Labor For Bernie Speak Out on Union Endorsements

Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Labor For Bernie Sanders Activists Say They Are Undeterred By Union Endorsements of Hillary Clinton
BY MARIO VASQUEZ

The grassroots network for union members aiming to secure labor endorsements for Senator Bernie Sanders, Labor for Bernie, held a conference call to an audience of 1,600 people on Wednesday night.

This is the first Labor for Bernie conference call since early September, when prepared remarks made by Sen. Sanders garnered 26,000 listeners as their candidate outlined his pro-worker platform. Since that call, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the largest and third-largest unions in the country, respectively, have endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Call host Rand Wilson, a Labor for Bernie volunteer who is also the communications director for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 888, mentioned this in the call.

“Some people on tonight’s call know that your union may have already made the endorsement for the other candidate,” says Wilson. “But regardless of any endorsement, the most important work right now is to keep building support for Sanders in your union at the local level.” Recently, numerous locals in the first-primary state of New Hampshire have endorsed Sanders, taking heed to what Wilson describes because of the candidates’ long history of pro-labor action.

“In 2008, Sen. Sanders was there when SEIU 560 was looking at potential layoffs. He helped us turn the pending layoffs around so they didn’t occur. Local 560 is forever grateful to Bernie for all the support over the years,” says SEIU Local 560 Secretary-Treasurer Susan Russell. Local 560 and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 490 in New Hampshire endorsed Sen. Sanders in late October.

The American Postal Workers Union has also found Sanders’ support helpful. The Vermont senator has made consistent calls for an expansion of the postal service and has advocated for postal banking, amid calls for itsprivatization. The New Hampshire state-level APWU, as well as locals in Massachusetts and one in Philadelphia, have endorsed Sen. Sanders, as union activists have pressed for an endorsement from the national organization.

APWU President Mark Dimondstein told listeners, “We should judge candidates not by what they say, not by what we wish they said, not by what party they are affiliated with, but what they actually do—the difference between those who talk the talk and those who walk the walk. By using that criteria, Bernie Sanders has proven to be a champion of not only postal workers and postal unions but the public postal service itself.”

Bianca Cunningham, a former Verizon Wireless retail worker who alleges she was fired in retaliation for her union organizing in Brooklyn storefronts, said she was “thrilled” about Sen. Sanders’ active support for labor. On October 26, Sanders joined a picket line with Verizon workers, currently represented by the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and IBEW, who are in the middle of a contract dispute. Sen. Sanders also called for the Fortune 500 company to give Cunningham her job back.

“There are dozens of people running for President of the United States, but there is only one that walks a picket line, there’s only one who is not afraid to take on the corporate elite that is destroying good jobs and there is only one that isn’t taking money from Wall Street or from corporate America,” says Cunningham. “Working people have been hurt for far too long and we’ve been burned for far too long. It’s time for corporate America to ‘feel that Bern.”

Former CWA president Larry Cohen finished the call by decrying the fact that some question whether Sen. Sanders is electable against Clinton. Cohen cited a new poll released by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that has Sanders beating Republican frontrunners by larger margins of victory than Clinton to assert that Sanders is definitely electable.

Instead of asking if Sanders is a viable choice, Cohen told listeners of the Labor for Bernie call that the “real” questions are: “Are we fed up with business as usual? Are we tired of being on defense? Are ready to stand up for working people with a positive agenda for change?”

MARIO VASQUEZ

Mario Vasquez is a writer from Santa Barbara, California. You can reach him at mario.vasquez.espinoza@gmail.com.
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AFSCME Endorses Hillary Clinton

Hillary-Quote_FB_A-1The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) announced on Oct.23 that Hillary Clinton has earned the 1.6 million member union’s endorsement in the 2016 presidential contest.

“The next president will make decisions that could make or break the ability of working people across America to sustain their families. That’s why we spent the last six months engaged in the most member-focused, in-depth, and transparent endorsement process AFSCME has ever undertaken,” said AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders. Continue reading

Pushing Unions to Back Bernie

Labor for Bernie Pushing Unions To Back Bernie Sanders, Prevent Early Hillary Clinton Endorsements
http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/18398/bernie-sanders-unions-endorsements-hillary-clinton
BY MARIO VASQUEZ

Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Senator Bernie Sanders hosted a national phone call Wednesday night focused on the labor movement in which organizers say 17,000 people participated. The campaign hopes to drum up support from union members as Sanders inches his way to front-runner status in the early Presidential primary and caucus elections of New Hampshire and Iowa.

Organized by Labor for Bernie, the network for union members aiming to secure endorsements for Sanders, the call featured remarks by Sanders outlining his economic platform.

“How does it happen that we continue to be in a situation where millions of American worker want to join unions, want to be involved in collective bargaining, they want to stand up for their rights, but they can’t join the union because their employers use unfair, illegal tactics to deny them their constitutional rights to form a union?” Sanders asked before announcing that he will be introducing the Workplace Democracy Act into legislation this fall in order to significantly ease up union drive efforts and subsequent first contract implementation. Continue reading

How Brother Bernie is Making Labor’s Day

by Steve Early

Bernie-NNU-endorsement-600px-150814If it wasn’t for the Democratic presidential primary race now underway, Labor Day 2015 might be just another annual occasion for union mourning rather than celebration.

American workers have lost far more battles than they’ve than won recently. Further legal or political setbacks could be on the way, thanks to the Obama Administration and U.S. Supreme Court.

This spring, President Obama, big business, and their Republican allies in Congress won approval for a “fast-track” vote on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), when that controversial free trade deal is ready for ratification. Labor critics predict the TPP will undermine workers’ rights, environmental standards, and efforts to regulate multinational corporate activity. Continue reading

Building power- the role of teachers and their unions

Building power beyond elections: The unique
role of educators and their unions

 By Joshua Pechthalt, President, California Federation of Teachers

The Republican victory in November reminds us that organized labor and the progressive movement can’t rely on elections to advance our agenda. Our power to improve the lives of members and community allies flows from our ability to organize the kind of powerful labor-community alliance that can demand change from politicians.

In spite of the national drubbing inflicted on Democrats, there were a few bright spots. The reelection of Tom Torlakson as state superintendent of public instruction demonstrated once again that mobilized educators can beat a multi-million dollar, anti-teacher campaign.

Significant victories across the country suggest that voters are not necessarily moving to the right on key issues. Voters passed measures to raise the minimum wage, legalize marijuana, and protect a woman’s right to control her body. In California, Democrats won every statewide office and continue to hold strong majorities in both the Assembly and Senate. They also picked up one congressional seat.

Electoral support for the Republican Party reflects the public’s deep uncertainty about the economy. While there has been consistent job growth for months, the majority of Americans worry about their current situation and the future.

Economic disparity is greater now than at any time since the Great Depression. Real wages have stagnated for years, job growth is primarily in the low-wage service sector, and for young people, a college education is expensive and no longer guarantees a decent middle-class job.

Conditions are ripe for the reemergence of a progressive political movement, yet none has developed. Democrats are not providing leadership; many people have lost confidence in them. They are unwilling to articulate a vision that puts people to work, rebuilds the nation’s infrastructure, invests in our schools and makes higher education affordable. Continue reading

Madison Wisc. Teachers Vote to Re-certify Their Union

Pat Schneider, The Capital Times

Walker2

Governor Walker upset by unions.

Members of Madison Teachers, Inc. have voted overwhelmingly to recertify their collective bargaining units, according to vote totals released Tuesday by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.

Teachers, with 2,981 eligible union members, voted 88 percent to recertify their unit in unofficial tallies,  pending a period in which objections can be filed.

Total membership and percentage support for other MTI collective bargaining units were:

  • Educational assistants, 719 members, 76 percent in favor of recertification;
  • Substitute teachers, 484 members, 74 percent in favor of recertification;
  • Support staff, 234 members, 77 percent in favor of recertification;
  • Security staff, 27 members, 81 percent in favor of recertification.

Annual recertification of public workers unions is required by Act 10, Gov. Scott Walker’s legislation curbing the collective bargaining rights of public workers. The law required 51 percent of eligible workers to vote to recertify the union in balloting that ended Tuesday. Continue reading