Posted on February 5, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Any review of the recent ups and downs of U.S. labor must start in Michigan, long a bastion of blue-collar unionism rooted in car manufacturing. Fifteen months ago, this Midwestern industrial state became another notch in the belt of the National Right to Work Committee, joining the not-very-desirable company of Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, and twenty other “open shop” states.
The emergence of sun-belt labor relations in the birthplace of the United Auto Workers (UAW) was shocking to some. But this political setback was preceded by high-profile defeats in neighboring states that began in 2005. First Indiana, followed by Wisconsin and Ohio, stripped public workers of their bargaining rights (although the Republican attack on government employees was later repelled by popular referendum in the Buckeye State). Then in early 2012, GOP legislators in Indiana passed a right-to-work law applicable to private industry. It banned any further negotiation of labor-management agreements that compelled workers to make a financial contribution to the cost of union representation, in established bargaining units or newly organized ones.1
In November 2012, organized labor tried to buck the emerging anti-union trend with two ballot questions designed to strengthen public-sector bargaining rights in Michigan. Despite the expenditure of many millions of dollars by affiliates of the AFL-CIO and Change To Win, both measures were defeated.2 In its lame-duck session just a few weeks later, GOP legislators in Lansing took retaliatory aim at union security in Michigan’s private sector. When the region’s latest “right to work” bill landed on his desk, Republican Governor Rick Snyder was most pleased to sign it into law. Continue reading
Filed under: Low wage workers, Organizing | Tagged: "Fight for 15", AFL-CIO, fastfood strikes, Our Walmart, UAW, Walmart strikes | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 19, 2013 by dcampbell1
by Bill Fletcher Jr. and Jeff Crosby
The AFL-CIO Convention in September took an important turn to reposition unions toward speaking for all working people in the United States. This was a correction to the narrow focus on its dues-paying members and traditional electoral work that has cursed the movement for most of its history.
To argue that this turn represents an abandonment of current members, as Steve Early does here , is factually false and politically wrong.
It helps to understand what the federation is and is not. It is a collection of unions “held together by a rope of sand,” as a former federation president put it. From the central labor councils to the national organization, affiliates that don’t like the turn of events just quit. Continue reading
Filed under: 2013 AFL-CIO Convention, Immigrant Workers, Organizing, Politics, Solidarity, Union Reform, Worker Centers | Tagged: AFL-CIO, AFL-CIO convention, Labor Notes, National Labor Relations Act, Richard Trumka, Trade union, United States | 1 Comment »
Posted on September 30, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
The AFL-CIO quadrennial 2013 convention in Los Angeles was a flurry of exciting activity that promises to remake the labor movement in the United States and build a movement for all working people to deal with the new challenges and political landscape working families must navigate. While there were many important discussions and plans made at the convention that will be expanded on in the coming months and years, here are 10 important initiatives that came out of the resolutions passed by the convention delegates that you should know about:
1. Opening Up and Broadening the Labor Movement: The delegates recognized the need to expand the labor movement to be more broad and inclusive and to recognize all working families, whose rights have been under assault. No fewer than six resolutions were passed to expand the labor movement and partner with allies in new ways. The first invites every worker in America to join the labor movement, either through affiliate unions or through Working America. Another one provides for supporting political campaigns that protect and expand workers’ rights to organize. A third related resolution calls for expanded efforts to help workers organize around the globe. Other areas of renewed focus would be on organizing in the southern United States, in building lasting community partnerships with organizations that share our values and expanding and protecting voting rights so working families have a say in choosing those who pass laws that affect their rights. Continue reading
Filed under: 2013 AFL-CIO Convention, Organizing, Politics | Tagged: @aflcio13, AFL-CIO, AFL-CIO convention | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 25, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Building on AFL-CIO Commitment to Broaden Labor Movement
(Washington, September 25, 2013) – With the goal of strengthening workers’ rights and building power for students as well as workers, the AFL-CIO and United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) today entered into a new national partnership. The two groups will collaborate on important global solidarity campaigns, from ensuring safe working conditions for Bangladeshi garment workers to protecting the freedom of U.S. workers to organize for better jobs whether they work on campus or for companies with university contracts like T-Mobile .
The new partnership builds on calls for innovation and inclusion at the just-concluded AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles, where delegates agreed to open the door to the labor movement and engage with allies outside unions to tackle the challenges confronting working people. Today’s partnership agreement between the AFL-CIO and USAS is the first concrete step since the convention unanimously agreed to expand community partnerships.
Filed under: 2013 AFL-CIO Convention, Solidarity | Tagged: AFL-CIO, Labor community partnerships, USAS | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 23, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
The way the media, corporations and the 1% talk about the economy is not only inaccurate, it is a means to maintain power for the wealthiest among us and keep working families powerless, delegates to the AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles declared today. The latest resolution passed at the convention describes the scope of the problem and announces a concrete plan to change the conversation.
Despite the way the 1% and their allies describe the economy, it isn’t something that just happens. It is something that is created by the sweat, skill and talent of the country’s workers and is something that is controlled by the wealthiest members of our society, often at the expense of the very workers who create the wealth that those power brokers are taking to the bank. They tell us that the economy is fundamentally unfair by its nature and that to do anything to make it more fair would harm the economy, and the corporate media helps them tell this story. But this narrative is not backed up by the realities that the rest of us deal with, and day after day and year after year, for all of America’s working families, not just the few. Continue reading
Filed under: 2013 AFL-CIO Convention, Economy | Tagged: AFL-CIO, Common Sense Economics, economics for working families | 2 Comments »
Posted on September 16, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
By Carl Finamore
On August 29, 2013, the 60,000-member International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) announced it was leaving the 13-million member AFL-CIO.
The ILWU explained it was taking this action because of “the Federation’s moderate, overly compromising policy positions on such important matters as immigration, labor law reform, health care reform, and international labor issues.”
The Longshore union also cited “attacks from other national [AFL-CIO] affiliates, who actively tried to undermine our contract struggle by filing legal claims and walking through our picket lines.”
I was at the Sept. 7-11, 2013 AFL-CIO quadrennial convention in Los Angeles and can attest that the ILWU’s presence was sorely missed, especially when “overly compromising policy positions” were openly laid bare.
Filed under: 2013 AFL-CIO Convention, Solidarity | Tagged: AFL-CIO, ILWU | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 14, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Michael Hirsch
LOS ANGELES–If you go by a strict reading of the resolutions passed at the AFL-CIO convention that concluded Wednesday, this is a solidly progressive organization ready to speak with brio for all working people and not just its millions of current members and retirees. Calls for a smooth transition to citizenship for new immigrants, an alternative to the politics of austerity, organizing and acting in solidarity globally, significantly improving Obamacare leading to health care for all, ending mass incarcerations, organizing the South, and supporting workers of all sexual preferences are great stands.
So is building up the state and local labor federations as active community organizations, supporting higher education and ending student debt and—most of all—actively and uniformly cooperating with militant social movement organizations on their goals, too. These resolutions marked the just concluded Los Angeles convention. In key ways affiliated unions, especially in the public sector, are already on board in practice. Continue reading
Filed under: 2013 AFL-CIO Convention | Tagged: 2013 AFL-CIO Convention, @aflcio13, AFL-CIO, AFL-CIO convention | 3 Comments »
Posted on September 14, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Clayton Sinyai
This week witnesses thousands of trade unionists and labor activists assembling in Los Angeles for the 27th Constitutional Convention of the AFL-CIO. With union membership continuing to decline, the federation has been seeking new approaches to advocate for American workers.
The labor movement’s reach peaked in the early 1950s, when some one-third of US workers belonged to a trade union. This pinnacle was achieved under labor relations system created by the Wagner Act in 1935: workers voted in government-supervised election campaigns to decide whether they wanted collective bargaining and if so, which union would represent them. Labor and management would then negotiate a contract; the workers, now union members, would enjoy improved wages and benefits and pay dues to support their union in return.
In recent decades this system has broken down. Employers now campaign aggressively to discourage their employees from voting for union representation, often going beyond legal bounds (labor board investigators find this thousands of workers each year suffer such unlawful retaliation). Under these conditions unions have not succeeded in organizing enough workers in the new service sector and technology jobs to offset declines in traditional union strongholds like manufacturing. Continue reading
Filed under: 2013 AFL-CIO Convention, Low wage workers | Tagged: 2013 AFL-CIO Convention, @aflcio13, AFL-CIO, Alt-labor | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 14, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Harold Meyerson
The AFL-CIO Convention concluded Wednesday, having made some major structural changes in the way labor will operate—though nowhere near so major as the changes that the Federation’s top leader was advocating in the weeks leading up to the convention.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka iterated and reiterated that labor would no longer limit its members to those who had successfully convinced their employers to recognize their union. With employers able to flout labor law with impunity, illegally firing workers who sought to organize and refusing to sign contracts with those whose unions had won recognition elections, the number of workers who actually emerge with a contract grows smaller with each passing year. So the Federation’s unions would welcome workers who had tried to organize their workplace but didn’t prevail. It would welcome workers such as cab drivers, who were misclassified as independent contractors and legally proscribed from forming a union, though they were actually employees. It would welcome domestic workers, who also had been excluded from National Labor Relations Act coverage, and day laborers.
Trumka didn’t stop there. With labor unable to make the fundamental changes to society and the economy that could jump start a new middle class, unions would have to form far closer and more enduring coalitions with other progressive organizations—the National Organization for Women, the NAACP, and the Sierra Club. It would make joint decisions with them in support of one another’s agendas; it would welcome them into labor’s governing body …
It would welcome them into labor’s governing body?? Continue reading
Filed under: 2013 AFL-CIO Convention | Tagged: 2103 AFL-CIO Convention, @aflcio13, AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 11, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
During the floor debate yesterday on a resolution expanding the AFL-CIO’s commitment to take the workers excluded from labor law’s protections into its ranks—domestic workers, taxi drivers, day laborers, and the like—one delegate to the union’s quadrennial convention likened the proceedings to the 1935 AFL convention, when a sizable group of unionists wanted the Federation to expand its ranks to include factory workers. The more conservative Federation leaders, including its president, William Green, believed that unions should represent only workers in skilled trades—carpenters, masons, plumbers, and so on. But John L. Lewis of the Mine Workers and Sidney Hillman of the Clothing Workers believed that there were millions of factory workers who would flock to unions if given the chance.
Lewis and Hillman’s motion to organize factory workers was put to a vote and lost. They were not happy. Indeed, Lewis decked Big Bill Hutchinson, the president of the Carpenters, and stormed out—to form the CIO, a labor organization pledged to organize factory workers and that organized millions of them over the next couple of years.
No such dramatics attended yesterday’s proceedings, but the delegate who harked back to 1935 had a point. The issues before this year’s AFL-CIO convention, like the issues before the convention 78 years ago, concern opening labor’s ranks to a whole new group of workers—disproportionately minority, immigrant, and female. There was an ethno-cultural dimension to the factory-worker debate of 1935 as well: The AFL trade unions (though not the Mine and Clothing Workers) consisted disproportionately of men of Northwestern European descent, while the factory workers were often of Southern and Eastern European descent. Some were even black or, horror of horrors, women. Opening labor’s ranks to these workers was something that many in the AFL would simply not countenance.
Filed under: 2013 AFL-CIO Convention, Organizing, Politics | Tagged: 2103 AFL-CIO Convention, @aflcio13, AFL-CIO, AFL-CIO convention | Leave a comment »