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New Report Shows Non-Union Workers Are Less Likely To Have Paid Time Off

New AFL-CIO Labor Day Report Finds Americans’ Freedom to Spend Time with Family Eroding

Majority Think Unions Key to More Benefits on the Job

The majority of people agree that unions are the key to more benefits at work according to a new poll released today by the AFL-CIO, the Economic Policy Institute and GQRR.  The poll shows some startling results that fewer workers are getting paid time off for holidays and vacations, resulting in less time with their families. The poll also shows strong support for labor unions and that people want the ability to join a union.

Over the last twenty years research has shown that Americans are working more and more every year.  Productivity has gone up exponentially while wages have remained relatively flat.  For some, workers are working longer because they are forced to work two or three jobs, others because their employers expect them to work from home on their weekends.  63% of a people reported that they are taking fewer vacations and have less time off than they ever did in the past.
As workers face longer and longer workdays spending time with their families is becoming harder as many do not have access to paid time off for holidays or vacations.  The report shows that overall 23% of the workforce do not have paid holidays and 24% do not have paid vacations.  Access to paid time off even harder in low wage jobs.  “Among the bottom 10% of earners, 59% do not have access to paid holidays, while among the top 10% of earners, 7% do not have access to paid holidays.”

Share of private-sector workers without paid holidays, by wage group, 2017.

The report shows that if you want to have paid vacations, paid holidays, and overtime when you do work a holiday, it pays to be a union member.

The report showed: “While 78% of all working people polled have Labor Day off, 85% of union members do. Furthermore, 66% of union members receive overtime for working on Labor Day, compared with 38% of nonunion members. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of union members enjoy access to paid vacation, compared with 68% of nonunion members. Finally, 75% of union members have access to paid sick leave, compared with only 64% of nonunion members.”

The majority of American workers credit labor unions for many of the benefits they receive.
“Union workers empowered by the freedom to negotiate with employers do better on every single economic benchmark,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Union workers earn substantially more money, union contracts help achieve equal pay and protection from discrimination, union workplaces are safer, and union workers have better access to health care and a pension.”

The report goes on to talk about how very few working people have access to paid family leave. This is paid time off to take your child to the doctor or stay home when they are ill. “Only a paltry 14% of private-sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employers.” the report stated.

This means that “37 million private-sector workers have no access to paid sick leave at all.”

Union Have Been Good for People by Raising Wages and Helping People Enter the Middle Class

Labor unions continue to push for more working people to have access to paid sick leave and family medical leave.  “Recently, in New Jersey, New York and Washington, D.C., respectively, the AFL-CIO has played lead roles in the fights to expand access to paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave for all working people. Elsewhere, individual unions have been at the forefront of new and ongoing fights in Arizona, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington.”

These ongoing efforts have helped revitalize the labor movement.  The report found that “72% of Americans think unions help people enter the middle class.” They also understand the direct connection between unions and paid holidays and paid time off.

That is probably why 54% said that they would join a union today, IF they had the opportunity.

“This Labor Day, the AFL-CIO will continue to push for an economy that supports work-life balance and ensures every worker has the freedom to spend time with loved ones. Whether it’s strengthening the right to form a union and negotiate for paid time off, expanding paid leave nationwide or rewarding employers that do the right thing, we are committed to advancing commonsense solutions that allow more Americans to enjoy full and happy lives.”

Click here for the transcript of Richard Trumka talking to the Christian Science Monitor about the new report, “Laboring on Labor Day.”

The full “Laboring on Labor Day” report is included below.


Mourn For The Dead, Fight For The Living. A Contrasting View Of Safety In The Workplace


With Workers Memorial Day approaching Sunday April 28 two high-profile safety situations this week have helped further illustrate the gulf  between a union and non-union workplace. Union leaders have called out the Postal Service for being slow in handling one situation while in Texas a completely different regulatory atmosphere turned into a catastrophe.

Postal employees were reminded of the risks in moving the mail.  Ricin tainted letters passed through mail plants in Tennessee, Maryland and Washington DC.  The media reported the story before the USPS told its employees according to the  American Postal Workers Union (APWU). The hope is the Postal Service will communicate faster with employees if a similar problem occurs in the future.

The APWU was displeased with the Postal Service not telling his members sooner about the Ricin tainted letters sent to President Obama and Senator Wicker. Especially considering the deaths of Postal Workers during the Anthrax mailings in 2001 the APWU expected a quicker response.

“It is unacceptable that postal officials did not contact the union immediately to notify us of this potentially deadly hazard,” Union President Cliff Guffey said. “Postal workers have learned through bitter experience of the dangers we face when poisons are sent through the mail.”

“We intend to demand that this lapse be corrected,” Guffey said. “The safety of postal workers must be management’s first concern in an incident like this. Postal workers have a right to be informed immediately and to have the assistance of their union immediately to make sure that everything is being done that can be done to protect their safety!”

Seemingly the Postal Service was slow in handling this. In the big picture the Postal Service preaches safety constantly and OSHA inspectors frequently visit. It can be legitimately questioned if the Postal Service focus on safety is being done for the right reasons, but there is no doubt safety is emphasized. Lets contrast that to the travesty in Texas.

We are learning grim new details of the West Fertilizer Plant fire last week that killed at least 14 people and injured over 200. Astoundingly this plant was last inspected by OSHA in February 1985.

That is right a non-union fertilizer plant next to both a school and a nursing home went over 27 years without a OSHA inspection. The EPA found numerous safety violations 5 years ago but that was never followed up on. What could possibly go wrong in this situation?

OSHA inspectors have been reduced consistently over the past 30 years  and currently there are only 2,200 inspectors for the country’s 8 million workplaces and 130 million workers. So OSHA could be expected to visit each plant every 129 years.  With no union voice workers are not really empowered to make a call on their own. The whole community in West, Texas is now paying the price.

Routinely government leaders side with industry profits  over public safety.  If you are a union worker and contact OSHA they will undoubtedly respond.  Union officials called out the Postal Service for being 2 days late in notification. Contrast that to the 27 year delay in Texas. If you are a non-union worker and you report a violation most likely your next call will be to the State Unemployment Office.

With Workers Memorial Day being later this week its time for our Congress and Administration to address worker safety. People somehow have to be placed above profits.



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