The Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act Reminds Us to Keep Working to Close the Gender Pay Gap

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By Kenneth Quinnell The Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act Reminds Us to Keep Working to Close the Gender Pay Gap

Sunday was the 55th anniversary of the signing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 into law. The landmark law was the first that required equal pay for equal work for women.

In the early 20th century, women were about 25% of the workforce. Women workers were paid far less than men in those cases where women were allowed to do jobs that men did. Some states limited the hours that women could work, some going as far as to ban women from working at night.

When women started moving into the workforce in larger numbers during World War II, activists stepped up their efforts to increase pay for women workers, leading to the National War Labor Board endorsing equal pay for women who were replacing male workers who were at war. In 1945, Congress introduced the Women’s Equal Pay Act, but it failed to pass, despite valiant efforts from advocates to win support.

By 1960, some progress had been made, but women were still paid less than two-thirds for the same work. During President John F. Kennedy’s administration, things started to fall into place. Esther Peterson, who ran the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor, endorsed legislation to close the pay gap, as did former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Pro-corporate forces fought the passage of the law, but it finally prevailed in 1963.

Since then, the gap has shrunken further, but we still have a long way to go. The latest research shows that the median woman worker today is paid 80% of what men get for the same work. While it varies, the gap persists across the wage distribution and at all education levels. Women who have a college degree or higher are only paid 73% of what men make. The problems are exacerbated for women of color, with black and Hispanic women getting paid 66% and 60%, respectively, of what men get.

We have a lot of tools to help close the gap more, even in a time when Congress and the White House are uninterested in solving the problem:

  • Increase union membership, since women in unions get paid 94% of what men in unions make. In addition to more equal pay, being a union member offers better benefits, helps create safer work environments and helps maintain life-work balance.
  • Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. This bipartisan legislation would close loopholes in existing law, break harmful patterns of pay discrimination and strengthen protections for women workers.
  • Require more transparency in compensation data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  • Strongly enforce anti-discrimination laws, including requiring that employers prove that hiring, pay and promotion are based on factors other than sex or gender.
  • Allow workers to earn additional benefits such as paid sick leave and paid family leave and add policies such as fair and flexible scheduling, which help enable workers to balance demands at home and at work.
  • Since both wages disproportionately affect women, raise the minimum wage and eliminate the tipped minimum wage.
  • Provide accessible, affordable, high-quality child care and early childhood education.

These are just some of the tools we could use. We will continue to close the wage gap to finish the job of the Equal Pay Act and the pioneers who helped pass it by pursuing laws and policies that ensure women are paid and treated equally.

Kenneth Quinnell
Mon, 06/11/2018 – 10:29

Source: AFL-CIO

You Can’t Break Our Will: The Working People Weekly List

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By Kenneth Quinnell You Can’t Break Our Will: The Working People Weekly List

Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s this week’s Working People Weekly List.

Supreme Court Can’t Break the Will of American Workers and Their Unions: “The nation’s top court will rule on Janus v. AFSCME any time now, an attempt by the rich and powerful to end economic equality in this country. When my grandfather Sanseverino first arrived in the United States from Italy in the 1940s, he worked at a factory. He joined his factory’s union, which not only gave him representation at work, but also benefits and negotiated regular wage increases that propelled our family into the middle class and home ownership. My brother, cousin, and I have all been able to join unions and reap the benefits as well. We are now a union family.”

Pride At Work: Despite SCOTUS, Laws Still Protect LGBTQ People: “Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s 7-2 ruling letting a Colorado bakeshop discriminate against a gay couple by refusing to bake them a wedding cake, civil rights laws—state and federal—still protect lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-queer people, gay rights organizations say. And that’s the message those groups, including Pride@Work, are sending out in the wake of the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, adds Jerame Davis, executive director of the P@W, the AFL-CIO’s constituency group for LGBTQ people.”

MGM Resorts Reaches Tentative Deal with Las Vegas Unions: “MGM Resorts International, the state’s largest hotel operator by employees, late Saturday joined Caesars Entertainment Corp. in approving new five-year contracts with Culinary Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165. ‘We are pleased to announce that a tentative agreement has been reached with @MGMResortsIntl,’ Culinary Local 226 tweeted about 11:15 p.m. Saturday.”

Fighting to Make Sure Janitors Get a Fair Wage: “Lilia Garcia-Brower, 45, is executive director of the Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund. The Los Angeles-based organization investigates wage theft and other abuses in the janitorial industry, which is notorious for paying workers below minimum wage. The organization, funded by unionized janitorial companies, partners with government enforcement agencies or organizes private lawsuits to bring cases. It has helped collect more than $30 million in unpaid wages owed to thousands of janitors since its founding in 1999.”

Trump Has Quietly Cut Legal Aid for Migrant Kids Separated from Parents: “When the Trump administration announced this month it would criminally prosecute everyone who crossed the border illegally, which meant jailing immigrant parents and separating them from their children, it effectively manufactured a whole new group of unaccompanied minors who now must navigate the complicated U.S. immigration system by themselves. In less than two weeks, 658 kids were divided from their mothers and fathers—and the policy is still ramping up.”

UW Teaching Assistant Strike Canceled After Union Members Ratify Contract: “University of Washington teaching assistants and other academic student employees have approved a new contract and canceled plans for a strike. The TAs, research assistants, readers, graders and tutors number about 4,500 and they’re represented by UAW 4121. They had previously announced plans to strike this week, a move that threatened to disrupt final exams and delay grades.”

To the Polls: Worker Wins: “Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with an electoral victory and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.”

Young Workers on the Future of Work: Courtney Jenkins: “The AFL-CIO conducted a discussion last month on the future of work. Among the panelists that day were a group of young workers. Let’s continue our more in-depth discussion with these young workers. Next up is American Postal Workers Union (APWU) member Courtney Jenkins.”

UNITE HERE Calls on Marriott to Use Its Clout to Combat Sexual Harassment in Global Hospitality Industry: “In recent years, UNITE HERE members across North America have taken the lead in challenging sexual harassment and sexual violence in the hospitality industry. The union has put the issue at the forefront of its political agenda, in bargaining new contracts—and now, in its global campaigns.”

Union Tips for U.S. Trips: Union Monuments: “Across the nation, there are great monuments to the labor union legacy, and some may even be closer than you realize. Add these sites to your travel itinerary to put a union twist on your summer plans and save with Union Plus Travel Benefits.”

Kenneth Quinnell
Fri, 06/08/2018 – 11:59

Source: AFL-CIO

Bayard & Me

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By Tim Schlittner

Walter and Stuart

Bayard & Me


June is Pride Month. We are proud of the LGBTQ labor leaders who blazed a trail for dignity and equality. None had a greater impact than Bayard Rustin. To celebrate Rustin’s life and legacy, the AFL-CIO, through its Ideas at Work series, hosted his longtime partner, Walter Naegle, for a screening of the award-winning documentary “Bayard & Me.” The event was co-sponsored by Pride At Work and the A. Philip Randolph Institute. Following the screening, Naegle participated in a wide-ranging discussion with Stuart Appelbaum, the openly gay president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. Naegle provided a firsthand account of Rustin’s triumphs and tribulations as he faced incredible political and personal challenges during the civil rights movement. And both Naegle and Appelbaum talked about where we go from here.

The following are Naegle’s remarks, as prepared:

I want to thank Tim Schlittner and Christine Cafasso for inviting me to join you for this showing of “Bayard & Me,” and to Pride At Work and APRI for co-sponsoring it. Matt Wolf’s film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017, has received much exposure over the last year and was nominated for a “Webby” Awardprizes for films made for the internet.

I’m going to make some brief remarks and then we will move into a discussion/Q&A session. I much prefer those to just giving a speech, and I believe that Bayard was of a similar mind. There was nothing he enjoyed more than a lively exchange based on facts, logic, reason, in an effort to get to the truth. You remember those, don’t you?

I’m going to start with a few facts that may seem unnecessary, but in these times it is sometimes important to keep things simple and, for lack of a better word, “straightforward.” Maybe we could call these “ground rules”the facts and the choices that shaped his life and enabled him to make his mark.

Bayard Rustin was a human being, a man, a black man, a gay man, and a Quaker. The fact that he was black and gay made him a target for discrimination and persecution throughout his life. That he chose to be a Quaker meant that he equipped himself with the tools to address discrimination and bigotry with humanity, understanding, and love, never resorting to the tactics of hatred and oppression used by some of his opponents.

His evolution as an activist moved him from his start as a radical, Christian, pacifist to being a more pragmatic, political person willing to negotiate and compromise for the greater good of a movement rather than hold to an absolutist position in the name of political purity. He moved, in the words of his most famous article, “From Protest to Politics,” and grew to recognize that democracy is perhaps the closest thing we have to a political expression of the philosophy of nonviolence. He came to understand that through democracy we can come close to achieving those values that were instilled in him by his grandmother, Julia Davis Rustin, and which informed his lifelong activismthe belief in the oneness of the human family, the presence of the divine spirit in every person, integrity, and working for equality and justice.

One example of his commitment to working for a more just society was his long association with the labor movement, especially his close ties to his mentor A. Philip Randolph, founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and Don Slaiman, head of the AFL-CIO’s Civil Rights Department during the peak years of the African American struggle. Randolph saw organized labor as the vehicle for African Americans to achieve economic uplift and move toward social equality. He and Bayard instinctively understood that when legal barriers to equality were lifted—Jim Crow laws, school segregation, voter suppression, and othersthat the issue of economics would take a front seat. Centuries of second-class citizenship, schools that were separate but not equal, poor housing, lack of proper health care, would result in a disproportionate number of impoverished blacks and the solution would require a national commitment to the eradication of poverty. But they also knew that a program targeting only African Americans was not politically viable. In 1965, under the auspices of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, they proposed A Freedom Budget for All Americans, a plan to eliminate poverty within a 10-year period. Although there were congressional hearings about the Freedom Budget, the plan never took off, largely because of the disproportionate funds that were being spent fighting the Vietnam War. The budget could be credited with influencing President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society initiative. Now 50 years later, eradication of poverty is again under discussion, with some proposing a guaranteed annual income for all, a proposal that was included in the Freedom Budget.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. increasingly supported the call for economic justice and the connection between the labor movement and the black working class. He was assassinated in Memphis while mobilizing support for the striking sanitation workers there who sought better wages and working conditions. His Poor People’s Campaign that was carried on by his successors sought to address the issue of poverty. Today, we have a new Poor People’s Campaigna National Call for Moral Revival, supported by a coalition of labor unions, faith-based organizations, civil and human rights groups, and other progressive entities, including APRI and the National LGBTQ Taskforce.

In the years since his death, Bayard’s life and work have been recognized through a variety of initiatives, many spearheaded by the LGBT community. During his centennial year, APRI organized a special tribute to Bayard, its founding executive director. 2013 brought the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and much of the coverage featured Bayard, something that was not done in 1963. A posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom was awarded in November of that year by President Barack Obama. A number of community centers and political clubs carry Bayard’s name, as well as a high school in his hometown. A few weeks ago, the school board in Montgomery County voted to name an elementary school after Bayard. Later this month, a plaque will be installed outside of Bayard’s residence in New York City, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016. His home for 25 years, and Randolph’s for ten, Penn South was founded by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union to provide decent, safe, and affordable housing for its workers and members of the community.

If you would like to learn more about Bayard, there are a number of biographies available, including Jervis Anderson’s Bayard Rustin, Troubles I’ve Seen, John D’Emilio’s Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin, and one for young readers Bayard Rustin, The Invisible Activist. “Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin” is an award-winning full-length documentary. You also can visit the website:

Tim Schlittner
Fri, 06/08/2018 – 09:56

Source: AFL-CIO

To the Polls: Worker Wins

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By Kenneth Quinnell To the Polls: Worker Wins

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with an electoral victory and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.

UNITE HERE Member Wins California Senate Primary on Behalf of Working People: Maria Elena Durazo, a California labor icon for decades and current international vice president for UNITE HERE, won her primary for the California Senate with more than 70% of the vote, the largest victory in the district’s current configuration. She now moves on to the November general election. Other pro-working people candidates also did well in California’s primaries.

Employees at The New Yorker and Fast Company Magazines Vote for The NewsGuild Representation: The New Yorker and Fast Company have become the latest journalism offices to organize. At The New Yorker, 90% of editorial staffers voted in favor of the union. They have asked management for voluntary recognition. Meanwhile, an overwhelming majority of staff at Fast Company have signed union cards.

South Carolina Flight Readiness Technicians at Boeing Join IAM: Mike Evans, Machinists (IAM) lead organizer for Boeing in South Carolina, said: “Today was a victory for the American worker. The 176 men and women Flight Readiness Technicians stood up with South Carolina pride and voted for a better life. They exercised their freedom to join in union and speak with one voice. This election was never just about wages. The men and women wanted dignity and consistency in the workplace. And this vote put them closer to achieving those goals. We hope Boeing does the right thing by agreeing to sit down and negotiate in good faith with the dedicated Flight Readiness Technicians.”

Portland App-Based Ride Service Drivers Win Improved Oversight: In a unanimous vote, the Portland City Council endorsed the creation of a new oversight body that will improve transparency and protections for 10,000 Uber and Lyft drivers. The Portland Bureau of Transportation is directed to research ideas for creating the panel. The resolution endorsing the new body also calls for equalizing standards between app-based ride services and traditional taxi companies.

Working People at Largest Las Vegas Strip Casino and Resort Employers Reach Tentative Agreement: The two largest companies employing working people on the Las Vegas strip, MGM and Caesars, have reached a tentative agreement on new five-year contracts with Culinary Workers Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165. The deals now go to members for ratification votes. The two deals cover 36,000 of the 50,000 Vegas hotel workers whose contracts expired last week.

Talking Points Memo Voluntarily Recognizes Editorial Staff Union: Becoming the latest digital newsroom to organize, the editorial staff at progressive publication Talking Points Memo have voted to join the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). WGAE Executive Director Lowell Peterson said: “We applaud the progressive management at Talking Points Memo for respecting the decision of the writers and editors to join with the Writers Guild of America, East, and we look forward to a positive, productive experience at the bargaining table. And we welcome these hardworking journalists to the union and to the movement.”

Nurses at City of Hope National Medical Center Ratify New Contract with Patient Protections: Registered nurses at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California, represented by California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, ratified a new three-year contract. The new contract strengthens nurses’ ability to protect patients and improve recruitment and retention of nurses. RN Alma Torrez said: “It is absolutely essential that our hospital be able to recruit and retain great staff so we can provide optimal care for our patients. We’re celebrating the new pact because it puts our hospital in a strong position to do just that.”

Working People at New Jersey Communities United Join The NewsGuild: Organizers at New Jersey Communities United (NJCU) have voted to join the The NewsGuild-CWA and have asked management to voluntarily recognize their union. NJCU is a grassroots organization that builds power for working class communities and communities of color. Rebecca Mahabir, one of the organizers, said: “We feel that we must embody the values that guide our vital work. We know that unions are the best tool workers have to achieve democracy, accountability, and dignity in their workplaces, and are ready to put that tool to use here, at New Jersey Communities United.”

Postdoctoral Researchers at University of Washington Vote to be Represented by UAW: After winning 89% of the vote, postdoctoral researchers will be represented by UAW Local 4121. Now, 1,100 researchers will join UAW. Next, the new union members will elect a bargaining committee and prepare for negotiations with the university.

Oregon State University Faculty Sign Cards to Join AFT: A decisive majority of the faculty at Oregon State University have signed union cards and filed a petition with the Oregon Employment Relations Board. Once certified, the 2,400 faculty will become members of the AFT and will seek a contract that strengthens shared governance, improved working conditions, and the freedom to create the best possible environment for teaching, learning and research.

Kenneth Quinnell
Thu, 06/07/2018 – 11:59

Source: AFL-CIO

Young Workers on the Future of Work: Courtney Jenkins

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By Kenneth Quinnell

Courtney Jenkins

Young Workers on the Future of Work: Courtney Jenkins

Courtney Jenkins

The AFL-CIO conducted a discussion last month on the future of work. Among the panelists that day were a group of young workers. Let’s continue our more in-depth discussion with these young workers. Next up is American Postal Workers Union (APWU) member Courtney Jenkins.

AFL-CIO: What barriers do you think stand in the way of young people becoming fully participating members of the workforce?

Courtney: The most formidable barrier young people face is the current economic climate. As corporate greed continues to grow, many jobs are not attractive or appealing to young people trying to fully participate in today’s workforce.

AFL-CIO: What issues and challenges do young workers face that the rest of us might not recognize?

Courtney: Whether it’s child care, health care or student debt, it seems like everything today comes at a price. Many employers don’t understand, or care to empathize, with young people who have these types of challenges because they weren’t as prevalent a generation ago.

AFL-CIO: What inspired you to organize/form/join a union?

Courtney: I was inspired by the power of collective bargaining and action, recognizing that being a young black male, my voice alone may not resonate as much as my voice along with hundreds of thousands of my sisters and brothers of the American Postal Workers Union. I joined and continue to be active within my union because of the many unionists who have fought who came before me and the many who I fight for now who will come after me.

AFL-CIO: What can the labor movement do to rally more workers to join unions?

Courtney: The labor movement can be more intentional about reaching out to young workers just coming into the workforce. That first contact matters and continuing education matters to working people, whether they belong to a labor union or not. Most people have been so demoralized by an economy that doesn’t work for them, and because of this their time is valuable, spending much of their disposable time, if any, working. The labor movement has to continue to develop ways to reach working people where they are.

AFL-CIO: What can young workers do to better prepare themselves for success in a changing economy?

Courtney: Young workers can first support their labor unions and if not members, young workers need to join up or start helping to organize their workplaces. We need to also educate one another on the benefits of labor unions and their positive effects on our workplaces and communities. To better prepare ourselves, we should be demanding better training to ensure we are prepared for jobs in this changing economy, while also protecting those jobs that greedy corporations consider expendable.

Kenneth Quinnell
Wed, 06/06/2018 – 11:28

Source: AFL-CIO

UNITE HERE Calls on Marriott to Use Its Clout to Combat Sexual Harassment in Global Hospitality Industry

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By Kenneth Quinnell

Combating global sexual harassment

UNITE HERE Calls on Marriott to Use Its Clout to Combat Sexual Harassment in Global Hospitality Industry


In recent years, UNITE HERE members across North America have taken the lead in challenging sexual harassment and sexual violence in the hospitality industry. The union has put the issue at the forefront of its political agenda, in bargaining new contracts—and now, in its global campaigns.

In partnership with the International Union of Food Workers (IUF) and the AFL-CIO, UNITE HERE convened a group of Marriott workers from around the world to meet in Geneva on May 29, to present Marriott International—the world’s largest hotel company—with demands on ending sexual harassment across its global operations. At the International Labour Conference, where negotiations are currently underway on a new legal standard on violence at work, Marriott workers shared their own experiences of sexual violence and harassment on the job.

As they made clear, sexual harassment is an open secret across the hospitality industry, everywhere in the world. The problem is not worse at Marriott properties. But Marriott is, increasingly, reshaping the global hotel industry through its aggressive expansion, and given its sheer size and economic power, it has the responsibility to take leadership on this issue. There are nearly 6,500 Marriott hotels around the world and, on average, a new one opens every day. Marriott’s annual profits total almost $1 billion.

The content of the global demands on Marriott reflected not only the testimony of workers in the room, but also hundreds of interviews conducted by hotel unions affiliated with the IUF in the months leading up to the meeting. Workers shared horrific experiences of guests grabbing them, exposing themselves, propositioning them and attempting rape. They made clear that the hotel industry needed to implement a set of commonsense measures:

  • Training staff at all levels.
  • Reducing precarious work, as a critical step to reducing vulnerability.
  • Limiting the isolation of workers in jobs such as housekeeping.
  • Protecting against retaliation for reporting harassment and abuse.
  • Installing panic buttons in guest rooms to ensure that security can be alerted immediately.
  • Blacklisting guests with a record of harassing or abusing workers.
  • Putting in place an independent oversight body to receive and investigate complaints.

Unions affiliated with the IUF, including UNITE HERE, have demanded that Marriott negotiate a global agreement with the IUF on sexual harassment, based on the demands above.

For UNITE HERE, this campaign builds on protections won by their members in locals across the United States. In cities like New York and Chicago, hotel workers have won panic buttons and other important measures through collective bargaining. In Seattle and Chicago, workers launched citywide campaigns and secured protections through local ordinances.

Additionally, hotel workers in the United States already have made their opinions on sexual harassment known to Marriott. On May 4, eight Marriott hotel workers attended the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Washington, D.C., demanding that Marriott—as the world’s largest hotel brand—step up and lead the fight to end sexual harassment. Instead, as they told the company’s shareholders, Marriott is part of a coalition trying to delay and block implementation of Initiative 124, the ordinance in Seattle.

In joining with hotel workers from around the world with these demands, UNITE HERE members are demanding that this global corporation negotiate a global solution to a global problem.

Kenneth Quinnell
Wed, 06/06/2018 – 10:52

Source: AFL-CIO

Union Tips for U.S. Trips: Union Monuments

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By Kenneth Quinnell Union Tips for U.S. Trips: Union Monuments

Across the nation, there are great monuments to the labor union legacy, and some may even be closer than you realize. Add these sites to your travel itinerary to put a union twist on your summer plans and save with Union Plus Travel Benefits.

Check out this list of union sites around the country!

  1. Amtrak Workers Memorial—Washington, D.C.: Memorial that honors those Amtrak employees who lost their lives in performance of their duties. Fun fact: The Amtrak Workers Memorial is located in the district’s Union Station.
  2. Memphis Strike of 1968 Monument—Memphis, Tennessee: This gallery expands the story of the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike. Features exhibits and videos highlighting the Rev. James Lawson and T.O. Jones, who courageously waged the battle on behalf of striking sanitation workers. Fun fact: The iconic “I Am a Man” signs held by strikers and the garbage truck from the original exhibition can be found here.
  3. Haymarket Martyrs Memorial—Chicago: On May 4, 1866, what began as a peaceful rally to protest unfair working conditions erupted into violence after a man threw a bomb at police, resulting in injuries and deaths between both protesting workers and police officers. Eight union activists were wrongfully accused, convicted and hanged. This monument is a reminder of the lives lost during the fight for workers’ rights. Fun fact: Visitors often leave union buttons, flowers and other tokens at the base of the monument.
  4. Pullman National Monument Site—Chicago: Chicago may be most well-known for its blustery weather, but it’s also home to a rich labor history as well. The Pullman National Monument honors Chicago’s labor history with a series of monuments, museums and other important landmarks—one of which was the scene of a violent strike in the 1890s. Fun fact: The Pullman District was the first model, planned industrial community in the United States.
  5. Mother Jones Monument—Union Miners Cemetery, Mount Olive, Illinois: This 22-foot granite monument pays tribute to the achievements of Mother Jones, the woman who is credited with co-founding the Industrial Workers of the World labor union and coordinating several major strikes. Fun fact: The Mother Jones monument is also her official burial site.
  6. Ludlow Monument—Ludlow, Colorado: Colorado is a major mining state, producing everything from gold to coal during its mining history. The Mine Workers (UMWA) erected the monument to honor the victims of the Ludlow Massacre, an event in which more than 1,000 striking coal miners were attacked by the Colorado National Guard and guards from the Colorado Fuel & Iron Co. Fun fact: Another mining monument, the Victor American Hastings Mine Disaster Monument, is less than two miles away from the Ludlow Monument.
  7. Rosie the Riveter WWII National Historical Park—Richmond, California: It’s no secret that Rosie is one of the most recognizable faces of the labor movement. This memorial goes beyond the iconic image to honor all the “Rosies”—working women of World War II and beyond. Fun fact: The Rosie the Riveter Trust (the nonprofit trust behind the Rosie the Riveter WWII Park) operates a free summer camp for at-risk youth called Rosie’s Girls. The camp is modeled “after women like Rosie” to help young women gain courage and confidence in their abilities.

This post originally appeared at Union Plus.

Kenneth Quinnell
Tue, 06/05/2018 – 12:13

Source: AFL-CIO

Rhetoric vs. Reality: The Working People Weekly List

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By Kenneth Quinnell Rhetoric vs. Reality: The Working People Weekly List

Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s this week’s Working People Weekly List.

When It Comes to Janus, There Is Rhetoric and There Is Reality: “Sometime in the next few weeks, the Supreme Court will decide a case called Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, that threatens to undermine the freedom of working people to join together and negotiate for better wages and working conditions. Corporate CEOs and their allies know that working people have a much stronger voice when we speak together, so they are pulling out all the stops to silence our voices.”

From #MeToo to a Global Convention on Sexual Harassment at Work: “Labor unions around the globe are participating in the International Labor Conference to demand a new global standard to end violence and sexual harassment in the workplace. This epidemic of unwanted touching, sexual comments, requests for sexual favors and sexual assault happens in palm fields in Honduras, garment factories in Cambodia and hotels in the United States. Violence in the workplace hurts both women and men, but women and workers with nonconforming gender identities experience the highest rates of violence.”

Say No to Subpar VA Service: In the States Roundup: “It’s time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states.”

Better Answers on Trade, America’s Economy: “In 2016, Donald Trump prevailed over 17 establishment opponents. He is a disrupter. In particular, he disrupted establishment trade policies that have failed millions of Americans.”

Kentucky: Labor ‘Batted’ .647 in the Primary: “If candidate endorsements were like baseball batting averages, the Kentucky State AFL-CIO would be leading the big leagues and heading for the Hall of Fame.”

Harley-Davidson Move Shows Failure of Trump Tax Cuts: “In February of last year, President Donald Trump met with executives and working people at Harley-Davidson, promising that his proposed changes to tax law, trade, tariffs and other policies would help the company grow and working people would be the beneficiaries. This promise was widely made by Trump and other Republican advocates of the tax bill that Trump signed in December. But, as time goes on, we see, more and more, that the law not only isn’t helping working people, it’s making things worse.”

Boeing’s Flight Line Workers in North Charleston Vote for Union, Giving Organized Labor a Boost in South: “Anti-union ads, social media campaigns and a mea culpa from Boeing Co. executive Kevin McAllister weren’t enough to sway flight-line employees at the aerospace giant’s North Charleston campus Thursday, as they voted for union representation in a big win for organized labor in the South. Of the 169 workers who cast ballots, 104 — or 61.5 percent — voted in favor of having the International Association of Machinists union represent them in collective bargaining.”

AFL-CIO Launches ‘Join a Union’ Ad Campaign: “The AFL-CIO has launched a national print and digital ‘join a union’ ad campaign, complete with quarter-page ads in top national and regional newspapers. The point, federation President Richard Trumka says in an open letter to all workers—the centerpiece of the drive—is to tell workers if they want decent raises, better benefits, and a voice on the job, unionizing is the way to go. ‘Join us—be a part of the fight to build a brighter future for you, your family and working people everywhere,’ his open letter reads.”

Editorial: CEO-Employee Pay Disparity Rises, Threatening the Golden Goose: “The AFL-CIO’s study for 2016 found the ratio was 347 to 1, up from 20 to 1 in 1950, 42 to 1 in 1980 and 120 to 1 in 2000. Results vary widely depending on who a company’s workers are. At Mattel Inc. the ratio was 4,987 to 1, but the company operates a lot of overseas factories with extremely low-paid workers. Also, CEO Margaret Georgiadis left the struggling toy maker last month, forfeiting all but $10.8 million of what was to have been $31.3 million in compensation. In other instances, ratios can be lower when companies outsource a lot of labor to contract employees.”

The Democrats’ Labor Pains: “‘It’s not hard to think that the defeat of 2016 had its roots in 1994,’ said Liz Shuler, the secretary and treasurer of the AFL-CIO during a panel discussion on labor’s political woes this week.”

Labor Leader William Burrus, Longtime Clevelander, Dead at 81: “William Burrus, who rose from sorting mail in Cleveland to leading one of the largest postal unions, died on Saturday, May 19. He was 81. He had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure two years ago, according to his wife, Ethelda, who survives him. Burrus was the first black president of a major union directly elected by members.”

Kenneth Quinnell
Fri, 06/01/2018 – 11:19

Source: AFL-CIO

Economy Gains 223,000 Jobs in May; Unemployment Little Changed at 3.8%

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By Kenneth Quinnell Economy Gains 223,000 Jobs in May; Unemployment Little Changed at 3.8%

The U.S. economy gained 223,000 jobs in May, and unemployment was little changed at 3.8%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since the labor market continues to recover at only a tempered pace, the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee should not raise interest rates.

While unemployment hovering around 4% may seem rosy, 1.2 million unemployed workers in America have been looking fruitlessly for work for more than six months, and 5 million workers are stuck in part-time jobs while looking for full-time work. Wages for too many of us have remained stubbornly low.

America’s working people demand better.

  • We want federal and state legislation to lift the minimum wage to $15 an hour and index it to the median wage.

  • We want new appointments to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors to be committed to full employment, which has been a sidelined priority of the Federal Reserve for far too long, and we want full employment to be measured by the growth of real wages in line with productivity.

  • We want budget and tax policies that prioritize full employment and good-paying jobs, including massive and sustained investments in America’s infrastructure.

In response to the May jobs numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs tweeted:

Payroll employment was up 223,000 in May and unemployment was 3.8%. Average wages were up 2.7% from last year. Combined changes for March and April boosted previously reported job gains by 15,000 jobs. @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) June 1, 2018

Black unemployment continued its recovery trend started in 2010. Black unemployment fell to 5.9% on a rise in the share employed to 58.4%. @CBTU72 @APRI_National @dchometownboy @rolandsmartin @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) June 1, 2018

Maybe a good sign? Employment in temp agencies fell 7,800 while there was net job growth. That means a higher share of direct hires by firms. @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) June 1, 2018

Seasonally adjusted, employment in food and drinking establishments rose 17,600. Minimum wage increases aren’t slowing down this number. @NelpNews @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) June 1, 2018

Signs workers are optimistic: those out of the labor force in April were 2.7 times more likely to land a job in May when they re-entered the labor market than be simply looking (be unemployed) @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) June 1, 2018

Chart showing the decline in unemployment began in 2010 under @BarackObama @AFLCIO

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) June 1, 2018

Last month’s biggest job gains were in retail trade (31,000), health care (29,000), construction (25,000), professional and technical services (23,000), transportation and warehousing (19,000), manufacturing (18,000), and mining (6,000). Employment changed little in other major industries, including wholesale trade, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates decreased for adult men (3.5%), blacks (5.9%) and Asians (2.1%). The unemployment rate for teenagers (12.8%), Hispanics (4.9%), whites (3.5%) and adult women (3.3%) showed little or no change in May.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed in May and accounted for 19.4% of the unemployed.

Kenneth Quinnell
Fri, 06/01/2018 – 09:55

Source: AFL-CIO

From #Metoo to a Global Convention on Sexual Harassment at Work

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By Kenneth Quinnell


From #Metoo to a Global Convention on Sexual Harassment at Work

World Fish/A. W. M. Anisuzzaman/Flickr.

Labor unions around the globe are participating in the International Labor Conference to demand a new global standard to end violence and sexual harassment in the workplace. This epidemic of unwanted touching, sexual comments, requests for sexual favors and sexual assault happens in palm fields in Honduras, garment factories in Cambodia and hotels in the United States. Violence in the workplace hurts both women and men, but women and workers with nonconforming gender identities experience the highest rates of violence.

Media accounts around the world have cast a spotlight on the systemic abuse made possible by global production systems built on cheap, flexible labor provided by women. Women workers have less power, and so are often unwilling or afraid to speak out about sexual assault, harassment or violence. Many women fear losing their jobs, or public shaming by co-workers or families. Social class, race, ethnicity, migrant status, age and ability can all tilt the power balance further away from working women and toward abusers.

Labor unions can help level the playing field for working women worldwide, because it is possible to stand strong when we stand united. Statistics tell us that women with a union are more likely to raise and address issues of harassment, sexual assault and violence. At the same time, collective bargaining agreements can protect women who report abuses from being fired or retaliated against, yet only 7% of the global workforce benefit from a formal union or worker association.

The most vulnerable workers are those who lack unions and who work in precarious arrangements with little or no oversight or accountability. We can help more workers address violence in the workplace by strengthening the freedom of workers to join or form unions and to bargain collectively. A binding standard needs to address the issues of all workers, including those in the informal economy like home-based workers to the most formal economy workers.

The International Labor Organization recently released research on violence and harassment at work in 80 countries in preparation for the upcoming conference. Twenty countries surveyed had no measures in place to protect victims who reported sexual harassment from retaliation, and 19 did not even have a legal definition of sexual harassment at work. A strong legal framework that defines sexual harassment and protects victims can help workers and employers identify and stop the violence.

Social media has allowed women to raise the visibility of sexual harassment and violence, even in industries with low union density and despite other challenges. The time is ripe for labor unions, governments and employers to build on the momentum of the #metoo, #yotambien, #quellavoltache and other campaigns to improve the safety of all workers in all workplaces.

The time is right for a new International Labor Organization (ILO) global standard aimed at ending violence and sexual harassment at work. Years of advocacy from unions and our allies have yielded a commitment to a two-year, tripartite negotiation process between unions, employers and governments. The result will be a new ILO standard, possibly a binding convention, directly focused on violence and sexual harassment in the world of work. Other human rights instruments address gender discrimination or violence in the workplace, yet this ILO standard will be unique because it brings both issues together with a sole focus on the world of work.

ILO standards are negotiated by governments, unions and employers and are widely useful. Governments use them to draft and implement labor and social policy laws. Employers use them to create a set of best practices that can be used anywhere around the world. Labor unions use them to advocate for better protections at work.

Unions support a convention, which is a binding legal instrument that can be ratified by members of the ILO, accompanied by a recommendation that provides more detailed guidance and best practices. A binding convention is necessary, because of the prevalence of sexual harassment across all sectors and workplaces. Unions are advocating for a standard that would cover all workers from domestic workers to autoworkers. A binding convention will make sure countries have the necessary tools to develop and implement laws, as well as develop systems of accountability so the improvements actually have an impact on workers in all workplaces.

Women and sexual and gender minority workers have suffered because of a lack of legal frameworks and a severe power imbalance for too long. No worker should endure violence because the risk of speaking out is too great. No one should endure humiliations and abuse to keep a job. This month, governments and employers have an opportunity to join with unions to start the process of creating a strong new convention and global standard. We can protect millions of workers, and build a future free of workplace sexual harassment and violence.

This post originally appeared at Open Democracy.

Kenneth Quinnell
Thu, 05/31/2018 – 16:26

Source: AFL-CIO