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Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Railroad Signalmen

Mon, 22 Apr 2019 17:51:44 +0000

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Railroad Signalmen

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Railroad Signalmen (BRS).

Name of Union: Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen

Mission: To represent the men and women who maintain railroad signal systems and highway-rail grade crossing warning devices across the nation. In addition, the BRS negotiates contracts and promotes safety in the industry for its members and the traveling public. Local lodges elect delegates to national conventions, which is the organization's supreme authority. Delegates set policy, review the general state of the union, establish collective bargaining goals and elect Grand Lodge officers, who direct the organization between conventions.

Current Leadership of Union: Jerry Boles was elected to serve as president of the BRS in 2019. Mike Baldwin serves as secretary-treasurer. The BRS also has six vice presidents who serve in various capacities: Joe Mattingly (Midwest), Kelly A. Haley (Headquarters), James Finnegan (Commuter/Passenger), Tim Tarrant (East), Cory Claypool (West) and Brandon Elvey (NRAB).

Current Number of Members: 10,000-plus.

Members Work At: various railroad and supplier locations installing, repairing and maintaining railroad signal systems and highway-rail grade crossing warning devices. The signal system is used to direct train movements and the crossing warning devices warn motorists when a train is approaching a crossing. These members have been installing positive train control (PTC) equipment since Congress mandated the railroads install PTC back in 2008. PTC is an advanced train control system designed to automatically stop a train before certain accidents occur. In particular, PTC is designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, over speed derailments, train movements over track switches not properly lined and train movements into roadway worker work zones.

Industries Represented: The railroad industry and suppliers in the United States.

History: At the turn of the century, railroad signaling became an emerging craft as railroads increasingly incorporated new technology. In 1901, the BRS was founded to improve the safety and efficiency of railroad operations, and to represent the men and women who install and maintain signal systems. Over the ensuing decades, the organization grew into a national union consisting of working people across the Unites States.

Community Efforts: The BRS maintains a regular schedule of training for members as well as ongoing membership on various committees including the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee, which assist the Federal Railroad Administration in developing new regulatory standards to promote railroad safety. The BRS is actively engaged in Operation Lifesavera nonprofit public safety education and awareness organization dedicated to reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings, and trespassing on or near railroad tracks.

Learn More: Website.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 04/22/2019 - 13:51

Powerful Victory

Mon, 22 Apr 2019 17:44:32 +0000

Powerful Victory

Stop & Shop Victory
Getty

A tentative agreement between the 31,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) in New England and management at Stop & Shop supermarkets has been reached, effectively ending the historic strike that captured the country’s attention.

The proposed deal will preserve health care and retirement benefits, provide wage increases and maintain time-and-a-half pay on Sundays for members of UFCW locals 328, 919, 1459, 1445 and 371.

Workers walked off the job on April 11 after management proposed cuts to their health care benefits and wages, despite the company receiving a $225 million tax break in 2017.

The entire labor movement stood behind the workers, with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler (IBEW) visiting picket lines last week.

In response to the tentative agreement, UFCW said in a statement:

We are incredibly grateful to our customers and everyone who proudly stood together with us every day for a contract that invests in the communities we serve, and makes Stop & Shop a better place to work and a better place to shop.

Under this proposed contract, our members will be able to focus on continuing to help customers in our communities enjoy the best shopping experience possible and to keep Stop & Shop the number one grocery store in New England. The agreement preserves health care and retirement benefits, provides wage increases, and maintains time-and-a-half pay on Sunday for current members.

Today is a powerful victory for the 31,000 hardworking men and women of Stop & Shop who courageously stood up to fight for what all New Englanders want—good jobs, affordable health care, a better wage, and to be treated right by the company they made a success.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 04/22/2019 - 13:44

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Can't Stop, Won't Shop

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 15:36:16 +0000

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Can't Stop, Won't Shop

Stop & Shop
AFL-CIO

In the latest episode of "State of the Unions," podcast co-hosts Julie and Tim talk to Kristen Johnson, a deli manager and shop steward at the Stop & Shop in Somerville, Massachusetts. Kristen and more than 30,000 of her co-workers, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), are out on strike for fair pay, benefits and respect on the job.

"State of the Unions" is a tool to help us bring you the issues and stories that matter to working people. It captures the stories of workers across the country and is co-hosted by two young and diverse members of the AFL-CIO team: Mobilization Director Julie Greene and Executive Speechwriter Tim Schlittner. A new episode drops every other Wednesday featuring interesting interviews with workers and our allies across the country, as well as compelling insights from the podcast’s hosts.

Listen to our previous episodes:

State of the Unions” is available on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotifyStitcher and anywhere else you can find podcasts.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 04/18/2019 - 11:36

Stand with Stop & Shop Workers: The Working People Weekly List

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 14:14:36 +0000

Stand with Stop & Shop Workers: The Working People Weekly List

Working People Weekly List
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 the latest edition of the Working People Weekly List.

Support Stop & Shop Workers: "Some 31,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) are on strike at Stop & Shop supermarkets across New England, walking off the job to fight back against slashed health care benefits. Stand with our brothers and sisters today and sign UFCW’s petition demanding that executives agree to a fair contract that reflects the true value of their workers."

Protecting the Most Vulnerable: In the States Roundup: "It's time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states."

Meet the First Woman President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO: "Elected the first woman president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, Stephanie Bloomingdale has more than two decades of experience in labor as an organizer, negotiator, trainer and activist. She served as secretary-treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO for eight years before her election as president in September 2018. Previously, she was director of public policy for the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, working on behalf of nurses and health care workers throughout the state. Bloomingdale has a statewide reputation as a tenacious fighter and tough negotiator, skills she says she had to develop to survive 20 years of arbitrations, grievance hearings and battles in the legislature."

Rutgers Faculty Picket Board of Governors Meeting at University’s Newark Campus: "'An injury to one is an injury to all!' 'Rutgers is for education! We are not a corporation!' The chants of frustrated faculty members disrupted an otherwise quiet campus in Newark on Tuesday, as hundreds gathered outside of the Rutgers University Paul Robeson Center to picket the board of governors meeting."

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: American Postal Workers Union: "Next up in our series that will take a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the American Postal Workers Union (APWU)."

Collective Voices Lead to Victory: Worker Wins: "Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with grocery store workers using their collective voices and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life."

Economy Gains 196,000 Jobs in March; Unemployment Unchanged at 3.8%: "The U.S. economy gained 196,000 jobs in March, and the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.8%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Continued lower levels of job growth provide good reason for the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee to express caution in considering any interest rate hikes."

Education Minnesota Is Gaining Strength One Conversation at a Time: "Just over 18 months ago, the leaders of Education Minnesota (an affiliate of both the AFT and the National Education Association) decided that something had to change. With the Janus v. AFSCME decision looming, and the 2018 midterm elections set to follow, the 90,000-member union knew that membership engagement had to be its top priority."

‘Anthem’ Voice Actor on Unionization, Struggles of Creation: "The refutation came as there is a growing push for more workers rights and unionization from many members of the gaming community, including the grassroots organization Gamer Workers Unite. Even the AFL-CIO, America’s largest labor organization, recently asked games industry employees to fight for adequate pay and sensible work hours. 'This is a moment for change,' said AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Liz Shuler. 'It won’t come from CEOs. It won’t come from corporate boards. And, it won’t come from any one person. Change will happen when you gain leverage by joining together in a strong union. And, it will happen when you use your collective voice to bargain for a fair share of the wealth you create every day.'"

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 04/17/2019 - 10:14

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: BCTGM

Mon, 15 Apr 2019 15:30:35 +0000

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: BCTGM

BCTGM
AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM). 

Name of Union: Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union

Mission: The primary goal of the BCTGM has not changed in more than 130 years—to bring economic justice in the workplace to all workers in our jurisdiction and social justice to workers throughout the United States and Canada.

Current Leadership of Union: David B. Durkee has served as BCTGM international president since September 2012. Prior to his election as international president, Durkee served as international secretary-treasurer, international executive vice president, international director of organization and international representative.

Durkee began his life as a BCTGM activist in 1973 when he joined Local 280 (Evansville, Indiana) as a baker at Lewis Brothers Bakery. He was re-elected as international president by delegates to the BCTGM international constitutional conventions in 2014 and 2018.

Members Work As: Manufacturing, production workers, maintenance and sanitation workers.

Industries Represented: The BCTGM represents working men and women at some of the most widely recognized companies in the baking, candy, snack food, dairy, tobacco and grain milling industries in North America.

History: The Bakery and Confectionery Workers International Union of America, one of the pioneers of the North American labor movement, was organized in 1886. In 1957, the American Bakery and Confectionery Workers' International Union was formed. In 1969, the two organizations united.

The Tobacco Workers International Union was founded in 1895 and was also in the forefront of the labor movement. As it and the Bakery and Confectionery Workers' International Union of America shared many common goals, both organizations came to realize those goals best could be achieved through a merger. That merger, creating the BC&T, took place in 1978.

The American Federation of Grain Millers (AFGM) had roots stemming back to the late 1800s. In 1936, the National Council of Grain Processors was formed when federal grain milling unions agreed to unite as a national union under the American Federation of Labor (AFL). In 1941, the council was renamed the American Federation of Grain Processors and in 1948 was granted an international charter as the AFGM.

Shared goals and industries caused the Jan. 1, 1999, merger between the BC&T and AFGM, resulting in the BCTGM.

Current Campaigns: The BCTGM's Check the Label campaign urges consumers to boycott Nabisco-Mondelēz products made in Mexico. The BCTGM also is leading the fight to find a legislative solution to America’s growing pension crisis.

Community Efforts: The BCTGM partners with the United Way and provides scholarships for members and their children.

Learn More: WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 04/15/2019 - 11:30

Support Stop & Shop Workers

Fri, 12 Apr 2019 19:16:13 +0000

Support Stop & Shop Workers

Stop & Shop
AFL-CIO

Some 31,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) are on strike at Stop & Shop supermarkets across New England, walking off the job to fight back against slashed health care benefits. Stand with our brothers and sisters today and sign UFCW’s petition demanding that executives agree to a fair contract that reflects the true value of their workers.

Thanks to the tireless labor of tens of thousands of working people, Stop & Shop is thriving. Its parent company, Ahold Delhaize, recorded profits of more than $2 billion last year. Over the past three years, its shareholders have pocketed $4 billion in stock buybacks.

Yet, Stop & Shop executives want even more—and they’re targeting the same workers who built that immense wealth. Going nearly two months without a contract, UFCW members have faced threats to their wages, health care, retirement and overall livelihoods.

Walking out of more than 240 stores throughout New England, working people are standing up for their most fundamental rights and dignities in the country’s largest private-sector work stoppage in years.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka sent a message to the Stop & Shop workers:

Stand with them in this fight: Sign UFCW’s petition—and don’t cross a picket line!

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 04/12/2019 - 15:16

Protecting the Most Vulnerable: In the States Roundup

Thu, 11 Apr 2019 19:34:58 +0000

Protecting the Most Vulnerable: In the States Roundup

In the States Roundup
AFL-CIO

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.

Alabama AFL-CIO:

Alaska AFL-CIO:

Arizona AFL-CIO:

Arkansas AFL-CIO:

California Labor Federation:

Connecticut AFL-CIO:

Florida AFL-CIO:

Georgia AFL-CIO:

Idaho State AFL-CIO:

Indiana State AFL-CIO:

Iowa Federation of Labor:

Kansas State AFL-CIO:

Kentucky State AFL-CIO:

Maine AFL-CIO:

Massachusetts AFL-CIO:

Metro Washington (D.C.) Council AFL-CIO:

Michigan AFL-CIO:

Minnesota AFL-CIO:

Missouri AFL-CIO:

Montana AFL-CIO:

Nebraska AFL-CIO:

Nevada State AFL-CIO:

New Hampshire AFL-CIO:

New Mexico Federation of Labor:

New York State AFL-CIO:

North Carolina State AFL-CIO:

North Dakota AFL-CIO:

Ohio AFL-CIO:

Oklahoma State AFL-CIO:

Oregon AFL-CIO:

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO:

Rhode Island AFL-CIO:

South Carolina AFL-CIO:

Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council:

Texas AFL-CIO:

Virginia AFL-CIO:

Washington State Labor Council:

West Virginia AFL-CIO:

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO:

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 04/11/2019 - 15:34

Meet the First Woman President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO

Thu, 11 Apr 2019 13:43:30 +0000

Meet the First Woman President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO

Wisconsin AFL-CIO
Wisconsin AFL-CIO

Elected the first woman president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, Stephanie Bloomingdale has more than two decades of experience in labor as an organizer, negotiator, trainer and activist. She served as secretary-treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO for eight years before her election as president in September 2018. Previously, she was director of public policy for the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, working on behalf of nurses and health care workers throughout the state. Bloomingdale has a statewide reputation as a tenacious fighter and tough negotiator, skills she says she had to develop to survive 20 years of arbitrations, grievance hearings and battles in the legislature.

What is the state AFL-CIO? What is its role?

The Wisconsin AFL-CIO is a federation of many different labor unions from many different sectors, public and private, service workers, manufacturing, building trades, retail, health care, transportation...people doing all types of work come together in the AFL-CIO to maximize our collective power.

You have the honor of being the first woman elected president of the state AFL-CIO, so can you talk to us about that?

My hope is that we’ll soon reach a time when this is no longer notable, a time when it’s simply accepted that the president, man or woman, was elected based on the qualities and skills that he or she brings to the job. I do believe that my election is a step in that direction.

As I travel around the state, so many of the women union members I meet are very excited, not only for me but also for themselves and their daughters. They see that they also can raise their hands and say, “why not me?” as they move into leadership roles. That’s why I think this is significant for all of us in the state of Wisconsin. Some people have said, “Well, Stephanie, isn’t this a good ol’ boys club?” and I can honestly say that has not been my experience. The men and women I work with value effective leadership and dedication. I think what’s important to them is that they can trust my commitment to building our collective power through the union movement.

We understand that your family is also involved in the labor movement in Wisconsin. Can you talk about that, as well as what inspires you personally to do this work?

The reason I do this work is because I do believe that unions are the only way that working people can truly get ahead. Now, if you’re fortunate enough to be born to billionaire parents with connections that will never allow you to fail and will always provide you with a golden parachute, that’s great. But for everyone else that has to get up every day and go to work for someone else, there has to be a way to protect and expand the opportunity to do better. The best way to do that is to have strong unions.

As for my family, my husband, Doug Savage, is an AFT [American Federation of Teachers] member and he has been very supportive of my work in the union movement since day one.

Lots of women carry full loads. Our work, our families, taking care of the kids, being involved in the community, involved in the PTOs, and for me, I believe that I’ve been fortunate in that my kids really have grown up in the labor movement. They’ve been helping out with the union since they were very little. I think that not only helped them to solidify their beliefs and attitudes and opened up new opportunities for them, but it also helped me to be able to do my job, because it was a family affair. I’ll never have to tell my children to vote; they’ve been coming with me whenever I’ve gone to vote, and they’ve learned that it’s their responsibility in this country to be a part of the solution. If they see something that’s wrong, it’s up to them to make it right. That is something we believe very strongly in our family.

When the kids were very little, I would bring them to the union office (the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals), I would give them little jobs to do, like paying them five cents a table for each one they cleaned, and after a while, my oldest son, Nicholas, said, “This is not enough money. This five cents a table is not enough.” So he called my Aunt Audrey, and he had her help him negotiate a better rate. It cost me more than double to get the tables washed after that, but Nicholas learned how to get what he needed and he didn’t even have to go on strike!

Not only did they do that, but they grew up going door-to-door with me, candidate after candidate, learning about the issues and the tools we use to make politics work for working people. In the November 2018 election, my younger son Spencer and I were going door-to-door for Tony Evers and Mandela Barnes. Once we got out there, I realized that he knows how to do all this on his own. He wanted to knock on the doors and talk to the voters himself about why Evers and Barnes were the best candidates for working people. I was very proud of him.

Can you tell us about Scott Walker’s attempts to bust the power of labor unions in the state of Wisconsin through Act 10 and “Right to Work,” and how labor has responded?

Scott Walker made it his mission to try to destroy the middle class each and every way he could while he was in office. He started with Act 10, which sought to destroy the collective bargaining rights of teachers and public-sector workers. His plan was to divide and conquer; we know that for a fact because he was caught on tape talking to Diane Hendricks [the conservative billionaire owner of ABC Supply who contributed $500,000 to Walker’s 2012 campaign to defeat a recall effort] when she asked him what he was going to do about the unions, and he said he would start with the public-sector unions and then use divide and conquer and go after the private-sector unions.

One thing he didn’t count on was our solidarity as union men and women. I think we demonstrated very clearly that “an injury to one is an injury to all” is more than just a labor movement platitude. Public- and private-sector unions stuck together throughout these attacks, beginning with Act 10 and on through Right to Work, attacks on prevailing wage and all the other anti-worker policies. Speaking of that, “Right to Work” is really a misnomer. It may sound good to some, but it’s just another attack on labor unions that amounts to the right to work for less. We like to say it’s a so-called right to work, because what it actually is meant to do is weaken unions.

Truly, attacks on working people happened throughout Walker’s entire tenure as governor. By any standard, Wisconsin workers have suffered some of the nation’s most serious attacks on our ability to have a voice in our workplace through a strong union. Scott Walker prided himself on being the union-buster-in-chief. So, was it difficult? Yes. Did we suffer a lot of hard knocks over those eight years? Sure, but we’ve taken those punches and we’ve always come back swinging. We know no matter how long the odds, the only time we’re sure to lose is if we leave the ring. Even though we had a governor and state legislature stacked against us, we never gave up, we never stopped fighting, because we knew we were on the right side—and no governor, no politician anywhere has the right to take away the ability of workers to organize ourselves into unions.

And in retrospect, these attacks had a silver lining. More people today know about unions and their importance in the economy, and more people understand that you can’t have a fair society, democracy or economy if workers don’t have the ability to come together as a team to advocate for ourselves; the way they accomplish this is through a union. Speaking at the Italian equivalent of the AFL-CIO recently, Pope Francis actually said that without strong unions there can be no strong society.

Because of these fights, many people, union or non-union, became energized and activated around these issues for the first time in their lives. Our issues were elevated to the forefront more than they had been in many decades. We’ve seen the effects of this not only in Wisconsin but also nationwide; we see this reflected in polling, which shows that unions are more popular now than they have been in decades, and in particular with millenials. They see unions in a positive light, because they sense opportunity and a chance for a decent life slipping away from their generation. Unions represent an opportunity to get that back.

Speaking of millennials, can you talk about the current labor movement and the young people now joining the workforce?

Millennials rightly have a lot of angst about the future. There’s a lot to worry about, starting with the basic question of how to make ends meet. We know we have an economic situation where we have a great deal of wealth in this country, but it’s very sharply divided between a few at the very top and the rest of working people. We want millennials to know exactly what a union is and does and why they’re so important. Without strong unions, there is simply no possibility of having a healthy middle class, and a strong middle class has always been the foundation of our economy. A union enables workers to stand together to maximize our power, negotiate for better wages and better safety conditions. The financial security a union job provides allows workers to truly participate in their communities. It’s hard to coach Little League or organize a neighborhood food drive if you have to work three jobs. So unions not only benefit our members, but the community as a whole.

If we want to talk about how that happens, it’s part of the basic human condition of people wanting to support each other and deliver mutual aid to one another, and this is the way that families support one another, and workers support each other in the workplace.

There are some studies that predict millennials may not be as prosperous as their parents’ generation, despite their generally being better educated through college, training and so forth than any previous generation. How does the labor movement feel about this? Are there reasons for optimism?

I think we are at a real turning point. I think many people now are coming to understand that we can’t just rely on politicians to make sure that workplaces are safe, and workers are paid fair wages. More and more, working people are realizing that we have to take action ourselves to protect our rights to these things. Unions allow us to act together. So if there’s any group of workers that need help, we’re all going to be there for them.

The American myth about the rugged individual really falls apart in the modern workplace. Did you ever notice the people telling workers to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps are the same people making it hard for us to buy boots? I believe that people, especially millennials, are waking up to this and coming to understand that the only way to make sure to have a decent life— not living on a hamster wheel of long hours, low pay and no time for anything else—is to stand together and organize. Again, this is exactly where an organized labor union comes into the picture.

As for our nation’s millennials, more now than ever before, with our gig-economy, people will have to stick together and make sure they don’t get the short end of the stick when it comes to having a fair share of the economic pie and their employer’s profits.

How do you, as president of the state AFL-CIO, feel about things in Wisconsin now, after the election of Gov. Evers and Lt. Gov. Barnes?

The voters made it very clear they were sick of Walker and the direction in which he was taking our state as governor. We’re very excited about Tony Evers and Mandela Barnes; already, we’re seeing positive changes since they took office. The budget that Gov. Evers has proposed is very good for working people; it repeals the so-called Right to Work, and it reinstates prevailing wage for construction jobs and project-labor agreements. It doesn’t do everything that we want, but it absolutely is moving us in the right direction.

But we’re also not naïve. We can do the math in the state Legislature. Because of the gerrymandered electoral maps, anti-worker Republican politicians are still in control. But there’s enormous value in having a governor and lieutenant governor willing to serve as a check on the worst abuses of power and set a new agenda that invests in our roads and other infrastructure, gets rid of the lead in our water pipes and make sure all of our drinking water is safe, makes sure we take the Medicaid expansion and making sure we invest in our kids by putting much-needed dollars into education at all levels.

At the same time, the labor movement knows there is never a political ‘savior’, right?

Yes. We’re well aware that, ultimately, we can’t rely only on our elected officials to ensure workers’ rights. We need to rely on ourselves and on each other to remain very active in our communities and unions. From the earliest days of the union movement, we’ve always been our own best champions. We’ll continue to support our political allies, but we’re well aware that it’s ultimately up to all of us working together for the common good and exercising what really is democracy in the workplace. You soon learn in the labor movement that we’re in a race without a finish line. The secret to success is to stay united. Keep one eye on the horizon and keep putting one foot in front of the other. If we do that, unions will stay strong, our middle class will prosper, and the American Dream will be there for generations to come.

This post originally appeared in the Shepherd Express.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 04/11/2019 - 09:43

Rutgers Faculty Picket Board of Governors Meeting at University’s Newark Campus

Wed, 10 Apr 2019 14:35:55 +0000

Rutgers Faculty Picket Board of Governors Meeting at University’s Newark Campus

Rutgers protest
New Jersey AFL-CIO

“An injury to one is an injury to all!”

“Rutgers is for education! We are not a corporation!”

The chants of frustrated faculty members disrupted an otherwise quiet campus in Newark on Tuesday, as hundreds gathered outside of the Rutgers University Paul Robeson Center to picket the board of governors meeting.

Rutgers AAUP-AFT, the school’s largest faculty and graduate employee union, organized Tuesday’s picket as a "final warning" to Rutgers University President Robert Barchi and his administration. After more than a year of negotiations, the Barchi administration refuses to meet the union’s demands for a fair contract.

AAUP-AFT’s demands include more full-time faculty, equal pay for female staff, increased staff diversity and a salary increase for graduate workers. The union is also pushing for the school to hire more librarians—a position that is currently in jeopardy due to proposed budget cuts to the library system.

While members protested outside the Paul Robeson Center, union officials and labor leaders brought the fight inside to the board of governors. Among the first to speak at the meeting was Laurel Brennan, secretary-treasurer of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO.

"The New Jersey State AFL-CIO is proud of the women and men of Rutgers represented by our unions—20,000 strong—and the great work that they do in front of classrooms, in research laboratories, advising government or in keeping the campuses safe and clean," Brennan said. "We demand that Rutgers University remain a source for fair, dignified union jobs and equal pay for workers from all backgrounds."

"Equity. Security. Dignity.," she added. "These aren’t outrageous demands. These are our basic rights as working people, and we demand that our concerns be acknowledged and addressed by this board at the bargaining table."

Rutgers AAUP-AFT’s lowest-paid members face poverty-level wages and little assurance of professional advancement. Recent studies show faculty on the school’s New Brunswick campus are paid at a significantly higher rate than their peers at Camden and Newark. Moreover, female faculty members on each campus are paid at a lower rate than their male peers with the same years of experience.

In March, an overwhelming majority of the faculty and graduate employee union voted to authorize the leadership to call a strike. If the union goes on strike, this would be the first strike of faculty and graduate workers in the 253-year history of Rutgers University. It would also be the first strike of tenured faculty at a Big 10 university.

The AAUP-AFT full-time and teaching and graduate assistant unit is only one of a coalition of labor unions currently bargaining with Rutgers. These locals represent over 19,000 workers at Rutgers, including HPAE, URA, AAUP—Medical, PTL, EOF, CIR and CWA.

Learn more.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 04/10/2019 - 10:35

#StampOutHunger: The Working People Weekly List

Wed, 10 Apr 2019 13:49:01 +0000

#StampOutHunger: The Working People Weekly List

Working People Weekly List
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 the latest edition of the Working People Weekly List.

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: #StampOutHunger: "In the latest episode of 'State of the Unions,' podcast co-host Tim Schlittner talks to Brian Renfroe, National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) executive vice president, and Christina Vela Davidson, assistant to the president for community services, about #StampOutHunger, the annual one-day drive that has collected more than 1 billion pounds of food for the hungry."

The Center of Victory: "The labor movement helped elect a wave of union members and pro-worker allies across the country last night. We proved that if you support working people, we’ll have your back. And we sent a resounding message to every candidate and elected official that if you seek to divide and destroy us, we’ll fight back with everything we have."

It's Time for Equal Pay: "Equal Pay Day serves as a reminder of how far we still have to go to close the gender pay gap. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler (IBEW) has more on why unions are the best tool to achieve pay parity."

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

New North American Trade Deal Faces Hurdles in U.S. Congress: "'This agreement right now, for it to be voted on, would be premature,' Richard Trumka, president of America’s largest labor federation, the AFL-CIO, told Bloomberg TV. 'The Mexican government has to change their [labor] laws, then they have to start effectively enforcing them, and then they have to demonstrate that they have the resources necessary to enforce those laws, because if you can’t enforce a trade agreement, it’s useless.'"

At Our Current Pace It'll Take 80 Years to Repair All the Structurally Deficient Bridges in the U.S., A Report Finds: "Officials have dubbed Monday's bridge collapse in Tennessee a freak accident, but that might be turning a blind eye to a larger issue. Bridges across the United States are deteriorating, and a new report estimates it will take more than 80 years to fix all of them. More than 47,000 bridges in the United States are in crucial need of repairs, says the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, or ARTBA. The group, which advocates for investment in transportation infrastructure, analyzes data from the Federal Highway Administration and releases an annual Deficient Bridge report."

Trumka Warns Lawmakers: Don’t Vote for Quickie ‘New NAFTA’: "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is warning lawmakers that voters will oppose any solon who votes for a 'quickie new NAFTA,' so to speak. That means workers would oppose lawmakers who favor a quick vote on legislation implementing the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement—before Mexico has both enacted stronger worker rights and put in place the systems and people to implement them. Even a stronger Mexican labor law, but without enforcement in place, won’t satisfy U.S. workers, or the U.S. labor movement, he adds. Trumka forecast such electoral retribution in an April 1 telephone press conference on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), also known as NAFTA 2.0 or the 'new NAFTA.' The GOP Trump administration negotiated it with—Canada would say strong-armed it on—the other two North American nations to replace the 25-year-old original NAFTA."

Women Can Close the Pay Gap by Forming Unions: "In 2018, women once again came home with over 16% less money in their paychecks. Tuesday is Equal Pay Day, which means women had to work until April 2—92 days longer—to be paid the same amount as a comparable man in 2018. For many women of color, this gap is much worse. For the past 15 years, the gender wage gap has barely budged and persists across all wage levels and among employees at every education level. More and more, women are turning to their unions to implement workplace tools to narrow the gender wage gap."

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 04/10/2019 - 09:49

   
  

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