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Service + Solidarity: Meet Jennifer Cody

Fri, 22 May 2020 14:53:12 +0000

Service + Solidarity: Meet Jennifer Cody

Jennifer Cody is an actress from New York and a member of the Actors' Equity. Her industry is 100% unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Broadway is closed for the indefinite future. Learn more about how dancers, singers and the rest of her community are affected during these dangerous times.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/22/2020 - 10:53

Maine AFL-CIO Is Using All the Digital Tools in Its Toolbox to Help Workers

Fri, 22 May 2020 14:25:12 +0000

Maine AFL-CIO Is Using All the Digital Tools in Its Toolbox to Help Workers

Cynthia Phinney
Maine AFL-CIO

With unprecedented numbers of Mainers out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic, the state’s labor movement is deploying digital tools in innovative ways to help workers who are being impacted by COVID-19. The Maine AFL-CIO is using a full range of online platforms to support those who are applying for unemployment insurance (UI) and pressure policymakers to fix the system.

Like many states, Maine’s UI system was unprepared for the crisis and has been overwhelmed by the volume of claims. President Cynthia Phinney (IBEW) of the Maine AFL-CIO explained: “After eight years with an anti-worker governor, there are so many hurdles that people have to jump through to access the benefits that they’re entitled to. The system was designed to prevent people from getting even a single dollar if they’re not supposed to, rather than have as its top priority helping workers who are unemployed.”

The state federation is responding to this challenge by using all the digital tools in its toolbox. There is a new page on its website devoted to providing UI assistance, including a form for workers to ask questions and request help. The form includes a spot for workers to fill in their union affiliation so the state federation can refer them to trained organizers and activists from their own union who can help. “If a person can be connected with someone from their union, all the better,” Phinney said.

In addition, the Maine AFL-CIO created a Facebook group where people can ask questions, talk about common problems and learn how to overcome them. More than 1,000 Facebook users have joined. “It’s developed beautifully because people who are part of the group are answering questions for other people and sharing their experiences,” Phinney said.

“We trained a lot of people to help unemployed workers fill out their UI forms. They’re helping workers get their claims approved so they can avoid a dragged-out process,” Phinney said. The state federation worked with Maine Equal Justice and the state's Department of Labor to host a webinar on changes to the UI system to accommodate workers impacted by the pandemic.

And Maine’s labor movement is helping more than just union members; unrepresented workers are being assisted as well. The state federation has helped about 3,000 individuals seeking UI assistance. “Many of them are just so grateful to have found somewhere where someone will answer their questions,” Phinney explained. She said that for many unrepresented workers looking for help with their UI application, this is their first contact with a labor union organization.

The state federation also has launched a direct email campaign to pressure lawmakers to improve the system and has hosted online meetings with Maine’s congressional delegation focused on promoting America’s Five Economic Essentials. They also hold Zoom press conferences that are well-attended by reporters to get the word out about a range of issues, including the state’s UI system and the need for more personal protective equipment for front-line workers.

“This is a moment when people across the country are seeing workers as we have always seen workers: essential,” Phinney said. “Tell your stories and help other workers to get their stories out, because those stories are what bring us together and start us on the road to becoming stronger.”

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/22/2020 - 10:25

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Mine Workers Stand with Navajo People

Fri, 22 May 2020 12:36:57 +0000

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Mine Workers Stand with Navajo People

Service + Solidarity
AFL-CIO

During the COVID-19 pandemic, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out their friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

Mine Workers (UMWA) President Cecil Roberts:

The coronavirus pandemic that has struck the United States has brought death and economic devastation in multiple regions, but none more so than the Navajo Nation, which has surpassed New York City as the region with the most COVID-19 cases per capita in America. We represent many thousands of Navajo workers, and our prayers are with those who have lost family members and those who are still struggling with this disease.

It is very troubling that critical federal support and supplies that were intended to go to the Navajo Nation were delayed or misdirected. The federal government has a special responsibility to provide support to Native American nations, many of which already suffered from chronic public health issues long before this virus showed up. Simply put, our government failed them.

For many Navajo families, this could not come at a worse time. With the needless and premature closure of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) at the end of last year, hundreds of workers at that plant and the Kayenta coal mine that fed the NGS were thrown out of work. They were already suffering, and now many have lost family members or are caring for severely sick relatives, while trying to keep the virus from spreading even further in their families.

The loss of revenue to the Navajo Nation government from the NGS and Kayenta closures already had a severe impact on the resources it has available to provide for its people before the virus hit. Now, the situation is desperate. I call on the United States government to rapidly increase the level of assistance that is going to the Navajo Nation and all tribal governments.

This disease is especially strong in those communities which already had health issues and a history of poor access to health care facilities, which is true in most rural areas of the country. As we bring more resources to bear to fight this virus throughout the country, we cannot continue to leave rural America behind.

If you know of other stories that we should include in this series, please e-mail them to kquinnell@aflcio.org.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/22/2020 - 08:36

Labor Radio–Podcast Weekly: Essential Workers Bill of Rights, Kooper Caraway and More

Tue, 19 May 2020 16:41:17 +0000

Labor Radio–Podcast Weekly: Essential Workers Bill of Rights, Kooper Caraway and More

Labor Radio-Podcast Weekly
Labor Radio-Podcast Weekly

The latest episode of the Labor Radio-Podcast Weekly features an Essential Workers Bill of Rights, Kooper Caraway and more. This week’s highlights include:

Belabored: Sarah Jaffe and Michelle Chen report on school employees in Minnesota fighting for safety on the job and an attempt to pass an Essential Workers Bill of Rights in New York City.

Stronger Together: The SEIU Local 503 podcast, where the latest episode focuses on the upcoming Oregon primary, which has both union members and strong union supporters running for office.

Workers Beat Radio: Host Gene Lantz talks with Sioux Falls Central Labor Council President Kooper Caraway, one of the youngest, most hopeful and most outspoken labor leaders in the country.

Labor History in 2:00: Brown v. Board of Education, the day the Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in public education.

Check out all the Labor Radio/Podcast Network shows.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 05/19/2020 - 12:41

Why Domestic Workers Like Nicanora Montenegro Should Be Considered Essential Workers

Tue, 19 May 2020 13:56:01 +0000

Why Domestic Workers Like Nicanora Montenegro Should Be Considered Essential Workers

Nicanora Montenegro is a Filipina American in-home support services (IHSS) provider in San Diego and the district chair of United Domestic Workers of America (UDW)-AFSCME Local 3930. As an IHSS provider, she takes care of the most vulnerable folks in our community who are also the most at risk of COVID-19. 

This pandemic has illustrated just how essential the often invisible and undervalued work that caregivers, like Montenegro, provide. Without them, front-line workers who are parents or have other family responsibilities wouldn’t be able to go to work, and older adults, people with disabilities and people with chronic illnesses would not be able to shelter in place. 

Montenegro and her union have been fighting for the rights and respect that home care workers deserve like better wages, access to health care, paid sick days and more. It's well past time that we all recognize domestic workers as essential workers.

Join our calls to Congress to ensure ALL essential workers have the protections they need, the rights they are entitled to and the compensation they deserve in the next COVID-19 package. 

Join us to protect essential workers.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 05/19/2020 - 09:56

Fix Unemployment Programs: What Working People Are Doing This Week

Fri, 15 May 2020 17:02:22 +0000

Fix Unemployment Programs: What Working People Are Doing This Week

What Working People Are Doing This Week
AFL-CIO

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.

Actors' Equity:

AFGE:

AFSCME:

Air Line Pilots Association:

Alliance for Retired Americans:

Amalgamated Transit Union:

American Federation of Musicians:

American Federation of Teachers:

American Postal Workers Union:

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance:

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA:

Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers:

Boilermakers:

Bricklayers:

Coalition of Black Trade Unionists:

Coalition of Labor Union Women:

Communications Workers of America:

Department for Professional Employees:

Electrical Workers:

Fire Fighters:

Heat and Frost Insulators:

International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers:

Ironworkers:

Jobs With Justice:

Labor Council for Latin American Advancement:

Laborers:

Longshoremen:

Machinists:

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 Federation of Federal Employees:

National Nurses United:

National Taxi Workers Alliance:

NFL Players Association:

North America's Building Trades Unions:

Office and Professional Employees:

Painters and Allied Trades:

Plasterers and Cement Masons:

Pride At Work:

Professional Aviation Safety Specialists:

Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Workers:

SAG-AFTRA:

Seafarers:

Solidarity Center:

The NewsGuild-CWA:

Theatrical Stage Employees:

Transport Workers:

Transportation Trades Department:

UAW:

Union Label and Service Trades Department:

Union Veterans Council:

UNITE HERE:

United Food and Commercial Workers:

United Steelworkers:

United Students Against Sweatshops:

United Union of Roofers and Waterproofers:

Utility Workers:

Working America:

Writers Guild of America, East:

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/15/2020 - 13:02

Labor Radio–Podcast Weekly: Fire Fighters and COVID-19, the Longest Wildcat Strike and More

Fri, 15 May 2020 15:59:25 +0000

Labor Radio–Podcast Weekly: Fire Fighters and COVID-19, the Longest Wildcat Strike and More

Labor Radio-Podcast Weekly
Labor Radio-Podcast Weekly

The latest episode of the Labor Radio-Podcast Weekly features firefighters during COVID-19, the country’s longest wildcat strike, a new show and more. This week’s highlights include:

IAFF Podcast: Hosts Mark Treglio and Doug Stern talk with members of the Fire Fighters health and safety division about how their members are dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic: “Our firefighters and paramedics are used to risking their lives and safety every day when they go to work, but the sheer scope of the virus, combined with the lack of PPE in some communities, creates a very anxiety-provoking situation.”

Working People: Track laborer and writer John Tormey interviews working-class Kentucky artist, writer and radio host Terry Tapp about his latest book, “A Serf’s Journal: The Story of the United States’ Longest Wildcat Strike.”

En Masse: A teaser from our very latest network member, an exciting new podcast called En Masse that’s dedicated to telling “stories of struggle and hope from the working class.”

UCOMM Live: Texas AFL-CIO’s Ed Sills talks about whether COVID-19 will result in more organizing for workers in Texas.

Labor History in 2:00: We find out about the day in 1972 when employees at the Farah Manufacturing Co. went out on strike, launching one of the iconic boycotts of the era. 

Check out all the Labor Radio/Podcast Network shows.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/15/2020 - 11:59

Worker Safety Must Come First: In the States Roundup

Fri, 15 May 2020 14:49:12 +0000

Worker Safety Must Come First: In the States Roundup

In the States
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.

California Labor Federation:

Colorado AFL-CIO:

Connecticut AFL-CIO:

Florida AFL-CIO:

Iowa Federation of Labor:

Massachusetts AFL-CIO:

Michigan AFL-CIO:

Minnesota AFL-CIO:

Missouri AFL-CIO:

Montana AFL-CIO:

New Jersey State AFL-CIO:

New York State AFL-CIO:

North Carolina State AFL-CIO:

Ohio AFL-CIO:

Oklahoma State AFL-CIO:

Oregon AFL-CIO:

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO:

Rhode Island AFL-CIO:

Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council:

Texas AFL-CIO:

Virginia AFL-CIO:

Washington State Labor Council:

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO:

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/15/2020 - 10:49

Service + Solidarity: The Working People Weekly List

Fri, 15 May 2020 12:47:19 +0000

Service + Solidarity: 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.

Service + Solidarity: Meet Michelle: “Michelle Simmons is a letter carrier who lives and works in Grand Island, Nebraska, and is a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC). Grand Island is a COVID-19 hot spot with one of the highest density rates of contagion anywhere in the country.”

Service + Solidarity: Meet Brent Kirby: “Brent Kirby is a musician based in Cleveland and a member of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Local 4. In addition to his solo career, Kirby performs with Brent Kirby & His Luck and the Jack Fords, and leads a monthly Gram Parsons revival. Kirby recently performed in a virtual concert series produced by the Cleveland Federation of Musicians Local 4 and the Local 4 Music Fund.”

Tammy Johnson Leads Wyoming’s Labor Movement, Fighting for Struggling Workers and the Unemployed: “With the Wyoming Legislature scheduled to begin an emergency session later this week, Wyoming State AFL-CIO Executive Secretary Tammy Johnson (USW) is taking the lead fighting for workers in her home state. Policymakers are considering a bill that includes three major components: unemployment insurance (UI), workers’ compensation and rent relief. The UI provisions would hold employers harmless as the state provides additional money to cover the increase in UI claims, and the rent relief portion would provide additional eviction protections for tenants.”

Labor Is Pioneering a New Kind of Relief Effort in the Twin Cities: “Scores of workers across America have been laid off through no fault of their own, and still many of them are not eligible for federal benefits during these unprecedented times. In Minnesota’s Twin Cities, the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation (MRLF) is organizing to provide support to those workers who can’t get the support they need from our federal government.”

A Chuukese Registered Nurse’s Story During #NursesWeek: “Let’s uplift Marina Robinson, a Chuukese registered nurse in Honolulu working in the OB-GYN department. She is proud to bring the idea of aterenges, or family, into her care work. She keeps pregnant people and their families safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

AFSCME: Strong Public Services Needed to Beat Pandemic, Reopen Economy: “AFSCME launched two ads calling on Congress and President Trump to send aid to state and local governments to keep front-line public service workers on the job. AFSCME President Lee Saunders said: ‘Front-line health care workers, corrections officers, home and child care providers, sanitation workers and other public service workers put their lives on the line every day to save ours. America refuses to thank them with pink slips. Public service workers and the services they provide are essential to beating this pandemic and opening the economy.’”

Hoosiers Need Help from Mike Pence, Not a Visit and Photo-Op: “When [Vice President] Mike Pence returns to Indiana on Thursday, he’ll find Hoosiers in the grips of a crisis unlike anything we’ve witnessed in generations. Cases of the coronavirus are climbing, our health care system is being overwhelmed, and countless working people are being forced to choose between our health and a paycheck. We need more than a photo-op. We need help, and we need it now.”

Economy Loses 20.5 Million Jobs in April; Unemployment Jumps to 14.7%: “The U.S. economy lost 20.5 million jobs in April, taking payroll employment back to levels last seen in spring 2011 when the economy was recovering from the Great Recession, and the unemployment rate jumped by a historic amount to 14.7%, according to figures released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate for white males is 12.4%, the largest for white men in the post-World War II era and the first time it has been in double digits since that era.”

Thanking Heroes for National Nurses 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.”

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: An EVS Technician’s COVID-19 Story: “Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! Let’s uplift Asian American and Pacific Islander workers this month—those who are on the front lines of COVID-19 and those who are on the front lines of our families and communities.”

If Trump Wants Meat Plants Open, He Should Protect Their Workers: “The United States now has more than a million reported coronavirus cases, by far the most of any country in the world. The health of our nation, physically and economically, depends on the safety of our workers.”

Labor Radio-Podcast Weekly: Saluting Front-Line Workers, Remote Learning and More: “The latest episode of the Labor Radio-Podcast Weekly features a daily salute to front-line workers in the Electchester community of New York, Chicago Teachers tackling remote learning and Richard Trevellick’s fight for the eight-hour workday.”

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/15/2020 - 08:47

Tammy Johnson Leads Wyoming’s Labor Movement, Fighting for Struggling Workers and the Unemployed

Thu, 14 May 2020 15:03:25 +0000

Tammy Johnson Leads Wyoming’s Labor Movement, Fighting for Struggling Workers and the Unemployed

Tammy Johnson
Wyoming State AFL-CIO

With the Wyoming Legislature scheduled to begin an emergency session later this week, Wyoming State AFL-CIO Executive Secretary Tammy Johnson (USW) is taking the lead fighting for workers in her home state. Policymakers are considering a bill that includes three major components: unemployment insurance (UI), workers’ compensation and rent relief. The UI provisions would hold employers harmless as the state provides additional money to cover the increase in UI claims, and the rent relief portion would provide additional eviction protections for tenants.

However, Johnson and the state federation are working to change the state’s workers’ compensation system so that all front-line workers who get infected will be presumed to have been infected on the job. Currently, most employers are exempted from the state’s workers’ compensation system unless their employees are performing “extra hazardous” jobs. Johnson said legislators were surprised to learn that many grocery store workers in Wyoming would not be eligible for compensation under the proposed legislation.

“We have to have some kind of protection in place for workers,” she explained. “If they don’t have health care because their hours have been cut to part time and they can’t take unemployment because there’s work available, then they’ll have to go to work sick. You would not want sick grocery store workers to be in the stores.”

Johnson was also appointed by Gov. Mark Gordon to be on the Business and Financial Sector Task Force that is providing policy recommendations for reopening Wyoming’s economy. She said that one of the local unions she has helped is United Steelworkers (USW) Local 13214, whose members mine soda ash. Working with her colleagues on the task force and the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, she helped ensure that those USW members who were placed on furlough wouldn’t be penalized by the UI system for drawing on their pensions or for taking a “voluntary” furlough. “The challenge going forward is to educate everyone that all workers contributed to these systems and we have to modernize thinking about compensation packages,” she said.

“The backbone of Wyoming is exposed right now. Big corporations are keeping us in the shade, but it’s the workers who keep these companies up and running,” Johnson explained. “Companies may leave, but the workers are still going to be here, and they are the people who make up our communities....COVID-19 has made it clear where the strength in our economy is: It’s with the workers.”

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 05/14/2020 - 11:03

   
  

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