support of the Fight for $15 movement: on the movement’s April 15 national day of action, during the New York wage board fight that resulted in $15 for all fast food workers in the state, for the $15 victories in Los Angeles city and county and again just last week, on Nov. 10, during the biggest day of action yet.

“As cleaners, we roll up our sleeves every day and get the job done without complaint. When Hillary Clinton is president, she will do the same. She will fight tirelessly for working families. I like that she is not running to prove a point, she is running to make our country better,” said Pam Johnston, a cleaner, member of 32BJ SEIU in Pittsburgh and executive board member.

Once elected, Hillary Clinton will have the opportunity to address the epidemic of low wages and poor training standards for our nation’s airport workers, who keep travelers safe and airports clean. “Airport jobs should be good jobs — and together, we can make sure they are,” she wrote to airport workers gathered at a national convention last month in Washington.

Clinton has recognized the value of care work in our nation, particularly the home care providers and child care teachers who help educate our future generations and allow our seniors and those with disabilities to live with dignity at home. In many places, these workers earn poverty wages with no sick or vacation time and few if any benefits. “One of the things I’m trying to do in this campaign is put raising wages at the center,” Clinton said at an August roundtable meeting in Los Angeles with SEIU home care providers. “I think your skills deserve a lot more pay and benefits than what’s currently being made available to you.”

“Hillary Clinton understands that child care teachers need living wages and that the care has to be affordable for people,” said Marites McLean, a child care provider and member of SEIU Local 509 in Massachusetts. “She gets it and she’s going to do something about it.”

Clinton is also a leader on the core issues SEIU members care about in this election, including fighting for commonsense immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship, standing up for voting rights and criminal justice reform that prioritizes ending mass incarceration and supporting and strengthening the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Clinton’s commitment to quality, affordable healthcare goes back decades to her courageous efforts in 1994 to ensure coverage for all. SEIU members know she will fight hard to strengthen the ACA so we never go backward.

“I’m very excited about our endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president,” said Ann Byrne, a member of SEIU Local 199 and nurse at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics. “I’m going to caucus for her, door-knock for her and phone bank for her. As a nurse for 26 years, I know that Hillary Clinton will defend and strengthen the Affordable Care Act so our patients get the care they need.”

SEIU’s 2 million members will join hands with community partners in a broad movement for economic, social, immigrant and racial justice. Along with the 64 million people who work at jobs paying poverty-level wages, they will be a powerful force during the 2016 elections. SEIU members will use their strength at the grassroots and community levels to support the candidates who will stand with them. Hundreds of thousands of face-to-face and door-to-door contacts, millions of phone calls, robust digital engagement and other activities to get out the vote will counteract the efforts of billionaires and corporations to elect leaders who would answer only to the wealthy few.

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

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

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

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

“We are disappointed that at a time when big corporations and the wealthy few are rewriting the rules in their favor, knocking American families and our entire economy off-balance, the Supreme Court has chosen to take a case that threatens the fundamental promise of America—that if you work hard and play by the rules you should be able to provide for your family and live a decent life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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


 

Home Care Workers Celebrate Historic Accord Boosting Caregivers Of Seniors, People With Disabilities

SEIU Home Health Care Workers

BOSTON, MA – Tears of joy streaked the faces of cheering home care workers assembled in their Dorchester union hall on Thursday afternoon as a decades-long struggle for recognition and a living wage culminated in a historic moment of celebration.

According to an agreement reached in contract negotiations between the 35,000 home care workers of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the administration of recently elected Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R), Massachusetts Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) are poised to become the first in the nation to achieve a statewide $15 per hour starting wage.

Upon reaching the agreement, workers called off the fifteen-hour picket they had planned to begin at the Massachusetts State House on the morning of Tuesday, June 30th. Instead, caregivers are planning a celebration of this milestone and nation-leading achievement of a $15 standard at 4:00 p.m. on the State House steps the afternoon of June 30th.

“This victory, winning $15 per hour, it means we are no longer invisible,” said Kindalay Cummings-Akers, a PCA from Springfield, MA. Cummings-Akers cares for a local senior and became a union activist at the onset of the campaign. She was also a member of the statewide PCA negotiating team that reached the agreement with the Baker administration. “This is a huge step forward not just for home care workers, but also toward ensuring the safety, dignity, and independence of seniors and people with disabilities,” she added. “We are a movement of home care workers united by the idea that dignity for caregivers and the people in our care is possible. Today, we showed the world that it is possible.”

“Massachusetts home care workers are helping to lead the Fight for $15 – and winning,” said 1199SEIU Executive Vice President Veronica Turner. “We applaud Governor Baker for helping to forge this pathway to dignity for PCAs and the tens of thousands of Massachusetts seniors and people with disabilities who rely on quality home care services to remain in the community or in the workforce. As the senior population grows, the demand for home care services is increasing. By helping to ensure a living wage for these vital caregivers, Governor Baker is taking a critical step with us toward reducing workforce turnover and ensuring that Massachusetts families can access the quality home care they need for their loved ones.”

“It is a moral imperative that all homecare and healthcare workers receive $15 per hour, and Massachusetts is now a leader in this effort,” said 1199SEIU President George Gresham. “Extreme income inequality is a threat to our economy, our bedrock American values and our very democracy. With a living wage, we can ensure more compassionate care for homecare clients, and better lives for homecare workers and their families. We applaud this bold step by Governor Baker towards a better future for our communities in Massachusetts and our country overall.”

The home care workers’ journey began in 2006 when they banded together with senior and disability advocates to pass legislation giving Personal Care Attendants the right to form a union – a right they previously had been denied because of an obscure technicality in state law.

After passing the Quality Home Care Workforce Act to win that right and introduce other improvements to the home care delivery system in 2007, the PCAs voted to join 1199SEIU in 2008 through the largest union election in the history of New England. 1199SEIU is the fastest-growing and most politically active union in Massachusetts.

Prior to the legislative and organizing campaigns, PCA wages had stagnated for years at $10.84 per hour. In a series of three contracts since forming their union and through several major mobilizations, rallies, and public campaigns, the PCAs achieved a wage of $13.38 on July 1st, 2014.

Last year, the Massachusetts home care workers also united with the burgeoning Fight for $15 movement and the local #WageAction coalition, helping to kick off the $15 wage effort in the Bay State with rallies in Boston, Springfield, and Worcester on June 12th, 2014.

Home care workers took to the streets again on April 14th, 2015 as part of a massive Fight for $15 mobilization that drew thousands to the streets of Boston. That Boston-based action served as the kickoff for similar coordinated protests in more than 200 cities and 50 countries across the globe.

Caregivers say they are excited that the picket action they had planned for their current contract expiration date of June 30th can now serve as a celebration of this achievement and the spirit of cooperation that made it possible.

“This is an inspiring moment for home care workers, but also for our children – and our children’s children,” said a beaming Rosario Cabrera, a home care worker from New Bedford, MA whose children Kendra, age 14, and Daniel, age 12, were with her at the negotiating session as workers cheered the new agreement with the Baker administration. “I am so proud that I can show my children and someday tell my grandchildren that I was part of this moment in history, that I was part of a movement for social justice. We want all home care workers to win $15 per hour – and to do it first in Massachusetts fills us with pride. It is evidence of what people can do when we organize and negotiate in good faith to reach common ground.”

“Not only is this going to help the PCAs, but this is going to help us as consumers because it’s going to be easier to hire an attendant now that they can receive a dignified living wage,” said Olivia Richard, age 31, a paraplegic consumer who lives in Brighton, MA. “In the past, consumer employers have had issues with getting PCAs simply because the wage wasn’t enough. This is going to make a huge difference in our lives, as well.”

In negotiations, workers and the Baker administration reached an agreement extending the current collective bargaining agreement and establishing a commitment that all PCAs statewide will receive a starting rate of at least $15 per hour by July 1, 2018. Workers will receive an immediate .30 cent raise effective July 1, 2015, a portion of which will be paid retroactively once the contract is ratified.

A new round of discussions will then begin no later than January 1, 2016 to solidify details on the series of wage increases that will elevate PCAs to the $15 mark by the agreed upon date of July 1, 2018. Meanwhile, PCAs across the state will vote by mail ballot on ratifying the contract extension and the terms therein, including the commitment to establish a statewide minimum $15 starting rate.

 

Representing more than 52,000 healthcare workers throughout Massachusetts and nearly 400,000 workers across the East Coast, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in America. Our mission is to achieve affordable, high quality healthcare for all. 1199SEIU is part of the 2.1 million member Service Employees International Union.

Over 5,000 Rally In Boston In The #FightFor15, Kicking Worldwide Day Of Action On Wages And Inequality

Massachusetts Kicked Off the Largest Ever
Global Mobilization of Underpaid Workers Protest on Six Continents;
Adjunct Professors, Home Care, Child Care, Transportation, Fast Food, Janitorial, and Walmart Workers to Rally Coast to Coast.

Thousands of underpaid workers frustrated by low wages rallied, walked out in strike, and marched throughout the city of Boston yesterday to call for higher wages and to kick off a global wave of protests against wage inequality. Two-and-a-half years ago Boston was one of the first cities in the Fight for $15 calling for higher wages for fast food workers.  The growing movement has spread across the country, and around the world, and now includes low wage workers from various occupations like home healthcare workers and adjunct professors. Boston became the launching point for the largest ever global mobilization of the underpaid when workers, students, and their supporters took to the streets on Tuesday.

(Time Lapse Video of March by @SEIU)

 

The two-and-half-year-old Fight for $15 has continued to grow on local college campuses as well.  Students from Boston University, Northeastern University, UMass-Boston, UMass-Amherst, Roxbury Community College, Harvard University, Emerson College, Tufts University, Clark University, Lesley University, Boston College, and Brandeis University joined with low wage workers to rally for higher wages.

 

College students are not the only ones who are feeling the pain of low wage jobs, many of the adjunct faculty at these colleges are paid just above minimum wage and are forced to live in poverty. In May of 2014 the Boston Globe reported:

“Nearly 15,000 contingent and adjunct faculty teach in greater Boston. Many work at multiple schools, trying to make enough to support themselves and their families on low pay with no benefits. All have advanced degrees, and many live at or below the poverty level.”

This is why adjunct professors from across the city joined the march and spoke out for higher wages. “We are supposed to be the college professors raising up the next generation,” said one adjunct professor in the video posted by Faculty Forward.

 

A recent Brookings Institution study shows that Boston is the third most inequitable city in the nation, with the top 5 percent of households earning 15 times what the bottom twenty make. Massive income disparity is badly hurting this country and on April 14, low wage workers and their allies will take action to address the growing wage inequality crisis.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts is leading the nation with three groundbreaking pieces of legislation intended to lift up low wage workers.

Home care workers bill

  • Provides $15 an hour to nearly 20,000 workers who provide home care to seniors and people with disabilities through “agency” home care employers.
  • Requires annual cost reporting from home care agencies, including detailed financial disclosures of executive compensation and overhead costs.

Fast food and big box retail workers bill

  • Requires big box retail and fast food corporations to pay their employees at least $15 an hour by 2018.
  • Applies to hourly wage workers at corporate fast food chains and Big Box stores over 25,000 square feet and with 200 or more employees in Massachusetts.

Tipped wage bill

  • Gradually eliminates the subminimum wage for tipped workers.
  • Mandates that after 2022, tipped employees would have the same hourly minimum wage as workers in all other industries in Massachusetts.

Following the global kick off event in Boston on April 14, protests will stretch around the globe the next day, with demonstrations expected in more than 200 U.S. cities, 100 international cities, in 40 countries, and on six continents, from Sao Paolo to Tokyo.  Follow the worldwide events on twitter at the #FightFor15 hashtag

Below are images from yesterday’s rally in Boston, provided by SEIU 1199 Massachusetts. All images were taken by Rose Lincoln, 1199SEIU.  More images and tweets of support for Massachusetts workers can be found on the #WageAction hashtag and on Youtube.

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Coalition Calls For A Reversal Of Texas Ruling Blocking Executive Action On Immigration

Latino American Immigration (Image by LBJ Foundation FLIKR)

(Image by LBJ Foundation FLIKR)

Unprecedented Coalition of Elected Officials, Advocates, Law Enforcement, Business Groups Ask Appellate Court to Reverse Texas Ruling Blocking President’s Immigration Initiatives

Immigration Policy Center logoWashington D.C. – The Texas federal district court order that blocked parts of President Obama’s executive action on immigration was based on unproven or incomplete presentations to the court and should be reversed, civil rights and immigration advocates argue in an amicus (“friend-of-the-court”) brief in the case of State of Texas v. United States. Texas and 25 other states have sued the federal government to stop the implementation of initiatives that will provide temporary relief from deportation, but advocates maintain the President’s actions are legally sound.

Multiple legal briefs defending the deferred action initiatives were filed Monday with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals by a range of advocates, leaders, and elected officials. One of these briefs was filed on behalf of more than 150 civil rights, labor, and immigration advocacy groups, led by the American Immigration Council, National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Si Se Puede - Immigration (Image by Claudia A. De La Garza FLIKR)

(Image by Claudia A. De La Garza  in 2014 FLIKR)

Briefs were also submitted to the court Monday by 15 states and the District of Columbia, 73 mayors, county officials from 27 states, 181 members of Congress, and 109 law professors, law enforcement, faith and business leaders. These briefs discuss the economic and community benefits that will result from expansion of the successful DACA program and the new DAPA initiative for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

“Collectively, the parties in these filings represent more than half of the foreign-born population in our country, which means they have a demonstrated track record of producing inclusive immigration policies,” noted Marielena Hincapié, NILC executive director, during a telephonic press briefing announcing the briefs. “We are confident that we will win because the law is on our side. But we also know that the wheels of justice often move slowly. In the meantime, our message to eligible immigrants and their families is to be patient, continue gathering the necessary documents to apply, save up for the application fee, and don’t lose faith,” added Hincapié.

“We are undeterred and we will continue in this campaign [to realize the start of the DACA and DAPA programs],” added Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. An early signer of the amicus brief by local officials, the mayor said the filing before the appellate court by mayors and counties has twice as many signers as an earlier brief submitted to the Texas district court. Citing the economic and community benefits that would come from allowing immigrants to come out of the shadows, Mayor Hancock added, “This is about our communities. This is about working with those who have chosen to call our cities ‘home.’”

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-CA, said the legal filing by 181 members of Congress argues the Texas court overturned Congress’ decision to give the executive branch authority to set immigration enforcement priorities.

“What the court has done is not only an affront to what the executive has done [in setting priorities] and to the authority we have – well-grounded in law and in precedent – but also an affront to what Congress has done,” Lofgren said. “There are millions of people living in fear, who have made our economy and lived here for decades, whose lives have been turned upside down by an erroneous ruling.”

Some states claimed that the administrative relief will harm them, but the legal briefs argue the judgment was incorrect.

“That is incorrect. The states have to show irreparable harm to get a preliminary injunction; they have not,” Noah Purcell, solicitor general in the Washington State Attorney General’s Office told reporters. “The president’s directives are good for states; they are not harming states.”

The human aspect of the case also was highlighted during Monday’s press call.

 Not 1 More 2014 (Image LBJ Foundatio FLIKR)

Not 1 More 2014 (Image LBJ Foundation FLIKR)

“Although I was disappointed by the news that a federal district judge blocked implementation of DACA expansion, I was not disillusioned,” said Jong-Min You, an immigrant from New York who would be eligible for relief under DACA expansion. “I know that eventually, I will be able to come forward and apply for relief from deportation and work authorization, and I’m not the only one. Other elder Dreamers, along with their parents and millions of others, are ready for the legal battle ahead and for the legal battle to end so that we can finally move forward.”

Rocio Saenz, SEIU international executive vice president, said advocates for expanded DACA and DAPA will never give up.

“The plaintiff states and Republicans who support this lawsuit can ignore the will of their own constituents and immigrants’ contributions, but we will continue to defend the immigration action in the courts. We will continue to fight for immigration reform. We will continue to inform future applicants and make sure that when the time comes – and it will come – that every eligible person applies for the immigration action. We are and will continue to send a strong message to the naysayers, to Republicans who stand in the way of progress: We are not the enemy. But we are ready – ready to fight back, ready for the immigration action, and ready to vote,” Saenz said.

“Amici and the government are clearly on the right side of the law, and we are confident that a stay [of the Texas order] will be granted, hopefully by the Fifth Circuit, one day very soon,” said Melissa Crow, legal director of the American Immigration Council.

A recording of Monday’s press call can be downloaded at http://nilc.org/document.html?id=1222 .

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.”

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