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‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Healing a Community

Wed, 22 Jan 2020 17:30:46 +0000

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Healing a Community

Leah Daughtry podcast

On the latest episode of "State of the Unions," podcast co-hosts Julie and Tim talk with Rev. Leah Daughtry, CEO of "On These Things," about Reconnecting McDowell, an AFT project that takes a holistic approach to revitalizing the education and community of McDowell, West Virginia, and how her faith informs her activism.

Listen to our previous episodes:

State of the Unions” is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and anywhere else you can find podcasts.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 01/22/2020 - 12:30

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Plasterers and Cement Masons

Tue, 21 Jan 2020 13:31:15 +0000

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Plasterers and Cement Masons


Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Plasterers and Cement Masons.

Name of Union: Plasterers and Cement Masons (OPCMIA)

Mission: To protect and promote the quality of the industry and the livelihood of members, to promote cement and plaster, to recruit and train skilled craftsmen to meet the demands of the industry, and to hold the union responsible to this commitment for the future of the industry and the welfare of all those who earn their living in it.

Current Leadership of Union: Daniel E. Stepano serves as the general president for the OPCMIA, a role he has served in since 2016. He first joined the union as a plasterer in 1980 in Pittsburgh for Local No. 31. After many years of service to the local and beyond, he was appointed international vice president in 2004. At that year's international convention, he was elected to serve as vice president. In 2007, he became executive vice president for the OPCMIA and was re-elected to the role before becoming president. 

Kevin D. Sexton serves as general secretary-treasurer. 

Members Work As: Plasterers, masons and shop hands.

Industries Represented: Members work in two major construction fields, concrete and plaster.

History: The OPCMIA is the oldest building and construction trades union in the United States, beginning during the Civil War. Leaders sought to unify various local craft unions in the trade. Once the union became active, it endorsed the eight-hour workday and instituted apprentice training and regulation. In 1887, the union became international by allowing Canadian workers to join. In 1951, Operative Plasterers were added to the name as a reflection that members did more than finish cement. For more than a century, the OPCMIA has lived by the principles upon which it was founded and upon which the OPCMIA will continue to be proud, strong and united.

Current Campaigns/Community Efforts: OPCMIA Veterans spotlights members who have transitioned from military service to their country into the industry. Plasterer and Cement Mason magazine provides news and information. The OPCMIA provides training to help working people expand their skills and pursue their goals. OPCMIA Gear offers branded merchandise for members and supporters.

Learn More: WebsiteFacebookTwitter

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 01/21/2020 - 08:31

A Win for Nurses and Patients: Worker Wins

Fri, 17 Jan 2020 15:52:19 +0000

A Win for Nurses and Patients: Worker Wins

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with nurses banding together to make patients' lives better and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life. The end of 2019 saw a flurry of wins for working people, so this is the first in several posts over the next week that will cover the victories of the last quarter of the year.

California Nurses Win New Master Contract: Nearly 4,000 registered nurses at eight Tenet hospitals in California approved a new master contract. The nurses are members of California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU). The new agreement enhances recruitment and retention, assures eight-hour rest periods between shifts, adequate breaks, scheduling improvements, better health and safety, wage increases, and protections for the nurses' health care. “We are very proud of what we’ve achieved with this new contract. It is a testament to what registered nurses can accomplish collectively when we stand together as committed patient advocates,” said Ginny Gary, an registered nurse at the Los Alamitos Medical Center. “This new agreement is a win for the nurses and our patients, for our families and for the communities we serve across the state.”

University of Chicago Nurses Avert Strike with Tentative Deal: The nurses, members of National Nurses United (NNU), planned for a one-day strike and the hospital said it would lock out the nurses in response. The strike was canceled when the the agreement was reached. “Both sides have been working since March on a contract that not only recognizes the valuable contributions our nurses make to our organization, but also ensures [the University of Chicago Medical Center] remains at the forefront of medical care and scientific research for years to come,” said Debra Albert, the hospital’s chief nursing officer.

Last of the Big Three Detroit Auto Makers Reaches Agreement with UAW: UAW and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) reached a tentative four-year agreement that would cover hourly workers at the company. The deal secures $9 billion of company investments that will create nearly 8,000 jobs. "FCA has been a great American success story thanks to the hard work of our members. We have achieved substantial gains and job security provisions for the fastest growing auto company in the United States," said Rory Gamble, the acting president of the UAW.

Philadelphia Public Defenders to Become UAW Members: A majority of the 200 lawyers at the Defender Association of Philadelphia voted to be represented by the UAW. The lawyers represent some 70% of those arrested for criminal offenses or probation violations in the city. In a petition to management, the attorneys said: “We have all chosen this work because we are passionate about protecting the constitutional rights of our clients and giving them a voice in a system that otherwise does not. We believe that by collectively improving our workplace, we will better serve our clients.”

New Mexico Faculty Vote to be Represented by AFT: More than 70% of faculty at the University of New Mexico (UNM) voted to be represented by AFT. More than 1,600 full- and part-time faculty across five campuses will also be members of the American Association of University Professors. The new unit, United Academics of the University of New Mexico, will begin bargaining with the university on its first contract. Hilary Lipka, a temporary part-time faculty member in religious studies, said: "This is a historic moment for faculty at UNM. Our victory reflects how important it is that the university treats faculty with dignity and respect. We look forward to sitting down with the administration and negotiating a contract that acknowledges the work and value that part-time faculty contribute to the university."

Zoellner Arts Center Stagehands Join IATSE: In a unanimous vote, stagehands who work at the Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania voted unanimously to join Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 200. The workers support the 200-plus annual events held at the arts center. The new unit will meet with Lehigh to begin negotiations on a collective bargaining agreement.

Los Angeles Times Newsroom Employees Reach Tentative Agreement: Nearly 500 members of the Los Angeles Times newsroom will now be represented by the L.A. Times Guild, an affiliate of The NewsGuild-CWA (TNG-CWA). The contract is more than a year in the making and will provide raises and other benefits over the life of the three-year contract. “We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved together,” said Carolina A. Miranda, co-chair of the L.A. Times Guild. “It’s a difficult time in the industry, but we’ve landed significant pay increases and a broad safety net of job protections that are some of the best in the industry. We’re grateful that Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is actively reinvesting in The Times. This is a win for journalism and a win for L.A.”

Hormel Workers Across the Country Approve New Contract: Thousands of Hormel workers nationwide approved a new contract that strengthens wages, expands health care and increases pension security. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), which represents the Hormel workers, said: “By strongly voting for a new contract that improves wages and benefits, thousands of our hardworking members sent a powerful message this week about the power that comes from workers standing together."

Houston Mayor Signs $12 Minimum Wage for Airport Workers: After months of workers demanding that city leaders raise the minimum wage at George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for all airport workers in Houston to $12 an hour. The rate is a first step in pursuit of $15 an hour minimum wage at the airports in Houston. “We are excited that Mayor Turner met with airport workers and listened to their struggles, and thankful that he took action to raise wages," said Willy Gonzalez, secretary-treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 23. "This is a great step forward for Houston’s airport workers. For many of our members, this will make the difference between whether or not they can pay rent at the end of the month.

Actors' Equity Reaches Agreement with The Broadway League: An overwhelming 95% of Actors' Equity (AEA) members voted to approve the new production contract with The Broadway League. "This negotiation resulted in not only great compensation increases for our members but created new terms and conditions that provide further protections for stage managers and swings," said Mary McColl, executive director of AEA. "This is the third negotiation we have completed with The Broadway League this year. Thanks to the solidarity and support of our members, all three have been successful."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 01/17/2020 - 10:52

Greater Boston Labor Council Makes History with Latest Election

Mon, 13 Jan 2020 13:26:33 +0000

Greater Boston Labor Council Makes History with Latest Election

The Greater Boston Labor Council (GBLC), AFL-CIO, made history last week with the election of the first woman of color to its top office. Darlene Lombos takes over as executive secretary-treasurer, replacing Richard Rogers, who officially retired after leading the GBLC for the past 16 years.

Darlene Lombos, Greater Boston Labor CouncilLombos brings more than 20 years of community and youth organizing experience in the labor movement to the position. She served as vice president of the GBLC and has been the executive director of Community Labor United since 2011. A vital asset to the greater Boston community, her work continues to protect and promote the interests of working-class families and communities of color in greater Boston and throughout the commonwealth.

“I am honored to lead such an amazing group of dedicated workers in the Boston area,” said Lombos. “Rich was a true mentor and I look forward to continuing his legacy of empowering working families for years to come.”

Richard Rogers, Greater Boston Labor CouncilRogers, a member of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) Local 391, leaves behind an impressive legacy in the labor movement. Prior to leading the GBLC, Rogers served on the staff of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO for 21 years, 12 of those as the state federation’s political director. He was the chief organizer for several influential political campaigns, including Ted Kennedy’s 1994 U.S. Senate race and the elections of Jim McGovern and John Tierney to the U.S. House of Representatives. He played an integral role during his four terms as GBLC executive secretary-treasurer in growing and strengthening the Boston-area labor movement.

In recognition of his lifetime of hard work and dedication to the movement, The Labor Guild awarded the prestigious Cushing-Gavin Award to Rogers in December 2019.

Dennis Loney Mon, 01/13/2020 - 08:26

Economy Gains 145,000 Jobs in December; Unemployment Unchanged at 3.5%

Fri, 10 Jan 2020 18:11:27 +0000

Economy Gains 145,000 Jobs in December; Unemployment Unchanged at 3.5%

The U.S. economy gained 145,000 jobs in December, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 3.5%, according to figures released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Preliminary data from BLS also shows, for the first time since 2010, the majority of workers on U.S. payrolls are women, underscoring the importance of addressing the gender wage gap.

In response to the December job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs tweeted:

Last month's biggest job gains were in retail trade (41,000), leisure and hospitality (40,000), and health care (28,000). Mining lost jobs (-8,000). Employment in other major industries—including construction, manufacturing, financial activities, transportation and warehousing, wholesale trade, information, professional and business services, and government—showed little change over the month.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for teenagers (12.6%), blacks (5.9%), Hispanics (4.2%), adult men (3.1%), whites (3.2%), adult women (3.2%) and Asians (2.5%) showed little or no change in December.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was unchanged in December and accounted for 20.5% of the unemployed.

Dennis Loney Fri, 01/10/2020 - 13:11

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Collective Heroism

Wed, 08 Jan 2020 19:20:41 +0000

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: Collective Heroism

State of the Unions: Collective Heroism

On the latest episode of “State of the Unions,” AFL-CIO podcast co-hosts Julie Greene Collier and Tim Schlittner talk to Fire Fighters (IAFF) General President Harold Schaitberger about the union’s one-of-a-kind behavioral health treatment facility in Maryland dedicated to treating IAFF members struggling with addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and other related behavioral challenges. They discuss the toll of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on firefighters and their families, the response of the IAFF in its wake, and the life of a firefighter.

Listen to our previous episodes:

State of the Unions” is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and anywhere else you can find podcasts.

Dennis Loney Wed, 01/08/2020 - 14:20

A Future That Works for Workers

Mon, 06 Jan 2020 16:22:53 +0000

A Future That Works for Workers

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, the AFL-CIO is partnering with SAG-AFTRA to host the second annual Labor Innovation & Technology Summit. The summit, led by AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris and UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor, brings together union, technology, entertainment and media leaders to explore how these industries intersect and the potential impact for America’s workers and for the country’s creative culture. 

As the voice of working Americans, unions play a critical role in ensuring that rapidly evolving technology, which will bring so many great things to humanity, doesn’t roll over humans in the process. Recognizing that this can only be accomplished by partnering with the tech industry, the second annual Labor Innovation & Technology Summit brings together diverse voices for a frank conversation about where we are, where we’re going and the critical milestones along the way.

About the AFL-CIO Commission on the Future of Work and Unions

For the better part of four decades, workers have been more productive than ever, creating massive amounts of wealth—but rigged economic rules, unmitigated corporate greed and unrelenting political attacks have weakened our voices, stifled our wages and eroded our economic security. Yet, as we write this report, a wave of collective action is sweeping the nation. Working people across industries and demographics are joining together for a better life. This uprising comes at a critical moment, as the astounding technologies of the digital revolution have the potential to improve workers’ lives but also threaten to degrade or eliminate millions of jobs.

The AFL-CIO Commission on the Future of Work and Unions, formed by a unanimous vote of the 2017 AFL-CIO Convention, is putting working people where we belong—at the center of shaping the economy, work, unions and the AFL-CIO.

Dennis Loney Mon, 01/06/2020 - 11:22

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: OPEIU

Mon, 30 Dec 2019 13:32:45 +0000

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: OPEIU

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Office and Professional Employees.

Name of Union: Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU)

Mission"To improve the lives of working families by bringing economic justice to the workplace and social justice to our communities. Acting as a strong and united voice in the workplace and in the communities in which we live, OPEIU seeks to bring the benefits of representation to all working people and their families."

Current Leadership of UnionRichard Lanigan serves as president of OPEIU. He was first appointed president by the OPEIU executive board in 2015 and was elected to the position in 2016. Lanigan worked his way through college as a union member before joining OPEIU Local 153 in 1980. After law school, he served as assistant to the OPEIU general counsel. In 1994, he was elected both as secretary-treasurer of Local 153 and joined the international executive board as vice president. Mary Mahoney has served as secretary-treasurer since 2010. OPEIU has 17 vice presidents.

Number of Members103,000.

Members Work AsHealthcare employees, including registered nurses and podiatrists, clerical workers, credit union employees, nonprofit employees, teachers, Minor League Baseball umpires and helicopter pilots.

Industries RepresentedOPEIU members work at credit unions, hospitals and medical clinics, insurance companies, higher education, nonprofits, transportation, shipping, utilities, hotels, administrative offices and more.

HistoryThe American Federation of Labor granted the first clerical federal charter to Local 1 of the Stenographers, Typists, Bookkeepers and Assistants Union in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1906. Membership grew slowly until the passage of the Wagner Act in 1935. The legislation granted collective bargaining rights to working people and propelled thousands of clerical employees to form dozens of clerical unions. In 1936, Mollie Levitas called for a resolution recognizing an international union of office workers. Nine years later, AFL granted a charter to the Office Employees International Union (OEIU), which had 22,000 members. In 1965, after the AFL merged with the Congress of Industrial Organizations, the OEIU rebranded as the Office and Professional Employees International Union. In the following decades, the union grew at a fast rate, reaching 110,000 members by 2010.

Current Campaigns/Community Efforts: White Collar Magazine provides news and information for office workers. The OPEIU Nurses Council brings together members of the union who work in nursing to address mutual concerns. OPEIU members have access to a free college assistance program and national 401(k) and health plans for local unions to negotiate into their employer contracts. The Rising Stars initiative seeks to create and network OPEIU youth programs across the country. The OPEIU Store sells merchandise branded with the union's name and logo.

Learn More: WebsiteFacebookYouTubeInstagramTwitter.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 12/30/2019 - 08:32

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: NFL Players Association

Thu, 19 Dec 2019 13:10:55 +0000

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: NFL Players Association

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the NFL Players Association.

Name of Union: NFL Players Association (NFLPA)

Mission: "To pay homage to our predecessors for their courage, sacrifice and vision; [to] pledge to preserve and enhance the democratic involvement of our members; [to] confirm our willingness to do whatever is necessary for the betterment of our membership—to preserve our gains and achieve those goals not yet attained."

Current Leadership of UnionDeMaurice Smith serves as executive director of the NFLPA. He was elected unanimously in 2009 and re-elected in 2012, 2015 and 2017. Prior to serving the NFLPA, Smith was an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and counsel to former Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder. Eric Winston is currently serving his third term as NFLPA president. Mark Herzlich serves as treasurer and the NFLPA has nine vice presidents: Sam Acho, Lorenzo Alexander, Zak DeOssie, Thomas Morstead, Russell Okung, Richard Sherman, Michael Thomas, Adam Vinatieri and Benjamin Watson.

Number of MembersMore than 2,000.

Members Work AsActive or retired members of the National Football League (NFL).

Industries RepresentedPlayers in the National Football League and retirees.

HistoryThe NFLPA began in the mid-1950s, when disgruntled players asked Creighton Miller, the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, to help them form a players' association. Miller was reluctant at first, but soon began working with key players across the league and by November, the majority of players had signed authorizations to allow the new NFLPA to represent them. They met that month and came up with a few proposals–among them: a minimum salary of $5,000, a requirement for teams to pay for players' equipment and the continued payment of salaries for injured players. 

The NFL refused to respond to the early proposals until the 1957 Supreme Court ruling in the case Radovich v. NFL, which found that the league was subject to antitrust laws. As a result, the owners quickly and quietly granted many of the NFLPA's demands out of fear that the players would file another antitrust suit if the owners didn't start to cooperate. Still, the owners continued to drag their feet on implementing the new proposals and player frustration grew again. Owners also ignored new proposals from the NFLPA, such as the creation of a pension plan, hospitalization and other benefits. The NFLPA threatened another antitrust suit and the owners again responded immediately, establishing hospitalization benefits, medical and life insurance and a retirement plan.

In the 1960s, labor relations between players and the NFL became strained because of the new American Football League (AFL). The owners attempted to prevent players from using the AFL as leverage by adding a clause that revoked pensions for players who went to other leagues. Another threatened lawsuit forced pension coverage to be provided to all 110 players who were in the league when benefits were introduced. When the NFL and AFL merged in 1966, the former AFL players weren't represented by the NFLPA. The next time the NFL rejected pension demands, the players were locked out and then went on strike. That strike led to the first collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for NFL players, although the former AFL players were still not included in the agreement. The two players associations joined together in 1970 and filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to become a recognized union.

The ensuing decades saw a continuous back and forth as players looked to build more leverage in the growing sport where their play on the field drove the massive financial gains of the owners. In 1971, the NFLPA hired its first executive director and established a headquarters in Washington, D.C. In 1976, the NFLPA won a court case that eliminated the Rozelle Rule, which prevented player movement from team to team, even when contracts expired. Beginning in the late 1970s, the CBAs were often surrounded by strife, with players engaging in several strikes and owners responding in 1987 by fielding teams of replacement players while the NFLPA was on strike.

A shift occurred when Gene Upshaw was elected as the NFLPA’s executive director in 1983. The future of the organization was now driven by the players, who finally were gaining the full voice they had long asked for. Free agency was a top issue, particularly during the 1987 strike and afterward. In another antitrust suit filed in the wake of the strike, the courts ruled that if players were in a union and using their right to strike, they didn't have the right to pursue antitrust lawsuits as individuals. In response, the NFLPA de-certified in 1989 and re-formed as a professional association. This allowed various antitrust lawsuits to go forward and, after years of conflict, a compromise settlement was finally reached in 1993. As a result, the players finally won meaningful free agency and a guaranteed percentage of gross NFL revenue.

That year, the NFLPA re-certified as a union and things were relatively calm for nearly two decades until the collective bargaining agreement expired in 2011. Once again, the NFL rejected player requests, the NFLPA de-certified and filed another antitrust lawsuit against the league. The owners proceeded to lock out the players. When the 2011 CBA was agreed upon, the re-certification of the NFLPA was a part of the agreement.

The current CBA, which expires in 2020, features a major shift toward player health and safety. The NFLPA also established the Trust as a separate organization dedicated to helping former players and the NFL created the Legacy Benefit, which will pay $620 million to former players for their contributions to the NFL.

Current Campaigns/Community Efforts: The NFLPA offers a variety of programs to help players with continuing education, personal finance, healthy lifestyles, maximizing on-field performance, career development and business opportunities. The NFLPA also sponsors programs for former players.

The NFLPA highlights the many charitable efforts by NFL players through its Community MVP season, honoring one player per week for his off-the-field outreach while donating $10,000 to his foundation or charity of choice.

Learn More: WebsiteFacebookYouTubeInstagramTwitter.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 12/19/2019 - 08:10

The Backbone of This Country: In the States Roundup

Tue, 17 Dec 2019 16:25:28 +0000

The Backbone of This Country: In the States Roundup

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.

Alaska AFL-CIO:

California Labor Federation:

Colorado AFL-CIO:

Connecticut AFL-CIO:

Florida AFL-CIO:

Indiana State AFL-CIO:

Iowa Federation of Labor:

Maine AFL-CIO:

Massachusetts AFL-CIO:

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

Minnesota AFL-CIO:

Missouri AFL-CIO:

Montana 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:


Oklahoma State AFL-CIO:

Oregon AFL-CIO:

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO:

Rhode Island AFL-CIO:

Texas AFL-CIO:

Virginia AFL-CIO:

Washington State Labor Council:

West Virginia AFL-CIO:

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO:

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 12/17/2019 - 11:25


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