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Amy Poehler And Tipped Workers Call For One Fair Wage in NY

 Cuomo can cut sexual harassment in 1/2 in restaurant industry by raising the subminimum wage for workers, 82% of NY restaurant workers report being harassed

Coalition of allies include other tipped and low-wage workers, nail salon technicians, car wash workers

NEW YORK, NY – On Tuesday, tipped wage workers joined actor/producer and former waitress/server, Amy Poehler, at a marquee event with labor leaders and elected officials to call for One Fair Wage in New York. Restaurant servers, nail salon technicians, and car wash workers shared their personal stories about economic instability, including their #MeToo experiences, and how it’s #TimesUp on the subminimum wage.

One Fair Wage is a national campaign to bring New York in line with seven other states that pay tipped workers their state’s general minimum wage on top of their tips. In New York, tipped workers make a subminimum wage ranging from $7.50 – $8.65, relying on tips to bring them up to the state’s general minimum wage, which ranges from $10.40 – $13.00, depending on the region. One Fair Wage states have more robust wages, sales, establishment, and employment growth than their counterparts, and workers report significantly lower rates of harassment.

In his January State of the State address, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the NYS Department of Labor will hold hearings to examine establishing One Fair Wage. Hearings have been scheduled for March-June.

“In many cities and for many years I worked for tips as a waitress to support myself. This is why I stand with workers for One Fair Wage in New York. We shouldn’t have to sacrifice our economic stability in order to preserve our self-respect. Time’s up on profiting off of women while refusing to pay them a fair wage,” said Amy Poehler, actor/producer and former waitress/server.

“The current broken two-tiered wage structure in New York puts women restaurant workers at the mercy of their customers and co-workers,” said Saru Jayaraman, President and Co-Founder of ROC United, and author of Behind the Kitchen Door: The People Who Make and Serve Your Food. “With just a small change in policy, Governor Cuomo can cut sexual harassment in half for a majority female workforce, without sacrificing economic growth. One fair wage is good for workers and good for business.”

Jayaraman recently appeared on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher to discuss the issue, and attended the Golden Globes with Amy Poehler as part of the #TimesUp campaign to end sexual harassment across industries.

“Tipped workers, who are majority female and disproportionately women of color, receive a lower minimum wage and struggle with economic instability and sexual harassment. This two tiered wage system is a legacy of slavery and must be abolished. New York needs to  put an end to the subjugation of women, and workers of color in particular, by establishing One Fair Wage now,” said Erika Alexander, actress and activist.

With nearly 13 million employees, the restaurant industry is the single-largest source of sexual harassment charges filed by women with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), with a rate twice that of the general female workforce. According to the EEOC since 2010 (and as of 6/2016) ‘employees have filed 162,872 charges alleging harassment’ with employers paying out $698.7 million in penalties. There are 395,680 tipped workers in New York, 76% of whom work in the restaurant industry, and 82% report being harassed on the job.

Seventy percent of restaurant servers are women, who experience a disproportionate amount of sexual harassment as a result of the broken two-tiered wage system. Relying on tips to make a living wage forces workers to tolerate sexual harassment from customers in return for “gratuities,” and they often receive additional pressure from management to dress in a revealing way to attract larger tips.

“When I was a server, I was sexually harassed repeatedly, like when a male customer once said to me, ‘hey big titty black girl, got enough milk in those jugs for my coffee?’ I reported it to my manager, but he told me to suck it up. I refused and kept complaining, so he gave me fewer shifts and eventually forced me out. Women should not have to use our bodies to serve food to put food on our own tables, and that’s why I support One Fair Wage,” said Shanita Thomas, restaurant worker and member leader at ROC United.

“My income naturally fluctuates when working for tips. So I enter each shift trying to make as many tips as possible by catering to customers as much as I can, which often means I have to put up with sexual harassment. No worker should be forced to have to fake giggle to a customer who has had one too many or put up with customers who make lewd comments about my “sexy” body to earn a living. Unfortunately management plays into this behavior, often encouraging workers to double down on their sex appeal. I used to work in an establishment that exclusively hired female servers, and at staff meetings we were blatantly told to wear more makeup. One Fair Wage has a unique effect on restaurant servers because it frees workers’ dependence on subjecting themselves to sexual harassment in order to secure a livable wage,” said Gemma Rossi, New York City restaurant worker for 15 years.

“As a Manhattan restaurant owner, anti-sexual harassment trainings and increasing the wages of our servers and kitchen staff has made my business stronger, my employees happier and less stressed in their environment, and everyone’s livelihoods stabler and more secure. As a result, our low turnover rate is the envy of our peers: while the national average is 70% per year, ours is less than 10%. One Fair Wage has done wonders for California’s restaurant industry. It can do the same for New York State,” said James Mallios, owner of Amali restaurant.

“Why do we want one fair wage? Because our industry is different in that it varies during seasons. During winter time business goes down and there aren’t enough clients coming in, which means not enough tips to even make minimum wage. If we don’t have a stable wage, we are unable to pay our bills, rent, we can’t provide a good education for our kids. We need a different system… We need there to be a change in order for our industry to be better and the workers can have a dignified and healthy life. We need something different, something new, a way to transform our industry because right now we are exposed to a lot of wage theft so we need this change in order for us to have economic stability,” said Araceli, nail salon worker and member of the NY Nail Salon Worker Association

“It is painful for me to watch my husband get up so early to go to a job that pays poverty wages,” said Federica Martinez, wife of a car wash worker. “It’s not right that he makes a subminimum wage because of the trip credit rule. This is not just about car wash workers. We all have a stake in making sure everyone gets the wage they deserve.”

Sexual Harrassment and Tipped Work

According to a 2014 study conducted by ROC United, a key leader in the One Fair Wage campaign, women dependent on tips are twice as likely to experience sexual harassment than women who aren’t. A 2016 follow-up study in D.C. found that over 90% of restaurant workers surveyed experienced some form of sexualized behavior while at work. A similar 2016 study in Boston found that 35% of tipped workers had been sexually harassed by customers, over twice as many as other workers in the same survey.

Restaurant workers of all genders report harassing behavior:

·      66% from restaurant management

·      78% from customers.

·      80% from co-workers (cooks and back of house staff)

·      37% of tipped workers are mothers

·      18% are single mothers

Many restaurant workers tolerate harassment from customers so that customers pay tips, as well as being harassed from managers to get better tips by “dressing sexy” or who ask for sexual favors in exchange for better shifts, and from colleagues (cooks and back-of-house) staff who make the food that customers base their tips on. A shocking example: a manager or colleague will grope a female server. If the server says no, managers will give servers punitive shifts (morning shifts when there are fewer customers) or cooks will purposely mess up food that will make customers unhappy.

NY vs. One Fair Wage States

  • In New York over 17% of tipped workers of color live in poverty, twice the rate of the overall workforce.

  • OFW would reduce food stamp usage by 22% in New York.

  • In OFW states poverty rates are 10% lower than in New York

  • In OFW states full service restaurants opened and operated at a rate nearly double that of New York, which only had an increase of 4.88%.

  • In OFW states, the median wage for restaurant tipped workers is $11.44, compared to $10.88 in New York.

  • Tipped-wage workers in OFW states report making as much, or more, in tips than tipped-wage workers in New York.

  • The average tip rate in New York is 15.6%.

  • Restaurant employment rates are equal or higher in OFW states. From 2011-2016, full service restaurant employment (FSRE) grew by 20.4%, compared to 20.13% in New York.

  • New York, home to one of the largest restaurant industries in the country, had a projected restaurant sales increase of 3.6%, a rate lower than the individual rates of 6 of the 7 OFW states.

  • The National Restaurant Association predicts that the industry will add 1.6 million jobs over the next nine years, helping boost New York’s restaurant workforce by 6.1%

  • Over 80% of tipped restaurant workers in New York experience sexual harassment at work, and over half report that this is a weekly or daily occurrence.

  • Only 42% of workers surveyed reported that employers ensured their wages were brought up to the regular minimum wage.

  • Most tipped workers participate in a tip pool; the vast majority of workers has no say in the allocation of tips, and many do not know how tips are allocated.

  • Tipped workers experience wage theft associated with the tipped wage system both due to misapplication of service charges and failure to pay overtime.

Additional Information

In his January State of the State address, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the NYS Department of Labor will hold hearings to examine raising the subminimum wage and establishing One Fair Wage in New York, saying:

“New York continues to be a national leader in fighting for justice for working men and women, and by providing a platform for New Yorkers’ concerns to be heard, we are furthering our efforts to deliver fair wages for all. I am urging those impacted by this proposal to register, attend a hearing, and help us move this state one step closer toward a better, more just New York.”

Hearings have been scheduled for March-June.

The ONE FAIR WAGE Coalition includes: Adhikaar for Human Rights and Social Justice, A Better Balance, AlignNY, Citizen Action of New York, Community Service Society, Enlace, Food Chain Workers Alliance, Judson Memorial Church, Make the Road New York, Metro Justice, National Employment Law Project, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, New Economy Project, NY Communities for Change, NY Healthy Nail Salons Coalition, NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, Planned Parenthood of NYC, PowHerNY, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, ROC-NY, RWDSU, SEPA Mujer, Tompkins County Workers Center, Women’s Equality Party, Women’s Organizing Network, Workers United NY NJ, 32BJ SEIU.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin: NH Retirement System and Gutting The Department Of Labor

February 20, 2018 – Bow, NH

A busy week in the State House, though a relatively quiet one when it comes to legislation of direct concern to AFT-NH. In terms of actual legislation, the Senate passed SB 441, which requires school districts to create policies upholding the finality of grades assigned by teachers. Except in limited cases (technical or clerical error), this would make teacher-assigned grades the final word, preventing administrators from altering grades of athletes or certain vociferous parents. Consider it a rare recognition of the professionalism of our public school teachers!

SB 441 now moves onto the House, which on Thursday upheld via voice vote the recommendation of the Labor Committee that HB 438 be rejected (“inexpedient to legislate” is the formal term).   HB 438 would have prohibited any public employer from withholding voluntary union dues. There was no substantive reasoning offered for such a prohibition, and the House acknowledged the sagacity of the Labor Committee in rejecting the bill. A similar bill, HB 1803, would bar any withholding by public employers for any non-governmental entities. The bill had its hearing in front of the Executive Departments and Administration Committee this past week, and featured testimony from United Way, labor unions, and other organizations who utilize payroll deduction by public employers. HB 1803, along with a number of bills concerning the NH Retirement System, has now been sent to a subcommittee hearing to be held on Tuesday, February 20, before coming back before the entire committee for a vote and final recommendation to the House. Similarly, HB 1754, to restructure the NH Retirement System into a direct contribution system, has had its hearing and work session in the Executive Departments and Administration committee, and awaits a final committee recommendation to the House. Based on the hearing as well as the report of the Decennial Commission on the NH Retirement System, we hope and expect the committee to recommend that HB 1754 be deemed “inexpedient to legislate.” We will keep you posted. Please be sure to read the latest NH Retirement Security Coalition Legislative Recap to monitor all retirement bills.

Elsewhere, the Labor Committee held a two-hour hearing on HB 1762, which would gut the Department of Labor’s ability to enforce youth employment laws, require safety plans, and protect wage earners from employers who underpay or refuse to pay employees in a timely or accurate manner. The prime sponsor had few specifics to offer as to why these changes are needed beyond vague references to having spoken with some employers, and subsequent witnesses shed little additional light. Restaurant owners want the power to mandate tip-sharing so as to steal money from high tip-earners and funnel it to others who might not earn much in the way of tips, thereby ensuring the employer need not pay up to the minimum wage of $7.25/hour. It is odd to see those who normally advocate that “what I own I can keep” can suddenly become advocates of redistribution and “share the wealth.” Of course, this is only when the sharing involves workers and benefits the employer.

HB 1762 will be finalized by the Labor Committee next week (February 21), most likely coming out of committee significantly amended. The nature of that amendment is yet to be determined, but it will still amount to little more than applying lipstick to a pig—you can disguise but you cannot change to actual intent of this proposed legislation. It is anti-worker and is almost peculiarly written to benefit restaurants, taverns and those places with tipped employees and a desire to hire youth employees.

Two final items. SB 193 remains in front of the Finance Committee-Division II and the expectation is that there will be amendments offered to more tightly limit the pool of eligible students. The goal of proponents is to at least get their foot in the door, or as is often stated in the House, “the camel’s nose under the tent,” for once a program is launched it is difficult to later abolish it. Lastly, the Labor Committee voted 12-9 and the Education Committee voted 11-9 to recommend “inexpedient to legislate” on HB 1405 and HB 1277 respectively. HB 1405 would have provided access to unpaid FMLA leave to those school personnel working 900 hours or more, meaning it would have offered unpaid leave to para-educators who are often part-time and do not work in summers. Although the leave is unpaid and thus costs the District nothing, the majority on Labor deemed it unacceptable, perhaps because those who work part-time are not deserving of family leave? As for HB 1277, the bill had little likelihood of passage anyways, and it allows districts to non-renew without explanation teachers for their first five years. There is no sound pedagogical reasoning for this amount of time, especially since after three years a teacher needs to renew certification and is classed as “highly qualified,” but the budgetary flexibility this provides won out. One need not wonder why it is becoming more and more difficult to recruit and hire new teachers.

I close with a request that each reader take a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the Florida high school shooting this past week. Students, coaches and teachers all died at the hands of the gunman, and we are once again left with feelings of deep sadness, bewilderment and frustration. “Why is this happening?” and “Why can we not stop these shootings?”   There are no easy answers, but we all bear a small degree of responsibility as members of this society to try to find those answers.

 

In Solidarity,

Douglas Ley

AFT-NH, President

 

Attached is the pdf version for you to download and share. 

Campaign Workers Guild Announce Two More Collective Bargaining Agreements

Just days after organizers with the Randy Bryce for Congress campaign became the nation’s only current electoral campaign staff union, the Campaign Workers Guild on Thursday continued building power and won its second major collective bargaining agreement with Jess King, a progressive candidate for Congress. The contract was unanimously ratified by Jess King for Congress organizers, and added major momentum to the new national labor union’s push to organize and represent every professional campaign staff member in the country.

“We’re thrilled to see organizers across the country responding to our call for unionization,” said Meg Reilly, spokeswoman for the Campaign Workers Guild. “For too long, electoral campaigns talked the talk when it came to treating workers with respect, but failed to do right by their own staff. We’re proud to see candidates like Randy Bryce and Jess King buck that trend, and stand up for fair and safe working conditions for all organizers.”

“Candidates and campaigns preach progressive values, but it can be hard to live those values in our work when campaigns are so short term and uncertain,” said Julia Eddy, Fundraising and Finance Associate for Jess King. “This union allows us to have the same guarantees as other union workers even in an unorthodox working environment. I’m especially proud of the focus this union has on sexual harassment policies and protecting workers from both harassment and retaliation.”

Today, CWG announced their third agreement with Chris Wilhelm, a progressive candidate for Montgomery County Council. The contract was unanimously ratified by Chris Wilhelm for County Council workers, and added major momentum to the new national labor union’s push to organize and represent every professional campaign staff member in the country.

“Campaign workers for the Chris Wilhelm for County Council campaign now have a grievance procedure and the right to progressive discipline, which would have been unheard of in the campaign world just a week ago,” said Meg Reilly, spokeswoman for the Campaign Workers Guild. “The fact that workers on races from County Councils to Congress have unionized is a testament to how universal this movement is. Campaign workers across the country are standing up for fair and safe working conditions.”

“Democratic campaign workers are drawn to the industry because of our desire to help working people and there is no better way to support working people than joining a union. There is no limit to what can be achieved through solidarity,” said Brian Wivell, Field Director at Chris Wilhelm for County Council and new member of the CWG.

AFGE President: Trump Budget Continues Assault on Working Class Families

Budget would freeze federal worker wages, slash benefits, undermine rights

WASHINGTON – American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. today issued the following statement:

“President Trump’s budget is nothing less than a roadmap for dismantling the career civil service and handing over our most sacred public institutions to political donors and party loyalists.

“Federal workers shouldn’t be hired or fired on the whims of political appointees whose allegiance is to their political party, not the country’s best interests. By stripping employees of their due process rights and firing those who reject his politics, President Trump is opening the door for rampant corruption, discrimination, and worker intimidation.

“No group has lost more to deficit reduction than the federal workforce, with a three-year pay freeze, two government shutdowns, unpaid furloughs, and huge benefits cuts. Yet President Trump is proposing even more drastic cuts to workers’ wages, retirement security, health insurance, workers’ compensation benefits, and even their basic right to join a union and bargain over their work conditions.

“The financial hit alone to federal workers would climb to $246 billion over 10 years if President Trump succeeds in freezing their wages next year. Meanwhile, corporations and the wealthiest individuals are receiving massive windfalls thanks to unwarranted and unpaid tax cuts.

“The women and men who serve our country deserve our support and respect, not calls for slashing their pay and benefits and politicizing their jobs.”

America Needs Real Federal Investment To Repair Our National Infrastructure

Today, President Trump announced his “Trillion dollar infrastructure plan” that many say, completely misses the mark.

ThinkProgress explains how the new program is going to work (in theory):

“The proposal aims to turn $200 billion in federal funds into a $1.5 trillion investment over the next ten years by placing most of the financial burden on states and cities, which will have to cover at least 80 percent of the cost of any infrastructure project in order to qualify for federal grants, likely through higher taxes, tolls, and other user fees. The $200 billion number is a dramatic reduction in federal cost-sharing from years past.

…According to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) annual Infrastructure Report Card, the United States needs to invest $4.59 trillion by 2025 in order to improve the country’s infrastructure — a figure three times larger than even the rosiest estimate in Trump’s proposal and more than 20 times larger than the $200 billion actually allocated.”

Larry I. Willis, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) said “plan undermine the diverse needs of our transportation network” in his statement:

“We have long called for America’s infrastructure crisis to be met with a massive infusion of new federal investment that will grow the economy and create good, middle-class jobs. While we appreciate the spotlight President Trump has shined on the need to rebuild America, too many aspects of this plan undermine the diverse needs of our transportation network and the businesses, communities, and working families that depend on it.

“Robbing other federal priorities — including important transportation programs — to pay for infrastructure will only add to our growing problems. Furthermore, devolving the federal government’s funding responsibility to cash-strapped states and municipalities will leave too many projects and jobs behind.

“Congress now has an opportunity to craft a bipartisan proposal that will rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, fuel a new wave of middle-class job creation, and bolster the American economy in a way that works for everyone. Getting there will require robust federal investment, stabilizing the Highway Trust Fund for surface transportation needs and prioritizing Buy America rules and longstanding labor protections that support good jobs and raise wages.

“Creating an infrastructure network capable of supporting a 21st-Century economy requires real federal commitment. It is now time for Congress to take the lead and we stand ready to support that effort.” 

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka also released a statement on Trump’s infrastructure plan: 

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, our country’s grade on infrastructure is a D-plus. The infrastructure we use hundreds of millions of times each day is literally crumbling after decades of neglect. Our cars drive on broken roads, our children cross failing bridges, our loved ones ride on unsafe rail, our outdated electrical grids waste incredible amounts of power all while working people pay the cost of inaction.

President Trump has rightly noted the urgency and scale of America’s infrastructure crisis, and he has an opportunity to fix it. Unfortunately, today’s proposal relies more on accounting gimmicks and Wall Street investors than on a new federal commitment, which leaves states and municipalities to pick up the tab.

The right infrastructure plan will lift our communities and drive our economy forward for generations to come. That’s why this issue is so important and why the AFL-CIO and our affiliates are working actively with Congress to craft legislation that achieves these goals in a bipartisan way. If our nation’s leaders are serious about building America, they need to step up with trillions of dollars in new federal funding that supports America’s jobs, America’s resources and America’s products. And they need to uphold high labor standards and good wages and protect working people on the job. If they do, we have the most highly skilled and well-trained workforce ready to get the job done.

Well known economist, Robert Reich, posted a short video about the new infrastructure plan calling it a “huge tax giveaway for the rich.”  He warns that we would be turning over our public roads and bridges to private corporations who will install new fees and tolls.

This afternoon the Washington Post reports that President Trump is looking to “divest” in government assets and privatize government services. He is even proposing selling off, Washington National Airport (DCA) and Dulles International (IAD).

“The Washington region’s George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, both run by the National Park Service, are listed as “examples of assets for potential divestiture.” It was not immediately clear what public or private entity might buy those roads, whether they might be tolled, or other details. Same with the two airports in Virginia, which are leased from the federal government.

…Efforts to privatize federal assets were discussed early in the administration by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn and other advisers as a preferred way to come up with capital for much needed improvements.

A high-profile Trump effort to move the nation’s air traffic control system out of government hands was blocked in Congress.”

Even the fiscal conservative group, The Concord Coalition, says the numbers just don’t add up.

The administration is focusing a great deal of attention on its infrastructure plan but counting on most of the money for it to come from state and local governments as well as the private sector. The federal government would provide only $200 billion of the $1.5 trillion spending goal. Yet the budget proposes transportation and other infrastructure cuts of around $200 billion and there is no clear, credible explanation of this juxtaposition or how any new infrastructure spending would be financed.

Trump says he is open to the possibility of raising the federal gas tax, which has not been done since 1993. This would be a reasonable step. But just hinting at such an increase is not enough; the president should show real leadership by calling on Congress to approve a specific gas tax hike.

No matter how you slice it, this infrastructure plan stinks. If it goes through, the public will be forced to cough up more money to fix the roads and bridges, but that money will go right into the pockets of the executives of the billion dollar corporations who have bought up all of our public roadways.

Campaign Workers Form Union, Announce First Bargaining Agreement With Randy Bryce’s Campaign

Hundreds of campaign workers form union,
demanding a living wage, basic protections

Meg Reilly, Vice President of the Campaign Workers Guild (in white shirt) with newly organized campaign workers from Randy Bryce’s campaign.

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, campaign workers across the country publicly launched a new, independent union and announced their first-ever bargaining agreement with candidate Randy Bryce’s campaign in Wisconsin’s 1st district. The Campaign Workers Guild (CWG) is a national union representing non-management workers on electoral and issue-based campaigns.

CWG’s mission is to ensure that campaign workers have reasonable work hours, fair wages, workplace rights, and basic labor protections. This announcement comes just months before the 2018 midterm elections, while many progressive candidates are just recruiting their campaign staff.

Although many progressive candidates advocate for pro-union policies, they fail to practice what they preach. Campaign workers frequently work close to 80 hours a week, get paid far less than fifteen dollars an hour, and face workplace hazards like sexual harassment. Despite the enormous sums of money spent on elections—a combined $6.5 billion during the 2016 cycle—the workers entrusted with running candidates’ campaign are too often underpaid, overworked, and undervalued. CWG believes that it is time for candidates and elected officials to support the working people who put them in office.

CWG is calling for a party-wide collective bargaining agreement covering campaign workers on all local, state, and federal Democratic campaigns as well as progressive ballot measures. In the meantime, they are organizing campaign by campaign.

In CWG’s first organizing victory, CWG members working for congressional candidate Randy Bryce secured a union contract guaranteeing fair working conditions. Bryce is an ironworker challenging House Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district.

CWG is ready to work with more campaigns and urges campaign workers to visit their website (campaignworkersguild.org) to learn more.

Statement from Laura Reimers, President of the Campaign Workers Guild:

“We will build stronger campaigns and a stronger movement when we treat campaign workers with respect. It is time for candidates to practice what they preach.”

Statement from Meg Reilly, Vice President of the Campaign Workers Guild:

“We refuse to allow candidates across the country to continue to identify themselves as pro-union or pro-worker when they fail to guarantee the same labor rights they claim to support.”

Statement from Nate Rifkin, Randy Bryce for Congress Union Steward:

“Unions fight for worker rights and dignity. They help facilitate more equal relationships between labor and management. Every worker deserves the right to join a union, and that includes campaign staffers. The workers on our now unionized campaign are proud to work for Randy Bryce, a person, and candidate, who practices what he preaches.”

Today in labor history for the week of January 29, 2018

This Week in Labor History January 29 Responding to unrest among Irish laborers building the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, President Andrew Jackson orders first use of American troops to suppress a labor dispute - 1834 Six thousand railway workers strike for a union and the end of 18-hour day - 1889 Sit-down strike helps establish United Rubber Workers as a national union, Akron, Ohio - 1936 American Train Dispatchers Department granted a charter by the AFL-CIO - 1957 Dolly Parton hits number one on the record charts with "9 to 5," her anthem to the daily grind - 1981 Newly-elected President Barack Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, making it easier for women and minorities to win pay discrimination suits – 2009 Today in labor history for the week of January 29, 2018January 30 Franklin Delano Roosevelt is born in Hyde Park, N.Y. He was elected president of the United States four times starting in 1932. His New Deal programs helped America survive the Great Depression. His legislative achievements included the creation of the National Labor Relations Act, which allows workers to organize unions, bargain collectively, and strike - 1882 January 31 Some 12,000 pecan shellers in San Antonio, Texas—mostly Latino women—walk off their jobs at 400 Today in labor history for the week of January 29, 2018factories in what was to become a three-month strike against wage cuts.  Strike leader Emma Tenayuca was eventually hounded out of the state - 1938 Ida M. Fuller is the first retiree to receive an old-age monthly benefit check under the new Social Security law. She paid in $24.75 between 1937 and 1939 on an income of $2,484; her first check was for $22.54 - 1940 After scoring successes with representation elections conducted under the protective oversight of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board, the United Farm Workers of America officially ends its historic table grape, lettuce and wine boycotts - 1978 Union and student pressure forces Harvard University to adopt new labor policies raising wages for lowest-paid workers - 2002 Five months after Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans school board fires every teacher in the district in what the United Teachers of New Orleans sees as an effort to break the union and privatize the school system - 2005 February 01 Led by 23-year-old Kate Mullaney, the Collar Laundry Union forms in Troy, N.Y., and raises earnings for female laundry workers from $2 to $14 a week - 1864 Bricklayers begin working 8-hour days - 1867 Some 25,000 Paterson, N.J., silk workers strike for 8-hour work day and improved working conditions. Eighteen hundred were arrested over the course of the six-month walkout, led by the Wobblies. They returned to work on their employers’ terms - 1913 Today in labor history for the week of January 29, 2018(In this expanded edition of Strike! you can read about labor-management conflicts that have occurred over the past 140 years. Here you’ll learn much about workers’ struggle to win a degree of justice, from the workers’ point of view. The author also examines the ever-shifting roles and configurations of unions, from the Knights of Labor of the 1800s to the AFL-CIO of the 1990s. A new chapter, “Beyond One-Sided Class War,” looks at how modern protest movements, such as the Battle of Seattle and Occupy Wall Street, were ignited and considers the similarities between these challenges to authority and those of labor’s past.) The federal minimum wage increases to $1.60 per hour - 1968 Int’l Brotherhood of Firemen & Oilers merges with Service Employees Int’l Union - 1995 February 02 Three hundred newsboys organize to protest a cut in pay by the Minneapolis Tribune - 1917 Today in labor history for the week of January 29, 2018 Legal secretary Iris Rivera fired for refusing to make coffee; secretaries across Chicago protest - 1977 The 170-day lockout (although management called it a strike) of 22,000 steelworkers by USX Corp. ends with a pay cut but greater job security.  It was the longest work stoppage in the history of the U.S. steel industry - 1987 February 03 The U.S. Supreme Court rules the United Hatters Union violated the Sherman Antitrust Act by organizing a nationwide boycott of Danbury Hatters of Connecticut - 1908 U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Wages and Hours (later Fair Labor Standards) Act banning child labor and establishing the 40-hour work week - 1941 Today in labor history for the week of January 29, 2018An explosion at a Thiokol chemical plant near Woodbine, Georgia kills 29 workers, seriously injures 50.  An investigation found that contributing factors to the explosion were mislabeled chemicals, poor storage procedures and insufficient fire protection - 1971 February 04 The Ohio legislature authorizes construction of the 249-mile Miami and Erie Canal, to connect Toledo to Cincinnati.  Local historians say "Irish immigrants, convicts and local farmers used picks, shovels and wheelbarrows," at 30 cents per day, to construct the 249-mile-long waterway - 1825 "Big Bill" Haywood born in Salt Lake City, Utah: Leader of Western Federation of Miners, Wobblies (IWW) founder - 1869 Today in labor history for the week of January 29, 2018 Rosa Parks, whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a White man launched the 1955 Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott and the birth of the civil rights movement, is born in Tuskeege, Ala. - 1913 Unemployment demonstrations take place in major U.S. cities - 1932 Thirty-seven thousand maritime workers on the West Coast strike for wage increases - 1937 President Barack Obama imposes $500,000 caps on senior executive pay for the most distressed financial institutions receiving federal bailout money, saying Americans are upset with "executives being rewarded for failure" - 2009 —Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Berry Craig: Unions Will Appeal Kentucky ‘Right to Work’ Ruling

 By BERRY CRAIG AFT Local 1360

The Kentucky State AFL-CIO and Louisville-based Teamsters Local 89 will lose no time in appealing today’s Franklin Circuit Court decision that upheld the state’s “right to work” law, according to Bill Londrigan, state AFL-CIO president.

The court dismissed a suit to overturn the law that the state federation and the Teamsters filed last May.

The unions argued that the law violates the state constitution by “taking” from unions because under federal law, they must represent all workers in a unionized workplace–even those who won’t join the union and pay dues or pay the union a service fee to represent them.

The year-old law represents an “attack on Kentucky’s hard-working men and women and the unions that fight for their interests” by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and the GOP-majority legislature, Londrigan said in a statement.

All but a handful of Republicans joined the Democrats in opposing the measure, which quickly passed in January, 2017. Bevin eagerly signed it. He was elected governor in 2015 after boosting a RTW law on the campaign trail.

When Bevin was sworn in, the GOP had a 27-11 edge in the Senate, but the Democrats controlled the House.  In the November, 2016, elections, the Republicans held their Senate majority and flipped the House to 64-36, GOP.

The House had been all that stood between Kentucky and RTW.

The RTW bill “was rushed through the General Assembly…to avoid a full debate on the important questions it raised and to silence its critics,” Londrigan said.  “The law denies union members the equal protection of the law afforded to other Kentuckians and other Kentucky organizations, it imposes onerous requirements on Kentucky unions and their members not imposed on others, and it takes unions’ property without just compensation.”

Also in the statement, Londrigan said unions believe “Kentucky’s higher courts will understand that this law violates our state constitution and causes real harm to our workers and the unions they represent.”

Londrigan said the court “failed to consider the undisputed testimony of nationally-recognized experts in labor economics who uniformly proved that RTW laws lower wages, hurt workers and fail to add new jobs.  Instead, these laws serve to increase profits and weaken the strongest voice workers have to speak on their behalf.”

Added Londrigan, “We believe our higher courts will recognize the harmful effect that this unjust and discriminatory law has on our workers and their unions, which are required under federal law to represent all workers in a bargaining unit, including those who choose to withhold dues and fees.”

Londrigan vowed that “Kentucky unions will continue to fight for all Kentucky’s hard-working women and men to mitigate the detrimental consequences which RTW laws have had on workers in other states – lower wages, fewer workers with health care benefits and retirement plans, and more fatalities on the job – all while failing miserably in their empty promise of more jobs.”

Also today, Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Ben Self issued a statement of solidarity with Bluegrass State unions:

“The Kentucky Democratic Party will continue to stand and fight alongside union workers for Kentucky’s working families. Gov. Bevin’s budget director spoke yesterday on budget shortfalls under the current administration. It proves right-to-work legislation hasn’t economically benefited the state but has only weakened the bottom line and bargaining rights for every working man and woman in the state.”

The RTW measure, HB 1, made Kentucky the 27th “right to work” state. Click here to view the ruling.

With Shutdown Over, Union Hopes Real Governing Can Begin

AFGE says keeping agencies, employees in budget limbo is disservice to them and nation

WASHINGTON – In response to Congress passing a short-term spending bill to re-open the federal government, American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. issued the following statement:

“Congress has ended a crisis of its own making, allowing the government to fully reopen after forcing a shutdown at midnight Friday.

“Even though the shutdown lasted just three days, it was long enough to cause a massive disruption to our government operations and widespread confusion for federal workers, federal agencies, and the public.

“None of this would have happened if lawmakers had done their job in the beginning and passed a federal budget on time. Instead most federal agencies are limping by on borrowed time, unable to start new projects, fill new positions, or focus on long-range projects. This counterproductive cycle of short-term continuing resolutions must end now.

“Lawmakers now have 17 days to pass a budget that will fund federal agencies through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. I urge Congress and the administration to come to the table, resolve their differences, and pass a long-term budget so that federal employees can continue to do their jobs in service to our country.

“Americans deserve to be able to access the programs and services that their tax dollars have funded, and federal employees deserve to be able to go to work without wondering when or if they will get paid.

“I do want to thank lawmakers for ensuring that federal employees who were impacted by the shutdown do not lose any pay. Federal employees and their families should not be forced to go without pay when they are not allowed to do their jobs because Congress cannot pass a funding measure. A special thanks goes to Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland and Congressmen Don Beyer and Rob Wittman of Virginia for first introducing the retroactive pay language in Congress.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kansas miners strike against compulsory arbitration – 1920

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

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

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

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

January 28
American Miners’ Association formed – 1861

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

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

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