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Every week, we'll be bringing you a roundup of the important news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here's this week's Working People Weekly List. Read more >>>

Each week, we take a look at the biggest friends and foes of labor. We celebrate the workers winning big and small battles, and we shame the companies or people trying to deny working people their rights. Read more >>>

AFL-CIO Now Blog -- Recent News Stories

AFL-CIO Joins CWA Call for $4,000 Wage Increase for Working People
AFL-CIO Joins CWA Call for $4,000 Wage Increase for Working People

CWA Tax Bill Rally NY
CWA

The Donald Trump administration repeatedly has claimed that its tax bill would result in a $4,000 wage increase for working people. Today, the AFL-CIO has joined a campaign by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) to demand corporations guarantee this raise in writing. The labor federation is rallying the power of its 12.5 million members and the entire union movement to support this campaign in every industry.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said:

CWA has inspired an innovative movement to demand working people get our fair share and expose the scam that is the Republican tax bill. Working people have heard the same old lies about the benefits of economic policies written by and for greedy corporations for too long. This campaign is about holding corporations and politicians accountable to their claims and getting a much-needed raise for America’s workers.

On Nov. 20, CWA sent a letter to its major employers, including AT&T, Verizon, General Electric Co., American Airlines and NBC Universal, calling on them to commit to that raise in writing. In joining the CWA’s efforts, the AFL-CIO is encouraging all unions from all sectors to join in by reaching out to their employers and encouraging all working people to sign a petition that puts employers on notice that they will be held accountable if the Republican tax bill becomes law. 

In a powerful op-ed, CWA President Christopher Shelton laid out how the Republican tax scam would hurt working people and increase the deficit by more than $1 trillion:

Republicans are on the brink of passing a massive tax overhaul, and it’s looking like the biggest con of the Trump era so far. And that’s saying a lot.

The legislation being jammed through by the House and Senate Republicans is a tax giveaway to corporations and the richest 1 percent, paid for by working and middle-income families.

Across the board, working people will be hurt by this plan, whether by the new incentives to corporations to send U.S. jobs overseas, the loss of the medical expense deduction, new taxes imposed on education benefits, the inability to deduct interest on student loans, the loss of state and local tax deductions, or the forced budget cuts to Medicare, transportation, health care and other critical programs.

Despite the double-talk from Republicans anxious to sell this plan, it’s not hard to figure out who Republicans really want to help. Why else would tax cuts for corporations and tax changes that benefit the wealthiest Americans—like the estate tax—be permanent, while individual tax cuts for middle-income families are only temporary?...

Working people know better than to believe the boss’ promises unless they are in writing. That’s why my union has asked some of our biggest employers to sign an agreement that says if the tax plan passes, working people will get their $4,000.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 12/12/2017 - 14:10

Union-Made Holiday Gift Ideas
Union-Made Holiday Gift Ideas

Union-made holiday buying guide
AFL-CIO

It's not too late yet to find that perfect holiday gift that carries a union label. Below is a wide range of gift possibilities, from clothes to games to sports equipment and more, made by union-members across the country.

This list is compiled from Union Plus, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor's resource site, Labor 411, the AFL-CIO Union Label and Service Trades Department (UL&STD) and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) website. Check them out for even more gift ideas.

Apparel and Accessories

  • Carhartt
  • Filson clothes and bags
  • Garnier Fructis hair care products
  • Joseph Abboud
  • Nunn Bush shoes
  • Phillips-Van Heusen
  • Red Wing Shoes
  • Shinola watches
  • Winston Leather
  • Wolverine boots
  • More clothing and apparel

Games and Toys

  • Boggle
  • Candy Land
  • Clue
  • Connect Four
  • Cranium
  • Easy-Bake
  • The Game of Life
  • G.I. Joe
  • Heroscape
  • Marvel & Disney toys and games made by Hasbro
  • Memory
  • Mousetrap
  • Mr. Potato Head
  • My Little Pony
  • Operation
  • Play-Doh
  • Rubik's
  • Sorry
  • Strawberry Shortcake
  • Tinkertoy
  • Tonka
  • Transformers
  • Trivial Pursuit
  • Twister
  • Weebles
  • Yahtzee
  • Check out other games and more toys

Sports Equipment

  • American Athletic gym equipment
  • Bell Sports
  • Ebonite Bowling Balls
  • Louisville Slugger
  • Remington Arms
  • Standard Golf Company
  • Wilson Sporting Goods
  • Other sports equipment

Tools

  • Armstrong
  • Black & Decker Tools
  • Channellock
  • Craftsman
  • Cutco knives
  • Klein Tools
  • Ridgid
  • SnapOn Tools
  • Stanley Hand Tools
  • Union Tools
  • Warwood
  • More tools

Stocking Stuffers

  • Rayovac batteries
  • Bic lighters
  • Allan Traditional Candy Canes and other candies
  • Boyer Mallo cups and other candies
  • Brown & Haley holiday gift boxes, baskets, tins and packages
  • Dare Foods Limited variety of gums, jellies, hard candy and gift tubs
  • Frankford Candy & Chocolate holiday candy toys, gift baskets, tins boxes and packs
  • Ghirardelli chocolates
  • Hershey chocolates
  • Jelly Belly
  • Jordan Almonds
  • Laffy Taffy
  • Linette Quality Chocolates
  • Nestle chocolates
  • Pearson’s Candy Company
  • Sconza Candy Company
  • See’s Candies
  • Other union-made snacks

Wine and Spirits

  • Andre champagne
  • Arbor Mist
  • C.K. Mondavi
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle
  • Cook's champagne
  • Gallo Estate wines
  • Gallo of Sonoma
  • St. Supery
  • Tott's champagne
  • Turning Leaf
  • More wine and spirits

Beer

  • Bass Pale Ale
  • Beck's
  • Blue Moon
  • Budweiser
  • Busch
  • Killian's
  • Kirin
  • Labatt Blue
  • Land Shark Lager
  • Michelob
  • Mickey's
  • Miller
  • Molson Canadian
  • O'Doul's
  • Olde English 800
  • Pabst
  • Red Stripe
  • Rolling Rock
  • Sam Adams
  • Schlitz
  • ShockTop
  • More union-made beer

If You’re in the ‘Big Spender’ Category

Check out many other gift ideas from GetItUnion.com by the Fire Fighters (IAFF).

Finally, if you are traveling and stay in a hotel, make sure it is a fair hotel!

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 12/12/2017 - 13:10

Call Congress on Wednesday to Push NAFTA Talks in a Better Direction
Call Congress on Wednesday to Push NAFTA Talks in a Better Direction

Call-in day for NAFTA
AFL-CIO

Talks that could reform U.S. trade policy that has been driving down wages and rigging our economy for nearly 25 years continue in Washington, D.C., during the week of Dec. 11-16. 

These talks are critical because they could reshape the rules of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is called a “trade deal” but is really little more than a set of rules that promote outsourcing and give global corporations more rights under the law than ordinary families.

Join our national call-in day on Dec. 13 to tell Congress that the new NAFTA must ensure working people in the United States, Canada and Mexico the right to join together and negotiate for better wages and working conditions or the rest of the talks won’t make a difference. Dial 855-856-7545 to call.

The insidious thing about NAFTA is that unlike run-of-the-mill bad laws, it can’t be fixed by a simple vote of Congress. It takes the agreement of three countries to change it: the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Global companies that profit from NAFTA by polluting the environment and denying working people the freedom to join together to negotiate for better wages and working conditions love “trade deals” like NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership because they are hard to fix. This means that profits for these companies keep mounting, even as they deny working people raises, reduce health benefits and close entire workplaces to take jobs to countries where they can exploit workers even worse than they can here.

While some good ideas have been suggested in the NAFTA talks (including Canada’s labor proposal and the U.S. proposal to limit investor-state dispute settlement), there are other proposals that would rig our economy even further by empowering Wall Street banks and big pharmaceutical companies at our expense.

Most importantly, these talks have not prioritized fixing the deplorable labor system in Mexico, in which abusive employers conspire with “protection unions” to keep wages and benefits down while the government looks the other way. If this abusive system can’t be dismantled, ordinary working families will continue to be denied rights in Mexico, which will continue to result in job losses and lower wages in the U.S. and Canada.

You can help push these talks in the right direction!

Call 855-856-7545 on Dec. 13, when a nationwide coalition of labor, environmental, consumer, faith and farm groups are holding a #ReplaceNAFTA call-in day to demand that NAFTA renegotiations include labor, environmental and climate provisions with swift and certain enforcement.

?If you miss the call-in day, you can still join the fight by texting TRADE to 235246.  ?

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 12/12/2017 - 11:19

Union Members Winning Elections Coast to Coast
Union Members Winning Elections Coast to Coast

Union Members winning elections
Union Members winning elections

This week, working family advocates won electoral victories from coast to coast, with Dahlia Vertreese winning election as mayor of Hillside, New Jersey, and Myrtle Cole being re-elected as president of the San Diego City Council.

These victories are part of a larger trend, where a strong independent union movement provides the support and expertise to help ensure that when working people run for office, working people win.

Strong independent union movements at the state and local level have been growing for years, and now the impact is being felt at a national level as we define a pro-worker agenda committed to the issues that matter most to working people everywhere.

Working people win when working people run. The New Jersey State AFL-CIO’s record says it all. A total of 965 union members have won office in that state’s program, with an annual win ratio of more than 70%.

Successful local candidate programs have gone national. America’s largest federation of labor unions passed a powerful national resolution on political independence, by promising to train and campaign for union members to win public office.

The goal is simple: to win better lives for working people in every corner of this great nation by putting working people in leadership roles.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 12/08/2017 - 13:10

Labor Department Proposes Legalizing Wage Theft
Labor Department Proposes Legalizing Wage Theft

Too many restaurant owners already break the law by stealing tips from their servers. Now the Department of Labor wants to give its blessing to this kind of wage theft.

The Labor Department is moving quickly to establish a new rule that would make tips the property of restaurant owners instead of workers.

This week, President Donald Trump's administration proposed getting rid of an existing rule that makes tips the property of servers that restaurant owners cannot take away.

Under the new proposal, restaurant owners who pay their employees as little as $7.25 per hour could do whatever they want with tips left by customers for waitstaff. Restaurant owners could even keep the tips for themselves.

The federal minimum cash wage for tipped workers—at just $2.13 per hour—is already lower than for other workers. This low subminimum wage means that tipped workers depend on tips for virtually all their take-home pay after taxes, so they receive their take-home pay directly from customers. Not surprisingly, tipped workers have higher rates of poverty, discrimination and sexual harassment. Undocumented and immigrant workers in the restaurant industry are particularly vulnerable to wage theft.

The administration’s proposal would take money out of the pockets of some of the lowest-paid workers in our country and hand it over to restaurant owners, many of them big corporations.

Does that sound familiar? This is the same kind of reverse Robin Hood scheme as the disgraceful tax bill now making its way through Congress.

We cannot let them get away with this. The administration is trying to sneak this change through without hearing from workers, customers or even employers who disagree at a time of year when tipped workers are the busiest. The deadline for comments on this proposal is Jan. 4, 2018.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 12/08/2017 - 12:49

President of IBEW Local 1253 Joins Sit-In to Fight ‘Dead-Wrong’ Tax Bill
President of IBEW Local 1253 Joins Sit-In to Fight ‘Dead-Wrong’ Tax Bill

Collins protesters
IBEW

Outraged by the GOP’s tax bill, a local Electrical Workers (IBEW) president was among five protesters who staged a sit-in and ultimately were arrested Monday at Sen. Susan Collins’ (R) office in Bangor, Maine.

"This bill gives massive tax cuts to the rich on the backs of working people. It was written by the rich and powerful for the rich and powerful," said Nick Paquet, an electrician in his second term as president of IBEW Local 1253 in Augusta, Maine. "Sen. Collins knows right from wrong, and this bill is dead wrong for Maine."

Collins has bucked the GOP party line on occasion, and Paquet thought she might do it again. As a father of four children ages nine to 19, he certainly hoped so. "To be honest, I really thought she wouldn’t vote for it, especially because of who she represents. We’re not well-to-do," he said. "We’re a very scrappy part of Maine up here, and good-paying jobs are hard to come by."

Instead, Collins joined all but one Republican in voting for the bill, which passed 51-49 in the early hours of Dec. 2. The legislation has to survive a second vote once it emerges from a HouseSenate conference committee.

If Collins and at least one other GOP senator can be persuaded to change their minds, the bill would die. Paquet urged union families to "call, aggressively call" their senators to demand they oppose it. "You don’t have to do a sit-in like we did, but we really hope we inspire other union households to get involved."

A nonpartisan economic analysis predicts the national debt will soar by $1.5 trillion under the bill, which hands hundreds of billions of dollars to corporations and the rich. Meanwhile, it ends or nullifies major deductions for low-income and middle-class Americans, including medical expenses, home mortgage interest, student loan debt and union dues. An estimated 13 million people would lose health care and—contrary to GOP talking points—the bill would destroy, not create, jobs due to tax breaks that give companies incentive to move Americans’ jobs to other countries. At home, the bill would have crippling effects on federal money for infrastructure, costing many workers their livelihoods.

The Economic Policy Institute called the bill "a scam through and through," warning that in addition to its immediate consequences, "the deficits it will leave in its wake will be used to attack Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."

Motivated by all of that, Paquet arrived at Collins’ office around 3 p.m. Monday with a nurse, a veteran [with disabilities], a retiree and an AFL-CIO mobilizer. They asked to talk to Collins by phone—she was in Washington, D.C.—but had to settle for an hour’s discussion with a staffer. Police arrested them peacefully several hours later when they refused orders to leave. They were quickly processed in and out of the county jail on criminal trespass charges. They have a Jan. 17 court date.

What upsets Paquet as much as the bill’s content is that Republican leaders wrote it in secret without public hearings or Democratic input, then pushed it through the Senate at warp speed. He doubts Collins and most other senators have read the bill’s 479 pages, let alone fully understood it before voting.

"Why this big rush?" Paquet said. "Our voices aren’t being heard—state level, federal, they really forget who they’re working for. They were elected to serve their constituents, just like I was elected to serve my members."

This post originally appeared at IBEW.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 12/08/2017 - 11:50

A Roving Ambassador for Peace: The Working People Weekly List
A Roving Ambassador for Peace: The Working People Weekly List

Tefere Gebre
AFL-CIO

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.

Labor Leader Tefere Gebre Awarded Peace Prize: "Tefere Gebre, a stalwart of the cause of organized labor, was given a 'Roving Ambassador for Peace' award in a ceremony, near Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Gebre, a native of Ethiopia, is an Executive Vice-President of the AFL-CIO. According to the program notes, he became in 2013, the 'first immigrant, political refugee, black man and local labor council leader elected as a national officer of the AFL-CIO.'"

JPMorgan and AFL-CIO CEOs: Finding a Job Is Still Too Hard. Here’s How We Can Fix That: "By the end of the year, it is estimated that almost 2 million new jobs will have been created in 2017. While that is certainly good news for the economy, we need strategies in place to ensure that this economic growth benefits all working families. Our country should be a land of opportunity for anyone willing to work hard to realize their dreams, regardless of their background."

Ending Temporary Protection for Foreign Workers Could Hurt U.S. Rebuilding Efforts: "The Trump administration has been eliminating some protections that allow more than 300,000 people to live and work in the U.S. under what is known as temporary protected status. Many could face deportation when their status expires."

Bank Deregulation Bill Will Leave Taxpayers Holding the Bag: "These days, it’s hard to keep straight all of Congress’ efforts to build plutocracy—the further consolidation of the power of the richest Americans at the expense of the rest of us.  With the Senate passing a multi-trillion dollar job-killing giveaway of our tax dollars to the people and companies who need it least, you might have missed the bill moving through the Senate to deregulate Wall Street and consumer finance."

Guest Worker Bill Will Put Hundreds of Thousands of Americans Out of Work: "When the Carrier Corporation announced it would be closing its furnace factory in Indianapolis, a decision that would have destroyed close to 1,000 middle class jobs in the U.S., there was widespread outrage from political leaders from both parties. But when the House Judiciary Committee narrowly passed H.R. 4092 — the Agricultural Guestworker Act this fall, a bill that would flood the meat processing and agricultural sectors with hundreds of thousands of untrained visa holders — there was mostly silence on both sides of the aisle."

CBO: Senate Tax Bill Increases Deficit by $1.4 Trillion: "The Senate GOP tax plan will increase the deficit by more than $1.4 trillion over a decade, according to a new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)."

Credential Engine to Bridge Gap Between Skilled Workers and Companies That Need Them: "In a new op-ed for Fortune, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon announce a project designed to bring together highly skilled, credentialed working people with companies that need their specific skills."

U.S. Government Turns Its Back on Migrant Rights—Again: "Last weekend, the U.S. government announced that it would pull out of negotiations on the U.N. Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration ("Global Compact"). This decision abdicates U.S. leadership on a critical human rights issue and further weakens our position on the global stage. It also enables the Donald Trump administration to continue to advance an agenda that criminalizes migrant workers in our country and turns away people fleeing violence and persecution."

Here Come the Republican Benefit Cuts: "First, they run up the deficit with massive tax giveaways for millionaires and Wall Street; then they use the deficit as an excuse to cut benefits for working people."

Why You Should Care About the Federal Reserve: "The Federal Reserve Board makes key decisions about our economy and our financial system. It sets short-term interest rates and regulates the big banks."

Working People Arrested for Attempting to Hold Sen. Susan Collins Accountable for Anti-Worker Tax Vote: "On Monday, five working people were arrested in Bangor, Maine, after they refused to leave Sen. Susan Collins' office until she committed to opposing the horrible tax legislation passed by the Senate last week."

Congress Can Restore Service Members’ and Veterans’ Rights: "In October, in a 50-50 tie vote broken by Vice President Mike Pence, Congress passed a resolution that stripped service members and veterans of their right to band together in court when companies violate the law and harm thousands or millions of people. Congress has a chance to right that wrong this week. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s arbitration rule repealed by Congress would have stopped Wall Street banks, giant credit bureaus like Equifax and predatory lenders from putting fine print clauses in their contracts that strip people of their right to join together in court."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 12/08/2017 - 11:31

The Economy Gains 228,000 Jobs in November, and Unemployment Unchanged at 4.1%
The Economy Gains 228,000 Jobs in November, and Unemployment Unchanged at 4.1%

The U.S. economy gained 228,000 jobs in November, and unemployment was unchanged at 4.1%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This continues the recovery of the labor market at a tempered rate, which means the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee should continue to let the economy grow and not raise interest rates.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Last month's biggest job gains were in professional and business services (46,000), manufacturing (31,000), health care (30,000) and specialty trade construction contractors (23,000). Employment in other major industries, including mining, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government, changed little over the month.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for teenagers (15.9%) increased in November. The jobless rates for blacks (7.3%), Hispanics (4.7%), adult men (3.7%), adult women (3.7%), whites (3.6%) and Asians (3.0%) showed little change.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed in November, and accounted for 23.8% of the unemployed.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 12/08/2017 - 10:43

Department for Professional Employees Celebrates 40th Anniversary
Department for Professional Employees Celebrates 40th Anniversary

On Dec. 7, 2017, the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, (DPE) celebrates its 40th anniversary.

In honor of DPE’s 40th year, we reflect on the growth of professional union members and recognize DPE’s affiliate unions. Since DPE’s founding, professional union members have grown from 18% to 42% of the labor movement. Today, more than 6 million professionals—including doctors, nurses, teachers, professors, scientists, engineers, entertainers, performers, sales representatives and administrative personnel—have joined together in union to negotiate for better pay, benefits and working conditions.

Here’s a message from DPE President Paul E. Almeida marking the occasion:

Earlier this year, the AFL-CIO 2017 Convention recognized the dramatic growth of professionals in unions and professionals’ role in the future of the labor movement when the delegates adopted Resolution 36—Celebrating DPE: 40 Years of Growing Professional Union Membership.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler congratulated DPE:

Portions of this post originally appeared at DPE.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 12/07/2017 - 14:46

Credential Engine to Bridge Gap Between Skilled Workers and Companies That Need Them
Credential Engine to Bridge Gap Between Skilled Workers and Companies That Need Them

In a new op-ed for Fortune, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon announce a project designed to bring together highly skilled, credentialed working people with companies that need their specific skills.

An excerpt from the op-ed:

Getting people into available, good-paying jobs remains a challenge. It is more confusing than ever to understand what training, education, and experience in the form of apprenticeships, certificates, college degrees, or licenses are valued in today’s dynamic and changing economy. It is critical for job seekers and employers to understand what credentials are necessary to get a good job and which will be the most helpful in advancing their career.

In fact, there has been no single registry to house the estimated 250,000 credentials available in the U.S. today. There has been no search engine for human resource departments, job seekers, or curriculum planners to easily sort, assess, update, and better understand the skills and competencies needed to fill the 5.5 million open jobs that are reported to be available today....

The good news is that a promising solution is on the horizon. It’s a database called Credential Engine, which like websites that use algorithms to compare flights and the cost of hotel rooms, allows job seekers, employers, and educators to easily search, aggregate, and compare employment credentials.

This open-source tool will make it easier for industries such as health care, which is expected to grow 18% by 2026, adding about 2.3 million jobs in the process, to easily lay out the education and training credentials required to train, recruit, and hire staff. People searching for jobs or educational programs can visit the site and compare options....

Helping every American share in our economic growth requires close collaboration and partnership between business and labor. This goal is within reach if we can utilize technology to build the tools and provide resources that offer a clear pathway for job seekers to secure the skills that today’s growing industries need.

By cutting through the confusion and working together, we can pioneer better ways to make our economy work for everyone.

Read the full op-ed.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 12/07/2017 - 13:44

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