Trumka Resigns from White House Council on Manufacturing

Richard Trumka
Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on his and Thea Lee’s resignation from President Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council:

We cannot sit on a council for a president who tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism. President Trump’s remarks today repudiate his forced remarks yesterday about the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis. We must resign on behalf of America’s working people, who reject all notions of legitimacy of these bigoted groups.

It’s clear that President Trump’s manufacturing council was never an effective means for delivering real policy that lifts working families, and his remarks today were the last straw. We joined this council with the intent to be a voice for working people and real hope that it would result in positive economic policy, but it has become yet another broken promise on the president’s record. From hollow councils to bad policy and embracing bigotry, the actions of this administration have consistently failed working people.

DSA Staff Form a Union

DSA

Staff of Democratic Socialists of America Join The NewsGuild-CWA
Washington DC – Staff at Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the largest socialist organization in the United States, requested and received voluntary recognition of their union. They are joining the Washington-Baltimore Local of The NewsGuild-CWA. July 27, 2017.
The group is excited to continue building on the exponential growth of DSA over the past year and to enact the political direction decided upon by the membership by advocating for sustainable working conditions and a workplace where all are treated with dignity and respect.
In a mission statement, DSA staffers explained why unionizing is a natural extension of the principles that guide their work:
“We need to practice what we preach, whether promoting diversity among leadership and staff, providing accommodation for people with disabilities, or creating the kind of community – one based on shared accountability, democracy, and transparency – that allows everyone to thrive. As an organization, we can also use this as an important example of workplace organizing.”
“We are dedicated to fighting capitalism and promoting democracy and socialism. If DSA is to be successful in this fight, national staff members must have the same protections and bargaining power we advocate for and desire for all workers,” said Administrative and Office Coordinator Eileen Casterline.
YDS Organizer Ryan Mosgrove continued, saying that the group is working “to establish structures which will promote DSA’s long-term health and stability as we work together towards the eventual triumph of democratic socialism.”
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The NewsGuild-CWA is the premier union for journalists, representing 25,000 reporters, photographers, ad employees and other media workers in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. The Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild (Local 32035) represents approximately 3,000 workers in and around Washington DC & Baltimore.

Historic Farmworker California Exhibit

 

HISTORIC STATE FAIR EXHIBIT RECOGNIZES FARMWORKERS
by David Bacon
Capital & Main, 7/25/17
https://davidbaconrealitycheck.blogspot.com/2017/07/historic-state-fair-exhibit-recognizes.html
https://capitalandmain.com/historic-state-fair-exhibit-recognizes-farmworkers-0725Cutting the ribbon at the farmworker exhibition (left to right): Assemblymember Blanca Rubio, United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez, State Sen. Ben Hueso, Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty and Freddie Rodriguez, Cesar Chavez Foundation President Paul F. Chavez, Assemblymember Anna Caballero, State Fair CEO Rick Pickering (partially obscured), Sacramento City Councilmember Eric Guera, State Sen. Ed Hernandez (partially obscured), State Treasurer John Chiang and Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna.For over 160 years the California State Fair/Cal Expo has been run by growers to showcase the wonders and wealth of the state’s agriculture. And for over 160 years the fair did this without mentioning the people whose labor makes agriculture possible: farmworkers.This year that changed. Rick Pickering, chief executive officer of the California Exposition & State Fair, and Tom Martinez, the fair’s chief deputy general manager, asked the United Farm Workers to help put together an exhibit to remedy this historical omission. As a result, for the first time the fair, which runs through July 30, has an exhibition that not only pays tribute to field laborers, but also acknowledges the long history of their struggle to organize unions.

Growers are not happy, and fair organizers got some pushback. But at the ceremony inaugurating the exhibition, State Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), the head of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, explained why they no longer have veto power. “We wouldn’t be here without the work of farmworkers,” he said. “The legislature now includes members who worked in the fields themselves, or have family who did, who know what it’s like to work in 100 degree heat, to suffer the hardest conditions and work the longest hours. We want our families to work in better conditions and earn more money.”

Some of the farmworkers who came as guests of the fair were veterans of that long struggle. Efren Fraide worked at one of the state’s largest vegetable growers, D’Arrigo Brothers Produce, when the original union election was held in 1975. However, it was only after the legislature passed the mandatory mediation law, forcing growers to sign contracts once workers voted for a union, that the first union agreement went into force at the company in 2007, covering 1,500 people.

D’Arrigo workers maintained their union committee through all the years between 1975 and 2007, organizing strikes and work stoppages to raise conditions and wages. “I’m very proud to see that we’re included here,” Fraide said, gesturing toward the photographs on the walls in the cavernous exhibition hall. “It shows who we are and what we went through. Si se puede!”

As the workers were introduced by UFW President Arturo Rodriguez, they stood up from their seats to applause. Rodriguez noted that some farmworkers, like those working at Monterey Mushrooms’ sheds near Morgan Hill and Watsonville, now make a living wage of between $38,000 and $42,000 in year-round jobs with benefits. “This exhibition recognizes that farm labor is important work, and that it can be a decent job if it includes labor and environmental standards. It can come with job security, and can be professional work,” he emphasized.

“What’s been lacking is an acknowledgment of the people who do the work,” charged Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna, son of the capital city’s late mayor, Joe Serna, and nephew of former UFW organizer Ruben Serna. “This exhibition documents their political activism. We wouldn’t be here if it were not for the farmworkers movement.”


In the Fields of the North / En los Campos del Norte
Photographs and text by David Bacon
University of California Press / Colegio de la Frontera Norte

302 photographs, 450pp, 9”x9”
paperback, $34.95

 

Trump, Right-Wing Populism, And the Future of Labor

Bill Fletcher jr.

The Senate Health Care Bill Must Be Defeated

DSAStatement of the DSA National Political Committee, June 28, 2017

The Senate version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) that the Republican leadership hopes to ram through without any hearings or substantive debate poses a grave threat to the well-being of all but the wealthy few. The bill is nothing less than an effort to take coverage away from tens of millions of low-to-moderate income families in order to provide a massive tax cut of $400 billion over the next ten years to the top five percent of income tax payers and to medical instrument and prescription drug companies. DSA urges its members to mobilize and press their Senators (of both parties) to vote against the Senate bill. The fight to defeat a Senate bill will continue through the summer, as the Republicans failed to pass the bill before the July 4th recess. (Longer term, DSA is committed to working on state and federal “Medicare for all” legislation; see below.)

This resistance can best be done through militant constituent visits to Senators’ home or DC offices alone or with other coalition partners, particularly when Senators return to their home districts during the July 4th recess.  At a minimum, constituent phone calls to Senators, especially those who have said the bill is too harsh and/or have hundreds of thousands of people in their states added to Medicaid are important. The key Republican swing votes are Ron Portman (R-OH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Dean Heller (R-NV). The list of Senate phone numbers and email addresses can be found here: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

The Senate bill should be militantly opposed because it will gut Medicaid, a single-payer system that covers 74 million low-income, disabled and elderly Americans. The bill would cut $880 billion over 10 years from Medicaid, over one-quarter of the previous allocation. The 13 million working adults and children added by the 31 states that accepted the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) federal funding of Medicaid coverage for working families earning $22 to $34,000 dollars will lose their coverage by 2023 (with major rollbacks in extent of coverage from 2020 on). In addition, given the large cuts to federal funding of the basic Medicaid program, an estimated additional 14 million more recipients will likely lose Medicaid coverage as states trim their rolls to deal with the lost federal revenue. States unwilling to radically increase their own contributions to Medicaid will be denying nursing home coverage and disability rehabilitation services to millions.

The bill also cuts $300 billion over ten years for premium subsidies for people who do not get insurance through employers and who must buy their own policies. And it eliminates federal subsidies for low-income families out-of-pocket expenses. Doing so would radically increase the already excessive premiums, co-pays and deductibles faced by many ACA beneficiaries. And by eliminating the individual mandate (which incentivizes younger and healthier individuals to buy insurance), insurance pools would increasingly be dominated by the elderly and sick.

But the above are not even the most inhumane parts of the legislation. States will now be free to deny mental health, reproductive services and other crucial medical services from minimal plan requirements. They also will be able to shift individuals with prior health problems into unaffordable “high risk” insurance pools. High risk pools were tried by 35 states before the ACA and almost all failed because of state underfunding.

DSA consistently argued that the ACA inefficiently expanded health insurance coverage by providing a huge federal subsidy to the private health care industry. We did support expanding Medicaid coverage to nearly 13 million working people and their children (another ten million would be added if the remaining 19 Republican states took the federal funds for Medicaid expansion). The Republican bill will begin to cut that program immediately after the 2020 presidential election (the date is not accidental) and eliminate it entirely by 2023.

DSA has always recognized that the Affordable Care Act would prove an inefficient, flawed and politically vulnerable means for expanding health care coverage, because it did so only by providing huge subsidies to an inefficient and profit-seeking private insurance system. Despite the federal subsidies, many moderate-to-low income families have insufficient coverage characterized by outrageously high deductibles and limited access to providers. Thus given the inefficiency and vulnerability of the ACA, DSA will also redouble our efforts to create state single-payer systems (that is, state-level  versions of “Medicare for All”) wherever possible, particularly in blue states such as California, New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, etc. We will also continue to join with other coalition partners to build a mass national movement for “Medicare for All,” a movement capable of electing to state legislatures and Congress those truly committed to “healthcare for all.”

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How to Raise US Labor Unions from the Dead

How to raise US labor unions from the dead — tomorrow — practically and practicably:

In BALLOT INITIATIVE states, it typically takes only 5% of signatures of registered voters of the number who voted in the last governor’s election to put your initiative on the ballot. (OR, CA, MO, MI, OH, OK, CO, NE ND, SD, MT)

Check the numbers of who should line around the block to sign an initiative making union busting a felony:
— nationally, 45% bottom income share has dropped from 20% to 10% over two generations (while per capita income has doubled).

Does that mean the bottom 45% are back where they started in absolute terms: half of twice as much? Not across the board; incomes are on a slope. 20-25% are lower in absolute terms: which is why we have a $7.25/hr fed min wage — down from $11/hr (adjusted) in 1968.

Check the numbers who should line up around the block to sign for a higher state minimum wage:
— nationally, 45% of employees earn less than $15/hr.

We could conceivably get 5% of registered voters out there collecting signatures!

 

Some states like California put a winning initiative on the law books immediately. Most, allow the legislature one shot at approval. If it doesn’t approve the measure goes back to voters for final decision.

In California you write in plain language what you want your initiative to say and a state legal office will put it into proper words for a state law.

In California circulators (signature collectors) may be paid employees. This has led in recent years to initiatives becoming the play thing of billionaires — the opposite of the original intention.

If initiatives can quickly and easily take our world back, then, Fight for 15 and labor unions and others now have a new, all critical mission: register and sign up as many voters as possible.

Raising the issue of making union busting a felony to a high level of national consciousness should prompt legislatures in progressive states to finally wake up and face what they need to do — what we all need them to do. (WA, IL, MN, NY, MA, VT, CT, RI, PA, MD, VA, etc.)

http://elections.cdn.sos.ca.gov/ballot-measures/pdf/statewide-initiative-guide.pdf

Denis Drew
Chicago

The Return of Workplace Immigration Raids

San Francisco Press Conference Suppporting AB 450

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – David Huerta, President of United Service Workers West, SEIU, speaks at a meeting of San Francisco janitors and other workers supporting AB 450, a bill protecting workers during immigration raids and enforcement actions. 

David Bacon

At the end of February immigration agents descended on a handful of Japanese and Chinese restaurants in the suburbs of Jackson, Mississippi, and in nearby Meridian. Fifty-five immigrant cooks, dishwashers, servers and bussers were loaded into vans and taken to a detention center about 160 miles away in Jena, Louisiana.

Their arrests and subsequent treatment did more than provoke outrage among Jackson’s immigrant rights activists. Labor advocates in California also took note of the incident, fearing that it marked the beginning of a new wave of immigrant raids and enforcement actions in workplaces. In response, California legislators have written a bill providing legal protections for workers, to keep the Mississippi experience from being duplicated in the Golden State.

Once the Mississippi restaurant workers had been arrested, they essentially fell off the radar screen for several days. Jackson lawyer Jeremy Litton, who represented three Guatemalan workers picked up in the raid, could not get the government to schedule hearing dates for them.  He was unable to verify that the other detained immigrants were being held in the same center, or even who they were.  Continue reading