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Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Actors and Artistes

Mon, 18 Mar 2019 13:51:07 +0000

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Actors and Artistes

The AFL-CIO is taking a deeper look at each of our affiliates in our regular weekly series. Next up is the Actors and Artistes (4As).

Name of Union: Associated Actors and Artistes of America

The 4As works to advance and protect the welfare of the people who work to entertain and inform others in person and through every medium of recording and transmission. There are five member unions that make up the 4As. Actors' Equity (AEA) and SAG-AFTRA are directly affiliated with the AFL-CIO. Three other unions are part of the AFL-CIO through their membership in the 4As: the Musical Artists, the Variety Artists and the Italian American Actors.


Musical Artists (AGMA)

Mission: To represent members and to guarantee that our nation's artistic institutions adhere to fair labor practices, securing both gainful employment and quality of life for our artists.

Current Leadership of Union: John Coleman serves as president. The other officers are: Gregory Stapp (first vice president), George Scott (second vice presiden), J. Austin Bitner (third vice president), Jane Shaulis (fourth vice president), Louis Perry (recording secretary) and Raymond Menard (treasurer).

Members Work As: Soloists, choral singers, actors, ballet dancers, production staff and related jobs.

Industries Represented: America's operatic, dance and choral heritage.

History: AGMA formed in 1936 as an organization of solo musical artists. In August of the next year, AGMA was granted a charter from the 4As to cover the fields of grand opera, concert and recital. AGMA pursued a campaign to organize artists throughout the country and the first collective bargaining agreement that AGMA successfully negotiated that fall was with the Southern California Symphony Association.

Current Campaigns and Community Efforts: AGMA maintains an active list of auditions relevant to members, provides visa consultation services and publishes AGMAzine.

Learn MoreWebsiteFacebookTwitter.


Variety Artists (AGVA)

Mission: To represent performing artists and stage managers for live performances in the variety field.

Current Leadership of Union: Judy Little serves as executive president. Other officers include Christopher Johnson (executive vice president) and Susanne K. Doris (executive secretary-treasurer).

Members Work As: Variety performers, including singers and dancers in touring shows and in theatrical revues, theme park performers, skaters, circus performers, comedians and stand-up comics, cabaret and club artists, lecturers, poets, monologists, spokespersons and those working at private parties and special events.

Industries Represented: Any performances in the variety area.

History: AGVA was founded in 1939.

Current Campaigns and Community Efforts: AGVA helps members obtain benefits beyond timer periods specifically related to shows and contracts. It also offers current and previous members assistance through the AGVA Sick & Relief Fund, which also regularly contributes to industry-related charities and presents shows to raise the funds available for relief. AGVA also provides members visa application assistance.

Learn MoreWebsiteFacebookTwitter.


Italian American Actors (GIAA)

Mission: To preserve the history and promote awareness of Italian heritage amongst its members. GIAA is committed to helping advance, promote, foster and protect the welfare of its members, not only within its own jurisdiction, but within the jurisdiction of its sister unions.

Current Leadership of Union: Carlo Fiorletta is the president of GIAA. Other officers include: Carson Grant (first vice president), Debbie Klaar (second vice president), Mara Lesemann (secretary/treasurer), Elaine Legaro (councilor), Ron Piretti (councilor), Simcha Borenstein (alternate councilor), Dana Halsted Moss (alternate councilor) and Lauren Cozza (alternate councilor).

Members Work As: GIAA is the only ethnic acting union in the United States. It is an Italian actors union for Italian speaking performers.

Industries Represented: The arts and entertainment industries.

History: GIAA was founded in 1937.

Community Efforts: GIAA provides news and casting opportunities to its members.

Learn MoreWebsiteFacebook.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 03/18/2019 - 09:51

A Just, Inclusive and Sustainable Economy

Fri, 15 Mar 2019 19:12:31 +0000

A Just, Inclusive and Sustainable Economy

New Orleans E.C. Meeting

This week, labor leaders from across the country descended on New Orleans to map out the path ahead for our movement. From trade and public education to equal pay and paid leave to back pay for federal contract workers and bargaining power for all, the AFL-CIO Executive Council tackled the issues that will define working people’s fight for economic justice in 2019 and beyond.

Sending waves through Washington yesterday, the Executive Council’s most notable decision was its announcement that, “if the administration insists on a premature vote on the new NAFTA in its current form, we will have no choice but to oppose it.” Here are a few highlights from the statement:

  • Trade policy must be judged by whether it leads to a just, inclusive and sustainable economy....By that measure, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has driven the outsourcing of so many good jobs, has been a catastrophic failure.

  • By design, NAFTA distorted power relationships in favor of global employers over workers, weakened worker bargaining power and encouraged the de-industrialization of the U.S. economy.

  • After a quarter-century of this race to the bottom, workers in all three NAFTA countries find it more difficult to form unions and negotiate collective bargaining agreements.

  • The NAFTA renegotiation requires strong labor rights provisions and strong enforcement provisions that as of today are not yet in the agreement.

  • The current effort by the business community to pass the new NAFTA is premature, and if it continues, we will be forced to mobilize to defeat it, just as we mobilized to kill the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 03/15/2019 - 15:12

Women's History Month Profiles: Frances Perkins

Fri, 15 Mar 2019 14:37:42 +0000

Women's History Month Profiles: Frances Perkins

Frances Perkins

For Women's History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various women who were leaders and activists working at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Today's profile is Frances Perkins.

Perkins was born in Boston in 1880, descendant from a long line of Maine farmers and craftsmen. At Mount Holyoke College, she studied the natural sciences and economic history and was exposed to a variety of works and lectures who exposed her to new ways of thinking about the social problems she witnessed.

After graduation, she learned more about the plight of working people when she volunteered in New York's settlement houses. She heard stories directly from workers about the dangerous conditions of factory work and the desperation of being unable to collect promised wages or secure medical care for workplace injuries. She left her teaching career, just as it was beginning, to earn a master's degree in economics and sociology.

In 1910, she became secretary of the New York Consumers' League and was part of a team that lobbied the state legislature for a bill limiting the workweek for women and children to 54 hours. On March 25, 1911, she was attending a social function near the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory when the fire began. She witnessed the entire event. She was deeply affected by it:

Up until that point she had lobbied for worker rights and on behalf of the poor, but she had been on a conventional trajectory, toward a conventional marriage, perhaps, and a life of genteel good works. After the fire, what had been a career turned into a vocation. Moral indignation set her on a different course. Her own desires and her own self became less central and the cause itself became more central to the structure of her life. The niceties of her class fell away. She became impatient with the way genteel progressives went about serving the poor. She became impatient with their prissiness, their desire to stay pure and above the fray. Perkins hardened. She threw herself into the rough and tumble of politics. She was willing to take morally hazardous action if it would prevent another catastrophe like the one that befell the women at the Triangle factory. She was willing to compromise and work with corrupt officials if it would produce results. She pinioned herself to this cause for the rest of her life.

The results were obvious. 

Perkins began to focus more on practical remedies to the challenges faced by working people. She held to a strong belief that legislation was the most important avenue to "right industrial wrongs," and she simultaneously championed labor organizing and collective action. In 1918, she was invited by Gov. Al Smith to join the New York State Industrial Commission, becoming the first woman to serve. By 1926, she had become the commission's chairwoman. In 1929, Gov. Franklin Roosevelt appointed her as the industrial commissioner for the state. She led a series of progressive reforms that included expanding factory investigations, reducing the workweek for women to 48 hours and championing minimum wage and unemployment insurance laws.

In 1933, Perkins was chosen by President Roosevelt to serve as secretary of labor, making her the first woman ever appointed to a federal Cabinet position. She focused on creating a safety net to counteract the Great Depression's effects on working people. This was evident in the legislation she helped secure, including the Wagner Act (which gave workers the right to organize unions and bargain collectively), the Fair Labor Standards Act (which established the first minimum wage and created a maximum workweek) and the Social Security Act of 1935.

She also played a crucial role in the dramatic labor uprisings of the 1930s and 1940s. She consistently supported the rights of workers to organize unions of their own choosing and to pressure employers through economic action. She successfully resolved strikes with gains for workers time and time again, most notably helping end the 1934 San Francisco General Strike without violence or the use of federal troops, an option that was on the table.

In 1945, Perkins resigned from her position as labor secretary to head the U.S. delegation to the International Labor Organization conference in Paris. President Harry Truman appointed her to the Civil Service Commission, a job she held through 1953. She also returned to the classroom to teach at Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She died in New York in 1965 at the age of 85 and was buried in her family's plot in New Castle, Maine.

Read more about Perkins.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:37

Steelworker Wins Election to Local Maine School Board

Tue, 12 Mar 2019 16:42:12 +0000

Steelworker Wins Election to Local Maine School Board

Kathy Wilder

United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9 member Kathy Wilder won a write-in election for school board in Maine School Administrative District (MSAD) 54 on March 4. Wilder, who works as a chemical prep operator at Sappi Fine Paper in Skowhegan, says that her priorities will be student achievement, fiscal responsibility, clear communications and social justice.

"Being elected to the school board is really exciting for me because I grew up in Norridgewock and attended K-12 in MSAD 54," said Wilder after finishing a night shift at the mill. "Now I have to give back to the community by working to make the future a brighter and stronger place for today’s youth."

Wilder worked with the Maine AFL-CIO in 2018 as part of our labor candidates training program to elect more union members and working class people to elected office at all levels. She previously ran for the Maine State Legislature in 2018.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 03/12/2019 - 12:42

Paving the Way: What Working People Are Doing This Week

Tue, 12 Mar 2019 15:48:13 +0000

Paving the Way: What Working People Are Doing This Week

What Working People Are Doing This Week

Welcome to our regular feature, a look at what the various AFL-CIO unions and other working family organizations are doing across the country and beyond. The labor movement is big and active—here's a look at the broad range of activities we're engaged in this week.

A. Philip Randolph Institute:

Actors' Equity:




Air Line Pilots Association:

Alliance for Retired Americans:

Amalgamated Transit Union:

American Federation of Musicians:

American Postal Workers Union:

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance:

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA:

Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers:



California School Employees Association:

Coalition of Black Trade Unionists:

Coalition of Labor Union Women:

Communications Workers of America:

Department for Professional Employees:

Electrical Workers:

Farm Labor Organizing Committee:

Fire Fighters:

Heat and Frost Insulators:

International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers:

International Labor Communications Association:


Jobs With Justice:

Labor Council for Latin American Advancement:



Maritime Trades Department:

Metal Trades Department:

Mine Workers:

Musical Artists:

National Air Traffic Controllers Association:

National Association of Letter Carriers:

National Day Laborer Organizing Network:

National Domestic Workers Alliance:

National Nurses United:

National Taxi Workers Alliance:

The NewsGuild-CWA:

NFL Players Association:

North America's Building Trades Unions:

Office and Professional Employees:

Plasterers and Cement Masons:

Plumbers and Pipe Fitters:

Printing, Publishing and Media Workers-CWA:

Professional Aviation Safety Specialists:

Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union:



Solidarity Center:


Theatrical Stage Employees:

Transport Workers:

Transportation Trades Department:


United Food and Commercial Workers:

Union Label and Service Trades Department:

Union Veterans Council:


United Steelworkers:

United Students Against Sweatshops:

Utility Workers:

Working America:

Writers Guild of America, East:

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 03/12/2019 - 11:48

Profiling Women Labor Leaders and Activists: The Working People Weekly List

Mon, 11 Mar 2019 16:41:34 +0000

Profiling Women Labor Leaders and Activists: The Working People Weekly List

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 the latest edition of the Working People Weekly List.

AFL-CIO Is Profiling Labor Leaders and Activists for Women's History Month: "For Women's History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various women who were leaders and activists working at the intersection of civil and labor rights. First, let's take a look back at women we've profiled in the past."

New Proposal Would Keep Millions of Working People from Getting Overtime: "The Donald Trump administration is proposing a new overtime regulation that would protect at least 2.8 million fewer workers than the overtime regulation proposed by the Barack Obama administration in 2016."

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: School Administrators: "Next up in our series that will take a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the School Administrators (AFSA). The series will run weekly until we've covered all 55 of our affiliates."

Black History Month Labor Profiles: William Burrus: "For Black History Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various African American leaders and activists who have worked at the intersection of civil and labor rights. Our next profile is William Burrus."

AFSCME Member Elected to Connecticut State Legislature: "Anthony Nolan, a New London, Connecticut, city councilman and member of AFSCME Local 724, won his race yesterday in a special election to fill an open seat in the state legislature."

Caring for Our Caregivers: Workplace Violence Hearing Highlights Job-Related Assaults for Health Care and Social Service Workers: "Workplace violence is a serious and growing problem for working people in the United States: It causes more than 450 homicides and 28,000 serious injuries each year. Workplace homicide now is responsible for more workplace deaths than equipment, fires and explosions. Two of every three workplace violence injuries are suffered by women."

The Key to Genuine Equality? A Union Card: "Whenever I face adversity—when my faith is shaken or my confidence falters—I turn to a woman I carry in my heart every day. Too often forgotten in Dr. King’s shadow, Coretta Scott King embodied everything at the core of an intersectional fight for justice. Above all, she recognized that the movement for civil rights could not stop at the voting booth. It had to be a fight for dignity in every facet of our lives—the right to stand tall at work and to live with security at home."

Union Politicians Helped Achieve Labor’s Progressive New Jersey Policy Goals: "Today’s progressive, pro-worker victories in the halls of Trenton were born more than 20 years ago at the New Jersey State AFL-CIO headquarters on State Street, only a couple hundred or so yards from the capitol building. The passage of a $15 minimum wage, a landmark paid family leave program and other legislation to lift up New Jersey’s working families are the culmination of an idea we had in 1997. Tired of politicians who took our money and turned their backs, we asked this simple question: Instead of hoping for our leaders to do right by union members, what if we elected union members themselves?"

Support Public Education: In the States Roundup: "It's time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states. Click on any of the links to follow the state federations on Twitter."

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: American Federation of Musicians: "Next up in our series that will take a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the American Federation of Musicians (AFM). The series will run weekly until we've covered all 55 of our affiliates."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 03/11/2019 - 12:41

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: AFSCME

Mon, 11 Mar 2019 12:25:21 +0000

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: AFSCME


Next up in our series taking a deeper look at each of our affiliates is AFSCME. The series will run weekly until we've covered all 55 of our affiliates.

Name of Union: American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

Mission: AFSCME members provide the vital services that make America happen. With members in communities across the nation, serving in hundreds of different occupations, AFSCME advocates for fairness in the workplace, excellence in public services and the freedom and opportunity for all working families.

Current Leadership of Union: Lee Saunders was elected AFSCME president in 2012, the first African American to hold that position, after previously serving as secretary-treasurer and in many other roles with AFSCME since 1978. He comes from a union family, raised in Cleveland as the son of a city bus driver and a community organizer. Elissa McBride serves as secretary-treasurer, and AFSCME has 35 international vice presidents serving different regions

Members Work As: Nurses, corrections officers, child care providers, EMTs, sanitation workers, early childhood educators, home care workers, police officers, library workers, probation and parole officers, parks and recreation workers, biologists, environmental planners, watershed rangers, vehicle emissions testers, groundskeepers, food service employees, administrators, support services, information technology, waste disposal, bridge inspectors, parking attendants and many others.

Industries Represented: States, cities, counties and other local governments, as well as the federal government and private employers performing public services.

History: During the depths of the Great Depression, a group of state employees in Madison, Wisconsin, formed what would later become the Wisconsin State Employees Union/Council 24 in an effort to successfully defend the state's civil service system and stand up to political cronyism. Four years later, in 1936, the American Federation of Labor granted a charter for AFSCME, which united the Wisconsin group with numerous others that had formed across the country after the success in Madison.

At the end of 1936, the union had 10,000 members. Growth was difficult at first, but by 1946, the union had grown to 73,000 members. The AFL-CIO merger brought AFSCME another 40,000 members.

In the 1960s, during the presidency of Jerry Wurf, AFSCME was active in the struggle for racial justice. The 1968 strike of AFSCME sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, was a signature moment in civil rights and labor rights history. It was in Memphis, in support of the sanitation workers’ struggle, that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

AFSCME continued to grow during the 1970s and 1980s, with a focus on bringing together independent associations of public employees in an effort to harness the collective power of so many voices. Almost 60 associations, representing 450,000 people, joined AFSCME by affiliation or merger, pushing total membership past the 1 million mark.

AFSCME’s growth across the country gave the union a more powerful voice when it came to fighting injustice. In September 1981, AFSCME’s 60,000-member delegation, the largest from any single union, led the march at the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Day, a massive demonstration in Washington, D.C., demanding fair treatment for workers. That same year in San Jose, California, AFSCME Local 101 staged the first strike in the nation’s history over the issue of pay equity for women. The action attracted national media attention and helped spark the pay equity movement.

For decades, corporations, billionaires and their allies have engaged in a coordinated and well-financed effort to weaken the power of public-sector unions like AFSCME. Last year, in a case called Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, the most business-friendly Supreme Court in history ruled in favor of anti-worker forces, overturning decades of precedent to make the entire public sector so-called right to work. Many pundits predicted this would be a death blow. But because of the work put in by AFSCME, together with other public-sector unions and the AFL-CIO, AFSCME has emerged in the strongest possible position. No politician or judicial decision can contain the collective power of working people. More than 300,000 fee payers converted to AFSCME members since early 2014; and since the Janus ruling, seven times more people have joined AFSCME than have chosen to drop.

Current Campaigns: AFSCME People works to elect politicians who promote policies that support working people. AFSCME Strong is building a culture of activism—in particular through member-to-member engagement and one-on-one conversations—that blunts the impact of attacks like the Janus case. I AM 2018, a 50th anniversary commemoration of the Memphis sanitation strike, is a call to action to continue the work of Dr. King and the sanitation workers of 1968.

Community Efforts: The AFSCME Free College program pays for higher education for members and their families. AFSCME Advantage offers discounts and benefits to members. The Never Quit Awards spotlight members who go above and beyond in performing their jobs. Next Wave seeks to empower and unite young AFSCME members. AFSCME Now serves as a daily digest of news and information about AFSCME members and the labor movement.

Learn More: WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 03/11/2019 - 08:25

Our Time Is Now: Leading with Passion, Purpose and Power

Fri, 08 Mar 2019 18:12:49 +0000

Our Time Is Now: Leading with Passion, Purpose and Power

New Jersey WILD Conference
New Jersey AFL-CIO

More than 300 union sisters from all sectors of organized labor gathered at the Hilton East Brunswick Hotel on March 1 for the 16th annual Women in Leadership Development (WILD) Conference. This two-day conference featured several distinguished speakers, including Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler (IBEW) and Alice Paul Institute Executive Director Lucienne Beard.

"WILD brings a multifaceted approach to leadership development through interactive education, mentorship and enduring networks of solidarity, and every year we are proud to add new layers to this foundation that reflect our changing culture and political environment," said New Jersey State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Laurel Brennan. "This year, the atmosphere of unity and sisterhood was remarkable as both first-time and longtime WILD sisters joined together to listen, learn and lead in the fight to strengthen our labor movement and nation."

On Saturday, the second day of the conference, attendees participated in two workshop discussions—Lobbying/Advocacy and Making a Difference: A Guide to Forming Women’s Committees—which provided the latest insights into building leadership skills and how to apply those strategies and tools to strengthen the collective voice of organized labor.

During the Lobbying/Advocacy session, attendees learned essential skills and strategies for making sure key issues are addressed by elected public officials. The panel featured a number of experienced lobbyists, including Kaufman Zita Group Senior Vice President Jeannine Frisby LaRue, CWA Political and Education Director Michele Liebtag and Assemblywoman Carol A. Murphy. New Jersey State AFL-CIO Legislative Director Eric Richard served as moderator.

The next workshop, Making a Difference: A Guide to Forming Women’s Committees, outlined the steps one would need to follow in order to form a women’s committee, get it established and assure support for its goals. The discussion was guided by the vast knowledge and experience of several women union leaders—including Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) Director of Government and Community Maria Foster, United Steelworkers (USW) Women of Steel coordinator Teresa Hartley, Utility Workers (UWUA) National Organizer/Women’s Caucus Chair Valerie King and United Brotherhood of Carpenters Chair of Sisters in the Brotherhood Susan Schultz—while AFT Professional Negotiations coordinator Jennifer S. Higgins acted as moderator.

"We were honored to welcome a distinguished panel of speakers and hundreds of our sisters to our conference this year," said New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech. "This conference builds on WILD’s tradition of empowering ourselves, our unions and our communities. And now, as we move forward, we will make sure that our sisters and brothers continue to lead the way in advancing a justice-driven agenda for all working people."

The New Jersey State AFL-CIO is the only state federation in the nation to host an annual women’s leadership conference. We thank our WILD sisters and sponsors for their many years of support, enabling our state to champion a diverse, strong and durable labor movement.

See pictures from the event.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 03/08/2019 - 13:12

Economy Gains 20,000 Jobs in February; Unemployment Down to 3.8%

Fri, 08 Mar 2019 16:58:53 +0000

Economy Gains 20,000 Jobs in February; Unemployment Down to 3.8%

The U.S. economy gained 20,000 jobs in February, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.8%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is a dramatically lower level of job growth than we have seen in recent years and is good reason for the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee to express caution in considering any interest rate hikes.

In response to the February job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs said:

While wages were up 3.4% over last February, wage increases were not widespread. In leisure and hospitality they were up 4.6%, but in manufacturing they were only up 2.6%. In retail trade they were up 5.0%, but in transportation and warehousing they were only up 2.4%. Retail and leisure and hospitality have large shares of minimum wage workers who got boosts from automatic inflation adjustments because of state laws protecting the real wages of minimum wage workers.

He also tweeted:

Last month's biggest job gains were in professional and business services (42,000), health care (21,000), wholesale trade (11,000) and manufacturing (4,000). Construction employment saw losses in February (-31,000). Employment in other major industries, including leisure and hospitality, mining, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities and government, showed little or no change over the month.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates rose for teenagers (13.4%). The jobless rate declined for Hispanics (4.3%). The jobless rate for blacks (7.0%), adult men (3.5%), adult women (3.4%), whites (3.3%) and Asians (3.1%) showed little change in February.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) rose in February and accounted for 20.4% of the unemployed.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 03/08/2019 - 11:58

New Proposal Would Keep Millions of Working People from Getting Overtime

Fri, 08 Mar 2019 14:52:50 +0000

New Proposal Would Keep Millions of Working People from Getting Overtime

The Donald Trump administration is proposing a new overtime regulation that would protect at least 2.8 million fewer workers than the overtime regulation proposed by the Barack Obama administration in 2016.

The AFL-CIO and other overtime advocates had urged the Trump administration to implement the Obama administration’s overtime rule and defend it against a court challenge by business trade associations and Republican state governments, but the Trump administration has refused to do so.

The 2016 Obama administration’s proposal would raise the overtime threshold from $23,660 to $47,476. However, because the Obama rule provided for automatic updates of the threshold to keep overtime protections from being eroded by inflation, the threshold under the Obama rule would be $51,064 today and $55,000 in 2022.

By contrast, the Trump administration’s proposal sets the overtime threshold at $35,308 and does not provide for automatic updates. By the administration’s own estimates, 2.8 million fewer workers would be newly eligible for overtime in the first year of the new rule.

The way the overtime regulations work is like this: Salaried workers who make less than the threshold are automatically eligible for overtime protection, whereas salaried workers who make more than the threshold may or may not be eligible for overtime protection, depending on their job duties. The higher the overtime threshold, the more workers are under the threshold, the more workers are automatically protected, and the better it is for workers.

In 2016, it was estimated that the Obama overtime rule would extend overtime eligibility to 4.9 million workers and bring another 7.6 million workers who already are eligible for overtime below the threshold, thus making it harder for employers to deny them overtime protection. According to the Economic Policy Institute, under the Trump administration’s proposal less than half as many workers would be either newly eligible or brought below the threshold.

The Trump administration proposal is especially troubling because the Obama administration’s proposal was not overly generous to workers. Back in 1975, the administration of President Gerald Ford set the overtime salary threshold at more than $55,000 in today’s dollars. The erosion of overtime protections over the past few decades is one of the ways the rules of our economy have been rewritten to favor corporations over working people.

Working people desperately need a pay raise. We need overtime protection to ensure we get paid for all the hours we work and that we can spend more time with our families away from work.

As we have before, the AFL-CIO will again urge the Trump administration to implement the Obama overtime rule and defend it in court. The Labor Department does not need to propose a new overtime rule; it just needs to defend the Obama administration’s 2016 proposal.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 03/08/2019 - 09:52


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